January 31, 2011

St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room

By Michelle Hostrup, MarCom Committee, 2010-11

When I heard my alarm clock go off this morning I immediately threw my comforter over my head in anguish. It had been a long week and I was looking forward to lounging in bed on a Saturday morning. But then I remembered why I was waking up so early...to volunteer at the St. Anthony’s Padua Dining Room. I immediately perked up and jumped out of bed, eager to start my day on a high note.

I hadn't volunteered in a while, so when I read about the opportunity in the Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid Peninsula eNews, I quickly signed-up. When I arrived, there were about 5 other Leaguers sorting loaves of bread outside of the dining hall. There were hundreds of loaves of bread, all donated from places like Safeway and Draegers in Menlo Park. I learned from Chris, a veteran volunteer at the dining room, that a lot of surplus groceries and produce were distributed at the center. I was amazed by how much food had been donated. The produce was the same quality as what I purchase at the Palo Alto Farmers Market!

After sorting and stacking the loaves of bread, I was tasked with slicing oranges. Similar to the bread, there were hundreds of plump and juicy oranges. There were other volunteers helping at the kitchen, many of whom were high school student fulfilling their community service obligation. I counted close to two dozen volunteers. I learned that St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room, less than a few miles from my home, has been serving the low-income elderly with a weekend meal supplement since the early 1970's. And today, the dining rooms serves as many as 600 hot nourishing meals a day, six days a week year round.

The 3 hours of volunteer work I signed-up for flew by. I finished cutting bell peppers and left the center, but on the way out passed dozens of people entering the dining room. I assumed they were arriving to get breakfast, which made me happy thinking about my mornings work and how I had contributed. It felt so good to sacrifice a few extra hours of sleep, to help out people in need.

Junior League volunteers take a break before preparing to serve lunch at St. Anthony’s Padua Dining Room.

Volunteers sort through fresh produce that was used to fill grocery bags for low-income families.

Members: There are several Done in a Day opportunities remaining for the rest of the League year, log into the Member Area of our website and check out Volunteer Shifts to find an activity that works with your schedule.

What is SPAC?

Posted by Summer Brill, Web Marketing Assistant Chair/Social Media 2010-11

Have you been wondering, What is SPAC and what do they do? There is a great article in connected on the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) website that answers just that. It is informative and inspiring!

In a nutshell, here’s a few facts from the article:

SPAC stands for State Public Affairs Committee

SPAC represents more than 11,000 Junior League Members of 16 Junior Leagues in California

SPAC’s goals are to “serve as the voice of the women and children in the communities they serve by introducing and supporting state legislation that improves the lives of women and children in the communities”

California SPAC’s current and recent initiatives include:

Efforts to erase food insecurity and improve the nutritional content in school meals in California through advocacy of provisions of the federal Childhood Nutrition Act designed to remedy these issues and co-sponsorship of state legislation which encourages more schools to provide students with breakfast so no child is hungry while learning.

Encouraging the state’s “amazing women,” including League members and non-profit community partners, to apply for appointments to a state board, commission, or agency in the new gubernatorial administration.

Sponsorship of Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 105, which designates May as Perinatal Depression Awareness Month in California, and encourages formation of a taskforce to further research the causes and treatment barriers of depression afflicting expecting and new mothers.

Visit the AJLI article here to read about the work of SPAC in other states around the country.

Wondering how you can participate in SPAC’s activities? Participate in “There Ought to be a Law”. Submissions are due February 15th, 2011. For more information and to download the submission form, visit the SPAC section in the Member Area of our website, or click here.

If you are not a Member of The Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid Peninsula and would like to learn more about joining, visit our website here.

January 20, 2011

Hope in Action

By Marfrisa Geronimo Gipner, Development Committee, Endowment Fund Secretary 2010-11

As a young teen, the volunteers in our church youth group made a huge impact on me: my outlook, ambitions, sense of self. When I decided to join the League in 2006, it was primarily the pull to work with youth in a disadvantaged community. So, for the first three years of my membership, I faithfully “hung out” with a group of middle schoolers and spent most of my 30 minutes a week simply listening to them and just being there - as an adult who was not their parent or teacher - trying to provide a safe place for them to share what they normally would not, “so-and-so is bullying me, what should I do?” or “What is happening to my body? It’s changing in weird ways.”

