Recently, the nation held its collective breath as hurricanes and earthquakes wreaked havoc, destroying lives and neighborhoods, and leaving thousands homeless. Natural disasters around the country and the world serve as a reminder of how one event can drastically change lives.
At Sunnyvale Community Services, we prepare for emergencies so we can help others when a crisis happens. Thanks to support from our community, our building has been retrofitted for stability in case of an earthquake. We partner with Sunnyvale Public Safety and the Red Cross to train our staff for medical emergencies and disaster preparedness.
But disasters can also be more personal—a loss of income, a rent increase, a work injury, a car accident, a death of a loved one. A family’s financial stability can be devastated by changes in benefits, such as cuts to food stamps for a working family, or changes to Medi-Cal coverage for households that need routine or emergency healthcare. Every day, the stress of trying to make ends meet makes it harder to deal with the next emergency. Families living on the edge in Silicon Valley worry all the time.
For low-income residents who live paycheck to paycheck, Sunnyvale Community Services (SCS) is their safety net. An increasing number of those affected by personal emergencies fill our front lobby. The most dramatic increase has been in the number of homeless individuals we helped. Last year, we assisted 529 people who were homeless—a shocking increase of 49% in just one year. Sadly, children under 18 were 17% of the homeless persons we served, and adults 50 or older were 40%. The total number of people we served in the past fiscal year, 8,300, was a 20% increase in just two years.
SCS’s financial aid and food distributions help to bridge the gap for low income families and seniors struggling in Silicon Valley. In August, a record number of 946 families came on a single “Produce Monday.” Every day, SCS provides additional food, toiletries, diapers, and other necessities for our neighbors in need.
We’re grateful that the community continues to support the most needy in our neighborhood here in Silicon Valley. Together we can build a better community, where everyone has a safe place to call home, with food on their table, and the lights turned on. Thank you!
Executive Director, Sunnyvale Community Services