Can you tell us a little bit about you and your organization?
My name is Tom Myers and I’m the Executive Director here at CSA in Mountain View, California. Our agency is a non-profit social service agency. We concentrate on two things: making sure people have food and making sure we can keep people in housing or if they’re homeless, get them into housing. So it’s food and shelter.
We’ve been around since 1957, and I have been here for twenty-two years. As the Executive Director, I dip my fingers in a lot of different things. The day-to-day activities include food distributions every day, we have people coming in for rental assistance, other kinds of distributions, diapers, food gift cards, and other kinds of social services, signing people up for affordable housing. But my job is to keep the place afloat.
Can you give us an overview of what spaces were changed and updated during your DFAD project?
At CSA, because we are a non-profit, we never thought a lot about the design of our building. When a client would walk into our lobby, they were greeted with how you would expect a non-profit lobby to look. Very functional, but not very appealing, it had not been updated in some time.
But then when we were chosen with DFAD, they came in and said, “let’s make over your lobby, and let’s make it really welcoming to your client.” And so they did, from top to bottom, everything from lighting to flooring was revamped and they turned it into a welcome center. A place where folks could actually feel like they were walking into a warm and welcoming place. It was a complete redesign, a very functional into a welcome center for the hundreds of people who come here.
The lights were changed from hard white lights to a soft yellow, which really softened the space. Office blinds were changed to rolling shades, and that made things much nicer looking. The furniture was changed from hard metal desks to wooden pieces. The chairs were no longer just plastic, they added cushions to make it comfortable. We also ended up with a children’s play area. No child wants to be at the social service agency, so it’s nice to have a place where kids can play when their parents talk to the social workers.
What was your favorite thing about the DFAD project?
Working with such wonderful people. The people that were recruited to the project were really, really wonderful people. It is one of those things where we were able to utilize the interest of folks that were interested in doing good, and the fact that I never would have thought to get designers to do a project like this – this out of the box thinking, and the out of the box thinking ended up being a really good thing.
What advice do you have to anyone who is thinking about volunteering for DFAD?
My advice is do it! I never would have thought that changing our lobby would have such an impact on the agency, but it did. And, in fact, everyone in the office agreed that the receptionist is the person with the nicest office in the building.
About Tom Myers
Tom Myers is the Executive Director at Community Services Agency in Mountain View, California. He has worked for nonprofit social services agencies for 30 years, and has a passion for serving vulnerable people with dignity and respect.”