March 30, 2011

"M-Power"ing Foster Children

By Tina McMinn, Fostering Families Committee 2010-11

I have had the great honor of being a part of the Fostering Families committee for the past two years. This committee works with a community partner, Help One Child to help children in foster care mastering some of life's basic skills. These children come from all types of circumstances and are hungry to learn in their very own way. The first year of this committee we spent time coming up with content and activities for each life skill (M-Power) and we delivered those to students during our 8 Monday night sessions. What I have loved about being on it in year 2 is how the tweaks we suggested as the program went along in year 1 have enhanced the year 2 sessions.

M-Power=Meal, Message, Model

I want to give you a quick outline of Session 5 - one of my favorites, the skills we worked on in this session were Relationships and Anger Management.

5:15-5:30 – Parents check kids in and they are sent to their assigned color coded table

The kids color and work on activity sheets at the table for about 20 minutes. Each table has 4 - 6 kids and 2-3 adults. Once you introduce yourself to the child you can give them assignments and we set the place mats, napkins, cups and forks on the table. The kids love to do this because they will earn STICKERS!!

We start eating around 5:45 and engage discussion with the kids from favorite subjects to favorite movies, characters etc.. Most of the children love to talk but some prefer to be quiet so we try to pull them out and help everyone at the table learn to be comfortable talking and engaging over a meal.

A little bit after 6 we do our exercises or Brain Gym to exert energy!!

We spend the next 30 minutes working within groups helping the children identify anger, its effects on their bodies, minds and what are positive alternates than "blowing up". One of the kids in my group said he was angry when he was grounded from his games another mentioned their brother made him mad everyday. We ask where do you feel that when you are mad? The children draw it for us on a worksheet and we spend time sharing with the group. Some of the kids share that their head or ears hurt when they are angry, another was very clear his feet hurt because he stomps when he is angry.

League Member Tina McMinn with her group

League Member Polly Neumann facilitating a discussion with her group

We share ways to alleviate anger through other outlets - one of them is bucket breathing - very deep breaths and then blow out like you are blowing through a straw. We end this time with drawing a fire pit and the kids write in what they will do to put the fire out next time they are angry.

We regroup as a large group and watch VeggieTales Angry Eyebrows and for the first time of the night we have complete silence – the kids are so attentive to the short movie. Once it ends we return to our tables and make our own Angry Eyebrows to use when we are angry (very fun craft) and we end the evening with a word search on Anger Management strategies and we continue discussing what we learned until the parents pick the kids up (around 7:30-7:45). The table leader briefs each parent and provides them a detailed packet of the night's activities and helpful tasks they can do to keep the lesson "alive".

The kids with all their hard earned stickers stop by the treasure chest to pick up a little toy on their way out. The Fostering Families committee is usually out the door by 8PM.

This night goes so fast, it is well organized and very detailed of what to do step by step. Help Once Child insures you are trained and comfortable not only with the materials but the children attending (they screen the families).

The families/guardians are appreciative and the kids look forward to their Monday night FF events- remember it happens only 8 times a year.

I can't begin to tell you the impact M-Power has on these children. Imagine being a six year-old and in your 4th or 5th home and finally having some continuity and people who are investing time in you.

Seeing the children session after session and witnessing their progress is absolutely amazing. If you haven’t seen it in action consider volunteering under DIAD for one session or consider the committee commitment for next year.

To volunteer through DIAD for the April 11th or May 9th Fostering Families workshops, sign up via Volunteer Shifts. To learn more about Fostering Families or more JLPA-MP Community Projects, click here.

March 28, 2011

Time to Reflect and Renew!

By Wendy Garrish, Member Resources Chair 2010-11

A few years ago, the amazing Naomi Chavez Peters, 2005-2006 JLPA-MP President and one of the most dynamic speakers/ trainers I have ever met, did a training for the Community Council on which I sat.  One exercise was to draw a graph of our League careers.  My memory may be a little fuzzy on this, but as I recall it the X axis indicated involvement and satisfaction with the League and the Y axis indicated the year.  Surprisingly, in the case of everyone in the room, the graphs looked a bit like roller coasters.  

Naomi challenged us to consider what was going on in our lives during these high-points and low-points.  In some cases, high-points in the League correlated to more challenging times in one's personal life, as the League helped that person through a rough period.  In other cases, the low-points correlated to the challenging times in one's life, as during those times the League felt like an extra "thing" to do.  However, despite differences in when we were most involved in the League and most enjoyed it, we were all consistent in feeling that the League brought value and fulfillment to our lives over the years.

