In the latest Around Town column, a one-year report on the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula's meal distribution efforts, background on a new planning commissioner and news of Stanford University alumna Issa Rae visiting her alma mater.
ALL HANDS ON DECK ... The need for community service has been unprecedented during the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking back one year into the health crisis, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula reflected on how its roughly 1,800 volunteers have worked over the past 12 months to serve more than 435,000 meals to locals in need. The Boys & Girls Clubs has served hot meals each night and delivered groceries every week since March 2020, the organization highlighted in a video published on March 18. The effort began as a nightly pop-up that provided 200 meals and has evolved into 2,000 meals. Along the way, the organization found support through local families that sponsored community meals, 367 individual donors and assistance from foundations, James Harris, senior director of operations, said in the video. "What does this mean to our community? When you look at the city of East Palo Alto we're just thankful for the work that the Boys & Girls Club has done," East Palo Alto City Council member Lisa Gauthier said in the video. "We have been able to put this out everyday on social media to make sure that individuals who are in need of meals are able to show up and it is making a difference in their lives everyday." The nonprofit organization is showing no signs of stopping as the pandemic continues.
NEW TO THE CREW ... Bryna Chang, a longtime school volunteer whose resume includes running the MBA program at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, was appointed this week to serve on Palo Alto'sPlanning and Transportation Commission. Chang's candidacy received an unexpected boost March 10, when Arthur Keller, a former planning commissioner, abruptly withdrew his candidacy from consideration for the open seat and threw his support to Chang. "I originally applied to be on the Planning and Transportation Commission because I thought you needed a candidate who had a diverse point of view," Keller said during the council's interview. "But I think Bryna Chang has a diverse point of view, so I am withdrawing my name today so she can ... get your nod." Chang told the council during the interview that she became immersed in housing and transportation issues as a result of frustrations that she had experienced while driving her children to school, which included seeing kids almost get run over on Charleston Road. A former lecturer at Stanford, Chang said it's critical for the city to make sure that local schools can accommodate its growth plans. "We've got to think about schools," Chang said. "That type of housing is going to bring families in and how are these kids going to get to where they're supposed to go?" Mayor Tom DuBois, Vice Mayor Pat Burt and council members Lydia Kou and Greer Stone voted for Chang on Monday. Council members Eric Filseth and Greg Tanaka voted for volunteer Kathy Jordan, while council member Alison Cormack supported architect Jessica Resmini. Chang is filling a seat that has been vacant since January when William Riggs resigned from the commission.
RETURN TO THE FARM ... Stanford University students coming back to campus for the spring quarter starting March 29 missed their chance to run into actress Issa Rae, who returned to her alma mater last weekend to film an episode of her HBO show "Insecure," according to The Stanford Daily. Rae, one of the main stars of the series, plays Issa Dee, "who struggles to navigate the tricky professional and personal terrain of Los Angeles along with her best friend Molly," according to HBO. The show took the duo back to their alma mater, Stanford, for a reunion, according to the Daily article published on March 21. The student publication shared photos of the decorated campus that had "welcome alumni" signs and a post with arrows pointing to the Main Quad and Memorial Church. "The project is fully compliant with state, county and Stanford guidelines and is rigorously following strict COVID-19 safety protocols," university spokesperson E.J. Miranda said in a statement to the Daily. Rae, who graduated in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in African and African American Studies, also serves as an executive producer and writer for the show.