In 1994 community leaders and concerned citizens identified a need to improve the life of children and seniors throughout the city of Fairfield, California. They formed the Fairfield Community Services Foundation as a public-benefit organization with a mission to provide financial and volunteer support for Fairfield’s parks, recreation activities, the arts and community services.
To meet a growing need for youth programs in the most isolated parts of Fairfield, in 2005 the FCSF forged a public/private partnership with the City of Fairfield’s Parks & Recreation Department to create the award winning Fun on the Run (FOTR) mobile recreation program that brings youth development programs including physical sports, hands-on nutrition education, team building and educational activities directly into Fairfield’s low income neighborhoods.
Other youth and senior programs supported by the FCSF include Senior Dinners, Assist-A-Grad Scholarships, Club Swimtastics, the Annual Holiday Toy Drive for Fun on the Run and more. For more information about these programs please click here.
History of FOTR:
More than a decade ago, FOTR began with a van refurbished by the California Prison System Auto Body Shop in Vacaville. In 2006 the Foundation purchased a retired SWAT vehicle to double the outreach of the program. FCSF raised funds to replace the old vans in 2008.
In 2014, Medic Ambulance donated a retired vehicle that has been refurbished and dedicated as the “Healthy Living Van.” Managed by trained staff, FOTR uses this van to deliver fresh produce donated by the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano, and provides hands-on healthy cooking and nutrition education. Today there are three vans serving 15 sites during the school year, and 30 sites during the summer months, and reaching more than 1,500 unduplicated children and youth living in isolated neighborhoods.
In recognition of its important impact in the community, FOTR received the 2015 Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce Non Profit of the Year Award, and in 2014 was honored by Kaiser Permanente with the Officer Jim Capoot Community Partner of the Year Award. In past years FOTR was selected for The Helen Putnam Award, a prestigious statewide award of excellence by the League of California Cities, and a statewide award of achievement in the category of cities with populations over 100,000 by the California Parks and Recreation Society.
Fun on the Run Program Highlights:
- Three FOTR vans visit 15 neighborhood sites during the school year, and 30 sites during the summer. This is an increase of 15 new sites in 2016.
- A Healthy Living Van was added to FOTR in 2015 with a focus on nutrition programs, including hands-on skills in food preparation, and distribution of healthy snacks.
- Through a partnership with the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano’s Farm-to-Kids program, families receive several pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables each week. The Healthy Living Van helps distribute these healthy foods, and has been instrumental in enhancing the program.
- A new swim safely program called Club Swimtastics was launched in summer 2016 to provide scholarships for children and youth to participate in group swim lessons at Fairfield’s Aquatics Complex at Allan Witt Park.
- The FOTR program provides ongoing sports and other physical activities to keep kids moving and focused on positive behaviors that boost confidence, self-esteem, and physical and emotional well-being.
- FOTR participants have hands-on experiences with science and animals by experts from Mad Science and Nature’s Critters programs. Hundreds of children experience a new level of learning that they might not have access to otherwise.
- Each September, the Fairfield Community Services Foundation donates more than 375 backpacks filled with school supplies for participants at FOTR sites, getting them off to a strong start for the school year.
- In collaboration with the Fairfield Fire Department, the Fairfield Host Lions, Fairfield Kiwanis, Rodriguez Key Club, Twilight Rotary and a number of community businesses, the FCSF organizes the Annual Holiday Toy Drive for Fun on the Run. Now in its 4th year, firefighters, staff and city officials help distribute over 1000 new toys including bicycles.
- The Fairfield Police Department considers FOTR an effective crime prevention resource, providing a safe place for at-risk youth, and a positive alternative for potentially destructive behaviors.
FCSF Community Partners:
The Fairfield Community Services Foundation (FCSF) continues to have a strong Board of Directors comprised of business people and community leaders who work closely with the City of Fairfield staff.
The Foundation maintains community partnerships and collaborations with a number of local service organizations which help support the Foundation’s programs. Since 2004 the Fairfield Host Lions have hosted Prime Rib in the Park, a major fundraising event that raises over $20,000 annually for FOTR. In 2013 the Fairfield Twilight Rotary launched it’s Annual Lobster Boil fundraiser for FOTR that raises $10,000 annually. The Fairfield-Suisun Rotary partners with the Foundation to cook and host dinners for seniors twice a year.
As part of the FCSF’s unique partnership with the City of Fairfield, the Board and FOTR staff work closely with the Fairfield Fire Department and Fairfield Police Department who share a goal to create a safe environment for local families. These and other long term collaborations with the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano, FANNS, Network for Healthy California and others continue to ensure the FOTR program remains a vital community resource.
Mayor Harry T. Price wrote: “FOTR overcomes two key barriers to participation for low-income families: cost and transportation. There is never a charge for participants, the program is free, and it comes right into the neighborhoods it serves…These recreational opportunities help prevent juvenile delinquency and help at-risk children make positive lifestyle choices.”
Fairfield’s Chief of Police, Joe Allio wrote: “Fun on the Run meets the need of our youth where they live! The Fairfield Police Department fully supports the broad range of support FOTR provides for our youth from sports, Healthy Living, swim scholarships and positive interactions with mentors to boost self-confidence. FOTR helps build a better safer Fairfield.”
Fairfield’s Fire Chief, Tony Velasquez wrote: “FOTR has and will continue to make a significant difference in the lives of the children here in Fairfield. This program enables children and families to have access to opportunities that they would not otherwise have had. It sets them up for success in every part of their lives. The education and healthy activities provided by this program will create a solid foundation for a great future.”
Fairfield’s Former Chief of Police, Walt Tibbett, wrote: “These are communities where parents often have no accessible mode of transportation to get their kids to other programs. When the FOTR van shows up in their own front yards, there is an immediate safe place for kids to go, and for parents to trust. The mere presence of the van, the city staff, kids and families at the site is a large contributor to deterring criminal activity in those areas.”