When Tom Myers came to Community Services Agency in 1999, he had no idea how long he would serve as executive director of the Mountain View-based nonprofit organization.
“Someone at the time told me that you will either be in there for six months and run screaming from the building or you will be in there for 25 years,” Myers said with a chuckle. “So I guess I’ve kind of proven to myself that I’m in the latter category.”
The Los Altos resident celebrated his 20th anniversary Oct. 25, surrounded by staff.
That staff has grown considerably since Myers took over – from 12 employees to 32 – “because of the nature of need in our community,” he said.
In 2019 alone, CSA has served 3,511 clients in its homeless prevention services program and 1,015 clients in its senior nutrition program, according to CSA’s website.
The social-service agency provides a safety net for low-income and homeless families and seniors living in Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. While Myers said many people may think “the streets are paved with gold,” there are some living on those streets. CSA recognizes those in need, providing them with food, helping them find housing and assisting in other ways.
“I think it has really opened my eyes to the fact that there is a real depth of need here that often gets hidden and not understood,” Myers said. “People don’t work in shops up and down Main Street for $100,000 a year. If we want to have a community that is economically viable, we need to have all aspects of economic community available to us.”
Myers’ passion for helping the less fortunate began in his childhood; he grew up in a family of active volunteers in Mountain View. In high school, Myers recalled participating in a food drive for CSA.
“(My parents) always said that if you’ve been given privileges in life, it’s important for you to make life better for those who don’t have privileges,” he said. “I took those words to heart.”
After college, Myers started working for an advertising agency, but he said he didn’t feel he belonged there. He later served in the Peace Corps for three years in Liberia, where he realized he wanted to spend his life assisting those in need.
“When you work in the nonprofit sector, you don’t do it for the salary, because you’re never going to be as highly paid as people in other sectors or businesses are,” Myers said. “But you do it for the reward, and the reward is that you’re helping others.”
CSA development director Anita Grossman called Myers a “man of substance” and a “community treasure.”
“We are really lucky that we have him at the helm, because he has done an amazing job ensuring that people who are less fortunate are getting the services that they need,” Grossman said.
Josh Selo, executive director of West Valley Community Services, has known Myers for four years across the agencies. He noted that community service is “in (Myers’) blood.”
“Tom is a skilled leader (and) a community builder,” Selo said in a phone interview. “He has a great vision, and he knows how to focus on what’s important and build a coalition.”
And it all started 20 years ago – an anniversary commemorated by his colleagues at an informal celebration last month.
“I felt very privileged about being able to work with so many amazing individuals – not just on the staff, but our volunteers and our board and the people in the community who support us,” Myers said. “The best part of this job is the fact that you get to be with so many people, and it really is a team effort. I’m very grateful for that.”
For more information, visit csacares.org.