Senior Lifestyles

Helping others as a way of life

First as a nurse and now as a volunteer, Mountain View resident Mary Hayes believes in spending her time and energy purposefully.

Community Services Agency recently named Hayes one of its “Hometown Heroes,” an award that recognizes individuals, businesses and organizations for their contributions to CSA and the community.

Born and raised in Texas, Hayes has made California her home for the better part of the past 30 years.

As a nurse for close to 40 years, Hayes wore many hats; her work included coronary care, emergency, neonatal ICU, labor delivery and blood-banking.

“I did a little bit of everything,” she said.

Her first job in the Bay Area was as a registry nurse, for which she traveled from hospital to hospital as needed. She received her coronary care training at San Jose’s O’Connor Hospital in 1979, worked there for a few years and then moved back to Texas. Returning to California in 1986, she again worked at O’Connor before spending nine years at a community hospital in Sonora. Settling back in the Bay Area, Hayes worked at Stanford Hospital for nearly 17 years. She retired in 2015.

Volunteering at CSA

Within a month of her retirement from Stanford Hospital, Hayes knew she wanted to do volunteer work. Looking online at possibilities, she learned of Community Services Agency. She also discovered the nonprofit One Brick, which connects people with volunteer opportunities, and with other volunteers.

“That’s how I found Hidden Villa,” she said of another volunteer opportunity. “I’ve done the bike exchange in Mountain View. … I just dabbled in a little bit of everything.”

She began helping out at CSA a few hours a week, at first with its Christmas toy drive. From there, she took on clerical and administrative tasks. Last year she got involved in the toy drive in a big way, and her involvement with the agency has continued to expand. She now also plays a major role in CSA’s food pantry and food distribution services.

At one point, CSA offered her a full-time position.

“I asked Tom (Myers, executive director) … if I take a job, can I volunteer also? He said no. I decided not to take the job.”

Hayes enjoys the flexibility of volunteering, working in multiple departments as needed.

“I can work in the pantry, I can do administrative – I can bounce all over,” she said. “I just do whatever they need. If they need me to collate, if they need me to staple, if they need me to file – whatever I can take off their plate to help them so they can work with their clients or do other things.”

Hayes spends approximately 20 hours per week in CSA’s food pantry, where clients can shop every weekday. In addition to the pantry, CSA provides many other food distribution services, including the Alpha Omega program for the homeless and programs at Castro and Theuerkauf elementary schools, Foothill College and Buena Vista Mobile Home Park.

For the elementary schools, volunteers load up two vans full of food and set up a pantry in the schools’ cafeterias. She estimated that 90 families received food in a recent week at Castro and more than 50 at Theuerkauf.

Hayes noted that the need for volunteers is growing because of the agency’s many new programs.

“There are a lot of programs, and it takes a lot of man hours to keep (them) up and running,” she said.

Answering the call for help

Hayes had high praise for the people she encounters in her work – the staff as well as the clients. She also enjoys working in a nonprofit environment toward a common goal.

“I like the thought of giving back to my community,” she said. “I’ve lived here almost 20 years, and I never knew this place existed. I really enjoy giving back and spending my time in a really purposeful way.”

For those considering volunteering, Hayes said there is a need for everyone’s help and a match for everyone’s unique abilities.

“The great thing is, you get all these different retirees, volunteers, young kids, and they all have different skills … and the agency can use those skills,” she said. “It’s just a few hours a week. … You don’t have to be full-time like me. I wouldn’t be here if they didn’t need the help.”

Christine Flego, CSA’s Food & Nutrition Center coordinator, described Hayes as a “go-getter.”

“She gets in there and does whatever it might be that we need,” Flego said. “I know as far as the Food & Nutrition Center, she’s just invaluable. She just has that passion and that love for wanting to help people. She’s an awesome person – we’re lucky to have her.”

For more information on Community Services Agency, visit

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