Sunnyvale Community Services
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Encore Fellow finds purpose, rediscovers passion while keeping case workers safe during pandemic.
Edgar Maxion spent more than 20 years working in facilities and construction management for renowned Bay Area institutions including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Monterey History & Art Association. But after 12 years as Stanford’s chief facilities officer, he was drained.
“At the end I was juggling eight construction projects at once and I was kind of a mess,” Maxion, 53, confesses. “I wasn’t sleeping very well and my health was tanking.”
He left that job and spent time thinking about what he wanted to do next. “I called it my ‘I don’t know what’ phase,” he jokes. Maxion began volunteering for the Salvation Army in San Jose, giving out produce and helping to cook some evening meals.
A conversation with a career counselor led him to Encore Fellowships, a program that matches skilled, seasoned professionals with social sector organizations in high-impact, paid engagements lasting as long as a year. Shortly after filling out an online application, he grabbed coffee with Gina Cassinelli, who facilitates matches throughout the Bay Area.
“We talked for a long time,” he recalls, “and she understood that I didn’t want to go back to doing exactly what I’d been doing.”
But when Sunnyvale Community Services (SCS), an emergency assistance agency working to prevent hunger and homelessness, began searching for an Encore Fellow to manage the renovation of a multimillion dollar property they’d recently purchased, Cassinelli urged Maxion to meet with them.
Executive Director Marie Bernard “made it clear that while the job was construction project management, I would also be doing all these other things focused more on culture and change management,” he says. “That psychological part intrigued me.”
A month into his fellowship, the pandemic hit. Clients needed more help — and SCS employees needed a safe space to work.
Maxion rearranged space to account for social distancing. New signage was created, the HVAC was adjusted to bring in more air from outside, an intercom system was built, janitorial service frequency was increased, and personal protective equipment was procured.
With their facility secured, SCS workers have been able to distribute $900,000 in rent assistance to local residents so far — an increase of more than 200 percent over pre-pandemic times.
In July, Maxion was hired as a full-time employee to continue overseeing the new building renovation, which is expected to be complete by the spring of 2021. Right now, that means lots of time spent finding the right subcontractors, ordering furniture, and ensuring materials arrive on time in spite of delivery delays caused by the pandemic.
“Edgar’s asset and risk management knowledge became absolutely valuable when the pandemic hit hard,” says Hiroko Odaka, Maxion’s manager and SCS’s director of operations. “He led the agency-level efforts of both physical and policy modifications to comply with Santa Clara County Covid-19 protocol. We are very lucky to have him with us.”
Maxion feels lucky, too. “I was so done with my career,” he says. “I had fear that I was over the hill, and it started to weigh heavy on me. But being at SCS and seeing how much they value my skills, and all of the trust they have in me, I feel re-energized. It’s been a confidence-building experience.”
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