December 21, 2010

The Holidays: A Moment to Reflect

By Stefanie Bruggeman, President

Happy Holidays!

Our members have had a busy League year. In only a few months we have successfully . . . launched a new project (Shelter Network), welcomed 58 provisionals, executed eight "Done in a Days" (one-day, high-impact community projects and drives), celebrated our Shop’s 40th anniversary, held a tea with our Board of Advisors, gifted $1,000 in response to the San Bruno fire, started partnerships with Sprinkles Cupcakes and Tiny Prints, and ran a successful Holiday Home Tour.. . . just to name a few.

From being an active part of our community (through our projects) to raising funds to support our work (though our fundraiser), we have much to be proud of.

A giant “Thank You!” to all our members and community partners! In this time of giving, you are tops!

I wish you a safe and joyful Holiday.

Stefanie Bruggeman
The Junior League of Palo Alto•Mid Peninsula, Inc.

December 16, 2010

December Provisional Recap: Past Community Projects

By Kristina Alvarez

The December Provisional meeting was definitely one to be remembered. First, we started off with a recap of the Provisional socials from the past month. Many attended the Mani/Pedi party this past Sunday and the pictures looked like so much fun! Judging by the few hands I saw, a deep, festive red was definitely the color of choice.

After the fun of reliving the socials, we jumped into the theme for the night: past Community Projects and appreciation. Our first speaker was Sister Trinitas Hernandez, or more affectionately known as Sister T. Sister T spoke about how great her experience with the Junior League was with helping the East Palo Alto community learn English as their second language. The Junior League Committee helped with teaching an English speaking class during the day and at night, while also watching the attendees’ small children in a playroom next door. I thought the program was a great opportunity to really enable the community to be able to learn English. Sister T was so engaging and you could tell she appreciated the help so much!

We then took a quick break to hear about Membership Outreach and do our Done in a Meeting project for the Shelter Network. Valarie Dennis from the Membership Outreach Committee was so excited to share her competition with us…to have the Provisionals bring 50 new member prospects and be entered to win champagne! Spread the word and see if there are a few people you can bring to the March 17 meeting! The Done in a Meeting task this week was to write inspirational thoughts or quotes for the Shelter Network. The Shelter Network project for this year is teaching the homeless community in San Mateo County about life skills they need. It was a fun challenge to see what we can come up with and was a great opportunity for our tables to share with each other these encouraging sentiments!

The last speaker of the evening was definitely my favorite part from the meeting. Mike Berman works at the East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy helping children in the East Palo Alto community stay in school and achieve admittance to a four-year college or university. He had just come from a dinner with the seniors at his school and you could feel the emotions he brought with him. He was so proud of his students and the message definitely made the entire audience so inspired. He was also so thankful for the Junior League’s help during our tenure there for giving the students someone to confide in and trust. He really thought it had a great, positive impact on the students and he couldn’t be more proud of how his students accepted our help and lived up to their potential. I don’t know how you could walk out of the room without wanting to conquer the world! He was a great speaker and I think we all benefited from hearing his great story.

Lastly, mark your calendars for our Community Project for the upcoming year…Kids in the Kitchen, Wednesday, April 20! Happy Holidays to everyone!

December 09, 2010

Happy Feet!

by Cynthia Munoz (MarCom Committee)

Last night, our awesome MarCom Committee/Communications Council decided to forego our usual monthly meeting and instead, for the holidays, treated ourselves to manicures and pedicures at a nail salon in Los Altos . Gabriella imported dim sum all the way from San Francisco , Kristin brought the champagne, Kris brought an INSANE red velvet cake, and everyone else chipped in with some wonderful sweet treats.

All the makings of a lovely evening? Yes.

A super big deal? Double yes. Well, for me personally, anyway.

I have managed to hide, for all these years, a secret amongst many of my social circles – that I was a pedicure virgin. I don't know how I managed to escape this girlie ritual for so long, as I do have many friends and family members who do this regularly, but somehow I resisted. I’ve gotten a couple of manicures in my lifetime, and they were ok. I could have done without the whole arm massaging bit as I normally don't like people I don’t know touching me. And really, as much as I disliked having my forearm massaged, I envisioned really disliking a stranger touching and massaging my feet.

