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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Sunnyvale Community Services

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Emergency Assistance, Human Services

Mission: The mission of Sunnyvale Community Services is to prevent homelessness and hunger in our local community. Our vision is a community where everyone has a home with food on the table.

Results:
Sunnyvale Community Services is proud that even during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been able to help every eligible person who comes to our door.

In FY2019-20, we:
• Provided emergency financial assistance to 553 families who were at risk of losing their homes—or already homeless.

• Provided case management to 684 low-income clients to improve their financial situations through budgeting, referrals to benefits, and, when appropriate, referrals to job-seeking assistance.

• Gave food to 9,089 children, adults, and seniors.

• Helped 1,609 local kids get ready for the new school year.

• Made the holidays brighter for 3,908 people through our Holiday Center.

In 2020, we were honored to be named Business of the Year by the City of Sunnyvale and Nonprofit of the Year by the Mission City Community Fund for our work during the COVID-19 pandemic. We were also a recipient of Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 Outstanding Service Award for our exceptional contribution to the residents of Sunnyvale.

Target demographics: Low-income families, seniors, and persons with disabilities

Direct beneficiaries per year: 10,318

Geographic areas served: Sunnyvale, California

Programs:
• Emergency financial assistance for rent, deposits, utilities, medical care, prescriptions, and other critical bills. Because of the ongoing economic effects of the pandemic, we are extending our typical one-time financial support by offering rent assistance for more than one month to some households, amounting in some cases to $10,000 or more per family.

• Year-round food distributed from our on-site warehouse and through deliveries to homebound residents. We offer drive-through monthly food and bi-weekly produce distributions, emergency food for our homeless clients, and home-delivered groceries for frail seniors and disabled persons.

• Wrap-around case management for families and individuals who are homeless or at risk of eviction and need longer-term assistance. Going beyond emergency financial aid, this program enables SCS to work with clients for several months to improve their financial situations through budgeting, financial coaching, referrals to benefits, and when appropriate, referrals to job-seeking assistance.

• Homebound case management for frail senior and disabled clients who are unable to access services at our facility. In addition to getting food deliveries, these clients work with our Homebound Case Manager to find suitable transportation to medical appointments, get signed up for social benefits programs, and receive other supportive services.

• Seasonal programs. Our Head-to-Toe program gets children ready for the new school year with school supplies plus gift cards for backpacks and new shoes. In December, our Holiday Center offers extra food plus gift cars so clients can buy presents for their children and/or needed household items.

• WorkFirst Sunnyvale, a workforce development program that provides homeless and/or extremely low-income individuals with job readiness training, employment opportunities, and supportive services.

• Financial literacy education to help SCS clients reduce their spending, increase their assets, and improve their credit scores. This is a more intensive, longer-term counseling regimen than the preparation of a three-month budget required of all financial assistance recipients.

• Benefits screening and referrals. We help clients apply for public assistance programs (such as CalFresh and Medi-Cal) as well as programs offered by businesses for low-income households (such as discounts on utilities and Internet access). We also make referrals to medical, mental health, legal aid, employment, and education programs, as well as to financial services such as banks/credit unions and credit and budget counseling.

• Disaster response: SCS responds quickly to unexpected needs in our community. For example, we’ve marshaled all our resources to find temporary (and then permanent) housing when low-income families have suddenly lost their housing due to apartment complex fires. Those efforts have included helping 70 families after a 2016 fire and another 18 families in 2019. Also in 2019, the City of Sunnyvale asked us to manage donations for multiple families after an automobile driver intentionally ran down several people (including children) who were crossing a street.

• Hosting partner agencies onsite, including Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, the Santa Clara County Social Services Agency, and Senior Adult Legal Services. These agencies help SCS clients with CalFresh and Medi-Cal enrollments and legal counseling. Onsite visits had to be suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, but we plan to bring them back along with others once we move into our new building later in 2021 (pending appropriate guidance from public health officials). This will enable SCS clients to sign up for benefits and get other services without having to go to multiple agencies’ offices in San Jose.

• Bus passes. Through a contract with the Valley Transportation Authority, we distribute reduced-price bus/light-rail passes each month.

• Assistance with other necessities such as diapers, pet food, refurbished bicycles, and household move-in kits (bed linens, small appliances, etc.).

• Advocacy on policies and programs affecting the most vulnerable.

