Holiday Fund: A warm welcome for Day Worker Center

Laborers receive services, education in return for helping community

"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 on Nov. 18.

After 14 years of bouncing from one temporary location to the next, the center finally has its own home. Located at 113 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 [I 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."

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


3 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Whisman Station
on Nov 26, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Just remember, hiring and aiding/abetting ILLEGAL ALIENS is still a crime! Just because the MVPD looks the other way doesn't make it legal!

FYI: many ORIGINAL LATINOS and LEGAL IMMIGRANTS are very vocal about the ILLEGALS that have invaded the US...

I've hired several that were doing the same work at a decent rate and they were glad to get the day labor jobs and are unhappy that these people have taken their jobs!

Everyone SPOKE ENGLISH and were able to do the handyman/cleanup jobs I needed done.

$10/hr + bonus for a job well done! References from my legal home health care worker ( I'm disabled and I worked with the county system ).

BTW, I'm now living in the Denver Metro area with MUCH better social services and transportation that I had in Mtn. View with the VTA ( non ) service I got. ( but that is another handicapped story )

I point to the Mountain View ( and SF ) sanctuary city policies when I tell people to watch for the escalating crime numbers....your experiment with social engineering ( supporting lawbreakers ) is notable.

I predict that if the MVPD would do their job, the crime numbers in the city would trend upward very quickly.

3 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 26, 2010 at 7:03 pm

I have a concern regarding the Day Worker Center that a previous poster brought up and I'd really like some clarification from the MV Voice Staff. As far as the law is concerned, we, as possible hirers of these workers, will commit an illegal act by hiring them if they are undocumented. The writer of the article went into great detail about the meals they prepare and how they must learn English before they can go out and work and how there is a follow-up to make sure that the hirers are happy with their work. However, their was no mention about whether or not these people are documented and legally in the United States. I do not plan on breaking the law to hire someone to help out around my home. If MVPD clearly is "looking the other way", when will they start looking my way and decide that I've committed a crime by hiring them and arrest me? And if I am not arrested, how can this go on and be so completely supported by everyone, when it is illegal? Please clear this up as I am in a total quandry here. If these workers are documented and here legally, then why was there no mention of that fact in this or any other article that I've read regarding the Day Worker Center? And if they are not here legally, and are not documented, then how can any of this be legal for anyone to hire them? This is leaving this particular Mtn. View resident more than a little concerned and I would really appreciate an HONEST answer regarding this whole situation. Thank you.

3 people like this
Posted by Kooky
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Nov 27, 2010 at 9:50 am

If you hire someone to work for you on a regular basis, you should also be paying taxes for that person, just like Meg Whitman did, until she found out her maid was illegal, when she then fired her.

The article also makes no mention of the liabilities you incur if a worker is hurt on the job you hire them for. It's like driving without insurance.

The Voice should be clear about what the implications are of the above. Also, there are no background or identification checks done on these workers, so take you are risking a lot. You have no idea who you are hiring in these desperate times.

3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 27, 2010 at 11:20 am

People don't hire day workers "regularly.' That wouldn't be day work, now would it?

As for insurance: In yet another service provided by the Day Worker Center, they educate those hiring their workers about liability and insurance. Homeowners insurance covers the liabilities associated with hiring any temporary worker for three days or less.

As for background checks, the Day Worker Center DOES know their workers. You'd rather folks picked up complete strangers from the street corners? Because without the DWC, that's where these folks would be and that's where people would be hiring them.

I'm not an expert in the legalities surrounding the hiring of undocumented workers, but I have been to the Day Worker Center and can tell you that they are hardly operating under the radar. They have received accolades from nearly every level of government official and many law-enforcement agencies including the MVPD. Clearly, they are doing important work while this country continues to sort out its arcane and repressive immigration policies.

Remember, the DWC is not promoting behavior that wouldn't already be taking place in its absence. People hire day workers off street corners all the time, at nearly every single Home Depot, Lowes, OSH and even Chef Chu's. Every. Single. Day. The DWC mission is to help police that activity and provide services to the workers and the employers that raise the standards of engagement, protect both sides in the process and clean up those street corners as well. An all-around win-win situation, for which DWC staff and board are to be commended. Congratulations on the new center!

