December 03, 2012

Prop 35 Breaks Record

By Bena Vohra, Sr. SPAC Delegate

California voters sent a loud and clear message to human traffickers by approving Proposition 35 in record-breaking numbers! With an 81.1% “Yes” vote, the C.A.S.E. Act set the new record as the most successful ballot proposition in California’s history! The highest recorded "Yes" vote for a California initiative was 79%, a record which was set back in 1934.

Proposition 35, the C.A.S.E. Act, expands the definition of human trafficking, increases penalties for traffickers, requires convicted sexual traffickers to register as sex offenders, and requires additional training for law enforcement officers.

October 25, 2012

Training: Life in Balance

By Lauren Case, Training Committee

The Training Committee hosted its first training the last week of September, with speaker Naomi Chavez Peters guiding us towards achieving a more balanced life. This was the perfect way to start off our League year "which just so happens to coincide with getting little ones back to school, going back to school ourselves, watching the World Series, football season, etc." when we all start feeling like we are way too busy to possibly attend that next League event.

Naomi worked with us to realize our own priorities, and actually prioritize them! In case you missed the training, but are feeling a bit unbalanced, this means working on correcting time management mistakes we often make, including: 

• Failure to plan 

• Failure to prioritize . . . and re-prioritize 
• Being easily distracted
• Putting off distasteful tasks 
• Lack of organization 

If we can get ourselves organized and planning ahead, we will waste less time on unimportant activities. Naomi left me with one idea in particular: to help better manage not only our time, but also our overall wellbeing, we can practice "exercising integrity in the moment." What this means is, when we have the decision between watching a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills marathon with a glass of wine (or two), and going to the gym, we should not always pick RHWBR and the wine. 

In moderation, our (my) Bravo addiction is fine, but remember, we often over-extend ourselves, and we need to make time to do the things that we find important. Our priorities are really just our "what I want to be when I grow up" list. Our decisions, and our ability to "exercise integrity in the moment" shape our lives. We need to step back and ask ourselves, am I living the life I intend? 

Thanks Naomi, I will be going to the gym this week! 

October 19, 2012

DIAD: 12th Annual Pancake Breakfast

By Lianne Avila, Communications Committee

The Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid Peninsula partnered with the Menlo Park Fire Department for the 12th Annual Pancake Breakfast. The Menlo Park Police Department and Menlo Park Boy Scouts Troop 222 were also there to help. Set-up began at 5:15 A.M. and the breakfast began at 7 A.M. The firefighters were the chefs and the firehouse was transformed into a breakfast hall serving pancakes to everyone. There was also face painting and pictures on the Fire Truck for the kiddies. The firemen did rescue demonstrations for the group and people toured the firehouse.

This is one of the largest fundraisers for the JLPA-MP. We are excited to say that 688 people attended and we raised $8,000. All the proceeds will go to the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation. The foundation helps burn survivors and promotes burn prevention education. For more information visit

More photos from the event are available on our Facebook page:

October 05, 2012

California SPAC and JLPA-MP Support the C.A.S.E. Act

By Bena Vohra, Senior SPAC Delegate

A couple of weeks ago I had the great pleasure of presenting at the September General Membership Meeting.  I had spent hours preparing, learning about human trafficking in the United States, studying Proposition 35 (a.k.a. the C.A.S.E. Act), and watching videos.  This was a meaty issue that the League and League members could impact immediately, and I was excited to share what I had learned. 

C.A.S.E. stands for Californians Against Sexual Exploitation, and the act specifically fights human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women and children.  Human trafficking is a criminal business that profits from enslaving people for sexual servitude and forced labor.  In other words, it is modern day slavery.  It is the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the world today, second only to drug trafficking.
California is a particular hotbed.  Here are the facts:

·       3 of the highest child sex trafficking areas in the nation: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego
·       Average age a victim is first trafficked for sex in the U.S.: 12-14 years old
·       Many victims are runaways who already suffered sexual abuse as children.
·       Traffickers or pimps are master manipulators who gain a victim’s trust before forcing them into commercial sex acts and keep them compliant through violence and drugs.
·       The prevalence and anonymity of the internet has fueled the rapid growth of sex
trafficking, making the trade of women and children easier than ever before.

What Proposition 35 (C.A.S.E. Act) will do:

1.     Increases prison terms for human traffickers.
2.     Requires convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders.
3.     Requires all registered sex offenders to disclose their internet accounts.
4.     Requires criminal fines from convicted human traffickers to pay for services to help victims.
5.     Mandates law enforcement training on human trafficking.

At the end of the meeting, a Provisional came up to me and said, “What you’re doing, I want to do that!”  I couldn’t have imagined a better response!

Learn more, tell your friends and family, and above all, vote.

