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COVER STORY

Top row: Al Russell, Judy Steiner, Tom Fiene Bottom row: Katsy Swan, Ben Hammet, Ruth Hammett

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Avenidas honors six outstanding seniors PHOTOGRAPHS BY VERONICA WEBER

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very year, Palo Alto nonprofit Avenidas selects six senior citizens 65 and older from a list of more than 40 nominees who have made exemplary commitments and contributions to the community, professionally and through volunteer service. The 2013 honorees are Dr. Tom Fiene, community physician, diagnostician and teacher; Ben and Ruth Hammett, both environmental benefactors and active community volunteers; education advocate Al Russell; Judith Steiner, former executive director of Hidden Villa and the founder of Innovative Housing on the Peninsula; and Peninsula-famous landscape architect Katsy Swan, who designed the gardens at the Stanford University Medical Center. The honorees will be celebrated at a public reception Sunday, May 19, from 3 to 5 p.m. in a private garden in Palo Alto. The event is sponsored by Avenidas, Palo Alto Weekly and Palo Alto Online. Tickets can be purchased for $75 by contacting Avenidas at 650-289-5445 or online at www.avenidas.org. Proceeds from the reception help fund programs offered at Avenidas, which serves seniors and their families. N ÜÜÜ°*>œÌœ"˜ˆ˜i°Vœ“ÊUÊ*>œÊÌœÊ7iiŽÞÊUÊ>ÞÊÎ]ÊÓä£ÎÊU Page 41


Cover Story

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Connecting with patients and relishing the variety

Ensuring quality education for the next generation

by Chris Kenrick

by Audra Sorman

career in medicine is a kind of “pivot point, allowing you to become involved in the problems of people in such a wide variety of ways,” Lifetimes honoree Tom Fiene said. In more than four decades of practice, Fiene has cared for Nobel Prize winners and convicted murderers, U.S. ambassadors and a whole cloister of nuns. His career has bridged “town and gown” — seeing patients at Menlo Medical Clinic, teaching Stanford medical students, helping to lead a clinic for low-income patients in San Jose and delving into hard cases as a member of the Stanford Hospital & Clinics Ethics Committee. The lifelong musician — he plays the bass — has played in school and local symphony orchestras and various bands, including a three-man jazz trio that’s been together 30 years. Fiene and his wife, Nancy, a pianist and music teacher, felt like they’d come home when they arrived in Palo Alto from the Midwest in 1961 for Fiene’s internal-medicine training at Stanford. “We just felt that we were at home in all ways,” he recalled in a recent interview. The kind of people who were here, the philosophy of life — they were compatible with our feelings and we just felt we belonged here.” The couple raised their four children in Palo Alto before moving eventually to Portola Valley. Fiene brought a primary-care doctor’s per-

spective to his work with Stanford medical students, where he taught on the wards of Stanford Hospital. “I’d see them in their fourth and fifth years on the ward and they’d still love the aspects of training in which they really connected with the patient — talked and, more importantly, listened to them. And that’s what we’d try to teach them. “Technology is very seductive and very powerful, so it’s important that they also learn to have the personal connection with the patient.” Though retired from daily practice, Fiene continues teaching medical students at the Pacific Free Clinic in San Jose, which operates on Saturdays. The Stanford student-run clinic serves families and singles, newly arrived immigrants or people who have lost their jobs and have no insurance but need medical care. “The main purpose is to provide care for a group of the population that’s under-served or not served at all, and to give the Stanford students an exposure to this group and make them aware that there’s a large group out there in dire need of help,” Fiene said. Retirement also has given Fiene time to return, in a way, to his agricultural roots as manager of a small winery in his Portola Valley Ranch housing community. “We grow the grapes and go through the whole process of crushing, pressing and

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hen Al Russell was studying psychology as an undergraduate at Stanford, he felt he was

at home. He embraced the academic atmosphere, learning all he could and engaging with his professors and fellow students. When he chose between earning a doctorate in psychology and a law degree, he had no idea that his ultimate decision to study tax law would give him the opportunity to return to the world of education. “I feel privileged to have had all these opportunities. My life has been serendipitous; I didn’t plan on all of this,” Russell said. After his days at Stanford and the University of San Francisco School of Law, Russell moved his young family to Palo Alto in 1970. When their oldest son reached first grade, he and his wife JoAnn were asked to co-chair the PTA, and Russell has been involved with education ever since. “I love working with people, I love working in the education area, and I love working with kids. I found my niche, so to speak.” Russell put his law training to use as he transitioned from his eventual role as PTA president to advising the Palo Alto Board of Education in legal issues as well as helping with fundraising and the subsequent taxes involved. In 1987, he founded the Palo Alto Foundation for Education (PAFE), which provided grants for teachers. “I wanted to do things that gave teachers the opportunity to dream,” he said.

