Background & Goals


Partnership for Independence, Learning, and Achieving Self-Sustainability (PILAS) was formed in June 2006 by two community advocates who saw the need for opportunities for personal, social, and economic development for immigrant women in East Palo Alto and sought an alternative to exploitative commercial housekeeping services. In August 2006, PILAS was approached by the Board of Directors of Heaven Sent Housecleaning, a struggling 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that was formed in 1984 by Families in Transition (at the time, a program of Catholic Charities) and funds provided by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. With its membership steadily dwindling, Heaven Sent was faced with the prospect of dissolution after more than 20 years of history in East Palo Alto and Redwood City. PILAS took the project on and Heaven Sent was restructured and revitalized under the new name PILAS.

The organization is founded on principles of mutual support and individual effort and works toward developing the capabilities of each member so that they can maintain regular and gainful employment. Cooperative members are recent immigrants, many of whom who are single mothers and/or victims of domestic violence and lack economic independence to support their children and/or break the cycle of abuse. The cooperative is not an employment agency. Its success depends upon the initiative and participation of each member. Decisions are made collectively and members receive many hands-on learning opportunities. Membership requires attendance at weekly meetings and English classes as well as participation in fundraising activities, administrative work, and childcare.