In the latest Around Town column, news of Lady Gaga's foundation awarding $50,000 to Adolescent Counseling Services and how the community came together to give students and people who live in cars relief from a heat wave earlier this month.
WORTHY OF APPLAUSE ... Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation recently awarded $50,000 from its Kindness in Community Fund to Adolescent Counseling Services (ACS), a nonprofit organization in Redwood City that serves youth and their families throughout San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. The grant comes from a larger donation of $250,000 provided by Zoom, which has its roots in San Francisco.
"Mental health services are needed now more than ever," Roxana Shirkhoda, Zoom's head of social impact, said in a press release. "That's why we're pleased to work with the Born This Way Foundation's Kindness in Community Fund to increase access to mental health services in the Bay Area, where Zoom is headquartered and where many of our employees live and work."
ACS Executive Director Philippe Rey was thrilled with the announcement. "We thought we had a very long shot at getting it because we're so small and so local," he said.
ACS provides services to about 10,000 youth and their families, although this increased to 13,000 during the pandemic. ACS plans to apply the $50,000 award to its Outlet Program — a program that "empowers LGBTQIA+ youth and builds safe and accepting environments through support, education and advocacy," according to its website. Rey crossed his fingers that Lady Gaga or her mother, Cynthia Germanotta who co-founded and helps run the Born This Way Foundation, will make an appearance at the ACS fundraising gala, which will be held at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto on Sept. 27.
STAY COOL ... Last week's heat wave was the most sweltering time this summer as temperatures broke longstanding records around the Bay Area. As the temperatures went up, so did community efforts to provide local residents relief from the heat.
In Palo Alto, the Karat School Project gave more than 200 gallons of water to people who live in cars and recreational vehicles from Sept. 6-8. Volunteers dropped off the much-needed resource along El Camino Real, Greer Road and other locations around the city. The distribution was particularly vital for individuals and families who live in cars, since they lack running water, according to Evelyne Keomian, Karat School Project founder and executive director.
"Heat waves like the ones we have been experiencing highly impact children's livelihood and their ability to do well in school," Keomian said in an email. "Some single mothers have to leave their children alone in RVs and go to work. We check on them to ensure that no one has a heat stroke."
The handout was part of the nonprofit's RV project, which has assisted vehicle dwellers by dropping off educational materials and gift cards for food to local families since 2020.
State Sen. Josh Becker also helped out students in the Ravenswood City School District by handing out boxes of free water bottles and providing air-conditioning units, he shared on Twitter. The distribution took place on Sept. 7 at Cesar Chavez Ravenswood Middle School in East Palo Alto with help from district trustee Ana Maria Pulido, according to event organizers.