In 1987, PAFE awarded $6,000 in grants and worked up to giving out up to $150,000 a year. Palo Alto High School’s glass-blowing program, a result of one of the grants, is still running today. When Russell, a supporter of the arts, was forming PAFE, he and a few others also created what is now known as the Italian Street Painting Expo, in which artists create chalk art on the pavement every August during Palo Alto’s Festival of the Arts. Other PAFE-funded projects have included commissioning a professional musician to write original pieces for the local students to perform in concert and updating science equipment for student labs. Russell, who was born in San Francisco and raised in Atherton by his father, a banker and investor, and his mother, a life-long volunteer in gerontology, became involved in education in large part because of his experience at Stanford, he said. “I just began to understand and tremendously appreciate the opportunities education provides for human beings for major growth and development in their lives,” he said. Russell’s appreciation for education is reflected in his years of community service. He estimated that, on average, he has spent 20 to 30 hours a week volunteering for the community while maintaining his fulltime job with the Internal Revenue Service, (continued on next page)


Cover Story

Tom Fiene

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fermenting,” he said of the winery, which was started by other residents of Portola Valley Ranch before the Fienes moved there. “The dirt is under my fingernails,” he said, recalling his childhood summers helping on a family farm in central Wisconsin. Though his family lived in town, he would help with the dairy farm during the summer, milking cows and taking the milk to the creamery. “When I first started working on the farm there was no electricity — we had kerosene lamps — no indoor plumbing, and we plowed with horses,” he said. Fiene also continues his 15-year membership on the Stanford Hospital & Clinics Ethics Committee, which provides guidance on difficult cases, including transplants, end-oflife issues, or ascertaining the best interests of a homeless patient who has no family or surrogates. “It’s very challenging and with in-

creasing technology the issues become more complex,” he said. “We have the ability to do so much more in terms of keeping people alive that our ethics have to race to keep up with our medical technology.” The 34-member panel includes 13 physicians as well as nurses, community members, a chaplain, a social worker and others. “Decisions like that are too difficult to just leave to one group of people so it’s a widespread group of people who give their input,” he said of the committee, which was founded by former hospital chaplain Ernle Young, who recently retired. The cases handled by the committee reflected the gamut of issues and the connection with humanity that Fiene has relished in his career as a caregiver. “It’s a real cross-section of society and of humanity and that’s just what makes it so fascinating,” he said. N Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at ckenrick@paweekly.

Al Russell

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which he held from 1970 to 1999. “I like to keep busy,” he said. “Somehow I managed to do my job too.” “Busy” may be an understatement. He was president of Palo Alto High School’s Music Boosters Program for three years, program leader and fundraiser for Palo Alto’s YMCA, a coach for the American Youth Soccer Organization, and a part of Palo Alto’s “ Building for Excellence” campaign, among other commitments. Russell was president of PAFE when it merged with the All Schools Fund to create Partners in Education in 2005. He served two terms on PIE’s Board of Directors and since 2009 has been on PIE’s Grant Review Committee, which awards funding to teachers seeking education grants. In addition to reviewing grants, Russell is president and treasurer of Palo Alto High School’s Gold Star Memorial Scholarship Fund and is on the boards of Palo Alto Community Child Care and the Palo Alto Christmas Bureau. He has developed relationships with many families and community members inside and outside of Palo Alto’s education system, and he said he is “grateful for the ability to work with a lot of wonderful people.” Russell, who likes to use the word “serendipitous” to describe his life, also found a use for his initial interest in the field of psychology. He explained that, over the years, he often found himself in the role of adviser and confidant to those in the community. “I do as much personal counseling as I do law,” he said. He also mentioned that if he had to choose an alternate career, he would have pursued teaching. However, Russell is happy he chose to go to law school because he met his wife while he was studying in San Francisco. They married at the end of his second year at USF School of Law, and through their

children, he got his chance to make a difference in education during years of work with Palo Alto schools. “I always felt we were motivating teachers, motivating the kids, and creating opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be there.” Russell added that “Here, where education is so highly valued, it was easy to get involved,” so when he found out he was an Avenidas Lifetimes of Achievement honoree, he “was flabbergasted and didn’t quite know what to say; it’s been a privilege — at times difficult, but a privilege.” His propensity for community work is in his blood: his mother, Bonnie Russell, won the Avenidas award in the early 1990s for her years of volunteer work in gerontology. “She was quite a lady. We used to call her superwoman,” he said. Today, Russell and his wife JoAnn watch their 7-month-old granddaughter twice a week and spectate at their grandsons’ Stanford Water Polo Club events. Russell wants children like his grandchildren, who attend Ohlone Elementary and Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School, to benefit from his work in education, he said. When reflecting on his years of community service, he attributed one factor that was instrumental in his ability to volunteer while working a full-time job. “Without (JoAnn’s) working and backing over the years, it wouldn’t have been possible.” Russell hopes to retire at some point so that he and his wife can continue to enjoy watching their grandchildren grow, but he has no definite time frame for when he will stop doing volunteer work in the community, he said. “The last 30 to 40 years have been very full and continue to be.”N Editorial intern Audra Sorman can be emailed at asorman@ paweekly.com.

