A lot has happened in our country over the last two weeks. Many in America are confused, apprehensive, and/or upset. In this uncertain time, I think it is important – both nationally and locally – to double down on two important American values: Inclusion and Freedom of Speech.
Much of our country’s strength is due to our long-time acceptance of other cultures and diversity. This inclusion has enriched the nation in many ways and made us the world’s innovator. We must continue to embrace this value.
Locally, I applaud the Los Altos City Council for developing a Diverse Community resolution that they will vote on this Tuesday (which symbolically is also Valentine’s Day). You can express your support for this resolution to the Council members.
Also positive is Mountain View’s Human Rights resolution passed last May expressing similar values. As an aside, today Mountain View is hosting a forum discussing its values for sustaining a caring, diverse, and engaged community.
Freedom of speech is fundamental to America. A component of this is freedom of the press. It is more important than ever for all of us to look beyond the network news channels and headlines to understand the facts and support the sources working to provide them. Transparency is critical to democracy and effective government.
Here we are fortunate to have the Los Altos Town Crier and the Mountain View Voice to cover our respective communities and to provide outlets for residents to express their views. In addition, our City governments and police are continuously working to improve their communication channels with the community.
But, it’s not only what is communicated but how it is communicated. We’ve all seen a lot of bravado and “tough talk” at the national level. This is one way to effect transactional change. In contrast, approaching others with caring and kindness leads to trust, deeper relationships, and more lasting and productive change.
A final thought: In the Wall Street Journal review of Thomas Freidman’s book “Thank You for Being Late”, it is noted that Mr. Friedman writes “the closest political analogue for the calm eye of a hurricane that I can think of is a healthy community.”
Healthy communities create trust, and “When people trust each other, they can be much more adaptable and open to all forms of pluralism.” Rather than build walls, they face their problems and solve them. In Friedman’s telling, this is the way to make America great.
Together, let’s make our communities even greater.
Executive Director, Los Altos Community Foundation
Victoria had been bouncing from home to home since she aged out of the foster system. Like many in the Bay Area, she was struggling to just make rent. Furniture was a dream. She huddled on the floor to eat dinner after work.
Founded by retired Los Altos resident Ray Piontek in 2015, BAFB brings donated furniture to Victoria and to others in our communities who need assistance: veterans, refugees, low-income families, and victims of domestic abuse.
“Finally, I now have peace of mind with my living situation,” Victoria said.
Victoria is not alone. Over 150,000 families in the Silicon Valley make less than $35,000 a year. They scrape by. There’s simply no money left for furnishings. Many lack the basic dignity of a bed to sleep on or a table to eat.
Piontek said providing unwanted furniture to people in need is the core concept of BAFB.
“I couldn’t stand to see decent furniture going into landfills, when so many folks were lacking,” he said.
Initially Piontek gathered the furniture himself – from family, friends, and even off the street – storing it in his garage and delivering it. But when his networking efforts to secure furniture donations from businesses started paying off, BAFB quickly outgrew his garage.
BAFB’s largest donation to date is from the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, which is now undergoing an eleven-floor renovation. When Piontek heard BAFB would receive 4,400 pieces of furniture from the Fairmont, he scrambled to find storage space. Thanks to Foothill College, BAFB now houses collected furniture in a several portables on campus.
To identify eligible recipients and their furniture needs, BAFB works with existing nonprofits and social service agencies.
Through BAFB, Piontek believes he has found the perfect way to give back to the community, enjoy retirement and feel good at the end of every day.
“Who’s getting more joy from this, the families who receive the furniture or me?” he said. “I’m not sure.”
Thanks to Piontek’s great work and your support of BAFB through LACF, more struggling families, veterans, and former foster children like Victoria have more than just a roof over their heads – they have a furnished home.
E3 awarded a grant to pilot MathUnboxed to students and their families at Mariano Castro Elementary School, Mountain View. Thank you to the E3 Leadership Board for critical seed funding to launch MathUnboxed!
This program distributed folders to First, Second and Third graders. Each folder contains a set of take-home math games for students to play with their families.
E3, also known as E-Cubed, seeks to educate, engage, and empower local youth to effect positive change in their local and global communities through service learning, leadership training, and grant-making activities. E3 is one of three youth-oriented programs sponsored by the Los Altos Community Foundation.
Ellen has worked in finance and operations in the computer industry for over 25 years. She has a degree in accounting and an MBA from Babson College, where she has served as a trustee. Since 1991 Ellen has lived in Los Altos with her husband, where they have raised three daughters.
Ellen has been active in Girl Scouts, LAHS Athletic Boosters and PTSA and National Charity League, where she served on the National Board of Directors as both treasurer and president. Currently Ellen serves on the Foothill-DeAnza College District Measure C Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee, as a mentor at Los Altos High School, and continues to serve as an adviser to National Charity League.
The Town Crier has named Claudia Coleman, a longtime resident who has held leadership positions at the Los Altos Community and El Camino Hospital foundations, 2016 Los Altan of the Year.
Modeled after Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, the Town Crier’s annual honor recognizes a resident whose volunteer work generates goodwill and forwards Los Altos’ reputation as an outstanding community.
Claudia has been involved with LACF since 1996, participating in LACF’s first Leadership Education Advancement Class (LEAD). Since then she has contributed actively as a member of the LACF board and has served as program manager for the LEAD since 2009.
She is currently a member and past-chair of the El Camino Hospital Foundation Board. She previously served on the boards of the American Red Cross and Pilgrim Haven, now known as The Terraces of Los Altos. Claudia was recognized for her volunteerism by Los Altos-Los Altos Hills Joint Community Volunteer Service Awards and the John W. Gardner Award .
Thanks for your dedication to your community, Claudia. From your friends at LACF.
This scholarship application is sponsored by the Mountain View / Los Altos Roundtable. You can use this single application to apply for scholarships from these organizations. Each organizations has different criteria for applicants, as you’ll see in the application.
Participating Organizations: • Rotary Club of Los Altos • Rotary Club of Mountain View • Kiwanis Club of Mountain View • MVLA Scholars (a program of the Los Altos Community Foundation) • Quota International Club of Mountain View/Los Altos • Mountain View Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation
To apply for any of these scholarships you must attend one of the following schools: • MVLA High School District (including MVLA Adult Ed) • Pinewood High School • St. Francis High School • Foothill Community College (if you plan to continue your education at an accredited post-secondary school or college) • Mountain View Academy • German International School
Financial need is considered but not a requirement for the scholarships.