Women’s Empowerment Raises $205K at Gala

By Kristin Thébaud Communications  |  2017-07-10

Women’s Empowerment graduates celebrate at the organization’s 16th Annual Gala in May. The event raised more than $205,000 to help Sacramento homeless women find homes and jobs. Photo by Jessie Rose Photography, jessierosephotography.weebly.com

Helps Homeless Women Find Jobs and Homes

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Four hundred guests at Women’s Empowerment’s 16th Annual Celebration of Independence Gala raised more than $205,000 for the organization’s comprehensive job-readiness program for women who are homeless in Sacramento. The event, which took place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Sacramento, included the chance to meet 75 graduates of the program who arrived wearing ballgowns and enjoy a formal dinner, live and silent auctions, live music and presentations from some of the graduates. 

“This event always feels like a magical night as women once isolated and homeless are now dressed to the nines and laughing with some of Sacramento’s top donors,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “Once again, hundreds of people came together in one night to commit to ending homelessness in Sacramento, one woman, one family, at a time. This is a community that cares deeply, and it shows.”

Women’s Empowerment was featured on NBC’s The TODAY Show in 2015 for offering the most comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women who are homeless and their children. The award-winning organization has graduated 1,437 homeless women and their children. Last year, 92 percent of graduates found homes and 81 percent found jobs or enrolled in school or training. The program combines self-esteem courses, job training, health classes and support services to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and receives no government funding except for in-kind rent from the County of Sacramento. To make a donation: www.womens-empowerment.org

Photo by Jessie Rose Photography, jessierosephotography.weebly.com 

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Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) is excited to announce it has been awarded a $13 million grant from the California Transportation Commission (CTC).  The competitive grant award comes from the Traffic Congestion Relief Fund and will support two major projects.  The first project will be allocated $8 million to fund the replacement of SacRT’s outdated fare vending machines along with the installation of new digital information signs with updated security features.

 “This is outstanding news!” said SacRT Chairman Andy Morin.  “The District’s new executive team has been working diligently to uncover new sources of funding in an effort to upgrade station amenities to improve customer service.  This is just one more example of SacRT going the extra mile to provide clean, safe and convenient service.”  

 Many of the system’s existing fare vending machines are more than 15 years old and only accept cash and coin. The new machines will allow passengers to pay with credit, debit and Connect Card (the region’s new transit smart card).

          “SacRT really appreciates the partnership with one of its major funding partners, the CTC, as these funds are urgently needed.  With these state funds, we are looking forward to providing state-of-the-art amenities to our customers,” said General Manager/CEO Henry Li.  “The timing is perfect as we just rolled out our new Connect Card, and these updated machines will ensure that smart card technology is available to everyone, whether they are using cash or credit.”   

          The grant also provides funds to install a second information sign on all light rail platforms to improve communication with passengers. Right now, many stations only have one digital sign and the coverage is limited to properly inform customers.

The grant funding will also be used to pay for the relocation of a traction power substation that is currently located on land owned by SMUD.  The electricity provider

intends to build a new substation near 6th and G streets to improve its ability to provide power to the region, but SacRT will no longer be able to maintain its substation on the current easement.  A total of $5 million will be allocated to the relocation project, which must be completed by the end of summer 2018. 

SacRT operates approximately 69 bus routes and 43 miles of light rail throughout Sacramento County, including the cities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove.  Sacramento buses and light rail trains operate 365 days a year. SacRT's entire bus and light rail system is accessible to the disabled community. ADA services are provided under contract with Paratransit, Inc.


Source: SacRT





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Widowed Persons Offer Recovery Support

Story and photo by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-07-07

Left to right: Deeann Lynch, Widowed Persons Association of California, Sacramento Chapter member, Claudia Ezzell, chapter president, Ginny Baldauf, Sunday Support coordinator.

Sacramento Region, CA  (MPG) - When Deeann Lynch lost her husband, Rick, of 30 years in 2012, she carried on as best as she knew how with life. But after roughly two years of widowhood, she says, something finally occurred to her that completely rocked her foundation.

