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Morgan Hill
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September 23, 2021

Good citizens: treasure beyond gold

Few social problems have quick answers. It takes people
persevering to the end to get anywhere at all. In Morgan Hill we
have many such good people tackling the dayworker problem and we
think they deserve some praise. Dayworkers are the men lining East
Main and Depot avenues most mornings hoping to be offered casual
labor jobs by residents, business owners and contractors. They
stand there for hours in all weather. Most of the time they are
quiet, polite and well-behaved; occasionally people have felt
threatened, whether realistically or not is undetermined.
Few social problems have quick answers. It takes people persevering to the end to get anywhere at all. In Morgan Hill we have many such good people tackling the dayworker problem and we think they deserve some praise.

Dayworkers are the men lining East Main and Depot avenues most mornings hoping to be offered casual labor jobs by residents, business owners and contractors. They stand there for hours in all weather. Most of the time they are quiet, polite and well-behaved; occasionally people have felt threatened, whether realistically or not is undetermined.

There is no one to communicate between workers and employers – language is usually an issue; no recourse if the men or their employers let each other down. There is no hope of improving the men’s situation – learning English, regularizing immigration status, helping with family issues.

Into this breach stepped Father Gene O’Donnell of St. Catherine’s Roman Catholic Church. He gathered together parishioners who, in turn, attracted others to form the St. Catherine’s Dayworker Committee. Julian Mancias now leads the group which includes Mayor Dennis Kennedy, Councilwoman Hedy Chang, Janet Leach, Bill Keig and Marilyn Librers and several others. Tony Eulo is the committee’s liaison with the city.

This group of activists – and dozens of people working behind the scenes – has been raising funds – $35,000 from the Mexican Fiesta alone, writing grants, diverting unused (donated) furniture away from warehouses, all in order to fix what has become a rather bad situation.

Other good citizens are trying to help in a big way, too. Besides money, what the dayworkers need is a building dedicated to their use. Charles Weston and Lesley Miles of Weston Miles Architects, having outgrown their firm’s office space above the House of Bagels, have been negotiating to buy the former Isaacson’s Grain Co., conveniently located right at the very corner where the dayworkers wait.

Weston and Miles have offered to install two portable classroom buildings that Miles asked the Oak Grove School District to donate on the Isaacson property for use as a permanent dayworker center. Weston would donate some professional work as would Graniterock and Dick Oliver of Dividend Homes. The city planning department is prepared to waive or delay some requirements.

In the meantime, since purchase negotiations are taking longer than first expected, another good-hearted soul has stepped up to the plate. Bob Isaacson, who still owns the grain company land and building, has offered to let the men take over the unused part of the warehouse as an interim center.

A host of trumpet fanfares would not be amiss to thank these caring people for taking responsibility upon themselves and keeping governmental involvement to a minimum.

To volunteer or offer other assistance, call Assistant City Manager Tony Eulo at 779-7271.

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