DOVIA Presents Annual Awards

By Trina L. Drotar  |  2019-03-29

Darlene Cullivan, CVA (Outstanding Achievement in Volunteer Engagement winner) with Rachele Doty, Photos by Mika Guevarra, courtesy DOVIA Sacramento

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - On March 14, volunteers were recognized by Directors of Volunteers in Agencies (DOVIA) at Shriner’s Hospital for Children – Northern California. Nearly 100 people attended the annual awards ceremony which recognized three categories of volunteers – Youth Volunteer of the Year, Individual Volunteer of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Volunteer Engagement.

Rachele Doty, CVA is the board’s chair and presented the welcome to all nominees, their friends and families, judges, and Brian Ricks from Assemblyman Ken Cooley’s office. Doty said that each of the nearly twenty-five nominees present received certificates from DOVIA and from Cooley’s office. He was unable to attend this year but is very supportive of the awards.

The Youth Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Abby Schumacher, who has volunteered at Fairytale Town since 2016. In addition to the certificate, she received the $500 Margaret Einsphar Memorial Scholarship award to assist with college tuition. Youth volunteers are under 21 years of age and must currently be students. They are also required to have donated a minimum of 25 hours of service during the year and are nominated by their organizations.

Schumacher was nominated by Fairytale Town’s Education and Program Coordinator, Samantha Hawes who wrote, “Abby has truly made the lives of people who come to our park helping in summer camp, programs, events, marketing and so much more. We are so proud of her, and she is truly a wonderful volunteer.”

Doris Henke, a decades-long volunteer with Snowline Hospice received the Individual Volunteer of the Year award. She received a certificate and a $100 honorarium gift for Snowline Hospice. Henke has spent a lifetime giving back to the community in El Dorado County where she has lived since the 1960s.

“Doris Henke is a name to be recognized and remembered. Her name is truly synonymous with love and caring because of the profound difference she makes in the lives of others,” wrote Bonnie Davis, CVA, Director of Workforce and Volunteer Services for Snowline Hospice. Davis nominated Henke for the award. “It is impossible to quantify the hundreds or thousands of lives she has touched through the years. This loving wife, encourager, mother, caregiver, businesswoman, selfless giver, community developer, friend, ministry-builder, and mentor lives an intentional life of service to others and is a shining example of ‘giving your all’.”

The Individual Volunteer Award of the Year is new this year, said Doty. “We had always focused on the youth volunteer, and DOVIA is looking to the future.”

The final award for Outstanding Achievement in Volunteer Engagement award was presented to Darlene Cullivan, CVA of Eskaton for her work. “I am honored to receive this special award as it demonstrates Eskaton’s vibrant philanthropic culture. Eskaton is grateful for the over 2600 volunteers who invest their time, talent and compassion to enrich the lives of seniors. I am inspired daily by people of all ages aspiring to make a difference. Eskaton volunteers illustrate our belief that Age is Beautiful.”

Nominees were judged by Carla Lehn, CVA, Cole Forstedt, and Valeri Mihanovich and had, Doty said, a difficult time making the final decision this year because all of the nominees were “so wonderful.” Volunteer service must have been performed in Sacramento, Yolo, Placer, or El Dorado counties during the 2018 calendar year.

Service includes work release time, without pay or for student course credit, and each nominating organization must provide service for the larger community, not simply for its members.

Nominees were involved with Access Leisure and Paralympic Sport, Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, ACC Senior Services, Sacramento Sheriffs Explorer Program, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento, Breathe California Sacramento Region, yolo County 4-H, Project R.I.D.E., Inc., Sacramento Tree Foundation, First Call Hospice, Sacramento SPCA, Foothill Therapy Dogs, Sutter Hospice, Oak Park Community Center, Gardenland/Northgate Neighborhood Association, and Junior League of Sacramento, Inc., Snowline Hospice, Eskaton, and Fairytale Town.

“DOVIA exists to support the volunteer managers, to provide networking, continuing education and support,” said Doty who has held several board positions. DOVIA presents at least one event each month.

For additional information, visit http://www.doviasacramento.org/.

