October 31, 2011

An Intimate Gathering at the Neighborhood Meeting

By Beth Ann Brown, Communications Team

Last week I attended a neighborhood meeting at the lovely home of Polly Neumann. It was an intimate affair of perhaps a dozen members (including one baby) where we shared delicious finger foods and pomegranate martinis. 

After perhaps a half hour of socializing, Naomi Chavez-Peters called us together to discuss the topic of the meeting: outreach. We began by sharing how we got involved with the League, what we thought the League was doing well and where it could improve. With one transfer, four provisionals and a handful of actives in attendance, the discussion was lively and ideas flowed freely. Naomi also spotlighted the AJLI website and its features, particularly the new Webinar Wednesdays. 

Afterward, we socialized a bit more and everyone seemed happy they'd attended-- I know I was! So if you haven't had a chance to go to one of the neighborhood meetings, I'd advise you to try! They're quite fun.

October 28, 2011

Home Tour Committee Hard at Work

By Jillian Shenk, Home Tour Committee

Jillian Shenk with her son
Ladies, are you getting ready to find that special unique gift for your best friend or a little something for someone in your family? I know I am! I am on Home Tour and I wanted to give you a little insight into what it's like on the Home Tour Committee...

Yes, the our committee has been working very hard to make this year a tour and boutique NOT to be missed! We are very fortunate to have all of our meetings at the Swanky Rosewood Sand Hill. We usually start off the evenings catching up in the Library and then head down for an efficient working meeting. Last night we were faced with a challenge by our leaders – for us each to bring in one advertiser for the Special Edition Piper. We all grouped around our tables and started brainstorming. Initially thinking of ad sales can be daunting, but the chairs made it easier by giving examples of how some recent sales came about. Because of this brainstorm session, it brought each table together working as a team...this is just one great way to make us all feel like we are participating and making a difference for Home Tour and for our League.

After being led by our fabulous leaders and assistant chairs, many of us stick around after in the Library to get to know one another and plan out the coming months. I have really enjoyed getting to know the fantastic women on this committee. I look forward to each meeting to be able to have a nice dinner at the Rosewood and adult conversation, all while making a difference for our community.

Home Tour Tickets are now available! To purchase, click here.

October 24, 2011

Tapas Under the Stars

By Summer Brill, Communications VP

Summer Brill, Joy Peacock, Rahela Abbas, Meaux Costello & Calla Griffith

What a wonderful social put on by Member Enrichment on October 11th. We woke up to rain, but by the evening, we were outside on the patio of Iberia enjoying sangria and a balmy (dry) evening. We had a nice crowd and endless tapas. I brought my husband and we spent time congratulating Joy Peacock (newly appointed President Elect-Elect), chatting with Meaux (President), Calla, Jan Hickman, Tara and Laura Redmond. We learned that Laura's family and my husband's family have many similarities (Stanford football players, family names etc). Before we knew it, it was time to head home to relieve the baby sitter. But we so enjoyed the evening and look forward to the next League social! Thanks Calla, Regine and Member Enrichment, you did a wonderful job!

October 19, 2011

Project READ Tutor Shares First Experience

By Marisa Dittmer, Project READ Committee Member

The big day arrived. After days of training and meeting together as a committee, I was ready for my first Project READ tutoring experience. Filled with excitement and plenty of nerves, I hopped in my car and headed for Redwood City.

I walked into the charming library and felt more at ease. Once upstairs I was happily greeted by Kirsten Crum, one of our fearless leaders, and guided as to where I should sign in and get my badge. Quickly I was ushered out into the FLC (Family Learning Center) and seated at a table with a darling, and quite precocious, 2nd grader. We worked, chatted and got to know one another over math and language arts worksheets. 

While finishing up with her, and ready to play an educational game, I was asked if I could go help another 2nd grade girl. Yet another sweet, hard-working girl whose goal was to complete all her homework packet for the week. Once finished, she rushed to the bookshelf, stating “I want to read you two books! Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat!” The evening quickly drew to a close, with the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, hugs, thanks yous and a smile on my face, grateful for the evening experience. 

I look forward to this year of learning together with my committee and the family that is Project READ.

October 18, 2011

Shelter Network's Second Workshop

By Krista Szyndlar, Shelter Network Committee Member

Haven House, Menlo Park
On September 21st, Shelter Network continued its success by bringing its career and money management workshop to Menlo Park’s Haven House for the first time of the 2011-2012 League year. The committee worked like a well-oiled machine, comfortable with its format of three sessions attended by three to four clients each and knowledgeable of the workshop’s material. Consequently, the ten clients left with many positive takeaways: rejuvenated spirits to find a job despite an economy that is flirting with recession, budgeting worksheets to better direct household spending, tools to confidently ace a job interview, and useful gifts like money management books.