At last night’s General Membership Meeting, the community advisor panel, organized and expertly moderated by our very own Community Member-at-Large, Nandini Gondhalekar, made my insides sing. Among the many topics that were covered was the difficult time students have transitioning from middle to high school. This made me think of the seven years of our East Palo Alto Charter School Character Development project, which was launched back to the community last year. I couldn’t help but imagine and hope that the time our League members spent with the sixth, seven and eighth graders had to have a lasting and positive impact on them as they moved onto to high school. Hope.

One of the main messages I took away from last night’s panel was this: “if you want to make the most impact, help those with no hope.” This is one of the best elements of our League: we find the “corners” of our community, like a middle school in East Palo Alto or the Rosali Rendu House (as was discussed by our community advisors last night), that can benefit from the power of our group of highly, trained volunteers. Then working closely with our community partner, develop and implement a program, which in the big picture of it all, offers hope -- training, a safe place, resources.

"Leadership Opportunities Suggested, Your Application is Requested!"

By Ashley Roussel, Nominating Committee 2010-11

January 21 is the deadline for your Leadership Application,

Please sign up now for the 2011/2012 League year duration!

Leadership application forms are now available on our website

Nominate yourself or a fellow leaguer for a position outright.

Ample opportunities await for first-time or seasoned leaders,

Provisional or Member Resources are great for new leaguers!

These committees consist entirely of leaders sans chairing,

Gain leadership experience for future committee pairing!

Chair a committee solo or co-chair together with an aid,

Many positions to choose and arrangements can be made!

Complete the form or just reach out to your NomCom liaison,

If it’s your year to lead, please help us complete the equation!

January 19, 2011

Lending a Hand in Menlo Park

By Nacole Barth-Ellis, Shelter Network Committee Member

(Photo Left: Haven House residents, Right: Ashlin Mahood, Shelter Network Committee Member)

Who the heck am I? I'm a fraud. I've never been homeless. What can I possibly contribute this evening?
These were the thoughts running through my head on 1-11-11. I was expected to take an active role and lead a session on Time Management at Shelter Network's Haven Family House in Menlo Park and I was really nervous. Why? Please refer to the first sentence above.

A hand up, not a hand out is one of the cornerstones of Shelter Network. I am a strong believer in this concept and it helped me in making my decision to join the Shelter Network committee. But that belief didn't help me as I was en route to the shelter a few weeks ago. I didn’t feel like I had a lot to offer these people who were living in a situation that I could only imagine.

Two hours later I drove home both exhilarated and humbled. The residents of Haven House welcomed us and engaged us in their conversations, shared their lives with us. They each had different backgrounds and different current circumstances – much like those of us working on the Shelter Network committee.

I'm not sure who gained more that night, the residents or the committee members. I was proud to be a member of this committee where everyone shared their own experiences and insights to assist those living at Haven House. For we volunteers, we had an up close and personal look at what homelessness in our community looks like. I can't speak for my fellow committee members, but it's nothing like what I expected. I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to help these individuals who are working to re-build a life of self-sufficiency.

To learn more about our Shelter Network Community Project and our other League Projects, Click Here

Community Advisor's: Their Role in our League

By Nandini Gondhalekar (Community Outreach Member-at-Large, Board of Directors, JLPA•MP 2010-2011) and Summer Brill (Web Marketing Assistant Chair/Social Media, 2010-11)

Tonight at our General Membership Meeting, we will talk about community needs with a panel of our Community Advisors.

So, what is a Community Advisor and what role do they play in our League?

A Community Advisor is a business/professional person, approved by our Board of Directors to advise the Board on community, business, financial and legal matters, or any other area deemed appropriate for the League.

Not only does a Community Advisor bring breadth and depth of understanding community issues to our League, they also educate others in the community about the JLPA-MP.

The Community Member At Large (Community MAL) oversees the Community Advisors Program. This year (2010-11) the League’s Community MAL is Nandini Gondhalekar.

The League taps into the Community Advisor's expertise on various issues as needed, but the Community Advisors meet as a group once every year at the League's Community Roundtable held at the Gatehouse. This event is attended by the President, Community VP, Sustainer Community Advisor, Community Projects Co-Chairs and other guests.

We are fortunate to have the support of several Community Advisors, offering their expertise and guidance on a broad range of community topics. To see a list of our Community Advisor’s, click here.

This evening we welcome three of our Community Advisors as they join our meeting to talk about Community Needs.

