Our Work When the Mutual Assistance Network (MAN) was developed as a concept in 1991, Del Paso Heights was a struggling community. A person driving through the neighborhood was greeted by drug dealers on almost every corner, boarded up houses on every block, piles of garbage on the street, violence throughout the neighborhood, and an overwhelming feeling of injustice from the residents.
To engage the residents, the majority of MAN’s daily activities focused on meeting the imminent needs of the community. Activities included case management, home visitation, crisis intervention and assisting residents to acquire resources to address daily functioning such as food, housing, clothing and medical assistance. Heavily influence by the social service model, these activities often solely addressed an individual’s or family’s short term needs.
Realizing that the problems plaguing families were not going away, MAN adjusted its work to improve the community and address root causes of family problems. By studying the elements that exist in strong communities around the Sacramento region, MAN in partnership with the residents began introducing those elements within Del Paso Heights. To start, MAN introduced social elements that bring individuals of all economic backgrounds together (exercise & fitness classes, youth sports leagues, year-round family events, Farmers Market and Produce Market, and more). Next, opportunities for social involvement were developed and the ability to take on leadership roles. While there is still a need for many of the services that focus on immediate needs, by pairing them with opportunities for social cohesion the residents have begun to create different expectations for their daily lives and their children’s futures.
Today, thanks to the work of the Mutual Assistance Network and the partnerships that have been established, Del Paso Heights has a very different look and feel to it. There are no drug dealers walking the streets, the houses are painted and yards well kept, youth talk about attending college and starting bank accounts and the neighborhood looks cleaner. Simply stated, Del Paso Heights is beginning to take on some of the characteristics of a healthy and safe neighborhood.
A struggling neighborhood in many ways, Del Paso Heights has begun to see strong improvements in the areas of crime (a 52% decrease in the last six years), student graduation rates (a 12% decrease in drop out rates) and median income level (over $9,000 increase in the last eight years). Additionally the Mutual Assistance Network has introduced new activities over the last few years that are improving health, including a youth sports league, produce market, parenting classes, nutritional information and improved after-school activities.