Past Mayors Get Honored

Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-09-20

Carmichael mayoral alumni included Chris Schoonveld (back left), Donna Deterding, Pauline Gilmour, Katie Pexa, Margie Smith, Esteban Nava, Virginia Stone, Kelli Foley, Julie Woodworker Hubbs and Cheryl Hinton. Joining the group was Jan Bass Otto (third from left, front) chamber executive from 1985 to 2005.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Continuing celebration of its 70th anniversary year, the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce recently rolled out red carpet for former honorary mayors.

The role has neither salary nor civic power. By tradition, the mayoralty rewards the candidate whose campaign raises the most funds for Chamber projects. He or she spends a year cutting ribbons and kissing babies. As most mayors are merchants, the office provides a platform for business interests. Riding in the July 4 Parade and judging dessert bakeoffs are further perks.

From her 23 years with the organization, former Chamber Executive Director Jan Bass Otto recalls ingenious mayoral fundraising gimmicks. In 1998, realtor Kevin Brennan built a 100 square-foot play house that he called a ‘starter home’ and drove around shopping centers. “It was so cute you’d cross a parking lot to see it,” says Otto. “He sold hundreds of raffle tickets and won the race.”

In 2002, senior home marketing director Margie Smith fundraised with candy sales. Her victory over a popular cop and a millionaire businessman was sweet. “I’d worked like a dog, sticking Margie-for-Mayor labels on thousands of M&M packets,” she says. “In the July 4 parade, Boy Scouts walked beside my car, handing out M&Ms. Being involved in the community has its own payoff – it feels good and it’s fun. And I still love M&Ms.”

Personal growth is another by-product. “When I campaigned for 2005, I was afraid to speak in public,” recalls senior care specialist Cheryl Hinton. “Now you have to fight a microphone away from me. I’m confident and comfortable meeting people now.”

Senior living marketing director Chris Schoonveld was elected in 2006. “I met Congressman Dan Lungren, Senator Dave Cox, Assemblyman Roger Niello and Supervisor Susan Peters,” she says.  “I also saw how less-famous people serve the community. I presented a declaration to an Eagle Scout who completed a public landscaping project – as a mom, I was proud of what he’d done for Carmichael.”

Not all mayoral duties are ceremonial. Hotdogs must be served to hundreds of community volunteers; garbage cleanups are another chore. But the spotlight is beguiling. The Sacramento River Cats invited 2011 mayor Pauline Gilmour to throw a first pitch at Raley Field. “I’d never pitched a ball,” recalls the Catholic school teacher.  “My neighbor gave me lessons. On the night, I forgot everything I learned. My ball flew straight toward the catcher and bounced; thank God he caught it. One of my sons said I had a limp wrist. But he was proud of me and I was proud to be Carmichael Mayor.”

A mayoralty without constitutional election is sometimes misunderstood. On a 1980 overseas trip, businessman/Mayor Ross Davidson sported a Carmichael Honorary Mayor sash. The small-town leader got treated like royalty in several small European nations. Donna Deterding was persuaded to attend a Sacramento mayoral convention while in 2004 office. “I found myself among mayors from cities all over the region,” she explains. “Someone called out ‘Hey, Carmichael’s not a city – how can it have a mayor?’ I was so embarrassed.  I had to stand up and explain I got the title from raising funds to help our chamber. Everyone laughed, but they were all nice to me.”

Carmichael’s centennial year (2009) coincided with building industry leader Peter Tateishi’s first mayoral term. “It was an exciting time to bring the community together,” he says. “At the start of our firework celebration, I pointed to the sky and announced: ‘Now, let’s have fireworks.’ Right on cue, a rocket exploded above me. Wow, that was the coolest thing.”

Mexican-born Esteban Nava – aka ‘Senor Mayor’ – launched his first campaign in 2012. “There’s a lot of family pride in the Hispanic community,” explains the SMUD employee. “My sons and my wife all got involved and we all grew from it.  The boys learned to network and saw how civic service works. We enjoyed the year so much that I ran for a second term. Even these days, SMUD board directors still introduce me as ‘Mayor of Carmichael’ I’m still having fun with it.”

