Archive for the ‘Volunteer’ Category

‘Books For Treats’ in Willow Glen

"Give Brain Candy. Feed Kids' Minds, Not Their Cavities."

"Give Brain Candy. Feed Kids' Minds, Not Their Cavities."

With the sight of fallen brownish yellow leaves on the lawn, the next step will be the sound of the doorbell and shouts of Trick-or-Treat.

Rebecca Morgan is one Willow Glen resident who believes Halloween is the perfect opportunity to encourage reading. So much so that she began the Willow Glen based program “Books For Treats“.

Rebecca can’t pull this off all by herself. She needs our help:

* Wed., Oct. 28 — pick up 2 pallets of books from our storage area near Spartan Stadium and deliver them to the Diabetes Society, 3rd floor, Garden Theater. You’ll need a truck and a few people who can lift boxes of books onto hand trucks. There’s an elevator in the Garden Theater. (Great project for the Boy Scouts!)

* Thurs., Oct. 29 10-noon — Sort books into reading levels. (Wear comfortable clothes.) Diabetes Society, 3rd floor, Garden Theater. This is always fun as you get to see great children’s books and get to know other volunteers.

* Fri., Oct. 30, 9:00-noon, 1:30-4:30 — Lincoln Ave. Garden Theater portico. Set up and staff Books For Treats tables during Lincoln Ave. trick-or-treating. We’ll be giving books from 10:00-12:00 for pre-school children, and 2:00-4:00 for grades K-6, until books are gone. We need to set up tables, banners, and books from 9:00-10, then at the end of the day we need to clean up and pack up. We have been told Council member Pierluigi Oliverio will help us pass out books. This is always a wonderful experience, seeing the kids’ (and their parents’) faces light up when they get a book!


* If you have sources of gently read children’s books, especially from baby through second grade, please contact them and see if they will donate. Email Rebecca directly for a drop-off point near Minnesota and Newport.

* You can buy gently read children’s books at the Oct. 24 Friends of the Willow Glen Library book sale.

* Make a monetary contribution to support her web hosting, bookmark printing, etc.

See Books For Treats for all the details.

Note: Check back here (SJMB) on the 29th of October for exciting news!

Do you know the way to the East San José Carnegie Branch Library?

The original East San José Carnegie Branch Library opened in 1908, as part of the city of East San Jose. When this town was annexed by the City of San José, the branch became one of the San José library system’s branches. It was renovated in 1981 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. It is the only remaining publicly-operating Carnegie library in Santa Clara County.

The latest renovation of this branch, a major undertaking, began on February 14, 2008. Because of its historic status and Carnegie designation, the old building needed to remain, so the architects designed a project that added onto the original building and increased the square footage from 7,281 square feet to 12,000 square feet, dramatically increasing the overall public space. There is now a tech center, teen center, expanded children’s room, community room, and family learning center.

The grand reopening of the newly-expanded branch is happening this Saturday, August 29. The opening ceremonies, followed by ribbon cutting, will start at 11:00 a.m. Afterward, everyone will be able to enjoy cake in the community room and various activities throughout the library.

Want to get involved with this new-old branch? Keep an eye on this page for future volunteer opportunities, or consider joining the Friends of the East San José Carnegie Branch Library.

Help Clean up Local Watersheds on National Rivers Day!

Creek Connections Action GroupSaturday, May 16, 2009 – 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Creek Connections Action Group
and the City of San Jose are teaming up with Save the Bay to clean up the levee for the Guadalupe River, and the banks of the Coyote Creek, as well as a number of other watersheds in and around San Jose next saturday, May 16 as part of the National Rivers day trash clean-up.

Anyone who wants to help (over 10 yrs old please) can chip in and help clean up our creeks. You can download a PDF file with a map of the creeks and find one near you, or go to the website to see a list of creeks being cleaned up.

You don’t need to bring a thing with you. Gloves and tools will be provided on site with instructions. Just make sure you visit the website to download a waiver form and get signed up!

Humane Society Silicon Valley Open House Event

humanesocietyThe Humane Society Silicon Valley will open the doors to its new Animal Community Center in Milpitas this Saturday with a special open house event.

The 48,000 square foot facility offers cage-less animal care, the animal habitats for dogs, cats, and rabbits simulate home environments with home-like enclosures for dogs; condos, complete with climbing trees for cats; and a “rabbitat” designed to reflect the warrens rabbits naturally inhabit.

The new Animal Community Center includes an Adoption Galleria; a Medical Center offering affordable spaying/neutering, vaccinations, microchipping and testing services; Veterinary Hospital; Doggie Daycare, Grooming and Boarding; Community Dog Park and Training Center; along with an Education Center featuring programs for children, teens and families; also, a pet store and a pet-friendly café.

The center is an environmentally friendly “Green” facility that allows the Humane Society Silicon Valley to spend less on operational costs and more on the animals.

