I have been for volunteering for almost 4 years. Initially, I began volunteering in the appointment closet with a fellow volunteer and friend, and more recently switched to working in the warehouse in the donation organization and distribution for the appointment closet.
When I began in the early days, I wanted to do something that would mean something to me in a way I felt that I could give back to my community. What I didn't expect is how deeply my work affected so many different communities and how much my heart would fill with joy doing such work. I have also been able to buff up on a bit of Spanish along the way.
EHP does a wonderful job of servicing so many people be it with food, clothing, kitchen items, bedding, furniture and even wedding dresses! It’s all due to the wonderfully generous donors in our community offering their time and talents, and their donated items for distribution.
I look very forward to the upcoming improvements to the warehouse and appointment closet to make our work run more efficiently and smoothly. We have outgrown our current space and desperately need our new building that is soon to break ground.
The full-time staff works harder than I have seen anywhere else I have worked. We all just cannot work fast enough to keep up with the demand. I am happy that we can do the little we can to make a difference in so many lives, which include our own.
As an experiment, I started in the Fall of 2014 to offer pro bono legal services to EHP clients. I knew there were already two very fine (and very busy) nonprofit legal groups with offices in East Palo Alto. But I often heard concerns expressed by EHP staff that clients sometimes reported difficulty in getting appointments, that the agencies didn’t handle the types of problems that required attention, or that there was sometimes little or no follow-up action. So, I decided to hang out my shingle at EHP one day a month to see what happened.
And guess what? Clients came. And they have kept on coming. Their legal needs fall into almost every conceivable category of life itself: landlord-tenant issues, credit problems, insurance claims, worker’s compensation, immigration, inheritance, conservatorships, child custody, pension rights, employment terminations, DMV issues, neighbor disputes and criminal matters.
I knew immediately that, despite having practiced law in California since 1971, I was in no way qualified to do immigration work. So I got to know Ilyce Shugall, the senior immigration lawyer at Community Legal Services, and arranged to refer all immigration cases directly to her. Ilyce and CLS have been great partners to EHP. Ilyce even volunteered to come to EHP and give programs for clients that are focused just on immigration issues. This has proved to be extremely useful to our clients.
I felt the same about criminal law matters: not a place for an amateur like me to be practicing law. And besides, the Public Defender system that California offers is one of the best in the country.
I’ve enjoyed my work at EHP immensely. I’ve been impressed how well-prepared the clients have been, and well they have kept records and documented their situation carefully.
In some cases, I am able to steer a client to a specialist by immediately calling and setting up an appointment. An example: a client who had permanently lost vision in one eye two years earlier from a job-related injury. The client had never been told by his employer, a well-known and long-established tree service on the Peninsula, that employee injuries on the job are covered by workers compensation laws that guarantee injury compensation, regardless of whether an employee might have been partly at fault. He had worked there five years. I was able to set up an appointment for the next day with a workers compensation lawyer who is now pursuing the case. I suspect that the employer, who offered cash payments of a few hundred dollars for a few months and then stopped, did not want to have a claim made against its workers compensation insurance, which could trigger an increase in premiums. What a terrible outrage, though, that the employee was not even told by his employer that workers compensation exists, is not fault-based, and that good lawyers are available to take cases on a contingent fee basis (i.e., no payment for fees out-of-pocket).
Other cases may require a little telephone follow-up, or even occasionally a letter. It’s amazing how differently a party reacts when a lawyer calls or writes. The client’s interests become suddenly important. That’s unfortunate, but, sadly, this is the raw truth of life, especially for the destitute poor, the working poor, the elderly and those whose first language is not English. Lawyers can be a catalyst for problem-solving, and surprisingly often it doesn’t require threatening action.
A few cases that will always get to me that, although involving a legal issue or two, more importantly involve a need to help the client build self-confidence, and a collaboration with the client about a little creativity in devising ways to deal effectively with difficult people. And sometimes, it just using common sense that is required, not legal muscle or knowledge, to help find a solution. I’ve found that all clients have common sense, but I also find that fear of the uncertainty takes over, and their common sense shuts down. It happens to all of us.
My shingle is usually out at EHP on the first Wednesday of each month, first-come, first-served. I’m in the building which has a nice conference room and was once home to the legendary Uncle Frank’s BBQ, one of my favorite eateries in East Palo Alto (sadly, Uncle Frank’s moved to Mountain View briefly, but shortly thereafter it closed).
Two lawyer-friends of mine have expressed interest in coming to volunteer, too, so I’m going to explore whether there is sufficient demand for more lawyers. We’ll see.
Editor’s note: Tom started volunteering with EHP in 1985. He eventually joined our Board of Directors and served two terms. Then he was instrumental in forming the Friends of EHP, an advisory board-like body that is comprised of former EHP Board members, EHP volunteers, EHP donors and representatives of EHP corporate sponsors like Facebook, DLA Piper LLC and Google. Tom is a business lawyer in the Menlo Park law firm of Seubert French Frimel & Warner LLP, and his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Ellen Miller Chang was born in Pomona, CA on March 12, 1920 and passed away peacefully at her home in Lewiston, Idaho on January 31, 2015.
Wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, aunt, friend, teacher, Ellen made a positive impact on many lives. Throughout her childhood, she and her family often helped newcomers to California who were struggling for food and lodging. She was always very active in her churches and their charity work. She also worked tirelessly for the Ecumenical Hunger Project for East Palo Alto, CA. Her favorite exercise was always tennis and she made many friends on the court.
Ellen married her college sweetheart, Alvin Chang, in 1944. The couple raised three children. The young family spent the early years in Hawaii, near Alvin’s family. They moved to California in 1959 where they made many lifelong friendships before retiring to Lewiston, Idaho in 1985.
She is survived and will be greatly missed by her sons, Curtis and Kenneth; daughter, Joyce; grandchildren, Jennifer, Robin, Aaron, Randall and Kyle; great-grandchildren, Ariana, Myra and George; many cousins, nieces, nephews and wonderful friends in Hawaii, California, Idaho and the far-reaches. Ellen was preceded in death by her husband Alvin, her parents Pearl & Simeon, her brothers SB and Clark, her sister Alice and her daughter-in-law Paula.
Ellen’s family would like to thank her many caregivers for their warmth and loving care. We are so grateful for their thoughtful efforts.
Her funeral service was celebrated Saturday, February 7th. Donations will be made in Ellen’s honor to EHP.
EHP Volunteers will be Honored at the Volunteer Recognition Luncheon Hosted by the Junior League of San Jose
Congratulations to our volunteers Mary Bourquin and Opal Harper! They have been chosen as an outstanding community volunteer, and will be recognized with a Certificate of Appreciation the 46th Annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon (VRL) hosted by the Junior League of San Jose.
We are grateful for their dedication to EHP. They have been committed to EHP for many years and are still very active on campus.
The VRL Luncheon will be held on Friday, April 24, 2015 at Villa Ragusa in downtown Campbell. This event, attended by more than 500 community members and dignitaries, promotes voluntarism and recognizes individuals who have generously given their time, energy and skills to help others. At the luncheon they will receive a Certificate of Appreciation and be recognized alongside other outstanding community volunteers.
EHP CARES and so do our volunteers!
We are very thankful for Tometrius Paxton and Second Harvest Food Bank for their donation of a pallet jack, scale, freezer and cooler. We are grateful for the continual support to our organization. Your donation will help to improve the efficiency in our Food Closet and Warehouse Operations.
On Monday, February 2nd, EHP broke ground to begin the construction of the addition to our Activity Room. Thank you to our donors and Vance Brown Builders for their donations. The addition will be helpful for our youth programs and activities. We are looking forward to sharing the finished Activity Room with you!
We are looking at a completion date of May 1st!
Menlo Park Presbyterian Church Compassion Weekend project at EHP was a great success! We had approximately 52 volunteers with a total of 144 volunteer hours and we served 34 families plus 4 emergency families who walked in over the weekend. We gave out food boxes, brand new shirts, socks, hats, gloves and scarves. Families were also able to help themselves to plants and other items donated in our warehouse. The volunteers were a wonderful help working in our food closet, warehouse, picking up trash around campus and even some work in our supply closet and activity room.
EHP has an ongoing need for certain types of items. If you are unsure what type of donation you'd like to make, or you want to donate in someone else's name, consider the following gifts to EHP:
EHP’s beloved driver, Richard Cerrutti, passed away on July 8, 2013. We are devastated by his loss but are driven forward by the legacy that he leaves behind. He was a gentle soul with an infectious laugh and smile. He wore his heart on his sleeve and with his amazing sense of compassion, would give anyone on the street, the shirt off of his back. He believed in paying it forward. He spent many years struggling to get his life right and saw EHP as his second chance. He shared his lessons learned with many going through similar problems and always had a shoulder to cry on, and an ear to listen, available. He was a simple man who didn’t hold value in material possessions but rather, enjoyed spending time outdoors with his dog Blue, riding his bike, chatting with friends, spending time with his family, spreading joy wherever he went. He loved EHP and his job and it was transparent to everyone he met. It was impossible to not like Richard. He was friends with many EHP donors, volunteers, community leaders and clients. He was a true representative of all of EHP’s core values. We will miss him dearly but he will never be forgotten as he touched every soul that he met. We love you Richard. Rest in peace.
EHP's youth program will be dedicated in Richard's honor and loving memory of him. The program was dear to him and he believed in trying to make a difference in the community by changing the lives of disadvantaged youth. If you are interested in making a donation in memory of Richard for the EHP youth program, please contact the office at (650) 323-7781 or contact us at email@example.com .
EHP serves low income families and individuals. If clients are fortunate enough to have housing, they are now often in jeopardy of losing it. Many of the families EHP serves are faced with the terrible dilemma of having to choose between having a roof over their heads or food on the table. A warm jacket and school supplies are often luxuries EHP’s clients simply cannot afford. Although EHP’s priority is serving families, seniors, the disabled, and some individuals also receive services. The composition of EHP’s client base by ethnicity is:
The Federal poverty standard is $27,910/year for a family of 5. That family would be living on income of about $41,865 a year at 150% of the Federal poverty standard. The Second Harvest cite is to the fact that there are over 70,000 residents living at or below 150% of the applicable Federal poverty level.
2014 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR THE 48 CONTIGUOUS STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,060 for each additional person.
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