Puente is a 10-year-old, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Its mission is to provide vital services for men, women, children, and families living in the rural San Mateo South Coast communities of Pescadero, La Honda, Loma Mar, and San Gregorio. Puente provides a single point of entry for men, women, and children to have access to safety net services, health and wellness services, youth employment, leadership development, and community engagement and action.
The Puente Community
Puente is the only community resource center for the South Coast. The individuals and families served by Puente face wide-ranging challenges that are often compounded by the isolation that stems from living in rural communities, language barriers, and difficulties with negotiating a new cultural and social landscape. After nearly a decade of operation, in 2007 Puente de la Costa Sur and North Street Community Resource Center merged to create Puente Resource Center. The goal of the merger was to provide a “one-stop” family resource and community center for a more convenient and efficient approach to bring a wider range of services to the communities it serves. In the summer of 2009, Puente was designated as San Mateo County’s eighth “Core Service,” providing basic emergency and support services including food, transportation, shelter referrals, housing assistance, and client advocacy to the South Coast. In addition, Puente provides an array of health, literacy, and education services.
Puente responds to its community’s needs in the most rural region of the greater Bay Area. The South Coast of San Mateo County covers about 160 mostly undeveloped square miles, including the unincorporated areas of Pescadero, San Gregorio, La Honda, and Loma Mar. The area holds 40% of the County’s land mass, but only 1% of its people. Located fifty miles south of San Francisco, the region is isolated from the San Francisco Peninsula by the Santa Cruz Mountains. The four communities have no dental or medical providers, pharmacies, laundromats, department or hardware stores, libraries, or supermarkets. Nearly all services are located in Half Moon Bay, 17.8 winding miles of two-lane road north of Pescadero. With only one SamTrans route available to serve the Coast, public transportation by appointment only with SamCoast, and limited private vehicles, Half Moon Bay is difficult for many to reach. Without cars or driver’s licenses, it is virtually impossible to travel out of the area for supports that most San Mateo County residents take for granted.