Los Altos Town Crier – MVLA Community Scholars awards 16 scholarships

MVLA Community Scholars awards 16 scholarships
Written by Carolyn Pierce-Whang 
Courtesy of Carolyn Pierce-Whang

Photo Courtesy Of Los Altos Community Foundation and Hank Drew

The MVLA Community Scholars volunteer group awarded scholarships to 16 students this year.

For many in the local community, a family’s income barely covers the necessities of food and rent. Teens from such families could easily give up on college before a single application is mailed, sometimes years before that.

Mountain View Los Altos Community Scholars and other local groups are working to change this scenario. They offer support to students for whom the college selection process is more a matter of finances than grades.

MVLA Community Scholars is a volunteer group committed to the ideal of significant social change through higher education. The group provides college scholarships and one-on-one mentoring and works with chronically underserved youth at Mountain View, Los Altos and Alta Vista high schools. It awards annual scholarships to those applicants who best demonstrate academic preparedness and performance, financial need, ingenuity and initiative, and an ability to persevere and overcome adversity.

“Getting an education is potentially going to change everything for these students. The mentors plus scholarships will give them their best opportunity (to get a college degree),” said Janet Tornow, member of the MVLA Community Scholars board.

“The students, they don’t have parents or family who have been to college,” said Dee Gibson, board president. “Their parents are not able to give them the advice and guidance we might have gotten. They are now having an opportunity not only to go to college, but to have the benefit of a mentor in the same area of interest … to guide them through their college years.”

This year, MVLA Community Scholars selected 16 students out of 52 applicants to receive awards. The scholarship recipients’ academic performance is higher than in previous years, with an average GPA of 3.5, and 81 percent are the first in their families to attend college. Annual family income of the recipients is $24,000, lower than in previous years.

The recipients were also involved in leadership roles: Aaron Lim is a varsity water polo captain; Tiffany Wouten is a varsity softball/basketball captain; Katherine Pantangco is a school newspaper editor-in-chief; Gen Thenuwara is a yearbook editor; Carlos Marquez is a varsity football captain; Bryan Medina is a marching band section leader; Heidi Hernandez Montes is president of the Almond Tutoring Club; Rashmeen Kaur is president of Poetry Slam Club; Ben Macedo is a Main Street Singer; Casandra Magana Garcia is president of the Latino Movement Club; and Catherine Witcher is president of the Black Student Union.

Some, like Pantangco, who won the Princeton University Prize in Race Relations for Northern California, have devoted their time to raising social consciousness on important issues. She has supported acts and projects designed to improve race relations and racial justice. Valeria Dominguez donates her time to counselors in Chat 4 Teens, a crisis intervention group that handles some tough issues. Her volunteerism helped her realize she would like to be a counselor in the future.

All awardees have academic dreams. Season Yang speaks with passion about studying computer science at UC Davis. Marquez, who, since he was 7 years old has devoted more time caring for his autistic brother than playing with friends, is now looking forward to attending Cal Poly Pomona and working toward a degree in computer science. Nova Rivera has her sights set on Santa Clara University to study political science. Melissa Gomez has a passion for psychology, which she plans to study at Chapman University.

Recipient Gabriela Maas worked hard during high school balancing a nearly full-time job and maintaining good grades. Maas will study to become a nurse or a doctor.

Thenuwara admits he initially didn’t like studying English. He credits his mentor, Tommy Mouton, with encouraging him to develop a talent in creative writing, a gift that nearly went unrecognized. English is Thenuwara’s second language.

According to Mouton, a teacher and creative writer himself, “Gen has an authentic voice, and what he does with the English language is remarkable. His poems have depth.”

The scholarship recipients were honored May 4 at the Neutra House in Los Altos with a reception attended by parents, mentors and MVLA Community Scholar volunteers.

Gibson said the most rewarding part of her role in MVLA Community Scholars is the opportunity to change a life.

MVLA Community Scholars is a program of the Los Altos Community Foundation, which monitors its activities. Private donors and grants fund the program.

For more information or to become involved, email Gibson at mvla_scholars@losaltoscf.org.

Carolyn Pierce-Whang is an MVLA Community Scholars volunteer.

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Los Altos Town Crier – MVLA Community Scholars awards 16 scholarships.

2012 Gardner Award Winners

Left to Right: Dennis Young, LACF Board Chairman; Ron Cooper, Challenge Team of Mountain View – Los Altos – Los Altos Hills; Fran Verlot, Rotary Club of Los Altos; Ginny Dolan, Community Health Awareness Council; Kay Payne, Los Altos Art Docents; Angela Richards, Festival of Lights Parade Association; Bob Galen, Kiwanis Club of Los Altos; Kathy Thibodeaux, Community School of Music and Arts; Danielle Maddox, Friends of the Library; and Liz Nyberg, Los Altos History Museum. Not able to attend was Duncan MacVicar of Community Services Agency.

Our community made the 9th Annual Johyn W. Gardner Community Building Awards a rousing success by selling out the event.

