Mountain View Voice

News - November 26, 2010

A warm welcome for Day Worker Center

Laborers receive services, education in return for helping community

by Nick Veronin

"One, two, three!"

On that count, about 100 people — laborers, City Council members, school officials and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce — simultaneously tugged segments of the long cloth ribbon which stretched around the side of the squat building. A cry went up as the knots in the sash were undone, signifying the grand opening of the Mountain View Day Worker Center.

After 14 years of bouncing from one temporary location to the next, the center finally has its own home. Located at 133 Escuela Ave., it will serve multiple roles.

It is first and foremost it is a community center of sorts, where day laborers can congregate in the morning and wait to be hired for odd jobs.

The center provides laborers with coffee in the mornings and meals throughout the day. Laborers are recruited each day to prepare breakfast, lunch and an early dinner. Food is donated, bought with donated money or obtained through contributions from the laborers themselves. English classes, taught by volunteers, are held regularly throughout the week. Each Tuesday, a mobile medical unit visits the center to help keep the workers healthy.

The idea is not only to keep day laborers from loitering in parking lots and on city sidewalks — it is meant to build camaraderie and a sense of community.

In that spirit, the Day Worker Center is one of seven local charitable organizations that will receive donations from the Voice's annual Holiday Fund drive. Contributions from readers and local foundations will help support the Day Worker Center's mission of matching community members with skilled laborers, while helping the laborers — many of whom are first-generation Latin American immigrants — integrate.

"It's like our house," Pablo Juarez, a day worker, said of the center.

Juarez can speak English in part due to the Day Worker Center's classes. Before he found out about the Day Worker Center, Juarez used to stand out on the street and hope for work. "When I come here, I feel much better," he said.

Juarez and his fellow day worker Freddy Castro said the city's approval of the Day Worker Center is reassuring to them.

"We are welcome to be here," Castro said.

"The community spoke very loud about their support for us," Maria Marroquin, executive director of the Day Worker Center, said. "We provide a really crucial service to the community."

The 300 or so people in attendance at the grand opening seemed to second Marroquin's assertion.

Those who come to the center to hire help can be sure the men and women they are paying are honest and hard working, Marroquin said.

In order to become a member of the Day Worker Center, laborers must fulfill certain requirements. If they are non-English speakers, they are required to take English classes regularly. The center also has one volunteer dedicated to conducting follow-ups with people who have hired workers from the center. If the evaluator receives complaints about a worker, that worker may lose his or her membership.

Marroquin said about 80 to 100 laborers use the center every day and provide a wide variety of services to the community, including painting, landscaping, carpentry, plumbing, housework and catering.

The building that houses the center, along with its adjoining parking lot, were all obtained through donations and community fundraising — totaling about $1 million in all. Marroquin said she hopes the community will continue to support the Day Worker Center and the services it provides.

"We're trying to help people," she said. "People make the community. If you help the center you are helping the community."

Comments

Posted by Kathy, a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 25, 2010 at 7:12 am

How wonderful for these people. Some of us really don't realize how lucky we are. Happy Thanksgiving .


Posted by M. Zelinski, a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 25, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Excellent news, and a great addition to the community. Glad to see it finally happen. Welcome!


Posted by Carl, a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 26, 2010 at 7:54 am

I missed the point of how day laborers contribute to the community other than breaking the law and putting a strain on our schools and health care system. People that hire day laborers are undercutting American businesses and citizens that need work. They are no doubt the same employers that cheat on their taxes and every other civic duty. The Day Worker Center just adds to neighborhood blight.


Posted by Robin Iwai, a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 26, 2010 at 12:01 pm

"They are no doubt the same employers that cheat on their taxes and every other civic duty."

Dear Carl,

I've hired men and women for household help at the Day Worker Center for the past 10 years. Think what you want of the need for immigration reform in this country, but please refrain from making irrelevant generalizations about the character of the several hundred local residents who hire day workers at the Day Worker Center. Please be assured that cheating on my taxes and not voting in elections are NOT part of my lifestyle nor that of the many other MV, Los Altos, LAH, and Palo Alto homeowners who are in need of affordable occasional labor.

"The Day Worker Center just adds to neighborhood blight."

Please come visit the new center! Where a vacant, cinderblock shell of a building surrounded by rubbish and drug paraphernalia stood abandoned for several years, you will now see a beautifully renovated community center, filled with men and women who are eager to work hard in order to make a better life for themselves and their families. Please stop by Monday through Saturday for a tour, to meet the staff and volunteers, observe an ESL class, or enjoy a cooked-from-scratch hot lunch.


Posted by Ron, a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 26, 2010 at 3:21 pm

@Robin Iwai

Since you have admitted to hiring from the "day worker center" I just have to ask, do you comply with federal law to make sure that the workers you hire are authorized to work in the US? Do you file 1099s and withhold state, federal and unemployment taxes from the wages you pay to these workers? Do you pay into the state workmans compensation fund?

If you don't do this can you explain how you are not a law breaker?


Posted by Kooky, a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Nov 27, 2010 at 10:03 am

Thanks Robin. You just proved that what you consider "affordable labor" to have someone clean your house excludes more costly American workers. You are a lazy hypocrite who can't clean your own house and too cheap to hire a fellow citizen to do the job. By not paying into the system, but rather doing things under the table, you are also a self-admitted criminal like the rest of MV, Los Altos, LAH, and Palo Alto homeowners who are in need of affordable occasional labor.

What a joke. Yeah right. Trying buying a cheaper care or house if you can't afford a legal citizen to clean your for you. You just want something for nothing so you can continue to live it up while you tell every one else how they should be thinking. I hate to be the won to clean up your bathroom.


Posted by Robin, a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 27, 2010 at 8:24 pm

a lazy hypocrite
too cheap to hire a fellow citizen
not paying into the system
doing things under the table
a self-admitted criminal
want something for nothing
can continue to live it up
you tell every one else how they should be thinking


Wow. Not only have you got me all wrong, you've also just insulted the city council and staff of MV, LA, KAH and PA, as well as the MV Chamber of Commerce, several MV service clubs, many of our city, county, state and federal elected officials, and several hundred other supporters of the Day Worker Center.

Please feel free to think what you want of day workers and those who employ them...but those are some pretty big assumptions you're jumpin' to!

Okay, you can have the last word, I promise to not check back.


Posted by A. Reader, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 28, 2010 at 12:48 pm

I used to see day laborers gather in front of the 7-11 store at the corner of Latham and Escuela streets every day early in the morning. If I want to hire any help, should I go to this new center now? Thanks!


Posted by A. Reader, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 28, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Then what about Walmart? They use overseas Chinese cheap labor undercutting American businesses and citizens that need work? Let's boycott shopping at Walmart!!! ROFLMAO!!! This is funnier than the Cell Tower radiation controversy!!!


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