December 27, 2017

Who Shops at The Shop?

By: The Shop Committee members Alexis Terndrup and Annette Poliwka

As League members, we often think of The Shop as a place to donate clothing and household goods in order to raise revenue for The League. We can quickly drop off donations in the back or drive by on our way to the Gatehouse, as well as participate in the “Shop Drop” before General Membership Meetings. As members we also know that The Shop is very successful, and the profits make up a considerable portion of the League’s budget.

What is often not discussed is the impact The Shop has on the community outside of the League. When going into The Shop on any given day, you can see a crowd of customers happily going through racks. As one joyous shopper mentioned while excitedly browsing the wide array of books, “No other [resale] stores are like this.  We live in Oregon and whenever we come here to visit family, we come to The Shop!” The Shop also draws in customers of all ages, from freshmen Stanford students browsing the shoes after being told, “If you go to Menlo Park, you’ve got to stop at The Shop.” to working professionals in search of name brands at a discount. Another woman mentioned, “This is a great place to look for high end dressy items without the high end price tag.” The Shop also frequently draws in new customers. As one patron mentioned, “The atmosphere is so nice from the outside. I decided to go in and didn’t even know it was a [resale] store until I began looking at (the)tags.”

With the wide array of customers The Shop brings it, it’s wonderful to see the common excitement and enthusiasm they all share while searching for one of a kind items at a bargain price. The Shop would not be what it is today without the support of our League members. Thank you for helping to create such a shopping gem for our community! 

December 10, 2017

Project STEAM

By: Kirsten Crum, Project STEAM Co-Chair and Endowment Fund Co-Chair 

Project STEAM, the newest community project for the Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid Peninsula, is the result of a renewed partnership with Project READ, an organization that fuels the fire of hope through literacy. Their free community literacy programs provide training to adults, children and families. Our original partnership with Project READ began in 2011. Project READ committee members completed an extensive fifteen hours of training to become literacy tutors and volunteered in the Family Literary Instructional Center (FLIC) helping students with their homework and reading skills. As a community project, Project READ was sunset in 2015, but our relationship with the program director, Kathy Endaya, and her staff remained as League members continued to volunteer at the FLIC and support their programs long after the project ended.

Then our League selected a new focus area in 2015: Empowering Girls to be STEAM Leaders of Tomorrow. We soon learned that Project READ was piloting their own STEAM program and naturally reached out to partner with them again. The collaboration produced Project STEAM, a series of workshops and mentoring sessions aimed at increasing girls’ confidence and interest in STEAM coursework.  The STEAM workshops, held on weekends and open to the whole family, include an array of activity stations staffed by League volunteers. Our volunteers engage students with questions that spark their curiosity. One of these recent workshops celebrated fall and leaf science.

Colorful fall leaves were scattered across the room and incorporated into most of the activities at the November Project STEAM workshop, held at the Redwood City Library. Students and their families studied shapes and veins while making rubbings of pressed fall leaves. They created drawings of tree trunks with realistic bark and added real dried leaves with glue. At the tinker table, whole fragrant spices like star anise, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods, added to the sensory experience of constructing a fall wreath.  At another station, students painted leaves cut from coffee filters with watercolors to create coffee filter leaf sun catchers—beautiful when taped to a sunny window.  Leaves turned into animals and insects at the leafcritter table. Examples include layering multiple leaves for an owl or using a single leaf for a fish. Acrylic paint was applied for accents like eyes and feet, and when dry, had a glossy 3D effect. At the popular Candy Cane playdough station, students measured ingredients, followed directions and got messy making red and white playdough, scented with peppermint oil. Then they rolled the playdough into snakes and twisted a red snake around a white snake to make a playdough candy cane!

The usual favorite activities were also available:

- Snap circuit kits which encourage a curiosity for electrical design
- Marble runs and fort building that bring out the budding engineer and architect
- Programming Dot the robot, powered by a tablet app, to navigate an obstacle course

The November STEAM workshop was attended by 24 eager children (10 of whom were girls) and 5 enthusiastic League volunteers from the Project STEAM committee. It was blustery fun for the whole family! 


