Day Worker Center of Mtn. View: When workers can’t work, whole families need crisis support

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Courtesy of Day Worker Center of Mountain View
The Day Worker Center of Mountain View partners with local medical providers to bring virus testing and basic health-care access during the pandemic.

• Mission: The Day Worker Center of Mountain View started as a safe space for informal workers who had been looking for work on street corners in Los Altos and Mountain View. In addition to creating a structured place for workers and employers to connect – making the system safer for all involved – the center provides resources and services for the workers and their families, who make up some of the most vulnerable residents of the community.

The workers and volunteers at the center collaborate on educational programs, English classes, daily meals and service projects that benefit the greater community.

• 2020 update: The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated families reliant on income from casual labor such as gardening and house cleaning – not only have work hours and incomes been severely reduced, but social safety net resources such as unemployment funding are not available to day workers. Day laborers cannot work from home, and many people served by the center have unstable, overcrowded housing, no health insurance and other demographic factors that make them particularly vulnerable to COVID infection.

The center has been organizing resources including access to testing, masks and hand sanitizer. The center has a long history as a community of volunteers – workers and local advocates – self-organizing to solve problems. When materials to make masks ran out last spring, people brought bed sheets to cut up so the sewing could continue, with masks donated where they were needed most.

“All this emotional stress, this ‘impotencia’ – they have no work, they have no food, no place to stay, they don’t qualify for federal or any other support, so the center needs to be doing it. If they cannot work, you need to provide for them,” said executive director Maria Marroquin, noting that the entire region benefits when vulnerable residents are helped to stop the spread of the virus within their community.

• Why the Holiday Fund is needed: In addition to expanded to-go meals for food insecure workers and their families, and seasonal care packages, the center also has been finding ways to address emergency needs as workers with no income encounter moments of crisis.

Besides supporting fundamental needs such as hot meals and access to a mobile health unit, donations to the center fund programs ranging from how to safely work in jobs like housecleaning during the pandemic to using tools such as texting and Zoom to advocate for yourself and your family.

Day Worker Center of Mountain View

Location: 113 Escuela Ave., Mountain View
Founded: 1996
Annual budget: $400,000
Staff: 4 full-time employees


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