August 25, 2012
I Care: Following Jesus' Path

20120823_AOC_ICareWright_056w.jpg Cindy Scott has tears in her eyes as she says goodbye to her visitor, Merle Wright, at Mission Carmichael Healthcare Center. One week, Scott was losing hope she would ever go home again. The next week was more encouraging. Wright gives her a kiss and tells her she loves her. "It's like I'm home again, Scott says. "She brings hope to me."
Wright was dying of Scarlett fever as a child when her mother said: "No. I know a Man and he has something for this little girl to do." She soaked her in a bath of chamomile infused water and Wright was healed. That powerful experience gave purpose to her life. At 84, Wright helps others with religious conviction, playing piano at church and visiting the sick. She wants to follow Jesus' path. "He went about doing good things. He went about helping the sick. I want to be more like Him."


August 25, 2012
I Care: 'Terminal Eyes' View Patients in Need

Ryan Landers suffers severe pain caused by advanced stage AIDS and shingles of the brain. His prognosis is grim. "I'm looking at life through terminal eyes," he says. Landers was the public face of the campaign for Proposition 215, which legalized medical marijuana in 1996. He says with certainty that he would be dead today if it were not for smoking cannabis, which quells his nausea so that he can eat. He remains active for the cause. "I can't stop fighting until patients are safe," he says.
Landers pulls himself out of bed to attend a Crusaders For Patients Rights meeting, stopping to say goodbye to his ailing cat, Rascal, 16, who is his best friend.
He became an activist after his terminal diagnosis. "I know I had to lose everything. I accepted death and at that point I knew I was either going to go to jail and die sooner, or I'd make a hell of a lot of difference."

August 25, 2012
I Care: She Fights Organ Donor Shortage With a Smile

"A fighter like you. Someone could benefit from your heart," Kyla Aquino tells an African American man stopping by the organ registry booth at a heath fair in Oak Park. Her charm disarms him and he changes his "no" to a "maybe."
Aquino, 33, a volunteer with Donate Life California, is a two-time kidney transplant recipient who has raised awareness about organ donations since she was 17. Her enormous smile melts hearts and breaks down barriers. Death is a difficult subject to talk about with strangers, she says, but she does is with grace. She makes a special effort to reach out to minorities where the need for organ donors is greatest.
"I have the courage to speak," Aquino says. "If I have the talents to convey the message, I've got to do my darndest."

August 18, 2012
I Care: Madison Brings Cheer to Cancer Patients

Wearing hot pink and a smile, Madison Zenker, 13, confidently walks into the pediatric infusion center at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center carrying bags of colorful pillowcases, each one as bright as she is. She helps cancer patient, Bryan Garcia, 11, choose one with dogs on it for his bedroom.
Madison made a carnival-themed pillowcase for her Great Aunt, Willie Garrett, who died from ovarian cancer in 2009. Garrett loved it and brought it to all her cancer treatments and hospital stays. This inspired Madison, at age 10, to found Cases for Cheer, a non-profit that gifts handmade pillowcases to cancer patients.
"I feel so accomplished," Madison says. "When I see their smiles, I feel so amazing. I know I can't cure cancer but I can make people with cancer happy."

August 11, 2012
I Care: Bed of Flowers Creates Community of Healing

A nickel. A feather. A pinwheel. Little red candies rest upon a white cross bearing the name of Janet Steinbach's son, Adam, stabbed to death on May 31, 2011 at age 29. Where his body was found now blooms a bed of colorful flowers tended by a grieving mother and watched over by the homeless, who have made it a place to grieve for their own losses, too.
As Janet attends to this oasis on Del Paso Boulevard by the bike trail, she feels her son's presence. Every hug and kind word from a passer-by soothes her. She says she is growing by leaps and bounds, becoming more like Adam, who was non-judgmental and had a smile for everyone. Grateful for the outpouring of support she receives at the memorial, she now volunteers at Sacramento Self-Help Housing at Loaves and Fishes. "I feel like he's teaching me to be a better person," she says.

August 4, 2012
I Care: A Child Helps People Through Her Love of Animals


Six-year-old, Patricia Bigge, is painfully shy and deeply sensitive. She worries about a homeless man and child she once saw and a schoolmate who was injured. She is scared of strangers but she will shout in alarm if you might step on a wasp on the sidewalk.
The blond-haired child is transformed around animals. Her eyes light up at the sight of birds, and she is giddy when she kisses the nose of her white guinea pig, Peep.
Patricia also loves to draw. A recent drawing of a farm scene will help her buy a cow, a goat and a garden basket to give to poor families, through Heifer International.
Holding up her drawing in church, Patricia softly asks the congregation to donate. Asked why she wants to give the poor a cow, she says she's afraid people might die of hunger and thirst. Her parents nurture her fundraising.
"She doesn't understand money," said her dad, Will Bigge, "but she understands animals."