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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Local leader honored for day-worker advocacy


Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Maria Marroquin cradles the “Bay Area Local Hero” award she received last week, which honored her work as executive director at the Day Worker Center of Mountain View.

When Maria Marroquin cleaned her first house as a day worker nearly 15 years ago, she gazed around at the completed job – and felt pride. The local workers picking up informal jobs hour-by-hour in Los Altos face unpredictable days and legal problems (many lack permission to work in the United States). But they also bring talent and experience to their work.

Marroquin worked for a union and then as a legal assistant in Mexico before coming to the U.S. in the late ’90s. She began to work here before securing the documents that now declare her employment eligibility.

She joined a community of day workers organizing in Los Altos to create a safe gathering space off the streets, and discovered a mission that endured long after she transitioned to having a green card and access to mainstream job markets. She became a volunteer and advocate for the center, ultimately taking on the role of executive director.

KQED honored Marroquin this month as a “Bay Area Local Hero” for her work as the diplomatic heart of the Day Worker Center of Mountain View. The center sometimes faced steep resistance to its existence. Bouncing between rental spaces and church halls, it often encountered neighborhood opposition to the idea of a congregating place for day workers.

Forging a collaborative relationship

Times have changed. As relationships grew over the years – among city officials, local residents and motivated volunteers – the tone of talk about the center changed.

Three years ago, volunteers, donors and day laborers themselves inaugurated a new, permanent space for the center on Escuela Avenue in Mountain View. Their relationship with neighbors, and the city of Mountain View, appears to have transformed into one of collaboration.

“We have neighbors who brought green beans, tomatoes from their backyard – because they love us and want to share,” Marroquin said. “It’s a place that attracts anyone who wants to make a community and, by bringing them together, serves as a glue that makes us a richer and better community.”

The center’s foundational task – to match day workers with employers in a safe, supportive environment – comes with a multitude of ancillary possibilities.

Supported by donations and volunteer help, the center introduces its members to computers – to seek work, make resumes, translate information or even just Skype with family long separated by borders.

“When they realize they can learn, they can write – they can see the faces of their loved ones – it’s indescribable,” Marroquin said. “It’s a new world.”

Daily English lessons and skills development training provide constructive options for downtime when there are more workers than employment. Workers typically face almost crushing financial insecurity when they are first finding ways to support themselves and their families. Marroquin remembered moving with her son into a house shared with 17 other people when she first arrived in the Bay Area.

Maintaining hope under stress requires help. Understanding the human difficulties of life as a day laborer, Marroquin said, has an irresistible effect on volunteers and supporters – and worked on her own understanding, as well.

“Despite many emigrating from other places, day laborers have become an integral part of the community, and people see that, even with so little, they give so much,” she said at the awards ceremony last week.

Expanding focus on children

She sees a growing urgency to serve the children within the day-worker community. The center is expanding its after-school program to two days a week, working with student volunteers to offer homework assistance to students hanging out as their parents seek work.

Parents are a key part of Marroquin’s vision for the young people – children often serve as translators and assistants to parents with limited or no literacy. The center’s youth program focuses on the parent/child relationship, working with families to improve communication and find ways to listen and share with each other.

“Many kids from my community don’t have a lot of good role models,” Marroquin said of her goal to expand the educational aspirations to which children at the center can and should be exposed. “It’s like putting good seeds in good soil.”

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