Bird and Breakfast Nature Walk Reveals

Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-04-05

Among river stones, a Killdeer mom patiently incubates her clutch. Her granite-patterned eggs are camouflaged to near-invisibility on the flood plain.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Bird and Breakfast safaris recently introduced 170 nature lovers to feathered species in their busiest season. Two sold-out events continued a spring tradition at Carmichael’s Effie Yeaw Nature Center.

Recent sunny weeks spurred early nest building in the 100-acre preserve. In glades where wild poppies and lupins are bursting into flower, onlookers saw baby hummingbirds take debut flights.

The nature Center’s Audubon-guided nature walks have been a hit for 31 years. Dozens of species were noted last weekend. Herons, egrets and wood ducks sought breakfast in American River shallows.  Killdeer moms were belly-down and incubating on the flood plain. In ancient oaks, red-shouldered hawks delivered lumber for a new nursery. Towhees enjoyed birdie baths in rain puddles.  Bushtits lined their pendulous abodes with plant down and two hummingbird nests - tiny miracles of lichen and cobweb - were viewed through magnifying scopes

American River Natural History Association volunteers cooked a gourmet breakfast for week-one. Carmichael Kiwanis Club members whisked up pancakes for the second, family-oriented safari. The program’s outreach included children for whom bird-watching is a rare opportunity. Carmichael Club volunteer Jackie DeLu noted enthusiastic observations. “These kids have great nature eyes,” she said. “The outing encourages them to take their time and observe.”

Learn about the Effie Yeaw Nature Center at

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Sacramento Life Center Receives Grant to Care for Low-Income Pregnant Women

By Kate Towson  |  2018-04-04

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - American River Bank Foundation has awarded a $14,000 grant to Sacramento Life Center for the nonprofit’s Mobile Medical Clinics that provide free medical services to low-income pregnant women, including pregnancy tests, STD tests, ultrasounds, peer counseling, education and resource referrals.

“This grant from the American River Bank Foundation will provide vital repairs for both of our Mobile Medical Clinics so they can stay on the road, ensuring pregnant women have access to the care they need,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “We are so grateful to the American River Bank Foundation for understanding the transportation barrier faced by many low-income women in our community. With this funding, even more women will receive medical care in their own neighborhoods.”

For a schedule for the Mobile Medical Clinics, visit

“The American River Bank Foundation is committed to supporting organizations that create opportunity, enhance self-esteem and provide physical and emotional well-being for the most vulnerable women and children and the Sacramento Life Center does all of these things,” said Erica Thompson-Dias, Vice-President of Community Engagement for American River Bank. “We’re honored to support this vital work which improves the overall health and wellness of our communities.”

The Sacramento Life Center’s mission is to offer compassion, support, resources and free medical care to women and couples facing an unplanned or unsupported pregnancy. The Sacramento Life Center’s licensed Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic includes a primary clinic and two Mobile Medical Clinics that provide all services for free, including pregnancy tests, STD tests, ultrasounds, peer counseling for men and women, education and resource referrals. The nonprofit also offers a school-based teen education program, a 24-hour hotline and a program for women seeking support after having an abortion. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center’s Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic, visit For more information about the Sacramento Life Center or to make a donation, visit

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Velvety and Breathless

By Orchestra Media  |  2018-04-04

American River College Orchestra presents Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony and Soloist Irina Samarina playing Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D Minor

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Moving from velvety and smooth to turbulent and breathless, Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D minor is considered one of the great Romantic concertos and soloist Irina Samarina has the credentials to tackle the work. This concerto and Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony round out ARC Orchestra’s program on May 2nd at 7:30 pm at the ARC Theater.

The Romantic period is characterized by expanded orchestras and powerful expressions of emotions. The violin concerto is no exception.

“Sibelius’ concerto is full of images of Finland’s nature, cold as fire, dark emotional plains, dramatic melodies, and a lot of lyricism,” explained Samarina. “I love playing this concerto because it gives the soloist an opportunity to shine and gives the orchestra a strong role. The most challenging thing is to blend and balance all the emotions as an ensemble and a soloist.”

Samarina has been playing the violin since she was seven years old. She has a doctorate in musical arts and has traveled as a soloist in Russia, Germany, Italy, France, Israel, and the United States. She is currently playing in Stockton Symphony Orchestra, teaching, and is an active member of Music Teachers’ Association of California.

This will be the first time Samarina has collaborated with the ARC Orchestra.

“It is such wonderful experience,” she said. “I love how the orchestra brings melodies that the soloist is trying to stay on top of. It is great to share and put all thoughts into the music, music that brings a message of light and hope.”

The orchestra is also performing Tchaikovsky’s last symphony, one that reveals the composer’s virtuosity as well as the tragedy of his time. The first movement opens with the brooding bassoon echoed by dark notes coming from the strings before lightening up with a quicker theme from the winds. The second movement proceeds gracefully into the third which is the emotional highpoint of the work. The symphony is groundbreaking in its ending. Tchaikovsky chooses an adagio lamentoso, as slow and melancholy as the words suggest and then the entire work ends in a minor key.

