Heaps of clothing, blankets, first-aid supplies and non-perishable food items fill the floor of Zach De Leon's garage. When word got out that the 17-year-old Rio Americano High School student wanted to spend his Thanksgiving break in the Philippines helping victims of Typhoon Haiyan, donations from fellow students and faculty poured in. On a chilly evening last Thursday, De Leon packed only the items he deemed most useful in a disaster, cramming what he could into four large cargo boxes to take to the airport. On Friday, he and his mother flew to Manila. They will spend a week traveling, hoping to visit some of the areas most devastated by the typhoon. De Leon is the first-born child of Filipino immigrants and he says he feels a moral obligation to help people in the Philippines, even though his family wasn't directly affected. "Every Thanksgiving you say grace and you say you're thankful," he says. "I feel like this way, I'm kind of showing it."
November 30, 2013
November 30, 2013
Sitting with clasped hands and sympathetic eyes, Duane Phillips listens to an elderly client seeking legal advice. Just months after retiring from a 35-year career as a lawyer for the state, Phillips, 66, is staying occupied while putting his knowledge of the law to good use as a volunteer attorney with Senior Legal Hotline, a local nonprofit offering free legal information, advice and referrals to Sacramento County residents 60 and older, regardless of income. Since 2008, Phillips has helped thousands of vulnerable seniors. Many cannot afford to hire an attorney as they struggle with legal issues ranging from estate planning to financial elder abuse. Hearing the terror in some seniors' voices when they call the hotline is heart rending, he says, until he advises them on how to exercise their legal rights. "Often they seem really reassured - which is a good feeling," he says.
Sacramento County residents 60 and older can call the Senior Legal Hotline at:
November 5, 2013
One smile from Pam Whitehead could lift anyone's spirits as she gently encourages cancer survivors working to rebuild their strength at the Savvy Fitness center in Folsom. Diagnosed in 2000 with uterine cancer, the Sacramento architect realized the need locally for a cancer recovery program on her own personal journey to recapture her health. She began cycling and became involved with the Livestrong Foundation where she was recognized for her community outreach efforts and awarded money, which she used to launch the Triumph Fitness Program in 2005. Through a partnership with Savvy Health Solutions who provide instructors certified specifically to work with cancer survivors, the Triumph Cancer Foundation offers a 12-week program at three area locations at no cost to participants who have completed cancer treatment. Whitehead says that at the beginning of the program, some individuals are so weak from treatment, they can't even lift a bag of groceries. "The whole idea is to help people remember that they can be successful," she says. "We're helping them say good-bye to cancer and giving them the tools to move forward."
For information on the Triumph Fitness program go to: http://triumphfound.org/
October 28, 2013
American flags rustle gently in the breeze at a roadside memorial on Meiss Road in rural Sloughhouse, once the tragic scene of an "officer down." Retired Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff Don Judd takes a moment to honor a fellow officer, Deputy Jeffrey Mitchell, at a memorial along the desolate roadway where Mitchell was shot to death with his own weapon while conducting a traffic stop on a white Chevrolet van in the early hours of Oct. 27, 2006. The investigation remains open and detectives are still seeking for information about the case. As members of the Bruce Verhoeven Foundation, Judd and others personally deliver floral arrangements to Mitchell's memorial and the grave sites of 17 other local sheriff's deputies killed in the line of duty since 1850, on the anniversary of their deaths. Established in 1975 as the Widows and Orphans fund, the foundation provides financial assistance to local members of law enforcement and their families in crisis due to illness, death or other catastrophe. Judd says it's a good feeling knowing the flowers will be there for the families when they show up. "Whether you knew the guy or not, they're still part of your family," he said. "They gave it all for the job."
To learn more about the Bruce Verhoeven Foundation go to: verhoevenfoundation.org
October 20, 2013
In a small visiting room with sage-colored walls, Kendall Schrader snuggles with a one-eyed rabbit named "Willy AKA Black Jack," which came to the Placer SPCA as a stray, requiring surgery. Black Jack is among the many animals helped by the center's Guardian Angel fund, a program supported by donations for animals in need of medical or dental attention to improve their lives and chances for adoption. Kendall wanted to help the animals, so for her ninth birthday party last week, the Roseville girl suggested that in lieu of gifts, her guests could bring a donation for the Guardian Angel program. With contributions from families of classmates, soccer friends and neighbors, Kendall raised nearly $500 at her party. But word got out, and donations kept coming in. Her mom's co-workers added to the pot, and even her 11-year-old sister, Eleece, gave $40 of her own money. On Friday, Kendall walked into the Roseville shelter, beaming with pride, and handed a wad of cash and checks totaling just over $900 to Tami Schmitz at the counter. "There's a lot more (animals) that I need to help," she said. "I'm going to do it every year now."
