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News

Downtown green park pops up again in August

Downtown green park pops up again in August


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Third Street Green debuts Aug. 3 on the 300 block of State Street in downtown Los Altos.

Another temporary park is poised to pop up in downtown Los Altos this summer.

According to Brooke Ray Smith, community developme...

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Schools

MVLA rolls out laptop integration this fall

MVLA rolls out laptop integration this fall


Town Crier File Photo
Starting in the fall, daily use of laptops in the classroom will be standard operating procedure for students at Los Altos and Mountain View high schools as the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District launches a pil...

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Community

Generations blend behind the scenes at 'Wizard of Oz'

Generations blend behind the scenes at 'Wizard of Oz'


Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.” ELIZA RIDGEWAY/ TOWN CRIER

A massive troupe of young people and grownups gathered in Los Altos this summer to stage the latest iteration of a childhood sta...

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Sports

Football in July

Football in July


Town Crier file photo
Mountain View High’s Anthony Avery is among the nine local players slated to play in tonight’s Silicon Valley Youth Classic.

Tonight’s 40th annual Silicon Valley Youth Classic – also known as the Charlie...

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Comment

Pools should be included: Editorial

Los Altos residents should be receiving calls this week from city representatives conducting a survey to determine priorities for a revamped Hillview Community Center.

Notice that we did not say “civic center” – chastened by a lack of public support...

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Special Sections

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas


ft, reviews blood sugar readings on a smartphone with Los Altos resident Tia Geri, right, and fellow participant Noa Simon during a closed-loop artificial pancreas study for Type 1 diabetics.

Tia Geri can’t wait to bring her new golden retriev...

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Business

Palo Alto law firm coming to 400 Main

Palo Alto law firm coming to 400 Main


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Longtime Palo Alto law firm Thoits, Love, Hershberger & McClean plans to open an office at 400 Main St. in Los Altos after construction is complete in November.

A longtime Palo Alto law firm plans to expand into L...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

RICHARD PATRICK BRENNAN

RICHARD PATRICK BRENNAN

Resident of Palo Alto

Richard Patrick Brennan, journalist, editor, author, adventurer, died at his Palo Alto home on July 4, 2014 at age 92. He led a full life, professionally and personally. He was born and raised in San Francisco, joined the Arm...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

PYT stages 'Shrek'

PYT stages 'Shrek'


Lyn Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Dana Cullinane plays Fiona in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Shrek The Musical.”

Peninsula Youth Theatre presents “Shrek The Musical” Saturday through Aug. 3 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts...

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Spiritual Life

Foothills Congregational: 100 years and counting

Foothills Congregational: 100 years and counting


Courtesy of Carolyn Barnes
The newly built Los Altos church in 1914 featured a bell tower and an arched front window. Both continue as elements of the building as it stands today.

Foothills Congregational Church – the oldest church building ...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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A story of suffering, love and faith: the life of Gil Ahrens

A little more than a decade ago, Gil Ahrens and his wife, Kim, had their lives upended by an automobile accident. The accident left Kim paralyzed and Gil badly injured. Although the accident was tragic, it gave them something that they treasure today – a deeper relationship with God and new perspective on why God allows suffering.

Gil describes the accident and events surrounding it in his book, “Shattered, Shaken and Stirred: Reconnecting with What Matters Most after Loss and Adversity” (Positano Press, 2009).

I had opportunities both to read his book and to sit down with Ahrens to discuss the accident and his Christian faith.

Ahrens grew up in Suffield, Conn., as did his father. His mother emigrated from Germany.

“Both parents were involved in the church and I was raised in the church,” Ahrens said.

He came to the Bay Area in 1990 and worked as a strategic planner with Sanyo before getting into finance and investment. His career has taken him to the investment heavyweights Piper Jaffray & Co. and JP Morgan Chase & Co. among others. Today, he works as a private banker with Citigroup Inc.

The accident

Ahrens, his wife, Kim, their 3-week old baby, Olivia, and Ahrens’ sister traveled to Colorado in October 2002 for the wedding of Ahrens’ cousin John. As they drove from the wedding reception, a car driven by a drunken teenage driver traveling at 95 miles per hour crossed the median strip and hit their car Ahrens was driving 60 miles per hour in the opposite direction.

“I could see this thing unfold,” Ahrens said. “Things seemed to slow down. The impact, I realized, was inevitable. I prayed, ‘Oh God, Oh God, save us.’ What is amazing is I palpably felt God’s presence. It’s chilling, even as I recount it. God said, ‘This is going to be bad, but don’t worry because I’ll be with you.’ And I didn’t just hear Him, I felt Him.

Miraculously, his baby and his sister were fine. Ahrens was injured but conscious and would fully recover. Kim, however, was severely injured. She shattered her leg and broke her neck. Within a few days, it was discovered that she had no movement from her shoulders down and the long rehabilitation process began.

Faith, friends and family

Over the next several months, many other issues had to be addressed – getting back to the Bay Area, getting the right medical care, dealing with insurance companies, coping with the financial challenges and having to move from their dream, multilevel San Francisco home, which Kim could not navigate. Friends and family rallied around the Ahrens and gave them love, prayers and support.

“The only way I kept from getting completely unwound and unglued was by throwing myself at God’s feet,” Ahrens wrote in his book.

With intense physical therapy, prayer and courage, Kim gradually regained feeling and movement well beyond what her doctors expected. Kim eventually regained enough movement to be able to drive a specially equipped vehicle and even ski with equipment adapted for her use.

“(Kim’s) growing freedom from within the confines of quadriplegia was directly correlated to her determination to work hard and to work with God,” Ahrens wrote. “More than anyone I knew, (Kim) did not just invite God into her life, she yielded her life to Him.  She let Him take over.”

God and suffering

Ahrens observes that everyone eventually experiences something bad, but what is most important is what we do when bad things happen to us. For Ahrens and his wife, the tremendous disruption in their lives and their suffering drew them closer to God.

In the conclusion, he writes: “The key to everything – to surviving, coping with loss, adapting to changed realities and managing to get by – is primarily an attitude defined by three words, Faith, Hope and Love. And that is how we find and reconnect with joy.”

Skip Vaccarello is a longtime Los Altos resident. For more information, visit findinggodinsiliconvalley.com. Interviews from this site will be used as part of an upcoming book.

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