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News

LA council votes to delay community center update

LA council votes to delay community center update


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council voted to delay adoption of a community center conceptual design plan last week. The plan includes elements from a design charette held earlier this fall, left.

The Los Altos City Council last...

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Schools

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
During a Science is Learning geology lesson, Theuerkauf Elementary School students learn about igneous rocks by observing how sugar changes form when heated.

Hundreds of local elementary students perform experiments w...

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Community

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
PYT’s “Oklahoma!” features, from left, David Peters of Mountain View, Jenna Levere of Los Altos and Kai Wessel of Mountain View.

Time is running out to catch Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Oklahoma!”...

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Sports

Eagles advance

Eagles advance


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Carmen Annevelink, left, and Kristen Liu put up a block against Mountain View. Annevelink totaled 20 kills.

Mountain View High’s out-of-the-gate energy could last for only so long against rival and he...

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Comment

Coping with addictions: Haugh About That?

Preparing to deal with my lifelong addiction, I stood in front of the mirror ready to confess the shame I’d been hiding. The first step to healing, I reminded myself, is to admit something is wrong.

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Special Sections

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One


Bruce Barton/Town Crier
Hangar One, pictured here last January, will be restored under an agreement between Google and NASA.

NASA and Google Inc. forged an agreement last week that allows Google to lease a portion of NASA’s historic Moffett Fede...

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Business

State Street science center closing Nov. 30

State Street science center closing Nov. 30


Ellie Van Houtte/
Helix at 316 State St. is closing after the completion of a one-year grant from Passerelle Investment Co. The science center became a popular destination because of its various exhibits. Town Crier

A popular downtown destination...

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Books

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree


Author Tiffany Papageorge is scheduled to sign copies of new her book 11 a.m. Dec. 6 at Linden Tree Books, 265 State St., Los Altos.

Papageorge’s “My Yellow Balloon” (Minoan Moon, 2014) is a Mom’s Choice “Gold” winner. In the book, the Los Gat...

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People

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

January 11, 1939 – November 6, 2014
Resident of Mountain View

James Windell Smith, a 40 year resident of Los Altos, passed away from complications after a post-surgery stroke November 6th, 2014 in Los Gatos, California.

Born on January 11, 1939 on...

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Travel

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine


Eren Göknar/ Special to the Town Crier
While many day-trippers may think that Sonoma is all about the grapes, the region boasts other delights. Try a biplane ride over the patchwork landscape.

Sonoma, a scenic two-hour drive from Los Altos, boa...

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Stepping Out

LA Stage Company opens 'Fairway'

The Los Altos Stage Company production of Ken Ludwig’s new comedy “The Fox on the Fairway” is slated to run Thursday through Dec. 14 at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

A tribute to the English farces of the 1930s and 1940s, “Fox” is a romp that p...

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Spiritual Life

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am


The Beth Am Women have scheduled “A Conversation with Author Maggie Anton” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills.

Anton, winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, will discu...

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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Why I don’t give money to beggars: Other Voices

I don’t give money to beggars holding cardboard signs on the medians of our roadways. I don’t drop coins in the paper cups of disabled veterans outside the ballpark. I don’t give cash to transients looking for a tank of gas coming to my office at church.

It is difficult to say this out loud. I can’t escape Jesus’ words: “Give to everyone who begs from you”(Matt. 5:42, Luke 6:30). His call to compassion for the beggar is unequivocal. And my response is full of qualifications.

I want to follow his teachings. I want to follow his example. But as with his insistence that “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off” (Matt. 5:30 and 18:8), I don’t take his begging admonition literally.

Handing a few dollars to the one holding the cardboard sign by the side of the road or dropping a few coins in a cup is designed to make us, the donors, feel good – benevolent, superior. Those invested in begging count on that. Such charity does little to move a suffering individual to wholeness.

When a transient comes to the church looking for money for food, I personally take them out to lunch or to the grocery store and pay the bill. When they come looking for money for a tank of gas, I drive with them to the gas station and pay for a full tank.

I don’t lecture or proselytize in such encounters. I try to listen to their stories and affirm their humanity. If they are local, I refer them to organizations that can assist them to work toward self-sufficiency, if that is their goal. If they are just passing through, I bless their journey.

Dropping a dollar in a cup doesn’t involve a conversation or an encounter with a human being. It’s designed to be convenient and detached for the donor.

Is that what Jesus had in mind?

He sets his admonition about begging in the verses about “turning the other cheek,” “going the second mile,” “lending to any in need of borrowing” and “praying for our enemies.” Vulnerability, openness and connection between human beings were his call.

My bias is to serve the Community Services Agency, the local food bank/direct assistance nonprofit agency and “safety net” for our community’s poor and frail elderly.

I have been on CSA’s board of directors for years and have worked with similar agencies throughout my 36 years in ordained ministry.

Our local Alpha Omega Homeless Services program assists the transition to decent housing and economic self-sufficiency for an average of 350 people each year.

When we distribute food and/or emergency PG&E or rent monies to those facing hunger and potential homelessness, we do so with trained social workers developing a plan toward self-sufficiency for our clients. We work with them in an ongoing relationship. Dignity in such a process is one of our highest priorities as an agency.

What dignity is there for the person begging on the side of the road when we drop in a few coins and just pass by?

Jesus didn’t intend for alms-giving to be an exercise in convenient piety for the donor, but a spiritual practice in which we participate in God’s promise that someday all will have enough, all will be treated with dignity and all will have a safe place to call home (Luke 4:18-19).

I won’t give money to beggars. I will contribute to the team/community effort it takes to restore a life.

The Rev. Mark S. Bollwinkel is senior pastor of Los Altos United Methodist Church, 655 Magdalena Ave. For more information, visit www.laumc.org.

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