State senator honors Los Altos resident as 'environmental hero'

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
State Sen. Jerry Hill, left, congratulates Los Altos resident Gary Hedden on his Environmental Leadership Champion award. Hedden has organized and participated in numerous local events that promote conservation and sustainability.

State Sen. Jerry Hill, whose 13th District includes Los Altos, honored Gary Hedden Thursday as an “environmental hero” during a coffee klatch Hill hosted at Main Street Cafe & Books in downtown Los Altos.

Hill presented Hedden with the Environmental Leadership Champion award for the Los Altos resident’s range of activities, from his work with GreenTown Los Altos to his creation of spring and fall cycling tours of the city’s historical sites.


City invites creative minds to rack their brains for bike rack competition

Courtesy of City of Los Altos
The city of Los Altos invites creative minds to brush up on their homework and submit designs for bike racks set to be installed throughout the city.

The city of Los Altos and the Public Arts Commission encourage local residents to submit ideas for an artistic bike rack competition. The deadline for submissions, through computerized or hand-drawn image, is Nov. 23.

According to commission officials, the project “seeks to add a new element of distinctive public art to city streets and provide an opportunity for the community to think creatively and imaginatively about public streetscapes.”


WomenSV educates, empowers women in abusive relationships

Liz Nyberg/Town Crier
Tony Harris, left, interviews Ruth Patrick earlier this year for the TV special “Behind Closed Doors,” which profiled Patrick’s WomenSV program. The special aired on the Investigation Discovery channel.

• Mission: Women-of-Means Escape Network Silicon Valley (WomenSV) at the Domestic Violence Intervention Collaborative addresses a gap in services for women and children in middle- to upper-income areas by providing education, training and support to escape abusive relationships and rebuild their lives.

• 2015 update: WomenSV worked with 100 clients through its helpline, weekly support groups, individual meetings and by accompanying women on appointments. The program also provided professional training for 300 emergency support providers. To spread awareness, founder Ruth Patrick conducted educational seminars and interviews for media outlets, including on Investigation Discovery’s “Behind Closed Doors.” Patrick recently acquired office space in downtown Los Altos to meet with clients in privacy.


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.


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