Senior care executive Virginia Stone served back-to-back terms in 2014 and 15. “I loved sampling all the pies and desserts at the Framers Market peach bakeoff,” she recalls. “I was on a sugar high all day. My employers wanted me to run a third year; they loved the mayor’s relationship with the community.  But I said no. I’d enjoyed my two years, but being mayor means so much time and energy – and so much pie.”

2017 Mayor Katie Pexa was up to her neck in frosting when asked to auction desserts at the Chamber’s Best of Carmichael fundraiser. “I’d never auctioned anything before,” says the insurance professional. “Suddenly, I was holding a mike and describing decadent ingredients. I was amazed to see hands fly up. I’d found my calling. I’ve been appointed dessert auctioneer ever since.”

Life coach Julie Hubbs won the sash in 2016. Beyond turning on Christmas lights, her most glittering job was snipping the ribbon at a new jewelry store. For the occasion, owner Sharif draped the mayor in $125,000 worth of diamonds and sapphires. “I was queen for the night,” she marvels. “I told the manager I felt like Zsa Zsa Gabor. He was 25 and he said ‘Zsa Zsa who?’ My husband wondered if the honorary mayor got to keep the jewels. I suggested we sell our house.”

The Chamber’s 2019 mayoral race is now in progress. Competing for re-election is 2018 Mayor Kelli Foley. Her opponents are dance studio owner Jamila Buada and employment agency manager Kristen Garl. Learn about the mayoral race at www.carmichaelchamber.com.

Cake4Kids Bakes in Sacramento

Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar  |  2018-09-20

In 2010, Cake4Kids was born. Only thirteen cakes were baked and delivered that year. Fast forward eight years when more than 10,000 cakes have been baked and delivered by volunteers as far south as San Diego. Above, Alyssa Van Hofwegen (left) and Mary Barnes show of a delicious example of one of the cakes.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - A baker’s dozen is thirteen as the cake enthusiasts who attended Cake4Kids’ orientation at Arcade library on Saturday, August 18 know. This second orientation in the Sacramento region for the Sunnyvale-based nonprofit drew bakers of all backgrounds and ages hailing from Carmichael, Arden Arcade, Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove, Rancho Murieta and beyond to learn more about Cake4Kids.

Mary Barnes, Cake4Kids’ Sacramento ambassador, led the hour long program. Barnes is a Sacramento native who first discovered the group when she lived in San Francisco. When she returned to Sacramento to pursue her legal career she wanted to bring the program with her and spoke about why she chose the eastern part of Sacramento.

“We thought about logistics,” she said, “An area where there were a good number of residential areas to pull volunteers from.”

This area, she explained, is close to freeways, homes, several nonprofits serving the demographic that Cake4Kids supports – homeless, recent immigrants, those in foster care, and victims of human trafficking – and it doesn’t cost money for parking so that left downtown and midtown out of the running.

“It is supported by Carmichael, east Sacramento, Sac State students, and ARC students. We thought it was a good location to start because of all of those factors.”

In addition to being the nonprofit’s Sacramento ambassador and tackling the job of finding volunteers, contacting agencies, and filling requests, Barnes, like other volunteers, works full time. She is also a volunteer baker and delivered the first cake in Sacramento to Opening Doors, an organization that serves individuals and families escaping human trafficking and refugees new to the area. She baked a vegan banana cake for a boy and decorated the cake with a racecar theme, complete with toy cars atop a protective layer of marzipan, and topped with vegan chocolate frosting.

“We have several requests for vegan cakes from this organization.  We’re challenging our bakers right away,” said Barnes, adding that all requests had been claimed and filled since the first orientation in July with twenty attendees.

In 2010, Cake4Kids was born. Only thirteen cakes were baked and delivered that year. Fast forward eight years when more than 10,000 cakes have been baked and delivered by volunteers as far south as San Diego. The nonprofit also serves Fresno, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, and five other California counties. Each cake is prepared from scratch especially for the child, decorated, packaged in a cake box, and delivered to the requesting agency. Although volunteers never meet the children, they often receive thanks from the children or, in some cases, from the parents or caregivers.

Before volunteer bakers can claim cakes, they must attend a mandatory orientation where they’ll learn about the organization, the demographic served, logistics, and resources. One of the volunteer benefits is that each baker may take cake decorating classes and be reimbursed for up to $100.00 each year. The ability to be a fabulous decorator is not a requirement, although some cakes are quite lavish. Each cake, she added, must have the child’s name.