3 people like this
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 27, 2010 at 1:58 pm

USA is a registered user.

300 people? Wow. Homeland Security could have bagged a bunch at once. Of course, that would be racist.

3 people like this
Posted by MS
a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 27, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Contact ICE

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

To report suspicious activity, call ICE toll-free at 1-866-DHS-2ICE.

3 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 27, 2010 at 6:55 pm

To the poster listed as "resident". Your comments are somewhat uneducated in my opinion. As far as liabilities regarding someone becoming injured while working at a house - not only will my premiums go up, but he has the option of suing me until I have nothing left. As far as background checks, are you kidding me? Who at the DWC has the time to do a proper background check on every single one of the people that sign up? Not only would I NOT pick up some stranger off the street to work at my home and possibly put my family in danger, but I would also not use someone from the DWC for the exact same reason. But irregardless of any of these other concerns, for me it still comes back to the legalities of it all. I still want just one simple question answered - Do these men have documentation? I don't care about "accolades" or "repressive immigration policies". For now it's illegal to hire undocumented workers. Period. End of story. It is black and white. And until there are changes made, no one should be supporting any of this. Mtn. View Voice, again I will ask you for an HONEST answer, do you know if they are undocumented, and if so, you should be ashamed of yourselves for not reporting this story in a balanced way. The one-sidedness of your reporting on this issue over the course of time has been reprehensible. What is your answer?

3 people like this
Posted by Arnold
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 27, 2010 at 7:17 pm


"I'm not an expert in the legalities surrounding the hiring of undocumented workers"

Wow, I don't know where to begin with that statement.

3 people like this
Posted by another resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 27, 2010 at 8:12 pm

1. The men and women at the Day Worker Center are looking for work, not handouts, so they can become self-sufficient and support their families. Most of the men and women at the Day Worker Center have children either here in Mountain View public schools, or in their home country. To say they would "put my family in danger" doesn't make a lot of sense, given that many of them are mothers and fathers themselves. Please remember that 90% of all assaults against children are committed by close friends and family, not strangers.

2. "Irregardless" has an illogical negative prefix and while it may be commonly used, those who use correct English stick with "regardless."

3 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 27, 2010 at 8:33 pm

"Resident" - First, unless you know each and every one of these people personally, I cannot rely on your point. Second, I am not the least bit interested in an English lesson from you. If that's the best you can do, you have just made my argument for me. Is this a legal endeavor? No, apparently not. Thank you.

3 people like this
Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 28, 2010 at 11:55 am

A nation suffering from double-digit unemployment needs no immigrants at all. We should adapt Mexico's immigration policy.

3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 28, 2010 at 3:19 pm

@"Concerned" "another resident" was quite right to point out your erroneous language. It is but one aspect of your poorly formed and off-point rebuttal to my posting. You would do well to accept the English lesson before you run off accusing others of needing to educate themselves. People *do* judge you by the words that you use. Now go back to the sandbox with the other pre-schoolers.

3 people like this
Posted by HTML Dude
a resident of Castro City
on Nov 29, 2010 at 11:11 am

Somebody needs to fix the article to not have a multi-line hyperlink.

3 people like this
Posted by Logic
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 29, 2010 at 11:43 am

Dear another resident :

"Please remember that 90% of all assaults against children are committed by close friends and family, not strangers"

After you invite someone to your home to do work, they are no longer a stranger.

3 people like this
Posted by Logic
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 29, 2010 at 11:45 am

@resident - there is no hyphen in preschoolers.

3 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 29, 2010 at 1:01 pm

So here's an idea. People who think that hiring Day Workers is illegal and/or morally objectionable -- don't hire them.

3 people like this
Posted by Andrea Gemmet
Mountain View Voice Editor
on Nov 29, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Andrea Gemmet is a registered user.

@ HTML Dude: Thanks for letting us know about the hyperlink problem. It's now fixed.

3 people like this
Posted by Logic
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 29, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Dear another resident :

... those who use correct English stick with "regardless."

They also put the period ending a sentence outside of the quotes.