October 30, 2017

League Leadership – Taking the Plunge

By: Cynthia Muñoz, Communications Chair 

Our current focus area is “empowering girls to be STEAM leaders of tomorrow.”  Quite frankly, it could be empowering girls to be political leaders, financial leaders, or even sports figure leaders.  At the heart of it, they’re all related to one key aspect of the League’s mission – developing the potential of women.  The League is a place where women can collaborate with each other, support each other, and lift each other to achieve our inner greatness. We should embrace the League as a safe place to push ourselves to try new things and not shy away from taking on leadership roles.

Taking on a leadership role in the League can help you acquire numerous abilities, gain new skills, and try new things.  No matter what stage in life we are in, it’s never too late to grow, learn and challenge ourselves – especially if we may not be getting those challenges in our day-to-day roles.
This summer our family headed to Mexico for vacation.  One of our activities involved rappelling into a giant sink hole and in the bottom of that hole is groundwater of varying depths. I was told the depth range of the water at the bottom was anywhere from five to 120 feet.  I don’t swim, so that was a terrifying thought to me.  I managed to get myself down into the sinkhole, safely into the water and onto a nice, stable platform with the aid of two tour guides, a life jacket and an inner tube.  I thought I was done and was quite proud of myself.  Unfortunately, there was also zip lining off of a platform and dropping into the water.  My husband took his turn, as did my typically cautious 12-year old son.  Good for them, but I had no plan to participate. Then, I hear it. 

 “Come on, Mom!  Try it!  You can do it!  It’s fun!” 


“Come on, Mom!  You can do it!  We’ll help you!  Please, try!”


I started to think, what kind of role model to my own son would I be if I don’t challenge myself to try something scary and new when I know in reality, I was in a pretty safe setting with the right equipment and people to help me.

Taking on League leadership is a lot like that.  Over the course of ten years in the League, I’ve taken on various leadership positions – as a Provisional (now New Member) mentor, Piper Editor, Board Secretary, Nominating Committee member, Shop Treasurer - all leadership roles where I mostly managed myself and ultimately reported to a higher Chair or VP, which I was very comfortable with.  

This year, I’m serving as Communications VP.  I had huge reservations stepping into this role– not only pondering if I could make the time, but realizing it would be the first one where I would not just be responsible for myself, but would also be responsible for coordinating a team of women looking to me for direction. I am also barely literate with working my own Facebook account, I kind of know how to Instagram, I don’t Snapchat, I still refer to the hashtag as a pound sign (because Ladies, that’s what it was back in the day), Google Docs hates me, and I had never written a press release nor had any idea of how and when to distribute one.  The only thing I had going for me was that I was familiar with the Piper process. Otherwise, I felt horribly underqualified for this role. I decided, however, this was the time to push myself to try it.  So far, I’m so happy I did.

There are few places like the League where you should feel comfortable to take on a position that you feel underqualified for.  That’s how you’ll learn the most and find an incredible support system in the process. Just in the past four months, I’ve learned so much from my awesome Communications Council, whether it be about a new social media platform I’ve never used before, or honing my skills in running a meeting, or most importantly, learning how to let go and let those around me use their skills and interests to achieve their own successes, which in turn lifts our entire team. These and many other experiences are what will help me in my business and everyday life and I’m proud to include every League position and every skill developed on my resume.

So, when Nominating calls to ask you about taking the leap into that leadership sinkhole, and says “Come on!  You can do it!  We’ll catch you!  Please, try!”  You should definitely consider jumping in.  A fantastic team of women will be in there ready to help you.

October 06, 2017


By: Robbie Mellows

On Monday, October 9, 2017, we'll celebrate Columbus Day, but it also commemorates 47 years for The Shop - the most successful fundraiser for the Junior League of Palo Alto•Mid Peninsula (JLPA•MP).

What started out as a small rummage sale in the late 1960s has grown into a popular and successful resale business that funds the League’s many community projects, grants, and services. 

Established in 1970, The Shop has been selling gently used clothing, accessories and household items.  Savvy shoppers know to check here first for designer clothing, handbags, shoes, sparkling crystal, china and gently used home furnishings. The success of The Shop can be attributed to the many, many League member volunteer hours, the truly amazing donors and customers, and a dedicated staff.  