Community Stories

55 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a volunteer and donor of seven years with Sunnyvale Community Services. We are a nonprofit organization that works to prevent homelessness and hunger in our community. We have many programs to help our families, children, seniors, veterans and homeless. As a volunteer in several programs I get to see firsthand how very much we are able to assist our people. Sunnyvale Community Services has the finest and most caring staff. I am truly honored to be a part of this wonderful organization.
LMC44

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services is an wonderful organization dealing with hunger and homelessness. I started volunteering at SCS almost two years ago I love every minute of it. It is so rewarding to be part of something that helps people that have such a need. No one goes away hungry, ever...I started as a bag lady working in the bread section. Bread and pastries are donated, volunteers pick up and more volunteers sort and bag. These items are then given out to anyone who needs them. I also work as a receptionist at the front desk. It is wonderful to be able to greet the clients with a smile and assist them with meeting with the caseworkers who are amongst the most caring, helpful and capable people I have every met. SCS operates with a very small staff who are spectacular and their volunteers. This organization really knows how to do it. It is an honor to be part of SCS and the wonderful staff and volunteers . I hope to be around for a very long time.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

So grateful for this incredible resource in our community. They are innovative and collaborative in finding creative ways to meet basic needs in our community.

Connie48

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Everyone is here to help those less fortunate. No one is ever turned away. No one goes hungry. SCS has great community support.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SCS has been providing wonderful service to Sunnyvale residents for many years.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services has done an exceptional job in providing much needed food and living essentials to the people of Sunnyvale who are in desperate need of our support. I am blessed not to need these services for myself, but I see the way that they benefit my neighbors and that means a lot to me. SCS is well managed, which means that donations are used efficiently and costs are well controlled.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services is an outstanding organization that helps individuals and families in need get back on their feet. They have several programs that reach many different members of our community including the elderly, school-aged children, veterans, and the homeless. My in-laws noticed a woman living on the street in their neighborhood. I called SCS to notify them and they had a case worker there soon after to help her. I have nothing but praise for Sunnyvale Community Services!

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a supporter of this agency for 40 years, working with their Christmas Center and on their board, and now as a donor. They do so much good for the community, and involve so many willing volunteers, plus most of the donations go to help families and individuals in need, and are not wasted on administration. My nonprofit organization of choice.

Board Member

Rating: 5

The staff and volunteers working for Sunnyvale Community Services are doing tremendous work in Sunnyvale helping to prevent homelessness and hunger in our community. This is a well-run and organized nonprofit focused on fulfilling its mission.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am always amazed at what Sunnyvale Community Services does to help prevent homelessness as well as help those that are homeless to get back on their feet. They also help to make sure that the children of Sunnyvale have enough healthy food to eat. Great job!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services is focused on preventing homelessness and hunger in and around Sunnyvale. They make the best use of every dollar given and every hour committed. Please help us make a difference

Previous Stories
1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services is run by an amazing team of dedicated, enthusiastic and tireless staff members and volunteers. They provide much needed food and emergency financial aid to low-income citizens of Sunnyvale. I am proud and honored to be on the board of such a well run and effective organisation.

Read more
KJ Griffey

Board Member

Rating: 5

Having been a board member for almost six years I've been able to see all the great strides that are being taken to help our clients get the help the need. Healthy choices of food, temporary housing, and backpacks for the students.

Previous Stories
1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services takes on the challenge to preventing homelessness and hunger.
With the high cost of living in Silicon Valley (rising rents, increased food costs, etc), there are thousands at risk of losing the roof over their head- or having to choose between rent and food. The Executive Director, the amazing staff, dedicated donors, and committed volunteers who all make it all happen. It's true community at work.

Read more

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering with SCS for 3 1/2 years and this is a blessing to be part of such a great organization. The clients are well cared for and the volunteers work very hard to accomplish that care. The agency has expanded beyond belief in the time I have spent here and our programs range from food to housing and we try to not turn anyone away. This agency is an integral part of the community and I don't know what we would do without it.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services is the final safety net and brings hope, food and shelter to theist needy.

Donor

Rating: 5

I love the mix of practical assistance and advocating for policy to address underlying social issues that keep silicon valley unliveable for many of its citizens. Hats off

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services provides a lifeline for thousands of Sunnyvale residents. The agency provides financial support, food, clothing, and various other types of assistance. In December it hosts a Christmas boutique, where local residents come "shop," selecting Christmas gifts for each family member, including Mom (e.g., brand-new kitchen appliances such as waffle makers or slow cookers), and choosing food for the holidays. SCS arranges for monthly food deliveries to homebound seniors, provides weekend food to needy families, and helps hundreds with one-time needs. The agency's staff are uniformly compassionate, dedicated professionals who are committed to helping the less fortunate. It is a true honor to do volunteer work with SCS.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services is a great org. I found out about them about seven years ago. I have been a monthly donor ever since. I found out about SCS because I found out about the needs that we have in our community and the work that they do to help the less fortunate or those that are struggling. I appreciate that SCS leverages my donations to make the maximum positive impact on the community. SCS reflects all the best qualities of Sunnyvale and its volunteers.

