Optimist’s Serve Up a Great Volleyball Tournament

John Yoshikawa, Optimist Sports Director  |  2019-01-06

The Hall of Fame inductee (in the middle) Mike Yates from Ponderosa High School. On Mike

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - The 35th Annual Optimist High School Girls’ Volleyball All Star games were held on December 8, 2018 at El Camino High School. The Small Schools match was won by the North Team. The scores were 25 (South) – 23 (North), 25 (North) – 21 (South), 30 (North) - 28 (South), and 25 (North) – 17 (South). All of these sets were so exciting that they brought the fans to their feet and yelling for more.

The Outstanding Player for the North was Amy Hiatt from Placer High School and for the South Team was Jillian Petnicki from Vacaville Christian High School. The Large Schools match was swept by the South Team 25 – 21, 25 – 18, and 25 – 16, and as like the Small Schools match, the fans were super excited.

The Outstanding Player for the South Team was Sam Chavez from St. Francis High School and for the North Team was Kaylie Honberger from Whitney High School.

During the intermission, Mike Yates from Ponderosa High School was inducted into the Optimist Hall of Fame for his tremendous dedication and commitment to encourage and train our youth to take their volleyball to the next level.

Mike has been the Girls’ Volleyball Coach at Ponderosa High School for the past 5 seasons. Within that time, he has won three (3) league championships, two (2) SacJoaquin Section championships, and Ponderosa’s  first State appearance in the past 30 years….to include having an undefeated season last year. Prior to his coaching at Ponderosa, he coached at Union Mine High School for five (5) years. In his last season, he won Union Mine’s very first Section championship and subsequently went on to win the State championship.

Club Volleyball has also played an important part in Coach Yates’ activities. Within his involvement in the Precision Volleyball Club, he has been the driving influence for the boys and girls to take their volleyball game to the next level to include beach volleyball. Last year, he created the first ever high school volleyball sand league and continues to be the leading force in its development.

His involvement in volleyball would have never taken place was it not for being burned out from playing baseball. He started playing volleyball, loved the sport, and his achievements took off from there. He played volleyball at Ponderosa High School and subsequently had a successful collegiate career at California State University-Sacramento. Thereafter, he transferred these indoor volleyball skills to beach volleyball which has made him one of the best known beach players in the Sacramento area.

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Society for the Blind Members to Join National Fitness Challenge

By Kristin Thebaud  |  2019-01-04

Society for the Blind members join the challenge. Photo courtesy Society for the Blind.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Society for the Blind, a Sacramento-based nonprofit serving blind and low vision people in Northern California, has received a grant from Anthem Blue Cross and CareMore Foundations to create opportunities for individuals to participate in the National Fitness Challenge, an initiative founded by the United States Association of Blind Athletes and the parent Foundation of Anthem Blue Cross and CareMore. Society for the Blind is one of 17 organizations across the nation that is participating in the National Fitness Challenge and is using grant funding to offer adaptive yoga classes, walking groups, running clinics and other sports and fitness activities that can help people who are blind or low-vision to maximize healthy lifestyles. These activities will be offered over the course of eight months to help hundreds of youth and adults to increase physical fitness levels and live healthier lives.

“The goal of the National Fitness Challenge is to help people with visual disabilities to live more active lifestyles,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “The program launched during Blindness Awareness Month in October, and through May 31, 2019, will highlight what people with visual disabilities can do, rather than what they cannot do. We are lucky to live in an age where a person with vision loss can achieve most anything they set their mind to doing, and we are grateful to Anthem Blue Cross Foundation and CareMore Foundation for helping us to empower this year’s participants.”

This year’s challenge integrates technology and social media to inspire participants to set goals, create team environments and encourage leadership. Each participant has been provided with a Fitbit Flex 2 wearable – a universal way to measure activities, calories burned and number of steps taken. Participants also have the opportunity to utilize Fitbit Coach, which is a personalized training app that provides adaptive video workouts and audio coaching. Foundation grant funding is being used to provide Fitbits, fitness and nutritional instruction, performance prizes as well as technical and financial support for all participants.