Volunteers Pack 75,000 Meals to Feed the Hungry

Story and photos by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-05-22

Rotary members stack boxes of packaged meals onto a shipping pallet for distribution to developing countries. Photo by Shaunna Boyd

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Rotary District 5180 has 41 clubs in the Sacramento Region that collaborated on a district-wide meal-packaging event on May 17 at Rusch Park Community Center in Citrus Heights. More than 250 volunteers worked in shifts to bag over 75,000 meals, which will be distributed by Rise Against Hunger, a non-profit international hunger relief organization.

Music blasted through the gymnasium as hundreds of volunteers enthusiastically worked their stations, filling buckets with ingredients, bagging, sealing, packing the finished meals into boxes, and stacking boxes onto shipping pallets. Youth exchange students from Rotary International, players from the Casa Robles High School football team, members of local churches, and rotary members from throughout the District all worked together to package meals for those in need.

The meal bags include a nutrient package, a scoop of dehydrated vegetables, soy protein, and rice. One meal package boiled in a gallon and half of water will feed six people. Rich Hale, president of the Citrus Heights Rotary Club, said the meals are sent to developing countries: “They go all over the world, wherever the need is.”

“There’s a lot of starving people in the world, and you cannot function in society if you’re hungry. That’s why this is so important,” said Hale. “One bag can feed a family of six, so you can see the impact. That’s why we do it.”

District 5180 held a Poker Night fundraiser in April to raise $20,000 for the meal-packing event, and Heinz donated an additional $3,000. With a total of $23,000, the District was able to set the goal of more 75,000 meals.

Hale said, “We’ve been wanting to have a big District event, so this was very successful.… Hopefully this gives us momentum for years to come and we can do this again.” Hale said that next year they’d like to fill a shipping container, which holds 289,000 meals.

Hale said Rise Against Hunger is “a very well-organized company.… They bring all the materials and all the equipment we need.”

“This is an amazing undertaking,” said Pete Schroeder of the Fair Oaks Rotary Club. “It’s just incredible when people get together and it’s organized and they know what they’re doing.”

Jim Quinney, Rise Against Hunger community engagement manager for the Sacramento territory, said, “We started working with the Rotary in Citrus Heights four years ago for the 10,000-meal event, and it’s grown and now we’re collaborating with other clubs.… It’s just been wonderful to see the spirit of collaboration, and all these people are true advocates working to end hunger by 2030.”

Quinney described the Rise Against Hunger meal-packing events as “scalable turn-key operations.” They have the resources to organize events of any size, from large work parties to small team-building events.

Quinney said, “We want to engage as many people as possible. Every day we want people thinking about hunger and how they can help.”

“Helping others is a big part of who we are, and who the club is,” said Fair Oaks Rotary Club member Joe Arguelles. “It’s important to come and stand by your fellow man and help other people, help those who need help, so you can really feel like you’ve done something good for somebody.”

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Making a Difference

Story and photos by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-05-22

Keynote speaker Phil Oates (bottom left), Stanford defensive linemen Jovan Swahn (left) and Michael Williams (right), and Playmakers founder Greg Roeszler (second from right) honored the players for their service.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The Playmakers Organization is a local non-profit that coaches character through leadership and provides free programs to underprivileged and at-risk youth. Playmakers hosted their 10th annual fundraising dinner on Saturday, April 27 at Divine Savior Church in Orangevale.

The evening’s festivities included live and silent auctions to raise money for the organization. Proceeds from the event will fund Playmakers’ free six-week all-day Summer Character Academy. Playmakers founder Greg “Coach Roz” Roeszler said, “We seek out the kids whose families cannot afford any kind of summer enrichment, so it is extremely important we have funding for our trained coaches and volunteers.”

The Summer Character Academy will serve at least 100 kids, teaching them teamwork and improving their self-confidence.

Phil Oates, part-owner of the Sacramento Kings, was the keynote speaker of the event. Oates explained that the most important part of coaching is character development. He said, “Coaches sacrifice for their teams and always put the kids first.”

“Playmakers are making a difference for kids,” said Oates. “They are very fiscally responsible with the contributions they receive.… They’ll make you proud.”

The dinner was donated by Chicago Fire and was served by players from the Rio Americano and El Camino football teams. The teams are working together as part of a unique reconciliation effort after a brawl last season forced them to forfeit the final game.