To donate to the Placer SPCA's Guardian Angel program, visit their website at: www.placerspca.org/angels.htm
October 20, 2013
Navigating through a crowded classroom, his voice resonates through speakers for those hard of hearing like a beacon guiding ships through the darkness. With patience and humor, Joe D'Alexander, 82, teaches basic computer skills to a silver-haired audience eager to bridge the digital divide. After the death of his wife 16 years ago, he looked for a way to keep busy and began volunteering at SeniorNet, an international non-profit aimed at helping older adults transition to the digital world. With a background in computers, he quickly became an instructor and the site coordinator. For a $30 fee, adults 50 and older can take a six-session course on computer fundamentals. Those wanting to continue, can take a course on using the Internet or $5 workshops on topics like buying and selling on eBay, making greeting cards, and using a digital camera. D'Alexander says it's rewarding to see the students at the Sacramento training site located behind Rio Americano High School filled with confidence at the end of the course. "As they're learning things, you can solely see the enlightenment on their faces," he says. "That's a real good feeling."
SeniorNet has two locations in Sacramento
(916) 485-0572 or (916) 264-5462
October 20, 2013
Holding a pink plastic pan, Diane Nicholas offers water to two wide-eyed fawns bound together by fate. The young buck stands with the help of a pulley system, his injured hindquarters supported in traction by an adapted dog wheelchair. The young doe lies on a bed of sawdust, her front legs wrapped in splints. Both hit by cars, their luck changed when motorists brought them to the Kindred Spirits Fawn Rescue in Loomis, dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of injured and orphaned fawns. Nicholas, an interior designer, says she watched as much of the rural landscape disappeared during the housing boom. Starting the rescue was her way of giving back to the displaced wildlife. Some of the fawns are found by animal-control or CHP officers, lying on the highway next to their mothers, who have been killed by cars. Some are injured in dog attacks or by unfriendly fencing like barbed wire. She now cares for 65 fawns rescued from this season. She says the feeling she gets on the day of release makes it all worthwhile. "When you see them take off running, kicking up their heels and munching on some grass, it's pretty amazing," she says. "It's like a gift."
The Kindred Spirits Fawn Rescue is non-profit community supported organization licensed through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Rehabilitating injured fawns by members of the public is illegal. If you find an injured or orphaned fawn call their 24-hour service at (530) 889-5822 or go to kindredspiritsfawnrescue.org
The rescue serves Placer, Nevada, Sacramento and Yolo counties.
October 20, 2013
Some wear hats to conceal their baldness; others are nauseated from chemotherapy treatment. Evelyn Holley, brings along two daughters, all three recently diagnosed with breast cancer. But Randy Smedley knows how to make them feel better. Women at the "Look Good ... Feel Better" makeover session, a free patient service provided by the American Cancer Society, receive bright fuchsia bags of cosmetics donated by the Personal Care Products Council Foundation. With help from the National Cosmetology Association, Smedley shares makeup tips specific to cancer patients, like how to cover dark circles under your eyes or sketch in natural looking eyebrows. Patients learn to make head scarves from cut off T-Shirts and where to find a wig bank. A cancer survivor, Smedley knows how feeling beautiful can have a profound effect on the inner healing process. "When you think you look well, I think it improves your whole outlook," she says.
October 20, 2013
It's not uncommon to find Noah Rescate swimming with eels, pike, rays and starfish. As a volunteer assistant swim coach at the YMCA, he helps kids of all skill levels learn to swim in groups affectionately named after various aquatic life. In a humid indoor pool room filled with chatter and the smell of chlorine, five-year-old Jack Fresia floats peacefully on his back, putting his trust entirely in Rescate, who gently reminds him to look to the ceiling. Rescate, 13, swims competitively with the Arden Hills USA Swim Team but his foundation came from lessons at The Y. Now he hopes his love of swimming will inspire others, giving one-on-one attention to those who need a little improvement, kicking with straight legs, learning new strokes or simply staying afloat. "Just watching them enjoy swimming, I enjoy it too," he says. "I hope to make them love the sport like I do."
September 16, 2013
Growing up in Southern California, Tyleasha Williams watched out for kids in her neighborhood whose parents were addicted to drugs or otherwise neglectful. Now at age 32, she is helping to strengthen at-risk families in some of Sacramento's roughest neighborhoods as an AmeriCorps home-visitor with Birth & Beyond, a family support collaborative funded by First 5 Sacramento. Williams sat down recently with Laura Torres, a single mother looking for guidance parenting her three-year-old daughter. Williams says Torres is a favorite client but many of her cases are not so easy with referrals coming from child protective services and area hospitals for child abuse prevention. She says providing families with the resources they need and some education is rewarding. "If we help the parents and we give them the knowledge, then they're able to set that foundation for their children," she says.