During the orientation, Barnes said that 60,000 children are in foster care and only 5% between 15 and 18 years of age are adopted in California. Nearly 30 percent of children are homeless in the United States, and Barnes referenced the thousands of U.S. based human trafficking cases annually. These are some of the at-risk children Cake4Kids serves.

Julie Eades, the organization’s executive director, attended the inaugural orientation in July and said in a telephone interview that, “When you’re on or near the poverty line, a cake might not be the thing you choose to spend your money on. We talk about the fact that these children get moved from home to home and sometimes they don’t get any birthday celebrations. Not because nobody cares. It’s just one thing extra that people caring for them have to think about.”

Cake4Kids serves children and young adults up to the age of 24 and Eades said that some children as old as twenty have never had a cake before the one baked and delivered by a volunteer. She also said that the older children are extremely appreciative of the cake made just for them. Everyone should feel special one day a year.

Men, women, and children 16 years and older interested in baking cakes and bringing joy to a child should sign up to be a volunteer on the organization’s website. Sacramento orientations will be held through December at Arcade and Arden-Dimick libraries. The goal is to have 100 volunteers on board. On October 20 and December 22, orientations will be held at Arcade library on Marconi from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. On November 10, Arden-Dimick will host from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. The September orientation date and location has not been set. For additional information, visit www.cake4kids.org. 

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Four Candidates Look to Secure Two Open Seats

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - On August 30, the 2018 San Juan Candidate Forum was held at Citrus Heights City Hall. Four candidates are vying for two open seats on the school board of the San Juan Unified School District. The candidates are incumbent Mike McKibben and newcomers Myel Jenkins, Magali Kincaid, and Zima Creason (who was unable to attend the forum).

The candidates spoke passionately about their reasons for pursuing a board seat. The event was not a debate, but rather an informational forum giving candidates the opportunity to share their views and educational priorities with district voters.

Myel Jenkins has experience as a manager in community foundations and non-profits serving teens and their families. She is also an experienced district volunteer who spent a lot of time in the classroom and in PTA leadership roles. Jenkins started attending board meetings in 2013 after participating in focus groups of African American families for the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), which provides additional support to the highest-needs kids in the district. Jenkins served on the LCAP since 2014 and termed out last year. She also served on the Sexual and Reproductive Health Curriculum Choice Committee and on the Superintendent Parent Advisory Committee.

Jenkins believes the district needs to resolve the achievement gap since not all students are succeeding. She stressed the importance of responding to the changing demographics and the shifting enrollment cycles in the district. Jenkins suggests a multi-tiered approach focused on increasing early-education opportunities to make sure students are kindergarten ready and to create more pathways to prepare students for success.

Jenkins said, “I’m running because San Juan is important to me as a parent and as a community member. I’m running as a parent voice, advocating for all of our kids in San Juan and ensuring that no matter what your zip code is that your child has access to high-quality education.”

Magali Kincaid strongly believes that every student deserves a quality education. As a college and law school graduate, she is an example of the achievements that are possible when students are given the motivation and confidence they need to succeed. Kincaid has volunteered in the classroom and been involved in PTA events and school site councils. She was appointed to the Curriculum, Standards, and Instruction Committee. She also served on the LCAP Strategic Planning Committee.

Kincaid said that the district needs to do more to address issues affecting vulnerable groups (such as students with disabilities, students of color, foster youth, and homeless youth) so they don’t fall behind. She explained that there is more diversity in the district so there is a need to create meaningful partnership with students, parents, and communities so that all students are represented. She believes the district needs to provide opportunities for students to learn in many ways in order to reach all the diverse students in the district.

As an elected official, Kincaid believes it would be her moral responsibility to be both transparent and accountable to the students and the community. She stated, “I believe that our students are owed a quality education. I believe that education is not only a civil right, but a human right. And I fight every single day as an advocate of education. And I work hard to make sure that barriers to students, of all backgrounds, are broken down to make sure that our students are succeeding…We owe that to all of our students.”