“I woke up about two and a half years after my husband passed away, and it hit me that I was really alone,” said Lynch, 66, a retired school teacher with the San Juan Unified District.  “I hadn’t really given it a lot of thought before that day. I was just kind of operating on auto pilot.  But I realized all of our friends that we had as a couple were nowhere to be found. I took a look at my life and I didn’t really like what I was seeing.”

What Lynch experienced, the delayed impact of losing a spouse but not quite living through the grief and moving forward afterward, is common.  Just ask any one of the roughly 345 members of the Widowed Persons Association of California, Sacramento Chapter, where, week after week newcomers, just like Lynch, are greeted and welcomed in by long-standing members with experience to offer on how to feel, grieve, process and get on with reshaping their lives after the death of  spouse.

“Common understanding, the trust in others who have been through what you are going through, these are the things that we offer our members,” says Claudia Ezzell, the chapter’s sitting president, who lost her husband in 2006 and, in 2007 started attending the association’s Sunday Support class, which she said “changed everything.”

Trail a finger down the list of commonly identified top causes of stress, isolation and deep depression and you’ll find loss of a spouse right up there at the very top.  Widowed Persons provides a safe and convivial space for those experiencing the death of a spouse to recover from grief, release the stress, share their experiences with others, make new friends, stay connected and find redirection. Sometimes, as in Lynch’s case, this begins years after someone loses a spouse.  In other cases, it can be a matter of days.

While chapters have come and gone, the Widowed Person’s Association of California, Sacramento, was the first, founded in 1986 by Helen Krough, newly widowed and seeking a network of support.

“She was sitting around staring at the TV for days after she lost her husband,” said Ezzell.  “The funny thing is, the TV wasn’t even on and her son pointed it out to her that she was staring at a blank TV.  So she decided to put an ad online looking for others who just wanted to get together and share experiences.  She was hoping for 10 to 15 people, but 75 people showed up for its first meeting, which was held in the Carmichael Library.”

The Sacramento Chapter has since had as many as 500 members at a time and the list of programs and activities has grown from lunches and coffees to include travel trips, music festivals, dances, theater nights, monthly luncheons, dinners, Sock Hops at the Carmichael Elks Club, Luaus, walking groups, picnics, bridge, pinochle and Mexican train domino game days, bowling and more.

The chapter has a budget of roughly $60,000 and is run completely by a core of roughly 24 volunteers, all of whom have come through the program.  There is an annual membership fee of $120.00, which may be split into two payments. The fee for joining after July 1 is $40.00. Fees cover expenses for recruiting speakers, holiday parties, the printing of the monthly newsletter and other administrative costs.

Perhaps the most critical aspect of the chapter’s programming is its Sunday Support group, run by Ginny Baldauf, who joined the chapter when she lost her husband in 2003.  Sunday Support, says Baldauf, is the “core of everything the group has to offer.  It’s our weekly support group where all of us begin to get back on our feet. I started in Sunday Support. I came on the advice of a friend and I think I cried every Sunday for weeks, but eventually something turned over for me and I realized I had found a new support system and new friends.”

For Lynch, finding the group was also like being tossed a life preserver.

“I was going to a support group in other areas for a while, but I wasn’t getting anything I needed there,” Lynch said. “Then a friend brought me here and it was like for the first time I started to hear other people talking about the kinds of things I was feeling and thinking. I thought I was going crazy, but I realized I wasn’t. I was just needing to make new friends and feel that connection with people who understood me.”

In addition, the chapter offers four, six-week Grief and Recovery workshops each year, which are free to all and set to begin again July 13. Topics, according to workshop coordinator, Chuck Beaver, cover overcoming grief, coping with stress and anxiety, and changing relationships and moving on with your life.  The workshops culminate with a potluck event.

Men and women alike come seeking that initial support in dealing with the death of a spouse.  For most, the death has come suddenly and there is deep, profound and seemingly unshakable grief.  For others, such as caregivers of a spouse suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or other long-term illnesses who have had time to plan for change, the grief comes sneaking up from behind as they experience not just the loss of a loved one, but the loss of their identity as a caretaker.

