March 30, 2013
I Care: Collecting shoes for Sacramento soles

20130326_AOC_ICareShoes_087w.jpgChristina Preston chirps cheerful greetings to employees at Girl Scouts Heart of Central California as she navigates a large box of donated shoes to her car. She is the founder of the grassroots Shoes4Sacramento, which collects shoes for a growing number of local causes, including Homeless Connect and Kops N Kids.
Preston, a native Sacramentan who grew up in humble circumstances, was a shy child who thought the future would take her somewhere else. Now she's firmly rooted here. She finds rewards in providing the needy with something so simple yet so important, and inspiring others to do the same.
"I feel more connected," Preston says. "It's strengthening my identity as a person to be a part of a community."
To donate new or gently used shoes, visit shoes4sacramento.com.


March 22, 2013
I Care: Healing through play

20130321_AOC_ICareRumberg_215w.jpgCheerful music plays softly in the background of the sunny playroom at Sutter Children's Center, Sacramento. "Do you have a good memory, Edgar?" Child Life Program volunteer Susan Rumberg asks. Edgar McKnight, 11, who is tired of being hospitalized, replies with a confident "Yes!" Rumberg laughs, and challenges him and his brother to a game of Memory Match. The feeling of confinement fades as they play a boisterous game.
The time Rumberg spends here is "a sacred commitment," she says. Her even temperament is soothing. Her sense of humor is invigorating. She heals through comfort and entertainment. "The goal of a Child Life Specialist is to make the environment as normal as possible," she says. "They are facing many challenges. A child needs to be a child, have the opportunity to play, interact with their peers and do what they do at home."


March 17, 2013
I Care: Sharing a passion for music

20130317_AOC_Conductor_202w.jpgThe tinkling of instruments softens. A clarinet sets the intonation. The audience hushes as the silver-haired conductor, Les Lehr, enters. He commands an elegant presence in the Crowne Plaza ballroom, where the Sacramento Symphonic Winds is about to perform. Soon the audience will be taken on a musical journey crafted by Lehr and played out by the volunteer winds and percussion band.
Lehr, who spent 40 years teaching music in schools, has been the musical director and conductor for this band for 15 years. Its purpose is to give people a place to play their instruments and to bring high-quality music to the community. They also support area high school music programs by playing with students and repairing instruments.
"Music is a passion for all of these people," Lehr says. "Music has enriched their lives beyond measure."


March 9, 2013
I Care: Fighting fires for 36 years

20130307_AOC_ICareFire_052w.jpgThe sparkling silver tank of the Metro Fire water tender holds 2,800 gallons, and when it's sent to a fire Terry Barnes will almost always be sitting in the driver's seat. For 36 years, Barnes, 72, has dedicated himself to Elverta's all-volunteer Station 116. The retired heavy equipment mechanic lives half a mile away and keeps his pager on 24/7. He'll rush to drive the water tender to every fire that his pager alerts him to. Actions speak volumes for this man of few words. Each day he comes to the station to clean or work on the engines. He's stayed steadfast in his post as neighbors and other firefighters have come and gone. Still, he feels connected to those he serves. "I take pride in living in the community and working in the department and helping as much as I can," he says. "It keeps my mind going because you never know what's going to happen next."


March 2, 2013
I Care: Giving back to the neighborhood

20130302_AOC_ICareTrees_082w.jpgMultiple hands of neighbors unite to spread soil around a newly planted valley oak in William Curtis Park. Jogging or biking passersby cheer and ask about the 16 new trees added lovingly to their park. Partnering with the Sacramento Tree Foundation, more than 20 volunteers from the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association spent Saturday morning planting, among them John Mathews, center. Since 1985 he has lived in Curtis Park, in the home his grandparents bought in 1945. Mathews joined the association board eight years ago; to represent neighborhood concerns about the Curtis Park Village development that will some day add hundreds of people to the area. "There's a great sense of community here," he said. "I feel like I'm a better person for volunteering all these years. There's a sense of satisfaction I get from giving back to the community."