Silicon Valley Reads kicked off its 11th year with a really powerful opening event Wednesday night at the Campbell Heritage Theater.
This year's two featured authors, Brian Castner and Sue Diaz, discussed their respective memoirs -- "The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life that Follows" and "Minefields of the Heart" -- and gave the audience a rare insight into the effects of war on both those who fight and those who wait for them at home.
Castner looks like a bearded, bespectacled young college professor, but it was nerve-racking to hear him describe his work defusing improvised explosive devices (IEDs). And everyone felt for Diaz when she described getting a phone call that her son was injured while serving in the Middle East with the U.S. Army infantry.
It's a message that resonated with the members of South Bay Blue Star Moms who were among the 350 audience members.
"We can relate to what she said up there because that's us," said Cathy Crowder, the group's president. "And we can relate to him, too."
The Community Reads program -- co-produced by the Santa Clara County Office of Education, the San Jose Public Library Foundation and the Santa Clara County Library -- invites everyone in the valley to read the same books and then discuss them or participate in any of more than 100 events over the next three months. Get the full schedule at www.siliconvalleyreads.org.
NEW DIRECTION: United Way Silicon Valley CEO Carole Leigh Hutton revealed the organization's new strategic focus on children and families at its annual community breakfast Wednesday in Campbell.
"We know that the most effective way to change community conditions is to start with children," Hutton said. "We have to help children get the tools they need to do well in school and secure good-paying jobs. This is the best way to close the huge divide we see in Silicon Valley between those who are able to benefit from our technology-based economy and those who are barely making it."
The audience at the breakfast included Campbell Mayor Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, who's also put an emphasis on children during his time as president of the board of supervisors. U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, who has championed legislation to expand the 211 telephone referral service, brought United Way a flag that's flown over D.C.