Learn about the other propositions on November’s ballot at the Election Forum on October 9!  Details at

September 24, 2012

DIAD with Relay for Life Menlo Park

By Angela Rodriguez, Done In A Day Committee Member

I am not a morning person. The early bird may get the worm, but it's the second mouse that gets the cheese, right? So when my alarm went off bright and early on a Saturday, I wasn't sure how I was going to make it through the day, let alone a Relay for Life Done-in-A-Day event!

We, the fabulous Junior League of Palo Alto Mid-Pennisula of course, partnered with Relay for Life Menlo Park and provided some extra hands to work the Survivors Tent at the relay. 

DIAD: Relay for Life Menlo Park, Junior Leaguers
working the Survivors Tent

If you haven't heard of Relay for Life here is a quick run down.

• Overnight relay-style event 
• Teams of people camp out around a track 
• Members of each team take turns walking around the track for the duration of the event 
• Food, games, and activities provide entertainment and fundraising opportunities 
• Family-friendly environment for the entire community 
• Supports the American Cancer Society
• More info here: 

Once I made it to Burgess Park, along with my other Junior Leaguers, it was clear that the day was going to be a memorable one and well worth the early rise! The event began at 9am and we began checking in the cancer survivors at our tent. The survivors‚ friendliness, warmth, and general zeal for life was really inspiring. 

DIAD: Relay for Life Menlo Park, Opening Ceremony Speaker,
Dr. Linda Huntimer, telling her story

The Opening Ceremony was next, and we had the honor of hearing the stories of survivors: when they received their diagnosis, the struggles they encountered, their family and friends experiences, and how they fought and joined the cause to find a cure.

When the Survivors Lap began, led by the Stuart Highlanders Pipe Band, it was quite the tearjerker; especially when their families and caregivers joined them on their walk. It reminded me of my family walking alongside my grandmother and her fight, a two-time cancer survivor. 

I remember in high school going to Relay for Life every year. A group of us would grab a tent, bags of string cheese and beef jerky (don't judge our teenage eating habits), and camp out all night around the high school track where the event was held every year. I remember making my grandmother a single Luminaria bag, which became a part of the hundreds of candle lit bags that lined the track. I made another one for her this time as well. 

All in all, I am glad that we were able to support this great organization and cause that is so close to my heart. Done-in-a-Day Junior League projects are always fun to attend, and this one is no exception. Here is to more early mornings for Relay for Life!

DIAD: Relay for Life Menlo Park,
Junior Leaguers with event speaker, Dr. Huntimer

September 21, 2012

DIAD: My New Red Shoes

By Emily Cunningham, Done In A Day Co-Chair

My New Red Shoes provides brand new clothing and shoes to underprivileged children in the Bay Area, just before the first day of school. By providing kids with appropriate school clothing that they can feel great wearing, My New Red Shoes aims to help kids succeed in school by increasing their preparedness and confidence while minimizing barriers to learning. 

Done in a Day volunteers visited My New Red Shoes‚ Redwood Shores office on July 25 to help them package up gift bags for distribution to the children, marking our sixth year of working with My New Red Shoes. Working together with the My New Red Shoes volunteer team, we assembled 2,000 hand-sewn bags with a handwritten note and a pair of shoes, uniquely selected for each child with their favorite color in mind. 

Don't the colorful bags look fun?

DIAD: My New Red Shoes Packing for Pride event on July 25

Sept 12 GMM Recap

By Lianne Avila, Communications Committee

The meeting started out with a great welcome from our President, Rahela Abbas. We also welcomed the 2012-2013 Provisional Class. 

Our next Done in a Day (DIAD) will be our 12th Annual Pancake Breakfast on October 6th from 7-11 A.M. at the Menlo Park Fire District Headquarters (300 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park, 94025). This is one of our biggest DIAD. If you haven't already, make sure to sign up for a volunteer shift. 

Our special guest speaker was Marina Park. She is the CEO of the Girl Scouts of Northern California. The Girl Scouts started 100 years ago and has provided support for girls going into leadership. Marina is an excellent leader herself she started as an Attorney and after 25 years in the field of law she moved over to the non-profit world. She has received The Most Influential in Business Award from the San Francisco Times since 2006.

JLPA-MP Supports the CASE Act. Vote YES on 35 on November 13, 2012. Neighborhood Meetings were a hit last year and the schedule for October Neighborhood Meetings is on the web page -- make sure you sign up. This does count towards the requirement for General Membership Meetings. 

It's that time of year again -- turn in your Leadership Nominations to Jan Woosley for Joy Peacock's Board.

Save the Date: The Blues Jean Bar is coming to The Shop for a fundraising event. Saturday, September 29, 2012 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Enjoy 10% off of your Blues Jean Bar purchases. The Blues Jean Bar will donate 15% of the total sales for the day to the JLPA-MP. 

The fifth annual Finishing Touches: A Holiday Tour of Fine Homes & Boutique Friday and Saturday, November 30 - December 1, 2012 at Rosewood Sandhill. A fundraiser benefiting the JLPA-MP and its community based projects. Sign up on the website for a volunteer shift or buy tickets. 

