April 27, 2013
I Care: Helping victims of crime

20130423_AOC_ICareICan_039w.jpgSitting at a booth outside the Capitol, Bill Spahn pleasantly fields questions from the public on behalf of the Crime Victims Assistance Network Foundation (iCan). Spahn, who retired from a career in various aspects of computers and networking, discovered the volunteer opportunity while searching Craigslist in 2011. After intensive training, Spahn was counseling crime victims and making presentations to law enforcement and parole boards. He noticed that iCan needed help generating reports for its financial backers. Using his programming skills he created spreadsheets that make compiling the mountains of data each quarter a breeze. iCan is run by three dedicated individuals, including Margie Cueva, at bottom left. "Helping them be successful is what I enjoy," Spahn says. "It's nice to be able to use my skills to help them use their skills."


April 22, 2013
I Care: Service with respect and honor

20130406_AOC_ICareWilkie_116w.jpgUnder a gray-blue sky streaked with pale yellow, Wilkie Liang lowers an American Flag in front of the Hall of Justice on Freeport Boulevard. He quietly walks through an empty parking lot before sunset. He reverently folds the flag into a triangle and places it securely in a drawer. Liang takes on many duties as a Volunteer in Police Service. His most sentimental contribution is making sure the flag flies on weekends and holidays, when the police and fire headquarters are closed.
Liang is a Vietnam veteran who served with the U.S. Air Force Reserve. He's known men who died in war. "You could say it's a personal thing," Liang says. "There's a purpose and a meaning behind raising and lowering the flag. It's because of respect and honor for the veterans. It's remembering them for their sacrifice."


April 15, 2013
Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Feature Photography, Renee C. Byer
April 13, 2013
I Care: Fighting AIDS by engaging with youth

20130413_AOC_CARES_265w.jpgHaving worked tirelessly for weeks, Ericka Dennis is on stage for only a moment to welcome guests to a dance contest aimed at attracting young people to get tested for HIV at Center for Aids Research and Education in midtown. An emcee dressed in drag introduces dance teams that energize the audience. Meanwhile, the mission of testing 1,000 youths within a year is being carried out by a team of youth peer educators led by Dennis, the youth program coordinator.
Dennis began fundraising for CARES when she was a sophomore in high school, which inspired her to later pursue a career in public health. "The numbers are rising," Dennis said about the infection rate in youths. "There's a lack of information and a lack of access." She faces the problem boldly. "There's so many types of ways to stop it, and the youth is the key."


April 3, 2013
I Care: Shooting hoops to help others

Jason Wada, 18, spends his spring break sweating in the sun to put up a basketball hoop and paint lines on the asphalt at the Salvation Army's transitional living center near I-80 and Watt Avenue. For hours, he and his father, Felix, toil over a 52-page manual as they assemble the hoop. Residents, who once were homeless, curiously watch from afar.
Wada has played basketball since age 5, using a hoop his father set up for him at home. He has coached youngsters in the Asian community and played ball for McClatchy High School's team. For his senior project, he organized a "shoot-a-thon," raising $350 to buy the hoop and paint.
He gets the hoop up, hangs the net and smiles. "I would like to envision a dad teaching his little kid to play and all kids of all ages enjoying it together," he says. A father going to his apartment with his child calls out: "Thank you."