The fundraiser’s title sponsor was Fitguard president Ryan Meier. Playmakers’ sponsor Harrison Phillips of the Buffalo Bills was honored at the event, and Stanford defensive linemen Michael Williams and Jovan Swahn attended as honored guests.

Thanks to many generous donations, Playmakers raised more than $30,000 to fund their Summer Character Academy. The largest donations came from the Country Club Optimists and the Azevedo Foundation.

Coach Roz thanked Playmakers civic group participants — Rotary, Optimists, and Lions — and all of the donors and volunteers for making it possible to help so many kids in the region. “Sometimes kids need extra attention. It’s about investing time,” said Coach Roz. “That’s what we do at Playmakers. That’s what we do as coaches. We never give up on the kids.”

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Walmart Opens First Stand-alone Transportation Office in Sacramento

By Kim Ericksen, Elevate Public Affairs  |  2019-05-22

L-R: Derek McCowan, James Hulbert, Richard Prescott, Uni Cerezo (GM of the Sacramento Office), Peggy Biro, Steve Harper and McClellan Park

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Walmart is opening the retailer’s first-ever standalone transportation office in Sacramento in a bid to recruit up to 130 experienced truck drivers for its private fleet.

The office, which opened a temporary location on April 1, will service stores and distribution centers in northern California, southern Oregon, and east to Reno, Nevada. Drivers at this location will qualify for the company’s recently announced driver pay increase. Walmart drivers can earn an average of $87,500 in their first year of employment with an all-in rate of nearly 89 cents per mile.

Walmart has more than 65 transportation offices throughout the country, but Sacramento will be the first that is not co-located with a distribution center. The permanent location will be located in the McClellan Business Park and will have a drop yard. The office will have 85 trucks and 100 trailers.

“We’re excited to open a facility in Sacramento where there is a deep pool of talented, experienced truck drivers,” said Uni Cerezo, regional transportation manager of the Sacramento transportation office. “Walmart continues to explore how we can operate more efficiently and serve our customers’ changing needs, and this office will serve an important customer market for us.”

Walmart plans to accept internal Walmart transfers and recruit externally. To qualify to drive for Walmart, a driver must have 30 months of commercial driving experience in the last three years and a clean safety record for the past three years. For details and to apply, please see www.drive4walmart.com.

Those drivers hired to staff the Sacramento transportation office will differ from others in the industry in that they will start and end their weeks in the same location and have home time each week. Other perks and benefits of driving for Walmart extend well beyond the competitive per/mile rate and activity-based pay. Some of the reasons truck drivers say they enjoy working for Walmart include:

Great benefits. Walmart drivers have access to company benefits on the first day and can earn as much as 21 days of Paid Time Off (PTO) in their first year;

Predictable home time. Walmart operates on a weekly schedule, so drivers know when they will be home and on the road. We use a bidding process two to three times a year to set their schedules, so drivers know where they stand on work-life balance;

Walmart is one of the safest fleets operating with contemporary well-maintained equipment. At Walmart our drivers drive and earn money rather than waiting for a truck to be fixed. Walmart offers quarterly safety bonuses and a safety incentive and recognition programs. The American Transportation Association has awarded Walmart the Safest Fleet in the Over 250 Million Mile Division for the past 5 consecutive years;

Transportation offices all over the country. Walmart operates more than 70 transportation offices throughout the U.S.;

No-touch freight. Walmart truck drivers don’t unload trucks;

Safe parking. Walmart drivers park in well-lit, safe parking in Walmart stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers across the country.


 

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Luxury Theater Opens at Country Club Plaza

Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar  |  2019-05-16

Cinema West CEO Dave Corkill prepares to cut the ribbon.

ARDEN ARCADE, CA (MPG) - Joining a host of other recently relocated or newly established businesses in Country Club Plaza is Country Club Luxury Cinema, located directly across from new mall tenant, Rebounderz. A large group of business owners and interested parties assembled Wednesday evening for the venue’s ribbon cutting and tours of the theater which opened Friday. A soft opening was held Thursday evening with a few of the thirteen screens showing Avengers: Endgame.

Invited guests praised the food, which is freshly cooked in the full kitchen behind the snack counter. Offerings include artisan pizza, nachos, fries, and popcorn chicken balls. More traditional movie fare, popcorn and candy, is also available. Margo Powers, Cinema West’s food and beverage manager, expects the menu offerings to grow.

