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April 07, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Community Notebook Community Notebook (April 07, 2004)

'Life stories' class in Portola Valley

Everyone's got a story to tell, but many need help writing it down. A 10-week "life stories" writing course will be offered at the Ladera Community Church on Friday mornings beginning April 16.

The class will be taught by Foothill College teacher and counselor Sheila Dunec, who has developed the life stories program over the years and offered it frequently at the Menlo Park Library.

Students will be instructed on how to "create a written record of their past for future generations, record their family's history, create a unique gift for their descendants, and develop meaningful insights into their own life experiences," Ms. Dunec said.

Class hours are 10 a.m. to noon. Cost is $140 for the 10-week program. Registration is limited.

The church is at 3300 Alpine Road, Portola Valley.

For more information or to register, contact Ms. Dunec at 324-9937.

Wallace Stegner at book club

Menlo Park Library's Fiction/Nonfiction Book Club will discuss "Crossing to Safety," a 1987 novel by Wallace Stegner, at its next meeting on Tuesday, April 13, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the lower-level meeting room at the library, 800 Alma St., near Ravenswood Avenue, in Menlo Park.

In this novel, two couples meet during the Depression years in Madison, Wisconsin, and become devoted friends despite vast differences in upbringing and social status.

All are welcome whether you have read the book or not. For information, call 858-3468, or go to, and click on Come to the Library, Events & Clubs.

Workshop planned on violence and children

A topic that worries many parents -- violence in the lives of children and how families can cope with it -- will be the focus of a talk planned for Wednesday, April 14, at the Boys and Girls Club at 401 Pierce Road in Menlo Park.

Marsha Howard, who specializes in parenting workshops and cultural diversity training, will speak from 6 to 8 p.m., said Mara Mintzer, the city of Menlo Park's family services manager for the Belle Haven neighborhood.

Dinner, Spanish-language interpretation and child care will be provided at the free event, which is one in a series of monthly parenting education workshops hosted in Belle Haven. For more information in English or Spanish, call Ms. Mintzer at 330-2259.

Talk on leadership in engineering

Stanford engineering professor Elisabeth Pate-Cornell of Portola Valley will focus on the four leadership roles that engineers need to perform when she talks on Wednesday, April 14, as part of the Jing Lyman Lecture Series, "Women in Natural Science and Engineering."

Her talk, from noon to 1 p.m., is open to the public and will be given at the Stanford University Faculty Club in the Gold Lounge. She also will discuss the role of women in leadership positions.

Professor Pate-Cornell is the Burton J. and Dee Dee McMurtry Professor in the School of Engineering and senior fellow at the Institute for International Studies at Stanford.

Campers to produce cable TV segments

Kids ages 10 and up who participate in the Museum of American Heritage's math and science summer camps have the option to sign up for a five-day program on producing television segments that will be shown on cable channels 27 and 28.

The program, which will run from June 21 to 25, is offered at the Palo Atlo-based Media Center, which produces shows for local community channels. Enrollment deadline is April 30. The fee is $300 for Museum of American Heritage members and $325 for others.

The camp also offers mathematical games and puzzles, hands-on science projects, and a Web site design workshop. For more information, call 321-1004.

Advocates sought for long-term care residents

Ombudsman Services of San Mateo County is recruiting volunteers for its long-term-care program. Participants are trained and state-certified to advocate for residents in long-term-care facilities. The work includes monitoring facilities, receiving complaints on behalf of residents, and investigating complaints. For information, call 349-7008 or e-mail Training class in San Mateo starts March 1.

Online calendar of children's health events

Prenatal classes, lectures on coping with pre-teens, and signups for free health insurance are among hundreds of events listed in a new online calendar of children's health events being held in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

The site -- -- offers a central source of information about community activities related to the physical, emotional, behavioral and mental health of children.

Sponsored by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, the calendar includes classes, support groups, conferences, health fairs, fundraisers and legislative hearings.

Calendar users can brows in various ways -- by date, location or subject. Nonprofit and government organizations in the two counties may sign up to post their events without cost.

For more information, call 724-5778.

IRS urges caution on car donations

The Internal Revenue Service advises taxpayers planning to donate an automobile to check if the organization is qualified, using IRS publication 78 on the Web:

Deduct only the car's fair market value, not the Blue Book value, says the IRS.

In 2000, 733,000 returns had a tax deduction for a vehicle donation. The donations were valued at about $2.5 billion, reducing taxpayer liability by an estimated $654 million, according to the IRS.

But sometimes the charity is ripped off. The IRS give this example: a taxpayer donated a 1983 truck valued at $2,400, but after the vehicle was sold at auction, and administrative and advertising costs were deducted, the charity received only $31.50.

For more information, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

One-day conference on caregiving

A one-day conference for people who care for an older spouse or parent, or who expect to do so in the future, will be held Saturday, April 24, in Palo Alto.

The conference, called "Essentials for the Caregiver," will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Avenidas, the senior services agency at 450 Bryant St.

Physician and caregiver Margaret Deanesly will give the keynote address. Registration postmarked by April 16 is $20; late registration is $30; the fee includes a continental breakfast, lunch and workshop materials.

For more information and to register, call 326-5362, ext. 19. Respite for caregivers will be available.

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