To celebrate this special day, we will be having an anniversary sale.  Please come by to visit us and check out our latest merchandise!

Thank you for supporting The Shop and the JLPA•MP!

47th Anniversary Sale - 25% Off All Merchandise

When:    Monday, October 9, 2017
Where:   The Shop
              785 Santa Cruz Avenue
              Menlo Park
Time:     10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

September 21, 2017

Workplace Words that Wound

By: Lorie Reichel-Howe, Training Committee Chair 2016-2017

We have all felt the sting of cutting words, the stab of sarcasm and the sickening silence when a coworker is assaulted with a verbal bomb. 
When workplace word wars occur, employees become casualties, relationships are strained and morale plummets. When verbal outbursts occur, organizational culture erodes, productivity is held hostage, and attrition skyrockets.
Whether you are a manager or copy clerk, being told to address a behavior without a strategy for doing so, is as helpful as receiving a disturbing medical diagnosis without care instructions, surgery options, or a recovery plan.
Let’s face it, when conflicts escalate and issues arise, managers and staff run to HR.  While individuals with concerns need to own their issues and release any expectation that HR will magically make their problem go away, they also need strategies for safely dialoguing with their “offender.”  Since relational breakdowns are inevitable in every human group, including the work family, HR, management and all employees need first responder training in effectively addressing harmful zingers, jabs and verbal bombs. Let’s explore some ways to respond to these behaviors.
Let’s imagine a manager approaches HR uncertain how to have a conversation with a frustrated employee named Kendall.   Kendall, after being informed that her support request to Help Desk was received and, due to complications with the new system software installation, should expect a two-day delay in technical support. Upon reading the Help Desk’s response, Kendall blurted out the following….
“The Help Desk department should be renamed the Helpless Department.”
Request clarification
In a calm and firm manner, ask Kendall to please share the words she said about the Help Desk. Also ask her to explain what she meant by these words. In doing this, Kendall is invited to self-reflect and you avoid accusing, lecturing or judging. The desired outcome of this activity is self-reflection and ownership of behaviors.
Acknowledge the person’s concerns and needs
During conflict, our human tendency is to experience frustration, anger, even fear.  When these feelings exist, it’s difficult for us to listen to someone’s perspective, especially a perspective different from our own. Being understood is an anger diffuser.  Even so, it’s not a fix-all solution. Acknowledging concerns and needs doesn’t mean you approve of a harmful behavior, it simply means you understand what motivated the behavior.
Communicate positive wants or desires for those involved
People are more open to working with you when they believe you care about them and desire a positive outcome for them.  It’s assuring to know someone cares about you especially when you’ve acted impulsively and spoken inappropriately. One way to communicate caring is to verbalize that you’d like Kendall to get technical support in a reasonable time in order to complete her work. In addition, share your positive desire for Help Desk, to have a more manageable case load and not be buried under tech glitches from a new system upgrade.  Lastly, include your desire for a positive work environment for everyone in the department where concerns are addressed respectfully.
Bring awareness of the impact of words and actions
Effective communicators help others understand the impact of their words and actions. Share with Kendall that when you hear a comment that the Help Desk Department should be renamed the Helpless Department, it seems like a department has been attacked. Share the impact of this comment identifying that comments like these can create a negative work environment and divide departments instead of unifying departments within the organization. Share your concern that when people hear comments like this, they feel attacked and disrespected and that, once negativity spreads, it’s hard to stop.
Invite brainstorming a different way to respond
Having shared impact, ask Kendall if there are avenues other than Help Desk where she can obtain support. In asking Kendall to brainstorm, you help her move from attacking others to problem solving. This is what you want Kendall to do the next time she is frustrated.
Request agreement that behavior will not occur moving forward and identify next steps
After discussing what happened and the impact, it’s equally important to get an agreement of behavior in the future from Kendall. Ask her to commit to respectfully verbalizing future concerns (without attacking).  Ask Kendall what (or if a) follow-up action needs to occur. This could be phrased as a question asking Kendall if she believes she needs to do something in order to bring peace back to the department. Ask Kendall what does she believes her co-workers need to hear from her.
If you expect an apology for follow-up action from Kendall, clearly communicate this along with any consequences that will result from her behavior and whether documentation will occur.  Avoid surprising someone in the future during a performance review.
Relational response training needed by all
While first aid kits are available for minor physical injuries and 911 calls can be made for medical emergencies, relational first-aid office kits do not exist. All employees, managers and HR staff need first responder training in effectively addressing harmful workplace zingers, jabs and verbal bombs.
About the Author

Lorie Reichel-Howe is founder of Conversations in the Workplace. She leverages over 20 years of expertise in communication and relationship management and equips managers and teams to have “safe conversations” – transformative dialogue that uncovers hidden workplace issues to foster greater innovation, inclusion and collaboration within the organization.