Incumbent Mike McKibben is a former teacher and has spent 15 years volunteering in district classrooms. He participated in school site councils and worked on the Second Step anti-bullying campaign within the district. He has served on the Superintendent Parent Advisory Committee; the Curriculum, Standards, and Instruction Committee; and the Strategic Planning Committee. For the last four years he has been a SJUSD board member and has served as president, vice president, and clerk. McKibben said that his greatest accomplishment on the board is the upward trajectory in the district’s graduation rates, test scores, literacy rates, and participation in the visual and performing arts.

McKibben said that students in vulnerable groups feel marginalized and the district needs to ensure all students feel welcome and supported.  He believes the district needs to address the high rate of suspensions by adopting alternatives such as restorative justice, cooling-off periods, and other options to keep kids in the classroom. McKibben’s priorities are making sure students feel welcome and that they know they need to make a commitment to their education.

McKibben stated, “My job as a school board member is to be the toughest question asker that I can be, to try to find out what is the right policy, what is the right way…I want to be a very careful steward of our public funds… It is important and incumbent on board members to make sure that our dollars are spent as wisely as possible. And finally, I want to be a roving catalyst: the idea of trying to find out the best ideas and put them into place so our kids can grow and thrive and find their passion.”

If you would like to watch the forum, it is available online at Youtube.com by searching “San Juan Candidate Forum 2018.”

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Happy Trails to Y’all

Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-09-20

Enjoying a Western Dance at Mission Oaks Community Center were Ryan Ruark (left), Carmen Patella, Wayne Austin and center recreation coordinator, Laura Bell.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Cowboy attire was the order of the day when Mission Oaks Community Center recently hosted a Western-themed dance. Sponsoring the event, Rx Healthcare Services provided barbecued burgers and hotdogs for all attendees. Mission Oaks Community Center is located at 4701 Gibbons Drive, Carmichael. Learn about other MORPD programs at www.morpd.com.

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Capital Airshow Fun

By MPG Staff  |  2018-09-20

Established in 2004, the California Capital Airshow plans and operates the exciting, family-friendly annual event designed to honor the Sacramento region’s rich aviation heritage and veterans while using the power and magic of flight to inspire young people. Visit www.californiacapitalairshow.com for tickets and more information.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The California Capital Airshow is just around the corner as excitement and anticipation continue to build. Mather Airport will play host to the world famous airshow on the weekend of September 21-23 with thousands on hand to witness one spectacular show after another.

Among the must see shows on display will be: the Beale Air Force Base U-2 Dragon Lady & T-38 Talons, who have been keeping a watchful eye on the world from their base not too far north of Mather Airport are America’s aerial super sleuths from the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale Air Force Base.

The B-17 Flying Fortress and P-51 Mustangs will make for a tough decision as many will say it was the B-17 Flying Fortress that brought Nazi Germany to its knees, while others say it was the P-51 Mustang that allowed it to get to and from its target. See both and decide for yourself!

USAF F-25 Lighting II Heritage Flight Team will showcase America’s 5th generation air dominance fighter and attack aircraft while demonstrating its awesome capabilities then form up for a historic flight with its namesake, the iconic WWII P-38 Lightning.

The Shockwave Jet Truck custom built race truck is equipped with three huge jet engines producing 21,000 lbs. of thrust which easily propel the vehicle to speeds over 350 mph.

Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet Demo will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of NORAD. This jet will amaze American audiences with an extremely aggressive demo flown by our friendly allies to the north.

The California Air National Guard F-15 Eagle is still undefeated in air-to-air combat with more than 100 aerial combat victories, the 9G pulling, 58,000 lbs. of thrust pushing, Mach 2.5 capable world-favorite fighter will bring the noise and speed.

USAF Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron: America’s Ambassadors in Blue perform all around the world, displaying the pride, precision and professionalism of American Airmen while flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon, knows as the Viper!

Weekend Bundle General Admission Tickets – 3 Days of Airshow Fun
The Weekend Ticket Bundle offers one adult general admission, plus four youth tickets to the magical night show and concert on Friday, September 21, but also one adult general admission, plus four youth tickets to the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds-headlined airshows on Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23.

Saturday and Sunday performances will take place from approximately 11:30AM-4:00PM.

Established in 2004, the California Capital Airshow 501(c)3 plans and operates the exciting, family-friendly annual event designed to honor the Sacramento region’s rich aviation heritage and veterans while using the power and magic of flight to inspire young people. CCA gives back to the community through scholarships, charitable group donations and exciting educational youth programming throughout the year.

