2015-03-13 / Community

Nonprofit aims to address root of family issues

Kick-off event on Sun., March 29
By Art Van Kraft


CHARITABLE—Dale Parvin, right, of the Moorpark Chamber of Commerce board of directors, welcomes to the Chamber Antonio Castro and his new nonprofit organization, Ruben Castro Charities. 
Courtesy of Ruben Castro Charities CHARITABLE—Dale Parvin, right, of the Moorpark Chamber of Commerce board of directors, welcomes to the Chamber Antonio Castro and his new nonprofit organization, Ruben Castro Charities. Courtesy of Ruben Castro Charities Moorpark residents dealing with hardship will find more than a handout from the newly formed Ruben Castro Charities.

Antonio Castro, charity president, said the organization will focus on the problems that cause many families to struggle in a tough economy.

“There are many instances where the real problem is not a fi- nancial issue but something else,” Castro said. “It could be a healthor mental-health-related issue or just chronic bad decisions.”

The charity, formed by family members of the late Ruben Castro, received nonprofit status last January.

Ruben Castro, who died in December 2009 at the age of 80, was best known for his work with the food pantry in Moorpark and his decades-long effort to feed and educate the city’s poorest residents.

In 2007, the Moorpark City Council decided to the name the newly formed Ruben Castro Human Services Center after the man who not only served as program manager for the Moorpark Food Pantry, but also became a leader of the city’s Latino community.

Antonio Castro supervises foster youth for the Conejo Valley Unified School District. He meets with the families of the students he counsels. He said the experience gives him insight into family dynamics.

“If the families realize that I am genuine, it opens up a communication,” Castro said. “They are more open to solutions in the long term instead of focusing on the short term.”

Eric Sternad, Interface Child and Family Services director, said a root-cause approach is sorely needed, and he welcomes the addition of the Ruben Castro Charity.

Most money spent by social services is devoted to existing problems, with precious few dollars spent on early prevention, Sternad said.

A good example, he said, was the positive parenting program Interface started last year. The six-week course counsels families who have children with emotional or behavioral problems.

“We take children with serious mental health issues and by the end of the parenting program, those symptoms will have decreased or disappeared,” Sternad said. “What is amazing is we are not meeting with the children, just the parents.”

He said early intervention can change the course of a child’s life and that early intervention is key to helping children be successful adults.

“We have good evidence behind intervening early and eliminating these problems in the first place,” Sternad said. “The Ruben Castro Charity can play a big part in that.”

The charity will also support local education with contributions to the Ruben Castro Memorial Scholarship, regularly awarded to a Moorpark High School graduating senior every spring.

“The need for education is the key to breaking the cycle of hardship,” Castro said. “That is what my grandfather stood for.”

Castro said fundraising is the first priority. He is reaching out to volunteers, school districts and businesses for support.

To help get things rolling, the Secret Garden restaurant at 255 E. High St. will host the Ruben Castro Charities kickoff event from 1 to 4 p. m. Sun., March 29. The suggested donation is $15.

The building now used by the Secret Garden once housed Castro’s Market.

The theme for the afternoon is “A Gatsby Sunday” and 1920sinspired attire is encouraged. The event will have live music and entertainment.

To register for the kickoff, call (805) 248-7113, ext. 105. go to www.rubencastrocharities.org.

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