Loving the San Francisco Bay Area... Community development, urban ministry, trying to defeat poverty, faith, religion, politics, good music, the quest for the perfect pizza, the Yankees, motorcycles... All in a 'day's life'

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Finally! ¡Por Fin! ‘Bout Time!

Article found at EPA.net.

Community Trust Credit Union of East Palo Alto Is Open For Business

Community Trust Credit Union of East Palo Alto opened its doors for business on Wednesday, December 19, 2007. After three years of planning, much hard work, and unwavering faith, the dream of a mainstream financial institution owned and governed by the residents of East Palo Alto is a reality. Why is this important? Because the people of East Palo Alto and surrounding communities will now have easy access to high quality, low-cost financial services to take care of their everyday needs and a way to build assets for the future.

Community Trust Credit Union (CTCU) is a full-service, not-for-profit financial institution that has been established since 1961. Under the leadership of President and CEO Joe Duran, CTCU has become one of the most respected community development credit unions in the country largely because of its mission “to provide excellent personal service” to all of its members. That means it specializes in providing education, information, and end-use products that support financial stability for individuals and families who may not have experience in the financial mainstream helping them to take care of their day-to-day needs while planning for a financially secure future. This includes Latinos and other immigrant groups new to banking processes in the United States.

For the last three years, CTCU has been partnering with Northern California Urban Development (NCUD) to open a branch of their credit union in East Palo Alto. Lead by Pastor John Liotti, NCUD is a non-profit, faith-based organization whose mission is to eliminate systemic and generational poverty in Northern California’s urban communities by creating opportunities and providing services and education. NCUD serves EPA and adjacent eastern Menlo Park focusing efforts on economic development projects.

Pastor Liotti and NCUD board members Pastor Paul Bains and Keisha Woods worked with the East Palo Alto Fellowship of Faith, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, as well as many other community-based organizations and City government, to bring CTCU to the area. Together they enlisted the cooperation of Addison Avenue Federal, Patelco, and Stanford Federal credit unions to help bring the project to life. They chose CTCU for a branch in EPA because of its record of integrity and willingness to work with diverse populations to build their economic skills. The support of the collaborating credit unions and EPA’s community leaders is a continuing partnership which has now brought quality, low-cost financial services to the community that has been underserved by the financial mainstream for generations.

What are the requirements for membership? You just need to either live, work, or worship in the East Palo Alto, east Menlo Park, or surrounding areas. All that it takes to become a member is a minimum of $25 to open savings account and that’s it! As a member, you then have access to all the services and products for which you qualify – a variety of savings accounts, personal and secured loans, checking accounts, debit cards, ATM, money orders, and check cashing to mention just a few. Your savings are federally insured up to $100,000 by the National Credit Union Administration which oversees the safety and soundness of credit unions in the United States.

Stop by to meet the staff and see what the benefits of membership can mean to you!

Community Trust Credit Union of East Palo Alto
is located at:

1836 Bay Road, Suite B - East Palo Alto
(650) 838-9141
The hours are Wednesday through Friday from 2 pm to 6 pm
And Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm

Check out the CTCU website.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Ecumenical Hunger Program needs your help...

Hoping for 11th-hour donations

East Palo Alto food bank 'could use a couple hundred more' hams, turkeys
With Christmas Eve almost here, the Ecumenical Hunger Program in East Palo Alto is hoping a last-minute wave of donations - from turkeys to toys - will remedy what workers there say has been a dismal year.

On Thursday afternoon, as volunteers packed boxes of food for several people waiting in line, Arnold Hart reckoned the food bank had about 60 turkeys and hams left, significantly less than what is needed today and Saturday.

"We could use a couple hundred more," Hart said.

Like many charitable organizations around the Bay Area, the Ecumenical Hunger Program is seeing a drop in donations, possibly from a shaky housing market and rising energy prices.

Ecumenical primary donor, the Second Harvest Food Bank, which serves about 400 nonprofits in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, has barely reached half its three-month holiday target of 1.9 million pounds of food. The deadline is Jan. 14.
Contact them here.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I Believe in You

This Dylan song from his first gospel album, Slow Train Coming, has meant a lot to me over the years. What lyrics! 
They ask me how I feel
And if my love is real
And how I know I'll make it through.
And they, they look at me and frown,
They'd like to drive me from this town,
They don't want me around
'Cause I believe in you.

They show me to the door,
They say don't come back no more
'Cause I don't be like they'd like me to,
And I walk out on my own
A thousand miles from home
But I don't feel alone
'Cause I believe in you.

I believe in you even through the tears and the laughter,
I believe in you even though we be apart.
I believe in you even on the morning after.
Oh, when the dawn is nearing
Oh, when the night is disappearing
Oh, this feeling is still here in my heart.

Don't let me drift too far,
Keep me where you are
Where I will always be renewed.
And that which you've given me today
Is worth more than I could pay
And no matter what they say
I believe in you.

I believe in you when winter turn to summer,
I believe in you when white turn to black,
I believe in you even though I be outnumbered.
Oh, though the earth may shake me
Oh, though my friends forsake me
Oh, even that couldn't make me go back.

Don't let me change my heart,
Keep me set apart
From all the plans they do pursue.
And I, I don't mind the pain
Don't mind the driving rain
I know I will sustain
'Cause I believe in you.

The song originally is from 1979. Slow Train was one of my first 'real' rock albums and had a profound impact on me. Dylan has recently been performing some songs from the record again. He's a clip from a recent concert.