Next General Membership Meeting: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 6:15 to 9:00 P.M. Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, Cultural Arts Hall, Building F 3921 Fabian Way Palo Alto, 94303

Our DIAD co-chairs and John Johnson from the MPFD

Some of the wonderful members of the Membership Enrichment committee

September 19, 2012

Provisional Retreat Serves Up a Taste of What's to Come

By Robin Hindery Enan, 2012-13 Provisional Member

How to sum up last weekend's Provisional Class Retreat? We laughed, we bonded, we met cute firefighters...

The September 8, 2012 event at the Menlo Circus Club was a great way to kick off our League membership and start getting to know some of our fabulous fellow Provisionals. What's more, it offered a tantalizing tasting menu of all the activities and opportunities that will be coming our way over the next year.

Our day started bright and early (well, early for those of us without young children at home) at 9 a.m. After allowing us time to properly caffeinate and meet our tablemates and mentors, our fearless leader, Jacquetta Lannan, shared her recollections of her own retreat, when she--a 30-year-old lawyer--found herself seated next to an older woman who declared that she was joining in order to meet women who weren't all 30-year-old lawyers. Talk about awkward! Luckily, we soon realized that the member in question, Valarie Dennis, was sitting in the room, cracking up. Not only are she and Jacquetta now great friends, but they're working together on the Provisional Committee.

League President Rahela Abbas was up next to welcome us and shed some light on who this year's 78 Provisionals are as a group: a diverse, highly educated collection of women with a strong affinity for mac n' cheese (at least judging by our responses to the "Favorite Comfort Food" icebreaker). We're also a courageous bunch, whether it comes to jumping out of airplanes, studying or working in a foreign country, or channeling our inner Mariah Carey in the shower.

More importantly, like the many League members who came before us, we're looking to broaden our circle of friends and give back to our community. A post-lunch scavenger hunt through Menlo Park took us to some of the spots where that will happen, including the Menlo Park Fire District Headquarters (home of both the annual Pancake Breakfast and the aforementioned cute firefighters), the Gatehouse and The Shop (site of many future volunteering shifts and shopping sprees).

Not on the itinerary, but conveniently located just steps away from The Shop, was the Sugar Shack, whose bubbly owner (and JLPA-MP Sustainer) Suzi Tinsley, had us in stitches during a morning talk at the retreat. Suzi credits the moral support and networking skills of her League friends for helping her realize her long-held dream of starting a candy store.

I think it's safe to say that all of us ended the day energized, inspired and ready to dive in to our Provisional year. We look forward to meeting the rest of you and continuing the proud JLPA-MP tradition! 

Sustainer Suzi Tinsley shares what the League has meant to her

July 16, 2012

June 14, 2012

Member Spotlight: Staff and Sustainer

Welcome to the JLPA-MP Staff and Sustainer edition of Member Spotlight. Want to learn more about our members? Check out the first published group from the April Member Spotlight series on 04/10/12.

Name: Robbie Mellows 

Current Placement: Manager, The Shop

What is your favorite guilty pleasure? Watching "Once Upon a Time". I love that show!!

What book(s) are you currently reading? JD Robb, the In Death series, Janet Evanovich, the Stephanie Plum series - lots of good trash!

What is your favorite hangout or activity with girlfriends? Cocktails then a movie, shopping

Name: Kathy Luchini

Current Placement: Volunteer at The Shop and First Teachers

Years in League: Sustainer

What is your favorite guilty pleasure? Meeting friends for a cappuccino and a "goodie" at Douce France or Mayfield Bakery

What book(s) are you currently reading? City of Thieves, The Art of Possibility, Big Rock Candy Mountain

What is your favorite form of exercise? Swimming, walking

What is your favorite hangout or activity with girlfriends? Walking, field trips to museums or other fun locations, meeting for coffee

Name: Susan Dimick

Current Placement: The Shop Staff

What is your favorite guilty pleasure? Dark chocolate and a glass of Soquel Winery, Pinot Noir

What book(s) are you currently reading? The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

What is your favorite form of exercise? Walking or hiking

What is your favorite hangout or activity with girlfriends? Lunch

June 10, 2012

Spring Photo Album

By Michelle Hostrup and Amy Truel, Communications Team

Spring in Review! A photo album of JLPA-MP social events and volunteer activities in the community.

Pizza and Pinot on the Patio
May 1, 2012

League members enjoyed tasty pizza and 32 different wines on the Gatehouse Patio at this social event in May. There were 2 Pinot winners - Michelle Melen brought a bottle of Chateau Saint Michele and Rebecca Williamson brought King Estate by University of Oregon. Scroll down to see their picture!

