January 28, 2013
I Care: Teaching self defense to women

20130118_AOC_ICareRocky_234w.jpgFive years ago Emerald Barkley, below at center, was attacked and nearly raped. She escaped but afterward decided to learn how to defend herself. "One out of four women have to deal with it," she said. "It's not the end of the world and there's things you can do to overcome the experience and prevent it from happening again."

On a late Wednesday night, Barkley focuses intensely on learning pencak silat, an Indonesian martial art taught by Rocky Twichell, a firefighter who teaches out of his garage. His silat lessons are offered free to women. He does not know Barkley's story behind being there as he teaches her. Having been the victim of bullying himself as a child he hates injustice, especially against the elderly, women and children. "If I can teach a student, especially a woman, to stand her ground or fend off an attacker from being raped, beaten or manipulated, I feel I'm doing a great service to that person and the community," he says.

January 19, 2013
I Care: Sharing a love of animals

20130113_AOC_ICareZoo_340w.jpgCarefully, calmly, confidently, Judy Gregory handles Steve, a red-tailed hawk, in front of a group of mesmerized visitors at the Sacramento Zoo. His talons sink into her leather glove. His sharp beak is just inches from her face. Once a wild hawk, his intense piercing eyes have become blind from cataracts, so now he serves to educate the public. Gregory supports him with grace and respect. The bird spreads his wings to soak in rays of sun on a chilly day.
Since 2008, Gregory has volunteered as a zoo docent. She has served as docent president, given tours, and introduced visitors to animals such as Steve the hawk, Pantanel the snake and Bing the alligator. "I just love animals," she said. "I love the bond you can have with them." Conservation is also important to her. "We need to make room and keep the animals we have."


January 12, 2013
I Care - love, respect and decency

20130802_AOC_ICareOlague_029w.jpgMaria Olague places a firm, supportive hand on the shoulder of Warchell Green, below, after he finishes his lunch at Health for All Adult Day Health Care. Though he cannot see, he can tell that she cares for him and he prefers her company above others during lunch. He cannot speak, but when she feeds him, he smiles and turns in her direction.
Olague is a Senior Companion Volunteer for 25 hours a week at the center. She socializes with the participants and helps with activities and mealtime. "Treat them with love and respect and decency," she says about the participants, who are disabled and mostly elderly. "We treat them right and they are very appreciative."
She thinks about her own parents, who died when she was 7 years old. "I want to treat them the way I'd treat my parents if they were alive," she said.


January 6, 2013
I Care: Friends for Survival provides comfort to suicide survivors

20130102_AOC_ICareKoenig_339w.jpgIn 1977, Steven Koenig, 18, who hadn't given any indication that he was suffering, shot himself. "He was the one I didn't worry about," says his mother, Marilyn Koenig. Through tears and prayers she struggled to keep her household with six other children going. In 1982, Koenig met another mother who lost her son to suicide. Realizing the need for support the pair founded Friends for Survival.
The group distributes 4,000 newsletters worldwide and holds numerous support meetings in the region. Koenig is developing state guidelines for providing support services to survivors of suicide. Giving them comfort, encouragement and education is "life saving suicide prevention," she says. "This is God's program, not mine. At first they look so beaten and so hopeless. And pretty soon they're going to start smiling and getting a life back."