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Silicon Valley’s economy is booming, but pockets of poverty exist. Non-profit agencies that provide housing and support services to the low income and homeless say despite the region’s economic prosperity, they are seeing more families and youth in need.

“Life can change suddenly for anyone. When crisis hits, things happen and a family can become homeless,” said Kohinoor Chakravarty, director of Development and Communications for West Valley Community Services (WVCS).

At a meeting held in the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) office in Cupertino, Chakravarty said the agency, which serves underprivileged families and the homeless in Cupertino, Saratoga, West San Jose, Monte Sereno and Los Gatos, provides 672,380 pounds of food to low-income and homeless families and $167,829 in emergency assistance for rent, utilities and deposits. Its food pantry provides 1,223 individuals with groceries, household items, diapers and personal care items. The agency also has special programs that help families during the holidays and school year with holiday food baskets and shopping spree, its backpack program and back-to-school event, which helps over 100 children shop for clothes for school.

WVCS has also opened food pantries in De Anza and Foothill colleges for about 200 students who are homeless, with no food or place to live. “High rents forced their families to move out of the area, but these students chose to stay because they know finishing their education is the only way to get out of the cycle of poverty,” said Chakravarty.

Marie Bernard, executive director with Sunnyvale Community Services, told REALTORS® that homelessness and hunger in Santa Clara County are exacerbated by skyrocketing rents. One-bedroom apartments are renting for $2,542 on average, and two-bedroom apartment rents average $3,228.

“For many families, it’s a choice of rent over food,” said Bernard.

Like WVCS, SCS is the first stop for families seeking help. Last year, the agency helped 7,991 low-income residents, a 16 percent increase from 2015. The agency has also extended its help to the Alviso area, where there are many people who are underserved and families whose homes are red-tagged because their utility bills are backed up for six to eight months.

“Keeping people fed and housed is the best economic investment our county can make,” said Bernard. She said while it costs to feed and help the poor, it would cost more if the county did not provide the help.

Chakravarty and Bernard said the non-profits cannot provide their services without help from residents who volunteer to help sort the food and distribute them to needy families. Local grocery stores donate food to their food pantries.

“Without volunteers uniting behind us, we cannot do this work. You can make it happen because you are our community,” Chakravarty told the REALTORS®.

SILVAR’s Cupertino/Sunnyvale District, through the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation, has donated $750 to West Valley Community Services. The donation will be used to purchase backpacks for WVCS’s Back-To-School Backpacks program. Pictured above with the big check are Cupertino/Sunnyvale District tour director Mark Burns with Chakravarty.

 

 

 

 

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In Los Altos, Kathryn Tomaino and Steve Klesczewski washed windows for a 74-year-old Los Altos homeowner.

 

The Palo Alto senior cheerfully greeted the RSVP (REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program) volunteers when they arrived at her home. She was eager and grateful to receive their help. Looking at her you wouldn’t know that she needed help, but the 81-year-old widow has undergone a liver transplant, a mastectomy, a hip replacement and now has a bad back. The Palo Alto senior homeowner was grateful the RSVP volunteers were able to vacuum her house, wash her windows and change a light bulb. She said her husband died five years ago and she has no family. She is friends with her neighbor, but the neighbor is 92 years old.

“The neighborhood has changed,” she sighed. “I feel so helpless. I guess I should move, but it’s hard because this is home. I’ve lived here for 50 years.”

A 98-year-old Saratoga senior feels the same way. Also a widow with no family, she was very happy that the RSVP volunteers were able to her change her light bulbs, turn over her mattress and replace her smoke detector battery.

“It’s wonderful you can do this for me. I just can’t do some of these tasks anymore,” she remarked.

In Los Altos, a 74-year-old senior homeowner conveyed her gratitude as RSVP volunteers proceeded to wash her outside windows. “I love this! Thank you. It is so wonderful to have this help,” she said.

RSVP volunteers also feel rewarded when they are able to help seniors in their communities. “We volunteer because we respect the needs of our parents. We want to pay it forward and do it for them,” said longtime RSVP volunteers Kevin Barrett and SILVAR President Denise Welsh.

The program has inspired new members to volunteer, as well. First-time RSVP volunteers Anna-Liza Estoesta and Sara Hernandez were eager to help. “We want to help the community,” they said.

Virginia Supnet said, “I would like to promote the event to my office to inspire other agents.”

This was Trevor Loveless’ third year as a Palo Alto District RSVP volunteer. He enjoys helping the seniors. “It’s good for the community. I was born and raised here. It’s good to give back,” said Loveless.

