Santa Clara Valley Lives: New book of valley history features African-American contributions

Photo courtesy of Palo Alto Historical Association
Sam McDonald worked at Stanford University for half a century and raised thousands of dollars for Stanford’s Home for Convalescent Children. 

Sam McDonald was born in Louisiana, the grandchild of slaves, and was 6 years old when his family moved to California in 1890. He left home at age 16 and as a young man worked for several years on a Sacramento River steamboat.

Peninsula Food Runners employs LA residents in quest to feed hungry

Peninsula Food Runners
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Liz Adriaenssens of Peninsula Food Runners delivers food to Los Altos United Methodist Church Friday.

Peninsula Food Runners, an organization that delivers surplus food to nonprofit groups that feed the hungry, has planted roots in Los Altos and hopes to aid Santa Clara County in efforts to reduce waste.

“People want food. People want substance,” said Maria Yap, PFR’s founder and executive director. “Why waste it? Why not give it to people in need? We’re willing to pick it up.”

New book chronicles Rotary Club's efforts to combat HIV/AIDS stigma

Author Marlene E. Cowan, past president of the Rotary Club of Los Altos, recently released her book “Stories Behind ‘The Los Altos Story’: Rotary Volunteers Confront HIV/AIDS.”

The Peabody Award-winning documentary “The Los Altos Story” chronicles the story of Dude Angius, whose son died of AIDS in 1989.

Los Altos brothers help Camp Fire victims

Courtesy of the Suppiah family
Alex and Nico Suppiah of Los Altos, pictured at left and right, have collected nearly 500 toys and books that they donated to fire victims in Paradise in December.

Collecting toys for children in need over the holidays has become a tradition for brothers Alex and Nico Suppiah of Los Altos. The teens gathered 100 toys in 2016 and 280 the next year.

In 2018, the Suppiahs outdid themselves, collecting nearly 500 toys and books they donated to victims of the Camp Fire in Paradise in December.

Los Altos poet entertains local SIR members


The leadership of Sons In Retirement Branch 35 played it for laughs when selecting their first speaker of 2019. One of their own, Bob Simon, offered a program of light verse at their monthly luncheon meeting Jan. 16.

Simon, known to fellow members for his penchant for poetry, has been in SIR for 20 years, is an active community volunteer – chiefly for the Los Altos Library – and writes the “Rhyme on My Hands” column for the Town Crier.

Santa Clara Valley Lives: Let preservation ring: California bells mark El Camino Real history

Robin Chapman/Special to the Town Crier
This Mission Bell Marker, nestled beneath a redwood, can be spotted when driving south on El Camino Real at El Monte Avenue in Mountain View.

Longtime Santa Clara Valley resident John Kolstad is a man on a mission. He has spent the past 19 years working to preserve the familiar Mission Bell Markers that have graced California’s historical El Camino Real for the last century.

The original ones were designed by Mrs. A.S.C. Forbes in the early 20th century, to mark the 700-mile route traveled by the first Spanish-speaking immigrants to California. The poles recall the shape of the shepherd’s crooks used by some of the wayfarers, with each pole topped by an 85-pound cast-iron bell – evocative of the California missions.

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