CSA leader offers update amid the coronavirus crisis

Following is an open letter to the community from Tom Myers, Los Altos resident and executive director of Community Service Agency, a nonprofit social services agency serving Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

While these are incredibly trying times for all of us, I am blown away by the generosity and spirit of our community, the heroics of our staff and volunteers, and the breathtaking intensity of sudden need among the most vulnerable residents of our community. I want to update you on how this ever-evolving situation has affected CSA, as well as critical client needs.

Completely unprecedented need

It is not an overstatement to say that we have seen the collapse of the service sector and gig economy with this crisis. And CSA, along with many friends and partners, is picking up the pieces in the aftermath. With the shelter-in-place orders extended until May 3, there will be even more need in the coming weeks and, quite possibly, months.
Maintaining client access to services is more critical during these difficult times. In a typical month, CSA will process approximately 20 rental assistance cases. As of April 6, we had more than 1,100 applicants for emergency financial support to pay for April rent and/or utilities. Our rental assistance case management capacity has been quadrupled through staff cross-training and setting up a triage system for incoming clients.
We are also seeing an increasing number of people coming to us for food each day, and we do not turn anyone away. We set up our pantry distribution in the parking lot to create social distancing and pre-bagged the groceries for easy takeaway.
Even when there are setbacks, we have tried to overcome them. When the Mountain View Senior Center had to cease operations a few weeks ago, we had to follow suit with our Senior Lunch Program, which serves 150-200 seniors every day. I am pleased to report that the city of Mountain View has graciously allowed our culinary team to work in the kitchen even though the Senior Center remains closed. As of Monday, we are up and running, preparing meals for seniors to pick up curbside. For many of our seniors, this may be their only hot meal of the day.

Hidden pockets of vulnerability

This brings up an important point. There are many groups affected by this crisis. And many of those groups have amazing advocates who bring out food and other resources for them. I have to give a big shout-out to the faith communities who have really stepped up in this situation to provide food on Saturday (Hope’s Corner/Los Altos United Methodist Church) and Sunday (Breakfast with Friends/Central Seventh-day Adventist) mornings. Lord’s Grace Christian Church has teamed with the Mountain View Police Department to deliver dozens of hygiene kits to our homeless population. And community advocates have made sure to let CSA know of the needs they see among their constituents.
But it is important to look for areas of need that have no advocates, or those who can go unnoticed. If we have a blind spot right now, it is with our seniors and those who are disabled or have special needs. Our community’s older adult population is especially vulnerable at this time, with many experiencing social isolation. Please look out for those belonging to high-risk groups by checking in with them on a regular basis. Your telephone call or note will go a long way in lifting their spirits. And make sure they know about CSA and our food programs.

Generous community

CSA has received an outpouring of support from community members who wish to contribute in some way.
If you are able to volunteer, please contact volunteer coordinator LaDrea Clark at 964-4630 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
We are also accepting donations of food to meet increased demand. While CSA normally emphasizes access to fresh fruits and vegetables for clients, in this unique situation, packaged items only are requested – that is, boxed or canned food.
Monetary contributions are especially important right now, as community needs have increased exponentially. To help our neighbors, CSA has created a special fund to help with rent, utilities, food and other emergency requests, with 100% going directly to these urgent client needs. We will be sending out more information about this fund in the near future, but you can make a much-needed gift at csacares.org.
The city of Mountain View and Los Altos Community Foundation have created the #TogetherMV fund to assist with offsetting the economic impact on residents and small businesses in our community. CSA is grateful for the funds this innovative collaboration will generate.
Stay healthy! Stay optimistic!
This virus will be gone at some point. And we will mop up the mess to our economy, ourselves and our lives. But in the meantime, it will take a heavy lift from all of us to get through this. As always, please contact me with any questions or comments. I appreciate hearing from you.


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We face a mounting humanitarian crisis in Mountain View. Our seniors, disabled and homeless are facing hunger now at a rapidly increasing rate. Many are no longer working and have limited or no incomes. Many seniors are isolated at home and afraid to go shopping.

Our local nonprofits, such as Hope’s Corner and Community Services Agency, are working overtime trying to meet the surge in demand. Unfortunately, they are limited in their ability to acquire food and prepare and distribute hot meals.

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The following is an open letter to the Los Altos City Council.

Editor's Notebook: Life in the age of the coronavirus

We are living in what is sure to be a historic moment in time. Every single human being on the planet is impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

It’s a formidable enemy. People can have it and show no symptoms for two weeks. Its devastation is unpredictable. Initially, the word was that it was deadly almost exclusively to older people and those with underlying conditions. While this is still predominantly true, it’s not an absolute. A young person with no underlying condition can be killed by the coronavirus. A 90-year-old nursing home patient can recover from it.

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Every day brings about a change as we see the old normal quickly disappearing and the new normal emerging. Well, it’s not a new normal, as it’s constantly changing as well.

Editorial: Locals rising to the challenge

The coronavirus pandemic has some of us thinking, “This just can’t be happening.” But it is.

Still, optimism abounds. Los Altos residents are finding reasons to smile and stay grounded. They’re channeling anxiety into action and looking to help those less fortunate.

Other Voices: Support YMCA caregivers, others suffering losses from pandemic

Coronavirus measures are canceling everything. School is out and many of us are amateur-hour home-schooling our kids – learning the new stress of both full-time parenting while simultaneously working from home. Luckily for many of us, we will still receive our salaries and health insurance benefits. That’s not the case for our El Camino YMCA teams, who are furloughed during the closure.

In nonpandemic times, we depend on the staff of the El Camino YMCA after-school programs to keep our kids alive, safe and loved while we are in our full-time jobs. Now that we’ve all been sent home for the coming weeks, our YMCA teams are out of work. We’ve been refunded, and that means they won’t be paid once their very limited vacation time runs out. Their health insurance also will lapse in one month.


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You can also have your say right here at losaltosonline.com – scroll to the bottom of any story to add a comment. 

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