Aurora Community Connections Family Resource Center: A second home to underserved families
September 30, 2020
Parents build resilience when they have access to resources that help them cope with the stresses of everyday life as well as occasional crises. Aurora Community Connection (ACC) is a 100% strengths and focus-based family resource center that plays a serious role in strengthening families in the Aurora, Colorado community.
CO4Kids worked with Nohemi Burciaga, Wellness Program Manager at ACC to learn more about the support and services provided by ACC. Nohemi, a former Child Welfare Intake Caseworker at Arapahoe County Department of Human Services, has been with ACC for over 5 years. Nohemi describes her former experience as a county caseworker as difficult but important as she believes that with the support of the community, child welfare can make a big difference in the lives of families who need additional help. Nohemi described her experience at ACC as being fulfilling because she has the opportunity to witness the full cycle of the positive impact that the center has on a family.
In addition to ACC’s listed mission and vision, the family resource center takes pride in being somewhat of a second home to community members. Immigrant families come to North Aurora and oftentimes are not familiar with how to access resources such as healthcare and education. As the Wellness Program Manager, Nohemi oversees relevant programs, such as parenting support programs and child and youth wellness programs. The adult programs are typically aligned with the youth programs so that parents have the resources necessary to participate.
Who does ACC serve?
ACC was founded in 2008 to help address a gap in services for low-income, Spanish-speaking families in the community. Although a majority of participants at the center are Latino mothers, the family resource center welcomes anyone in the community to access the available programs and services - especially those who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, anti-immigrant attitudes and other factors such as crime in the neighborhood where many low-income families live.
Through word of mouth by other community members or by simply dropping by the center, families can count on ACC to be a helping hand. Many participants join ACC as teenagers and end up staying involved with the center for years, later becoming a volunteer and helping out new families that come to the center.
ACC strengthens families
Parents with a social network of emotionally supportive friends, family, and neighbors often find that it is easier to care for their children and themselves. With affordable and available classes such as Zumba, Circle of Parents, cooking matters, citizenship exam preparation, academic tutoring, summer camps, and more, ACC acts as this social network for families in the Aurora community.
Families need a place where they feel they belong and various resources to thrive - ACC offers just that. ACC understands how important it is to keep community members educated. ACC is a safe space for families to learn, share, and grow together while feeling included.
The available resources allow parents to feel happy and supported, specifically with their children. Because of the center, a parent can partake in vital self-care activities such as exercise. Parents have expressed to Nohemi that because of ACC they feel happier, less stressed, and educated about accessing the services that they need.
Dignity is a really important factor at ACC. Programs are intended to be affordable but every family needs additional help from time to time; which is why families can choose to volunteer and offer their time in place of payment if they cannot afford to participate in a program. Every person in the community has something to offer and families appreciate ACC’s genuine effort to keep their programs accessible to all families.
Keeping community members at the forefront
Even when families are facing specific challenges, they have a lot to contribute to their communities. ACC’s community board consists of community members and local representatives who come together to discuss community needs, community growth, and ensuring that families have access to resources and services that allow them to thrive.
It’s not about what ACC does for families, it’s about what families do for ACC.
- Nohemi Burciaga, Wellness Program Manager
Supporting families during COVID-19
CO4Kids asks, “if not you, then who?” as a reminder to people across Colorado to support families and parents any time and every time that they can. ACC’s efforts to continue supporting families during the COVID-19 pandemic is a phenomenal example of an organization doing their part to keep parents resilient and ensuring that they can meet their own basic needs.
As businesses closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the immigrant community was hit hard. Many families didn’t have access to the stimulus checks, food assistance, rental assistance, or unemployment due to citizenship status. ACC created a rental assistance program to help participants pay their rent and in various ways has been a major resource to immigrant families during this challenging time.
ACC is also working to partner its resources with Stride Community Health Center. Stride offers services to patients both with or without health insurance to ensure that families have access to the health services that they need. ACC understands that health goes beyond physical and will provide classes for families to understand the medical advice that they have received.
By actively addressing points of vulnerability such as stress, working to decrease risk factors and increase protective factors, ACC is doing the work to help parents be able to focus on all of the ways that they can care for their children. We all play a role in strengthening families, if not you, then who?
The Colorado Department of Human Services CO4Kids campaign encourages all Coloradans to strengthen families and communities. If you know of an organization or individual working to strengthen Colorado families and communities that would like to be highlighted, please reach out to Dianna Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn about the signs of child abuse and neglect and for information about how to become a foster or adoptive parent, visit CO4Kids.org. Call 844-CO-4-Kids to report concerns about child abuse and neglect. If a child or teen is in immediate danger, dial 9-1-1.