HOLLISTER — The American Red Cross is vacating the building it has rented for many years on Fifth Street in Hollister in favor of a smaller, less expensive administrative office about one-half block away on San Benito Street.
The new office — located in a building at 455 San Benito St. — will open Wednesday, July 5, says Michele Averill, the CEO for the Red Cross’s Central Coast Chapter, which serves Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties. The current office, at 357 5th St., will close June 30.
“We concluded that keeping an office as large as our Fifth Street office open wasn’t justified by need and wasn’t in keeping with our effort to be good stewards of the donor dollar,” Averill says.
Chartered by U.S. Congress to maintain a system of disaster relief, the Red Cross is reliant on the generosity of donors because the organization does not receive regular federal funding to carry out its services and programs.
Averill said the move to San Benito Street will not affect the disaster relief support the Red Cross provides to the residents throughout San Benito County.
“The Red Cross, our corps of local and regional volunteers, and our local partner organizations will continue to work together to provide critical shelter, food, and other services during times of disaster in the county,” she says. “And, most of that work is done in the field.”
The relocation to smaller administrative space will affect the Red Cross’s ability to host training classes at its Hollister office, Averill says.
“But, before deciding to make this move, I was reassured by the people who organize and operate our training classes that they are identifying other venues in downtown Hollister for classes that the Red Cross will continue to offer to residents of San Benito County,” she says.
Longer term, Averill says she has had discussions with the Community Foundation of San Benito County about eventually becoming one of the nonprofit tenants in a planned philanthropic center downtown.
The center is part of the “400 Block” project approved earlier this month by the City Council, at the intersection of San Benito and Fourth streets.
“It’s critically important that we continue to maintain an office in the downtown area,” Averill says. “Being part of the planned philanthropic center there would have the added benefit of making it easier for us to work in close collaboration with other nonprofits that also support the people of Hollister and San Benito County.”