Members sampling 32 differnt wines
The winners! Michelle Melen (L) from Fostering Families - Chateau Saint Michele, and Rebecca Williamson (R), Provisional - King Estate by U of Oregon

Rebuilding Together DIAD
April 28, 2012

April 28th was National Rebuilding Together Day, and JLPA-MP DIAD volunteers worked on home repair and yard work at a home in San Carlos. Elsie, the gracious homeowner, is 81 years young. A fond memory- her father gave her a Bird of Paradise when she moved into her home in 1964 and it continues to bloom 47 years later. Read more about Rebuilding Together on our Blog by reading Getting Dirty for a Great Cause, written by JLPA-MP member Cynthia Munoz.
Noelle Santamaria pulling weeds in the garden of a San Carlos home needing some TLC

Ronald McDonald House DIAD
April 19, 2012

The JLPA-MP sorted over 150 toys which were distributed at the Ronald McDonald House weekly handout. The toys contributed to helping keep up morale and happiness amongst the families with terminally ill children.

(L-R) Karen Scifres, Rebecca Siegel, Katy Cecere, Steff Witlin, Rosa Singh, Alison Hart, Jessica Collins, Sandy Coats, Kristin Bryan
Wrapped toys ready for distribution

St. Anthony's of Padua Dining Hall DIAD
March 28, 2012

Volunteers helped prepare for a meal by chopping, cleaning, and organizing bread, vegetables, and other food. Later in the morning, volunteers assisted with serving food to the visitors of St. Anthony's of Padua Dining Hall in Menlo Park.

I've been in the League for 9 years, (10 counting my provisional year), and of all of the DIADs that I've done over the years working at St. Anthony's is my favorite.  It is humbling and empowering to spend time peeling onions, cutting peppers or juicing oranges, knowing that the small tasks you are performing along with the work of all the other volunteers, provide people, families, children who are hungry with something as basic as a hot nourishing meal.  - Jan Hickman

The Princess Project DIAD
March 3, 2012

A rack of donated dresses
During Prom season, Project Princess collects evening dresses for 1200 high school girls from San Mateo to Salinas. Each girl receives a 40 minute appointment during which a volunteer assists with gown and jewelry selection. On Saturday March 3, the JLPA-MP volunteers  sorted through hundreds of items in preparation for the girls to visit the site and try on dresses and jewelry.
Nacole Barth-Ellis models one of the donated dresses

Haven House Valentines Day Party DIAD
February 13, 2012

JLPA-MP volunteers hosted a Valentines Day Party at the Haven House in Menlo Park. They had heart-shaped pizzas and salad for dinner, and cupcakes for dessert. The group also organized cookie-decorating and valentine-making for the children's activities.
League members at the Haven House in Menlo Park
Volunteers helping young girl with Valentines Day crafts

For more information on DIAD projects, visit our website.

June 06, 2012

Getting Dirty for a Great Cause

By Cynthia Munoz, 2011-12 Piper Editor

Rebuilding Together DIAD – April 28, 2012

Cynthia Munoz
“Oh please, oh please, oh please, don’t let it be weeding.” This is what I kept thinking to myself as I headed towards the Rebuilding Together Peninsula site for my Done In a Day (DIAD) volunteer shift on Saturday morning and wondered what would be on the to-do list. Weeding and generally any kind of garden work are not high on my list of things I enjoy to do. It was just the previous weekend that I decided to go out into the blazing heat to prune roses and pull weeds as our front yard was looking totally unacceptable. When I was done, I vowed that was the first and last time this year I would be doing that much yard work. Unfortunately, my plan was about to fall apart.

Joining about 12 volunteers from this Rebuilding Together Peninsula project sponsor, George P. Johnson and four other Junior League of Palo Alto•Mid Peninsula volunteers for the morning work shift, it was announced that while a couple of volunteers would help with scraping paint off of a railing to receive a new coat of paint, the rest of us would be in the backyard… weeding. Ugh.

So the majority of us headed down the side of the property towards the terraced backyard which I can only describe as a weed bonanza. With work gloves on and an array of gardening tools to choose from, volunteers got to work. Weeds and dirt were flying, rocks and gravel were being cleared out and lots of good jokes and camaraderie helped keep the energy high. The group did an amazing job of clearing virtually all of the weeds in less than an hour.

Every so often, Elsie, the 87 year old resident who has called this house her home for the past 47 years, would come out every so often and comment on how amazed she was at how quickly everything was going and what an amazing transformation she was seeing. Meeting her and seeing the look on her face seemed to be the best kind of fuel to keep the volunteers going. Even I, with my initial feeling of despair over the thought of a morning spent with my least favorite activity, found myself feeling extremely motivated and happy to see the progress being and was slightly disappointed to look around and see no other areas of weeds to attack.

The yard was cleared of all trash and unwanted items and the freshly exposed dirt was covered with a layer of root barrier fabric. Once this was done, an incredibly efficient procession of wheel barrows bringing tan bark from a giant pile on the front driveway started dumping the bark into all the planter areas. It wasn’t even lunch time and the yard was almost completely transformed!