SILVAR’s REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program (RSVP) is on its 16th year. This year 107 volunteers from SILVAR assisted 50 senior households in the Menlo Park/Atherton, Palo Alto, Los Altos/Mountain View, Cupertino/Sunnyvale and Los Gatos/Saratoga communities. VIEW PHOTOS

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The Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation donated $93,000 in 2016 to non-profit organizations that help the homeless and low-income individuals and families in Silicon Valley. Funds this year also went to scholarships for graduating seniors from public high schools in the region.

The Charitable Foundation is a trust which makes grants available to organizations from donations by REALTORS® and affiliate members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR). In addition to voluntary contributions from members, grants are funded by proceeds from the local trade association’s district fundraisers, like the Los Gatos/Saratoga District Annual Bocce Ball Tournament and the Los Altos/Mountain View District Annual Pumpkin Auction. SILVAR represents over 5,000 REALTORS® and affiliate members engaged in the real estate business on the Peninsula and in the South Bay.

The 2016 Charitable Foundation grant recipients include Adolescent Counseling Services, which provides a network of skilled family therapists and support groups for teens and young adults in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties; Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, which seeks to provide stability to children who have experienced abuse and neglect; East Palo Alto Kids Foundation, which promotes educational opportunities for students in East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park; Friends of Deer Hollow Farm, an educational farm located in the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve; JustRead, a cross-generational program composed of retired professionals who teach reading and writing basics to students who did not learn these skills in earlier grades; LifeMoves, which provides services to enable the homeless to return to stable housing and self-sufficiency; Westwind 4-H Riding for the Handicapped, which provides children with disabilities the opportunity to have fun while improving their coordination and strengthening their muscles; and Youth Community Services, which provides service learning and leadership activities to underserved students in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Palo Alto.

From money raised to support further education for U.S. veterans, the Charitable Foundation presented $10,000 each to Palo Alto University and West Valley Community College, and $25,000 to Foothill-De Anza Foundation, an auxiliary organization of the Foothill-De Anza Community Colleges District for the creation of “The John Tripp – Silicon Valley REALTORS® Veterans Scholarship Endowment.” The late John Tripp was a veteran of the Korean War and past president of SILVAR and the Charitable Foundation.

As part of its annual scholarship program, the Charitable Foundation presented a $1,000 grant to each of 18 graduating seniors from public high schools in Silicon Valley. The foundation has been assisting students with the scholarship grants for the past 17 years. SILVAR’s districts, through the Foundation, also donated $6,195 raised at the annual Los Gatos/Saratoga District Pumpkin Auction to the Family Giving Tree for Operation Reindeer; $1,350 each to the West Valley Community Services and Sunnyvale Community Services backpack programs for needy students and $1,000 to the Cupertino Educational Endowment Foundation raised by the Cupertino/Sunnyvale District; and $1,797 raised by the Los Altos/Mountain View District at its spring and fall Legal Updates to Community Services Agency.

“It has become more costly to live in Silicon Valley, so we thank our members for being so generous in supporting the foundation year after year,” said Eileen Giorgi, president of the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation. “With our members’ continued support for and contributions to the communities where they work and live, we are able to continue our commitment to the welfare and prosperity of these communities.”

 

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Left to right are SILVAR Los Altos/Mountain View District Chair Katherine Frey, President Karen Trolan, President-elect Denise Welsh, De Anza College Development Director Dennis Cima, Dean of the Disability Resource Center & Veterans Programs at Foothill College Teresa Ong, Foothill-De Anza Colleges Foundation Executive Director Tess Chandler, and Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation President Eileen Giorgi. the presentation took place at the December 16 Los Altos/Mountain View District Holiday Breakfast at the Los Altos Golf & Country Club.

 

The Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation, the charitable arm of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR), has created a scholarship endowment for student veterans at Foothill and De Anza Colleges. “The John Tripp-Silicon Valley REALTORS® Veterans Scholarship Endowment” was formally presented to officials of both colleges last week at the Los Altos Golf and Country Club.

The scholarship endowment was created by the REALTOR® foundation in memory of John Tripp, a longtime REALTOR® who died on December 27, 2015. Tripp was a veteran of the Korean War and served his country with honor and distinction from 1947 to 1956.

A REALTOR® for over 50 years and past president of SILVAR and its charitable foundation, Tripp was instrumental in “REALTORS® Honor Veterans,” the fundraising event held last year to establish a veterans scholarship fund to support eligible U.S. veterans residing in SILVAR’s traditional service area who wish to further their education. The event raised approximately $40,000.

Earlier this year, the foundation presented $10,000 each to Palo Alto University and West Valley College. The remaining funds went to the scholarship endowment to Foothill-De Anza Foundation, an auxiliary organization of the Foothill-De Anza Community Colleges District.

“In all he did, John emphasized education, ethics and the Golden Rule. The opportunity to grow through education was very near and dear to his heart, and with the establishment of this endowment, we honor his contributions to our community and our profession,” said Charitable Foundation president Eileen Giorgi.