Visit www.californiacapitalairshow.com for tickets and more information.

Source: California Capital Airshow

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Carmichael Athlete Experiences US Tennis Open

Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-09-20

Carmichael

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Carmichael tennis prodigy Jenson Brooksby last week was knocked out of the US Open’s junior men’s tournament after reaching the semi-final round. On the hallowed courts of Flushing Meadows NY, Brooksby won four matches, including one against European Junior Champion Jonas Forejtek of Czechoslovakia. Brazilian Marechal Candido Rondon eventually took the junior tournament title.

Brooksby was earlier matched as a “wide card” against tennis professional John Millman. His defeat was no disgrace as the Australian later scored an upset win against Roger Federer, one of the US Open favorites.

Brooksby remains the top American junior and is among the top four under 18-year-olds worldwide. “My game is up there but I need to work on my fitness and on getting stronger,” he concedes. “I wish I could have advanced further in the tournament, but I was happy with how I played.  Being there was what I’ve trained hard for – for a very long time. The crowds were intense. I saw the world’s top players -- Nadal, Djokovic, Serena Williams. They were in line with me in the cafeteria. The food was great. It was a very cool atmosphere.”

Less cool was the Flushing Meadows climate – 100 degrees and humid – that sapped athletes and fans. “I’ve played in humidity before,” says the newcomer. “You just bring extra shirts and take more time between points.” Battle-hardened Jenson has come far from pre-school tuition and Arcade’s Rio del Oro Racquet Club. He returns from New York to resume a daily discipline of four hours tennis (at Arden Hills Resort) and one hour in the gym every day.

Coach Gilbert accompanied Jenson to New York. Anesthesiologist dad Glen Brooksby and equestrian mom Tania also joined the pilgrimage. “Our goal in going to the US Open was for me to win,” says Jenson. But whether I won or lost, my level of playing increased. And I loved the place. I hope to get back there next year.”

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Anything is Possible

Story by Michael Cella  |  2018-09-20

Sacramento’s chapter of Ainsley’s Angels is in its third year, founded and directed by Russ Howell. Photo courtesy Ainsley’s Angels

Ainsley’s Angels Inspires Hope

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Ainsley’s Angels is a national nonprofit organization aimed at servicing the special needs community through their race series, consisting of athlete riders and runners who participate in races across 30 states and over 60 cities.

The inspiration for all this is Ainsley, the daughter of Marine Corps Major Kim and Lori Rossiter. Before turning four, Ainsley was diagnosed with Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy (INAD), an extremely rare terminal illness that slowly causes global paralysis. Most children diagnosed with INAD pass on before reaching ten years of age, as there is no cure or treatment to help slow down this very progressive and terminal disease. Ainsley passed away in 2016 at the age of 13, but not before she completed over 100 races, including nearly 20 half-marathons.

Sacramento’s chapter of Ainsley’s Angels is in its third year, founded and directed by Russ Howell – the organization uses the title “ambassador” rather than chapter president. Howell identifies as a lifelong endurance athlete. He undertook his first 100 mile bike ride at 12, ran track in high school, and stayed in shape in his adult life through a stint in the Army where he was a member of a COLT team deployed to Kosovo. In 2010, Howell and his wife had a son born with serious medical complications and he stopped participating in endurance activities. When his son passed away shortly before his second birthday, Howell got back into running as form of escape and therapy. Running helped him keep centered and deal with grief.

A year later, Howell’s second child was born. As a baby shower gift, his family pitched in and got him a very nice running stroller. From then on, Howell, now an accountant, put in twenty to thirty miles a week with his son. Time passed, and eventually his son grew too big to fit in strollers, but Howell was eager to keep up with his running. One day, Howell came across an article on Ainsley's Angels in Running World, and sent an email to the president of the organization. Sacramento has a vibrant running vibe, with many races in the area, he told her. It would be a great area for the organization to expand and a perfect way for him to take his running to the next level and give something back.

Howell started the new Sacramento chapter from ground zero and began fundraising, recruiting members, reaching out to race directors, and getting the Ainsley’s Angels name out to local hospitals and care centers. Thanks to Howell’s connections within the racing community and the people he met while caring for his first son’s health complications, the group was immediately accepted and progress quickly snowballed. Today there are close to 200 members, ranging from as young as five years old to two adult riders who are in their thirties. The group has also raised enough money to purchase eleven racing chairs for its riders to keep and use with their families.

