Fri10242014

News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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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

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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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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