“People can just come in and have a beer,” she said, without buying a ticket or seeing the movie. Tables and other seating are situated in a corner off of the snack bar with a huge window looking into the mall and across to the nearest neighbor.

Wines, beers, and cocktails are also on the menu. Sacramento, she said, is an IPA town so she has included a selection of local beers and local wines.

Guests toured the thirteen theaters, which include two giant screens. They sat in the spacious and well-cushioned seats, adjusted the table trays, and reclined their legs, which they probably needed if they returned to see the three hour long Avengers movie.

Several employees, including Dyanna Paredes and A.J. Souza, also live nearby. The location benefits Matt Ceccato from Congressman Ami Bera’s office as well. “It’s the closest movie theater to my house,” he said.

The lease was signed in 2015 said Cinema West CEO Dave Corkill, who also operates theaters in Folsom, Woodland, and other locations in California and Idaho.

Country Club Plaza has been through a series of incarnations, seeing shops like JC Penney move to Arden Fair Mall, Woolworth and Weinstocks close, and Macy’s move out. The mall, once a thriving retail location serving a broad population from Carmichael to Natomas and points north and south, is in the midst of reinventing itself, thanks to the new owners who took over a mere four years ago.

WinCo foods took over the long-vacant location that once housed JC Penney and more recently Weinstocks; Planet Fitness set up shop; and Flaming Grill, a decades-long staple on Arden Way, is centrally located in the mall. The theater is one of several entertainment venues the mall seeks to attract.

Rebounderz opened in January and features trampoline-based activities including basketball and dodge ball played on trampolines. A ninja warrior course is also available as are arcade games. Seth Pearl, Operations Manager for the mall, said that a virtual reality center is expected to open this year.

In addition to entertainment, the mall is increasing its offerings of food with several new eateries for take out or dine in. YouMingTang Wutie Tea House across from Luxury Theater is celebrating its grand opening, and the mall’s website says that Luchador Coffee is now serving.

Service businesses are also flourishing and include Sarah’s Alterations and a barber shop that will open soon. Rainbow, a fashion retailer, has also moved in.

A caterer, who was watching her daughters perform on the ninja circuit in Rebounderz, was considering space at the mall and a small business owner was inquiring about a freestanding kiosk space in which he could sell Afghan jewelry.

Although there are many empty spaces and there was not a lot of foot traffic during the ribbon cutting ceremony, the mall is growing. Not everyone is excited about the movie theater’s turquoise and rust paint scheme or night lighting, but the consensus was overwhelmingly positive Wednesday evening.

One woman wanted to buy a ticket and said she would return the next day when the theater opened, but many tickets had been presold said Assistant Manager Payge Lloyd.

“It was an exciting weekend and most showings of Avengers were sold out,” wrote Cinema West Executive Director James Howard. “The shopping center is buzzing with new activity, and it looks like we have a great future.”
For more information, visit https://www.cinemawest.com/location?house_id=49047 or http://www.countryclubplazamall.com/.

 

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Rancho Cheerleads AMGEN to the Sierras

By Patrick Larenas  |  2019-05-16

Captions: And the race begins! Amgen Stage 2 takes off from Rancho Cordova. Photo by Jose Lopez

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - On Monday May 13th AMGEN’s blue 2019 Tour of California portal opened an adventure of a lifetime for professional cyclists into our state’s renown scenic panoramas. At roughly 89 feet of elevation, Rancho Cordova became the perfect point of departure for AMGEN’s uphill race from the countryside all the way across the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Riding a bicycle a few blocks, for many of us, is seen as an act of valor and environmental consciousness. But those who competed for close to 150 miles uphill had the real valor and the full environmental experience―not to mention the strongest legs and lungs.                                                

Kristin Klein, President of the Amgen Tour of California said, “The 14th annual Amgen Tour of California will not disappoint. This year the riders will face the most climbing, the longest road days and arguably the most competitive field in the history of the race.”

“The riders know when they come to the Amgen Tour of California they’ll get a bit of everything…mountains, ocean breezes, lush forests, farm fields and vineyards – it’s quite a way to sightsee this beautiful state, and we’re proud to call the Amgen Tour of California an international postcard for the state.”