Previous Stories
2

Donor

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services is a fantastic resource in our community. They truly care about the people they are helping. They are excellent at maximizing the value they provide from the donations they receive. They are fantastic about engaging the community to help people who are in need.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services really helps the Sunnyvale low income families. Many have nowhere else to turn to. They are well respected in their area.

Review from Guidestar

2 Carol191

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Service cares!!! Their clients are treated wonderfully and above all else with respect and dignity. I've been volunteering with them for the past several years and love helping them out with the Christmas Center in December. They have so many opportunities for your to volunteer and it will truly help families in our community!!! At this moment, the company I work for is putting on a Back to School Supply Drive for the children of their clients. It is so rewarding to see how grateful the parents and children are. Visit their offices and you'll get hooked!!!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

i know Sunnyvale community services as a donater. They are of great service to people in need and making it wonderful to donate time or goods. Proud to have a well run organization in my community.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When my children were young and both myself and my husband were out of work Sunnyvale Community Services helped to make it possible for our children to play soccer and to swim at the community pools. This allowed them to still have a normal childhood and not feel different from the other kids. This small act of kindness stayed with me and I have been donating to SCS for many years and am currently helping out as a volunteer. I am always impressed with the efficiency, resourcefulness and dedication that I witness whenever I am able to help out. SCS provides vital services of quality and care whether it is helping someone with their rent payments, finding shelter & blankets for another or making sure that a child has a new backpack filled with school supplies. Each client is treated with dignity and compassion. I highly recommend Sunnyvale Community Services!

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

SCS is very compassionate and efficient with their resources. They are able to effectively leverage volunteers from the surrounding residential and business community that serves to enlighten others on the plight of poverty and hunger locally.
I'm so proud to be able to help SCS in a small way and proud to be associated with them.

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

In the high cost Bay Area, many people struggle to make ends meet. And that's where Sunnyvale Community Services steps in with everything from case management services to food and school supplies. Our neediest residents are supported by a dedicated team of volunteers and staff committed to preventing homelessness and hunger. It's an honor to be a small part of such a well-run organization.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services fulfills its mission to prevent homelessness by offering emergency financial assistance to people who are in temporary crisis and in danger of losing a home as a result. The impact that this has on the community in reducing homelessness and in making a difference in the lives of children cannot be overstated.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have lived in Sunnyvale for twenty years and have always been aware of the essential support that SCS provides to the community. Last year I was appointed to the Board and I am even more in awe of this organization! The staff is extremely dedicated and has been able to bring in more funds and services to address the ever increasing needs of our poorest citizens. Recently, more services have been added such as case management, fresh produce distribution, etc. I am very grateful that our City has such a strong and effective emergency assistance network!

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services takes on the challenge that many are not willing to do. We are committed to preventing homelessness and hunger.
With the high cost of living in Silicon Valley (rising rents, increased food costs, etc), there are thousands at risk of losing the roof over their head- or having to choose between rent and food in their bellies. We stop that! And I am inspired daily by the dedicated Executive Director, the amazing staff, dedicated donors, and committed volunteers who all make it all happen. It's true community at work.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services staff and volunteers are very focused on their mission. They treat their clients as human beings and work extremely hard to help those in need.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

SC works tirelessly to meet the needs of the Sunnyvale community. Their connections with all corners of the community are impressive. This allows them to not only to spread the work about the needs of so many in the community, it also helped the organization stay in tuned with real community needs. When an agency like this is truly integrated into the community, every part of the community benefits.

1 Leanne U.

Donor

Rating: 5

SCS has done outstanding work for countless families and individuals for decades. Year round they provide a variety of services, support and opportunities to meet the needs of all those who request a helping hand. This is a wonderful organization.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

From back-to-school supply drives to food donations to year-round support for all who need it, SCS is truly an exemplary community services agency in that they serve all citizens within the awesome city of Sunnyvale.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The people at SCS go above and beyond to meet the needs of their clients. Through the many different programs they run throughout the year, they serve the Sunnyvale community in the ways it is most needed. Especially great stuff with their backpack drive to provide children with the supplies they need to succeed in school and their variety of food aid programs assist a very needy population.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SCS is an outstanding organization and provides quality services to many Sunnyvale residents. Volunteers are welcomed and treated well so are willing to keep coming back to help out.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SCS provides food and services to families and seniors in dire straits in Sunnyvale. It has an organized pool of dedicated staff and volunteers who work to prevent homelessness and hunger, which are very serious and real problems. Hundreds of families rely on the products that the SCS distributes every week. Their works is amazing and you can see that in the client's gratitude messages. I am happy I can help SCS by volunteering there in my free time and I will continue to support them and their cause.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services does an outstanding job supporting those in need in our community

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been a Board member almost 12 years and also volunteer in the Christmas center.
Unfortunately, the need continues to grow in Sunnyvale, so business is booming. The agency provides financial aid, food, information & connections to other agencies who can help and compassion.
Donations help fill the bags of food, cover an unexpected bill or provide basic, necessary items that so many of us take for granted.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer here for 3 years, it does a wonderful job providing for the community and I am a proud volunteer.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteer at the weekly produce distribution, the guests receive this and a monthly food allocation. SCS also delivers food to those guests who are unable to make the trip to the center.

