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.