The starting line in Rancho Cordova for Stage 2 was lined with hundreds of local cycling enthusiasts cheering on the big race. This was a big day for the city and its residents in hosting Amgen.

Bob Stapleton, Chairman of USA Cycling said “Kristin (Klein) calls this one of America’s greatest races. I call it one of the world’s greatest races.”

“Economically this really is a Grand Tour. If you look at where the money and interest and eyeballs that support cycling come from, American companies are the number two direct sponsor of teams, and if you look at the total support, all the money, goods and services that come into cycling, United States is number one.”

Rob DeMartini, the USA Cycling President and CEO mentioned “I was immediately impressed by the depth of talent that is here at the Amgen Tour of California. I look forward to spending time with all of the American riders here and am pleased we were able to field a National Team and give our up and coming riders an opportunity to race on home soil.”

Present at the race, Mark Cavendish, of Team Dimensional Data said that with this Tour of California, ““I’ve been here many times, not just for the bike race, but for holiday and for training camps, and I always feel welcome at The Amgen Tour of California, so it’s good to be back.”

“The race has gotten harder, and the race has stepped up. As Bob (Stapleton) said, it’s one of the most important races on the calendar now, and with that comes a bigger challenge to win, and it’s good that more people are watching.”

George Bennet, Team Jumbo-Visma – “[Winning the Yellow Jersey] is the main objective. I don’t know if it’s going to be easier, but it will be a lot different than last time, without the time trial and different riders here as well. It’s going to be a challenging week.”

“The winner on (Mount) Baldy is going to get the Lexus. Mount Hamilton is hard, but it’s not like two years ago when we could light it up and survive to the finish…it all comes down to Baldy and staying out of trouble the other days.”

Richie Porte, Trek-Segafredo noted how this race is evolving. He said “A lot of ways this [The Amgen Tour of California] is leading how cycling has got to go.”

Tejay van Garderen, EF Education First Pro Cycling offered his thoughts on racing at home. “It’s always a treat to be able to come home. Now being on a truly American team coming and racing on American soil provides a different feel and a different level of motivation.”

“This race is for sure a huge target, and it’s something that our team has been talking about all spring, that we need to be ready to do well at this race” said Evan Huffman, Rally UHC Cycling on the importance of getting a good start.

Alex Hoehn, USA Cycling offered his gratitude on being able to participate. “I’m grateful to USA Cycling for giving me the opportunity to showcase my talent here at the Amgen Tour of California in front of the best teams in the world. It’s not often that a young rider like me gets to line up with some of the best in the pro peloton, and this will be an experience I will remember for the rest of my life” He said.

Rancho Cordova can be proud as a Amgen Stage 2 host city.


Sources: Marissa Mavaega, Canvasblue.com. Amgen 

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Sacramento Police and Sheriff's 17th Annual Remembrance Ceremony

Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar  |  2019-05-16

Sheriff Scott Jones reads name of fallen Sacramento Sheriff’s Department officers

WOODLAKE, SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - On Friday, May 2, officers from several agencies, including Sacramento Police Department and Sacramento Sheriff’s Department, descended upon the quiet Woodlake neighborhood for the 17th Annual Remembrance Ceremony, and to commemorate a new memorial plaque for Officer Mark Stasyuk who lost his life in the line of duty on September 17, 2018.

The ceremony included a procession of law enforcement officers from Sacramento Police Department and Sacramento Sheriff’s Department led by the Sacramento Firefighters Pipes and Drums.

Officer Paul Brown, President of the Sacramento Police Sheriff’s Memorial Foundation welcomed officers, fallen officer families, dignitaries, fellow officers from outside agencies, and the general public.

“Today, let us remember our Sacramento fallen,” said the 20 year Sacramento Police Department veteran.

Pastor Anthony Sadler of Shiloh Baptist Church gave the invocation prior to guest speakers.


“It is in times like these that we realize how fragile we are and how quickly our loved ones can be taken away from us.” Each officer, he added, to be remembered had paid the ultimate price, as did the fallen officer’s family, in order to protect the citizens.

“Today we are saddened, and also honored, to add yet one more hero to the rank.” He then called for prayers for Deputy Mark Stasyuk and his family.