The $25 million Animal Community Center, funded through public donations, has raised approximately $20.6 million and contributions at all levels are still needed.

The Open House Event this Saturday, March 28, is from 10:00 am through 6:00 pm and features a number of activities and a chance to check out the new facility.

For the kids there will be animal balloon making, coloring, scavenger hunt, face painting and other arts and crafts.

There will be booths with information about the environmentally friendly “green” animal center along with various other information including volunteering, services available, and a campaign booth with how you can make a gift to help the center.

You can make a video statement with your pledge to help animals in your community that will be viewable on their website and You Tube.

Humane Society Silicon Valley Animal Community Center
901 Ames Avenue, Milpitas, 95035

Open House Event
Saturday, March 28
10:00 am – 6:00 pm


"Lend a Hand" against graffiti

The week of January 12-17 is the third of four weeks in San Jose’s volunteer campaign against graffiti, called “Lend a Hand”. Volunteers are encouraged to get together that week and go out into the community to eliminate graffiti.

The city will supply materials such as paint-removing solvent, safety goggles, gloves, sponges and rags for volunteers to use. These materials come in an anti-graffiti “kit” that is available any time from the city Anti-Graffiti Program.

When I stopped by today to pick up my anti-graffiti kit, city staffer Paul J. Gonzalez, also an artist who’s painted numerous murals around downtown, offered tips on removing various kinds of graffiti. For example, to remove slap-tags, or stickers, he recommends just using water and vigorous scrubbing, rather than solvent. When numerous graffiti clean-ups have already disturbed the paint on a surface, he recommended just repainting, and he offered us a gallon of “city beige” paint that matches the color used for many city buildings.

The anti-graffiti program is located at 501 Vine Street, near the corner of Almaden Boulevard and Woz Way. Drop in during the Lend a Hand week, January 12-17, to pick up your anti-graffiti kit, or schedule an appointment to pick up your kit any time by calling the anti-graffiti program at 277-3208.

I suggest getting your kit early, to be prepared for the volunteer event ahead of time, then go out during Lend a Hand week to help wipe out graffiti in your neighborhood.

The True Meaning of the Season

I know many of you are probably getting into the holiday season. San Jose (and I’m sure other cities) have had holiday decorations up around town for a couple of weeks now. In downtown San Jose, you can already go ice skating, and the tree lighting ceremony will be Nov. 28 at Christmas in the Park. (More info on that here). And I’m sure holiday festivities are starting around the South Bay each day.

But I have to admit, I’m becoming somewhat of a humbug. It started two years ago, actually. All the stress of buying gifts for people seemed futile. The people I was buying for didn’t need anything. I didn’t want anything from them, except maybe some time to spend together over dinner or drinks. So last year I decided – no gifts. Instead, I would be giving my precious (and few) hard-earned dollars to those who needed it. Did my friends and family miss the presents? Not one bit. Especially when I told my mom, who works for the Girl Scouts, that I was donating money to her organization. And I told my pet-loving friend I’d be donating to the local SPCA. They didn’t mind one bit.

Call me Charlie Brown, but the holidays have become so focused on presents, that I’m afraid people are forgetting about those who will be the coldest, the hungriest this season.

Now more than ever we need to keep those less fortunate in mind. We’re facing an economic “recession” (a euphemism, I’m convinced), and the local foodbanks will be seeing more hungry, hopeful faces this holiday season than they’ve seen in a few decades.

As a board member of a local nonprofit, I can tell you firsthand that charities are hurting. They’ve been hurting for the last couple of winters, but this year is bad. People are scared, and are grabbing that wallet tight – for good reason. But we can’t forget that our neighbors need our help. Even if it’s $20, or 10 cans of food.

To raise awareness that charities need your help, the Silicon Valley Open Arms Coalition was created by local funders and nonprofits. The website gives several ways for people to contribute this holiday season, depending on which organization they’d like to support. Some of the nonprofits involved are First 5, Second Harvest Food Bank, Sobrato Family Foundation, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, and The Health Trust.


The season of giving is upon us!

The season of giving is upon us, and as a board member of a local charity, I have to spread the news!

Local nonprofit Second Harvest Food Bank has kicked off its annual food and fund drive. Spokesperson Lynn Crocker says they hope to surpass last year’s cash intake of $6.7 million. Between now and the middle of January, the organization hopes to raise $8 million in cash and 1.7 million pounds of food.

Crocker says the economic downturn, layoffs, and high food prices have resulted in an unprecedented number of people seeking food assistance, many for the very first time. For more information about the food drive and giveaway, please visit their website.

Second Harvest is one of the largest food banks in the county, but it’s not the only place people rely on for food during their holidays, so let’s spread the love! Here are a few other charities looking for some support this season, so they can keep on giving.