“Research has consistently shown that individuals who participate in regular physical activity to improve their health have higher energy levels, lower risk of health-related diseases, improved psychological health, and lower rates of depression and anxiety,” said Ricardo Young, CareMore Health Medical Director. “We are proud to support members of the Society for the Blind through our collaboration with the National Fitness Challenge, and to create access to activities supporting healthier individuals and stronger communities.”

More than half of those who are blind or low vision in the United States do not participate in even a limited physical fitness routine, mostly due to barriers to accessible fitness or misconceptions about their abilities. Individuals of all abilities should have equal opportunities to engage in activities that improve health outcomes, so the National Fitness Challenge aims to increase access to fitness and health for blind and low vision people. 

“Anthem Blue Cross Foundation is committed to removing barriers and increasing access to critical programs and services that help individuals and communities to lead healthier lives,” said Dr. Barsam Kasravi, Interim Anthem Blue Cross Medicaid Plan President. “We are proud of our Foundation’s ongoing support of people with visual disabilities and are confident that this support will go a long way in helping Californians to improve their overall wellness while enjoying the physical and emotional benefits of exercise and group sports.”

Since 2011, the parent Foundation of Anthem Blue Cross and CareMore has provided $1.3 million in grant funding to U.S. Association of Blind Athletes for the National Fitness Challenge initiative and has impacted thousands of Americans with visual disabilities by partnering with 40 different agencies across the country. To learn more about the National Fitness Challenge, visit www.usaba.org/NationalFitnessChallenge

For more than 60 years, 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, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information: SocietyfortheBlind.org

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SAFE Credit Union Awards City Year Sacramento with $20,000 Grant

By Carole Ferguson, SAFE Credit Union  |  2019-01-04

SAFE Credit Union employees making the donation to City Year. Photo courtesy SAFE CU.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Calling out the cheer, “Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate? City Year! City Year” staff members from SAFE Credit Union marched into the Oak Park, California, offices of City Year on a recent rainy morning to surprise the nonprofit with a $20,000 grant.

City Year Executive Director Jeff Owen and Development Manager Maggie Lawrence were on hand to accept the donation. “This is going to go a long way in our work to help students who really need some support, and our amazing AmeriCorps members who are working 10 hours a day for peanuts,” Owen said.

City Year sends near-peer mentors to under-served schools in Sacramento to help students succeed. City Year representatives cheer students as they arrive to school each day to honor them for their hard work and to pump them up for the day. During class time, AmeriCorps members use positive coaching to help students overcome challenges that may lead them to dropping out of school. They also assist with tutoring students in math and English to stay on track to graduate with their peers.

“City Year shines in its mission,” said SAFE Credit Union Community and Advocacy Engagement Manager Amanda Merz. “City Year’s dedication to helping at-risk students over hurdles and standing by them to ensure their success really spoke to us here at SAFE. By staying in school, these students will have a better foundation to build a more financially secure and personally satisfying life. We are proud to be able to assist City Year with its efforts to help our community’s students.” 

SAFE Credit Union is a leading financial institution in Northern California with more than $2.8 billion in assets and more than 229,000 members. SAFE is a not-for-profit, community-chartered credit union with membership open to businesses and individuals living or working in Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, El Dorado, Sutter, Butte, Nevada, Solano, San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Yuba, Amador, and Alameda counties. Insured by the NCUA. www.safecu.org

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Rotary Donates Holiday Food Baskets to Local Families

Story by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-01-04

Got Milk to Donate? Photo provided by Rotary Club of Fair Oaks

FAIR OAKS, CA (MPG) - On December 20, the Rotary Club of Fair Oaks held their annual holiday food basket donation for local students and their families. Jim Erickson, a member of the Rotary Club of Fair Oaks, explained why he volunteered to lead the food basket project for the second year in a row: “I’ve been in Rotary for about two years, and my primary focus is things that will benefit the local community.”

The volunteers from Rotary started their day at 7:00 AM, picking up food from Sacramento Food Bank and purchasing some additional food items at local grocery stores. From 8:30 AM until around noon, volunteers assembled the food boxes in empty classrooms at Northridge Elementary School.

Local parents and former school employees often volunteer to join the Rotarians for the assembly. With so many volunteers, the work goes quickly and Erickson said it is always a very fun and festive atmosphere. He said, “It’s a fun project. It’s one of those feel-good projects where everyone enjoys doing it and feels good about what we’re doing.”

