As Silicon Valley continues to dominate the technology industry and the region grows as a world-class sports, entertainment and travel destination, we must not lose sight of our local community—especially people in need.
San Jose, with more than 6,600 tech companies, reports the largest concentration of tech expertise in the world and the highest median household income in the nation. However, not everyone is represented in this picture of a robust region on the rise.
Some residents are struggling. Fortunately, many companies and people are responding to improve the quality of life for our fellow residents.
Rebuilding Together in San Jose
Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley brings together hundreds of volunteers and dozens of sponsors to repair and rehabilitate the homes of low-income homeowners and nonprofit facilities twice a year. Over the course of just a few days in April and October, the organization’s Rebuilding Day program produces life-changing improvements for the homeowners and organizations served.
Since 1991, Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley has revitalized more than 2,500 homes and buildings in the region.
For the second year in a row, a team of volunteers from the San Jose Marriott partnered with Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley to renovate the mobile home of a local resident.
This year, we met Larry, a 78-year-old disabled Navy veteran. Larry was a roofer for 35 years but now is unable to repair his home due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, asthma, seizures and neuropathy in both legs. He has had knee replacement and walks with a cane. Larry has lived in his home for 25 years and his brother moved in in 2008. It was ready for a “facelift.”
With paint, brooms, ladders, and hammers in hand, our renovation crew—well represented by San Jose Marriott’s Engineering Department—painted, repaired and installed safety modifications on Larry’s home on April 28, 2018.
That day, it was transformed into a fresher, more cheerful and safer place to live. Larry smiled and said, “Thank you.”
When we saw Larry’s happiness, it made us happy. I honestly don’t know who benefited the most from the day of home repairs.
On that same day, Rebuilding Together organized major and minor repairs and renovations at 26 low-income homes and six nonprofit facilities. Two of the nonprofit buildings included St. Joseph’s Family Center in Gilroy and the San Francisco Bay Area Region of Uplift Family Services.
For 35 years, St. Joseph’s has provided nutritious balanced meals for low-income individuals, families and homeless people.
Uplift Family Services offers a comprehensive behavioral and mental health treatment program as well as basic needs, such as food and clothing, to children and families recovering from trauma.
Connecting with the Community
Technology keeps up connected 24-7 on a global level. The benefits Silicon Valley tech companies provide are immense—enhanced productivity, convenience and the ability to communicate instantaneously.
However, virtual interaction is not the same as human interaction.
Volunteering within our community is a gift. It gives us a chance to meet and learn from our neighbors and, hopefully, help them in a significant way. It brings volunteers together who bond and often create friendships while helping the community at large.
At the San Jose Marriott, we cherish the opportunities to help the less fortunate so that they can continue to live quality lives in our burgeoning region. We also want to nurture the young, who are the future of San Jose, by working with the San Jose Sports Authority’s REACH Youth Scholarship program.
John Southwell is the general manager of the San Jose Marriott and a founding member of Team San Jose, which operates and markets the San Jose McEnery Convention Center and many of the city’s cultural facilities. Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Want to submit an op-ed? Email pitches to [email protected].