Congressional Kudos Crowns Junior Artists

Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2019-05-16

Congressional District 7 staffers Philip Norton (left) and Ivanna Pincilotti (third from right) presented awards to national art contest winners at Sacramento Fine Arts center.
The artists are Justine Ibarra, Madeleine Ng and Riley Bloodworth.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Congressman Ami Bera’s office rewarded teenage artists during a recent presentation at Sacramento Fine Arts Center, Carmichael.


Sponsored by the Congressional Institute, the contest annually seeks entries from across the nation. In 37 years, more than 650,000 high school students have participated.


Artists submit entries to their representative’s office; a district judging panel then chooses the best. First place achievers win a trip to Washington DC to see their art displayed in a U.S. Capitol exhibition that hangs for one year. Top 7th District prize was awarded for Madeleine Ng's portrait of her sister Jaslyn in a balletic leap on a New York City rooftop. Called "Little Dreamer Dancing on Top of the World," Ng’s canvas reflects Jaslyn’s ambition to study at Julliard School of Dancing. Madeleine (15) is in11th grade at Cosumnes Oaks High School, Elk Grove.


Second prize was claimed by Justina Ibarra (18) from Sheldon High School, Sacramento. Dr. Bera will display Justina's colorful "Bouquet at the Market" in his DC office. Elk Grove High School student Riley Bloodworth (17) won third place for her digital composition "Looking Within." This will hang in Bera’s Sacramento headquarters for a year.

 

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Lanterns Launch Peace, Love and Memories

Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2019-05-09

Newly-wed Shivangi Dhaundiyal decorated her lantern in honor of a “perfectly imperfect” romance shared with her husband

Gibson Ranch Lantern Fest

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - A Water Lantern Festival at Gibson Ranch last weekend launched thousands of hopes, dreams and memories on the reserve’s lake.

Organized by One World LLC, the event continued an international trend inspired by oriental tradition. At similar events hosted by hundreds of US locations, paying participants receive lanterns and marker pens. Sustainable rice paper is the canvas upon which messages of whimsy, emotion or hope are expressed. Illuminated by battery lights, the luminarias are then liberated to float in rose-hued armadas, carrying serenity and goodwill into the universe. The idea, say organizers, is to unite friends, families and strangers in celebrating life. For the Woodstock generation, it’s like attending a tamer, Max Yasgur’s Farm – with fairy lights and without mud.

Promoted largely by social media, the Gibson Ranch celebration drew almost 5000 participants. Some travelled from the Bay Area and Nevada. Indian-born newlyweds Shivangi and Bhasker Dhaundiyal heard about the karma-fest in their Sunnyvale suburb and trekked to Elverta. The couple celebrated the “perfect imperfection” of their marriage by lamplight.

Many luminarias were decorated with blessings of peace and serenity. Bereaved mom Ayrika Caeton dedicated her love-light to a lost infant son. Deceased pets, whales and unicorns were carefully drawn and launched. Before the launching ceremony, festival-goers were encouraged to meditate and share goodwill with fellow attendees. Music played, merchandise was sold, food trucks did brisk business and thousands of selfies were indulged. With as much serenity as is possible in a traffic jam, festival goers later departed amidst clouds of Gibson Ranch dust. Once the music ended, a chorus of perplexed goose-honking continued lakeside melodies.

Organizers spent the next day in rubber boots, clearing litter and lifting thousands of wood and paper craft from the lake.

Water Lantern Festival LLC is based in Utah and supports Water.org, an international nonprofit that promotes safe water in developing nations.

Learn about future water lantern events – including an October 6 festival at Lake Folsom at www.waterlanternfestival.com

 

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I’m Listening!

By Sal Arrigo, Jr.  |  2019-05-09

Suicide Prevention Awareness Program

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - In the 1990’s there was a television sitcom named “Frasier” about a radio psychiatrist who greeted his callers with the phrase “I’m listening.” Although it was a comedy, the show did focus on real-life topics and relationships and often the discussions led to one question:  what is the root cause of your issue?

Suicide is a very real issue in this country. We hear that a person “seemed just fine to me,” but that was only on the surface. To be quite frank on why I am writing about this subject is easy – I have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and I can relate to all the buildup and emotions on why someone would take their life.

Suicide, the act of intentionally causing your own death, is listed as a top ten cause of death in the United States, according to a 2017 Center for Disease Control report. So, I ask, are you listening when the person who committed suicide remained silent up to the end?

