Hidden Villa Summer Camps find common humanity on the farm

Hidden Villa Summer Camps draw children of all backgrounds from around the Bay Area for scholarship-supported farm and wilderness experiences on the 1,600-acre preserve in Los Altos Hills.Photos Courtesy of hidden villa

• Mission: To inspire a just and sustainable future through programs, land and legacy.

• 2015 update: Young people from kindergarten through high school continue to gather on the 1,600-acre preserve to experience transformational summer camp experiences. This year, the more than 1,300 participants will converge for day, overnight and backpacking camps. In 2015, Hidden Villa expanded its school-year “youth development” programming, welcoming students from Bay Area schools who’ve had little or no previous exposure to the wilderness and introducing them to resources including the upcoming summer camps. Newly extended “focus programs” during the summer camps offer in-depth exploration of topics such as cow, sheep, chicken or goat rearing and wilderness skills. A new food initiative aims to bring attention to food choices and nutrition for all age groups and to transition to “organic when possible” foods.


CSA feeds hungry and helps local residents eat more nutritiously

Traci Newell/Town Crier
A local resident shops at Community Services Agency’s Food & Nutrition Center for healthful food, above. A CSA volunteer stocks the organization’s new commercial freezer, left. CSA partners with Hidden Villa to educate families on healthful eating through the organic farm’s harvest of fresh produce, below.

• Mission: To serve as the community’s safety net, providing critical support services that preserve and promote stability, self-reliance and dignity.

• 2015 update: CSA piloted a program last year, in a partnership with El Camino Hospital and neighboring service agencies, aimed at diagnosing and treating residents at risk for or with diabetes. The program serves 180 people, providing them with bags of nutritious food and tips on how to manage their diabetes and maintain a healthy lifestyle.


Sunday Friends enables low-income families to learn as they do

Sunday Friends has locations at Santee, Lowell and Anne Darling elementary schools in San Jose. The organization launched a Parent Child Learning Center this year to encourage parents and children to read together.

• Mission: To empower families in need to break the cycle of poverty. Children and parents earn basic necessities while they contribute to their community, learn life skills and develop self-sufficiency.

• 2015 update: An extensive study by the Santa Clara University School of Education validated the success of Sunday Friends. “Sunday Friends’ community-building and financial-literacy-oriented, working alternative to charity approach based on education is successful at fostering the developmental assets and achieving its goals to empower families,” said Carol Ann Gittens, the school’s interim dean.


Local residents prepare to deliver illuminated Christmas trees

Nick and Melissa French deliver a Christmas tree during their inaugural tree delivery campaign last year. Melissa said they plan to deliver “at least double” the 130 trees they set up in 2014.Town Crier File Photo

The Frenches are at it again.

For the second consecutive year, Los Altos residents Melissa and Nicholas French plan to deliver and set up illuminated Christmas trees in the front yards of residents who request them.


National event prompts Los Altos libraries to celebrate their 'Friends'

Children at the Los Altos Library recently made art projects to thank the Friends of the Library of Los Altos and Community for its contributions to the main library and Woodland Branch.


Prepare to get spooked Friday in downtown LA

They say that Halloween is the second most popular celebration of the year for the young and young-at-heart, trailing only Christmas. So prepare, Los Altos residents, for the onslaught of fairies and frogs, pirates and pumpkins, witches and wizards as children in costume take to the streets of downtown for the Los Altos Village Association’s annual Halloween Spooktacular event, scheduled noon to 4 p.m. Friday. The event will feature trick-or-treating at participating stores and, from 2-4 p.m. at State and Second streets, a variety of activities, including face painting, balloon art, Halloween-themed crafts and games, children’s entertainers and, of course, large amounts of candy. For more information, visit


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