The group took a break for a quick lunch and headed straight back to work, determined to transport the remainder of the giant mound of tan bark from the front of the house to the backyard. I have to not only give kudos to Noelle Santamaria for organizing this rewarding DIAD event for our League members, but also to her husband, Eric Mitchell, and his co-worker, Melissa Powers, for organizing and supervising the project on behalf of George P. Johnson. No volunteer was ever left standing idle and the work was efficiently executed.

I felt a little guilty having to leave exactly at noon, which was supposed to be the end of the morning shift, while the others I started working with at 9am continued on. It was quite inspiring to see this group of volunteers to give so selflessly of their time and energy. For many years, I wanted to take part in a Rebuilding Together project and thanks to the League and the DIAD Committee, I finally had the chance to do it. I drove to my son’s baseball game feeling really sweaty, dirty and tired but extremely happy to have been a part of helping a deserving community member. I also seem to have overcome my aversion to weeding, as I knew the exact area in my yard I had to work on as soon as I got home.

To learn more about our DIAD projects, visit our Projects page.

June 03, 2012

Project Development: An Eye Opening Placement

By Zara Fritts, Project Development Committee Member

Zara Fritts
This year I was lucky enough to be placed on the Project Development Committee. Initially I wasn't entirely sure what this committee did but had the vague knowledge that it gave out money. As it turns out, they give "grant" organizations a lot of money; $42,500 to be exact.

This year 34 organizations, whose mission aligns with the JLPA-MP criteria, applied for a grant. These organizations are all primarily committed to improving their community by offering services to women, children, teens and families as a whole.

I found it incredibly eye-opening to discover how many organizations are out there that need funding for things as simple as a field trip to the ocean, a place that many teens in our area have never seen despite its proximity. Some of the grant money we awarded went to "seed" a school library, provide materials for kindergarten readiness, and start a garden which will simultaneously teach kids how to eat nutritiously. These are important educational tools that when implemented early enough can make the difference between a good life and a life dealing with obesity, poverty or even prison.

The more of these organizations that I learned about, the more I wanted to volunteer. It is a great feeling to know more and subsequently do more.

This really was a rewarding experience but now it's time to hit the pavement running. Even a couple of hours a week can make a tremendous difference to your local charity, especially when so many are struggling during these tough economic times.

For more information on the 2012 Grant recipients, visit our website.

May 31, 2012

2011-12 Communications Wrap Up

By Summer Brill, 2011-12 Communications VP

Summer Brill
I want to take a moment to thank the Communications Committee of 2011-12 for their awesome teamwork this year! Together, we accomplished so much and I so appreciate the effort our committee members put into improving the efficiency of our communications and increasing the exposure of our League work to our members and community. I hope to have the opportunity to work with each of these ladies again as they really energized and inspired me this year.

We have two great staff members who also contribute to the Communications Committee, in addition to their other League workload. Kris Spencer Jones handles all of our graphic design work for all of our communications needs including Piper. She also worked hard this year to create our online pre-branded templates and the League banners you will begin to see at our League events. There is not enough room on this page to highlight all she does to help us out, but we thank you very much Kris! Kathy Moran has also joined in on the communications fun and is now helping with some of the website administration. She works on the calendar and registration and this has really freed up our volunteer website manager to focus on website content. Thank you Kris and Kathy!

I also want to thank our 2011-12 League President, Meaux Costello, and our Board. They were very enthusiastic supporters of our Committee’s work and without their support I do not think we would have been able to move many of our ideas forward.

And to all our members, thank you for rolling with all the changes to our Communications processes throughout the year. It is not easy to continue to carry on your League duties when the rules are changing simultaneously (and seemingly constantly!), but we appreciate your understanding and adoption of our Web Forms, Branding Policy and Templates so quickly.

It was a very rewarding experience to serve on Communications this year. I’d like to take a moment to highlight some of the work of our Committee this year and remind you of the tools and resources you have for your communications needs for your committees going forward:

  • League branded t-shirts: wear them with pride when you represent the League, thank you to our sponsor Courtney Charney for your generous donation and support!
  • Online League Merchandise: Now you can purchase your own JLPA-MP branded merchandise and apparel! Check out our store (This is not a fundraiser for the League)
  • Web Forms: Find them in the Communications section of the website and submit all of your marketing requests for eNews and social media and your Calendar and Registration requests. Don’t forget to get your content approved first!
  • Branding Policy: Our Board approved a League Branding policy to ensure consistent use of our League Brand to increase our visibility in the community. You will continue to receive training on this throughout the year.
  • Branded Templates: Find them in the Communications section of the website. Templates were created to help streamline the marketing approval process and maintain the Branding Policy. These templates are your flyers, postcards and invitations for both public and League only events.
  • Online Member Spotlight Forms: Love reading about your fellow members on our Blog? The process is now streamlined online, keep an eye on eNews, Facebook and the Member Landing Page for the latest survey and participate!
  • League Video on Website: We now have a short video highlighting what we do and how we do it. It is housed on the front page of our website and is a great resource to point potential donors and prospective members to for more information on our League.
  • Policies and Guidelines online: We are moving toward laying out our guidelines and policies directly on our website so they are easier to find and understand. Checkout the Guidelines Tab in the Communications section of the website. We will continue to update this section, so check back often.
  • Piper Update: Our Piper team updated our magazine layout with photos of our contributing members and references to more information on our website and social media. It has a fresh look and feel…up next…iPiper???
  • Reporters: We introduced League Reporters this year who went out to attend League events and write Facebook, Blog and Piper articles on our League activities. This resulted in an increase in Blog participants and more coverage on our League events. To request a Reporter to attend your event, submit a Reporter Request Form in Web Forms.