Recently, California State University, Sacramento hosted the Send Silence Packing national tour, a program of the Active Minds organization that brings awareness to college students who take their own lives. Founded by Alison Malmon when she was a junior at the University of Pennsylvania after the suicide of her older brother, and only sibling, Brian, she started the Active Minds organization. According to the organization’s website, Active Mind’s purpose is “to reflect the organization’s focus on action and student advocacy in mental health.” They have been doing this since 2003.

Each year, as stated on the Active Minds website, Send Silence Packing visits 30-40 schools and communities. The all-day exhibit raises mental health awareness, inspires action for suicide prevention, connects viewers to mental health resources, and jump starts action.

Send Silence Packing catalyzes conversations in a way that contributes to a community’s overall positive climate for mental health. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students. The Active Minds website, www.activeminds.org has a simple, and yet very powerful message: “Are you listening?”

I spoke with Barbara Gillogly Ph.D., a Developmental Psychologist and licensed Family Therapist, about her experiences with clients who discussed suicide. “I cannot tell them not to do it (suicide), but I can listen and validate their feelings.” Dr. Gillogly continued, “People just want to vent and be heard, and not be judged. I listen to the emotion behind the words and find people just want to talk.”
I asked Dr. Gillogly what she tells someone who has lost a loved one or friend to suicide. “Go to a support group because they have been there.” It is not pretty to go through the grieving process regarding suicide as this is the toughest guilt for the survivors: could I have done something to help?”

I asked Barbara if there are any signs that are tipping points to someone taking their own life. “A person may start to give away their personal items, or they slowly start retreating from life in general” she said. My initial thought after interviewing Dr. Gillogy was that I wanted to find out more about local support groups. As it turned out, I found a person who has actually been to one, and provided me with a personal and tragic story. Sharon Ruffner lost her brother Eddie to suicide many years ago. Sharon told me that Eddie struggled with his addiction to prescription drugs and had been in some trouble with the law. Sharon told me, “Eddie was brilliant; he was a gifted pianist, artist and scientist.”

Although Eddie struggled in his life, his sister never stopped loving him and when Eddie would call and blame Sharon for an array of problems she did not create, Sharon always told her brother, “I love you and if you need help I am here for you.” It was soon after that Eddie overdosed on the prescription drugs. One question haunts Sharon: “Did Eddie really mean to do this or just happened to take extra pills by mistake?” As with my interview with Dr. Gillogly, Sharon agreed that when a family member or friend commits suicide it is difficult to comprehend. “What signs did I not recognize?” is a question that Sharon replays over and over. One piece of advice Sharon gives to other people in a similar situation is that you “never get over it; you just travel through the grief.” Eddie’s mother, Norma, went into a deep depression which Sharon described as “having her right arm cut off.” Although her Mom felt this way, Sharon said to me “I never felt devastation; I just tried to help my Mom.”

I asked Sharon what kept her going after Eddie took his life. “I kept myself busy by taking some classes and learning some professional skills. It eventually led to a career position with the San Juan Unified School District.” Sharon did tell me, “you need to allow people to help you, and that grief is an incredible personal journey. You do need to take your time to grieve.” In order to help ease the pain, Sharon said that she copes to this day by taking piano lessons to honor her brother. She also goes to Pacifica Beach in the San Francisco Bay Area and throws a rose into the water because “it was one of Eddie’s favorite places to go.”

Sharon presented me with a newsletter from the Friends for Survival, a nationwide non-profit organization with a Sacramento chapter. The mission statement says, “We are dedicated to providing a variety of peer support services that comfort those in grief, suicide grief support, encourage healing and growth, foster the development of skills to cope with a loss and educate the community regarding the impact of suicide.” In addition, the organization states, “The loving outreach of Friends for Survival can bridge the gap between despair and renewed hope. Those whose loss is recent can lean upon the shoulders of those who have made progress in the difficult task of working through grief after a suicide death.”

The Sacramento chapter of Friends for Survival can be reached at 916-392-0664 or 800-646-7322. Their website is www.ffs@truevine.net.

Personally, I came away from this story not with an ending, but a beginning. There is so much the general public needs to understand about this very real societal issue. I intend to continue writing more about this subject in the future with the goal of helping one person or one family. It is that important!

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7) at 1-800-273-8255 or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Helpline at 1-800-662-4357.

 

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Youth Build Community Garden at Local Church

By Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-05-09

Over the course of four days, the youth group built a fence, raised beds, walking paths, and a garden shed. Photo by Shaunna Boyd.

Garden Will be Open to Local Community Members in Need of Food Assitance

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Over spring break, the high school youth group from Carmichael Presbyterian Church (5645 Marconi Ave.) completed their mission project for the year by building a community garden in the field behind the church. During the four-day project, they built a fence, raised beds, walking paths, and a garden shed. Then they installed an irrigation system and prepped the beds for planting.

