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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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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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