September 02, 2017

Girls for Change

By: Noelle Santamaria

August 10 was an inspiring finale for the Junior League of Palo AltoMid Peninsula’s (JLPAMP’s) two-year partnership with Technovation. League members gathered at Google’s campus to cheer on 12 finalist teams from around the globe at the 2017 Technovation Challenge World Pitch Awards.  The theme of the event, “Girls for a Change”, focused on diversity and inclusion, and empowering girls to be innovators and leaders - initiatives that strongly resonate with JLPAMP’s mission and community focus.  Google CEO Sundai Pichai jumpstarted the event by addressing the teams of girls.  "To the girls who dream of being an engineer or an entrepreneur, and who dream of creating amazing things - I want you to know that there's a place for you in this industry. There’s a place for you at Google. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.” It was a relevant tone and message to begin the evening where we would hear about the amazing accomplishments of these girls.     

Every year, the Technovation program invites girls from around the world, between the ages of 10 to 18, to learn and apply skills to solve real-world problems in their communities by creating mobile app solutions.  In a science fair format preceding the evening’s awards ceremony, guests chatted with the teams and learned about mobile app solutions that enabled individuals to fulfill the wishes (needs) of underprivileged children in India, helped people to visually recognize different types of waste and how to recycle according to the laws in Canada, provided basic information and resources to help new refugees in the U.S., and gave a platform to report cases and support victims of Female Genital Mutilation in Kenya.   All 12 of the finalist teams were awarded seed money to continue growing and developing their business plans and mobile apps.  The Senior Division grand prize was awarded to a team from Kazakhstan who created a safety-tracking app for women called QamCare and the Junior Division grand prize was awarded to a team from Hong Kong who developed a Dementia-Care Companion app for patients and families.

As the evening drew to a close, League members voiced sentiments about the positive impact of the JLPAMP/Technovation partnership in our Silicon Valley communities. The two-year partnership with Technovation not only resulted in the increased engagement of local girls in the mobile app challenge, but also developed new partnerships with youth organizations and female mentors in the tech and business community.  To learn more, the JLPAMP’s 2017 Annual Report highlights the impact of our Technovation partnership as well as our other strategic partnerships and projects committed to empowering girls to be STEAM leaders of tomorrow.

For more information, visit



Technovation is a San Francisco nonprofit which offers girls around the world the opportunity to learn the skills they need to emerge as tech entrepreneurs and leaders. Every year, they invite girls to identify a problem in their community, and then challenge them to solve it. Girls work in teams to build both a mobile app and a business plan to launch that app, supported by mentors and guided by Technovation’s curriculum.


The JLPA•MP served as a Technovation Regional Ambassador from 2015 to 2017. Regional Ambassadors are volunteer program managers who help bring Technovation to a new region and build a solid community in their area by organizing events and managing the program locally.

The JLPAMP collaborated with two chapters of the Boys and Girls Club and the San Carlos Smart-E afterschool program. Over the course of three months, League volunteers had the opportunity to work with teams of enthusiastic girls who saw real problems in their communities that they wanted to address with their apps. Ideas included helping pet owners find the healthiest food and local-pet friendly parks for their pets, helping people find local quality groceries at low-cost, and helping students manage depressive symptoms. The program allowed the girls to bond and participate with their friends while learning about themselves, discover their strengths and increase their confidence with technology skills. Somewhat of a surprise to those who had never thought about participating in a technology challenge was how much they loved working with code and design concepts.


The JLPA•MP / Technovation partnership resulted in positive impact by engaging and motivating local girls to pursue STEAM programs and education. This community project was sunset at the conclusion of the 2016-2017 League year.