Food baskets are distributed to approximately 100 families each year. The majority of the recipient families are from Northridge Elementary, and some are from Earl Legette Elementary. Teachers advertise the program through social media and word of mouth, and families are able to sign up anonymously. There are no qualifications needed to participate, families just have to sign up and they will receive food baskets to help them with their holiday meals. Each family receives a frozen turkey and two boxes of food, which include canned and boxed food, fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, and milk. “There’s enough that they can make at least a few meals,” said Erickson.

Distribution began right after school, and families were able to pick up their baskets from 2:30 until 6:00 PM. If families are ever unable to pick up their baskets during that time, the Rotarians will make a special delivery to the family’s home to ensure they receive their food for the holidays. 

Erickson said that this year’s holiday food basket donation was particularly significant because it was the last year the project was coordinated by Marci Ortega, a teacher at Northridge Elementary. Ortega is retiring at the end of the school year after 15 years of teaching at Northridge Elementary. Erickson acknowledged all the hard work Ortega has put into coordinating the food basket donations over the years: “Ever since it started, it’s been her project.”

Ortega said the project is “very near and dear to my heart…and we couldn’t do it without the assistance of Rotary.” She is now training two young teachers to take over the project and she is “so proud of our school.”

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Intervention Saves Lives

Story and photo by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-01-04

Rotary Club of Fair Oaks president Bruce Vincent (right) offers guest speaker Dr. Ron Chambers (left) a thank you gift for educating Rotary members about the issue of human trafficking.

Rotary Club Supports Dignity Health’s Fight Against Human Trafficking

FAIR OAKS, CA (MPG) - Clubs throughout the local Rotary District 5180 are funding an education and public awareness campaign to combat human trafficking in the Sacramento region. As part of District 5180, Rotary Club of Fair Oaks is supporting this important project. In an effort to better understand the scope of the problem, they welcomed Dr. Ron Chambers as a guest speaker to their meeting on December 10.

Dr. Chambers is a family physician who is involved in the District 5180 project to combat human trafficking. Dr. Chambers practices through Dignity Health and is the medical director for Mercy Human Trafficking Clinic, a medical safe haven for victims of human trafficking.

In 2014, Dignity Health launched a program to identify victims of human trafficking when they are treated in the healthcare system. This program focuses on victim-centered, trauma-informed care. Every staff member of Mercy Human Trafficking Clinic is trained to identify and respond to signs that a patient has been trafficked. All the doctors, nurses, administrators, and janitors undergo this training.

Dr. Chambers explained that most trafficking victims are treated by healthcare professionals during the time of their abuse, but most are not identified. Dr. Chambers shared a story about one of his current patients, an 18-year-old trafficking victim with a 5-year-olf daughter. The notes in this patient’s chart show that she delivered her daughter in a Dignity Health hospital and that the signs of trafficking were noted but not recognized. She was not identified as a victim at that time. But with the new protocol, “We don’t miss these [signs] anymore,” said Dr. Chambers. Dr. Chambers explained that the goal of the Mercy Human Trafficking Clinic is to create protocols that can be implemented in healthcare programs across the country.

Each year in the United States approximately 1.7 million children run away from home, and only 21% are reported missing by their parents or caregivers. “So for the majority of these kids, the people who are supposed to love and care for them don’t even bother to report them missing,” said Dr. Chambers. They are running away from homes of abuse and neglect, and they end up on the streets. Dr. Chambers explained that the traffickers know where to look for these kids. They give them a place to stay, buy them food and clothes, and make them feel special. Once they’ve gained the victim’s trust, they beat her up, strip her, and then dump her on the side of the road in the cold. Hours later, the trafficker comes back for her; he buys her dinner, gets her a new dress, and takes care of her. Medical professionals refer to this ongoing cycle of reward and punishment as trauma bonding. This traumatic process creates powerful emotional bonds that are extremely resistant to change, which is why the majority of victims who are rescued will return to their abuser up to seven times.

