Inside Aera

 

Aera in the Community Mar 11, 2021

Helping put food on the table for Ventura’s westside neighborhood

Aera Energy provided more than 2,000 sturdy bags for families to bring their groceries home

Jamie Gill (left) and Anita Diaz (right), community service coordinators for the City of Ventura, prepare bags of groceries for families to pick up from the Westpark Community Center. Diaz holds one of the Aera-donated bags.

Anita Diaz has dedicated most of her 34-year career with the City of Ventura to helping meet the needs of local families through the Westpark Community Center.

During the pandemic, she was especially focused on providing 70 families with free groceries every month. But Diaz was also faced with the challenge of finding enough sturdy bags to pack free food for families to take home — a journey that for many families takes place on foot.

“We would struggle almost every month to find enough bags to pack the food in,” said Diaz, a community services coordinator for the City of Ventura. “Eventually we had to start asking families to bring their own bags, which they often would forget to bring.”

In November, when the city was preparing more than 70 pack-and-go lunches every day for distance-learning students, the shortage of bags became an even bigger issue—especially for families picking up meals for more than one child.

That’s when Aera-Ventura stepped in to provide more than 2,000 sturdy bags to support the city’s various food donation programs.

“It may seem minor, but we are so very thankful and appreciative for Aera’s donation,” Diaz said. “We can now provide free food to families, so they can spend their limited funds on rent or paying other necessary expenses. Aera-Ventura has proven it is a local business that is invested supporting the needs of our community.”

On March 1, Diaz officially retired, bringing a sweet ending to a 20-year stint supporting westside Ventura residents at the center. She said with committed community partners like Aera, she finds comfort in knowing the center and the residents it supports will be just fine.

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