Last updateTue, 21 Feb 2017 4pm

Food & Wine

'Galentine's Day' celebrates romance of truly great pals

'Galentine's Day' celebrates romance of truly great pals

Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Champagne Moutard Rosé de Cuvaison Brut screams “Valentine’s Day,” with pink bubbles fit for an evening with chocolate and loved ones.

I didn’t plan to have the incredible female friendships I have. As ...



Your Health

Mountain View teen won't let diabetes sink her fun

Mountain View teen won't let diabetes sink her fun

Courtesy of the Sorenson Family
Cipriana Sorenson, right, with brother Kai and parents Holt and Beth, maintains an active lifestyle despite her Type 1 diabetes diagnosis.

Studies show that approximately 1.25 million Americans are living with Typ...



Your Home

Outdoor kitchens provide an extension of the home

Outdoor kitchens provide an extension of the home

Courtesy of Lisa Parramore
This outdoor kitchen and gathering space, left, offers a cozy spot to enjoy the smells wafting from the pizza oven.

Part of what makes living in the Bay Area such a delight is its mild, temperate climate. More and m...



On The Road

Tips to keep dogs from getting carsick

Tips to keep dogs from getting carsick

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Having a dog face forward in a car can help with car sickness.

With winter travel in high gear, many people plan to hit the road with their pooches. However, for some four-legged family members, road trips can mean up...



Senior Lifestyles

Mountain View nonagenarian enjoys the luck of the genes

Mountain View nonagenarian enjoys the luck of the genes

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Lloyd Lettis, 96, of Mountain View plays tennis three days a week at Los Altos High School.

Ninety-six-year-old Mountain View resident Lloyd Lettis seems to have a gene for longevity. And one for farming. And another for t...



Wedding To Remember

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night

Courtesy of Dick Bright
Dick Bright, a veteran Bay Area musician, manages local bands such as the Dick Bright Orchestra, Club 90 and Encore. His bands ramp up the energy at weddings.

A wedding soundtrack draws nearly everyone to the dance floor....



Your Kids

Back to School

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?

Courtesy of Hollis Bischoff
This chart compares the rate of Early Decision acceptances with the overall acceptance rate at various colleges.

As students apply to an ever-increasing list of schools, colleges are challenged to predict accuratel...



Service-based Learning: Local schools, organizations empower youth to effect change

Schools: Children helping children

In the Los Altos School District, students learn leadership skills and becoming globally aware through programs that raise money for needy children.

Last fall, the district gathered the student councils for a Student Leadership Summit. Free the Children, a network of children helping children through education, hosted the event, which encouraged students to sponsor programs and fundraisers that help the less fortunate.

Throughout the year, several student councils and clubs raise funds for charities of their choice, including Free the Children.

At Oak School, students and teachers created FLOW (Future Leaders of Our World). Members raised money and suggested ideas for organizations to support.

“I think (service-based learning) really enriches our school and gives kids leadership skills,” said Oak Principal Amy Romem. “They get to be a part of something from beginning to end.”

Funds children raised a few years ago helped build a school in Sierra Leone, Romem said. Last year, students purchased supplies for the African school.

Students also think locally, said Romem, who told of a student approaching her about supporting Humane Society Silicon Valley. She said teachers attempt to balance the students’ local and global perspectives.

At Covington School, students who learned the plight of children in Sierra Leone organized a Change for Change drive and several bake sales, raising more than $3,000.

“I think it is so important when we are blessed with so much that we just understand where we are,” said Erin Zaich, a Covington sixth-grade teacher who incorporates lessons on global awareness and social activism. “We are wanting to build up children who have empathy for others. It is empowering for them to understand that they can make a change, even if it is small.”

Non-profit groups: Giving back

Local non-profit organizations, including the Los Altos Kiwanis Club-sponsored K-Kids program at Loyola School and the local chapter of the National Charity League, have made it their mission to teach children the value of community service.

