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May 17, 2011 > History: Centro de Servicios

History: Centro de Servicios

By Myrla Raymundo

Centro de Servicios, located in the Decoto District of Union City, was established in 1974 as part of East Bay Spanish-Speaking Citizens' Foundation, a non-profit, community-based organization. The Quonset building was the first store in Decoto, named the Decoto Variety Store. Owners Al and Marcela Roderigues operated the store for twenty years and long-time Decoto residents still remember buying candies from the store.

Centro de Servicios' mission is one of community improvement. It includes helping the needy and indigent, securing immediate basic needs and rights, regaining pride and dignity and, ultimately, helping them to become self-sufficient and productive members of society. The agency also holds the distinction of being Southern Alameda County's oldest non-profit agency. Centro de Servicios had served more than 25,000 families throughout its 37 years of operation. The dedicated staff and volunteers serve more than 800 families and individuals each month.

Located in the heart of Union City's Decoto District, Centro de Servicios has a thrift store and resource center. The thrift store, that offers a wide variety of clothing, kitchen appliances and toys, helps offset some of the agency's overhead expenses and provides funds for scholarships. Community Development Block Grant funds through the Redevelopment Agency underwrites the facilities and provides major fiscal support. Services include information and referrals, translation/interpretation, food, shelter and clothing assistance, job preparation and placement assistance, legal; aid and general support services for families at risk. Thrift Store Manager Don Carlos Vejar is also the Deputy Director of the Centro de Servicios Resource Center and a member of the Alameda County Community Food Bank Board of Directors.

Born in Cali, Colombia, Jaime Jaramillo, the executive director of Centro de Servicios came to Union City in 1968 and worked as a laborer at General Electric in San Jose. He became a timekeeper at Electric Company in San Lorenzo and was later hired by a State funded program as a Youth Program Director. Hired as a part-time Youth Program Director for the City of Union City, Jaime later transferred to the Alameda County Probation Department and finally began working for Centro de Servicious in 1996. He also served as Planning Commissioner in the City of Union City for several years. His wife Carmen has worked as a Legal Aide in Hayward and Union City for 35 years. Jaime and Carmen have three children: Lucer, Marisol and Jaime Jr.

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