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Davis, California

Sunday, April 14, 2024

New health and community center coming to Esparto

Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation funds RISE Inc.’s community project

RISE Inc., a nonprofit organization with a mission of providing resources for the communities it serves, will be building a health and community center in Esparto. The project has been in the works for 15 years, and with the help of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, the facility will become a reality, with hopes of completion in 2020.

Tico Zendejas, the executive director of RISE, explained how the organization started.

“RISE is a 501C3 nonprofit organization that was established in 1987, so we’ve been serving the rural communities of Yolo County for over 30 years,” Zendejas said. “RISE stands for rural, innovations and social economics. We have a wide range of programs, from a brand new preschool that we opened about a year and a half ago through a senior citizen recreation program and everywhere in between.”

Meanwhile, the health and community project has been on the back burner.

“It’s been an identified need for many many years,” Zendejas said. “I’ve been with RISE for 13 years, and it was already an established need then. We are a rural community where access to a health clinic is challenging for some. It has always been a need that several community members have been working on over the years — trying to bring and build a health clinic out here in Esparto.”

The project was made possible due in part to Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation’s funding. The tribe has been giving back to the community. In addition to the health center, it has worked on providing an Esparto park and aquatic center.

“The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation is providing $1.5 million to complete the Esparto Community Park & Aquatic Center. This donation is the first from the ‘compact credits’ now available under Yocha Dehe’s 2016 gaming compact with the State of California,” according to Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation’s press release.

Duane Chamberlain, the Yolo County supervisor, represents the community and stated that the different projects in Esparto are just the start of what’s to come.

“With these land acquisitions, the tribe is empowering the community to enhance Esparto by bringing both the long-needed aquatic center and the community health center to reality, as well as paving the way for other desired developments in the future,” Chamberlain said to The Davis Enterprise.

Zendejas noted how the community considers the center to be a significant need in the area.

“Most recently, about a couple years ago, there was a large action plan where many community members came to talk about needs,” Zendejas said. “Number one was a health clinic. Close to that was more community services and youth or senior programs.”

He noted that the original proposal of a health clinic has developed and expanded over time. Now, the organization plans to build a space for the community’s social and health-related needs.

“Our organization has been working with other individuals to bring a health clinic, and there were always some roadblocks,” Zendejas said. “That’s when I really started doing research and coming up with this concept of a brand new facility that houses a full medical and dental clinic, but also provide a new facility for RISE and all our social services.”

The plan is to have many rooms providing necessities, as well as a place where the community can come together.

“We’ll have a food closet, a clothes closet, several counseling rooms, a large community space, community computers — we’re focusing on a connection center, where individuals feel connected to the community and connected to services,” Zendejas said. “They’re able to connect to physical, mental and social health. We also want this to be a place where people hang out too. So if someone walks through our building, they don’t necessarily know what someone’s doing. It’s just a place where people want to be to feel connected.”

One of the ways RISE is planning to build community connections includes cooking classes in a classroom kitchen.

“One of the big ones is that there will be a large classroom commercial kitchen,” Zendejas said. “We want people to come and prepare meals to teach other community members a recipe of the month. It’s a classroom-style kitchen, so people can go and learn. It’s going to be a transformational space building facility for our community.”

Overall, the community center will come at a steep price, and Zendejas expressed his gratitude for the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation.

“None of this would be possible without the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation supporting their community and willing to invest — still not sure how much this facility will cost, but it will be in the multi-millions,” Zendejas said. “For them to invest and give back to their community — words really can’t express the tremendous gift that they’re giving.”

Written by: Stella Tran — city@theaggie.org


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