Attendees were treated to a buffet breakfast at the Fremont Hills Country Club and witty banter by LACF Board Chairman, Dennis Young.

Applications for the 2012/13 E3 Board Due Monday, April 30, 2012

Applications for the 2012/13 Board are now due Monday, April 30, 2012 by 5 p.m. Interviews will be held the week of May 7

E3Board_Appl_2012_13 (1)

Instructions are included with the above-linked application.

The Los Altos Community Foundation’s E3 Youth Philanthropy program seeks to educate, engage, and empower local youth to affect positive change in their local and world communities. The program is administered by a board of youth community members ranging from 8th grade to juniors in high school. They have the option of using their funds to make grants or initiate programs.

Neutra House Move

While uploading some old pictures for the Gardener Awards, we came across these nice pictures of the Neutra House Move.







[slickr-flickr tag=”Neutra”  type=”slideshow”]


An Introduction to W.O.M.E.N.,SV

Domestic Violence: It happens even in our neighborhood

Most people think that domestic violence doesn’t happen in areas like ours. Or if it does, then women should have the means to handle it on their own.

But domestic violence cuts across all socioeconomic levels, professions, cultures, ages, neighborhoods. And when there are substantial assets involved, the abusive partner often has control over them, even if the wife has her own career.

Men can be victims of domestic violence too. And they suffer the added humiliation of having their identity as a man rocked to its foundation. But most victims of domestic violence are female. With 1 in 4 women becoming a victim of abuse during her lifetime, chances are very high that you either know someone or are someone whose life has been impacted by domestic violence.

In the past year, in the more affluent areas of Santa Clara County, there have been 13 domestic-violence-related deaths—about one a month.

In Los Gatos, the most frequently reported crime is domestic violence.

Even here in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, 11 per cent of phone calls coming into the Los Altos Police Station are domestic violence related–and those are only the women who call.

That call can start a whole chain of events in motion that carries its own set of risks. Her abuser could be a prominent member of the community with a large circle of friends, supporters, colleagues. Up against this kind of power, money, and influence, she has a lot to lose by speaking up or by trying to break free: her home, her safety, custody of her children, her fair share of the assets, her neighborhood, friends, children’s school district, her social standing, her current lifestyle, her dream of a privileged and comfortable life.

In a neighborhood like ours, the most common form of domestic violence is emotional abuse. More subtle than physical violence, the effects can be just as devastating, and the scars a woman suffers from it can last a lifetime. Adding a highly contentious divorce to this kind of trauma means she will need the support of more than one person – or even one lawyer – to leave safely and fairly, and in order to prepare for the legal, financial, and emotional battle ahead of her. She will need a team of support around her. Her abuser will certainly have a team around him.

That is why over thirty experts in the field of domestic violence have offered their support of LACF’s newest program, Women-of-Means Escape Network, Silicon Valley (W.O.M.E.N., SV), a resource center that addresses the needs of women in middle-to-upper income areas who are experiencing domestic violence.

These experts include:
Chair of Santa Clara County’s Domestic Violence Council and Assistant District Attorney (newly retired) of San Jose, Rolanda Pierre-Dixon, Esq.
Domestic Violence Expert Witness Richard Ferry, M.S., LMFT
Palo Alto University Professor and Past President of Santa Clara County Psychological Association, Paul Marcille, Ph.D.
Stanford OB-GYN Harise Stein, M.D.
Police Officer and former detective Susan Anderson of Los Altos
Executive Director of Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence, Kathleen Krenek
Director of YWCA’s Domestic Violence Support Network Program, Adriana Caldera, M.P.A.
Los Altos therapist Martha Cravens, Ph.D.
Los Altos educational consultant, Miriam Bodin, MA

Their guidance has helped shape the vision and mission of W.O.M.E.N., SV:
To support and empower all women in their struggle to free themselves from domestic violence
To address the unique challenges of women with affluent partners by building a network of resources.

Resources and support include:
A safe, confidential phone line and email address for women to reach out for help
A website with an online directory of services–legal, financial, counseling, personal safety and relocation, educational, vocational, educational–and reference materials on domestic violence in all its forms.
Support and guidance at every stage of the process, from identifying red flags and signs of abuse, through assembling a team and moving through divorce, and on to recovery and starting a new life

Domestic violence is no longer a “private matter”, as San Francisco’s Sheriff Mirkarimi tried to claim. It is a public health issue, a human rights issue. For it is every woman’s right to the peaceful and quiet enjoyment of her home, her body, her private life. And this same right also applies to her children.

Sometimes it takes a village not just to raise a child, but to get a divorce, especially if it’s from a partner with power, money, and influence. By building collaborative relationships with skilled and dedicated professionals, W.O.M.E.N., SV serves women and children in our area whose lives have been impacted by domestic violence. W.O.M.E.N., SV is committed to helping women of means find the means to break free from abuse and go on to build healthier lives for themselves, their children, and ultimately our community.