As you know, it is renewal and placement time for the League.  Every year at this time I remember that exercise and consider why I keep renewing my membership.  I have a gazillion other things going on, as I am sure you do, but this is what keeps me involved:

Impressive Women:  I will be honest, some nights as I drive to the Gatehouse, particularly when it is rainy (quite often these days) or the traffic is bad, I do wonder why I keep doing it.  But, without fail, I always leave with a renewed sense of dedication to the League.  The caliber of women this organization brings together is astonishing.  The 1,000 Active, Provisional and Sustaining members in our League is a very powerful network, and the personal and professional accomplishments truly amaze me.  On the council on which I currently sit, we have wide range of interests and backgrounds, including a member who is a former FBI agent (!!!!). I am literally inspired every time I leave a League event.

Friendly Faces:  Of course, at any JLPA-MP event, there are friendly faces, and the longer you have been around the more faces you start to recognize.  It is always great to reconnect with former committee members and other friends at a General Membership Meeting and other events.  But in addition to meeting new friends, through the League I reconnected with both a high school classmate and a sorority sister!  

Aside from the obvious places you will find the friendly faces of the League, I run into Leaguers all over.  Just the other day, I had to take my son to the doctor for a little emergency.  It had been a stressful few hours.  As we walked back through the waiting room to leave, I ran into another League member.  I don't know her very well, but we recognized each other, and it was so nice to see a friendly -- and supportive -- face in an unexpected place.  Later that afternoon, I ran into another Leaguer in the grocery store.  It was a quick hello, as it was around dinner time and we both had kids with us, but without the League, the trips to Kid Kare and Lunardi's that day would have been far less fun and rewarding.  The League has expanded my circle of friends and friendly faces considerably.

Outstanding Training and Organization:  A couple of years ago, when I had just completed my 6 active years, I decided I was ready to go Sustaining. Then I got involved in a project at my son's school.  It had all the makings of a great project; something in my community that directly affected me, a compelling mission, lots of money raised for education, and something close to home.  But, it was missing great leadership.  Throughout my years in the League, I have never been to a meeting that wasn't organized, that didn't have an agenda and follow-up minutes, and that wasted my time.  I was shocked that other organizations don't run the way our League is run, and I promptly renewed my membership again that year!

Incredible Community Impact:  In just the last 6 months I have met two new friends who work at organizations impacted by the League.  In both cases, they told me they worked in places I likely hadn't heard of.  As it happens, one is a teacher at EPACS (JLPA-MP project from 2003-2009) and the other works at Edgewood Kinship Support Services (JLPA-MP project from approximately 1999-2004).  When I told them I know of their organizations because I am member of the League, they heaped praise on the great work we do and were so thankful for all the time, energy and resources we gave to them.  So very gratifying to hear about the impact we make.  Especially at Boot Camp at 6am!

As our April 1 deadline for renewal and placement looms, consider what value the League brings to you.  Let me know -- are your experiences similar to mine?  What else keeps you renewing your membership?  Where are you on the roller coaster?  If it is a low-point, please contact your Member Resources Advisor and talk through your options; I can almost guarantee we can help you find a placement or situation to help turn things around.

Name That Council: The Answers!

Did you name all the members of our Membership Council last week? Check here to see how you did!

Back row (L-R): Stephanie Schwab (Training Co-Chair), Miriam Huntley (Nominating Chair), Rahela Abbas, (Membership Development VP), Mary Marsh (Sustainer Advisor), Ansley Jentz (Council Assistant), Angela Espinosa (Strategic MAL), Jovita Honor (Provisional Chair)

Front row: Carissa Ashman (Membership Outreach), Heather Caelius, Heidi Bullock (Enrichment Co-Chairs), Wendy Garrish (Member Resources Chair)

March 25, 2011

Member Spotlight

Welcome to our second edition of Member Spotlight! This week get to know Catherine Ross, Beth Greenberg, Crystal Galliher and Summer Brill.

