October 28, 2012
I Care: Chinese exercise keeps the doctor away

20121023_AOC_ICareYee_156w.jpgIt's a chilly Tuesday morning in south Sacramento and wispy clouds suggest that rain may come. Fresh air rustles through the trees as a dozen people gather for a Quigong class at Reichmuth Park. Gene Yee, 84, leads the group with rhythmic sets of 24 exercises, each having a name such as White Crane Spreads wings or Grasp Bird's Tail. "Woooon, twoooo, threeeee..." he sings out until he reaches 10, then leads them to the next movement. "It circulates the blood," says Charlotte Holder. "every part of the body is represented."
Anyone can join the group, which meets at 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday, weather permitting. Membership, which includes two communal meals, is $20 a year.
"All the time, get stronger," Yee says. "Makes you younger too." He laughs heartily. "Keeps the doctor away. Happy all the time."

October 20, 2012
I Care: A family labor of love

20121018_AOC_ICareBaumbach_110a.jpgThe office of Tim Baumbach, below, the Central Downtown Food Basket's executive director, is a broom closet, but he doesn't spend much time there anyway. He unloads food trucks, coordinates volunteers putting out food for those who are struggling, and gives them emotional support. With patience and respect, he listens, councils and stops to bear someone else's burden for a while. He shoulders that weight, carries it home to his family, then lets it melt away. "I want to remain strong for them," he said. "I can be weak with my family because I know they'll hold me up."
His wife, Mary, and two sons volunteer at the Food Basket, and the organization is his family's labor of love. (Mary and son, Nick, shown at right) Seeing people get back on their feet after receiving help has kept him rooted here for 24 years. "It comes from the heart," Baumbach said. "I'm serving a purpose."

October 14, 2012
I Care: Lighting a spark in foster youth

20121010_AOC_ICareWilson_062w.jpg Lorrie Wilson is bubbly and self-assured as she tries on a barrage of clothing for a fashion show featuring foster kids and their supporters. She chatters about which outfit is the most flattering, but her reasons for participating go deeper than the animal print dress and chocolate pleather blazer she selects.
As a Women in Philanthropy volunteer, Wilson is determined to help teens soon to emancipate out of the foster care system choose a productive path into adulthood. Simply dressing them in nice clothing and cheering them on the runway can be enough to light a spark of self-worth, she says. These kids have to "work harder and fight harder" because they don't have supportive parents or consistency in their lives. "We can't do anything unless we have that self confidence," she says. "You can learn that job, but self-esteem has to come from within you."

October 6, 2012
I Care: A heart for children and families

20120922_AOC_ICareHansen_106w.jpgDick Hansen leads a horse slowly around a dusty arena. With silver hair and a gentle smile, he strokes its ear to calm it so that its rider, Emma Ashcraft, 7, who has cerebral palsy, can toss a ball into a target.
Emma smiles ear-to-ear, but just as importantly, the gentle rocking as she rides the horse widens her hips and strengthens her core and leg muscles. The exercise helps her walk better.
For a decade, Hansen has been volunteering with Ride To Walk, which provides horse therapy for young people with disabilities. He knows the stress a child's disability can bring and wants to make it easier for families to stay together. "I think of the parents 24-7 with these children," he said. "I can dedicate a few hours a week. They are so appreciative. We're helping them as well as the child."