Foothill Unity Center Opens New Headquarters Facility “Down the Street,” in Monrovia

Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 | 1:16 PM

Members of the Foothill Unity Center staff and board surround Center Executive Director Betty McWilliams (center, blue shirt), longtime Center supporter Betty Sandford, Board of Directors President Mary Ann Lutz and Director Emeritus Joan Whitenack (all to her left) at the ribbon cutting for the organization’s new location at 790 W. Chestnut Ave. in Monrovia.



Foothill Unity Center realized a decades-long dream when it unveiled its first permanent building at at 709 West Chestnut Avenue in Monrovia on Thursday, May 17. The ceremony began at 5:30 p.m., with the ribbon cutting at 6 p.m. The facility is six blocks west of the organization’s prior leased location.


The Center, the primary provider of food, case management/crisis help, and access to health care resources across eleven San Gabriel Valley cities, has worked out of leased facilities throughout its 38-year history. At its previous headquarters, operations were divided between two small buildings a block apart. The current purchase is being funded through public donations to a capital campaign, From Dream to Reality. To date, $XX million of the $6.2 million total has been secured, with vigorous fundraising efforts ongoing.


The much larger facility vastly enhances the capabilities of the organization’s staff, volunteers and award-winning programs. “We can now talk privately with clients, rather than in shared offices or public spaces,” says Center Director Betty McWilliams. “Our food trucks can deliver directly into the building, including our cold storage facilities. There is an elevator for accessibility, and an array of spaces where volunteers, board members and other groups can meet and collaborate. Two kitchens will improve our presentation of food education programs and cooking demonstrations for clients. And in contrast to the limited short-term street parking at our previous location, our new home features a spacious parking lot.”


Founded in a borrowed church closet in 1980, Foothill Unity Center is now the federally designated Community Action Agency for the Foothill Area and the primary provider of food, temporary shelter, transportation, referrals, and a variety of health services to low-income children, individuals and families in Monrovia, Arcadia, Duarte, Pasadena, Altadena, South Pasadena, Sierra Madre, Bradbury, Azusa, Baldwin Park and Irwindale. The Center has steadily expanded its programs and grown its client base, which more than tripled over the last five years. 79% of clients are at or below the National Poverty Level.


The Center’s overall goal is to help families gain stability as they strive toward self-sufficiency, while treating every client with love and dignity. With the establishment of its new home, meeting that objective will take on new dimensions.


Foothill Unity Center programs


Food programs include a weekly distribution of about ten days’ worth of food to qualified individuals and families; a homeless bag lunch program; and monthly homebound grocery delivery.


Support and crisis services, staffed by four full-time case managers, include referrals to support organizations, transitional services for domestic violence victims, housing assistance, emergency shelter motel vouchers, onsite CalFresh food benefits and Medi-Cal enrollment, bus tokens and taxi coupons, clothing vouchers and Center work experience programs.


Health services include an onsite Medical Outreach Clinic for homeless and uninsured adult clients; Child Health Connections, a collaborative of medical, dental, optometric and mental health providers who agree to see a designated number of children at no cost; free health screenings and education; health insurance information; and an annual Pediatric Mobile Dental Clinic.


Pet Food Bank: Last year the bank helped 726 families unable to afford pet food keep their pets. Food and funds come from generous donations by individuals, stores and businesses throughout the community.


Special distributions: The Center hosts three day-long offsite distributions for back-to-school clothing and school supplies, Thanksgiving food boxes, and holiday food boxes and children’s gifts.