MH unites in humanitarian effort for workers

Community dinner will raise funds for day worker job center
By SHERRY HEMINGWAY
Pinnacle Correspondent
The commonplace sight of laborers lining Morgan Hill’s Main
Avenue in search of day work may come to an end early next year if
a community fundraising effort reaches its goal.
Community dinner will raise funds for day worker job center

By SHERRY HEMINGWAY

Pinnacle Correspondent

The commonplace sight of laborers lining Morgan Hill’s Main Avenue in search of day work may come to an end early next year if a community fundraising effort reaches its goal.

A Community Dinner to raise $25,000 for the day worker job match center has the local backing of six churches, four service clubs and a number of major sponsors.

The $25-per-person community dinner will be 4-8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 12 at St. Catherine Parish Center, 17400 Peak Ave. in Morgan Hill.

The massive effort to sell tickets and gather donations is being spearheaded by members of the Morgan Hill City Council “working as private citizens.” Honorary chair is Mayor Dennis Kennedy, operating chair is Hedy Chang, and council members Steve Tate, Larry Carr and Greg Sellers are working on other committees.

The drive to build the job center at Main and Depot Avenues has both practical and humanitarian roots.

The city has long wanted to move temporary laborers off the street and into a facility with an orderly system for taking a number and waiting turns. Also, homeowners and businesses have voiced support for a more comfortable hiring system, one where the workers are screened for specific skills and reliability.

Conversely, workers will be guaranteed that they will be paid for their labor and given breaks and water, which is not always the case with the street system.

The job center will be modeled after similar centers in East San Jose and Mountain View.

For many supporters of the cause, the larger issue is a human one.

“I think it is a wonderful cause and it fills a desperate need – providing a safe, clean place with dignity and respect,” said Mayor Kennedy, who has donated $500 of leftover funds from his recent campaign for county supervisor. “It is a humanitarian effort that requires help and commitment on the part of the community as a whole.”

Besides being a job match center, the organization will assist workers with skill development, health care access, literacy and issues regarding legal status.

The lot the day worker center will occupy is owned by Charles Weston of Weston Miles Architects in Morgan Hill. The Isaacson Grain Co. sits on the south part of his land; the north end will be the site of the job center. The center will be housed in two 900-foot modular buildings.

The City of Morgan Hill has allotted $50,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for the site, which may be used for capital improvements such as building foundations, asphalt parking, curbs or sidewalks.

That money, however, does not go into the center’s operational coffers. For that, the City gave $5,000 of the approximately $60,000 needed to begin operations.

The day worker fund now includes the City’s $5,000, a $10,000 planning grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and $10,000 from an anonymous donor. The rest must come from the dinner, grant writing and individual donations.

The Center recently hired an executive director, Hilda Chavez of Morgan Hill.

The organizing committee plans to open the center in early 2003, but would like to open earlier. “We don’t want them out in the cold and the rain for another season if we can help it,” said Julian Mancias, Day Worker Committee chair.

Tickets for the barbeque dinner are available at a number of local businesses including Booksmart in Morgan Hill, or at the door. Call 779-4237 for other ticket locations.

A special $5 children’s dinner is also available at the door. Entertainment for the event will include Grupo Folklorico Alica Del Nayar, Blah Blah Woof Woof and the St. Catherine Children’s Choir.

The diversity of the center’s support is reflected in the diversity of its major sponsors: Paramit Corporation, James Henley/McDonald’s of Morgan Hill, Maple Leaf RV Park, Hedy Chang, CordeValle and The Pinnacle South Valley.

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