“This is a perpetual scholarship that will grow through the years and be here even after we are all gone,” said Tess Chandler, executive director of Foothill-De Anza Foundation. “This endowment will give our student veterans from both colleges needed assistance to reach their academic goals.”

The endowment will pay out a $1,000 award each year – $500 for a student veteran on each campus. The awards can be used for book vouchers student fees and/or other education expenses.

 

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The Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation this week presented West Valley College President Bradley Davis with a check for $10,000 to provide assistance to U.S. veterans through the SILVAR Veterans Scholarship Fund.

The Foundation is the charitable arm of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR), a professional trade organization representing over 4,500 REALTORS® and Affiliate members engaged in the real estate business on the Peninsula and in the South Bay. SILVAR promotes the highest ethical standards of real estate practice, serves as an advocate for homeownership and homeowners, and represents the interests of property owners in Silicon Valley.

The SILVAR Veterans Scholarship Fund is designed to support eligible U.S. veterans residing in SILVAR’s traditional service area who wish to further their education. Funds for the scholarship fund were raised at SILVAR’s 2015 “REALTORS® Honor Veterans” event from donations made by members and friends of SILVAR, including a generous grant from the Pacific Gas & Electric Company.

Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® President Karen Trolan thanked members for their generosity. She said money veterans receive from the GI Bill is not enough to afford a college education. She noted she was impressed with the help West Valley College extends to veterans.

Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation President Eileen Giorgi also thanked members for their support of last year’s event and their contributions to the Charitable Foundation. “The SILVAR Veterans Scholarship Fund is our way of supporting our veterans, to thank them for their brave and invaluable service to our country, and to help them be successful,” said Giorgi.

Davis expressed his gratitude on behalf of West Valley College. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your donation will help our veterans tremendously,” said David. He said the grant will go a long way to assisting veterans with tuition, books and supplies for their studies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At the August Palo Alto District tour meeting, the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation, the charitable arm of the Silicon valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) presented Palo Alto University with a check for $10,000 to provide assistance to U.S. veterans through the SILVAR Veterans Scholarship Fund.

The SILVAR Veterans Scholarship Fund is designed to support eligible U.S. veterans residing in SILVAR’s traditional service area who wish to further their education. Funds for the scholarship fund were raised at SILVAR’s 2015 “REALTORS® Honor Veterans” event from donations made by members and friends of SILVAR, including a generous grant from the Pacific Gas & Electric Company.

Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation President Eileen Giorgi thanked members for their generosity and Palo Alto University for assisting the country’s veterans. “Thank you for your commitment to help our veterans achieve their goals. The SILVAR Veterans Scholarship Fund is our way of supporting our veterans, to thank them for their brave and invaluable service to our country, and to help them be successful,” said Giorgi.

Representing Palo Alto University at the presentation were Dr. Maureen O’Connor, president of Palo Alto University; Elizabeth Shaughnessy, director of Advancement; Derrick Felton, Board of Trustees and counselor, Veteran Affairs; Teresa Lee, executive assistant to the Provost & Director, Military/Veteran Student Services; and Jo Harvey, Advancement associate.

 

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The Los Gatos/Saratoga and Los Altos/Mountain View districts’ pumpkin auctions held last month raised a combined total of $8,925 for charity. Both events drew active and generous participation from members and their companies, who donated an array of beautiful pumpkin displays and fall arrangements, accompanied by big prizes for the winning bidders. Money raised from the Los Gatos/Saratoga District’s pumpkin auction, a total of $4,275, will go to Operation Reindeer, a program REALTORS® and affiliates of the district have supported for more than 20 years. The program distributes gifts, including clothing essentials and food certificates to needy families and seniors in the community during the holiday season.

Members from Los Altos and Mountain View cheered when they raised $4,650 for the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation at their second annual pumpkin auction. Money raised by the district topped last year’s earnings of $3,525, thanks to the generous participation of members and brokers from both communities. The Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation gives grants to non-profit organizations for needy families, and scholarships to graduating high school seniors in Silicon Valley. The grants and scholarships are made possible through donations from SILVAR members.

SEE PHOTOS AND READ MORE ABOUT THE LOS ALTOS/MOUNTAIN VIEW DISTRICT PUMPKIN AUCTION

SEE PHOTOS AND READ MORE ABOUT THE LOS GATOS/SARATOGA DISTRICT PUMPKIN AUCTION

Event raised over $15,000 for Charity

Team 650, 2013 Day On the Diamond Champions

Team 650, 2013 Day On the Diamond Champions

Over 150 SILVAR members and guests watched Team 650 breeze through the field with hits and runs and ultimately retain their winner’s title at Wednesday’s “Day on the Diamond,” SILVAR’s co-ed REALTOR® softball game.

