Holiday Spirit

Ravenswood Junior Soccer Club player Joshua Barrera, 13, practices during a drill at Rich May Field in East Palo Alto on Nov. 30, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Posted December 10, 2021

Rich May Field offers youth a place to play, get exercise through sports
Club teams, students benefit from East Palo Alto space that they can call their own

by Jamey Padojino / Palo Alto Weekly

Angel Tafolla has big dreams. The 13-year-old soccer player hopes to one day play for one of the world's most renowned teams: Futbol Club Barcelona.

And thanks to the 2-acre Rich May Field in East Palo Alto, he has ample space in his hometown to hone his skills in the sport that he loves.

"This space means a lot to me because there's kids here in East Palo Alto that go out to Sunnyvale or San Leandro just to play on a team that has a field with lights," said Angel, who's on the Ravenswood Junior Soccer Club's Manchester U14 team.

The club is one of many community groups that work with the Rich May Foundation to rent the Bay Road field, which stands between St. Francis of Assisi Church and Cesar Chavez Ravenswood Middle School. The field operates from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Many users rent space starting in the mid-afternoon and in the evening, with their play aided by lights on six posts that border the space.

The full-sized field is named after Rich May, an East Palo Alto police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 2006. His family and friends banded together to turn the 2-acre plot into a synthetic turf field that opened in 2016 for children to practice and compete on in sports.

On a recent, brisk weekday evening, the field was bustling with activity. Each club team practiced on a dedicated section of the field, where they did drills around cones, ran laps and passed the ball to one another. The sound of kicks was heard from left to right as coaches led their respective teams, offering tips along the way. At one point, cheers erupted from a group of girls when they scored a goal.

The field doesn't just allow children to get physically active, it keeps them away from problems on the streets, said Horacio Barrera, president of the Ravenswood soccer club, which runs 20 teams. About 300 students ages 4 to 18 are on its roster and most live in East Palo Alto.

Angel's teammate, Joshua Barrera, 13, considers the field to be his second home, where he goes at least twice a week for practice. Soccer is a tie that binds the family: His older brothers are part of Santos U18, the club's highest-level team; his parents watch his games; and his uncle, Horacio Barrera, co-founded the club.

"I've gotten to really get to know this place and spend a lot of time here," Joshua said.

When the field was shut down during the early months of the pandemic, both Angel and Joshua faced soccer withdrawal since they were stuck at home and unable to practice.

"It was very stressful because I gained weight during COVID," said Angel, who called soccer his "getaway" from school.

Joshua had moments when he was ready to go to practice but then remembered it was canceled because of the pandemic.

"My body was really craving to go play soccer," Joshua said.

The field reopened at the end of August 2020 with safety protocols in place, including checks of players' temperatures, routine disinfecting of sports equipment and having everyone bring their own water bottles, according to Olympian Anne Warner Cribbs, who serves on the Rich May Foundation board.

Using a $5,000 grant awarded earlier this year by the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund , the foundation supported two hourly staff members and purchased supplies to make sure the field was compliant with San Mateo County's COVID-19 protocols. Staff cleaned the restrooms on a more regular basis, and the foundation ensured enough masks and disinfectant were on hand.

The field proved to be a vital space for in-person learning hubs during the 2020-21 school year that were formed by the foundation, East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring (EPATT), Ravenswood City School District and St. Francis of Assisi Church.

"The actual field was a great source of activity, running and a playspace for a lot of our kids," EPATT Executive Director Dave Higaki said.

Split between the middle school campus and two portable classrooms behind the church, the hubs provided a dedicated setting for students to participate in remote, virtual classes. Portable nets were set up on the field so children could play tennis, which proved to be a popular activity.

Without the field, the only other available playspace would've been the parking lot, Higaki said.

The field is also the home turf of the East Palo Alto Razorhawks, a K-12 rugby program established in 2016. Sized and marked for rugby, the site is ideal for the Razorhawks, which plays for a bulk of the year and can store its often-heavy equipment on-site, club President Bryan Murphy said.

Soleil Narajo, 12, recalled the days before the Rich May Field: Practices on the grass at neighboring Costano School of the Arts would end in the dark, which caused the players to sometimes run into each other. The grass field had holes and plenty of bees.

"Last time we played, someone got stung in the foot," said Soleil, who is a member of the Ravenswood club's EPA Stars team.

Soleil's seen herself become more confident over the seven years she's played soccer with the club, making sure she's "giving 110%" of herself.

Jazlyn Gunn, Soleil's friend and fellow teammate, joined the EPA Stars three years ago.

Since returning to the field after the initial pandemic shutdown, she has noticed her skills improve and was proud of her team a few months ago when its first 11 vs. 11 game resulted in a 7-0 win.

"Just seeing my friends again is honestly the best thing ever. I think this field has brought us closer than we used to be."

Apply for a Holiday Fund Grant

Nonprofits serving children and families may apply for funds by downloading our Grant Application Guidelines and Grant Application Form. Application deadline: 11:59 p.m. on Friday, January 13, 2023.