>I8=H<GH9=B9F Working for grassroots change by Elena Kadvany

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udith Steiner has never been one to shy from a challenge. In fact, she’s welcomed them. From teaching English in Vienna, Austria, to choosing a controversial list of candidates for the Palo Alto High School International Festival panel to converting six houses in East Palo Alto into homes for young single mothers on welfare, her trajectory has been far from dull. She has always sought to challenge and change the status quo. Steiner, also one of this year’s Avenidas Lifetimes of Achievement honorees, was born in Ohio to a conservative family whose opinions often clashed with hers. “We always had arguments,” Steiner recalled. “I used to get sent away from the dining room table.” After her father’s job moved the family to western Pennsylvania, they took a road trip to California that Steiner never forgot. She stayed in Pennsylvania for college, attending Bucknell University, but left immediately afterward. “I graduated on Saturday and left for San Francisco on Sunday,” she said. Steiner worked a few “mindless jobs” before teaching social studies at a San Francisco middle school. She didn’t feel she was cut out for teaching, but interacting with faculty got her interested in politics and activism. She went to her first demonstration in 1964 with other teachers, protesting the racist hiring practices of Cadillac car dealers on Van Ness Avenue’s auto row. Always eager for a challenge, Steiner decided to leave San Francisco to travel in Europe alone, heading to Scandinavia, Munich and Vienna, where she met her husband, Hans. The two married in 1967

and lived in Vienna until Hans, a psychiatry student, finished medical school in 1973. During that time, she taught English at the United Nations. Hans was eventually offered a job at Stanford University, which brought the couple to Palo Alto. They purchased a house together with Steiner’s childhood friend and her husband, living together in a commune-like way that was common in the 1970s. After having three children, Steiner considered applying to Stanford Law School or teaching again, but wanted to do more. “A friend who was single and in her late 50s at the time was looking for a place she could afford to live when she retired,” Steiner said. “She wanted to live in a community of some kind, and she heard about this group in Marin called Innovative Housing.” It turned out Innovative Housing was looking to expand, so in 1985 Steiner took the reins and founded Innovative Housing on the Peninsula. Innovative Housing helped low-income people interested in shared living to find and rent homes. The nonprofit would sign the lease for interested participants and then provide workshops, which Steiner often led, on how to live together and mediate problems. Homelessness was also a major issue at the time, Steiner said, and she wanted to find a way to help with that. “We thought that two groups of people that could live in shared living advantageously would be lowincome elderly and single mothers who were on welfare. It would be more affordable for them.” (continued on next page)

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Cover Story Area, for whom she went to the flower market at 4 a.m. to purchase and condition flowers and then to their houses to decorate and plant. But she soon realized that many projects needed more than just a garden redo. “I’d get there (to a client’s house), and the driveway would be in the wrong place or the deck was in the wrong place, and I would recommend a landscape architect. So I called a landscape architect friend two or three times, and by the third time he said, ‘You need to go get your landscape architecture degree.’”