Have a great 2012-13 League year!

May 21, 2012

JLPA-MP Announces 2012 Recipients of Community Grants

The Project Development Committee of the Junior League of Palo Alto Mid•Peninsula is pleased to announce the 2012 recipients of Community Grants. The League funded a total of $42,500 in Community Grants, serving the needs of 11 organizations in our community. Awards are granted annually to non-profit organizations in communities supported by the League: Atherton, Belmont, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Carlos, Stanford, Sunnyvale, and Woodside.

Community Grant Recipients: Jon Lemke (Reading Partners); Betsy Noonen (Spark); Ann-Christel Graham (Community VP), Mike Berman (EPAPA); Joanna Bradshaw (EPAPA); Beth Greenberg (Project Development Co-Chair); Ashley Riley (Fit Kids Foundation); Julie Cates (ALearn)

“Our goal this year was to fund projects that support the mission of the League and have the widest impact in the community,” said Beth Greenberg and Nicole Neal Co-Chairs of the Project Development Committee. “We are especially excited about supporting childhood literacy, fitness programs, family counseling, and domestic violence resources.”

The 2012 grant recipients are:

1. ALearn ($5,000)
Grant goal: Funding will supply teaching and testing materials for the Catalyst Summer Bridge program for students in underserved communities as they work towards entering and succeeding in college.

2. Aspire East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy ($5,000)
Grant goal: Funding will “seed” the school's library and support the purchase of leveled reading sets which will be used by four different grades.

3. Building Futures Now ($4,000)
Grant goal: Funding will support academic supplies and enrichment trips for students as part of a mentoring program that empowers students to succeed in middle school, high school and beyond.

4. Collective Roots ($2,500)
Grant goal: Funding will provide in-school and after-school learning programs at several elementary schools in Redwood City and East Palo Alto, focused on gardening, sustainability and nutrition.

5. Family Connections ($4,500)
Grant goal: Funding will purchase materials for kindergarten readiness programs for low-income families.

6. Fit Kids Foundation ($5,000)
Grant goal: Funding will provide materials for after-school fitness education programs designed to instill an early love of sports and physical activity for children who do not have access to physical education programs at school.

7. Jean Weingarten Peninsula Oral School for the Deaf ($2,500)
Grant goal: Funding will provide equipment for speech therapy programs serving children from low-income families.

8. Maitri ($2,500)
Grant goal: Funding will contribute to transitional living expenses for South Asian women and children who are the victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, family conflict and cultural isolation.

9. Nuestra Casa ($1,500)
Grant goal: Funding will purchase five Sed de Saber systems for adult ESL programs dedicated to increasing civic participation and promoting economic self-sustainability in the Latino migrant population.

10. Reading Partners ($5,000)
Grant goal: Funding will help cover the costs of instruction materials, volunteer training and student assessment costs for literacy intervention programs serving children in low-income communities.

11. Spark ($5,000)
Grant goal: Funding will cover the costs for 10 middle school aged girls in underserved communities to become apprentices in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) professions.

About the Junior League of Palo Alto•Mid Peninsula, Inc.

The Junior League of Palo Alto•Mid Peninsula, Inc. (JLPA.MP) is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.

JLPA•MP provides ongoing support for its grants through its fundraisers: The Shop in Menlo Park, its annual Home Tour and its Endowment Fund. For more information visit our website at, our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter @JLPAMP.

May 18, 2012

JLPA-MP Mother's Day Feature III

By Michelle Hostrup and Amy Truel, Communications Team

Welcome to the JLPA-MP Mother's Day Special Edition Blog Feature. This is the third mother-daughter feature in a series of three. Check out the first published article from this series on May 13, 2012.

Was your mother a Junior League member?

PENNY LAVE: My mother was in the Junior League inLansing, Michigan, from 1935 to the 1970's. She is in the middle of the picture shown to the left. Back row: Penny Reynolds Lave, Eleanor Thoman Reynolds (mother), Elizabeth Thoman Moore. Front row: Julia Lave Johnston (daughter), Wendy Reynolds Barbo (sister who somehow escaped the Jr. League)!