Make a donation
2022 Recipient Agency

49ers Academy$10,000

AbilityPath$10,000

Able Works$10,000

Ada's Cafe$25,000

Adolescent Counseling Services$7,500

Art in Action$10,000

Bay Area Friendship Circle$5,000

Beyond Barriers Athletic Foundation$5,000

Big Brothers Big Sisters
of the Bay Area
$10,000

Blossom Birth & Family$5,000

Canopy$5,000

CASA of San Mateo County$5,000

Children's Health Council$10,000

Christmas Bureau of Palo Alto$5,000

Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto$10,000

Counseling and Support Services for Youth - CASSY$15,000

DreamCatchers$15,000

East Palo Alto Academy Foundation$10,000

East Palo Alto Charter School$5,000

East Palo Alto Kids Foundation$15,000

East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring$15,000

East Palo Alto YMCA$10,000

Eastside College
Preparatory School
$7,500

EPACENTER$10,000

Family Connections$7,500

Fit Kids Foundation$5,000

Foundation for a
College Education
$10,000

Fresh Approach$10,000

Friends for Youth$5,000

Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo$10,000

Heart and Home Collaborative$10,000

Hope Horizon East Palo Alto$7,500

Jasper Ridge Farm$5,000

Kara$15,000

Learning Home Volunteers$10,000

Live In Peace$10,000

Magical Bridge Foundation$10,000

Mannakin Theater & Dance$5,000

Marine Science Institute$5,000

Midpen Media Center$7,500

Music in the Schools Foundation$8,000

My New Red Shoes$5,000

New Voices for Youth$5,000

Pacific Art League of Palo Alto$12,000

Palo Alto Art Center Foundation$10,000

Palo Alto Community Child Care $30,000

Palo Alto Players$10,000

Peer Point$20,000

Peninsula Bridge$10,000

Peninsula College Fund$10,000

Peninsula Healthcare Connection$10,000

Peninsula Volunteers$15,000

Peninsula Youth Theatre$5,000

Pursuit of Excellence Scholarship Foundation$20,000

Ravenswood Classroom Partners$20,000

Ravenswood Education Foundation$10,000

Reading Partners
Silicon Valley
$10,000

ReadySetExcel$5,000

Rebuilding Together Peninsula$7,500

Resource Area for
Teaching (RAFT)
$5,000

Rich May Foundation$5,000

Rise Together Education$10,000

Ronald McDonald House$5,000

Rosalie Rendu Center$5,000

Sager Family Farm$5,000

Silicon Valley
Urban Debate League
$7,500

St. Elizabeth Seton School$10,000

TheatreWorks$5,000

UNAFF (United Nations Association Film Festival)$10,000

WeHOPE$15,000

WomenSV$7,500

Youth Community Service$25,000

Child Care Grants

All Five$10,000

Covenant Children's Center$10,000

Creative Montessori
Learning Center
$10,000

Grace Lutheran Preschool$10,000

Palo Alto Friends Nursery School$10,000

Parents Nursery School$10,000


As of November 29th, 77 donors have contributed $65,407 to the Holiday Fund.
* indicates amount withheld at donor's request

8 Anonymous2,960
Elaine Hah1,500
Susan & Doug Woodman150
Freddy & Jan Gabus250
Kingston Duffie & Elizabeth Schwerer500
Margaret Forsyth and Glenn Rennels*
Richard & Pat Douglas50
Jerry & Bobbie Wagger*
Mahlon & Carol Hubenthal*
Paul & Jane Millman250
Bruce Campbell*
Fran Codispoti250
Judy Kramer*
Elizabeth Salzer & Richard Baumbartner*
Penny & Greg Gallo500
Donald Price*
Judy Ousterhout*
Roy & Carol Blitzer*
Marian Adams100
Kroymann Family250
Carolyn Caddes*
Sally & Craig Nordlund500
Barbara Riper*
Katherine Bryant100
Eileen & Rick Brooks1,000
Roger & Joan Warnke300
Charlotte Johansen200
Leo & Marlys Keoshian250
Donna Silverberg100
John Keller100
Ed & Linda DeMeo500
The Dong Family200
Jack and Susan Thomas*
Julie and Jon Jerome*
Marcia & Michael Katz200
Andrea B. Smith100
Scottie Zimmerman100
Leif and Sharon Erickson500
Ted & Ginny Chu*
The Havern Family5,000
Scott and Jan Kilner500
Dorothy Saxe100
Kieschnick family1,000
Bill Reller*
Harry E & Susan B Hartzell100
Art and Peggy Stauffer500
Dorothy Deringer200
Barbara Klein*
Ann Burrell & Charles Smith*
Janis Ulevich*
Theradep Technologies500
Gwen Luce and Family*
In Memory Of

David W. Mitchell*
Robert Spinrad100
Er-Ying and Y.C. Yen250
Ray Bacchetti300
Lily & Philip Gottheiner150
Jim and Dottie Mellberg*
Gerald Berner300
Steven T. Ross100
Phil Zschokke200
Ruth & Chet Johnson*
In Honor Of

Joe Simitian*
Darla Tupper3,922
Businesses & Organizations

Alta Mesa Cemetery & Funeral Home2,500
Palo Alto Business Park*
Arrillaga Foundation10,000
Angelo Family Foundation 5,000
Peery Foundation10,000

Past Holiday Fund Grant Recipients

2018-2019 | 2017-2018 | 2016-2017 | 2015-2016 | 2014-2015 | 2013-2014 | 2012-2013 | 2011-2012 | 2010-2011 | 2009-2010 | 2008-2009 | 2007-2008 | 2006-2007 | 2005-2006 | 2004-2005 | 2003-2004 | 2002-2003 | 2001-2002 | 2000-2001 | 1999-2000