The K-Kids Club – which boasts up to 20 second- through sixth-graders – is concerned more with shaping young minds than collecting money for charity, according to Howard Bischoff, Kiwanis adviser to the K-Kids Club.

“We’re trying to teach the kids to give back in a way that’s not necessarily writing checks,” Bischoff said. “We’re trying to teach these kids that not only is (community service) fun, but that it’s easy and rewarding. And that it makes you feel good inside.”

Founded eight years ago, K-Kids does little fundraising, instead encouraging children to give through service.

To date, members of K-Kids have crafted handmade greeting cards for patients at El Camino Hospital, collected toiletries to donate to the Community Service Agency, picked up trash at Loyola and cleaned the school’s library. Its largest project, an annual eyeglasses drive, has netted more than 1,200 pair of glasses for Direct Relief International.

The K-Kids Club meets twice a month to choose community service activities and participate in projects. Members run the meetings – not the adult advisers – to encourage leadership, interest and initiative.

Bischoff said the club is an important part of the community, not just for the children.

“I wish there were more charities like this around town,” he said. “We’re very fortunate in this area, and not everybody has what we have. I think everybody needs to give back something in some way to help make our world a little better.”

Like K-Kids, the Orchard Valley Chapter of the National Charity League works to engage youth in community service.

The club comprises 200 members – all mother and daughter duos – primarily from Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View.

The charity work focuses on philanthropy, leadership development and cultural experiences in the community.

“It teaches them about community service, because it makes them appreciate everything they have and appreciate the community they live in,” said immediate past president Laura Rogers.

The mothers and daughters work with 12 philanthropies, including Acterra, Habitat for Humanity, Ronald McDonald House, Reading Partners and the Los Altos Community Foundation. Their work serves a variety of needs, such as teaching children to read, building houses, making placemats, serving meals and collecting toiletries.

“It’s very hands-on,” Rogers said. “They can really see what they’re doing.”

The program’s benefits extend beyond the community – it also provides an opportunity for mothers and daughters to bond. Open to girls beginning in seventh grade, the six-year program takes place during a critical age.

“Mothers are always looking for something to do with their daughters that is meaningful,” Rogers said.

Among the National Charity League’s core values are honoring the mother/daughter bond by learning, growing and modeling responsibility and graciousness together; empowering women with the skills and confidence to lead others; nurturing others through mentorship; and inspiring a legacy of social awareness and compassion.

“People don’t always see what the benefit (of community service) is, because they don’t always get a grade,” Rogers said. “It’s about growing as a person.”


Local author: One man’s mission

To encourage youth to give back to the community, Los Altos author Adrian Mikolajczak – pen name Wali Waza P.E. – wrote the children’s book “From Rabble to Riches” (WaliWaza LLC, 2010).

“I really wanted to teach kids how important it is to be persistent in their explorations and to really think about giving,” he said.

Inspired by his son, Mikolajczak’s book chronicles the life of Wali, an engineer who sets out to transform his community and the world.

“I hope it will inspire (my son’s) interest in learning, his creativity and most importantly, an interest in true, thoughtful giving,” he said. “I also wanted to pass on lessons from my own life, including the importance of persistence and constant exploration.”

“From Rabble to Riches” is written for children 4-8, Mikolajczak said, but the book’s website (waliwaza.com) welcomes readers of all ages. While the graphics and language may be geared toward young children, the story’s themes are not.

“Channeling your energy in ways that you can help the world” is an important theme in the book, according to the author’s website. “It’s about how an entire community advances together: It’s a ‘They’ not ‘I’ – story.”

The book is Mikolajczak’s first literary endeavor, but it’s not his first experience with charity. He is a member of Rotary International and serves on the board of the Mikolajczak Foundation. In the spirit of giving, he has donated copies of his book to Rotary and other organizations. But money is the last thing on his mind.

“I hope a lot of kids get a lot of value out of it,” he said.

Staff Writer Traci Newell contributed to this report.

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