Judith Steiner

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Steiner got a grant from the Palo Alto Community Fund to start a shared-living house in Palo Alto. The Fund’s largest grant to date had been about $150 given to local boy scouts. The Packard Foundation also provided a grant, the first they had given for housing. Steiner eventually got enough funding for 30 houses. “In the ‘60s, people lived together because they were war resisters or had a religious connection,” she said. “Instead, it became just people who wanted to live together for community and affordability.” But as it turned out, running a cohousing nonprofit was a challenge too expensive to maintain. “It was just too hard. It wasn’t like you could make one grant and just fix things. It was ongoing,” Steiner said. Innovative Housing eventually changed owners. So she moved onto the next challenge: transforming a struggling local nonprofit with eight years of deficit, Hidden Villa, into a successful community staple. She served as Hidden Villa’s executive director for 10 years, from 1994 to 2004. Steiner was also involved with her children’s schools, serving on Jordan Middle School’s human relations committee and volunteering at the PTA. Her most memorable involvement at Paly was in the late 1980s, when she suggested a panel for the high school’s International Festival that included a Jewish American woman who was married to a Palestinian, a Syrian man who wanted to talk about why Libyans liked Muammar Gaddafi, and an Israel/Palestine expert from Stanford. All of them were parents of students. “One member in my committee said, ‘We can’t have these speakers.’” I said, “I’m not going to pull the names, it’s a freedom of speech issue.” Paly ended up hosting the speakers. Steiner said that many of her aspirations — promoting diversity at her children’s schools, striving to reduce homelessness by founding Innovative Housing, doing fundraising for local organizations such as the East Palo Alto Kids Foundation — harken back to a quote, famously uttered by then-senator Barry Goldwater, R-Arizona, after he voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964: “You can’t legislate morality.” “No, you can’t,” Steiner said. “But you can make change. And sometimes it takes the laws to be passed first for the people to change, but mostly it takes the people to change to get the laws passed. So that’s when I thought, ‘The real thing isn’t politics so much — the real thing is getting grassroots organizations whose job it is to change people’s minds and behavior.’” Steiner’s current grassroots efforts are focused on Acterra, a Palo Alto environmental and education nonprofit for which she serves as board president. “The organization’s whole purpose is to find ways to help people learn about the importance of preserving the environment and energy efficiency and so forth — and that they can change their thinking and their behavior,” she said. “That’s really crucial.” N Editorial Assistant Elena Kadvany can be emailed at ekadvany@paweekly.com.

‘That’s how I know I’m doing what I want to do. I just love what I do. It’s all a challenge.’

?5HGMGK5B The Midpeninsula’s garden designer by Elena Kadvany

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atsy Swan traces her love of flower arranging and gardening back to her years at the University of Kentucky, where botany was her favorite class and she turned down a date with a long lusted-after boy to gather wild bittersweet flowers with her father. “My mother said, ‘You have to be kidding! You’ve wanted to see this guy for months and now here you are saying no,’ Swan recalled. “I said, ‘I know. But this is more important.’” Swan, one of this year’s six Avenidas Lifetimes of Achievement honorees, has left her mark on the Midpeninsula garden scene, both public and private. She has designed the Stanford Hospital gardens and taken on many private projects. Swan left her hometown of Lexington, Ky., after graduating from college in 1956 to teach school in Coronado, Calif., where she met her husband, Ben. After moving to Swarthmore, Pa., so he could finish his degree at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, the two moved back to

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California. They have lived in the same Palo Alto home for 48 years. While raising her three children, who all attended Palo Alto High School, Swan volunteered for the Palo Alto PTA. She also started doing flower arranging as a volunteer activity for the Committee for Art at Stanford, creating flower displays for the The Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts (formerly known as the Stanford University Museum of Art), the Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery and various fundraisers in the area. But she got her big break arranging flowers and revamping the gardens at the official Stanford presidential home, Hoover House. “The gardens at Hoover House are seen by so many people because that’s where they entertain all of their donors,” Swan said. “So the donors wanted to know who did their flowers and who did their garden.” This exposure helped Swan develop a wealthy clientele throughout the Bay

She started taking night classes at the University of California Berkeley in between tending to Hoover House and other clients’ gardens. Hoover House was also the catalyst for Swan’s involvement in the Stanford Hospital gardens project. Helen Bing, a major Stanford donor who often had dinner at the house, was serving on an art committee at the hospital at the time. “(Bing) walked in to go to her first meeting and saw that the landscaping was terrible. She called me and said, ‘If my husband Peter says yes, will you come re-landscape this hospital? It’s a mess.’” That was 1989. Every year since, Swan has worked on re-landscaping some portion of the gardens, projects that are completely paid for with donations from Bing. Most recently, Swan worked on the main entry way to the new hospital. “It’s probably the most rewarding thing that I do,” Swan said about the hospital gardens. “You do a lot of beautiful private gardens. I do gardens in Hillsborough and Woodside and all over the Bay Area. But those people, I think because they’re wealthy, they don’t see them as much.” She also designed the UCSF Cancer Center courtyard garden and the Earth Sciences Courtyard at Stanford. But Swan’s gardening expertise is not just for the wealthy. She also volunteers at local nonprofit Gamble Garden and the Palo Alto Garden Club, giving lectures and teaching gardening classes. “They (participants) have access to me without hiring me,” she said. “If they just want ideas, they can come to my classes.” Swan has also raised money for Gamble Garden for the past 10 years by taking donation-based tours to famous gardens in England, Wales, Scotland, Italy and France. She continues to design and landscape, with no plans to slow down anytime soon. “All my other friends are traveling and playing bridge and going for walks and things like that, and I don’t ever envy them. That’s how I know I’m doing what I want to do. I just love what I do. It’s all a challenge.” N Editorial Assistant Elena Kadvany can be emailed at ekadvany@paweekly. com.


