Pitch In to Take Freeways From Trashy to Beautiful


With shrinking state coffers translating into mushrooming piles of litter along California freeways, one organization is collaborating with Caltrans to give residents a chance to pitch in and clean up at the end of April.

The nonprofit group Beautiful Day is organizing a massive week-long service event by the same name in the San Jose area April 21-29, including what organizers are calling Trash It, three days of cleaning up debris along Silicon Valley freeways.

“I hate driving on the highway and seeing all the litter there, especially when people from other states come into visit. I want to be proud of my state,” said Trash It team leader Kristy Espinoza. “I feel like I’m doing my part to be organizing such a large event to get rid of litter.”

Beautiful Day is looking for 600 adult volunteers to participate Friday, April 27 through Sunday, April 29. There are five total shifts that weekend, with one on Friday morning, and two each on Saturday and Sunday, morning and afternoon. Each shift is about three hours long. Volunteers will meet at one of four Caltrans yards in Cupertino, Milpitas and San Jose.

Trash It signups are underway now at the Beautiful Day website, along with signups for the group’s other projects during the service week. [Read more…]

Reborn Homeless Shelter Puts Faith in Community


A rotating shelter for homeless men in the West Valley once cut in a budget-trimming move is now experiencing rebirth, thanks to a Lead Overnight Supervisor Ron Eiland unloads cots from a truck.collaboration of more than 20 churches, community members, and businesses.

The newly incorporated nonprofit, Faith in Action Silicon Valley Rotating Shelter, is celebrating the grand opening of its program with a special benefit concert and reception for the entire community at 7 p.m., this Saturday, March 24, at the Congregational Community Church, 1112 S. Bernardo Ave., Sunnyvale.

Faith in Action volunteers reopened the once defunct shelter earlier this month at the first in a series of eight host congregations in Sunnyvale, Cupertino, and Saratoga that are opening their doors for one month at a time.

The shelter can house up to 15 men who are actively working toward jobs and permanent homes. Eligible shelter guests are allowed to stay up to 90 days.

Facing Uncertainty

It’s a big success for the group, which faced a lot of uncertainty when the original Faith in Action rotating shelter was shut down three years ago, after nearly two decades of operation through the help of West Valley Community Services (WVCS). [Read more…]

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Day


It’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Day, the day that marks Mister Rogers’ birthday. It’s a big day in Pittsburgh, PA., where Rogers lived, but the day is catching on elsewhere as a time to do something nice for others in the spirit of his neighborliness. Wearing a sweater is an optional, but a fun part of the tradition.

Fred Rogers would have been 84 today. He died Feb. 27, 2003, of stomach cancer, less than two months after he served as grand marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade with Art Linkletter and Bill Cosby. Rogers made an impact on childrens television like few others. In his own soft spoken way he became America’s neighbor.

So “make the most of this beautiful day,” and wear your favorite sweater (and if so inclined, submit a photo of you in said sweater to The Fred Rogers Company). And make sure to do something neighborly for someone you encounter today.

You could be a neighbor to this website by encouraging your friends on Facebook to “like” our Facebook page, or your Twitter followers to follow our Twitter page. If you do either of those things by midnight tonight, you’ll be entered in a drawing for the book, The World According to Mister Rogers; Important Things to Remember.

Have a wonderful day, Neighbor.

Free Tax Help Available in Bay Area; Use Our Interactive Map


Hundreds of volunteers are being deployed throughout the San Francisco Bay area to help the region’s poorest tax payers prepare their taxes this year, thanks to regional United Way agencies, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and local nonprofits and businesses.

The tax help for those making less than $50,000 a year is available at 200 locations. Below is an interactive map created by Good Neighbor Stories showing locations in Santa Clara County. Clicking on the map links to a page that includes a full list on the left-hand side of the page.

According to the Earn it!Keep It! Save It! program led by United Way of the Bay Area, less than five percent of those eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are not taking advantage of the free tax preparation. Many turn to commercial tax preparers paying between $150 and $300, which officials estimate costs $2.2 million annually in the Bay Area alone.

“Unfortunately, thousands of low-income taxpayers are not taking advantage of our free, expert tax preparation,” said Kelly Batson, director of Earn It! Keep It! Save It! [Read more…]

Don’t Leave it to Luck: Designate a Driver on St. Pat’s Day


The best way to be a good neighbor on St. Patrick’s Day is to make sure friends don’t get behind the wheel while impaired. The California Highway Patrol and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) are urging people to serve as designated drivers.