CATHERINE VONNEGUT: My mother, Jean Ann Vonnegut, was in the Indianapolis League, from the 1950’s to 2009 (when she died).

Do you have a daughter who is a Junior League Member?

PENNY LAVE: Julia joined the Eugene Oregon League in the early 90s and transferred to the Sacramento League a few years later.

Describe your experience as a mother-daughter Junior League pair.

PENNY LAVE: I joined the Lansing league in 1960 and transferred right away to San Francisco as a Professional member (that is what we called members who worked and met at night) where I repeated the Provisional course, commuting from Palo Alto. We met at the Mark Hopkins Hotel. It wasn't until the 1970s after Palo Alto had become a League on its own that we had a Professional group. When I was President I chaired two membership meetings each month - one in the morning and one at night on the same day.

I never considered NOT joining the League - it was a way of life. My daughter joined while in graduate school and was quite a bit younger than the rest of the members in Eugene, a student and single. In Sacramento she was working and had babies and not enough time to enjoy it. Times change.

CATHERINE VONNEGUT: I helped my mother as a child in The Shop, when she was an art docent and at other League events. Since my grandmother was also a member, I was pre-destined to be a Junior League member I suppose!!

May 15, 2012

JLPA-MP Mother's Day Feature II

By Michelle Hostrup and Amy Truel, Communications Team

Welcome to the JLPA-MP Mother's Day Special Edition Blog Feature. This is the second mother-daughter feature in a series of three. Check out the first published article from this series on May 13, 2012.

Marcie and Beth Ann Brown
Is your mother in the Junior League?

BETH ANN: My mom was a transfer member to the JLPA-MP (in 1988, I think?) and continues to be involved this day.

Do you have a daughter who is a Junior League Member?

MARCIE: My daughter, Beth Ann Brown, is an Active in the JLPA-MP.

Describe your experience as a mother-daughter Junior League pair.
Beth Ann and Marcie

BETH ANN: It's been awesome! My mom went back to Active status after ten years Sustaining, so we could be active members together. We've done a lot of social events together and had a really good time. We enjoy each other's company and it's been fun for her to show me something she really enjoys.

MARCIE: Beth Ann encouraged me to change status from Sustainer to Active when she became an Active. Its been great to serve together!

May 13, 2012

JLPA-MP Mother's Day Feature I

By Michelle Hostrup and Amy Truel, Communications Team

In celebration of Mother's Day, the JLPA-MP is featuring mother-daughter Junior League pairs. This is the first blog article in a series of three articles. We hope you enjoying reading about these fabulous women - the special relationships they share and their commitment to the Junior League.  And a very Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there!

Is/was your mother in the Junior League?

Samantha Quist and her mother, Helen Crow
SAMANTHA QUIST:  My mother was in the Junior League in Topeka, Kansas. I'm not sure exactly when, but roughly 1985-2000, and she's still a Sustainer (and won their most prestigious award for sustainers a couple years ago, go mom)!

BETH MARTIN: My mother was a member of the Des Moines, Iowa Junior League.

VANESSA ROACH: My mom (Pam Brandin) joined the JLPA-MP when I was 9 years old. I grew up hanging out at the Gatehouse. Things haven't changed much!

Do you have a daughter who is a Junior League Member?

Beth Martin (Sustainer) and her daughter, Megan Martin
BETH MARTIN: My daughter is in her first active year in the San Francisco Junior League.

Describe your experience as a mother-daughter Junior League pair.

BETH MARTIN: My mother's community service and the friends she made greatly influenced me. And my daughter grew up attending meetings with me from the time she was a newborn and always knew how important the League was to me. When she moved to San Francisco she thought it would be a great way to meet new women and get involved in the community. My niece also joined the Chicago Junior League and has loved meeting interesting women and getting involved in interesting projects/events in the Chicago area.

Vanessa Roach and her mother, Pam Brandin

VANESSA ROACH: As I mentioned, I grew up at the Gatehouse. My mom served as our President when I was in high school, which was pretty cool. When I served as our President in 2008-2009 I asked her to serve as our Sustainer Advisor, which was extremely special! Like my mom, I developed almost all of my leadership skills through the League. Also like my mom, most of my job training has come from the League. We both appreciate the amazing women and especially making a positive impact in our community. Now we enjoy attending the Past Presidents' Lunch together!

SAMANTHA QUIST: Although we didn't serve together, my mom told me it's the most impactful experience she's had (which is saying a lot, since her life is very full and packed with accomplishments). So, I was inspired to follow in her footsteps.

May 08, 2012

Shopping Success at Tory Burch

By Catherine Wilson, Communications Team

(L-R) Tory Burch employee, Sherri Douville, Sara Hollister and Meaux Costello
Rahela Abbas & Catherine Wilson
On April 26, Junior League members and their friends enjoyed an evening of shopping and socializing at Tory Burch in the Stanford Shopping Center. Among those in attendance were current League President Meaux Costello and incoming League President Rahela Abbas. Tory Burch donated 10% of all sales to the endowment fund, along with a 10% discount to shoppers.

