Editor's Note: You might have seen The Greatest Person of the Day on the Huffington Post. Today, we share with you our version of this wonderful feature spotlighting ordinary and extraordinary residents whose acts of courage, determination, volunteerism and compassion have made a difference in Los Gatos and who inspire and energize others to strengthen their communities and improve lives.
Think ordinary people doing extraordinary things for friends, families, groups and others. We'll look for them everywhere, in faith communities, in nonprofit groups, schools, senior centers, firehouses and elsewhere. We'll also consider public figures. There are no age restrictions. We want diversity of age, race, gender, etc., and most important, we ask you, our valued reader, to help us find these outstanding citizens by nominating them.
Teri Hope, 60, embodies two of the most important attributes that make a person great. One of them's in her last name, too. Hope and charity.
Hope seems to have sustained her throughout a life that hasn't always been easy, but a life she's managed to live in a manner that others consider a blessing.
She was born and raised in a farmhouse in Los Gatos, the second oldest of eight children in a Catholic family. She attended St. Mary's Grammar School and Westmont High School.
When she was 18, she became a single mother, and was temporarily disowned by her family. She had to raise a daughter on her own.
"While I think I made a fault step at that point in my life, and I paid the consequences, I wouldn't trade it for the world," says Hope, during an interview in her quaint Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company on East Main Street in the heart of town.
Her single motherhood made her want to serve young women, particularly single moms. She chokes up when she speaks about the challenges associated with raising a child alone. "There's a part of my heart that goes out to these women. They need self-esteem, they need to be inspired and they need role models. I want them to know that they're not bad and that they can provide for themselves and others."
Her concern for single girls in need pointed her to seek employment after high school graduation at the nonprofit, Women's Community Clinic, in San Jose where she worked for 10 years. She also performed several part-time jobs to earn enough money to support herself and her daughter.
Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company
Even before she opened Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company, Hope was a coffee lover. She remembers driving to San Francisco's North Beach to get a pound of fresh-roasted coffee and visit coffee houses there.
"To me it was like traveling all the way to Italy to get it ... I realized I was making a 100-mile round trip for fresh roasted coffee and a cappuccino, but I wished I had a place like that here in my hometown of Los Gatos," she says.
"I just had an a-ha moment and I thought I would like to start that kind of a business here."
Hope leased the space where she's currently located at 101 W. Main St. and opened an espresso bar. She then expanded to the spaces next to it, 91 and 109 W. Main St.
It was 1982 and she was 30 years old. She grew the business into four other locations in Santa Cruz, Carmel and two in Palo Alto.
The two stores at the Stanford Shopping Center, which operated there for 18 years, were squeezed out when the new owners didn't renew her lease and the corporate chain Starbucks moved in. While the loss was heartbreaking, she now sees that it was time to consolidate.
Hope gave up the lease on suite 109 W. Main St. last year due, in large part, to rents increasing. While reducing her square footage, she's still offering the same services she has before.
Today, her retired parents run a coffee farm in Hawaii. She jokes that her father followed in her footsteps.
With some exposure in the nonprofit world through her work at the women's clinic, Hope began associating with the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce and quickly became involved in various community projects and serving on its board of directors.
Her first major contribution to the town was her creation in 1984 of the horse-drawn carriage program to bring people to downtown.
"One of my goals has always been to network with the community and to create projects and events that develop commerce and also a sense of unique charm," she says.
She's on the board of directors of the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Foundation and of the Friends of Los Gatos Public Library. She's also a founding member of the Los Gatos Morning Rotary Club. She founded Los Gatos Music & Arts, the nonprofit umbrella organization for the Jazz on the Plazz and Music in the Park summer concert series.
"What drives me is that I feel so blessed to be living and working in this community. Because I have the gift of being here, and also as an entrepreneur, I feel it's my responsibility and my obligation to give back," she says.
"I almost feel like it would be a sin not to use my skills and abilities to help generate a better community."
She was key to the success of sponsorships for Music in the Park when she was on the Los Gatos Arts and Culture Commission.
She also worked for years with a teen-counseling organization in town. It subsequently folded due to cutbacks. The program existed for more than 30 years, even before she started her business, she says.
Goals for Los Gatos
Hope says it's important for the community to maintain the character and charm of the downtown by supporting small businesses. She cautions that the downtown "could turn into something else" quickly, if residents aren't mindful about supporting the core central business district.
When she's not working
Hope draws portraits and has been working on that skill for a number of years. She says she's beginning to feel that her artistic gift is finally coming into its own.
Hope also loves portraiture and holds art exhibits at her business. She has been offering figure-drawing classes on Monday evenings for 12 years. On Tuesday evenings, the shop also offers portrait-drawing classes. She takes the class every Tuesday evening.
Daughter Rene Chadsey, 41, who owns the Tangles Salon just down the street from the coffee shop, keeps her busy as she tries to fulfill her role as a mother and grandmother to 5-year-old Devyn to the best of her abilities, she says.
Good friend Jonathan Knowles, a Los Gatos community advocate who also serves with Hope on the Los Gatos Music & Arts and police foundation organizations, says this about Hope: "There are few better feelings than knowing you've made a positive impact on another person's life. Teri must feel great all the time. She is the personification of community service and commitment and all of the residents of Los Gatos are better for it."