And of course, my post wouldn’t be complete without a plug for my own charity – TurningWheels for Kids! Our San Jose-based charity raises money throughout the year to buy new bikes for local underprivileged children in Santa Clara County. Each December, our bikes are assembled by hundreds of volunteers and distributed to the kids in the community who need them most. Last year we assembled and distributed more than 2,000 bikes, and we hope to do the same this year. Bikes are important to kids for many reasons – the main two being health and responsibility. We love promoting healthy lifestyles among our youth, and we need your help! Just as other charities in the county, we’re experiencing higher costs and need more donations than normal. For more information about our charity, please visit the TurningWheels for Kids website . Our organization was built on $10 donations, and we still love them!

More than 2,000 bikes were assembled and distributed to childrens charities just before the December holidays. TurningWheels is a local nonprofit organization that is run 100 percent by volunteers.

More than 2,000 bikes were assembled and distributed to children's charities just before the December holidays. TurningWheels is a local nonprofit organization that is run 100 percent by volunteers.

San Jose Cats Situation

Here’s an update!

The video has more info than just the text so make sure you watch it. What a lose-lose situation. I can’t believe the city of San Jose has to choose between owls and cats.

My kingdom for a….

So I’ve long been obsessed with horses.

As a kid, we’re talking pony rides at events, trail riding on family vacations, the Saddle Club, and My Little Pony. Forget Barbie Dolls and Cabbage Patch Kids, give me a horse plushie any day. As an adult, I am embarrassed to admit that I chose Wells Fargo as my bank because they have horses in their ads (and a very cute horse plushie). Basically, I am as horse crazy as an urban/suburban gal can get.

Now that I’m older (and more importantly, have my own source of discretionary income to spend) I try as often as I can to go riding short of buying my own horse (not THAT much discretionary income just yet).

So to celebrate this wonderful obsession of mine, I thought I’d do a round-up of bay area horseback riding locales:

Garrod Farms Stables: [Saratoga] This is a nice big stable. Very fine and right next to a vineyard. They offer trail riding up the mountains where you can see spectacular views–even a bit of San Francisco on a clear day. They offer western and english style for $30-$35 per group lesson. Each lesson is an hour, and they’ll have the horses all saddled up for you so you get to ride the full hour. Very casual atmosphere though I thought the instructor did more talking than instructing sometimes. Still, this was the very first time I got to play groups games while on horseback and went out for drinks with classmates for the holidays. I actually felt like I could bond with my classmates and teacher. And dude, they even offer vaulting lessons!!!! (think gymnastics on a horse’s back!!)

Sea Horse Ranch: [Half Moon Bay] I only do their early bird special. $45 for a two hour ride on trail and beach. I’m not talking about nose to butt trail rides either as they often have groups of 30-40 people riding at the same time. Once you’re on the beach, you’ll get to canter/lope as you please. One of my favorite places to ride on the weekend, and I have a favorite horse (Grumpy!!!). Lots of new riders and tourists with a few more experienced folks sprinkled in. I wrote a way long post on Yelp here.

Hampton Place Stables: [San Jose] Very tiny and hard to find but a wonderful place for rescue horses to go. They take in horses that have been mentally and physically abused and rehabilitate them. I don’t have too much else to say about them because I only managed to volunteer once before we moved out of San Jose. I spent the afternoon grooming horses there. I noticed lessons going on so if you live in San Jose, check these guys out. I doubt their lesson fee is too expensive, and your money will go to a great cause.

3K9 Ranch: [Sunol] I’m currently taking western lessons here, and I wholeheartedly recommend this place to anyone who wants to learn to become a better rider. This is a small establishment and is privately owned by a family who lives on site. This means for the price of a group lesson elsewhere, you get a private lesson on horses that the owners ride competitively at local competitions. No lifeless school horses here. Lessons are $40 for an hour and a half, and if you have time, you can stay longer too!! I got to drive an atv dummy cow, learn how to rope, and herd cattle too. The only downside for some people is that he is not always available every week for lessons. For me, this just means I get to go ride at Sea Horse Ranch so it works for me.

Did I miss anything? Here’s a great website that’ll give you a list of all the possible places you could ever hope to ride at in the bay area.

Photo Credit: From Garrod Farms Website


Town Cats recently took in 30+ cats from a home in Morgan Hill. Thanks to many new fosters and volunteers, all the cats are doing well, and Town Cats have been kept busy trying to find new homes for all of them.

Unfortunately, a rescuer’s work is never done. A local ranch in San Jose that has been the home for 80+ cats will be demolished soon. The city won’t allow ferals to be neutered and returned (for more information on the TNR process, check this article out) AND beginning Oct 3rd, any cats seen on that property will be trapped and killed.

Visit the Town Cat’s website and help them out! They’ll update their website soon but at the moment, they need fosters, volunteers, and folks to write letters to the city council. Most of these cats have been there for years as local residents just dump them there. (Don’t even get me started on that…)

What’s great about Town Cats is that they are a no-kill shelter and rescue group. Please support them!

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