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'

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Amazing Moment in Our History

I'm sitting in my office listening to the Democratic National Convention. Whatever the politics, I think it's truly amazing that today, 45 years to the day after MLK's "I Have A Dream Speech" we now have our first African American major party presidential candidate. In a big way, 'the Dream' is being fulfilled. 

I cannot help but stop and recognize the significance of this event. It really brings hope to many of the people I love and serve. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Reflections of Reality Blog / Growth at NCUD

My coworker Jenni Ingram (aka 'Reflections of Reality) recently blogged about her job at Northern California Urban Development (NCUD). See her blog here.

We've recently been blessed to bring on two new staffers. Gilbert Chaidez came on as a program developer to work with the development of our youth programs. He was funded through a generous grant from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. As Jenni mentions in her blog, she was doing double duty as admin support and Youth Program Manager. Through her leadership our programs have grown so much we were able to bring Cynthia Ruiz on as admin support. This frees Jenni to focus her attention on the youth programs. Jenni's blog has a great update on what we're doing. Check it out! 

I've known Cynthia for many years through my time at BCM. She's a wonderful young leader who has grown up in East Palo Alto. We're blessed to have both Gil and Cynthia on our team. You can see more about them on our website here.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Changes, Changes...

The last few weeks have been ones of incredible changes. We've been blessed to be able to purchase a house! For eight years we've been living in rented spaces, and for 6 years at the Willow road apartment. If you saw our apartment, you'd know how small it was. None the less, we were thankful and tried to use the place to the best of our ability. 

More of less for the last year we've been looking at houses, trying to take advantage of the down market. About 6 months ago we looked at a house on Saratoga Ave in East Palo Alto. It sort of a duplex with a two bedroom apartment upstairs that could be used as a rental. Months ago we contacted the owner about a sale - but he laughed at our offer and sent us away. The market has continued to drop in the mean time, and we ended up picking the place up for just short of $40k lower than our last offer! I have some thoughts about the market and my conflicted thoughts about reaping the benefits of heartache - more on that in the near future. We picked up the keys a week ago. Since then we've been cleaning, packing and moving. We also painted Sam's room with a Yankee blue accented wall and proudly pasted a Fathead Yankee 'NY'.

This morning we moved in. I want to say a big thanks to Steve and Amy Joh, Pastor Bains, Katie Fantin, Stu Hyland, Cherokee and Justin Dickey and Bro. Keith for helping us move. One good thing about an small apartment is having less things to move. We had everything loaded into our new place in about two hours! I'll post more pictures in the near future. 

After eight years of serving and loving East Palo Alto and living in east Menlo Park, we're thrilled to be living in EPA! However, we have 'much luv for eMP'! 

Not that that isn't enough alone - we also adopted a dog, Ralph. We've wanted a dog since we had to give our beloved Max away (not to be confused with our wonderful friend and Sam's uncle Max Torres) when we left Modesto. With the small apartment we just couldn't swing it. Ralph came to us via Grateful Dogs Rescue in San Francisco. He's a six year old German Shepherd (like Max was, but again, not Torres). No one knows what happened to him - other than that he came off the street and into a  'high kill shelter' where GDR saved him before he was put to sleep. He's been in foster care with the rescue for about a year, just waiting for the Liotti's to come get him! He's housebroken and completely lovable. We've been joking that he's slightly like each of us. He was to be right in the middle of things like Samuel, he's slightly melancholy like me and has a touch of anxiousness like Melissa.

So - all in all it's fair to say life has been slightly nuts. No wonder that the blog posts have been slow coming! Please pray for the Liotti's - including Ralph...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bronx Blues

The Yankees, sheessh... Come on, I'm DYING here. 2 and 6 on the current road stand, 9 games out in the division lead. Girardi - PLEASE stop benching Damon. 

No joy in mudville....

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Universe

Is set back in order. Samuel came home today after three weeks of vacation with his uncle and grandmother in the Central Valley. It's amazing how empty it feels without him around. What are we going to do when he leaves for college??!! I don't even want to think about it:(

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Domestic Life

Wow, things are changing. Melissa and I are spening the day looking at furniture, stoves, washer and dryer combos and dish washers. We drove from an appliance store in Hawyard to the San Jose Flea Market to the Great Mall in Milpitas.

Now that I have a better handle on what we need I can scour Craigs List and see what bargains I can find. I feel so 'domestic'!

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Some Great News!

I have some wonderful news on the home front! After many years of praying and many months of looking we're close to closing on a new home for our family in East Palo Alto! If all goes well, our new place will close escrow on the 13th. For eight years now we've lived in the east Menlo Park Belle Haven neighborhood - but our whole lives have been invested in EPA. We're thrilled to finally be able to live in the community that God has called us to serve.

The place we're buying is at 1143 Saratoga, directly across from the Cityteam building and about a 7 iron golf shot from where we currently reside on Willow Rd. It also has a wonderful two bedroom 2nd story apartment that we'll be renting out right away, so please let anyone know who is looking for a place.

Not comes the fun part - we're looking for a few willing hands and strong backs to help us move on Saturday, August 23rd starting at 8:00 am. Those of you who know our current place, know that we don't have too much stuff, so with enough help I think we could knock it out in a couple of hours. If you can come by and give us a hand - we'd be blessed and honored.

Please keep praying for us during this exciting and somewhat scary transition for us. If something goes wrong with the closing of the house in the upcoming days, I'll shoot a follow up email. Please let me know if you can help so we can plan accordingly...

Peace and blessings,

- John and Melissa Liotti

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Post from God's Politics

I enjoyed this post from the God's Politics blog. about Gold medal-winner Tommie Smith and bronze medal-winner John Carlos in the iconic image from the 1968 Olympics. Honestly, not know the back story, I didn't realize the faith connection and deeper implications of the athletes' actions. The post quotes MLK:
"There are some who still find the cross a stumbling block, others consider it foolishness, but I am more convinced than ever before that it is the power of God unto social and individual salvation."

Pictures from Yesterday

Melissa and I enjoyed the Frida exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) yesterday. She's one of Melissa's favorite painters mostly because I think she reminds her of our life in Mexico and our friend Lucy (who we recently made contact with after over 10 years).

As for me, I'm much more a Diego Rivera fan because of his themes of the working class struggle. I didn't realize the connection that Diego and Frida had with San Francisco. They did much of their work here.

Afterword we went to dinner at Nola's in Palo Alto. I had a gift certificate for there I was given on my birthday. What a great blessing!

Saturday, August 02, 2008


Hanging in SF with the wife today. We're going to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit that runs through the end of September.

Might crash the Apple store and pick up a Bluetooth headset so I can comply with the new Califonia law.

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