Haven House participants also developed a new appreciation for and understanding of the Junior League. Before the workshop, one potential client explained why she did not sign up for what seemed like a promising training session; she said, “I thought Junior League’s was about teaching children finance or something – kind of like how Little League teaches kids baseball. I just figured a ‘Junior Group’ or ‘Small League’ was for my kids and I really did not think they would want to learn about job interviewing and money management.” Thus, neither she nor her children signed up for the September 21st workshop. She did, however, stop by quickly to introduce herself. Upon meeting the Junior League women and understanding the adult-based curriculum, she quickly changed her opinion of this so-called “Junior Group.” She was eager to sign up for the next workshop and thrilled to tell her friends the real mission of the Junior League. 

Another client felt the League’s mission firsthand that night. She experienced a committee member’s willingness to take action to help her in a time of need. Her need came to light during one of the engaging, open Q&A sessions; the client wanted to understand how legally she could have been fired with no warning or seemingly no due cause. One of the evening’s Junior League participants happened to be an attorney. After the workshop ended, the caring attorney patiently answered the client’s questions and provided further contacts. 

Haven House participants were not the only ones to walk away with rewards. Committee members left feeling great for authentically connecting with clients and for gaining glowing evaluations from all the participants. Members’ enthusiasm grew; the women were eager to continue Shelter Network’s positive impact through nine upcoming workshops at Menlo Park’s Haven House and San Mateo’s First Steps for Families.

October 10, 2011

Nominating News: President-Elect-Elect Announcement!

It is with great pleasure, confidence and, yes, JOY, that we announce the JLPA-MP President for 2013-14:


Joy came to the Nominating Committee with bountiful experience in our own League and in other parts of life, and a tremendous drive to lead our organization onward in its pursuits.


Once we had a chance to review all applications and interview the candidates, our committee took some time to weigh this heavy decision. We deliberated, voted, and are very pleased to have now placed our very first leader as a committee. (For details on the Nominating Committee's process, please see the 'Process' tab in the Nominating Forum, which is found in the members area of our website.)

Joy is organized, efficient, smart, reliable, well-spoken, thorough, effective as a leader, gracious, humble (somehow), and fun! Congratulations Joy, and thank you for agreeing to serve in this big way!


Joy will be serving on next year's Board of Directors as our President-Elect. Would you like to be there with her? Nominations for all Board positions and the Nominating Committee slate for next year are due 10/15. Please see the Nominating section of our website for more information, call or email your Nominating Committee liaison, or get in touch with Nominating Committee Chair Tara Roussel. And please do indicate your own interests. Our committee loves hearing from you personally regarding your leadership goals.

We look forward to filling more positions very soon!

Tara Roussel, chair
Jan Woolsey, chair-elect
Stefanie Bruggeman
Katie Husak
Moira Jacobs
Jennie Lang
Amanda Okamoto
Steff Witlin

October 09, 2011

ABC²: Amy's Bean Counting Corner

By Amy Aldrich, Treasurer

As this year’s League treasurer, I am thrilled to be your trusted “bean counter,” making sure every last penny is being raised, spent and saved in the manner it was intended. Although I spent my previous seven placements in community projects, this role is tapping into my passion: managing and tracking finances.

This passion started very early in my childhood when, in the fourth grade, I made a budget so I could track my revenue (babysitting, bake sales and car washes), my expenses (mainly dollhouse furniture) and my donations (the collection basket at church). My grandfather taught me the power of purchasing stock at age 8 when I selected Disney and McDonald’s as my first shares of stock (to this day, I still have them!). So that’s a bit about my background. Now on to important matters: the League’s finances.

Even with the continued turbulent economy, the League is off to a great fiscal start! We are already a League quarter in and have earned 33 percent of the revenue expected for our General Fund budget (click here to view the League's financials as of August 31, 2011). Collection of Membership dues and sales from The Shop led the charge in the League’s revenue through August 31, 2011. Thank you to all our members and congratulations to The Shop for a fantastic summer!

Now in its fourth year, the Finishing Touches Home Tour is expected to be another exciting event with expectations for a higher turnout and greater exposure with the community. Did you see the Home Tour committee’s video presented at the September General Membership meeting? After that, I AM FIRED UP! We hope you’ll be a part of it by underwriting, volunteering or attending one of the great events planned December 2-3. Right now, the committee is at 80 percent of their underwriting goal of $40,000. If every active member were to donate just $50, we’d not only meet but exceed that threshold! Stayed tuned for ticket sales starting October 1.

