North Roseville R.E.C. Center
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Photo by Dante Fontana
There is an African proverb that states, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
In the Roseville Heights neighborhood, it takes a community not only to raise a child, but also to keep them from joining gangs. The North Roseville Recreation Education & Creativity (R.E.C.) Center is doing just that on a shoestring budget – working out of an older, donated school modular building.
Executive Director Machel Miller-Presley has built a wonderful home-away-from-home for the kids and families in this impoverished slice of Placer County. Kids scramble around laughing and learning in the cramped room filled with a large table, small kitchen, and tons of love and encouragement. Neighborhood mothers are bustling around cooking and serving rice, vegetables and meat. For some of these kids, it will be their only hot meal of the day.
There are only funds for the R.E.C. Center to be open Monday to Friday. During the school year, it is open after class when Miller-Presley works hard to feed nearly 40 kids each evening. In the summer months, the R.E.C. Center is open earlier in the day and the population at the dinner table explodes to 80 kids. The Placer Food Bank provides the bulk of the fare that is now grown in the community garden.
Outside, kids of all ages are creating chalk drawings on the cement, boys are playing pick-up basketball and others are sweeping and cleaning. According to Miller-Presley, this is the neighborhood’s community center…the kids are here instead of on the street.
Miller-Presley credits the R.E.C. Center for saving lives by saving kids from entering gangs or getting into trouble. “People usually think of gang members as adults,” but Miller-Presley clarifies, “they are between 12 and 15 years old.” Her mission is to provide a stable environment so that at-risk youth can reach their full potential. She is doing that by fostering an atmosphere that brings free services to those whom need it the most.
Recreation, education, nutrition and creativity are positively encouraged and taught every hour they are open. The R.E.C. Center brings drug and alcohol resistance programs, gang intervention, a homework club, computer lab, field trips, meals, and provides school supplies and clothing – all at no cost to the families. “It is important to offer fun stuff to get the kids in here,” Miller-Presley says. The R.E.C. Center offers the only cost-free program in Placer County.
“Although our name is Roseville, we do not get regular funding from the City,” Miller-Presley says. Their funding comes via a yearly Citizen’s Benefit Grant. They have received grants from area corporations and the Sacramento Kings. Wells Fargo Bank Spokesperson Julie Campbell knows it is important to fund grants for this local center too. “For our company to be successful,” Campbell says, “we need our community to be successful also.”
Nineteen years old and very shy, Jose Arciniega loves the R.E.C. Center and explains, “It feels like home here…there is no peer pressure here.” He knows Roseville’s R.E.C. Center saved him from a guaranteed unsuccessful path in life. For that he is grateful.
For more information or to get involved, visit northrosevillereccenter.org.