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!