Cover Story meeting in places such as Aspen, Colo., for ski vacations, he said. When they married, Ruth received her master’s degree in biology from Stanford. For a time they lived in Chapel Hill, N.C., where Ben obtained his doctorate in psychology from the University of North Carolina. Following graduation, he practiced clinical psychology in Richmond,Va. Ruth, meanwhile, volunteered, working on educational parity for AfricanAmerican children. Although segregation was illegal in 1968, few schools were integrated in Virginia, she said. Ruth and other volunteers created an integrated school in Richmond where kids could learn at their own pace. “We just hammered at the school board,” she said. Eventually, they prevailed, she said. Attracted to Palo Alto’s school system, the Hammetts returned to Palo Alto, raising four children. Both continued their volunteer work. Ruth worked with the League of Women Voters in multiple states. But she focused on child-counseling services — most notably as a board member for Adolescent Counseling Services in Palo Alto. She also worked with Caravan House, which offered shelter and therapy to runaway, abused and neglected adolescent girls until its closure in 2007. “I think if you find something interesting, volunteering exposes you to so many learning experiences you might not have known you were interested in,” Ruth said. Ben’s life philosophy is rooted in his mother’s spiritual teaching, he said. He explained that it follows Unitarian principles of service and welcoming people of different races, sexual orientations, creeds and religious experiences. He is involved in environmental advocacy through the Unitarian Universalist Church’s Green Sanctuary program, which works on environmental projects and to create sustainable lifestyles for members and as a faith community. The Hammetts haven’t tried to change the world, they said. There’s plenty to do right here at home. Ben said volunteering has personal advantages as one ages. “It’s more important when you end up older. You tend not to be set in your ways,” he said. N Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at sdremann@paweekly. com.

About the cover: Photographs by Veronica Weber

69B5B8FIH<<5AA9HH A passion for environmental and mental health causes by Sue Dremann

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hen Ben Hammett was a young man his mother advised him to marry a woman with a “fine mind.” He did, marrying wife Ruth in Stanford Chapel in 1957, he said. The Hammetts have put their minds together for 55 years. Throughout their married life, they have been a philanthropic team, giving their time and money to benefit the environment, equal-opportunity education and mental health causes. The Hammetts were deeply influenced by the community service of their parents, they said. With humble beginnings painting walls and caring for church children while still in their teens, the Hammetts have been “paying it forward” ever since. Environmental action has been a hallmark of Ben’s philanthropy. In 2007, the couple established the Hammett Awards within the University of California Santa Cruz Department of Environmental Studies. The awards support students’ research on climate change. Sitting in the family’s living room in Old Palo Alto, Ben recalled his most cherished influence. “My mother loved the world of nature,” he said. Growing up in Santa Barbara, Ben was deeply influenced by his parents, both of whom were presidents of their local art museums, he said. He volunteered in a home for seniors and at a rehabilitation center that his mother started. As an Eagle Scout, he received a merit badge for painting the rooms. Ben said he also learned about environmental preservation from his mother, and she taught him to love physics. His parents were also deep into psychoanalysis and dream interpretation. Ben, who was impressed

by how therapy lifted his father’s depression, later became a psychologist. “I became at a young age fascinated with dreams and the workings of the body and mind,” he said. As a volunteer, Ben served on the board of Palo Alto’s Mental Research Institute, where he helped conduct an eight-year research project on family recovery from alcoholism. He was a board member of the Western Graduate School of Psychology and National Parks Conservation Association; he has been on the latter’s Western Regional Advisory Council since 2008. And he was a longtime volunteer at the former Peninsula Conservation Center in Palo Alto. Volunteerism even became a family pastime. He and elder daughter Susan worked at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, he said. Ruth has also volunteered since her early teens. Growing up in suburban Chicago, Ill., she worked with small children at church. She became a candy striper in high school, wrapping bandages for sick and injured patients. Those early experiences sparked a love of giving, she said. “Working with other people is both a learning experience and a joy. You learn a lot about organization and how to set goals,” she said. Ben and Ruth met in 1954 on the Queen Mary cruise liner while traveling to Europe, where they visited seven countries with their friends. Ruth returned to Chicago and her job at the Northern Dress Company; Ben, a Stanford University student, went home to Palo Alto. But they continued their long-distance courtship, ÜÜÜ°*>œÌœ"˜ˆ˜i°Vœ“ÊUÊ*>œÊÌœÊ7iiŽÞÊUÊ>ÞÊÎ]ÊÓä£ÎÊU Page 45


LivingWell MAY 2013

A monthly special section of

news & information for seniors

Veronica Weber

Kamala Naidu, a volunteer at La Comida for more than two years, helps serve lunch to diners at Avenidas in early May.