3 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 29, 2010 at 3:23 pm

To Resident.
My goodness. I never thought that my comment would turn into an English lesson over one word. "Sandbox" indeed. You actually made me laugh at that one. You have such a wonderful sense of humor. Thank you so much for putting me in my place. All I wanted to know was whether the center and workers were documented and legal. I had no intention of starting a childish pissing contest - especially over my English. Thank you for reminding me just what kind of small minds are out there. I've enjoyed it. Bye-bye.

3 people like this
Posted by Logic
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 29, 2010 at 4:41 pm

@another resident

You are correct - many of these people have children. They may, however, kill you.

From the Mercury News :

Man killed in Cupertino was chief suspect for months in brutal Saratoga beating death

By Lisa Fernandez and Julia Prodis Sulek
Posted: 03/09/2010 06:27:03 PM PST
Updated: 03/10/2010 09:12:52 AM PST

When handyman Paul Lopez discovered his employers 96-year-old Charlie Maridon and his daughter, Carol, brutally beaten in their Saratoga home, a horrifying thought flashed through his mind:

I sure hope my son didn't do this.

On Tuesday, Santa Clara County sheriff's detectives publicly confirmed Lopez's fears. Spelling out a dizzying saga that has captivated the valley for months, authorities revealed that the handyman's son, Sonny Lopez, had been a chief suspect for nearly three months before officers gunned him down Sunday in Cupertino after a stakeout. A second suspect is still on the loose.

3 people like this
Posted by ItsSimple
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 30, 2010 at 3:35 pm

All we need is a simple statement form the DWC: "Our workers have been screened to verify they are legal to work in the US."
If the DWC has to keep sidestepping this VERY IMPORTANT ISSUE and not directly and finally state this, then the idea of a DWC should be questioned. I'll never hire ANYONE from the DWC without such a statement
and if you do, you're at serious risk of losing everything.

3 people like this
Posted by Logic
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 1, 2010 at 12:28 pm

@another resident

(12-01) 11:27 PST DALY CITY --

A man has been convicted of charges that he beat and blinded a 78-year-old widow inside her Daly City home after she surprised him during a robbery attempt, a prosecutor said today.

Jose Perez-Gonzalez, 31, an illegal immigrant who was living in South San Francisco, broke into the woman's home in the Serramonte neighborhood Jan. 12, 2008, by prying open a rear sliding-glass door. When the woman confronted him, Perez-Gonzalez beat her in the face with his metal pry bar, an attack that left her blind.

Police found the victim semi-conscious and near death after they responded to a silent burglar alarm. She now lives in a rest home. Her name has not been released.

Perez-Gonzalez was a tenant in a South San Francisco apartment building that the victim's family owned. An acquaintance of Perez-Gonzalez telephoned the woman earlier in the day and posed as a package deliveryman to determine when she was going to be home, police said.

Read more: Web Link

3 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 1, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Editors at MV Voice:

I'm still waiting for some kind of verification on the documentation of the DWC workers. I will continue to check this site for your answer.
Thank you.

3 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 3, 2010 at 12:58 pm

MV Voice Editors and Publisher:

I can only assume that since you have not responded to my request for an answer to the question regarding the DWC that you are unable to prove that this is a legal endeavor with documented workers being used. Therefore, I can only assume that your reporting on issues in this local paper is biased and not fairly balanced at all. I shall have to resort to reading the articles that you post as though I am reading nothing but a local rag. I used to be proud that our town had a local paper, but now I am just a bit disgusted that I can't trust the reporting to be honest and fair and balanced, and worse than that, I can't even get the respect of an answer to any of my questions. I guess this reader will have to put on the "crap filter" glasses whenever I read this paper from now on. Sad.

3 people like this
Posted by Elaine
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 3, 2010 at 1:51 pm

"Our workers have been screened to verify they are legal to work in the US."

Wow. I'd love to know how they do that.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Chick-fil-A quietly starts delivering out of DoorDash kitchen in Redwood City
By Elena Kadvany | 59 comments | 9,512 views

Palo Altans and their Virtue Signaling
By Sherry Listgarten | 24 comments | 2,752 views

Differentiating Grief from Clinical Depression
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 2,478 views