As it relates to expenses, the board has made cost reductions wherever possible. As of August 31, 2011, we are at 25 percent of budgeted expenses. The net income goal for the year – at the minimum – is to be at zero and not have to touch our reserves. Of course, we want to avoid any deficits and, if possible, end the year with a surplus while maintaining our commitment to the community.

Like last year, we have an ambitious budget to meet, so let’s work together to increase League contributions and save our financial resources without compromising our programs. You can actively participate to the League’s financial success this year through a variety of ways: bringing friends and family to the Home Tour, engaging your employer to underwrite, providing a gift to the Endowment Fund or making a donation to The Shop. Every little bit helps in a big way! Ultimately, the more money we raise and the fewer expenses we have, the more we can give back to our community.

Please feel free to contact me, our Finance VP Jovita Honor or President Meaux Costello if you have questions or comments about our financial position.

October 05, 2011

BreakfastFirst Campaign Success with SPAC

By Catherine Carlton, Endowment Fund Committee Member, 2010-2011 Senior SPAC Delegate

State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, issued a letter on Wednesday endorsing innovative school breakfast models. Torlakson announced that he is now the Honorary Chair of the Breakfast First Campaign, emphasized that Classroom Breakfast and instructional minutes are perfectly compatible [referencing the prior State Supt./State Controller letter on the subject], and strongly promoted the BreakfastFirst Campaign!

This is wonderful support for school breakfast advocates working to ensure that all children start the day well-nourished and ready to learn through innovative school breakfast models! It doesn't mandate a conversation about breakfasts, but it does go a long way to meet our goal of working to educate the school boards, school administrators, etc. about the benefits of breakfast. State Superintendent Torklakson's letter is below, for your reference. As Honorary Chair of the Breakfast First Campaign, he will continue the effort to support Breakfast First implementation in schools throughout California.


Dear County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and Nutrition Service Directors:

I am proud to be the new honorary chair of the BreakfastFirst Campaign. Promoting the School Breakfast Program (SBP) is integral to my Team California for Healthy Kids campaign, which focuses on making healthy choices the easy choices. In alignment with the Team California goal to promote good eating habits, BreakfastFirst aims to ensure that all students are served an optimally nutritious breakfast using innovative models such as Classroom Breakfast, Grab-and-Go, and Second Chance Breakfast. These models are known to dramatically increase participation, bringing the benefits of school breakfast to the maximum number of students.

Research confirms the clear connection between health, learning, and attendance. Healthy children are more successful in school, miss fewer days of school, are more attentive and well behaved, and are more likely to graduate from high school and go to college.

Healthy students not only excel academically, but also are more likely to be positively engaged in social, community, and extra-curricular activities. The implementation of inventive models like Classroom Breakfast links nutrition to our joint goal of increasing academic achievement in school. In most cases, the breakfast can be completely supported by federal and state meal reimbursement. In addition, as former Superintendent Jack O'Connell and State Controller John Chiang shared in a joint letter last year, "As long as the breakfast is served and eaten in the classroom while otherwise allowable instructional activities are underway, the time will not be considered free time by auditors . . . The SBP is an easy way to enhance children's health and improve their academic achievement." The full letter is located on the CDE Breakfast in the Classroom - Letters Web page.

I urge you to expand your School Breakfast Program (especially outside of the cafeteria) to serve the nutritional needs of your students and to strengthen their academic performance. If you would like information on innovative breakfast models, visit the California Food Policy Advocates Web site for the BreakfastFirst Campaign. You may also contact your Field Services Unit Child Nutrition Consultant by phone at 916-445-0850 or 800-952-5609.

Sincerely, Tom Torlakson

The following information regarding the JLPA-MP's involvement with the State Public Affairs Committee can also be found on our website.


The State Public Affairs Committee of the Junior Leagues of California (SPAC) is a non-partisan education and advocacy organization, representing 16 member Leagues, nearly 12,000 members, and millions of fundraising dollars in support for community programs that assist women and families.

Since 1971, SPAC has represented the interest of its member Leagues and the groups or issue areas addressed by Junior League projects accross California to policymakers at the national, state and local levels.

SPAC advocates in four issue areas: health, education, family support, and violence prevention.

The members of the SPAC delegation: 
  • ADVOCATE for specific legislation relevant to member league issues
  • EDUCATE their home Junior League members
  • COORDINATE the exchange of information from community based league projects to policy makers.
Since 1992, SPAC has sponsored six bills, and co-sponsored two bills, that are now California Law; sponsored one California Resolution; and co-sponsored one Congressional Resolution.

Each year, SPAC solicits ideas for potential new legislation by holding its "There Ought to Be a Law" contest.

To learn more about the League's advocacy work, please download the CalSpac brochure, visit the CalSpac website or email the JLPA•MP delegates at spacdelegates@thejuniorleague.org.