“Some feel that the sixth symphony is Tchaikovsky’s suicide letter to the world,” said

Steven Thompson, ARC Orchestra director. “His death occurred nine days after the scores’ completion in what we now know was a coerced poisoning by a circle of Tchaikovsky’s former law school classmates. Their concern was that Tchaikovsky was about to be outed for being gay (in a severely homophobic Czarist Russia) which they felt would bring dishonor to their alma mater. They convinced him to take his own life through a dosing of arsenic...a horrible and painful death. The events leading up to his decision to end his life seem to have happened after the symphony’s completion date, but the story persists. At times melancholy and emotional and at other times triumphant and heroic, Tchaikovsky wrote that this symphony was the best of his works.”

For more information on the American River College Orchestra and these concerts, contact Dr. Steven Thompson at (916) 484-8433 or visit the ARCO website. General information can also be found at the ARCO Facebook page.

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Women’s Empowerment Graduates 1,500th Formerly Homeless Woman

By Kate Towson  |  2018-04-04

Recent graduate Cynthia Miller and her children. The award-winning organization has graduated 1,503 homeless women and their children. Last year, 92 percent of graduates found homes and 77 percent found jobs or enrolled in school or training.

24 women once homeless graduate from the Sacramento job-readiness program

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Community members from across Sacramento witnessed Women’s Empowerment graduate its 1,500th formerly homeless woman, Cynthia Miller of Citrus Heights, in mid-March. Miller joined 23 other graduates as they completed the comprehensive nine-week job-readiness program for homeless women.

Miller was homeless with her three young children when she was accepted into  Women’s Empowerment’s job-readiness program.

“Women’s Empowerment truly gave me hope and it boosted my confidence. It was so empowering because it made me realize how much I have to offer our community.”

Miller’s immediate goal is to attend college in the fall to obtain her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certificate and begin working at a senior living facility.

“My ultimate goal is stop this cycle of homelessness so my children don’t have to grow up in it anymore. I plan on providing a stable home for them and enrolling them in a school where they can make friends for life. Having all of the support from Women’s Empowerment helped me discover that achieving my dreams is possible.”

Held at the VFW Post 67 in Sacramento, 100 graduation attendees heard each graduate’s story and future plans. Each woman accepted their certificates of achievement from Intel, the California Assembly and Women’s Empowerment. She received a new handbag filled with a day planner and other items designed to help her succeed from the generous employees of Dignity Health, and enjoyed a lovely reception sponsored by Kiwanis Club of Greater Sacramento.

 “Our graduation ceremonies are a unique community event where women like Cynthia can be celebrated for their accomplishments,” said Lisa Culp, executive director of Women’s Empowerment. “At Women’s Empowerment, we know that employment and education are the most long-term solutions to truly ending homelessness. And today 24 formerly homeless women are re-joining our workforce, regaining safe housing and breaking the cycle of homelessness for themselves and their children. They are ready to achieve their dreams.”

Women’s Empowerment was featured on NBC’s The TODAY Show in 2015 for offering the most comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women who are homeless and their children. The award-winning organization has graduated 1,503 homeless women and their children. Last year, 92 percent of graduates found homes and 77 percent found jobs or enrolled in school or training. The program combines self-esteem courses, job training, health classes and support services to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and receives no government funding except for in-kind rent from the County of Sacramento. To make a donation:


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SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Assemblyman James Gallagher (R – Yuba City) successfully passed Assembly Bill 2290 through the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tuesday. This bill would protect witnesses of domestic violence by including them within the coverage of post-conviction domestic violence restraining orders.

“Witnesses of domestic violence, in most cases children, must have protections from domestic abusers. It is imperative we protect these people from continuing emotional, psychological, and even physical harm. When it comes to domestic violence, we must do everything to end the silence,” stated Gallagher.

Currently, if a defendant is convicted of a crime involving domestic violence, the court can only issue a post-conviction restraining order restraining the offender from any contact with percipient witnesses, those that witnessed the act of domestic violence and were called upon to testify in court. This fails to protect non-percipient witnesses of domestic violence, who are in most cases minors.  These witnesses could still be endangered, and minors who are physically present during an act of domestic violence still suffer significant harm. AB 2290 closes this gap.

The bill passed Public Safety Committee on a 6-0 bipartisan vote and now heads to Appropriations Committee for further consideration. 

For more information on Assemblyman Gallagher, and to track legislation visit

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River Cats to Partner with CW31 to Broadcast Nine Games During the 2018 Season

By Sacramento River Cats  |  2018-04-02

The Sacramento River Cats are the Triple-A affiliate of the three-time World Champion San Francisco Giants.  The team plays at Raley Field in West Sacramento, consistently voted one of the top ballparks in America. River Cats Season Tickets, Mini-Plans, and Flex Plans can be purchased for the 2018 season by calling the River Cats Ticket Hotline at (916) 371-HITS (4487). For more information about the River Cats, visit For information on other events at Raley Field, visit Photo by Barry Sibert

Local CW affiliate will broadcast nine River Cats home games during the 2018 regular season

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento River Cats and CBS13/CW31 have announced that they will partner to broadcast nine Saturday home games during the 2018 regular season. The games will be available locally in the Sacramento market on CW31, home of Good Day Sacramento.

