As an organization focused on housing stability, we have a deep understanding of the importance of having a home. Each day, our team works closely with clients who are unhoused, and provides support to folks at risk of eviction.
Having a roof over your head is the key to household stability. Having a home is everything.
And yet, West Valley Community Services didn’t have a home of our own for more than 30 years. Instead, we used shared space at Quinlan Community Center and at the Cupertino Union School District offices. We struggled with cramped offices, small pantry closets, and limited space as demand for our services grew and grew.
But in 2003, we moved into our own home at Vista Village in Cupertino, and Don Allen was one of the key figures who made that happen.
I remember when I met Don Allen. By the time I joined West Valley Community Services in 2016, Don no longer resided in California, but I knew the pivotal role he played in creating Vista Village, and couldn’t wait for the chance to meet him in person. When our paths crossed at a Rotary Club of Cupertino barbeque, I took the chance to approach him and thank him for the impact his leadership was continuing to make on our community’s most vulnerable residents.
I felt like a fanboy meeting his childhood hero. I was dripping with nervous energy as I shook his hand, and stumbled over my words of thanks for his role in leading the campaign to build Vista Village. Don was humble, even surprised by my gratitude, and while we chatted a little bit about the goings on at WVCS, he didn’t want to take credit for all he accomplished.
I got the sense that Don was that kind of guy. So when I heard that Don passed away, I reached out to a few other heroes of West Valley Community Services, Joe Tembrock, Richard Lowenthal and Jim Walker, to ask them to share their memories and reflections of Don Allen.
"Don Allen was a key person in the Vista Village project. He provided the key ingredients: [declaring that] the project is necessary and doable. His credibility and support gave the project the critical impetus for success. I was honored to be a member of the Vista Village team."
- Joe Tembrock
"Don Allen believed passionately in the WVCS mission and not only what it meant to its clients but what it meant to our community. He ran the fundraising campaign that gave West Valley Community Services its first home on Vista Drive. Prior to that, WVCS was in borrowed space at the Quinlan Center. Don had a way of knowing who could give, and who would be proud to give to an effort like the WVCS offices, and he contacted us all, got us in a room, and stared face to face at us to maximize our gifts. You just could not say no to Don.
Beyond giving WVCS a home, the project that Don fundraised for was called Vista Village because it provided wonderful homes and community for some of our community members who were a bit less financially fortunate. And so he raised more money and did more good for us all. When you see the plaques on the walls at Vista Village or the inscribed glass bricks - that was all evidence of Don’s work and frankly, evidence of the respect he was afforded by the people who knew him.
Don was CEO of Cupertino National Bank at the time, and as you might expect, the bank gave very favorable terms to the Vista Village Project. Don had reached deep within our community but never used it for himself - only for others.
Don set an example that continues to be followed by all of us who knew him well, and that spirit will continue to influence us all to support our neighbors."
- Richard Lowenthal
"Don was a dear friend and role model for over 40 years. Now that he’s gone, I can only ask myself “what would Don do” when an opportunity comes up to support WVCS. The answer will always be the right one and the best one."
- Jim Walker
Don Allen’s vision, compassion, and generosity touched the lives of countless Silicon Valley residents, and the impact he made at West Valley Community Services has left an enduring legacy. Don took Vista Village from vision to reality, and every day we walk through these doors, we can remember Don Allen and all he made possible for our clients and the community.