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Google chips in $1M for homeless services in Mountain View

Ambitious plans to transform Trinity United Methodist Church into a hub for homeless services will move forward thanks in large part to a $1 million contribution from Mountain View's largest tech company.

Google officials announced the company's major financial support, which had been in the works for close to a year and kept secret until a celebration inside the church sanctuary on a Tuesday morning in July. The funding adds the final key piece to a $2 million plan to offer a cold weather shelter, on-site meal preparation, showers, case management services and job training all under one roof.

The church and its on-site nonprofit, Hope's Corner, have taken on a growing role in supporting homeless and needy residents in recent years. Hope's Corner began providing free weekly meals at its location in Old Mountain View in 2011, and now serves more than 200 people each Saturday morning. Trinity United Methodist Church officials agreed to take it a step further last year, and opened the sanctuary space as a cold weather shelter for up to 50 homeless women and children.

Javier Gonzalez, Google's public affairs manager, places the last puzzle piece after his speech about the company's donation of $1 million for homeless services. Photo by Natalie Nazarova.

Construction plans to upgrade the facility, which calls for building a commercial kitchen to cook food for both the shelter as well as the Saturday program, along with designated space for case management, laundry services and job training.

Javier Gonzalez, Google's public affairs manager, said the company is proud to help bring these vital services to the community, and that Google and its employees strive to be good corporate neighbors and citizens.

Google joins a growing number of agencies involved in the project. In a symbolic gesture, each agency had a representative put in a "piece" of the partnership on a large poster superimposed over a heart.

Mountain View Mayor Lenny Siegel said the neighborhood not only allowed the shelter to go through, but many of the residents stepped up to volunteer during the cold weather months. He said the church is trying to solve an "enormous problem" through its homeless services, getting help from so many different groups and people, and acknowledged that the economic climate in Silicon Valley is exacerbating the problem.

"We're fighting an uphill battle against an economic boom that's separating people," he said.

Mountain View's homeless population tripled from 139 people in 2013 to 416 in 2017, the vast majority of whom are "unsheltered," meaning they are living in vehicles, encampments, along creeks or on the street, according to a census report released by Santa Clara County last year. The entire county saw a smaller increase over the same time period, from 6,760 homeless people in 2013 to 7,034 in 2017.

Hope's Corner board president Leslie Carmichael told the Voice that the nonprofit has been raising money to upgrade its kitchen since 2012, long before the number of people seeking food rapidly grew from dozens to hundreds of every Saturday morning. But she said she had no idea the plans would expand to a multi-million dollar all-encompassing homeless services facility.

"It's really, I think, a testament to the community that all these things have come together, and we're really happy to be part of that," she said.

Kevin Forestieri, Mountain View Voice, California-Nevada Annual Conference

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the World Service Fund is the financial lifeline to a long list of Christian mission and ministry throughout the denomination. Through the Four Areas of Focus churches are Engaging in ministry with the poor with their communities in ways that are transformative.