Imagine a phone ringing. Now imagine it ringing nonstop for three hours. That was what every morning sounded like last summer at Casa Latina, the Central District nonprofit that connects homeowners with skilled Latino day laborers. One desperate plea for someone to tile a bathroom or plant a tree chased the next so quickly that the three volunteers who answered phones couldn’t keep up. It was a good problem to have—thanks to the Great Recession, the org had booked 3,900 jobs in 2009, down from a high of 9,700 in 2007—but it meant workers were missing work.
For the solution, executive director Hilary Stern and her staff needed only look to Amazon. Or Nordstrom. Or any modern company that sells a product or service. They needed an online order form. This summer, for the first time in Casa Latina’s nearly 20-year history, homeowners can order help straight from casa-latina.org. And thanks to the new-old tech, Stern hopes to break the 10,000-job mark for the first time ever. “Basically,” she says, “if we become more efficient, they get more work.”
Published: June 2013