Colleen has been the Executive Director at SBCC for over 40 years. When she began at SBCC the total budget of the agency was $ 75,000. The agency was located on Manhattan Beach Blvd. on the second floor. A Psychic Advisor was below SBCC on the 1st floor. The agency had 4 counseling rooms and a back hall we used for child therapy.
Today SBCC 's main office is in Wilmington California. SBCC has a county wide presence and a $6 million budget. SBCC has grown from a mental health focus to a social change agency empowering Los Angeles residents to develop lasting skills for the betterment of their community and in turn themselves. SBCC has three major ventures: Community Activation, Economic Vitality, and Individual, Family and Community Resilience. SBCC believes change comes from within and to change the narrative for disenfranchised residents and neighborhoods, we must seize opportunities and environments where communities can demand equity. That means giving people true hope through tools and resources that work. Under Colleen's leadership, SBCC rejects solutions that prioritize traditional social services. Instead, SBCC chooses innovative neighborhood ventures, resiliency, and diversity. After working with John McKnight at North Western University, Colleen introduced the model of Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) to SBCC's work. The core value of ABCD is the belief that every individual has gifts and talents to contribute and that together we build a equitable and just society. All of the programs at SBCC operate from that principle.
SBCC serves over 20,000 individuals, children and families a year. During the Covid-19 pandemic, under Colleen's leadership SBCC never closed it's doors. Many of SBCC's participants were the first to lose their jobs and many of those jobs have not come back. SBCC relocated all it's programs to the SBCC Facebook page in order to continue to engage our participants. SBCC organized multiple food distribution strategies including daily breakfast and lunch Grab and Go, weekly distribution of organic fruits and vegetables which we deliver to residents and families, weekly distribution of hot meals in Wilmington, South LA and the Antelope Valley and weekly distributions of freshly grown produce from our very own community garden. SBCC also distributes face masks, hygiene products, cleaning products and diapers and baby supplies. SBCC also raised a fund to assist folks with rent, utilities, car insurance payments and other bills. Colleen believes in the value of community engagement and community building and leadership means you walk your talk. Her motto is "you are what you do, not what you say".
"In keeping with my philosophy of action not talk , the one accomplishment you won't see on my resume is a college degree. I admire everyone who has the fortitude to invest 4 or 5 years in learning about the world and speculating about intellectual solutions to real life pain and disenfranchisement but I learned about solutions to poverty and lack of access to opportunities by experiencing that journey myself.
I have been fascinated by the renewed focus on resiliency and adverse childhood trauma. And all the money to be made through trainings, workshops and credentials.
I don't know anyone who has not experienced some trauma and I don't think they trained their way out of that experience. I think we all mobilize hope, reach out to friends, maintain a sense of community, and have the courage to get up every morning and fight back."