Catherine Ross

Current Placement (2010-11): Shelter Network

What was your most memorable placement and why:
Shelter Network because it has been great to help people first-hand

Five Things You Don't Know About Me:
1. I love to garden
2. I have been to 6 continents
3. My favorite TV show is American Idol
4. I cook a mean fried egg
5. I love to do pilates

Beth Greenberg

Current Placement (2010-11): Nominating Committee
2011-12 Placement: Project Development Co-Chair

What was your most memorable placement and why:
My favorite placement was First Teachers because of the direct impact on families and the development of children.

Five Things You Don't Know About Me:
1. I don't have a Middle name
2. I am a native Californian born and raised in the Bay Area
3. I love spoiling my nieces
4. Coffee, water and red wine are my three favorite beverages
5. I am about to spend a month in Italy for fun!

Crystal Galliher

Current Placement (2010-11): Home Tour Committee
2011-10 Placement: eNews Editor

What was your most memorable placement and why:
Provisional - it was a great group

Five Things You Don't Know About Me:
1. I am an identical twin
2. I listen to Country Music
3. Born in CA - Raised in Texas!
4. I Love Dogs!
5. I love to rearrange furniture

Summer Brill

Current Placement (2010-11): Communications - Web Marketing Assistant Chair/Social Media
2011-12 Placement: Communications VP

What was your most memorable placement and why:
I have to say this year serving as the Web Marketing Assistant Chair and working on the League's Social Media. I learned a new skill (when I left the workplace Twitter didn't exist!) and it also gave me the chance to get to know so many Members of the League. I also loved my Provisional year, we had a wonderful group and I made so many great friends I still have today.

Five Things You Don't Know About Me:
1. In 2002 my husband and I quit our jobs and travelled around the world for a year
2. I LOVE my label maker-I'm constantly looking for things to label
3. My favorite book of all time is "The Power of One" by Bryce Courtenay
4. Before I met my husband, I used to eat BBQ Baked Lay potato chips and Vodka tonics for dinner! He's the cook in the family
5. I ate roasted bugs in Thailand!

Thank you for sharing! Stay tuned for your next installment of Member Spotlight!

March 24, 2011

Name That Council!

Photo Submitted by Miriam Huntley, Nominating Chair 2010-11

The Membership Council had a very festive March meeting! Can you figure out the Member behind each mask?? Hang tight, answers will be posted Monday!

March 21, 2011

March General Membership Meeting Roundup and Placement Time!!

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

Did you miss last week's General Membership Meeting? Not only was this our March GMM, but it was our first Prospective Member social as well! Membership Outreach and League Members brought in over 40 prospective members to our pre-meeting social and they stayed to see what a League meeting is like. (If you know someone who would be a great asset to our League, visit the Join section of our website for more info and future Open House dates.)

Eugenie Atherton and Alexia Clements from Fund Development held a second raffle for a luxurious Four Seasons Spa day (the first one was at the last GMM), the lucky winner was Sara Hollister! Congratulations Sara! Sara won the package (valued at $700) which includes a yoga class, lunch, and a 60-minute spa service for four. We raised over $2,000 for the League with these two raffles, and Fund Development will raffle off another Luxurious Four Seasons Spa package at the May GMM, be sure to purchase your raffle tickets at the meeting!

Angela Espinosa (Strategic Planning MAL) introduced the Strategic Planning Task force including herself, Ansley Jentz, Vanessa Roach, Jill Shanmugasundaram, and Jan Woolsey. The Task Force identified five areas the League should focus on:

Strategic Planning
Strategic Continuum
On Going Strategic Planning Council
Leadership development
Volunteer training
Nominating Process
Place best fit candidates
Continuity and League career planning
Opportunities and responsibilities
Membership satisfaction
Sustainer satisfaction
Connecting Sustainers and Actives

Expect to hear more about this in the future!

Project News: First Teachers is sunsetting...Introducing our New Project

Redwood City Library's Project READ

Project READ Co-Chairs for 2011-12 are Holly Tambling and Kirsten Crum

Here are some facts about our new project:
Founded in 1987 at the Redwood City Public Library

Project READ provides individualized literacy learning plans and tutoring to children from the most disadvantaged areas of Redwood City

Project READ gets results. After a year with Project READ, students improve their reading by 3.5 levels on average

Opportunity to help between 40-80 children grades K-8 significantly improve their reading skills

Great one-on-one volunteer experience in the evening

Convenient Redwood City location

So what exactly will our Project READ committee members do next year?
1. Work with students to develop and run monthly book club.
Book club will be facilitated and led by League volunteers and held in the evening during tutoring hours.
2. Tutor children at the drop in tutoring center from 6pm-9pm.

