Thursday, December 20, 2012

How to make a difference for Newtown families

There are no words or deeds to bring the loved ones back from last week's tragedy. We might find solace and give some to others by making a difference in small or large ways by sending letters and cards to families, or by making a cash donation to the United Way in their honor. Here are two simple ways to help:

  • Send Cards and Letters to:  
Messages of Condolence for Newtown
PO Box 3700, Newtown, CT 06470
  • Make a cash donation to:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Service by a Simple Gesture

Have you ever had a day, a week, month, or year that could only described with a word such as: Intensity? That may end up being my life's theme, but last week was particularly definitive. So much that I was physically dragging by mid-week. I felt like a zombie shuffling through Costco on Wednesday night. I ran into a former neighbor, then proceeding to check off the grocery list, I bumped into the parent of one of my community service scholar students at Paly. 

Much later, and my cart full, the mom came back into the store to find me and I thought, "Uh, oh, she needs something from me and I have no energy to help." My personal supply had been depleted by my family's emotional needs. Yi walked alongside my shopping cart, and I just came out and asked her, "So, what's up?" She replied, "Oh, I just need to talk to you. I'll wait for you outside." At this point, I started the deep breathing exercises and looked for alternate exits from Costco--none to be found. She had no idea what I was dealing with at the time, and that I would not be able to help her. I might have even lost composure one way or another if she had so much as asked. 

As I proceeded to the parking lot from the receipt-check I could see Yi waving to me, and in her arms was a fresh winter-time bouquet of flowers! She smiled and told me, "You do so much, I just want to thank you!" I gasped and hugged her, twice. "You have no idea what kind of week I've had, so this is really perfect timing, thank you." This kind gesture, combined with another one--a sweet poinsettia and a plate of brownies left by my friend Julie from church, were enough to get me through a week of extreme Intensity. As the adrenaline stops pumping from my own trials, I'll be inspired by the goodness of Yi and Julie to show my own appreciation toward others in my midst.  


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Five Videos Celebrating Palo Alto High School Students' Volunteer Work

Many heartfelt thanks to Paly parent Carolina Moraes-Liu at and to Paly student filmmaker Sophia Pino for their work with me over the past year to make these five incredible videos celebrating the good work of students at Palo Alto High School. Click and Enjoy!

Palo Alto Online : VIDEO: VolunTEENS, Part 1

Palo Alto Online : VIDEO: VolunTEENS, Part 2

Palo Alto Online : VIDEO: VolunTEENS, Part 3

Palo Alto Online : VIDEO: VolunTEENS, Part 4

Monday, December 3, 2012

Nearly 200 Palo Alto High School Students Qualify for National Service Award

A Few of Paly's Fall 2012 President's Award Recipients
Congratulations to 194 students, 189 from Palo Alto High School and five from Gunn High School for their dedication to improving the community. This semester we have the biggest group of award recipients ever! On Friday, December 7th our school will honor these passionate students at a special lunchtime ceremony to bestow the President's Award for Volunteer Service, a nationally recognized award with commendation from President Barack Obama. Students who have documented 100 or more hours of community service will receive a certificate, pin, and letter signed by the President of the United States. They will also be listed on the national database of recipients. Palo Alto High School students can also receive transcript recognition for their service hours when they turn in proper documentation by the beginning of their Senior year. See our information pages, with database and student reflections on service at Check out the program and list of recipients for the President's Award at Palo Alto High School this semester. A huge thank you to the many, many parent and student volunteers who keep our service-learning and community engagement program growing!