I debated the whole way to the salon. Stick with the hands? Go for the feet. No, do the hands. I know what will happen with the hands. Feet? Try it? What if everyone else does pedicures? I wanted to do what everyone else was going to do. It was high school in my mind, all over again. Suddenly, the salon hostess put me on the spot and said, “Cynthia, are you ready? Have a seat in that chair.” Yikes! What do I do? Just go sit? Get my flip flops? At least I had the foresight to bring those along. Do I get them now? Am I supposed to wait? Arghhh! I haven't even picked a color yet!!!

I finally just take a deep breath, sit down, stick my feet in the water, find myself having a nice time catching up with Gabriella in the next chair and staring at cute little Donatella. Occasionally, I notice the tailoring going on down at the toe area and you know what? It wasn't so bad! In fact, I down right enjoyed it! I admitted to everyone that it was my first pedicure, and they were all aghast, but very supportive. What a great group! And it was so much fun snacking on all the treats and chatting with everyone, which we don’t normally get to do as much during our regular meetings.

I'm really looking forward to working on more projects in the New Year with these awesome ladies and now thanks to them, when it comes to the world of pedicures, I can hold my head up high. Except that I can’t stop looking down at my super cute dark purple toes.

Top Photo: (L-R) Cynthia Munoz, Gabriella Cirelli, Baby Donatella, Leslie Liu, Kris Spencer-Jones, Tara Moeller, Summer Brill, Kristin Fabos-Livingston

Bottom Photo: (L-R) Cynthia Munoz, Gabriella Cirelli, Baby Donatella, Kristin Fabos-Livingston, Kris Spencer-Jones, Tara Moeller, Lauran Bloom, Summer Brill, Leslie Liu

Share your Committee social story! Email Blog submissions to, and don't forget your photos!

December 08, 2010

Community Building Dinner - Sequoia High School District

By Tara Moeller, MarCom Committee

Here is some of the amazing work our League has been up to. Carrie Du Bois (League Member) had an inspiring idea to bring families and students together from the Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD) to help ease the East Palo Alto students’ transition. The resulting inaugural event also helped to better include the parents of these students so they feel confident in supporting their children, and to help them become aware of the education process, especially for transferring to high school. How better to meet these goals than over an amazing Community Building Dinner?

8th grade students and their families from Cesar Chavez Academy were the main event. With 95% of the families living in poverty, the high school transition can often be difficult. To add to the stress, the kids have to travel among 3 schools--Woodside, Menlo-Atherton (MA) and Carlmont. Since most students and parents don’t attend the school’s 8th grade information nights, back to school nights or shadowing events, this dinner was an attempt to bring the district to them and make them feel part of the family.

Dr. Lianides, the superintendent of the SUHSD, said "This night is a historic first. All of our schools are represented tonight and we want you all to know that we welcome you to our district."

Over 230 people (mostly non-English speaking guests) including East Palo Alto families, Sequoia Union district families, all four principals from the highs schools (Carlmont, Woodside, MA, and Sequoia), and the district superintendent had a very memorable evening. This was the first time in the school's history something like this had been held, and the event was generously funded by PVF (Philanthropic Ventures Foundation). PVF’s Executive Director, Bill Somerville, didn't stop at funding-word is he rolled up his sleeves to help Carrie set up tables for the event.

PTA leaders were so inspired from the turn out they have suggested making this an annual event. “The evening was inspirational for me,” said an enthusiastic Carlmont PTA leader. "I had no idea how hard it has been for these families to just get to our school. Needless to say, I learned a lot".

Thank you to the partner sponsors, Sprinkles for donating deliciously beautiful cupcakes and Ravenswood Educational Foundation.

Last but not least, this event would not have been possible without the support of our many volunteers. Thank you to DIAD members Ana Newton and Jamie Meyer for working with Carrie Du Bois to coordinate the event, and to all of the volunteers it takes to host an amazingly magical evening.