“We honor Deputy Stasyuk for his extraordinary bravery in the face of imminent danger,” he stated.


Throughout the invocation, the bells of Sacramento Regional Transit’s light sounded gently. The memorial, a living monument, is situated across the street from Woodlake Park and behind the light rail station on Arden Way. Land was donated by North Sacramento Land Company, wrote Rotary Club of North Sacramento President, Stephen Lemmon. His organization, along with Woodlake Improvement Club worked with the land company.


“Since we had a great working relationship with the Sacramento Police Department, the idea was hatched for a memorial,” Lemmon wrote, adding that Rotary Club member Dennis Tsuboi submitted the design and the club contributed $10,000.


In 1992, “a foundation was formed including both unions for Sac PD and Sac Sheriff, reps for the Chief and the Sheriff, the Rotary Club, Woodlake and the Council Member,” wrote Lemmon.


A list of major funders, board of directors, and past board members is etched in granite beside the dedication stone that reads, “For all those who served & sacrificed wearing the badge, we are eternally grateful.”


Sacramento Police Department Chief Daniel Hahn spoke first.


“Welcome to these sacred grounds,” he said. “We will never forget the sacrifice that you have made for our entire community.”


Chief Hahn spoke several minutes about current challenges for law enforcement, community, and how these men and women “know what it takes to protect our community, to protect our values and our way of life.”


“We pray that this will be the last year that we add a name to this very important memorial,” said Hahn.
Sheriff Scott R. Jones spoke next, thanking Supervisor Susan Peters, general public, and fellow officers.


“I love coming to this place. I come from time to time. It seems like things are a little quieter, things are a bit more contemplative. It seems like I’m able to be a little bit more reflective. I love the fact that the community takes care of this place. It is truly hollow ground,” he said, adding that he also hates that there needs to be a place like this and that another name needs to be added this year.


Mark Stasyuk’s name joined twenty other Sheriff’s department officers, District Attorney Investigator Grant Wilson, Galt Police Department Officer Kevin Tonn, and sixteen Sacramento Police Department officers.


“His life made a difference,” said District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.


Chief Todd Sockman, Galt Police Department, spoke about the family of law enforcement and the family that includes the community.


“As a family, we can get through this,” he said.


Following the guest speakers, the name of each of the 39 fallen officers was called, with a moment of silence, and the placement of a yellow rose on each memorial plaque by members of each respective agency. Each officer was honored with a white-gloved salute by a member of his agency.


Sheriff Jones said of 4 ½ year veteran Mark Stasyuk, that he “exemplified what it meant to be a law enforcement officer.”

   
Yellow roses were presented to members of the Stasyuk family who carried the flowers and placed them on his memorial.


Following a moment of silence, the rider-less horse was led in and through the memorial, a bugler played “Taps,” followed by a 21-gun salute, and a flyover of helicopters in the missing flyer formation.


“If one member suffers, all suffer together,” said Sacramento Police Officer William J. Conner in the benediction. “We are all part of something greater than ourselves.”


For additional information, visit: http://www.sacmemorial.org/.

 

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Lanterns Launch Peace, Love and Memories

Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2019-05-09

Newly-wed Shivangi Dhaundiyal decorated her lantern in honor of a “perfectly imperfect” romance shared with her husband

Gibson Ranch Lantern Fest

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - A Water Lantern Festival at Gibson Ranch last weekend launched thousands of hopes, dreams and memories on the reserve’s lake.

Organized by One World LLC, the event continued an international trend inspired by oriental tradition. At similar events hosted by hundreds of US locations, paying participants receive lanterns and marker pens. Sustainable rice paper is the canvas upon which messages of whimsy, emotion or hope are expressed. Illuminated by battery lights, the luminarias are then liberated to float in rose-hued armadas, carrying serenity and goodwill into the universe. The idea, say organizers, is to unite friends, families and strangers in celebrating life. For the Woodstock generation, it’s like attending a tamer, Max Yasgur’s Farm – with fairy lights and without mud.

Promoted largely by social media, the Gibson Ranch celebration drew almost 5000 participants. Some travelled from the Bay Area and Nevada. Indian-born newlyweds Shivangi and Bhasker Dhaundiyal heard about the karma-fest in their Sunnyvale suburb and trekked to Elverta. The couple celebrated the “perfect imperfection” of their marriage by lamplight.

