COVID-19 Heroes: 10 Local Nonprofits Helping Silicon Valley’s Neediest

PUBLISHED MAY 12, 2020 12:00 A.M.
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Non-profits throughout Santa Clara County are stepping up to help families who are struggling through the pandemic.

Non-profits throughout Santa Clara County are stepping up to help families who are struggling through the pandemic.   Photo courtesy Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Local nonprofits are seeing an increase in requests for basic needs during the pandemic, including food, shelter, and financial assistance for rent. They are now adjusting to help those who are most at risk: families, individuals experiencing homelessness, and undocumented workers who are not eligible for federal assistance.

1. Silicon Valley Community Foundation funds nonprofits in the South Bay and around the world. The organization has organized the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, which supports nonprofits in ten counties of the Bay Area, including Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. This fund is providing flexible resources that focus on basic needs, such as housing and shelter, food, clothing, and financial assistance. Donors can direct funds to specific counties. Undesignated funds are distributed based on a calibration of needs determined by input from local partners. By May 4, the Regional Response Fund granted $10,452,484 in funding to Bay Area counties. 

2. Second Harvest of Silicon Valley is a food bank that before the pandemic fed over a quarter-million people in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. In April 2020, the organization served approximately 384,000 individuals. Since the pandemic started, the number of people calling Second Harvest’s helpline has increased tenfold. Over half of the callers were reaching out for food assistance for the first time. The organization also connects clients with food assistance programs like CalFresh. Second Harvest received help to meet the need from corporate donors Cisco Systems and Prologis. These companies provided space and funds for a new, temporary 40,000-square-foot warehouse that will stay open for the next six months. The warehouse will be used to store bulk food and pre-box groceries. 

3. Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County is offering many different types of assistance, including food, shelter, and assistance with economic security, including rent payments. The organization’s work includes outreach to seniors and shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

4. The Salvation Army Silicon Valley offers food to seniors and low-income households and shelter to people experiencing homelessness. The organization is offering takeout-style meals, food bags, and food boxes to meet the wide variety of needs. 

5. Martha’s Kitchen is a San Jose soup kitchen that serves food to low-income households and people experiencing homelessness. The nonprofit has been providing more than 1,000 extra meals per day since the pandemic began. All meals are now prepared “to go” to ensure the safety of workers and guests.

6. Sacred Heart Community Service is a San Jose–based organization offering providing food and economic assistance for housing through the pandemic. Sacred Heart is currently distributing pre-packaged food bags. It is also partnering with Destination: Home, Silicon Valley Strong, and the Homelessness Prevention System to give money provide funds directly to families that need help with rent and bills due to the pandemic. In Phase 1, the partnership helped approximately 4,400 families.

7. Peninsula Food Runners is a San Francisco-based organization that gathers provides prepared meals from restaurants, caterers, supermarkets, and corporations and distributes them to more than 200 nonprofits, primarily in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Before the pandemic, Food Runners delivered over 50,000 meals a week.

8. Sunnyvale Community Services is a Sunnyvale-based organization that provides food and economic assistance to residents of that city. SCS partners with Second Harvest of Silicon Valley to distribute meals, and is currently offering financial assistance for rent, rental deposits, utility bills, medically-related bills, bus passes, and gas vouchers.

9. LifeMoves is a Palo Alto-based organization that provides food, shelter, and supplies such as blankets to single adults experiencing homelessness. The organization operates 23 shelter and service sites from Daly City to San Jose, including safe parking lots and motel voucher programs. LifeMoves also runs a drop-in center that provides two meals a day, as well as shower and laundry facilities. The organization currently serves more than 950 clients.

10. HomeFirst is a Milpitas-based organization that provides shelter and housing opportunities to people experiencing homelessness. The organization serves more than 5,000 individuals every year. It also operates the Boccardo Reception Center, Santa Clara County’s largest homeless services center. In early April, HomeFirst partnered with the city of San Jose to open two new emergency shelters in downtown San Jose. The new shelters have provided 175 additional beds. These shelters will help HomeFirst maintain social distancing across all sites.

For a list of additional local nonprofits supporting South Bay residents, visit Silicon Valley Strong’s list of community organizations.

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