El Centro church aims to be a community hub for neighborhood

Brian Melvin (RIGHT) speaks with attendees at Thursday’s Taco Cart and Car Show. Photo by Brett Miller.

EL CENTRO — Residents near 4th Street and Orange were treated to free tacos and a car show May 24 as Christ Community Church sought to connect with its nearby neighbors. The line for tacos began to wind down the block as word spread about the free food and entertainment.

Brian Melvin, in coordination with New Creations, Reach Youth Center, and several other ministries, organized the evening’s events, and was encouraged by the turnout.

“It’s just a part of Christ Community reaching out to the neighborhood here and bringing a good classic and other car shows into the neighborhood free of charge,” said Melvin.

The neighborhood is viewed as among the poorest in El Centro. Roughly 45 percent of the residents in that section of El Centro live below the poverty line, according to city-data.com, an online aggregate data service.

Volunteers expected to feed 400 people that night, serving a total of two hundred pounds of pollo asado, along with beans, rice, sodas, and water. A bluegrass band treated the crowd to music as they ate tacos and surveyed the cars. Gift cards amounting to $250 were raffled off that night as well.

The parking lot was filled with tables for people to eat and socialize, as well as the various cars on display. The event started at 6:00 p.m., but by 6:20 p.m., the number of attendees convinced Melvin that the show was a success.

“It’s probably going to become an annual event,” Melvin said. “Next year we’re probably going to have a full-fledged car show with both parking lots full.”

The original idea to combine free tacos and a car show had seemed to Melvin a good combination, so he got in touch with a friend to see if he was willing to bring out his classic cars.

“Jerry Tucker has some nice show cars, and I called him,” said Melvin. But Tucker wasn’t sure he could make it, so he did the next best thing.

“He got me in touch with his car club,” recalled Melvin. “The Sunrunner Car Club, along with some others, have come out to show off all their cars.”

Although the event was in the works for weeks, some aspects of the evening seemed to come together on their own.

“The other car club that’s here, I don’t even know who they are, but I’m glad they came,” shared Melvin. That club was Team Supremacy, which featured more modern models for car enthusiasts to enjoy.