January 20, 2014
I Care: Healing with the power of human touch

Thumbnail image for LS I CARE TOUCH 4.jpg In the final stages of Alzheimer's, Donald Sanderson is unable to communicate verbally. But Monica Pleinis connects with him through the power of human touch. As a certified touch therapist with Healing Hands, Healing Hearts, she pays weekly visits to the Army veteran who fought in two wars and now fights for his life at his West Sacramento home. She caresses his frail body and tells him softly that she loves him. His face lights up and he gently squeezes her hand. The nonprofit has branches in Sacramento and Kern counties as well as in Puerto Rico. Their goal is to ease the mind, body and spirit of the terminally ill and those suffering with chronic or critical illness. Pleinis says her journey began as a way to find peace while mourning the death of her infant daughter. "I'm healing their soul so I can hand them over to God again, pure and clean," she says.


For more information call (916) 968-0091 or go to healinghandshealinghearts.org

January 12, 2014
I Care: Delivering meals to homebound seniors

LS I CARE MEALS ON WHEELS 2.jpg Rose Tribolet stands in a dimly lit hallway and knocks loudly on a hotel room door. She announces she's with Meals on Wheels and an elderly woman opens up. A Chihuahua named "Mr. Perfect" darts out to greet their visitor, before scurrying back to the room that Sue Brown calls her home. "This has saved my life," exclaims Brown, who sits eagerly on the edge of her bed, holding a prepackaged meal of pasta primavera and green beans. "It's important to them," says Tribolet, 71, a volunteer driver with the Meals on Wheels by ACC's home-delivered meals program. "Maybe it's the only food they're gonna get." Many of the Sacramento County homebound seniors say the meal comes second to the socialization and safety-net services they get from having a volunteer visit them at their home. "It all comes from the heart," says Tribolet. "Can't beat that."


Meals on Wheels by ACC is currently seeking volunteer drivers to expand their home-delivered meal service to seniors in need. For information on volunteer opportunities call (916) 444-9533 or go to mowsac.org

January 5, 2014
I Care: Horsing around with some friends.

horses 1.jpg A black draft horse named Merlin gently nickers in Kim Elliott's ear as a mustang named Duke noses up to her treat bag. As Duke's "guardian angel" at the UC Davis Equestrian Center, Elliott doles out carrots like candy at a parade. Once a week, she dotes over the 18-year-old retired lesson horse, taking him out to graze at his favorite grassy field and brushing his wooly winter coat. The program is designed to give the center's horses some time off from riding while both partners benefit from the horse and human bond. Over the years, Elliott, 56, has cared for her own horses at her Woodland property. After her equestrian daughter left home and her horses were gone, she realized the need for a "horse fix." "Once you have a partnership with them, it's just amazing," she says. "They're so majestic. I really love them."


To sign up for the required series of classes on horse care and safety to become a Guardian Angel volunteer at the UC Davis Equestrian Center, call (530) 752-2372.

To suggest a community volunteer for the I Care column, contact Lezlie Sterling at lsterling@sacbee.com

January 5, 2014
I Care: Boy Scouts recycle Christmas trees.

scouts 2.jpg Covered in pine needles and tree sap, Andrew Evans gets some reinforcement as he teeters on the edge of a trailer packed with dry Christmas trees. He and other members of Boy Scout Troop 380 are collecting discarded evergreens from Sacramento County neighborhoods. Scoutmaster Dave Ishikawa says his troop has been treecycling for 15 years with the help of County Waste Management. "It's a way for the boys to earn their way to summer camp," he says. Most residents donate $10 for their curbside pickup. Over the next two Saturdays, Troop 380 hopes to gather up more than 400 trees. "I like providing a service to people," says Evans, a 14-year-old junior troop leader. He says the tree pickup helps the environment because "we can collect their trees and dispose of them without burning them and causing pollution to the atmosphere."


To have a tree picked up by the Scouts in the Rosemont, Mather or Vineyard areas, register online at www.t380.org/recycle or call (916) 363-0380. To find a troop that's recycling trees in your area, call the Boy Scouts Service Center at (916) 929-1417.