“Many caregivers experience deep grief because their role as caretaker is now over and they find themselves without a sense of director or purpose, once that role has ended,” Baldauf said.

Because women tend to outlive men, membership is largely comprised of women,” said Ezzell. The average age of the group’s membership is 79 and that’s a concern.  With a goal to grow the membership base and increase funding, the group is amidst an effort to attract younger members. The challenge, said Ezzell, is that younger widows and widowers tend to still have careers and the ability to do more socializing to make new friends. Older members come in with fewer connections as they have typically been retired for some years and or their friends are primarily also passed away.

“It’s tough to get younger members in but we need them to grow,” Ezzell said. “Many younger people who lose a spouse still have a place to go every day. They work or they are in school, or raising small children, so they have roles and networks.”

Since joining the chapter, Lynch has begun volunteering in the office and supports Baldauf with Sunday Support. She also said she’s done a few things she’d stopped doing when her husband died, namely, traveling. But perhaps more importantly, she’s made new connections with people and from those connections have come new friendships, a key to recovery.

“I’ve started traveling again, which is something my husband and I did do together,” Lynch said. “But the big thing is that I’ve made new friends here. The people you meet in the Sunday Support group become your friends and you find you are doing things again and are part of this new community. They become like a new family.”

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Women’s Action Group Becomes “Women United”

By Kristin Thébaud   |  2017-07-07

Tracy Sambrano, Ruth Miller, Romy Cody, Lorrie Wilson and Stephanie Bray are honored at the local United Way’s annual Women in Philanthropy Member Celebration for serving on the group’s Leadership Council for the past year. The group is now becoming Women United and joining the global Women United network. Photo by Beth Baugher

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - United Way California Capital Region’s Women in Philanthropy group is now United Way’s Women United, joining the global Women United network of more than 70,000 women leaders taking action in their communities. The local Women United action group is a force of 350 local women and supporters making sure local foster youth are prepared for success in college or career. 

“The name Women United is a clear call to action for women of all ages and backgrounds to come together for an important cause,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO of United Way California Capital Region. “This makes it clear that we need all of women’s gifts, from donations to volunteer time. While our focus will remain the same, we will now be part of a global group of women, all working on their local community’s most pressing issues, most of which are related to children.”

The local Women United action group raises funds for special bank accounts that help foster youth leaving the system save for necessities such as rent, transportation and textbooks. Members and supporters also lead life skills workshops and trainings to help foster youth understand how to manage finances, navigate the college system, prepare for interviews, cook and more, and they participate in volunteer experiences and networking events. To learn more about Women United, become a member or make a donation, visit www.YourLocalUnitedWay.org/WomenUnited

Women United’s local members and supporters focus on foster youth as part of the Square One Project, United Way California Capital Region’s 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. Through nine decades of work and research across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties, United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones to prepare for success in college or career. To make a donation, visit www.YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Source: Kristin Thébaud Communications

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Sacramento, CA (MPG) - Officials from Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) are shocked over news that a SacRT assigned sheriff’s deputy was injured in the line of duty recently.  Sacramento Sheriff’s Deputy Alex Ladwig was shot by a 27-year old Sacramento man who was loitering at the Watt/I-80 light rail station. The four-year veteran of the force is in stable condition with major facial injuries.

 “Our hearts are heavy and our prayers go out to Deputy Ladwig and his family,” said SacRT Director and Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna. “Deputy Ladwig was injured trying to make a difference in our community by helping to improve the Watt/I-80 Station. We owe him a debt of gratitude.”

The Watt/I-80 Station has been the focus of a major improvement effort over the past several months. Sacramento Police Lieutenant Lisa Hinz, Chief of Police for SacRT, recently instituted a three-pronged approach to reduce the station’s criminal element, which included increased law enforcement, a station improvement plan and in coordination with business owners and community groups in the area.

“This was a senseless act of violence and it simply will not be tolerated,” said Hinz.  “Deputy Ladwig is a well-respected member of our team and we will honor his efforts by ensuring that Watt/I-80 be turned into a model station in the months ahead.”