In one room, a history of the 20th century Seniors with diverse stories gather for sociability, music and a tasty hot meal by Chris Kenrick Page 46ÊUÊ>ÞÊÎ]ÊÓä£ÎÊUÊ*>œÊÌœÊ7iiŽÞÊUÊÜÜÜ°*>œÌœ"˜ˆ˜i°Vœ“

The 100-plus people who gather in downtown Palo Alto for lunch each day could tell you the history of the 20th century from their personal stories. They are early scientists and engineers of Silicon Valley, who remember the construction of the Stanford Dish. They are teachers, social workers, volunteers, Holocaust survivors, Japanese-Americans interned during World War II, American veterans and vets of armies who fought on the other side. Some have been in Palo Alto a half-cen-

tury, settling here to raise families when homes now worth millions could be had for $25,000. Others, arrived recently, face steep housing and living costs that render them economically precarious. At Monday-through-Friday senior lunches at the Avenidas senior center, they are drawn together by aging, the lure of sociability and a tasty hot meal. Organizers of the senior lunch program, known as La Comida, oblige by providing table service in a dining room with floorto-ceiling windows, live musical entertainment, flowers on the tables and meals cooked in a kitchen in the next room. Program manager Mary Ruth Batchelder and a volunteer wait staff keep things cheerful, efficient and lively. Some diners stop for lunch before or after a class at Avenidas, which offers a schedule


Living Well

Veronica Weber

About 130 dinners enjoy meals weekdays at La Comida, located at the Avenidas senior center in downtown Palo Alto.

Living Well

MAY 2013

Wednesday, May 1

Friday, May 10

Get to know your gadgets with One-on-One tutoring

Advanced Health Care Planning Forum

9-5pm at Avenidas by appointment Call (650) 308-4252 $5 member/$10 non

9:30-11:30 am at Campbell Community Center Orchard City Banquet Hall RSVP: Hospicevalley.org/hcdseries

Thursday, May 2

Musical Jam Session

Nutrition Lecture: Whole Grains

2-3:30 pm Free @Avenidas Also on May 16

12:30-1:15pm, Free at Avenidas Monday, May 13

Friday, May 3

1:30-3pm, FREE at Avenidas

Better Breathers Support Group

Wine Appreciation Club 3-4:30pm $10 @Avenidas

Tuesday, May 14

Hearing Screening

Monday, May 6

United Nations Association Film Festival “Atomic Mom”

ranging from bridge to Zumba. Others come just for the meal. Ruth and Jack Letts, who raised four kids in their 45 years in Palo Alto, get part of their daily exercise by walking the half-mile from their house on Lincoln Avenue. Ninety-five-year-old retired physicist Bill Frye, who no longer drives, brings himself the mile from his home near Addison School in his mobility scooter. Ira Karp, a Lytton Gardens resident and self-described 85-year-old “health nut,” bikes or walks. Karp runs 10 miles a week and bicycles 15. Mary Vanicek, who raised a family in Saratoga and held a variety of volunteer jobs, drives from her home in Menlo Park. “The idea is to get seniors out of their homes,” said Crystal Gamage, a La Comida board member who has volunteered with the program since it was launched by the Palo Alto Rotary Club in the parish hall of All Saints Episcopal Church in 1972.

Calendar of Events Saturday, June 1

Tuina

Hospice of the Valley 33rd Annual Western Gala – Boots & Banjos

(Chinese-style exercise/self-massage) 10-11am FREE at Avenidas Wednesday, May 22

Chess

Thursday, May 23

Movie: “7 Days in Utopia” 1:30pm Free for members/$2 public Includes free popcorn and drinks at Avenidas Friday May 24

English Chat Club

Wednesday, May 15

12:30-2pm FREE at Avenidas Monday, May 27

Tuesday, May 7 - Thrusday, May 9

Demostration of new Starkey hearing Aids

Thursday, May 16

Complimentary hearing screening and consultation. Pacific Hearing Service Call for appointment: Los Altos (650) 941-0664 or Menlo Park (650) 854-1980

“Guest of Honor” by Deborah Davis 3-4:30pm, FREE at Avenidas

Available call (650) 289-5400 9:30-3pm for a fee at Avenidas

Friday, May 17

Wednesday, May 29

Oral Health Lecture

Staying Engaged & Socially Active – In & Out of Your Home

Tuesday, May 7

Circle of Friends Discussion Group 1-2:30pm at Avenidas (for a fee) Call (650) 289-5417 to register Also on Tuesday, May 21

