Thu05052016

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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The most precious gifts can't be wrapped: Haugh About That?

The energy level over the Christmas season escalated to such a frenetic pitch in the Madden family home that neighbors wondered whether my mom had laced our oatmeal with something. Surveying the laundry list of toys my 10-year-old heart desired, intense hyperactivity overtook my normal calm as I waited for the big day, not knowing that one gift would arrive early and change my life forever.

Dec. 1, 1962, I went to sleep a happy, well-adjusted fourth-grader. I had friends. I blended well with the other green-and-blue-plaid clones at St. Charles Catholic Grammar School. I was my own heroine in a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale and life was good. But an evil witch decided to sprinkle nerd dust over my blond head and I woke to find my status as socially acceptable wickedly transformed into that of a leper. Apparently, freckles, ponytails and pink-diamond-encrusted, winged-tipped glasses had become uncool overnight.

Bullying has been around since the beginning of time. Stronger students feeling the need to illustrate their alpha behavior carefully handpick their pack and collectively gather to attack the weak. During the 1960s, this type of aggression was looked upon as a rite of passage and something kids just had to endure, thus giving true meaning to survival of the fittest.

Seeking ways to hide from the jeers, teasing and physical trauma, I discovered that the best way to make it through the day was to become invisible. Performing the art of duck and cover, I’d conceal my body under my desk in hopes of staying in at recess. Dawdling at the end of the day, I made sure that I was the last excused. And hiding in bushes became my new safe haven as thoughts of running away overtook my imagination – the place where fantasy once flourished.

One day, after peeking around the corner to make sure the coast was clear, I ventured onto the playground. From out of nowhere, a tall, lanky girl ran toward me. Certain that she was about to pour more acid over the newly ripped-apart sores of the day, I ran.

“Jackie, wait,” she cried.

Quickly catching up, I slowed down and closed my eyes, prepared to take another verbal beating. Grabbing my hands, she placed herself in front and in a breathy tone asked, “Would you like to come over to my house today and play?”

Frozen in my tracks, Nan Coughlan’s brown, doe eyes melted the ice sculpture that had become my current home, and loneliness magically dissipated from the lining of my wounded soul. Astonished, I instantly understood that her kindness took great courage. By allowing me into her inner circle and befriending me, she had opened herself up to be the next target for criticism and ridicule.

I’ve often thought of that day and the impact her simple gesture made on the rest of my life. Nan’s kindness brought back lost hope and a feeling of belonging. It also taught me to stand tall and never allow myself to be victimized again.

While I’d like to say that I continued her legacy of compassion, I know, more often than not, that I’ve come up painfully short. The self-imposed ego has a way of blinding you to your surroundings, but it’s time for a change.

The holidays can be joyous, but they can also cause heartache. Not everyone is fortunate to have all they need. Perhaps there’s someone who could use a new friend, and all I’d have to do is open my eyes and reach for their hands. Maybe by simply being aware, I, too, could make a difference in someone’s life.

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