On a cold November morning, a line wraps around the block at the corner of Hope and Mercy streets in Mountain View. Little clouds of condensation rise as people exhale into the chilly air, waiting for their turn to be warmed up by a hot shower, a meal and a cup of coffee from Hope’s Corner.
The nonprofit organization has been serving people in Mountain View for more than a decade now.
“It was started as a collaboration between what was Trinity United Methodist Church and Los Altos United Methodist Church,” said Mike Hacker, a Hope’s Corner volunteer and board member. “Some folks in both of those churches came together with the idea that there are people in our community who are in need of meals.”
What began as a simple breakfast of cereal and coffee for a couple dozen people has since grown into providing more than 700 warm meals every week on Wednesday and Saturday mornings to folks in the community, plus a light breakfast on Mondays, Hacker said. Today, the organization also offers clients warm showers, new socks and undergarments, free laundry, and helps connect people to other resources they might need.
“It’s kind of a one-stop-shop situation,” Hacker said. “We provide a lot of services, and it’s not only for homeless people, but we have a lot of folks who come who are just low income. It’s kind of a broad section of people.”
Mountain View resident Mikey Garden has been coming to Hope’s Corner for services for the past nine years, he told the Voice while he waited for a shower on Nov. 16. He’s also volunteered his time for the organization for the past eight years. He said Hope’s Corner helped him get back on his feet and start his own business.
“It showed me a way that I could support myself. I started washing windows and I made a lot more money,” he said. “It really enhanced my life a lot, because I had a stable environment here and I also had the confidence to go out there and make money on my own. That made a big difference in my life.”
Today, with the encouragement of his Hope’s Corner family, Garden said he is about to move into his first apartment.
“It’s my first home. I’m 53,” Garden said. “I went through my whole life thinking, ‘I’m strong enough to live on the streets.’”
While Garden’s been coming to Hope’s Corner for years, a lot of folks used the organization’s services for the first time during the pandemic. Hacker said the demand for meals increased substantially when COVID-19 hit, and Hope’s Corner also expanded its meal distribution to include safe parking lot sites and the Day Worker Center of Mountain View. The organization provided about 36,850 meals in 2021, compared with 10,630 in 2019.
“We’ve incurred some additional expenses as a result,” Hacker said. “The to-go boxes, and we’re having to buy the big grocery-sized bags for our meals now so that people can carry them away. There’s just been a number of additional expenses that have kind of come along with it. There’s still a huge need out there, and we do our best to try to meet it.”
Hope’s Corner is on track to serve more meals than ever before this year, and has already provided more than 1,350 showers and nearly 400 loads of laundry. The nonprofit is the newest addition to the seven local organizations benefiting from donations to the Voice Holiday Fund, an annual charitable giving drive that kicked off earlier this month.
Donations to the Holiday Fund are divided equally among the nonprofits and will go directly to organizations like Hope’s Corner to put food in hungry stomachs and provide other critically needed homeless services. The Voice and its Holiday Fund partner, the nonprofit Silicon Valley Community Foundation, are absorbing all administrative costs to run the fund, and all donations are tax-deductible.
For more information about the Holiday Fund, go to MV-Voice.com.com/holidayfund. To give a donation online, go to embarcaderomediafoundation.org/holiday-fund/mountain-view. Checks can be made payable to Mountain View Voice Holiday Fund and sent to 450 Cambridge Ave., Palo Alto 94306.
The Holiday Fund campaign will run through early January. Grants will be awarded in the spring.