Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Apr 24th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Live to Serve

news2Christine Johnson-Lyons retires from the Community Action Board

After devoting nearly 30 years of her time and energy to fighting for the rights of the poor and disadvantaged of Santa Cruz County, one may expect Christine Johnson-Lyons to have no regrets. But, to the contrary, there is something she wishes she could have done during her time as executive director of the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County (CAB): helped more people in need.

“There’s so much to do, that it’s a matter of prioritizing and deciding where you’re going to put your emphasis and how far to spread yourself out, as well as the agency,” says Johnson-Lyons. “I realized there was a limit to what we could do, so although it was disappointing, I still had to be pragmatic.”

Each year, The Community Assessment Project (CAP) chooses a group of outstanding individuals in Santa Cruz County who have helped to further the CAP’s community improvement goals, which were established in 2010, with hopes of being realized by 2015. In addition to the individual awards presented for each of the CAP’s six categories, such as creating 1,000 more jobs in Santa Cruz County in the category of economics, they also honor one person with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The 2013 recipient was Johnson-Lyons, who retired from her post as executive director of CAB after 27 years on Nov. 22.

Driven to community action as a teenager, after attending a speech given by then-president Lyndon Baines-Johnson in Sacramento about the elimination of poverty, Johnson-Lyons went on to graduate from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in community studies.

“I wanted to do work that would create change in our society,” she says. “I wanted to improve the lives of people, particularly disadvantaged people who have less resources, or those who are potential victims of prejudice and discrimination.”

After working in a series of educational and social service positions around the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas, Johnson-Lyons found a sense of community in the Pajaro Valley. Realizing that she wanted to live and work in Watsonville, Johnson-Lyons served as the children’s commissioner for Santa Cruz County’s 4th District before she became CAB’s executive director in 1986.

“It was a rocky time before I came,” says Johnson-Lyons. “There had been a series of directors who had come and gone. When I started, the budget was $300,000, and now it’s over $3 million. There were only two programs and now there are eight programs.”

news2-2Christine Johnson-Lyons still plans on advocating for the community.CAB was founded in 1965 after the passage of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. During its initial years, the Santa Cruz County Community Action Program, as it was then called, served as an incubator for a variety of initiatives and social service programs that helped to reduce poverty in the county, but lost a majority of its funding during the Vietnam War. In 1977, the program lost its status as a county organization. Once it officially became a nonprofit, its title was changed to the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, Inc. 

Today, with the help of Johnson-Lyons and many others, CAB’s eight programs work to aid recent immigrants, the economically challenged and disadvantaged, as well as adults and youth returning to the community from incarceration.

One of CAB’s programs, the Community Restoration Project, which provides free job training and mentoring to low-income youth and adults, recently completed a clean-up project at Aldridge Lane Park in Corralitos. Under the guidance of the Santa Cruz County Department of Public Works, Parks, Open Spaces, and Cultural Services Division, an adult crew in CAB’s “Work First” program spent two months power-washing, weeding, and fixing up equipment in the park. On Nov. 22, Johnson-Lyons’ last day as executive director, they held a celebration at Aldridge Lane Park to commemorate the makeover, which she attended.

Although Johnson-Lyons has resigned from her role at CAB, she still plans on advocating for community action and serving Santa Cruz County in one form or another. She intends on becoming more active in the Watsonville Wetlands Watch, an environmental group that she helped found, and also hopes to aid in the organization of the national celebration of the 50-year anniversary of the Economic Opportunity Act, which will occur in the State Capitol in May of 2014.

“There are also a lot of things I want to get reconnected to that are important in my life that have been put on the back burner,” says Johnson-Lyons, “like yoga and my garden.”

Taking the reigns as the new executive director of CAB is MariaElena De La Garza, the former deputy director for business development for Janus of Santa Cruz.

“I would like to thank Chris for her 27 years of service and many contributions to our community,” says De La Garza. “Her vision, leadership, and passion have made the difference in the lives of thousands. It is an honor for me to be given the opportunity to continue the work and ensure that the mission of CAB be upheld and celebrated.” 

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Best of Santa Cruz County 2014

The 2014 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll Come on in, and have a look around. There’s a lot to see—hundreds of winners selected by thousands of GT readers across Santa Cruz County. So if some of this looks familiar, it’s probably because you helped make it happen. But there are always new things to discover, too—you could go to a different winner or runner-up every day in the Food and Drink category alone, and you’d be booked just about until next year’s Best of Santa Cruz County issue comes out.

 

Something Essential Disappears

Lunar and solar eclipses follow one another. Lunar eclipses occur at full moons, and solar eclipses at new moons. Two weeks ago at the full moon we had the blood red moon—a total lunar eclipse (the next one is Oct. 8). On Monday night, April 28 (new moon), as the Sun, Moon and Earth align, a solar eclipse (Sun obscured) occurs. Eclipses signify something irrevocably is changed in our world. The Sun is our essential life force. Monday’s new moon, 9 degrees Taurus, is also an annular solar eclipse when the Moon moves centrally in front of the Sun, yet does not cover the Sun completely. The Sun's outer edges, still visible, form a “ring of fire” around the Moon.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Palate-Stretching 101

A wine education with Soif’s experts As a veteran of many weekend wine “seminars” at Soif, I have to confess that I’ve never known less (going in) and learned more (coming out) than I did last week at the Spanish Wine Tasting with ace rep Brian Greenwood. These are classy, casual events and it’s hard to imagine having this much flavor fun anywhere for $20.

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Sauvignon Blanc 2011 One of my favorite wines is Sauvignon Blanc, and this one made by Martin Ranch is particularly lovely. Bright, crisp and refreshing, it’s perfect to pair with fish and shellfish—and good for picnics as it has an easy screw-cap bottle. There’s nothing worse than setting down your blanket, pulling out your sandwiches—and then realizing you don’t have a corkscrew.

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management