December 07, 2010

The Spirit of...Getting??

by Summer Brill

As the Holidays are approaching, my 4 year old is really getting in the spirit…of presents! Getting presents that is. He is all of four years old and fully embraces the material aspect of the Holidays, so we felt that now is a good time to start to instill in him the spirit of giving and helping others.

I was inspired by some of the stories we heard from our guest speaker in November, Poppy Pembroke, from the Second Harvest Food Bank. She spoke of a little girl who after learning that some children in the Bay Area do not have enough food to eat on a daily basis decided to take action. She plays her violin in front of Safeway and collects donations that she gives to Second Harvest Food Bank. We don’t expect our four year old to learn an instrument and collect donations, but we do feel that now is a good time to expose him to the spirit of helping others.

We started a conversation with him (after he rattled off his latest wish list) that some children are in situations where they don’t have many toys for different reasons. Apparently we weren’t the first in the family to broach this subject with him, because he responded with, “mommy, I know, I can give some of my toys to some kids who need them!” I suspect my father had this conversation with him earlier, I’ll have to ask him!

We went to my son’s bedroom and he was enthusiastic about choosing some toys to donate, although he did have a few second thoughts and realized he now really LOVES this toy or that one. He is still four after all. But in the end, he chose all the toys to donate and we ended up with three shopping bags between he and his brother.

I called Haven House and they take gently loved toys for their childcare center and residents. We went over to Haven House after school today and were greeted by Nicole. She works at the reception desk at Haven House and is very friendly and helpful. Jack gave her his shopping bags and told her some important facts about a few of the toys: “this one takes batteries, this one has a small car in it that you can zoom around, and this one sings the ABC’s”.

It was a great experience for us and my son seemed happy with the process and the outcome.

December 05, 2010

What a wonderful kick-off to the Holidays!

By Summer Brill

The Finishing Touches Home Tour & Boutique was spectacular. Congratulations to Home Tour Co-Chairs Kim Boyanowski and Jennie Lang and their committee for a job well done!

This is the first year I attended the Opening Night Celebration (ONC). I’ve heard so much about it but for some reason or another haven’t had the chance to go. This year I took my husband and had a great time! It was so fun to get dressed up and to visit with League friends, meet husbands and friends of friends. I discovered that a few of my friends are very lucky people! Sara Hollister and Angie Klein were big winners of the raffle that evening and I’ve decided that next year I will have them each kiss my raffle tickets before I put them in the jar!

I also discovered a great decorating idea. In the powder room, the Frye family decorated the walls with their framed Holiday cards from years past. I’m going to remember this for when I have the wall space and enough Holiday cards to fill those walls!

The ONC was held at the beautiful home of Lulu and Larry Frye. Thank you to the Frye family for their generosity!

The next day I attended the Finishing Touches Luncheon with two friends. We got a sneak peak of the Holiday Boutique and had the opportunity to win more raffle prizes (since I didn’t have Sara or Angie kiss my tickets I didn’t win!). The Menlo Circus Club was beautifully decorated and we enjoyed a delicious lunch while catching up with old and new friends! We even got to take home a mini red velvet Bundt cake!

And the big event, the Home Tour and Boutique! I took my sister and mother-in-law and we enjoyed viewing the beautiful homes on Tour. One of the homes is a LEED Platinum certified home and sends PG&E a whopping $5/month! One of the homes was a wonderful indoor/outdoor living space with rich colors and textures and the third was a beautifully remodeled 90 year old home. Afterwards, we grabbed sandwiches and cupcakes before doing some Holiday shopping at the Boutique! This is the biggest boutique I’ve seen compared to Home Tours past and we found some great gifts!

Our Home Tour is one of our main fundraisers we hold each year to fund our Community Projects and Grants. To read more about our Community Projects and Grants, click here. We are thankful to our sponsors who make this all possible, to see a list of our sponsors, please click here.

If you have a story from the Home Tour weekend or photos to share on the Blog, please email them to!