Raving about Raven

Raven Leigh Hilden, far left, and some of her volunteers at the city of Menifee’s Independence Day Celebration. Courtesy photo

Raven Leigh Hilden, CEO of the Valley Resource Center in Temecula, recently received one of 15 Leadership Impact awards from the University of Phoenix out of more than 100 nominees.

Hilden and her volunteers have earned many accolades over the past three years as her organization served those with various needs within the greater Temecula and Menifee valleys. Her community-service oriented charitable organization was also recently nominated as Nonprofit Organization of the Year by the Murrieta/Wildomar Chamber of Commerce.

“While we certainly didn’t expect to be nominated, since there are so many other well-deserving nonprofits operating in the valley, we greatly appreciated this special recognition,” Hilden said. “It is our volunteers and community partners that made it possible.”

The Valley Resource Center is a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to connecting the community to local, low-cost and free comprehensive resources through community organizational outreach and providing philanthropic programs to enrich the lives of veterans, seniors and families in the community. It is a free resource connecting people in need to community programs and events in the private and public sector. They offer a proactive approach for self-sustainability for parents, children, veterans, seniors and members of the community. They also provide educational opportunities and workshops to improve quality of life through partnerships with nonprofit, for profit and social service programs.

Hilden attended the University of Phoenix and earned an associate degree in criminal justice and a bachelor’s degree in human services and management, Hilden decided to create the Valley Resource Center while working as an aide to California Assembly member Melissa Melendez as a field representative. One of her duties in that role was to visit various nonprofit organizations throughout the area to see what specific services they provided to the community. While in this role she discovered that there was a real need for these myriad organizations to be connected online in a way that was easy to locate, so she developed a “resource center,” including as many as possible.

Over the past 36 months, the Valley Resource Center has grown exponentially by continuing to build synergistic relationships with more and more community service and other organizations throughout the valley that provide valuable services to the community.

The Valley Resource Center works with Adopt-A-Troop program, which sends monthly care packages to deployed military members each month with letters of support and encouragement. Most of the troops they support are from the community and are referred to them by a friend or loved one.

They have shared hundreds of local resources, filled hundreds of backpacks with school supplies for needy families and raised over $600 for a World War II veteran and replaced his flooring. The Valley Resourse Center has helped seniors with technology through their Senior Technology Table, a monthly program that assists seniors with computers, tablets and cellphones at no charge. They provide assistance with social media interaction, working with apps, website navigation and more. Their goal is to empower older adults by connecting them to community resources to help them live connected and fulfilling lives.

The resource center also provides support for local homeless shelters, sponsors a special infant and toddler food giveaway and offers nonprofit assistance and support for other local nonprofits.

According to Hilden, there are many ways for volunteers to help.

“We encourage people to volunteer with any local nonprofit organization, volunteer with us, of course, donate items for our military care packages, refer a family who needs assistance, become a sponsor or give resource suggestions,” Hilden said, who moved to the area 16 years ago when her children were young so they could be raised in a family-friendly environment.

Hilden said she has a long-term goal of expanding the Valley Resource Center to serve the needs of the ever-growing southwest Riverside County area.

“There is a tremendous need to connect people requiring various services with the organizations out there that are ready, willing and able to assist them in a variety of ways,” Hilden said. “My desire is to help fill that need and make it easier for those who need help to find the best places to secure the specific help they are looking for.”