Eight years ago, Hope's Corner began providing meals for dozens of homeless and needy residents on Saturday mornings. Now it's a one-stop shop for shelter, case management, showers, laundry and even job training services for hundreds of people each year.
Elected officials and church leaders gathered in the sanctuary space of Trinity United Methodist Church on Wednesday morning to celebrate $2 million in major upgrades to the church and its ability to serve homeless residents. The most prominent improvement -- a commercial kitchen -- is now outfitted to prepare meals for the hundreds of people who rely on Hope's Corner each week.
For years, the nonprofit Hope's Corner had been providing breakfast and lunch on Saturdays at the church, located at the corner of Hope and Mercy streets. Without a commercial-grade oven or stove, volunteers instead had to prepare, cook and store food at the Los Altos United Methodist Church and transfer it to Mountain View ahead of the Saturday-morning meal time.
The fully functioning kitchen is more important now than ever. In 2017, the church began providing shelter beds for up to 50 homeless women and children during the cold weather months. The plan is for the kitchen to also be used for culinary job training services for those staying at the shelter.
The upgrades, sitting for years in the planning phase, got a big boost after receiving funds from Santa Clara County, followed soon after by a $1 million grant from Google.
County Supervisor Joe Simitian said he credits Mountain View residents, particularly Old Mountain View resident Mike Fischetti, for relentlessly pushing for a partnership between the church and the county to put much-needed homeless services under one roof.
What started with talks of an upgraded kitchen ended in a newly established homeless shelter, designated space for case management services, showers facilities and job training for food services just blocks from downtown restaurants. It wouldn't have been possible, Simitian said, without dogged determination on the part of local residents.
"It is a reminder that good values alone are not enough," Simitian said. "Somebody has got to put their shoulder to the wheel and be persistent on making those good values real."
Vice Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga, speaking on behalf of the city, said she was amazed at the warmth, hard work and compassion of everyone involved with Hope's Corner, and that it made sense for the city to jump in and help with ambitious plans to provide more homeless services under one roof. The City Council recently voted to make "protecting vulnerable residents" a top priority for Mountain View, and the good work at Trinity United Methodist Church reaffirms that there is a groundswell of public support to meet that goal.
"It's really because the community pushes us to do that as a city organization -- to be a community for all -- that is helping us get one step closer."
The construction of the new kitchen received a surprise boost last July when Google announced $1 million in additional funding, adding the final piece to the longstanding plans for the church. Javier Gonzalez, Google's public affairs manager, said Wednesday that the tech giant strives to be a good neighbor, and that he and his colleagues had "no doubt" that the company ought to support Hope's Corner.
Gonzalez said it's important to have a myriad of services all in a centralized location for those who are unhoused or facing challenges, rather than forcing them to track down several different agencies for help and hopping on a buses to far-away locations.
"Having this jewel here at the corner of Hope and Mercy is important for the community," he said.