What potential impact will the League have on Project READ?
With the monthly book club, Project READ will be able to offer an additional literacy enrichment activity that currently is not available to students.

League volunteers on a regular basis mean more students can be tutored one-on-one and students won't have to wait as long for tutoring.

After serving on this project, our volunteers will be trained literacy tutors for life.

We also had a very heartfelt presentation by Project READ's director Kathleen Endaya. It was very inspiring and it is clear that with the League’s involvement, Project READ will be able to help many more clients than they currently serve.

In addition to a great overview of our new Project, we had very informative and inspiring presentations about two of our current Projects, Fostering Families and Shelter Network. Keep an eye out on our Blog for future stories and our Facebook Page (Newsfeed) to see some interesting facts about these Projects. (

It's Placement time again!

We ended the meeting with our annual Placement fair, where all Members had the chance to ask questions of current committee members and in many instances, next year's leaders, to help them determine where they want to spend their valuable volunteer time for our next League year. Can you believe that is just around the corner?

There are so many ways to spend your time and we have many resources to help you figure it out. Visit our website and either click on the Green Placement button on the home page, or login to the Member Area and scroll down to the Placement Manual. This year the Placement Manual also has a nifty graph to help you get a feel for each placement’s "busy times".

Also, if you've received your Piper magazine, there are several articles that can give you additional insight into a few committees.
Interested in helping the League increase Member and Community awareness of our activities? Read "The Social Network" on page 12 to learn more about Communications, our League's Social Media initiative and next year’s new structure. Looking for a Community Project? Peruse this issue for DIAD and Fostering Families (start page 8). Ready to dive into fundraising? Check out the Home Tour Wrap Up on page 24. Read on to see why several of our Members "Belong" to our League, maybe they will inspire you to try something new!

Even if you were already slated by Nominating, be sure to complete your online Placement by April 1st! And don't forget to pay your dues!

As usual, our GMM was festive and in keeping with the St. Patrick's Day theme, we all had pots of gold that were likely eaten by the end of the meeting! Thank you to the Enrichment Committee for their hard work in creating a fun environment for our GMM!

And Mark Your Calendars for our next GMM on Wednesday, May 18th!

March 17, 2011

Member Spotlight

This is a new feature to our Blog as a way for us to "Get to Know Each Other" better. We posed a few questions to our Membership and will post a few of the answers on a weekly basis, so be sure to check back to get to know your fellow Leaguers better! We will feature a new set of questions at each GMM and occasionally online for you to participate, so keep an eye out for Communications!

This week, get to know Heidi Walas, Allison Felder, Chara Burnett and Cynthia Munoz:

Heidi Walas

Current Placement (2010-11): Done in a Day

Please share your most memorable placement and why:
The Done in a Day (DIAD) committee is a great way to enjoy the social aspect of the League and to support your community in a hands-on way.

Five Things You Don't Know About Me:
1. I ride a motorcycle
2. I take Polish language lessons every week
3. I would love to be a crazy cat lady
4. I took car racing lessons
5. I love Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand

Allison Felder

Current Placement (2010-11): Shelter Network

Please share your most memorable placement and why:
Shelter Network - It was honestly my favorite part of my day when we had workshops - the clients were so friendly and they had great questions!

Five Things You Don't Know About Me:
1. Going to Cambodia in 2 weeks!
2. I play the Viola
3. I love Kirkwood!
4. I volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club in San Mateo once a week
5. My cat is named after a Baltimore Oriole

Chara Burnett

Current Placement (2010-11): Sustainer Advisor - Membership Outreach
2011-12 Placement: Sustainer Advisor - Training

Please share your most memorable placement and why:
Very first placement-Enrichment, I made many good friends that year with fellow members and had a very fund social chair. Also East Palo Alto Charter School, working with 7th graders was a very cool gig! It was very inspiring and enjoyed developing curriculum.