The winners, REALTORS® from area code 650 – members from the Menlo Park/Atherton, Palo Alto and Los Altos/Mountain View districts, were jubilant. It was a great day for a ball game and everyone – spectators, cheerleaders and players had fun. More important, the event raised over $15,000 for the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation.

Team 650 and Team 408, SILVAR REALTOR® members from the Cupertino/Sunnyvale and Los Gatos/Saratoga districts, have been engaged in friendly softball competition. Team 408 took the title in 2011 in Portola Valley, and last year Team 650 became the winner at the game held in Los Gatos. This year, REALTORS® from SILVAR’s districts to the north were bent on keeping the title and held regular practices weeks before game day. Their practices paid off. Team 650 led throughout the game, amid cheers from their districts’ affiliates.

There were good moments for Team 408, thanks to the quick reflexes and running by outfielder Marc Gallardo, who caught the ball and struck out a few Team 650 players. But it wasn’t enough. Despite Team 408’s efforts, the 650 members succeeded in keeping their trophy, with a score of 23-2.

READ MORE HERE AND SEE MORE PHOTOS

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Nearly 100 members and guests participated in Monday’s 14th Annual Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation Golf Tournament. The annual charity event held at the Los Altos Golf and Country Club, included the golf tournament, a cocktail reception and awards ceremony. The event is one of two fundraisers this year for the Foundation.

Special guests included California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) President Don Faught and C.A.R. President-elect Kevin Brown, who golfed in the tournament. A highlight of the event was a hole-in-one on Hole #6 by Alain Pinel REALTORS® Vice President and Regional Manager Jeff Barnett.

This year’s golf tournament top winner is Sereno Group’s team, with Justin DeSantis, Ed Graziani, Timothy Proschold, and Chris Ray. The Sereno Group team won first place for the third year in a row.

Read more here and see golf tournament photos

Suzanne Barnett (left), host of "The Better Part" gets ready to interview RSVP co-founder David Barca and RSVP Chair Eileen Giorgi. Watch the feature on RSVP on cablecast and on the Internet next week.

Suzanne Barnett (left), host of “The Better Part” gets ready to interview RSVP co-founder David Barca and RSVP Chair Eileen Giorgi. Watch the feature on RSVP on cablecast and on the Internet next week.

SILVAR’s REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program (RSVP) will be featured on public television and on the Internet next week, with interviews with RSVP co-founder David Barca, RSVP chair Eileen Giorgi, RSVP District Chairs, volunteers and senior homeowners from local communities.

The program about Silicon Valley REALTORS® helping seniors and the homebound with household tasks will telecast September 1 – 7 throughout Silicon Valley on “The Better Part,” a public access television program produced by seniors from the Cupertino Senior Center. In the show, both Barca and Giorgi are interviewed by host Suzanne Barnett.

Each year during a designated week in May, teams of REALTOR® and affiliate volunteers provide senior citizens who are physically or financially challenged free assistance with household tasks they can no longer perform on their own. Such tasks include replacing light bulbs, changing furnace filters, cleaning windows, flipping mattresses, or installing new smoke detector batteries.

“For homeowners or renters who are advanced in years and are physically and financially challenged, some household tasks can pose a major challenge,” said Barca.

Barca, together with members of SILVAR’s Palo Alto and Menlo Park/Atherton districts, started the program in 2001. RSVP was adopted as an official association community outreach project the following year, with REALTORS® and affiliates helping seniors living in SILVAR’s five districts. RSVP has since spread throughout the Peninsula and South Bay, involving members of SILVAR, the San Mateo County Association of REALTORS®, Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS®, and Santa Cruz County Association of REALTORS®. Since its inception, RSVP has served over 4,000 seniors. This year 447 RSVP volunteers from these associations helped 297 senior households in their communities; 241 volunteers from SILVAR assisted 118 seniors.

“As REALTORS®, we sell the benefits and aspirations of our communities,” said Giorgi. “We are also neighbors and know about local needs. We share the desire for our communities to be great places to live and are committed to give back to those who have built our communities. This program enables us to help seniors and the homebound enjoy their homes in the community for a longer time.”

Producing the show was an eye-opening experience for Diane Sparks, executive producer of “The Better Part.” “When I learned of the program, I thought it was worthwhile to show our communities that REALTORS® don’t just sell houses; they also do a lot of good work for our communities,” said Sparks. “Filming the volunteers helping the seniors and witnessing the appreciation among the seniors, showed me what a difference the program has made in their lives.”

See the schedule for days, times, cities and channels where the REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program will be televised. The program can also be accessed on YouTube under the topic “Cupertino City Productions” or go to REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program.

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