Dr. Chambers explained that the abuse is typically committed against young girls during a time of significant brain development, so the process of trauma bonding literally rewires their brains. “That’s why when I see a young girl on the streets I don’t think ‘Oh, she’s making bad choices.’ I think, ‘She was never rescued.’”  But intervention and treatment can change everything for these victims. Dr. Chambers said, “Survivors go through horrific trauma, but they can heal…Intervention saves lives.”

After Dr. Chambers’ speech, he answered questions from the Rotary members. One member recounted an experience when he might have encountered a trafficking victim when he was driving his car one morning. He said he didn’t know what to do and regrets that he didn’t offer her some assistance. He asked, “What should I have done to help her?”

Dr. Chambers said that without education or training to effectively help a trafficking victim, offers of assistance can sometimes put the victim at greater risk from their abuser. “The best way to help is to memorize the phone number for the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 888-373-7888.”

One member said that 23 years ago her 5-year-old daughter was almost taken by traffickers. She arrived at the bus stop just as a man and woman were approaching her daughter to try to get her in their car. She said that law enforcement declined to pursue a case against this couple at that time, and six years later the couple attempted to abduct students from Northridge Elementary. She said they were eventually arrested in Nevada after they were caught with a child in their car. She said she hopes things have changed in law enforcement in the past 20 years, but “it doesn’t sound like there has been a coordinated effort.”

Another member explained her strong support for the District’s project to combat human trafficking, stating, “They didn’t choose this. They’re real victims.”

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Bringing Hope to the Camp Fire Children

Submitted by Bringing Hope to the Camp Fire Children  |  2019-01-04

Carl Burton bringing toys to Camp Fire Children.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Republicans of River City and American River Republican Women joined with California Federation of Republican Women in raising items and funds to help families of deadly wildfires in Northern and Southern California.

Carl Burton, President of RRC, said, “We collected enough toys for the of fire victim’s children to fill up my jeep, and we made delivery of them last Saturday, December 15, to Oroville Municipal Auditorium.”

Bonnie Williams, President of American River Republican Women, said, “Our neighbors are in trouble they need our help, so we are going help.”

Because of the Butte County, Camp Fire surpassed all other fires in California becoming the most destructive fire in our history, burning over 125,000 acres and obliterating over 6,453 homes.  It was also the deadliest fire with 88 dying in the fire, mostly older Americas.

It’s not too late to help join us in supporting our neighbors dealing with their losses. This Christmas season, we are suggesting gift card donations.”  Give gift cards from Gas Stations, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes; groceries from Albertsons, Ralphs, Safeway, Save-Mart, Stater Bros., Trader Joes, and Vons; clothes from J C Penney, Kohls, Macy's, and Target.

For Northern California victims, please send gift cards to: Republicans of River City, P.O. Box 1776, Carmichael, CA 95609

Burton said, first as Americans and as Republicans, we believe “No one may forsake their neighbors when they are in trouble.  Everybody is under obligation to help and support their neighbors as they would themselves like to be helped.” Martin Luther 1483-1546

Source: Republicans of River City

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AMERICAN PICKERS to Film in California!

By Emily Chafetz, CINEFLIXUSA  |  2019-01-04

Photos courtesy AMERICAN PICKERS

Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz, and their team are excited to return to California! They plan to film episodes of the hit series AMERICAN PICKERS throughout the region in March 2019!

AMERICAN PICKERS is a documentary series that explores the fascinating world of antique “picking” on History. The hit show follows Mike and Frank, two of the most skilled pickers in the business, as they hunt for America’s most valuable antiques. They are always excited to find sizeable, unique collections and learn the interesting stories behind them.

As they hit the back roads from coast to coast, Mike and Frank are on a mission to recycle and rescue forgotten relics. Along the way, the Pickers want to meet characters with remarkable and exceptional items. The pair hopes to give historically significant objects a new lease on life, while learning a thing or two about America’s past along the way.

Mike and Frank have seen a lot of rusty gold over the years and are always looking to discover something they’ve never seen before. They are ready to find extraordinary items and hear fascinating tales about them.

AMERICAN PICKERS is looking for leads and would love to explore your hidden treasure. If you or someone you know has a large, private collection or accumulation of antiques that the Pickers can spend the better part of the day looking through, send us your name, phone number, location and description of the collection with photos to: americanpickers@cineflix.com or call 855-OLD-RUST.

facebook: @GotAPick

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