Many luminarias were decorated with blessings of peace and serenity. Bereaved mom Ayrika Caeton dedicated her love-light to a lost infant son. Deceased pets, whales and unicorns were carefully drawn and launched. Before the launching ceremony, festival-goers were encouraged to meditate and share goodwill with fellow attendees. Music played, merchandise was sold, food trucks did brisk business and thousands of selfies were indulged. With as much serenity as is possible in a traffic jam, festival goers later departed amidst clouds of Gibson Ranch dust. Once the music ended, a chorus of perplexed goose-honking continued lakeside melodies.

Organizers spent the next day in rubber boots, clearing litter and lifting thousands of wood and paper craft from the lake.

Water Lantern Festival LLC is based in Utah and supports Water.org, an international nonprofit that promotes safe water in developing nations.

Learn about future water lantern events – including an October 6 festival at Lake Folsom at www.waterlanternfestival.com

 

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I’m Listening!

By Sal Arrigo, Jr.  |  2019-05-09

Suicide Prevention Awareness Program

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - In the 1990’s there was a television sitcom named “Frasier” about a radio psychiatrist who greeted his callers with the phrase “I’m listening.” Although it was a comedy, the show did focus on real-life topics and relationships and often the discussions led to one question:  what is the root cause of your issue?

Suicide is a very real issue in this country. We hear that a person “seemed just fine to me,” but that was only on the surface. To be quite frank on why I am writing about this subject is easy – I have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and I can relate to all the buildup and emotions on why someone would take their life.

Suicide, the act of intentionally causing your own death, is listed as a top ten cause of death in the United States, according to a 2017 Center for Disease Control report. So, I ask, are you listening when the person who committed suicide remained silent up to the end?

Recently, California State University, Sacramento hosted the Send Silence Packing national tour, a program of the Active Minds organization that brings awareness to college students who take their own lives. Founded by Alison Malmon when she was a junior at the University of Pennsylvania after the suicide of her older brother, and only sibling, Brian, she started the Active Minds organization. According to the organization’s website, Active Mind’s purpose is “to reflect the organization’s focus on action and student advocacy in mental health.” They have been doing this since 2003.

Each year, as stated on the Active Minds website, Send Silence Packing visits 30-40 schools and communities. The all-day exhibit raises mental health awareness, inspires action for suicide prevention, connects viewers to mental health resources, and jump starts action.

Send Silence Packing catalyzes conversations in a way that contributes to a community’s overall positive climate for mental health. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students. The Active Minds website, www.activeminds.org has a simple, and yet very powerful message: “Are you listening?”

I spoke with Barbara Gillogly Ph.D., a Developmental Psychologist and licensed Family Therapist, about her experiences with clients who discussed suicide. “I cannot tell them not to do it (suicide), but I can listen and validate their feelings.” Dr. Gillogly continued, “People just want to vent and be heard, and not be judged. I listen to the emotion behind the words and find people just want to talk.”
I asked Dr. Gillogly what she tells someone who has lost a loved one or friend to suicide. “Go to a support group because they have been there.” It is not pretty to go through the grieving process regarding suicide as this is the toughest guilt for the survivors: could I have done something to help?”

I asked Barbara if there are any signs that are tipping points to someone taking their own life. “A person may start to give away their personal items, or they slowly start retreating from life in general” she said. My initial thought after interviewing Dr. Gillogy was that I wanted to find out more about local support groups. As it turned out, I found a person who has actually been to one, and provided me with a personal and tragic story. Sharon Ruffner lost her brother Eddie to suicide many years ago. Sharon told me that Eddie struggled with his addiction to prescription drugs and had been in some trouble with the law. Sharon told me, “Eddie was brilliant; he was a gifted pianist, artist and scientist.”

Although Eddie struggled in his life, his sister never stopped loving him and when Eddie would call and blame Sharon for an array of problems she did not create, Sharon always told her brother, “I love you and if you need help I am here for you.” It was soon after that Eddie overdosed on the prescription drugs. One question haunts Sharon: “Did Eddie really mean to do this or just happened to take extra pills by mistake?” As with my interview with Dr. Gillogly, Sharon agreed that when a family member or friend commits suicide it is difficult to comprehend. “What signs did I not recognize?” is a question that Sharon replays over and over. One piece of advice Sharon gives to other people in a similar situation is that you “never get over it; you just travel through the grief.” Eddie’s mother, Norma, went into a deep depression which Sharon described as “having her right arm cut off.” Although her Mom felt this way, Sharon said to me “I never felt devastation; I just tried to help my Mom.”