“Ainsley’s Angels taught me that you don't need to run, or even walk, to be an athlete,” says adult rider Emily Crosgrove. “What's more important is having the will to get out there.”

The organization provides a 100% free service to the disabled community, which is no easy feat – racing chairs can coast nearly $5,000.  There are three levels of chairs which vary depending on the age, size, and disability of the rider. Every chair has three wheels and a fixed front wheel, which provides stability and keeps the chairs from going off course.

“The smiles, the celebration, the joy, that’s what it’s all about,” says Howell. “To see that level of excitement for people that would never be able to experience a race, showing up to the something like the California International marathon (one of Ainsley’s partners) surrounded by 10,000 amazing athletes. It takes them out of their world.”

Sacramento’s Angels are set to run their first ultra-marathon in November, the 200-mile Napa RAGNAR relay that runs from SF up the coast and back down to finish in Napa. Six athletes and two riders will participate.

“There's no better feeling than the wind in my hair as I glide through a sea of fast moving bodies, encouraging stagers to never give up,” Crosgrove added. “If myself and my team could be out there on the road, then anything is possible.”

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Montessori Murals Capture California in Art

Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-08-31

A 36-foot trout dominates Kocina’s zoology mural. Subject matter reflects cultural studies at the Carmichael school.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - A five-summer mission at the California Montessori Project (Carmichael) has festooned the old La Sierra High School campus with five murals. The last was recently unveiled to reveal a dazzling pageant of California history.

Explains artist/teacher Noah Kocina: “The work reflects two significant events in our history – the establishment of Spanish missions and the rush to find gold.” Over summer vacations, Fair Oaks resident Kocina completed this and previous tableaux that total 2,500 square feet in area. Reflecting utilitarian 1960s school design, his canvases were originally concrete classroom abutments.

The Montessori Project began leasing teaching space from Carmichael Recreation and Park District in 2019. Kocina and director of school operations Gary Bowman beheld blank concrete slabs and envisioned opportunities for beautification – and for enhancing the school’s community presence.  Bowman suggested a series of murals and commissioned Kocina to get painting during summer teaching breaks. “I’d start at 6 am,” says the artist. “Mornings were completely quiet, and painting felt like meditation. I’d work six or seven hours, until it got so hot my paint dried before I could apply it.”

Kochina’s designs represent Montessori philosophy and five cultural elements of school studies: botany, zoology, geometry, geography and history. Before he began painting, one lone wall already bore a painted Stars and Stripes.  CRPD administrators okayed his murals as long as the nation’s symbol remained. “We were fine with that,” says Kocina. “But I wanted the flag grander and larger. I incorporated it in my geometry mural – there’s a lot of geometry in the design of a flag.” His botany mural centers around a huge California poppy. A 36-foot trout dominates his zoology design. The muralist’s big view of geography shows the solar system in relationship to Planet Earth. He plans a separate future work illustrating native American life before missionaries and miners arrived.

Though Kocina was paid for his five-summer project, the tableaux are still works of passion. “At first, I tried to keep my art simple,” he recalls. “I began with only one person in my geometry design. By the final mural, I was working on an epic. I used as many people, animals and symbols as I could. Every man, woman or child in all five works is a likeness of someone affiliated to this school.”

“Planning the last mural, was like casting a play,” he says. “I had to find 23 people with face and body types to match monks, miners, a Mexican senorita and the goddess Minerva from our State seal.” One of Kocina’s daughters became his goddess and even constructed body armor for reference photos. Near Minerva’s spear-point, the artist himself peeps Kilroy-like over the California state line. “Hardly anybody’s noticed me yet,” he says. “But I’m there as a final signature. I like to conceal objects in my painting to give the kids an extra layer of interest when they’re poring over it. My face is an extra Easter egg.”

To view the Montessori murals, park at 5330 Gibbons Drive, Carmichael and enter playing fields via fence gates. Learn more about Noah Kocina’s art on Instagram at n_kocina.