Deputy Ladwig was on over-time when the shooting occurred in order to support increased patrols at the station that have been in effect for several weeks.  Two transit agents have also been assigned to the Watt/I-80 Station on a permanent basis to maintain a uniformed presence.  Additionally, Hinz is in the process of developing a station improvement plan by way of  a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) study that was recently initiated.

Community involvement has been another key component of this major initiative. SacRT representatives and law enforcement officials met last week with leaders from the Watt Avenue Partnership and from Walk Sacramento to coordinate activities focused on improving pedestrian safety and security at the station.

“SacRT’s new team has been working diligently to make a difference at the Watt/I-80 light rail station.” said General Manager/CEO Henry Li. “This is the dark before the dawn, but we are confident our team will make a difference in the coming months as we work to implement a multi-pronged approach that is comprehensive.  Deputy Ladwig’s commitment to our community is honorable and we will honor his efforts by ensuring our residents are safe at this station.”

SacRT recently began an adopt-a-station program in which each member of the district’s new executive team has committed to monitoring three stations for safety and cleanliness.                         

RT operates approximately 69 bus routes and 43 miles of light rail throughout Sacramento County, including the cities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove.  Sacramento buses and light rail trains operate 365 days a year.



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California WaterFix Receives Authorization under the U.S. Endangered Species Act

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - Federal agencies responsible for the protection of species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) today provided biological opinions on the proposed construction and operation of California WaterFix. These biological opinions allow WaterFix to continue moving toward construction as early as 2018. This important project is designed to ensure a reliable water source for 25 million Californians while affording environmental protections for multiple species that depend upon the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

“We are poised to take action to better protect our state water supplies and native fisheries,” said California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird.  “After 10 years of study, analysis, dialogue and scientific inquiry, we have come to a shared vision—and feasible approach—for how best to meet the co-equal goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring and enhancing the Delta ecosystem.”

The proposed project includes new water intakes on the Sacramento River near Hood and dual 35-mile-long tunnels to carry water to the existing south Delta pumping plants for the State Water Project (SWP) and Central Valley Project (CVP). Both biological opinions found the construction and operations of WaterFix as proposed would not jeopardize the continued existence of ESA-listed species or destroy or adversely modify critical habitat for those species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) implement the ESA, with NOAA Fisheries primarily responsible for marine species and the Service for land and freshwater species. Under the ESA, other federal agencies must consult with the Service and NOAA when their activities have the potential to impact federally endangered or threatened species.

The biological opinions analyze the effects to ESA-listed species, including the threatened Delta smelt, endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, threatened spring-run Chinook salmon, threatened North American green sturgeon, threatened California Central Valley steelhead and endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales, which depend heavily on Chinook salmon for food.

The biological opinions recognize the uncertainty inherent in the dynamic ecology of the Delta and include a strong adaptive management component, where research, monitoring, and real-time tracking of fish populations and other factors will guide future operation of the new intakes.

“The wisest thing to do in the face of uncertainty is to monitor constantly, test hypotheses regularly, adjust operations accordingly, and reassess,” said California Department of Water Resources (DWR) Acting Director Bill Croyle. “In the Delta, we always will be adjusting to improve resiliency and protect the environment. What won’t change is our compliance with the state and federal Endangered Species Acts.”

DWR owns and operates the SWP. The 29 public agencies contracting to receive SWP water serve more than 25 million Californians and nearly a million acres of irrigated agricultural land.

The biological opinions are important components of the analysis of the environmental effects of WaterFix. The Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) released in December 2016 include measures to avoid or minimize impacts that could arise from the proposed project.

Once the EIR has been certified through completion of the California Environmental Quality Act process, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will be able to consider whether to issue an “incidental take” permit for the construction and operation of WaterFix under the California Endangered Species Act.

These biological opinions will also be considered by permitting agencies, including the State Water Resources Control Board in its hearing now underway on a petition by DWR and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to allow for the change in points of diversion to add three new intakes on the Sacramento River as part of WaterFix. WaterFix would not change the volume of water to which the SWP and CVP are entitled to divert, but would add additional diversion points in a more environmentally protective place that also is easier to safeguard against natural disaster such as earthquake and sea-level rise due to climate change.