At Christmas time the guests are able to get gifts for all of their family members. Just this must make a huge difference to those who are going thru difficult times.

SCS is a wonderful organization and I am proud to be able to take part in it.

SWright

2 Ginny C.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer with Sunnyvale Community Services for over 15 years. This organizations services those in need in Sunnyvale with a monthly food program and other emergency assistance.
At Christmas time the Clients are allowed to shop for their groceries and family gifts.They have also provided their clients with other fun programs like A day Full Circle Farms and the Health Fair. They do this with a minimum of paid staff and a wonderful group of volunteers. Volunteers are treated very well. They are given challenging duties if they want like leading a group of volunteers. You really feel you're doing something worhwhile.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at SCS for several years, and every hour I spend is always well worth it. This group really knows how to put their volunteers to good use and will never turn away people that want to lend a helping hand. The pleasant atmosphere, friendly staff and excellent organization keep the place running like clockwork.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I have been a volunteer for SCS since 1999 and have enjoyed what we are doing. It's a great group of people and I think we do a great job for the community.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I got to know Sunnyvale Community Services through the work they did with our son's cub scouts pack. We found that they were one of the only organizations that accepted such young volunteers and used the
boys' time effectively, and yet safely. Since then we kept coming back as a group and as a family. Now I come back weekly, because I know that the hours I spend there will always be put to good use. The relationship with the clients, the atmosphere, and the well-organized staff are all outstanding.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working With Sunnyvale Community services has brought a huge change in my life. They made me realize how one can bring a change to the lifes of others by just investing a couple of hours of their lives. They are one of the very few centers in the region who provide fresh weekly food to the needy and underprivileged. They are very organised and being with them is just like being a part of a family. Its a pleasure to work with such a great team.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It is always a privilege to volunteer at an organization that treats the needy with dignity, respect, and smiles!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Helping out at the Sunnyvale Community Services center is always a great experience. The staff are very organized, and after working there several times now, it's easy to see how much the center helps the community.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been on the board and also a volunteer for many, many years. The quality of services and care delivered to our clients is exceptional starting with the staff members and going all the way through our 800+ volunteers. Each client is treated with extreme dignity and the follow through with each client is exceptional. Sunnyvale is very, very fortunate to have this level of care in our community. We work with many other agencies just so we never have to turn anyone away. Everyone is either served by SCS or referred to a sister agency for ongoing assistance. I highly recommend this agency.

1 Marie Bernard

Donor

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services continues to be one of the best run and most needed nonprofits in Silicon Valley. While the requests for basic assistance continues to grow, the agency has grown community support and volunteer hours to meet those needs.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services is always among the highest rated agencies funded by United Way Silicon Valley both for quality of services and management. It stretches every dollar and effectively uses volunteers. SCS has only 7 paid employees, but annual volunteer hours equal those of 11 employees.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Unfortunately, the agency¹s slogan is truer than ever: ³Our Business is Booming, and That¹s Not Good.² As a banker, I look at the numbers. Just four years ago, we spent $390,000 on financial aid for clients; last year, $610,000. Four years ago, we had 750 families in our food programs and gave out $660,000 of food. Now, over 1,300 families participate, and last year, we gave out $1,335,000 of food. All of these increases were possible thanks to generous community and corporate support as well as dedicated volunteers‹all of which keep our overhead expenses under 10%.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I serve on the Board of SCS because it is one of the most efficiently run nonprofit agencies. You don't have to take my word for it. SCS has won prestigious awards for management excellence and outstanding service thanks to a very dedicated, active Board of Directors, exceptional CEO and staff, and dedicated volunteers.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After retiring from SCS, I have volunteered for over 15 years. I see families that despite working three jobs have trouble making ends meet. One unexpected medical or car repair bill means they can¹t pay their rent or utility bill. Many seniors face staggering medical and prescription bills not covered by Medicare. Without financial aid and food, they face eviction, utility disconnections, and untreated medical problems. I was very moved by an 82 year old woman, who came for help for the first time in her life. She said, "By the time you have to ask for help, you¹re already depressed. Coming to a cheery place with caring people let¹s you keep your dignity."