Six Stanislaus County residents with different visions but the same values united to create a Modesto nonprofit, dubbed Valley Improvement Projects, dedicated to social and environmental issues.
Their day jobs are in education and health care, but they volunteer their free time providing services to minorities and the poor, the “underrepresented and marginalized,” and advocating for smart growth and development, alternative transportation and better air quality.
Valley Improvement Projects, or VIP, next month will celebrate the one-year anniversary of opening the Community Center for Social and Environmental Justice on 12th Street in Modesto.
At the center, VIP volunteers offer an array of services, from tutoring for elementary and high school students, to hip-hop appreciation and education, to workshops on how to fix bicycles or knowing your rights when stopped by law enforcement.
Four of VIP’s founders, Thomas Helme, Emiliano Mataka, Bianca Lopez and Adam Brazil, tell more about the services they offer and what they believe are some of the biggest issues facing the Central Valley.