Every year, over 250 adults and children walk through the doors of the CORA domestic violence shelter in San Mateo County seeking refuge. When HIF staff visited the shelter last year, they saw that the shelter needed some saving of its own: the converted garage being used for group therapy and movie nights had an unfinished concrete floor, inadequate lighting, and a TV that worked only occasionally.  The three units, each housing multiple families at a time, had worn, mismatched furniture, inadequate storage for clients’ belongings, and broken or missing window blinds.

HIF got to work. And, as it turns out, turning this shelter into a true sanctuary was an easy cause to rally around; Essex Property Trust enthusiastically stepped up as a first-time Corporate Champion, supported by generous vendors Brook Furniture, Daniel Gaines Photography, IBI Construction, National Apartment Flooring, Oakwood Corporate Housing, Scottish Maids and Varsity Painting.  Last December, on one of the rainiest days in recent history, volunteers braved the weather and transformed the entire facility in just seven hours.  The garage was turned into a welcoming community room, apartments received new flooring, a new coat of paint, and updated furniture, and lighting fixtures were upgraded throughout.  New housewares, donated books (brought to the site by Essex volunteers), and festive holiday decorations completed the makeover.

When clients returned at the end of the day, they were brought to tears with the change. One remarked, “It was such a surprise. It’s beautiful! It doesn’t feel like a shelter at all and reminds me to take care of myself and the place I live.”