Lisa Torgerson, director of children and youth at Carmichael Presbyterian Church, said the goal is to supply vegetables to the church Food Closet that serves local community members in need of food assistance.

Torgerson said planting should begin soon, and they plan to start with tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash in two of the garden beds. The remaining beds will be open for planting by members of the church and local community. Members of the youth group, Sunday school classes, and the church will tend to the garden.

Sarah Tomlinson, a member of the youth group and a senior at El Camino High School, said that the group usually travels to other locations for their missions. For example, last year they built a school in Honduras for their mission project. This year is the first time they’ve completed a mission project in their home town.  “This project is different, because we’ll get to see the impact it will have on our community over time,” said Tomlinson.

Many of the kids in the youth group have been involved for years and have formed strong friendships. Tomlinson said, “This is a really tight group of kids here.”

John Wallace, a youth advisor for the youth group since 1992, said, “It’s important for young people to give back to their community, so community service is a big focus of our group.”

Since it is a community garden, it is open to the public, and Tomlinson explained that the community garden will provide an excellent opportunity for people in the community to learn about gardening. Tomlinson invited community members to “come check it out. The fence is to keep out critters, not people.”

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Lions Donate $150k to Society for the Blind

By Kristin Thébaud, Marketing for a Better World  |  2019-05-09

Members of the Northern California Lions Sight Association join Lions District 4-C5’s Doug Wight and Sheri Retzlaff to present a check to Society for the Blind’s Shari Roeseler.

Funds to be Used to Expand the Low Vision Clinic

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Society for the Blind recently received a Vision 2020 campaign donation of $150,000 from the Northern California Lions Sight Association (NCLSA) and the Lions Clubs International (LCIF) to support the expansion of the group’s Low Vision Clinic and training space for people who are blind or have low vision.

NCLSA donated $75,000 to purchase equipment and vision testing devices for the clinic and secured an additional matching grant of $75,000 from LCIF to add an indoor orientation and mobility course.

“Lions Clubs across the world have a long history of supporting organizations that help people with vision loss, so we are deeply honored that the Lions chose to invest in Society for the Blind here in Sacramento,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. Roeseler continued:
“As the only comprehensive vision rehabilitation center in the Sacramento region, Society for the Blind is a critical resource for people who are blind or have low vision. The generosity of the regional and international Lions means that more people across California who are experiencing vision loss will have access to critical assessment and treatment.”

Society for the Blind’s Low Vision Clinic is one of the longest running community-based clinics in the region. The Low Vision Clinic provides care, vision rehabilitation, low vision devices and transportation assistance to more than 375 people each year.

Clinics are staffed by three optometrists with special training in low vision eye care and serve patients with cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and other congenital and degenerative eye diseases.

Clinic staff includes a vision rehabilitation therapist who works with patients with some functional vision, teaching them techniques to use their remaining vision safely and effectively and providing training on assistive devices.

“It’s in our Lions Club DNA to help organizations like Society for the Blind,” said Douglas Wight, governor, Lions District 4-C5. “Across the world, we work to bring greater stability and independence to people with vision loss by providing services and supporting organizations that do this work.”

Celebrating its 65th anniversary this year, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential.

Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for more than 5,000 youth, working-age adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit
SocietyfortheBlind.org.

Lions Clubs International is the largest service organization in the world with more than 1.4 million members. The organization’s mission is to support the efforts of Lions clubs and partners in serving communities locally and globally, giving hope and impacting lives through humanitarian service projects and grants. For more information, visit
LionsClubs.org.

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Experience the Amgen Tour in Rancho Cordova

By Ashley Downton, City of Rancho Cordova  |  2019-05-07

The Rancho Cordova Travel and tourism staff say “Show Us Your Blue & Gold!” Photo courtesy City of Rancho Cordova. Photo courtesy RC Travel and Tourism

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - The Men’s Stage 2 Start of the 2019 Amgen Tour of California is coming to the City of Rancho Cordova on Monday, May 13! This is the first time Rancho Cordova has been selected as an Amgen Tour of California Host City. This race will bring an international team of elite cyclists to our city for a Tour de France-style race, and we invite all residents and businesses to get involved.


The Men’s Stage 2 Start will kick off on Prospect Park Drive in front of our iconic Rancho Cordova City Hall with a festival at 8 am and the race at 9:30 am. Heading east from the start, the route will follow White Rock Road through the City of Rancho Cordova, ending 133.3 miles later in South Lake Tahoe.