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Cake4Kids Bakes in Sacramento

Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar  |  2018-08-31

Alyssa Van Hofwegen (L) and Mary Barnes show off a delicious example of one of the cakes.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - A baker’s dozen is thirteen as the cake enthusiasts who attended Cake4Kids’ orientation at Arcade library on Saturday, August 18 know. This second orientation in the Sacramento region for the Sunnyvale-based nonprofit drew bakers of all backgrounds and ages hailing from Carmichael, Arden Arcade, Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove, Rancho Murieta and beyond to learn more about Cake4Kids.

Mary Barnes, Cake4Kids’ Sacramento ambassador, led the hour long program. Barnes is a Sacramento native who first discovered the group when she lived in San Francisco. When she returned to Sacramento to pursue her legal career she wanted to bring the program with her and spoke about why she chose the eastern part of Sacramento.

“We thought about logistics,” she said, “An area where there were a good number of residential areas to pull volunteers from.”

This area, she explained, is close to freeways, homes, several nonprofits serving the demographic that Cake4Kids supports – homeless, recent immigrants, those in foster care, and victims of human trafficking – and it doesn’t cost money for parking so that left downtown and midtown out of the running.

“It is supported by Carmichael, east Sacramento, Sac State students, and ARC students. We thought it was a good location to start because of all of those factors.”

In addition to being the nonprofit’s Sacramento ambassador and tackling the job of finding volunteers, contacting agencies, and filling requests, Barnes, like other volunteers, works full time. She is also a volunteer baker and delivered the first cake in Sacramento to Opening Doors, an organization that serves individuals and families escaping human trafficking and refugees new to the area. She baked a vegan banana cake for a boy and decorated the cake with a racecar theme, complete with toy cars atop a protective layer of marzipan, and topped with vegan chocolate frosting.

“We have several requests for vegan cakes from this organization.  We’re challenging our bakers right away,” said Barnes, adding that all requests had been claimed and filled since the first orientation in July with twenty attendees.

In 2010, Cake4Kids was born. Only thirteen cakes were baked and delivered that year. Fast forward eight years when more than 10,000 cakes have been baked and delivered by volunteers as far south as San Diego. The nonprofit also serves Fresno, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, and five other California counties. Each cake is prepared from scratch especially for the child, decorated, packaged in a cake box, and delivered to the requesting agency. Although volunteers never meet the children, they often receive thanks from the children or, in some cases, from the parents or caregivers.

Before volunteer bakers can claim cakes, they must attend a mandatory orientation where they’ll learn about the organization, the demographic served, logistics, and resources. One of the volunteer benefits is that each baker may take cake decorating classes and be reimbursed for up to $100.00 each year. The ability to be a fabulous decorator is not a requirement, although some cakes are quite lavish. Each cake, she added, must have the child’s name.

During the orientation, Barnes said that 60,000 children are in foster care and only 5% between 15 and 18 years of age are adopted in California. Nearly 30 percent of children are homeless in the United States, and Barnes referenced the thousands of U.S. based human trafficking cases annually. These are some of the at-risk children Cake4Kids serves.

Julie Eades, the organization’s executive director, attended the inaugural orientation in July and said in a telephone interview that, “When you’re on or near the poverty line, a cake might not be the thing you choose to spend your money on. We talk about the fact that these children get moved from home to home and sometimes they don’t get any birthday celebrations. Not because nobody cares. It’s just one thing extra that people caring for them have to think about.”

Cake4Kids serves children and young adults up to the age of 24 and Eades said that some children as old as twenty have never had a cake before the one baked and delivered by a volunteer. She also said that the older children are extremely appreciative of the cake made just for them. Everyone should feel special one day a year.

Men, women, and children 16 years and older interested in baking cakes and bringing joy to a child should sign up to be a volunteer on the organization’s website. Sacramento orientations will be held through December at Arcade and Arden-Dimick libraries. The goal is to have 100 volunteers on board. On October 20 and December 22, orientations will be held at Arcade library on Marconi from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. On November 10, Arden-Dimick will host from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. The September orientation date and location has not been set. For additional information, visit www.cake4kids.org.

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SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Gov. Jerry Brown was recently ordered by the state’s 3rd Appellate District Court to repay more than $331 million in funds the state illegally diverted from a national fund intended to help homeowners struggling with foreclosures from the housing crisis. Instead of complying with the court order, Democrats are pushing through a bill to legitimize the theft of funds.

