Local residents' pop-up boutique helps Kenyan students with education

Courtesy of Caren McNelly McCormack
Organizers of a pop-up marketplace boutique that sold handcrafted pieces from Kenya, including the tote bags pictured above, earmarked their proceeds for education and health care in Kenya.

A fundraiser to help the people of Kenya that began 10 years ago in a Los Altos family’s living room continues to grow, thanks to sales from a successful pop-up marketplace boutique.

Caren McNelly McCormack, founder of the nonprofit Kilgoris Project, has joined forces with her neighbor, Dr. Debra Matityahu, founder of the nonprofit Beyond Fistula, on the boutique. The pop-up, which concluded operations Sunday, sold handcrafted pieces from Kenya that included jewelery, handwoven baskets and tote bags. The profits were earmarked for education and health care in Kenya.

LAUMC offers reflective Advent service

Los Altos United Methodist Church has scheduled “The Longest Night: A Service of Solace” 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17 in the sanctuary, 655 Magdalena Ave.

The Advent service, designed for those not feeling the holiday spirit, will offer a space of peace, reflection and comfort in a busy and sometimes difficult season. According to organizers, those who are grieving or feeling overwhelmed, tired, anxious or stressed may find the service helpful, but all are invited to experience an hour of candlelit prayer, meditation, music and a brief message.

Local residents’ pop-up boutique to help Kenyans runs through Sunday

A fundraiser to help the people of Kenya that began 10 years ago in a Los Altos family’s living room has evolved into a pop-up boutique that runs through Sunday at the Town & Country Village Shopping Center in Palo Alto.

Caren McNelly McCormick, the founder of the nonprofit Kilgoris Project, has joined forces with her neighbor, Dr. Debra Matityahu, the founder of nonprofit Beyond Fistula, on the Marketplace boutique. The pop-up sells handcrafted pieces from Kenya – including jewelry, handwoven baskets and tote bags – with the profits earmarked for education and health care in Kenya.

“It’s a wonderful chance to show the impact of what donors have done. If I could take everyone on a plane to show the work I would,” McNelly McCormack said. “This is a good way to bring the work back to our local community.”

With assistance from husband Jon McCormack, she launched the Kilgoris Project in 2009. Teaming with local leaders and familes in Kilgoris, Kenya, the project helps operate 10 schools for primary and preschool students in rural Kenya.

Matityahu’s Beyond Fistula is a family effort to help Kenyan women heal and rebuild their lives after suffering the severe childbirth injury known as obstetric fistula. Encouraged by her daughter and co-founder Arielle, Matityahu has utilized her expertise as an OB-GYN physician to help provide post-fistula services to mothers in Kenya. Many of these women are disowned by their families for losing the child during birth, according to the doctor, and her nonprofit helps them get back on their feet.

Matityahu told the story of Mercy, a Kenyan woman who gave birth in a mud hut. After days of pushing, she was torn up inside and delivered a still baby. Her husband kicked her out of the house, leaving her homeless. After learning of her plight, Beyond Fistual admitted Mercy into care and vocational training to learn how to sew.

She now sends her two children to private schools, and Matityahu said that Mercy is most proud of being able to walk her children to the school bus knowing she can provide for them.

Matityahu and McNelly McCormick set the fundraising goal for this year’s Marketplace at $70,000 and said they are on track to reach that. Profits made from the storefront and in-store donations go directly to the programs. Those earmarked for Kilgoris Project will support teachers and meal programs, according to McNelly McCormick.

“My biggest thing is the impact that one person can have on changing the lives of other people,” Matityahu added. “Each of us has the ability to help at least one person, honestly for the price of a few cups of coffee.”

Marketplace hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Town & Country Village Shopping Center is located at 855 El Camino Real in Palo Alto. For more information or donate, visit kilgoris.org/donate and beyondfistula.org/donate/.

Holiday pop-up comes to downtown Mountain View

The artisan holiday market, ArtPop, returns for a second year, in a new location on Mountain View’s Castro Street.

            Several artisans from last year’s market are participating again, and new vendors are rotated in over the course of ArtPop’s three-weekend duration.

            ArtPop features a selection of locally crafted handmade items for gift giving, including fashion accessories, jewelry, home decor items, artisanal honey products, holiday items and more.

            A Saturday (Dec. 8) fundraiser for the Los Altos and Mountain View elementary and high school districts will feature holiday treats and visits from both Santa and local children’s book author Marilee Joy Mayfield.

            ArtPop was conceived in 2017 as a way to provide an affordable indoor retail space to local artists, artisans and makers during the holiday shopping season. By bringing together creative people of various backgrounds, ages and media, its mission is to foster a sense of community both among the artisans themselves and between the artisans and the surrounding neighborhood through charitable initiatives – while helping to eliminate the visual blight of a vacant and unused storefront.

            Located at 275 Castro St., ArtPop is scheduled to run Thursdays through Sundays through Dec. 16. Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

         For more information, visit facebook.com/ArtPopOnCastro.

Bayshore Christian Ministries: Equipping youth with spiritual, academic and leadership skills

Courtesy of Bayshore Christian Ministries
Bayshore Christian Ministries’ Create Studios middle schoolers take part in a SumoBot competition.

• Mission: Bayshore Christian Ministries equips East-of-Bayshore youth to grow spiritually, gain life skills and develop as leaders so that they have hope and a future.

• 2018 update: Through its relational and holistic programs, BCM served more than 300 children and youth in 2018. It was a year of both growth and contraction. The nonprofit organization expanded its Vacation Bible School to a third site, grew its Create Studios program by adding more tutoring days and saw the number of youth engaged in spiritual programs more than double in the past four years. But in preparation for the coming season, BCM retired its EPA Fellows Program and O’Keefe tutoring outreach.

House of Grace: Supporting women as they overcome hardship

Courtesy of House of Grace
House of Grace helps women get back on their feet without being separated from their children.

• Mission: House of Grace supports addicted, abused and homeless women as they rebuild their lives, without being separated from their young children. The long-term, life transformation program addresses chemical dependency, abusive relationships and other self-destructive behaviors. Living in Cityteam-owned apartments, women are mentored and taught how to rejoin the mainstream and become productive citizens supporting themselves as well as their families. The nonprofit organization also has a nursery onsite so that young children (newborn to 5 years old) have a safe and caring environment.

The women who come to House of Grace often have stories of homelessness, addiction, jail, lost jobs and broken families. When they graduate, their stories are redeemed with reunited families, steady employment, a pursuit of higher education, a desire to help others and faith in God’s grace.

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