After a successful broadcast of the 2018 Exhibition Game between the Sacramento River Cats and San Francisco Giants on CW31, the partnership has been extended for 2018 to include games on April 28, May 12, May 26, June 9, June 23, July 14,July 28, August 11, and August 25. Each game is scheduled to begin at 7:07 p.m. and coverage on CW31 will begin at 7:00 p.m.

“We are thrilled to expand on our relationship with KMAX-TV to bring even more River Cats baseball to those in the Sacramento Region,” says Chip Maxson, General Manager of the River Cats. “This new partnership will go far beyond a broadcast as we hope to bring our fans closer than ever to the action, introduce them to the personal side of players and coaches, while also working to impact our community in new and exciting ways.”

“CBS13/CW31 are proud to be the official Sacramento stations of the San Francisco Giants, and now the Sacramento River Cats.  The River Cats are a great source of local sports entertainment and we are looking forward to televising their games, while also featuring the team’s players and coaches on Good Day Sacramento and CBS13 Sports Xtra.” says Jay Howell, Vice President and General Manager of KOVR and KMAX-TV.

Ticket plans and single-game tickets are available now for the 2018 season. For more information, please visit, email, or call the River Cats Ticket Hotline at (916) 371-HITS (4487).

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Unsung Heroes Receive Praise

Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-03-30

Basketball fans applauded as Sacramento Kings’ executive Joelle Terry presented Lisa Daniels with a “Dream Award.”

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Lisa Daniels thought she knew the grandmother who raised her in Fresno. In college, she had to to write a biography of a loved one. She discovered “Gram” (Rita Hernandez) was part of a civilian force that had rivetted the aircraft carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt. “Gram always had great stories,” says Daniels. “But I never knew she’d served in WWII.”

“I wanted more information about African American war contribution. I was baffled by limited recourses and set out to gather as many first-hand accounts as I could.” Her mission taught Daniels (now 53) that many thousands of veterans are unsung heroes. “Most mainstream wartime stories don’t include the African American experience,” she explains. “I’m trying to get that on record. My work provides a platform for those who were not given a voice. My father, Milton Daniels, served in Vietnam. He’s been encouraged by the stories I’ve heard. He’s finally finding the strength to open up about his experiences.”

Eighteen years ago, his daughter founded the Unsung Heroes Living History Project. As of today she has archived narratives and pictures from the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and from all 20th and 21st century theaters. Such research is gaining nationwide traction; Last year, Daniels partnered with Indiana University Southeast in a project where students collected veteran narratives.  During African American History Month (February) Daniels presented the “We Also Served” exhibition at Rancho Cordova Library. She also exhibited 50 pictures for basketball audiences at Golden 1 Arena. During the Kings/Lakers game, the home team presented the curator with the Sacramento Kings Dream Award. “Afterwards, people were reaching out to shake my hand,” she said. “Their appreciation was a testament: we all have a story. As time goes on, we’ll all grow to appreciate each other.”

Daniels’ day job is in management of Capitol Heights Academy, Sacramento.  After hours, she photographs veterans and gathers memorabilia.  Many gems come from family sources.  “I’m humbled - as a total stranger - to be welcomed into homes and have families share with me,” she said. “I now see the military as extended family.  I’ve adopted every person I’ve interviewed. I check up on them constantly.”

Important history has come word-of-mouth from WW II survivors. Though trained as a nurse, Sacramento resident Odessa Taylor was assigned to the US Army 6888 Postal Delivery Battalion in 1944. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt lobbied for black women to have meaningful wartime roles so Odessa and 850 Women’s Army Corps recruits were dispatched to Europe. In harsh conditions, they worked around the clock to clear months - even years - of backlogged troop mail. Heroines in England and France, they got handshakes from Queen Elizabeth; they were feted in luxury after a triumphant march through Paris. Returning Stateside, no battalion medals awaited. Official recognition of their value to allied morale waited until 2009.  

 “Odessa Taylor has since passed on,” concludes the historian. “Telling her story pays homage to her and others who served. In earlier times, many of these people fought on two fronts. They were honored overseas for what they did fighting for us. Then they came home to mistreatment.”

Daniels feels the exhibition provides a vehicle to discuss the impact of African Americans in the military. “It’s great when people come in off the street, see the pictures and tell stories that give them pride and identity,” she said. “It’s also an opportunity for conversation about as us, as a collective people. We’re all part of the American fabric.”

Learn about the Unsung Heroes History Project at

Contact Lisa Daniels at 1-916- 664-8745.

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