Beth Ann & Marcie Brown
Throughout the evening guests nibbled hors d’oeuvres and sipped champagne in the intimate comfort of the Tory Burch store. Much of the conversation centered on the stunning and unique apparel that fills the store’s hangers. Yet most attendees ultimately gravitated toward the accessories that feature the trademark Tory Burch T medallion. This savvy shopper was delighted to find a simple black leather wallet with a bright cobalt interior. Look for me at the next general meeting – I’ll gladly be buying drinks so that I can pull out my new wallet to pay.

April 30, 2012

Spanish Homework and the Solar System

By Kirsten Crum, Project READ Committee Member

Project READ student and JLPA-MP Volunteer
I recently had the pleasure of working with a second grader, Michelle, while volunteering at Project READ for my League placement. She was extremely bright and finished her homework in about 5 minutes and without any assistance from me. This was very fortunate as she was in a Spanish immersion school and my Spanish no es muy bueno so I was struggling to understand the assignment.

After we finished her Spanish homework we moved on to working on her science project. The project focused on the solar system and space travel. I consulted a bit on the overall layout and helped her to create the tape circles she used to paste down various parts of the poster she was working on. The most enjoyable aspect of the evening was spent admiring her focus and enthusiasm. Her mother had to drag her away at the end of the night since she was so wrapped up in adding material to her presentation.

Overall, I’m so impressed with the kids at Project READ, and also have so enjoyed meeting their parents, all of whom have been really involved with their children and very committed to helping them get ahead. What a wonderful organization!

April 25, 2012

Member Spotlight: April Edition, Group 5

Welcome to the JLPA-MP's 2012 April edition of Member Spotlight. Check out the first published group from this series on 04/10/12.

Brittany Lothe

Current Placement: Communications Team

Years in League: Active (2-5 years)

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Bravo. Real housewives of OC, Real housewives of NYC, Real housewives of ATL, Real housewives of Beverly Hills, Bethanny Ever After....

What book(s) are you currently reading? Atlas Shrugged.

What is your favorite form of exercise? Yoga

What is your favorite hangout or activity with girlfriends?
Shopping and Cocktails

Amy Truel

Current Placement: Content Chair, Communications Team

Years in League: Active (2-5 years)

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Watching TV

What book(s) are you currently reading?
Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads

What is your favorite form of exercise?
Day: Walking up the hills in my neighborhood
Night: DANCING!!!

What is your favorite hangout or activity with girlfriends?
Mani/Pedi or Massage-any kind of pampering!

April 20, 2012

Member Spotlight: April Edition, Group 4

Welcome to the JLPA-MP's 2012 April edition of Member Spotlight. Check out the first published group from this series on 04/10/12.

Bena Vohra

Current Placement: Junior SPAC Delegate

Years in League: Active (6-10 years)

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Baskin Robbins Chocolate Mousse Royale on a sugar cone! So yummy!

What book(s) are you currently reading?
Just Kids by Patti Smith, Two-Income Trap by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi, The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch, Fast Company, The New Yorker. Always a variety of reading material open on my nightstand!

What is your favorite form of exercise?

What is your favorite hangout or activity with girlfriends?

Michelle Hostrup

Current Placement: Communications Team, Social Media Assistant Chair

Years in League: Active (2-5 years)

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Yumi Yogurt
What book(s) are you currently reading? The Paris Wife

What is your favorite form of exercise?
Anything outdoors. I love skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer.

What is your favorite hangout or activity with girlfriends?
Coupa Café in Palo Alto is a great spot to meet girlfriends for coffee!

April 17, 2012

Member Spotlight: April Edition, Group 3

Welcome to the JLPA-MP's 2012 April edition of Member Spotlight. Check out the first published group from this series on 04/10/12.

Jennifer Potter

Current Placement: Provisional

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
When I have a significant chunk of time, I love watching entire seasons of random TV shows. I've been on a BBC kick recently: Torchwood, Doctor Who, etc.

What book(s) are you currently reading?
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

What is your favorite form of exercise?
Spin class. I realize that sounds insane, but with the right instructor it's a blast.

What is your favorite hangout or activity with girlfriends?
I'm pretty new to the area so I'm still looking for a favorite hangout. And, most of my time is spent with my husband - our favorite activity is going for hikes and exploring new trails.

Sarah Shen

Current Placement: Board of Directors

Years in League: Active (2-5 years)

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
My favorite guilty pleasure is watching reality television. I am addicted to just about every show on CBS and Bravo.

What book(s) are you currently reading?
Good to Great by Jim Collins and Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

What is your favorite form of exercise?
Ballet and Yoga

What is your favorite hangout or activity with girlfriends?
I love a great conversation over a delicious meal with my girlfriends. Anatolian Kitchen off California avenue is a recent favorite. Try "Alexander's Favorite". You won't regret it!