Experience the excitement of the Amgen Tour of California by joining the City and Rancho Cordova Travel & Tourism for the Men’s Stage 2 Start. Here are five ways you can participate and welcome the event to Rancho Cordova:
 

Show Us Your Blue & Gold! Let’s “paint the town” in blue and gold—two of the official race colors—to show our Rancho Cordova race spirit! Show Us Your Blue & Gold by taking photos and posting them on social media with the hashtag #BlueGold4AmgenTOC.
 

Need Blue & Gold ideas? We’ve got you covered! Go to CityofRanchoCordova.org/Amgen for cool downloadable blue and gold signs, pinwheel templates, and other creative blue and gold ideas.
 

Cheer on the riders when the race begins at 9:30 am. Come on out to the Men’s Stage 2 Start in front of Rancho Cordova City Hall, or find a viewing spot along White Rock Road between Prospect Park Drive and our eastern City limit. Note: The race start time has been changed to 9:30 AM. Check CityofRanchoCordova.org/Amgen leading up to the race for any additional time changes.
 

Join us at the free festival starting at 8 am in front of Rancho Cordova City Hall to see the riders and experience the excitement. Stop by the City booth for some free blue and gold cheering items, while supplies last.
 

Host a viewing party at home or at work. Stream the race when it goes live Monday afternoon, May 13. Make it a party by serving food and drinks, playing games, decorating with blue and gold colors, or whatever fun idea you come up with.

The City has mailed a race guide to every home in Rancho Cordova to help residents get ready for the festivities on Monday, May 13. The race guide includes background on the race, fun facts, road closures and a map of the race, so keep an eye on your mailbox. The race guide and additional information are also available by visiting CityofRanchoCordova.org/Amgen.
If you have any questions, contact the City at 916-851-8700 or communications@cityofranchocordova.org.

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Mentors Make a Difference

Story and photos by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-05-06

Retired Oakland Raider and NFL Hall of Fame player Tim Brown sponsored the Tim Brown 9-1-1 Playmakers Camp. Photo by Roger Riggsby.

Playmakers Football Camp Serves At-Risk Youth

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - On April 19, more than 100 young men participated in the Tim Brown 9-1-1 Playmakers Camp, sponsored by retired Oakland Raider and NFL Hall of Fame player Tim Brown and the 9-1-1 for Kids Foundation. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) hosts the annual event at their training academy in West Sacramento, and CHP officers serve as some of the mentors to the youth as they interact through football training drills.


Tim Brown explained to the participating kids that football was just a disguise for what they were really teaching at this camp. Brown said, “I want you to walk away with some sense of hope. Whatever your situation is right now, it can change.”


Brown explained that his father was not involved in his life for many years while he was growing up, and that caused him a lot of pain. “If not for the teachers, coaches, and mentors who were around me at that time, especially when I was in high school … I don’t know what would have happened to me.”
“You have people here who care about you,” said Brown. “I think that’s something that’s very important. Because sometimes in this world we can think, ‘Oh, no one cares about me’… But people do care.”


The Playmakers Organization, founded by Greg “Coach Roz” Roeszler, is a local non-profit that coaches character through leadership. Working together with Tim Brown, the 9-1-1 Playmakers Camp provides an opportunity for mentors to encourage and support at-risk kids.


“What we’re doing here today with Tim Brown is a Playmakers activity fun day for at-risk and special needs kids — just providing for them a great day that’s all based around character and doing the right thing and serving others in the community,” said Coach Roz. “It’s just a wonderful day of character and football.”


Coach Shannon Sauers coached with Coach Roz right out of college and, years later, he is still incorporating what he learned from Coach Roz in his own coaching: “He was the first one who taught me that character was the most important aspect of coaching. He taught me that it’s really about developing young men.”


Lorenzo Walsh, one of the Playmakers mentors, has 15 years of coaching experience, and he strives to get underprivileged kids fed, educated, and involved in youth football. Walsh said he knows all too well how difficult it is to grow up without the support and encouragement of a male role model, so he wants to provide that support to as many kids as possible.


Walsh said that bringing kids to participate in Playmakers is a way to “expose these kids to experiences and people they’d never have otherwise. I want to let them know that big dreams can be achievable.”


Football players from Rio Americano and El Camino — high school teams whose bitter rivalry ended last season with a brawl — served together at the camp as coach’s helpers, supporting the kids through the sports drills while teaching about character development.


When asked how his players were feeling about working with the rival team, El Camino Head Coach JP Dolliver said, “At the end of the day… they’re just kids playing football.… They shook hands. And this year’s going to be a different experience because of it.”


“I think it’s just a great experience for the kids to give back to the younger kids.… It shows the importance of the leadership aspect of being a student athlete,” said Dolliver. “It’s good to bring them out here, and I think it’s going to make them better football players themselves.”

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