Five Things You Don't Know About Me:
1. Equestrian horse eventer
2. Private event planner for the past 7+ years
3. Kinder volunteer in classroom at Walter Hayes in Palo Alto
4. Host of lots of theme dinner parties - I'm a total foodie
5. Grew up in New Jersey, went to college in Vermont and lived in Boston (Beacon Hill) for 5 years

Cynthia Munoz
Current Placement (2010-11): Communications Committee
2011-12 Placement: Communications - Piper Editor

Please share your most memorable placement and why:
I've had such great experiences the past four years, but I'd have to say one of my most memorable would be my first active year with EPACS. Excited but terrified at the thought of trying to have "deep" conversations with a group of 8th grade girls, I found it to be one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. The girls I had the pleasure of getting to know were smart, funny, thoughtful and oftentimes silly (as us girls typically can be). The connections I made with them not only taught me a lot about them and the issues they had to deal with, but also taught me a lot about myself. I enjoyed it so much I signed up for it again the next year!

Five Things You Don't Know About Me:
1. I LOVE to watch TV.
2. I've been hang gliding once.
3. I finally learned how to swim a couple of years ago.
4. I rocked the most horrific Flock of Seagulls haircut in the 80s and thought it was awesome. Unfortunately for me, pictures don’t lie.
5. If you catch me being sarcastic, that’s the real me.

Thank you for sharing ladies! Stay tuned for our next installment and get to know more of your fellow Leaguers!

Sincerely, Summer Brill (Web Marketing Assistant Chair/Social Media)

Mrs. N Fertility and Relationships Groups Q and A

By Rachel Melia and Stephanie Witlin, Member Resources Committee Members 2010-11

In case you didn't know, The Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid Peninsula has Fertility and Relationships Google groups. These groups were created to help better support our members as they face new opportunities and challenges in their lives.

These groups are affectionately called Mrs. N. Read this Q&A to learn all about these groups and how they may be able to benefit you.

Question: What is Mrs. N?
Answer: Mrs. N stands for the Member Resources Support Network. The network includes two groups, the Fertility Challenges group and the Relationships group. Members can post anonymous questions to these groups.

Question: How do I join? And how do I access?
Answer: Click here to request to join the Relationships group and click here to request to join the Fertility Challenges group. Create an alias for your account to remain anonymous. When you want to view questions or post a question or comment login to the JLPA-MP site then click on the group you want to go to under "Discussion Groups".

Question: Should I use my real name?
Answer: It's up to you. However, if you'd prefer that your conversations remain anonymous, we encourage you to create an alias for your account.

Question: Should I join if I am not having current fertility or relationship problems?
Answer: Yes! Since those members who have been through similar challenges can often provide the best help, we welcome all members who have experienced challenges in these areas to contribute to the conversation.

Question: What kinds of topics are discussed in the groups?
Answer: You may choose to discuss anything that’s on your mind, as it relates to fertility or relationships. Recent topics have included: adoption counseling, information on fertility studies, and coping with depression.

March 14, 2011

Strength Training

By Kris Spencer-Jones, Office Manager/Graphic Designer JLPA-MP

One of the many benefits of being on the JLPA-MP staff is that I have the opportunity to attend League trainings. On March 8, I attended "Be Your Best in 2011: An Evening of Finding Your Strengths and Talents" facilitated by the stellar Naomi Chavez Peters, JLPA-MP Past President and Director of Leadership and Employee Development for

About 45 women joined me in taking the online survey prior to the training. Strengths Finder 2.0 (accompanying book by Tom Rath and the result of years of statistical analysis by Gallup) is based on this concept: Your greatest room for growth is not in the areas in which you are weakest, but in your strengths.

That's awesome news because I'd hate to have to rely on my weaknesses! And have you noticed how weaknesses coincide with stuff you hate to do. So, hurray! No forcing myself to do stuff I hate. Sign me up. And I can rely on other people's strengths. You can see from this photo of Naomi holding up the chart where we each marked our strengths with colored dots, that they are all over the map. That diversity of talent makes for a strong League; though it's not surprising we had a lot of "strategic" "achievers."

I thought the assessment of my strengths was pretty accurate. My top five strengths were:

Input: Defined by Tom Rath as people who "have a craving to know more." Check!
Strategic: I am definitely a big picture thinker.
Learner: Seriously, I love school. Always have. Always will. I'm hoping this will keep me young of heart and mind as I grow older!
Achiever: Attendees of our monthly family game night will attest to this. I like to WIN, people!
Responsibility: "People who take ownership of what they say they will do." Yep.

But strengths were just the foundation. Naomi led us on an exploration to know our own heart: our interests, values and work styles. Fortunately, there were flash cards for the values. Choosing from a list rather than inventing your own eliminates the heavy lifting!

