After many years of living with seemingly insurmountable challenges, Westside neighbors joined forces with consultants and staff from the City of Ventura to plot out hopes and dreams for a brighter future. The group arrived at a clarity of purpose but an overwhelming list of work to do. WCDC founder, Sharon Troll, tells the story of how this point led to the formation of the WCDC:
“And so it begins…
One day, I took one of the experts hired by the City on a tour with me. I drove her off the beaten track and took her through the oldest and most in-need areas. I showed her the first large tract of homes ever built in the city of Ventura, now a Historical District. Many of these wonderful cottages were tired and sagging and lacking care. After all this, was the oldest part of the City. You had to look very closely and use a little of your imagination to see them as they were and to see their potential promise of a great future for the oil field and service workers who lived there.
She was excited for all of us. So much potential, so much history. I took her through the alleys, the oil fields, the falling down buildings and the shuttered businesses. I wanted her to see the warts as well as the great beauty of my community. I told her of our Community Policing and Public Safety Committee and how neighbors worked with the Fire Department, Code Enforcement and Police Department ato keep each other safe.
By the time we returned, she had something that she wanted to share with me. She then introduced me to the concept of Community Based Development Corp. or CBDO as it is know. A 501-c-3 that can raise funding for housing of all types, businesses, offering free classes on environmental issues, and so much more. The plus is that this organization can partner with other organizations to pool money and people to take on big projects. She also stated that it wasn’t easy to get this non-profit status and there would be a lot of paperwork…
It took hours and hours of researching and homework and wearing out a keyboard on my computer as I searched and searched for how to start a CBDO. It took years, yes, years but with the help of an attorney and money from friends, we finally received our official paperwork granting us our CBDO status in 2003. Thus the Westside Community Development Corp (WCDC) was official. A huge success but far from a smooth working organization. Yep, now the real work began. Presenting to the City, getting the City Council approval. Getting a board together, applying for our first grant. Pitfalls, yes, but bravely we stepped over them and sucked it up and keep dreaming and moving forward.
That brings us up to today. We have a wonderful active Board of Directors. We are all proud of all the hard work that went into getting the WCDC where it is today. We are so proud of the dedicated and capable staff that shared a dream and continue to make it a reality.
On one of the walls at the WCDC office it states “I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live it is my duty to do for it whatever I can” – George Bernard Shaw.
And so it is that the WCDC continues to move forward towards a brighter future for all who call “the Avenue” home.”
~ Sharon Troll ~
Other Founding Members include: Mike Del Dosso, Art Troll