I asked Sharon what kept her going after Eddie took his life. “I kept myself busy by taking some classes and learning some professional skills. It eventually led to a career position with the San Juan Unified School District.” Sharon did tell me, “you need to allow people to help you, and that grief is an incredible personal journey. You do need to take your time to grieve.” In order to help ease the pain, Sharon said that she copes to this day by taking piano lessons to honor her brother. She also goes to Pacifica Beach in the San Francisco Bay Area and throws a rose into the water because “it was one of Eddie’s favorite places to go.”

Sharon presented me with a newsletter from the Friends for Survival, a nationwide non-profit organization with a Sacramento chapter. The mission statement says, “We are dedicated to providing a variety of peer support services that comfort those in grief, suicide grief support, encourage healing and growth, foster the development of skills to cope with a loss and educate the community regarding the impact of suicide.” In addition, the organization states, “The loving outreach of Friends for Survival can bridge the gap between despair and renewed hope. Those whose loss is recent can lean upon the shoulders of those who have made progress in the difficult task of working through grief after a suicide death.”

The Sacramento chapter of Friends for Survival can be reached at 916-392-0664 or 800-646-7322. Their website is www.ffs@truevine.net.

Personally, I came away from this story not with an ending, but a beginning. There is so much the general public needs to understand about this very real societal issue. I intend to continue writing more about this subject in the future with the goal of helping one person or one family. It is that important!

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7) at 1-800-273-8255 or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Helpline at 1-800-662-4357.

 

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Lions Donate $150k to Society for the Blind

By Kristin Thébaud, Marketing for a Better World  |  2019-05-09

Members of the Northern California Lions Sight Association join Lions District 4-C5’s Doug Wight and Sheri Retzlaff to present a check to Society for the Blind’s Shari Roeseler.

Funds to be Used to Expand the Low Vision Clinic

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Society for the Blind recently received a Vision 2020 campaign donation of $150,000 from the Northern California Lions Sight Association (NCLSA) and the Lions Clubs International (LCIF) to support the expansion of the group’s Low Vision Clinic and training space for people who are blind or have low vision.

NCLSA donated $75,000 to purchase equipment and vision testing devices for the clinic and secured an additional matching grant of $75,000 from LCIF to add an indoor orientation and mobility course.

“Lions Clubs across the world have a long history of supporting organizations that help people with vision loss, so we are deeply honored that the Lions chose to invest in Society for the Blind here in Sacramento,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. Roeseler continued:
“As the only comprehensive vision rehabilitation center in the Sacramento region, Society for the Blind is a critical resource for people who are blind or have low vision. The generosity of the regional and international Lions means that more people across California who are experiencing vision loss will have access to critical assessment and treatment.”

Society for the Blind’s Low Vision Clinic is one of the longest running community-based clinics in the region. The Low Vision Clinic provides care, vision rehabilitation, low vision devices and transportation assistance to more than 375 people each year.

Clinics are staffed by three optometrists with special training in low vision eye care and serve patients with cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and other congenital and degenerative eye diseases.

Clinic staff includes a vision rehabilitation therapist who works with patients with some functional vision, teaching them techniques to use their remaining vision safely and effectively and providing training on assistive devices.

“It’s in our Lions Club DNA to help organizations like Society for the Blind,” said Douglas Wight, governor, Lions District 4-C5. “Across the world, we work to bring greater stability and independence to people with vision loss by providing services and supporting organizations that do this work.”

Celebrating its 65th anniversary this year, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential.

Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for more than 5,000 youth, working-age adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit
SocietyfortheBlind.org.

Lions Clubs International is the largest service organization in the world with more than 1.4 million members. The organization’s mission is to support the efforts of Lions clubs and partners in serving communities locally and globally, giving hope and impacting lives through humanitarian service projects and grants. For more information, visit
LionsClubs.org.

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