Fri05062016

News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

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 Road home April 27 and...

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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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Hidden Villa's summer experience plants seeds that last a lifetime



Youth who attend summer camps at Hidden Villa benefit from both the social interaction and communing with nature. Town Crier file photo

Youth circle around a countertop island in a small kitchen learning to bake a cake as others converse under a grove of trees on an outdoor patio. Minutes later, with baskets and shovels in hand, the teens fan out across the farmyard to clean bedding from the pigpens and gather eggs in the henhouse.

There are no televisions, mobile phones or fast food anywhere in sight, but these campers don’t seem to notice. The magic of Hidden Villa – the 1,600-acre nonprofit organic farm and preserve in Los Altos Hills – sets in, giving modern adolescents a memorable experience with lasting impact.

“Overall, it just has the best vibe around it possible,” said 17-year-old Hidden Villa camper and counselor-in-training Steffan Salas. “It’s really a nonjudgmental place where you can be yourself. … It’s pretty hard to find a place like that.”

Salas, a high school senior from Menlo Park who has spent 11 summers at Hidden Villa Summer Camp, noted that camp counselors and other campers serve as an important support network as he navigates the pathway to adulthood. Last summer he returned to Hidden Villa for his first “official paying job” as a residential camp intern.

“It’s kind of cool to move on from a part of childhood and start acting and fulfilling an adult role here and in life in general,” he said.

Whether at day camps for first- through fourth-grade children, or wilderness camps in the Santa Cruz Mountains for eighth- through 10th-graders, molding young people into responsible citizens is an important component of the Hidden Villa experience, which has roots in promoting social justice since it hosted the nation’s first multiracial camp in 1945.

According to Hidden Villa Camp Director Nikki Bryant, staff members are trained to be educators who can facilitate conversations that encourage curiosity and critical thinking. Evening gatherings at the campfire allow campers to reflect on issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, family and the environment.

“We show them how the actions they perform are contributing to the well-being of the community they’re in,” Bryant said. “We reach for growth and connection in a way that the world often fails to do for people.”

Contributions from the Town Crier Holiday Fund and other donors enable youth of all socioeconomic backgrounds to participate in the Hidden Villa camp experience.

Nearly 50 percent of the 1,200 students who attend camp each summer are supported by a scholarship. Bryant said a stockpile of camp necessities like sleeping bags and swimsuits donated by local residents are also available, a measure that ensures a positive experience for every camper.

“We want (youth) to be somewhere where they can wander around without having to worry about the complications they’re used to in their communities,” she said. “Camp provides you with an opportunity to talk with one another, resolve conflict and be confident in what you do – something our society just doesn’t have a lot of systems for.”

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