All-star squad performing at the annual “Community in Unity” event.
Bay Point, formerly known as West Pittsburg, is an unincorporated suburban area located in eastern Contra Costa County, just west of the city of Pittsburg.
Living in an unincorporated area, Bay Point residents face the unique challenge of not having their own post office or police department. To attend high school, students have to take public transit to Mount Diablo High in Concord or Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, a commute that can be as long as one hour each way. Schools are hubs for extracurricular activities and programs to support healthy growth and development, an especially important factor to Bay Point, as one-third of the population is younger than 18 years old.
This diverse community is close-knit and has a strong sense of unity, where everyone works together. The recession significantly impacted Bay Point, now nearly one-fifth of the population lives below the poverty line. Even with these obstacles, the community’s characteristic resilience has kept residents working together to find solutions.
There has been a revitalization of services in Bay Point since the United Way, in partnership with the Contra Costa Employment and Human Services Department, recently opened a Bay Point SparkPoint Center. SparkPoint is working along with other service providers to help strengthen families financially and in turn strengthen the local economy. There continues to be a need for local youth programs, to engage and create a community for children and teens in Bay Point.
In 2013, The Koshland Committee selected eight Bay Point leaders who stand out for their values of dedication and passion to improving the quality of life for their neighbors.
Bay Point Koshland Fellows
“The energy between the group of eight new Fellows, and their commitment to the Bay Point community, is incredibly powerful, the possibilities to create change are endless.” – Retha Robinson, Director of the Koshland Program
Lynsie Shatswell Castellano
Lynsie credits her achievements to mentors and teachers that believed in her and encouraged her to pursue her goals. Now as an Administrator at Riverview Middle School she hopes to inspire and have the same positive change on her students.
In her role, Lynsie coordinates a myriad of services, including, the English Learner Program, student scheduling, mental health services and parent leadership workshops. Lynsie is the liaison with Bay Point Elementary Schools and is also responsible for implementing the Quality Education and Investment Act grant which establishes a low student per teacher ratio and sets a high standard for student achievement and teacher experience.
Lynsie grew up in the Bay Point and Concord areas. Her American Indian family taught her the importance of volunteering and giving back to the community. These same ideals run deep in her life and she looks forward to serving the students and community of Bay Point for years to come.
Cynthia Garrett is passionate about providing mental health support and linking her clients to community resources, so that they may lead healthier and more prosperous lives. She has 20 years of experience with various community-based organizations throughout Contra Costa County. Currently, Cynthia is a Community Health Advocate with the African American Wellness Program, one of several prevention-focused programs at the Center for Human Development.
She facilitates support groups as well as community education workshops on such topics as stress management and self-care. Cynthia’s position also allows her to collaborate with SparkPoint East Contra Costa in Bay Point, where her focus is enrolling residents in health care coverage.
Early on in her career, she worked with the Youth Services Bureau and later at Rubicon Programs, her focus was on welfare-to-work recipients. She worked as a case manager with the Black Infant Health Program at Brighter Beginnings before joining the Center for Human Development in 2010.
Trina Hudson is a firm believer in the power of community residents to effect positive change. Trina came to Bay Point over two decades ago to raise her children, and she quickly became involved in fundraising and volunteering at her children’s school.
In later years, Trina’s focus shifted to ecological issues. She is involved in Bay Point’s creek and watershed cleanups, Bay Point Habitat for Humanity projects, and has organized clean up days for the local park. She is extensively involved with Volunteers for Outdoor California a non-profit group that partners with local and state park districts to restore, maintain and create new hiking trails.
Trina is a council member and secretary of the Bay Point Municipal Advisory Council, and a panelist on the Community Advisory Panel which promotes mutual understanding and improves communication between the community and local industry. Finally, Trina is a founding member of “The Neighborhood Committee” an umbrella organization over local sheriffs, fire, safety groups and Neighborhood Watch groups to improve information sharing with an ethnically diverse Bay Point population.
As a single teenage mother Paola Lara encountered many challenges; she found herself in the public benefits system while struggling to finish her education. This is the reason she is so passionate and dedicated to help others find a path out of poverty and into long-term employment.
Paola is a Career Development Case Manager for Opportunity Junction providing guidance and motivation by helping low-income adults get back into the workforce with a high priority in serving Bay Point residents.
Paola is a first generation college student and recently obtained her certification as a Global Career Development Facilitator. She has served as an AmeriCorps member and volunteered for several community organizations including a battered woman’s shelter, American Red Cross, Kern Chapter and most recently Adopt-A-Road in Bay Point.
Paola continually strives to instill in her two young children that volunteering and being a leader in the community will have a positive impact and lead to social change in her neighborhood.
After 38 years of service, Deborah Roberts retired as an IT Specialist/Project Manager from Chevron USA Inc. in 2010. Since her retirement, she has dedicated herself to carry-out her mission to educate, improve and empower others to make positive behavioral changes and healthy nutrition choices.
She currently serves as an officer of the Contra Costa Health Ministry Network, participating in various projects that focus on the goal of making healthy long-lasting changes in the lives of residents of the Bay Point community. Since 1998 Deborah has been a member of First AME Community Church in Bay Point, presently serving as the health ministry coordinator.
As a trained ambassador for the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, Deborah designs and implements educational health related workshops and programs to address current community health disparities. She leads by example and encourages her family, Church Family, and, the community to eat healthy and increase their physical activity.
Rande Ross could have easily gone down the wrong path, but his mother kept him and his brother involved in after school programs; which gave them alternative and constructive ways to occupy their time and energy.
While attending California State University Hayward, he started working with youth at a recreation facility and felt like it was his calling. After college Rande continued to work in the recreational and educational fields, mentoring and coaching, ultimately working at Bay Point’s Ambrose Recreation and Park district as an After School Program Coordinator. After two years, he was promoted to the Teen Center Coordinator a position in which he developed mentorship programs to support high school age youth transitioning to college or career paths.
Rande’s commitment and dedication to serving, mentoring, supporting and providing quality programs, has earned him trust, respect and an outstanding reputation with the participants and the community.
Jackie Santamaria is the first generation in her Central-American family to be born in the United States. She is a life-long resident of Bay Point and remains committed to continue her mission of working with local youth to improve their neighborhood. Jackie was a leader and bridge-builder throughout her K-12 education. As a teen, Jackie was elected President at her church’s youth group where she coordinated food distribution to the homeless.
Jackie is the Program Coordinator for Project SUCCESS (Schools Using Coordinated Community Efforts to Strengthen Students) at Riverview Middle school in Bay Point and Martin Luther King School in Pittsburg. Project SUCCESS is a school-based program designed to prevent and reduce substance abuse among at-risk high school adolescents ages 14 to 18. Jackie has a two-year old daughter and is currently attending Diablo Valley College.
Jovana Vasquez wholeheartedly believes in the power of community organizing as a way to positively fight for change. At the height of massive neighborhood raids and deportations, she began working with CCISCO, (Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization) a faith based community organization, and, pushed for the passage of the DREAM Act among other campaigns.
Jovana continues her work as a Lead Organizer for ACCE, Alliance of Californian’s for the Community Empowerment. She was instrumental in winning new blight and vacant property ordinances that helped turn the City of Richmond’s Code Enforcement department into one of the most aggressive in the state.
Born and raised in Bay Point she was given the opportunity to organize in her own town this year with ACCE. Recently, she hosted a neighborhood meeting at the Ambrose Center where over 150 Bay Point residents attended and discussed neighborhood safety and the need for youth services.