What surprised me was how helpful a photo was in pulling all of this together into a value proposition statement. Here's my photo and statement: My talents lie in seeing the big picture and finding the way forward. I love to learn new things and think outside the box. I love looking for the possibilities and exploring new territory. Art, nature and design feed my soul. My strengths as a learner, achiever and my strong sense of responsibility ground me and allow me to go beyond "the dream" to accomplish what I envision. I have the focus, determination and stamina to achieve the goals I set for myself.

Do you see these words from my statement in the photo I chose: big, outside, exploring, territory, nature, ground? That's pretty amazing.

I left the training inspired and empowered. (JLPA-MP mission statement fulfilled!) There's stuff I'm good at and it's the stuff I love. As I grow, I will become more myself. I really appreciate the fact that this strengths assessment is not about specific skills, but more about how you approach life. That makes it meaningful whether you're talking about work, family or volunteering.

Naomi closed the training with this quote:
"To love what you do and feel that it matters-how could anything be more fun?'
-Katherine Graham

UPDATED TO ADD: Post a comment below and let us know what you learned, where surprised by or took away from the training. Let’s start a conversation!

Big props to Naomi! It's a joy to see someone who is truly talented do what she loves. Frankly I would show up to hear her read the phone book and still come away inspired. I'm such a fan! Kudos and thanks to the Training Committee for envisioning and, oh so expertly, executing this training. I can't wait for the next training: Social Media, April 5. Hope to see you there!

To sign up for the April 5th training event, "The Savvy Girl's Guide to Social Media!" register online here.

March 08, 2011

An Evening with Fostering Families

By Summer Brill, Web Marketing Assistant Chair (Social Media) 2010-11

I was so excited to get a peak at Fostering Families and am so thankful we get this opportunity through Done in a Day (DIAD). I knew from reading the fall Piper article that our Fostering Families committee (2010-11 Chair Kyla Eller) partners with Help One Child to run workshops to help foster children with a variety of life skills:

Personal Development: Self Esteem, Self-Talk
Interpersonal Communication: Assertiveness, Conflict Resolution
Relationships: Respectful Behavior, Anger Management
Community Development: Cooperative Behavior, Personal Support Systems

The night I volunteered, the workshop topic was Relationships: Anger Management. As I waited to learn my table assignment, I observed the children walking in with their parents. This was the sixth session so the kids were well versed in the routine. They arrive, get their table assignment and get right to coloring while they wait for their table leader to get started.

Help One Child volunteers run the check in table and direct us in timing for the night. They are also on hand if we need any support whatsoever and they have an incredible ability to calm antsy children with gentle attention. League members on the Fostering Families committee are the table leaders and League DIAD volunteers are table helpers. I was working on the Blue team led by Megan Olesk and we had five kids at our table, ages ranged from six to 10. All the children seemed to want to be there and when asked about their favorite activities, one little girl said coming to these workshops was one of her favorite activities!

Megan lead an ice breaker and I got a chance to get to know the kids at our table shortly before Cathy Lewis (Help One Child) led us in Brain Gym. We stood up and did some calisthenics to get the wiggles out! The kids know the drill and participate enthusiastically.

After our Brain Gym, we got ready for dinner. The kids helped set the table and cleaned their hands. We all sit together at our tables and have dinner together. The kids all had great table manners, my oldest child is four and this experience gave me hope that we will be able to have a civilized dinner table sometime in the future!

Over dinner we had casual conversation and I got to learn more about each of our Blue team members. Once dinner was over we started our workshop on Anger Management. Each table hosted a different activity to illustrate the lesson. Our table illustrated "Safe Anger Release", physical ways we can handle our anger. We did some calming self-hugging and tapping, breathing and we squeezed a pillow as tight as we could until we calmed down. Each child participated in the physical activities and they had fun squeezing the pillow tightly!

Next, I moved along to the next table with my Blue team members, while Megan stayed behind to teach the next team her skills. We moved to the "Work it Out, or Move On" session, led by League Member Leticia Gonzalez-Ratchev. She led a discussion about working out a conflict. She gave each child a can of Play-doh and asked them to sculpt an “anger monster”. The anger monsters took all shapes and sizes. Once they were finished they were instructed to tell the anger monster that they were not going to let the “anger monster” control them. Then each child smashed their anger monster! They got to take their Play-doh home with them, which was very exciting.

