El Rio/Nyeland Acres

We believe that God has pointed us to serve the people of El Rio/Nyeland Acres. El Rio/Nyeland Acres is a culturally mixed low-income, unincorporated district of Oxnard, California. While our services are available to any qualified residents in these two communities, the majority consist of Hispanic and Latino families, many of whom speak little or no English. Additionally, within these communities we have encountered a number of Mixteco families from Mexico that live and work in and around the agriculture industries of Ventura County. The "Mixtec" or "Mixteco" people, as they are referred to in the area, are a distinct culture in Ventura County. Many of them speak only their native Mixtecan language and dialect and have little proficiency in either Spanish or English.

Our goal is NOT to change the cultures or the peoples El Rio and Nyeland Acres, but to serve and help in them. We have identified three areas of need where we think Mercy Ministries can begin to serve these communities. Those three areas are:

  1. Food and Nutrition
  2. Primary school Education assistance
  3. A Transitional Living Home for single mothers

In January 2008 we started two “foothold” programs designed to help us make contact with and get acquainted with the people of El Rio/Nyeland Acres by providing them food and education assistance. We opened a Food Pantry to provide food to low-income families so that these families can use their much-needed income for other necessities. Each week we collect food from Food Share of Ventura County, the USDA, Children's Hunger Fund and through private donations from individuals and churches. We are partnering on a weekly basis with 1st Baptist Church, El Rio as a distribution site for qualified families. Admission to the program is based on residency and other certain qualifying criteria. A picture ID showing proof of residency in El Rio or Nyeland Acres is required each week to pick up food. For questions regarding registration, please call 805.983.0044.

Secondly, we also see a great need for educational assistance for children in these communities. Education is a cornerstone of building one’s life up in a positive way in the midst of illiteracy and desperation. The local public school system has some of the lowest test scores in the state. For many of the children living here, English is not their native language as many come from homes that speak primarily Spanish or their native Mixtecan. These children are very capable learners, but need assistance in the educational process. Mercy Ministries has volunteers who have years of experience in full-time education, individualized tutoring, and the development of a lifelong learning mindset. Through a volunteer coordinated effort, we opened the Kid Power Tutoring Center in January 2008, which meets two days each week. Admission into this program is by appointment only. As our experience and network grows we envision expanding our education programs to include vocational training, assistance with job searching, connecting residents with local employers, and other education assistance for the adults of the community.

Thirdly, we also feel compelled to respond to the plight of the single mothers by opening a Mercy Center Transitional Living Home. El Rio is not unique in having a population of young women who, through choices made early in life or by conditions not of their choosing, find themselves alone and responsible for the care of one or more young children. Many of these women possess few job skills, little education and are locked into a cycle of violence, drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, and desperation. Mercy Ministries is currently seeking corporate sponsorship and/or angel donors to help get this project underway. Anyone interested in providing sponsorship can call Paul Janowski at 805.427.1181 or Jim Owens at 805.732.4592.