MADD officials said the popular holiday has become “quite dangerous” due to a large volume of impaired drivers. On St. Patrick’s Day in 2009, 37 percent of the crash fatalities that day involved alcohol, according to the MADD website.

This year the organization has coupons you can print or send to others celebrating the designated driver status. “Kiss Me…Tonight I’m DD”, and “Keep Luck on Your Side; Don’t Drink and Drive”, are available at no charge. You can even upload a photo and insert it in the middle of a four-leaf clover on the “Luck” coupon.

The CHP announced it will be on the lookout for impaired drivers this weekend.

“Driving under the influence is just not an option,” said CHP Chief Teresa Becher in a statement this week. “If you sit behind the steering wheel of a vehicle and make the decision to drink excessively and drive, you are putting lives in danger. It could be your parent, a spouse, a child, a friend, whose life maybe erased in just seconds.” [Read more…]

Enter to Win Our Mister Rogers Book Giveaway in Honor of ‘Neighbor’ Day


In honor of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Day on Tuesday, March 20—the day that marks Mister Rogers’ birthday—Good Neighbor Stories is giving away copies of The World According to Mister Rogers in a special drawing. We’re asking our readers to help us meet more neighbors by introducing friends to the website!

To be eligible to win a free copy of the Mister Rogers book you either need to ask your Facebook friends to “Like” Good Neighbor Stories, or ask your Twitter followers to follow our Twitter account. When you do either of those things between 8 a.m. PDST, Friday, March 16, and 12 midnight PDST, on Tuesday, March 20, your name will be entered into the drawing. You can increase your chances of winning by doing both. Don’t forget to tag us in your status update so we know you’ve promoted the site. We’ll pick two winners on Wednesday, March 21.

In the meantime, think about how to meet some new neighbors yourself this week as a way to remember America’s best neighbor ever.


Kindness Award For High School Seniors Catching On


CUPERTINO — A third high school in the Fremont Union High School District is now looking to recognize seniors for kindness, alongside the usual awards for academic and sports achievements.

Lynbrook High School now has its own Sandlot Award, a spin-off from the Justin Perkins Sandlot Award begun at Monta Vista High School in 2009. It was named for the inspirational student who passed away from cancer in 2008, and is specifically designed to single out students who display kindness to their peers and the world.

Last month Good Neighbor Stories chronicled how that award evolved and is now offered to both Monta Vista and Cupertino High School students. A co-creator of the award and founder of the Sandlot Hero website, Steven Young, enlisted fellow Lynbrook alums Howard Doi and Debbie Luck, and Lynbrook ASB President Kevin Tu, to bring the award to Lynbrook.

“Lynbrook is one of those schools that is academically oriented. A lot of the awards are around academics or sports,” Doi said. The Lynbrook High School Sandlot Award will instead look for students who are helping others “because they want to, not because of the recognition. We want to find those kinds and honor them for what they do.” [Read more…]

Beautiful Day Dawning: Group Calls Out to Volunteers for April Service Week


Beautiful Day, San Jose’s largest annual volunteer service event, is back next month with ambitious plans to serve all 10 districts of the city, plus a nonprofit farm in Sunnyvale, and miles of the area’s freeways.

With the theme of “Serving Our Community is How We Roll”, the organization is putting out a call for thousands of volunteers to take action between April 21 and 29. Most of the projects are taking place the weekend of April 28-29. The Beautiful Day website includes information on each project and an easy online registration form for those interested.

From fixing houses, to rehabilitating school campuses, to cleaning creeks and putting on a carnival and dance for special needs students, there are numerous opportunities to serve. Many of the projects are family friendly.

The faith-based group collaborates with local governments, nonprofits, churches, and businesses to pull off the large number of projects concentrated in one week. Since 2004 the event has grown from smaller clean-up and fix-up projects to the massive operation it is today. Beautiful Day organizers estimate that approximately 2,400 volunteers participated in last spring’s one-week event—and they may double that this April. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in March


Each month we offer up five suggestions of how to be a good neighbor, either in your neighborhood, the larger Bay Area, or the world. Here are five ideas for March. From encouraging children and teens, to being an urban farmer for a day, to celebrating Women’s History Month, you can make a difference this month. Got more ideas? Share them in the comments section.

  1. Encourage Courage: Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN) invites volunteers to help “coach” young special needs athletes. Each coach is paired with a child that has disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, or other developmental issues. The coach helps the child participate in sports activities, and have a good time while playing. There are two opportunities to serve in San Francisco on March 4 and 18, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sign up through handsonbayarea.org.
  2. Farmer For A Day: Full Circle Farm in Sunnyvale would love to have you come till some soil for a few hours. Or do some weeding, [Read more…]