Monthly Book Group

11am-12noon Free at Avenidas Sunday, May 19

Memorial Day Avenidas Closed Tuesday, May 28

Massage Appointments

2-3pm Free at Avenidas

Avenidas 25th Anniversary Lifetimes of Achievement

Thursday, May 30

2-3pm FREE at Avenidas

3-5pm 330 Santa Rita Avenue Tickets $75 at the door

Call (650) 289-5400 to make appointment 9:30am to 3pm at Avenidas

Thursday, May 9

Monday, May 20

Spinal & Muscle Strengthening Workshop

Armchair Travel to Northern Arizona

Friday, May 31

11am-12 noon at Avenidas for a fee Also on May 16 and 23

2-3pm, FREE at Avenidas

9am-1:30 for a fee Call (650) 289-5400 to book appointment at Avenidas

Wednesday, May 8

Mindful Meditation

5:30-11:00 pm Coyote Ranch, Morgan Hill More info: hospicevalley.org/gala

1-4pm FREE at Avenidas

9am-12noon at Avenidas By appointment Call (650) 289-5400 to schedule $30members/$35non-member

2pm Free @Avenidas

(continued on page 48)

Tuesday, May 21

9am-2pm, FREE at Avenidas

Reiki Energy Treatments

“We have retired doctors, professors and homeless people. “Some of our diners are well-todo. Some are not. Some have wonderful backgrounds and some are just kind of average. La Comida represents that completely,” Gamage said. Meals are open to people over 60, who are asked, but not required, to donate $3 to offset part of the cost. The government, through the Older Americans Act of 1965, covers the rest. There is no means test for the program, whose primary purpose is senior nutrition and community. At its peak in the early 1980s La Comida served about 160 meals a day. Now the number is 130, and the program is in search of more diners. Board member Bill Blodgett said La Comida easily could accommodate 20 to 30 more. “It’s a whole social environment rather than just an eating environ-

Looking to Stay Active? Check out our calendar to see all the classes, events and activities for older adults on the mid-Peninsula, brought to you by Avenidas.

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Calendar event listings are reserved for advertisers. For more information contact Adam Carter at 223-6573 ÜÜÜ°*>œÌœ"˜ˆ˜i°Vœ“ÊUÊ*>œÊÌœÊ7iiŽÞÊUÊ>ÞÊÎ]ÊÓä£ÎÊU Page 47


Living Well

La Comida

(continued from page 47)

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ment,â&#x20AC;? said board member Mary Jean Place of Portola Valley. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re very concerned about the seniors that are isolated within our community. The dining room serves as a social place for them as well as for food. Many seniors come for that, and we know more are out there.â&#x20AC;? Frye, who comes daily, dug into a lunch of roast chicken, rice, salad, a vegetable mix of carrots, squash and peppers, fresh fruit and milk. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The meals here are magnificent and I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know what Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d do without them,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;My cooking consists of pulling things out of the freezer and putting them in the microwave.â&#x20AC;? Frye, whose daughter lives in Italy and son in Colorado, said he stocks up at Trader Joeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s when his son visits and can drive him over. Alice Meyers, a retired administrator from NASA Ames Research Center, began volunteering after her husband died 10 years ago. She works on Tuesdays, setting up tables, serving lunches, tea and coffee. Typically, she comes another two days a week just to dine. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a nice atmosphere, the lunches are good and we have music during our meals,â&#x20AC;? Meyers said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I come for the lunch and I come to help. If Mary Ruth is short of help, she calls and I come over.â&#x20AC;? Ruth Letts said she and her husband Jack come â&#x20AC;&#x153;as much for the sociability as anything. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You meet people from all over the world,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;People talk about fleeing their countries to come to the U.S. when the Reich was moving in Germany, France. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Everyone has a story. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not like (continued on page 50)


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Living Well

La Comida

(continued from page 48)

us — we lived in a little township in Michigan.” The Letts family arrived in Palo Alto in 1968 for Jack Letts’ medical residency at Stanford, and the couple has lived in the same house for 40 years. “I never wanted to come because it was for old people and then one day I thought, ‘Well, I’m old chronologically, but not in my heart,’” Ruth Letts said. “Some of my friends say they don’t want to go because it’s a bunch of old people, but they don’t know what they’re missing.” La Comida serves in its main Avenidas dining room Monday through Friday from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Menus are published in advance. Reservation-only lunches also are served at Stevenson House, 455 E. Charleston Road, 650-494-1944, ext. 10. On Wednesdays, lunches are served at Cubberley Community Center following Senior Friendship Day, when seniors are invited to attend a 10:30 a.m. presentation on topics of interest to older people. For more information, see La Comida’s website at www.lacomida. org. N Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at ckenrick@paweekly. com.