The Assembly already passed Assembly Bill 1829, which makes the statutory changes related to the National Mortgage justifying this theft.  AB 1829 was passed on a party line in the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review, 12 – 5, with all Republicans on the committee voting no.

Bill Analysis reports:

In 2012, the federal government and 49 states sued, and eventually settled with, the five largest mortgage servicers in the country related to their actions leading up to and during the 2008 financial crisis. The resulting National Mortgage Settlement (NMS) resulted in comprehensive new mortgage servicing standards, provided more than $20 billion in financial relief for homeowners damaged by the mortgage crisis, and provided about $2.5 billion directly to states for a variety of uses, including “to compensate the states for costs resulting from the alleged unlawful conduct of the [bank defendants].” California’s share of this $2.5 billion was roughly $410 million. Under the terms of the settlement, each state’s Attorney General would designate the uses of the funds. The California Attorney General’s Office designated allowable uses of the received funds.

“California received approximately $410 million of the $2.5 billion paid to the states by the big five mortgage servicers – Ally (formerly GMAC), Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo – under a National Mortgage Settlement (NMS) with the federal government, the ruling states,” Legal NewsLine reported.

Under then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris, the National Mortgage Special Deposit Fund was established in 2012 to directly help homeowners who suffered and were impacted by the housing crisis.

However, the money was “unlawfully diverted” to the general fund, affirming a lower court’s ruling in a case taken against the state by the National Asian American Coalition, COR Community Development Corp. and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. Upon receiving the funds Governor Brown’s administration raided $331 million dollars from it and spent it backfilling budget deficits in various agencies.

Legal NewsLine explains:

The money was to be placed in each state’s NMS Deposit Fund and the attorneys general were charged with setting the parameters of how it could be spent, with the states ordered to comply. Then-Attorney General Kamala Harris drew up a set of instructions on how the money could be used.

But the legislature then passed an act setting up the special deposit fund, which included a provision that allowed 90 percent of the money to be diverted to the general fund, regardless of Harris’ instructions. A total of $331 million was sent to the state’s main fund.

Harris instructed that the money be spent, among other elements, on the administration and monitoring of the compliance elements of the agreement, supporting relief programs, ongoing investigations and enforcement, borrower relief, funds for legal aid and grants.

 

In 2014 a coalition of minority counseling groups sued Gov. Jerry Brown and his Department of Finance, accusing them of illegally diverting the NMSDF relief funds. In June 2015 a Sacramento County Superior Court Judge ruled that the funds were indeed “unlawfully transferred and must be returned.” And the 3rd Appellate District Court upheld the lower court’s decision. However, the Legislature is ignoring the Appellate Court ruling.

Apparently, those Senate Democrats who voted to pass the bill were apparently okay with taking money that was specifically intended for homeowners damaged in the housing crisis. Senate Democrats just turned their back on all the damaged California homeowners who lost so much during the housing crisis.

California continues to suffer from a housing crisis because of a lack of affordability. AB 1829 is not simply a clarification of legislative intent; it is a shameless theft by this administration of money intended for the California homeowners whom the funds were intended to help.

Specifically, the settlement funds would have directly helped many California homeowners, including low-income families and people of color. Ironically, Democrats stood side-by-side with “Occupy” groups, proclaiming their outrage over the actions of “Big Banks” and ”Wall Street” which hurt homeowners in California. The Legislature is also thumbing its nose at the judicial system. Over the years there have been many sneaky, back-room and duplicitous actions perpetrated on the people of California by the governor and Democrat-controlled Legislature. But stealing money intended to help people damaged by what Democrats called “predatory lenders” and “Wall Street” in order to bail out the gross abuses by the Governor’s and Legislature’s wasteful and spending is probably among the lowest actions.

Now, when the illegal diversion of funds have been called out by the courts and this Legislature has a chance to make things right, Democrats not only can’t acknowledge the wrongness of their diversion, they’re actually seeking to legitimize it.

In a unanimous opinion authored by Judge Andrea Lynn Hoch, the appeals court largely affirmed but remanded the case to a trial court with an order to issue a writ of mandate “directing the immediate re-transfer from the general fund to the NMS Deposit Fund the sum of $331,044,084,” Legal NewsLine said.

After this “reclassification” of intent, the State will probably appeal to the California Supreme Court.

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