Next, we moved on to more discussion with Rose Repetto about "Take a Break". She talked about how you can take a break when you are angry and revisit the topic when you are calm. She then handed out a long piece of yarn to each child and explained that they can use this as an incentive to use anger management strategies. She showed them that they can tie a knot in the yarn for each time they use anger management strategies to show themselves how well they are doing. Then she suggested they make an agreement with their parents or teachers, that if they get 10 knots in their yarn they can get a reward.

For our final table, we joined Debbie Wright and she continued the discussion on “what makes you angry and what strategies can you utilize to calm yourself down”. Each of the kids gave examples of something that has made them angry, what they did when they got angry, and what they could do instead to calm themselves down. We were running low on time so we didn’t get to the illustration part of the table. But each child participated in the discussion and it was an interesting conversation.

Parents started to arrive, and it was time for the treasure chest!! Each child ran up to the chest and crowded around to root around for the BEST prize! These are the small toys we as a League donated earlier in the year for Done in a Day at our committee and General meetings. For everyone who donated, these small gifts are a hit! There is a lot of excitement around finding the coolest prize!

As I got to spend the entire evening with the same team of five kids, I got to know each of them and when it was time to say goodbye I was sad to see them go! It was a well run event and the kids definitely enjoy coming to the workshops. I had a great time and highly recommend it if you are looking for a Done in a Day opportunity. The next dates are April 11th and May 9th. This is a great way to preview Fostering Families for future placement. The Fostering Families Committee members were all well versed in their topic and activities and very comfortable with the kids. All the members of Help One Child are kind, friendly, helpful and energetic. I came home energized and hope I have another opportunity to do this again!

Fostering Families Committee: Back L-R: Debbie Wright, Shannon Morton, Kyla Eller (Chair Fostering Families 2010-11), Tina McMinn, Lee Casem, Michelle Melen (Provisional DIAD volunteer), Rachel Pickworth. Front L-R: Rose Repetto, Leticia Gonzalez-Ratchev, Megan Olesek, Cathy Lewis (Help One Child)

If you are interested in volunteering for Fostering Families through Done in a Day, sign up online in Volunteer Shifts (April 11th and May 9th). To learn more about Fostering Families and our other Community Projects, click here.

Think YOU can Balance California's Budget? Join SPAC April 14th and Give it a Try!

By Catherine Carlton, Senior SPAC Delegate 2010-11

The Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid Peninsula, The Junior League of San Francisco and The Junior League of Oakland East Bay have put together the rare opportunity to participate in the Next 10 Budget Challenge for 2011.

This is an exciting opportunity to learn about the state programs and
the budget by trying to balance the budget yourself with a special
computer "game" that is a lot of fun!  We will be carpooling from the
Gatehouse, or people can meet us there.  It's open to both members and
friends.  Here are the details:

What FUN and Educational!! Join the Next 10 California Budget Challenge 2011!

When:    Thursday, April 14 @ 6:30pm

Where:    Claremont Middle School, 5750 College Avenue, Oakland  (We will
carpool from the Gatehouse.)

What:     Try your hand at solving California’s budget woes with a
personal handheld device - YOU balance the California budget!
* Build a state budget based on your values and vision for the state's future
* Learn about some of the topical policy choices legislators face
* Take action and email the governor and your representatives about the policy choices you are making
* Understand about how the budget is built, who is involved, and important background information
* See the choices other people are making on each policy choice

Contact: Catherine Carlton, SPAC Delegate, at

March 07, 2011

Meet our First Teachers Committee and Bring Me a Book's Executive Director

Photo submitted by Joy Peacock, Community VP 2010-11

Top row (left to right): Dulcy Freeman, Chris Sapyta, Brooke Lopez (First Teachers co-chair), Marissa Levy (First Teachers co-chair), Jennifer Ryan, Jean Elliot

Bottom row (left to right): Kirsten Crum, Stephanie Pearson-Phillips, Terri Clark (Executive Director, Bring Me A Book), Kristy Phillips

Through our First Teachers project, over the past six years:
100 League members have served on this project which means over 100 women in our community have the knowledge to teach others about the importance of reading aloud.

These women have taught 1,586 parents that they are their child's first teacher and given to these families 1,655 books.

Our Sustainer project, First Teachers Too, trained 48 league sustainer volunteers over the past five years, served 1,320 children and gave 2,580 books to children to keep.

To learn more about our First Teachers Community Project, click here.