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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Updated 11:28 a.m.:

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill R...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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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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