Bill Somerville: President and Founder of Philanthropic Ventures Foundation. Bill brings 50 years of experience in non-profit work, including 17 years as Executive Director of the Peninsula Community Foundation.Bill is nationally recognized as an expert on creative grantmaking. He has consulted at over 400 community foundations in the United States, Canada and abroad on effective operations and grantmaking. Bill publishes the periodical Building Community Foundations, distributed to 950 community foundations worldwide. He currently teaches courses on philanthropy at Stanford University, UC Berkeley's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and Laney Community College, in Oakland, CA.Bill is a recipient of the 2004 Gerbode Fellowship Award in recognition of outstanding achievement as a non-profit executive. He is a member of the National Advisory Board, Haas Center for Public Service, Stanford University, and the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare Advisory Board.

Margot Malliard Rawlins: Margot has been with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation community for ten years. Currently, she oversees two initiatives. Fostering the Future was designed to help youth in foster and kinship care develop the skills and connections needed to become healthy, productive adults by age 25. Envision Bay Area’s mission is to strengthen the ability of Bay Area residents and community leaders to make informed decisions about the growth and development that will shape the future environment, economy and everyday life in their communities. She also works on public policy and large convenings for the community foundation. Margot went active with the Junior League of San Francisco in 1978 and went sustaining with our League in the early 90s. While here, she served as chair of several community projects and was also nominating chair and Community VP. Much of her local volunteer work has been as a board member for both TheatreWorks and the Environmental Volunteers and her major volunteer focus now is as a CASA volunteer supporting a 17-year old foster youth.

Carrie DuBois: Sustainer Community Advisor. Carrie went sustaining from the JLPA-MP in 2002. She is a past President's Cup awardee and has been a three time board member: Fundraising VP, Community Member at Large, and Community Outreach VP. Carrie also co-chaired the following committees in the League: Recovery Road, Holiday Boutique, Rosalie Rendu Committee. Carrie's other volunteer commitments include: elected School Board Member in San Carlos; Executive Board member, San Mateo County School Boards Association Delegate for California School Board Association; Current PTA volunteer at Carlmont High School. Carrie was awarded the 2003 San Jose Magazine Woman Making a Mark Award and was the 2005 San Carlos Citizen of the Year.

January 13, 2011

Move Over Beverly, There's A New Toffee in Town!

By Lisa Malloy, Website Chair 2010-11

It was my turn to provide drinks and dessert for the MarCom/Communications Council meeting last night. The wine rack still had a few bottles from the holiday stock-up, so beverages would be easy. Now, what to make for dessert? With Lila Jo, my one-year old cutting tooth #6 and clinging to my hip, it needed to be fairly quick and easy, yet tasty nonetheless. I settled on Saltine Toffee Cookies, a recipe my Mom picked up at Curves (there really is a reason to exercise) and emailed to me!

Less than 20 minutes later, my kitchen was filled with the delicious aroma of toffee, and the dishes were soaking in the sink! Not willing to admit that the holidays were over just yet, I pulled out my favorite (well, actually, my only) holiday tray and stacked it high with the homemade toffee treats. Off to the meeting I went! To my delight, everyone brought their sweet tooth to the meeting. "Oh my gosh, is that saltine toffee?" one quipped. "Who's counting...I'm going to be in double-digits by the end of the meeting! " proclaimed another - and she was true to her word. "You really can't eat just one piece, can you?" added a third. By meeting's end, there were a scant few pieces left for the Gatehouse staff to enjoy today and I'd somehow agreed to blog the recipe.

So, here goes: Saltine Toffee Cookies

4 ounces (one sleeve) saltine crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans (or your choice of nuts - last night's version was made with cashews)

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line cookie sheet with saltine crackers in a single layer. In a saucepan, combine sugar and butter. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Immediately pour over saltines and spread to cover crackers completely. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes. Spread melted chocolate and top with chopped nuts. Cool completely and break into pieces.


Community Council Kick's off First Meeting in 2011 with White Elephant Exchange!

(L-R: Kyla Eller, Chair Fostering Families; Carla Cravalho, Co-Chair Shelter Network; Darice Koo, Co-Chair Project Development; Dawn Sullivan, Community Council Assistant; Marissa Levy, Co-Chair First Teachers; Amy Truel, Co-Chair Done in a Day; Front: Joy Peacock, Community Vice President)

The Community Council proudly displays their White Elephant gifts after exchanging during an ice-breaker before discussing business at their January meeting.