County services block party held in Richmond

An annual event in Contra Costa County, designed to make life easier for residents, took place in Richmond Thursday evening. 

It was "one stop shopping" for government services and it was open for "business" outside of normal office hours. 

Contra Costa County calls the event a summer “block party.” 

Organizers said it’s designed to give people easy and convenient access to a wide range of services at one location. 

Richmond's Civic Center Plaza was transformed into an outdoor market for more than 50 types of services offered by Contra Costa County, the city of Richmond, and nonprofits such as the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. 

The event started at 5 o'clock Thursday evening. 

"By doing it in the evening hours,  we are making it available to people who are working all day long and giving them a chance to know who we are and the people behind the government buildings," said Tish Gallegos, spokeswoman for Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services.  

People were able to sign up for anything from a library card to important documents, such as marriage licenses and birth certificates. 

They could accomplish tasks where human contact is preferred, but is sometimes seemingly impossible.    

"Getting them on the phone or having the time to come down here to check it out, so having them set up all these tables in one table is helpful," said Jessica Fidalgo of Richmond.  

She and her husband are Marine Corps veterans, who are now attending college.  They said they're looking for health care options for their son and employment opportunities.  

"I heard they're offering jobs. [I] wanted to check those out and maybe get a part-time job," said Fidalgo.   

Some said they came here to try to meet face to face with potential employers after having no luck sending in numerous job applications. 

"I could get access to different resources that are available to help me find what I’m looking for," said Logan Magad-Weiss of San Pablo.  

There was help for humans and their animals.  

A veterinarian with Contra Costa Animal Services micro-chipped pets at five dollars each.  One pet owner said it would have easily cost her $150 for both of her dogs elsewhere. 

"It definitely helps keep our dogs safe and healthy.  It's a great thing to have this event. It definitely helps the community a lot," said Lucy Alfaro of San Pablo.  

People said it was enjoyable to take care of business in a family-friendly atmosphere. 

"I said let me get more information for the kids. What are they going to have, after school programs or activities," said Angelina Ramos who is foster mom to two young boys she brought to the event.   

Organizers said the goal is to make services easily accessible. They plan to move this event to a different city in Contra Costa County each year.