gmhTODAY Spring 2022 | Page 24

Large Business of the Year : Shoe Palace
Small Business of the Year : Steve Tate Morgan Hill Library
Large Business of the Year : Shoe Palace
Leaving a city you ' ve called home for nearly thirty years can be hard . However , for John Mersho , owner of the Shoe Palace , selecting his next home was easy . In 2013 , he and his family left San Jose and settled in Morgan Hill , not only as their new home but the new location for their business .
“ It really was the beauty of Morgan Hill that brought us here . It had all the things we were looking for when we decided to relocate from our long-time home ,” Mersho said by email .
As the recipient of Celebrate Morgan Hill ’ s Large Business of the Year Award , Mersho feels validated that the efforts of Shoe Palace employees and partners to connect to the community through both their business and their charitable work has been seen .
They recently began to collaborate with Cecelia Ponzini and the Edward Boss Prado Foundation on charitable projects , and want to continue to invest in the community . “ Our biggest goal is to

Awards 2022

offer jobs and assistance to the Morgan Hill community ,” Mersho said .
They will be opening a new building this year that will employ an additional 130-150 people . “ We are here for the long haul and we are here to give back .”
Like most businesses , they ’ ve experienced “ a lot of ups and a lot of downs ” over the past thirty years , but none quite as dramatic as those they experienced during the pandemic . “ It was challenging for us , it was challenging for our partners , and it was challenging for our employees , but we adapted .”
Though there were times that felt they might not survive COVID-19 as a company , he said , “ That is when being tenacious pays off . It sounds simple and cliche , but the best advice I can give any company is just don ’ t stop .”
He credits the community for helping them to get through these difficulties . “ We have really formed some strong relationships here . The community is easy to work with and they are open to new ideas . That is something we don ’ t take for granted .”
They want the community to know that “ we love Morgan Hill and love being a part of this community . We are here to help .”
Small Business of the Year : Steve Tate Morgan Hill Library
Upon learning the library was to be recognized , Librarian Heather Geddes said “ My first reaction was complete and utter surprise followed quickly by feeling very humbled and appreciative .”
She does not take personal credit , instead pointing to the incredible work and flexibility of the library ’ s staff , who had to adapt to a radically different workplace as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic . The library adapted easily , since it already had a lot of online services , such as ebooks , downloadable movies , online educational programs , and more . “ All of our employees had to take in a lot of new information , and everybody did such an amazing job of that ,” she said .
While they are “ tired of change ” she feels the experience showed them what they ’ re made of . “ Everybody proved that we can adapt to an evolving , changing situation and come up with solutions that work . I ’ m hopeful that the flexibility and grace , kindness and patience people showed will be with us for a long time .” What Geddes most wants the community to know is that library staff “ worked really hard over the past two years to continue to offer services in different and new ways that met with the ongoing health crisis .”
In addition to pivoting to online forms of programming , as well as curbside pick up of books and movies , Geddes said , “ We looked for other needs in the community and tried to meet those .” This included partnering with the YMCA Silicon Valley to give out 50,000 meals over two years to families and children in need , offering pre-prepared art and craft kits , and recently , partnering with Santa Clara County to give out 1,500 free COVID test kits . It is this wide breadth of services that makes the library such a valuable resource , she said . “ My hope is that somebody nominated us because they realize the impact a library has on a community in terms of providing free access to educational and recreational resources .” Geddes and the entire library staff look forward to opening up in-person again eventually , where community members can take advantage of over 190,000 in-house educational resources including : music , movies , tablets , books , wi-fi , computers , and more , for adults and children .
24 SPRING 2022 gmhTODAY Magazine gmhtoday . com