Great Article in "One" Magazine

Thanks to Silicon Valley Community Foundation for a great article in their new magazine "One". Pastor Bains and I are on the cover - check us out! We really appreciate the exposure! Link to it here and see the whole article.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

YWAMers Praised for Faith and Leadership

The Denver Post reports on the memorial service at the Denver YWAM base:
"We're going to celebrate a life, we're not accentuating a death," said Faith Bible Chapel pastor George Morrison, in opening a memorial service today for two people killed at a missionary training school in Arvada.

The service is called "A Celebration of Life for Tiffany and Philip."

Philip Crouse and Tiffany Johnson died Sunday when a gunman opened fire at the school's dormitory.

Youth With a Mission director Peter Warren said today both Crouse and Johnson embodied the spirit of the group.

First the service focused on Crouse.

"Phil gave his life to Jesus Christ and was never the same again," said Zach, a friend of Johnson's who met him years ago at a youth ministry in Alaska. At the time, Crouse was tough and wouldn't let people get close to him.

"Over the years, Phil became a humble, teachable, sweet guy" who was able to reach kids with rough edges, he said.

Crouse's uncle also spoke.

"Philip's family in Alaska wants you to know that they're doing well, but found the thought of coming down to this event more than they could handle, said John Steiner.

Crouse lived with him seven years ago, and at the time was a troubled youth, and had trouble fitting in.

"He was dark and brooding, hiding his insecurities behind a perpetual snarl," Steiner said.

"Then, I saw that phenomenal change," Steiner said, brought about by Jesus Christ.

"A couple of years ago Phil felt God call him into the mission field," said Steiner.

"It is our hope that the horrible effort to snuff out the light of life and hope in Philip will instead prove to spread that light and those lives will serve as a source of inspiration to thousands touched by his tragic death," said Steiner.

Jessie Ferguson, Crouse's roommate, spoke next.

He recalled meeting Crouse for the first time, as they realized there was just one bed in the room.

Crouse insisted Ferguson take the bed, and instead used a mattress on the floor.

"That's just the type of guy Phil was," he said.

Crouse's father, Eugene, spoke next.

He recalled hearing the news about the shooting while he himself was in church.

He said the support he had been feeling since Sunday was "overwhelming."

Crouse led a standing ovation for local law enforcement and emergency workers who responded to the shooting.

"The main reason I wanted to speak today is for the YWAMMERS who are left," he said. He said many of them, with their youth and zeal, probably felt invulnerable. But now he hoped they'd recognize how difficult the work of a missionary would be, and find a way to focus on hope, instead of regret.

Also speaking at this morning's service will be Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien and Tom Hallas of Youth With a Mission.
I have many emotions about the YWAM and New Life Center shootings. I owe much of who I am to YWAM. Without my almost 7 years affiliated with them I wouldn't be where we are and doing the things we're doing now. When the shootings happened, it hit close to home for Melissa and I. We don't know anyone at the YWAM Denver office, other than a loose connection Base Director Peter Warren many years ago. However, I can't help but feel like we lost two of 'our own'. Melissa and I reflected last night on our emotions about the shooting, and how we feel connected to the events on a more personal level. We've been hearing from different YWAM friends and acquaintances over the past couple of days - like the family is coming together. I've had little to no contact with YWAM for almost 10 years - I still feel a strong connection to the organization.

I'm 'Godly' proud of the young leaders who were killed I also feel sadness for the Matthew Murray and his family. Matthew was obviously a confused, hurt and lonely young man. Philip, Tiffany from
YWAM and the sisters at New Life gave their life for the Gospel. I'm inspired to live my life more committed to Christ and the Call by their example. I continue to pray for the YWAMers we know that are serving in far away places like Thailand, Amsterdam, Hawaii, New Zealand, Mexico and the U.S.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Praying for YWAM Denver

Many of you may have heard about the terrible shooting at the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) base in Denver, CO. This is close to our heart. Melissa and I trace our roots back to YWAM. Much of who we are and what we due was infuenced by our lives at YWAM.

As an update, we recieved a message from Peter Warren, the Denver Base Director:

Dear friends of YWAM Denver,

Linda and I just returned from the hospital at 6am. Along with a number of
our staff and students we were awaiting news of our four staff who were
shot last night. It's with a heavy heart I need to tell you we just lost
two of them. Tiffany Johnson and Phil Crouse passed away in surgery in the
early hours of this morning, Sunday December 9th. They were wonderful
young YWAMers in their early twenties. Dan Griebenow is in critical but
stable condition with a bullet still lodged in his neck and Chuck Blanch
has two bullet wounds in his legs but will be fine.
Thanks for praying for us. Our whole community has been uprooted as the
base in Arvada has been declared a crime scene and no one can return to
their beds during the investigation. We've relocated everyone up to our
mountain campus, Eagle Rock, for however long this takes.
Please lift up the family and loved ones of those who were lost in prayer.
We're so grateful for the worldwide YWAM family that is reaching out to us
during this difficult time.

Your brother in Christ,

Please join with us in praying for the YWAM Denver vicitms, staff and leadership - as well as the YWAM commuitty throughout the world.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Here Comes Another Bubble

Great video! If you're from our area this is especially poignant. Is there another bubble burst coming?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Best Pizza

OK. I admit it. I'm a pizza snob. I hate soggy, ham and pinapple, take and bake or mass produced pizza. It's offends my Italian American, northeastern US heritage! 

New York Daily News lists the best pizza in NYC. While admittedly the pizza in the Big Apple is truly awesome (my family in Jersey says the pizza across the river is better...), are they truly better than the Bay Area's Amici's or Tommaso's in San Francisco (just ignore the red light district that surrounds it)? I don't know, Jeremy, I thin the Bay is giving the Apple a run for it's pizza money...

So - what say you? What is the best pizza in your 'hood? Please don't say Domino's!