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Living Well

Senior Focus FAMILY HISTORY ... Just because Great Aunt Mable said your ancestor was from Scotland doesn’t mean she was. Genealogist Joshua Taylor will present a day’s worth of instruction on tracking your family’s roots Saturday, May 4, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in seminars sponsored by the San Mateo County Genealogical Society. Taylor will cover “essential technology” for genealogists, how to use probate, land, census, tax and other records to find ancestors who lived between 1780 and 1830, how to uncover the truth behind family legends and time-saving techniques for genealogists. The event will be at the Menlo Park Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1105 Valparaiso Ave., Menlo Park. Preregistration is $42 and registration at the door is $48. Lunch is an additional $8. For more information and preregistration, go to the San Mateo County Genealogical Society’s website at www.smcgs.org. DUPLICATE BRIDGE ... Join Palo Alto Duplicate Bridge for games that are friendly, courteous, open to the public and cater to intermediate through expert players. Snacks are provided and there is a lunch break. Need help finding a partner? Just ask. The group meets Mondays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Schultz Cultural Arts Hall at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. Fee is $8 at the door. For more information contact Elisheva Salamo at 650-223-8618 or esalamo@paloaltojcc.org. SENIORS RISING ... According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people 65 and older in the United States on July 1, 2011, was 41.4 million, up from 40.3 million on April 1, 2010 — census day. This accounts for 13.3 percent of the total population. By 2060, the bureau predicts one in five U.S. residents — or 92 million people — will be in this age group. At that time, the youngest baby boomers will be 96 years old. In 2056, for the first time in the nation’s history, the projected population of people 65 and older will exceed that of those under 18. OLDER AMERICANS MONTH ... A meeting with the National Council of Senior Citizens resulted in President John F. Kennedy designating May as Senior Citizens Month, encouraging the nation to pay tribute to older people across the country. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter changed the name to Older Americans Month, a time to celebrate those 65 and older through ceremonies, events and public recognition. But if 65 is the new 50, will the government have to adjust the age threshold? N

Items for Senior Focus may be emailed to Palo Alto Weekly Staff Writer Chris Kenrick at ckenrick@ paweekly.com.

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Luxury Living at The Hamilton Palo Alto’s Premier 55+ Community 555 Byron Street #206, Palo Alto

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Page 54ÊUÊ>ÞÊÎ]ÊÓä£ÎÊUÊ*>œÊÌœÊ7iiŽÞÊUÊÜÜÜ°*>œÌœ"˜ˆ˜i°Vœ“

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LYNN WILSON ROBERTS 650.255.6987 lwr@wilsonroberts.com lynnwilsonroberts.com Square footage, acreage, and other information herein, has been received from one or more of a variety of different sources. Such information has not been verified by Alain Pinel Realtors. If important to buyers, buyers should conduct their own investigation.

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4173 El Camino Real, #22 Palo Alto

23(1+286( SAT & SUN - Presenting

$+LGGHQ*HP Owned by an interior designer, this welcoming two-story WRZQKRXVHRŕŞ&#x160;HUVDQRSHQĂ RRU SODQKLJKFHLOLQJVDVSHFWDFXODU & inviting garden, and generous XSVWDLUVEHGURRPV

Â&#x2021; Two bedrooms & two baths upstairs & a half bath downstairs

Â&#x2021; 1,375 square feet per Realist (buyer to verify)

Â&#x2021; Quiet unit in rear of complex

Â&#x2021; Dual-paned windows

Â&#x2021; Eatâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;in kitchen

Â&#x2021; HOA Dues $458/month

Â&#x2021; +DUGZRRGĂ RRUV

Â&#x2021; Excellent Palo Alto Schools: Juana Briones Elementary, Terman Middle, Gunn High School (subject to enrollment; buyer to verify)

Â&#x2021; Patio with lush garden for entertaining Â&#x2021; Inside laundry Â&#x2021; Attached 1-car garage

2ŕˇ&#x2021;HUHGDW BRIAN CHANCELLOR (650) 303-5511 brianc@serenogroup.com ChancellorHomes.com DRE# 01174998 Page 56Ă&#x160;UĂ&#x160;>Ă&#x17E;Ă&#x160;Ă&#x17D;]Ă&#x160;Ă&#x201C;ä£Ă&#x17D;Ă&#x160;UĂ&#x160;*>Â?Â&#x153;Ă&#x160;Â?Ă&#x152;Â&#x153;Ă&#x160;7iiÂ&#x17D;Â?Ă&#x17E;Ă&#x160;UĂ&#x160;Ă&#x153;Ă&#x153;Ă&#x153;°*>Â?Â&#x153;Â?Ă&#x152;Â&#x153;"Â&#x2DC;Â?Â&#x2C6;Â&#x2DC;i°VÂ&#x153;Â&#x201C;

                                       


Palo Alto Weekly 05.03.2013 - Section 2