Source: DWR

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Sacramento, CA (MPG) - The Los Rios Board of Trustees has unanimously approved the appointment of three key leadership positions for the Los Rios Community College District. Whitney Yamamura, 53, was appointed President of Folsom Lake College. Michael Gutierrez, 48, has been named President of Sacramento City College. Dr. Jamey Nye, 43, will serve as the District’s Vice Chancellor of Education and Technology.

“It’s not often that a Board gets to bring three leaders as talented and dynamic as Whitney, Michael and Jamey into our organization at the same time,” said Ruth Scribner, President of the Los Rios Board of Trustees. “While each brings a unique background and diverse set of skills, they all share a passion for higher education and a commitment to doing the hard work necessary to improve the lives of the students we serve.”

Whitney Yamamura has served in the Los Rios District for almost 30 years and, with his appointment, becomes the second Asian American College President in the history of the Los Rios District. Having most recently served as Interim President of Sacramento City College, Whitney has also worked as Vice President of Instruction at Cosumnes River College, the founding Dean of American River College’s Natomas Center as well as American River College’s Dean of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Whitney began his tenure as a member of the American River College faculty, as an adjunct and full-time Professor of Economics.

“It is an honor to have been selected to serve as the President of Folsom Lake College,” said Yamamura. “I am excited to join the talented and hard-working team of faculty and staff as we continue to grow our college and look for new and creative ways to serve students.”

Michael Gutierrez will be the first Latino president in the 100-year history of Sacramento City College. He comes to Sacramento City College from Texas, where he has most recently served as Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success at Eastfield College in the Dallas Community College District. In his 21 years in higher education, the Princeton University graduate has served in a wide array of different areas, including faculty, college administration, research, workforce/economic competitiveness and resource development. 

“It is humbling to have the opportunity to serve an academic institution with the storied history and reputation of Sacramento City College,” said Gutierrez. “For a hundred years, Sacramento City College has been a cornerstone of the Sacramento community. As we look ahead, we’ll continue to celebrate the rich fabric of our college and work tirelessly to help our students reach their goals.”

Dr. Jamey Nye will take over as the Vice Chancellor of Education and Technology having spent the past 17 years in Los Rios, most recently serving as Associate Vice Chancellor of Instruction. In this role, Jamey has led Los Rios’ Workforce and Economic Development Center and has helped Los Rios build and support a variety of robust and comprehensive academic programs. Jamey began his career as a faculty member at Cosumnes River College, where he later served as Academic Senate President, Chair of the English Department, Dean of Business and Family Science, and Associate Vice President of Instruction and Student Learning.

“Los Rios is poised to continue to do great things in the coming years, and I’m thrilled to be part of that work,” said Nye. “Our four colleges are among the most forward-thinking institutions of higher education in the State of California, and my goal is to help take our successful innovations to scale to serve even more students.”

The appointment of Yamamura, Gutierrez and Nye provides an incredible opportunity to build on the great things happening at Folsom Lake College, Sacramento City College and throughout the Los Rios District according to Los Rios Community College District Chancellor Brian King.

“Together, these three leaders will have the ability to positively impact the lives of thousands of students in our colleges,” said King. “At a time of unprecedented focus on student success, I look forward to working with Whitney, Michael and Jamey to build on the momentum in our district and look for new ways to innovate and excel. They bring an exciting mixture of experience in our organization as well as fresh ideas for how to improve student outcomes.”

Nye will begin in his role on July 5. Yamamura and Gutierrez are both scheduled to begin on July 24.

Since 2004, Folsom Lake College has provided educational opportunities to the communities of eastern Sacramento and western El Dorado counties. The college serves approximately 8,750 students at the main Folsom campus, El Dorado Center, and Rancho Cordova Center.

Sacramento City College is the oldest community college in the Los Rios District and about 22,500 students are enrolled.


Source: LRCCD

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