Do you have questions, comments, suggestions? Send them to domestic violence consultant Ruth Patrick, MA, Program Director of W.O.M.E.N., SV at womensv@losaltoscf.org , or call 650-996-2200.

Ruth is also available for speaking engagements at local service organizations, schools, corporations, health care centers, etc.

The more we know, the more we can do to end domestic violence.

9th Annual Gardner Awards Breakfast April 19

The 9th Annual John  W. Gardner Community Building Awards

Thursday, April 19, 2012



We must delight in each other, make others’ conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our community as members of the same body.

John W. Gardner



7:30 am – Seating for breakfast

8:00 am to 9:00 am

Fremont Hills Country Club, Los Altos Hills

Honoring volunteers by Challenge Team, CHAC, CSA, CSMA, Friends of the LIbrary, Los Altos History Museum, Los Altos Kiwanis, Los Altos Rotary, Festival of Lights

Reservations are $35.00 per person plus Paypal fees.

[button link=”https://losaltoscf.org/calendar/event-registration/” size=”medium”]Register Online![/button]

For further questions email Gardner@losaltoscf.org

PrimeTime’s Study on the Los Altos Public Library

Los Altos Informs

A study by the PrimeTime Project

Los Altos Community Foundation


Los Altos Informs takes its name from the vital role of our community library in every stage of our individual lives. It begins with story time for toddlers and study time for students, and it continues with college applications and career guidance for young adults.  For mature adults, our library gives us tools for personal growth, along with practical information such as tax and business advice and tips for navigating government resources.  Our library offers an encyclopedic array of some 200 electronic data bases to complement its programs and its books and e-books, CDs and DVDs, magazines and newspapers.  Perhaps most importantly, at every age and stage, it transports us to other times and places for relaxation, entertainment, and inspiration.   All this is available to us 64 hours a week, including dedicated librarians who help us find what we need, and a rich website available 24/7.

Many of us have taken pride in national recognition of our library, and we are pleased to be able to share this community asset without limit, with folks from our neighboring communities and beyond.

This year, however, our library decided to compensate for loss of significant state funding by charging an annual fee to anyone from outside our service area who wanted to use our library.  This action raised questions in the community about who can make such decisions for us.  Because we are part of a county library system, these decisions are made at the county level.  Even though we might want to continue offering our library services to anyone who needed them, we couldn’t do so unless they paid the fee.

Questions were raised in the community as to whether Los Altos and Los Altos Hills could perhaps own and manage our library ourselves, in order to make independent decisions about how our library would function.

This question is not a simple one.  On the one hand, we would be able to make our own decisions about allocation of resources and extending our services to surrounding communities.  On the other hand, if we were not affiliated with the county, we would probably lose free access to its services, its 2.1 M materials, its 200 electronic databases, and some economies of scale.

Again on the one hand, our relationship with the library is subjective, having to do with the personal, the experiential, and even the emotional.  On the other hand, there are practical considerations such as the extent of collections and services we really need, and the perceived value received for the cost of such services.  Transition costs and space available to house a larger collection and additional workers also must be considered.

We at the LACF PrimeTime Project wanted to make a significant contribution to the discussion of this critical issue.  We recognize the importance of all these factors, but the PrimeTime Project is committed to finding and sharing with you the factual aspects of an issue, to assist you in decision-making.  So we decided to conduct the Los Altos Informs study, which will focus sharply on the operating costs of a community-owned and operated library vs. belonging to a county system.

The study will first estimate the operating expenditures paid by the Santa Clara County Library on behalf of the LA/LAH library.  Then it will estimate what it would cost us to operate the Los Altos Library as a community library independent of the county, and compare this to selected other community-owned and operated libraries in California. Next, the study will discuss other potential cost categories and community values that should be considered.  Finally, it will estimate what the community currently pays for our library services, as evidenced by our taxes, fees, fines, and contributions.

The study report is scheduled to be published on this website in March 2012.

MVLA Celebrates with Books

The MVLA Community Scholars held its 2011 Scholars Winter Celebration of Books on Dec 28, 2011.

Both the scholars and their mentors began the evening with a delicious dinner at PastaQ in Mountain View. Following the dinner, everyone strolled over to Books, Inc for some post-Xmas book shopping, socializing and desserts.

The scholars and mentors each received a $10 gift certificate to be used towards any book purchased that evening. And Books Inc. donated 20% of all proceeds to the MVLA Community Scholars.

MVLA Community Scholars improves the economic mobility and quality of life of local, high-potential, underserved youth by providing scholarships to make college accessible and individual mentoring to make a four-year degree achievable.

Who are Scholars?

  • 30% male/70% female
  • 36% two-year schools/64% four-year schools
  • 95% in state/5% out of state
  • 11% private colleges/89% public institutions
  • 92% in college/8%stopped out, but still in program
  • Average GPA 3.1
  • Average Household income: $35,000
  • 97% First generation in family to attend college