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Heart and Home Collaborative is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Palo Alto, CA. It brings together unhoused and housed Palo Alto residents to create dialogue, leverage resources, and develop services (such as shelter, outreach, and community meetings) that respect and respond to unhoused individuals' needs and goals. Our team members invest themselves in personal relationships and in the creation of a loving and supportive community. Unhoused people participate in program conceptualizing, planning, decision-making, and evaluation, with the understanding that people who use services are the experts.
A client-centered, student-driven, community-run organization, Heart and Home differentiates itself from other nonprofits in a number of ways. First, we seek out the participation and collaboration of a wide variety of stakeholders, including clients and other service providers, at all stages of planning and execution. Second, the organization's programs are run by a team of Stanford University students. Third, these programs are powered by volunteers from the broader Stanford and Palo Alto communities. By combining these advantages, Heart and Home benefits from the experience of those who know most about the issue of homelessness, the innovative energy and drive of students who pass through Stanford's community, and the stability and expertise of those who have settled in the area.
In Winter 2014, the organization opened its first service, the Heart and Home Women's Shelter. The shelter was hosted out of Palo Alto churches and provided beds for 15 women from January through April. In the coming year, Heart and Home plans to extend the shelter to be at least seven months in duration (ideal season is November through May) and add on three new programs that make use of the strengths of its Stanford student volunteer base: (1) A SMS alert system that gives clients ready access to housing, jobs, and other similar opportunities that are often available through less accessible means; (2) A tutorial designed to give volunteers the outreach skills to assist with many of the needs we see in the homeless community, often in partnership with other agencies; (3) A training program for clients who are interested in acquiring the technical skills that are most marketable in Silicon Valley's current economy.