Grants go to two Gilroy neighborhood associations

Gilroy
– Two Gilroy neighborhoods seeking closer community ties and
safer streets have received a little help in their efforts.
Gilroy Eigleberry Neighborhood Association and the East Eighth
Street Neighborhood Association both received year-long grants from
Community Foundation Silicon Valley.
By Lori Stuenkel

Gilroy – Two Gilroy neighborhoods seeking closer community ties and safer streets have received a little help in their efforts.

Gilroy Eigleberry Neighborhood Association and the East Eighth Street Neighborhood Association both received year-long grants from Community Foundation Silicon Valley. Awarded each March, the neighborhood association grants help fund the groups’ upcoming activities.

“This allows them to be able to implement a variety of projects,” said Daniel Chavez, neighborhood specialist with the city’s Housing and Community Development. “It’s an opportunity for neighbors to get to know neighbors, and a good way for the community to build upon themselves, get together and do needed projects.”

Both neighborhoods have received CFSV grants in the past, but in smaller amounts than this year: Gilroy Eigleberry Neighborhood Association, or GENA, received $5,000 and Eighth Street received $1,900.

Art Barron, GENA president, and Norma Cardoza, East Eighth Street president, said the groups are planning to initiate a neighborhood watch.

“We will put signs in the neighborhood, and look out for criminal activity. It’s also to bring people out to communicate and get to know their neighbors,” he said. “We’re actually going to do it in the middle of an apartment complex, to make it easier to get to, and so we can ensure people will be there. We’ll probably have a barbecue and ice cream there, also.”

The Gilroy Police Department will support East Eighth Street and GENA with starting and maintaining a neighborhood watch, said Rachel Muñoz, community service officer.

“We will bring in several officers to meet with the community, and the purpose of that is the community can begin to recognize the faces of our staff here at the police department, build a rapport, and gain confidence in being the eyes and ears of the community,” Muñoz said. “When there is crime in the community, we want them to feel comfortable picking up the phone and reporting any suspicious activity.”

GENA, which in October received from CFSV a Building Resourceful Inspirational Creative Community – or BRICC – award, is also planning a tamale dinner, and a Christmas event.

“This year, with that grant and also working at the Garlic Festival, we’ll be able to do more activities in the neighborhood,” Barron said.

Barron and Cardoza attended mandatory training workshops in applying for and completing the neighborhood grants.

Barron said direct outreach will be a focus of the grant money, and he hopes to keep neighbors up-to-date with a community newsletter, an idea he learned from other neighborhood association members attending the workshops.

“We have been doing a newsletter, but we haven’t done one for a few months or so – hopefully we can get that started and do it more frequently,” Barron said.

The two neighborhoods also are planning a clean-up day, when they will rent or receive donated trash bins for residents to clear their yards and homes of unwanted items.

Cardoza wants the three-year-old association to hold more community meetings, a Cinco de Mayo/Mother’s Day event, and several days focusing on activities for children.

“We can plan future events a lot better if we know our neighbors,” Cardoza said. “This grant is a big plus for us, it’s a good thing for the neighborhood.

I’ve lived here 16 years, and these past three were the best.”

GENA and Eighth Street were the only two Gilroy neighborhoods to apply for the grant this year.

In 2003, 10 neighborhoods applied and were granted funds.

“It pleased me that at least two groups applied for it and got it, but in the future, hopefully we’ll get some more groups,” Chavez said.

CFSV formed in 1954 and works closely with the Gilroy Foundation.

Grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 were also awarded to one neighborhood in Morgan Hill, five in San Jose, and one in both Mountain View and Sunnyvale.

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