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SACVOLUNTEERS: 
CITY OF SACRAMENTO VOLUNTEER PROGRAM

Blog about City of Sacramento Volunteer Program, People, Events and More

 


 

david Baker - Building Healthy Soil for Our Community Gardens

By Michael Lingberg

Some people have a green thumb. David Baker of Green Restaurant Alliance of Sacramento (GRAS), however, has a green thumb on steroids.

Through his work with GRAS, a local non-profit organization, and other programs such as ResoilSac that fall under the GRAS umbrella, Baker is helping California's capitol regenerate its soil, be more sustainable and less wasteful. 

The Sacramento native helps collect approximately 20,000 pounds of food waste from local restaurants per month (Baker estimates they could do twice as much), which goes into community gardens around the city, including the City of Sacramento’s Brooks Truitt Community Garden in Midtown, Martin Luther King Jr. Community Garden in Oak Park, Ninos Community Garden in North Sacramento, and Southside Community Garden.  The kind of food waste Baker and the rest of his helpers look for are biodegradable waste such as eggshells, coffee grounds, vegetable leaves, potato scraps, banana peels and other things. 

"Soil is the heart of the food system," Baker said. "We're feeding life into the soil."

“David and his volunteers are a very important component to the City’s Community Gardens program.  During the spring and summer our plants are growing, and we make very little of our own compost.  David’s team brings a lot of good nutrients to keep the soil healthy and rich,” states Bill Maynard, City of Sacramento Community Gardens Coordinator.

So far GRAS has 12 volunteers, five of which pick up the food waste, usually in 35-gallon bins, from participating restaurants and take it to gardens via bicycle and specially designed trailers. The kitchen staff of those restaurants are trained in how to prepare these scraps for pickup, and all of this happens in a 5-mile radius of the capitol building. 

Baker said the ultimate goal of GRAS and ResoilSac is to make the Sacramento community a more livable place where food can be grown for food banks and others who need it. To do that, the soil must be regenerated by introducing more nutrients and putting carbon back into the ground.

The inspiration for this project came after Baker observed similar programs in the Bay Area and other parts of the country. 

"We could make Sacramento the leader in recycling organics back into the landscape," he said. 

Since Baker started in 2014, these programs have diverted an estimated 833,000 pounds of food waste from local landfills (and hope to hit 1 million pounds by the end of this year) which has eliminated more than 230,000 pounds of methane from the atmosphere and added more than 187,000 pounds of compost to local soils. Having worked in restaurants in the past, Baker knew something could be improved especially with food waste. 

"I saw the sustainability of other restaurants and thought, 'why can't we do that?'" he said.

Since Sacramento experiences hot temperatures in the summer, another goal of the programs is to "turn brownscapes into greenscapes." This means designing gardens and landscapes in a way that helps the soil absorb more rainwater and featuring plants that absorb heat instead of reflecting it. 

"Food is priority," Baker said.

For more information about GRAS and ResoilSac visit: http://grasacramento.org/   Contact them at GRASsacramento@gmail.com  For more information about the City of Sacramento’s Community Gardens visit:  https://www.cityofsacramento.org/ParksandRec/Parks/Specialty-Parks/Community-Gardens or contact Bill Maynard at wmaynard@cityofsacramento.org

 

Anthony Kirk Built Little Free Library at Truitt Bark Park 

By Michael Lingberg

McClatchy High School senior Anthony Kirk had an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone on March 3. 

He got the job done. 

With his construction of a Little Library for the Truitt Bark Park on the corner of Q and 19th Streets, Kirk satisfied one part of becoming an Eagle Scout as well as a requirement in order to graduate from McClatchy. 

"It's a weight off my shoulders," he said.

A Little Library is a small, wooden box which stands in a public place and contains around two shelves stuffed full of books. Passersby are encouraged to take a book and return it later and if possible, replace them with books of their own.  

Though the end product may not seem so formidable, the nine-month road up to the completion certainly was and it was peppered with setbacks, stress and plenty of paperwork. All in all, Kirk estimated that he spent 50 total hours shopping for and gathering materials, sending emails to the city, filling out paperwork and other preparation. He then estimated that it took 113-120 hours of working with other people to build the Little Library. 

With the help of his parents, Kirk first constructed a Little Library in front of his own house as a dress rehearsal of sorts before advancing to the dog park. This project satisfied the high school graduation requirements of 15-20 hours of community service as well as learning a new skill. Then, he gave a 10-15-minute presentation to the rest of the senior class. 

This wasn't even Kirk's original idea; it was Plan B. He originally wanted to construct an outdoor workout station at a park for a local nonprofit organization, but the grant he had his sights set on fell through. With the completion of the Little Library just a few short months before he graduates high school, Kirk is obviously relieved. 

"I feel very happy and satisfied," Kirk said. "Getting Eagle Scout is difficult and not a lot of people can say they did it."

"It's been a long and bumpy road to complete this," he said. "At the end of the day it's like a dream come true but it's just taken me a while to get it done."

Having helped himself, while also providing the City of Sacramento with another source of library books, Kirk can call it a day on helping his community. 

"It's very rewarding," he said. 

After high school, Kirk will enter the fire academy at American River College in his quest to become a fire fighter and EMT. His father, Thomas, worked for CalFire. 

 


 

SELF-DESCRIBED GYPSY CHARMS AT THE ETHEL HART SENIOR CENTER

By Michael Lingberg

If one looks closely inside the Ethel Hart Senior Center, they just may be able to see a gypsy.

Or, one would catch a glimpse of Latifu Munirah, a self-described gypsy, leading the monthly writing courses which focus on personal growth and wellness, as well as Mind-Body Skills for Self-Care and Conscious Aging workshops. She is also a certified life and wellness coach.

 

Participants spend two hours during these sessions exploring self-expression personal reflection, emotional and mental health, and stress reduction.

Having more than 40 years of experience as a clinical social worker who specialized in child abuse and family violence, it’s safe to say Munirah is qualified to teach about such subjects. Her journey began in Florida and wandered through Georgia, Texas, Washington D.C., Ohio, San Francisco, Jamaica and for three months, Senegal. She spent 12 years in the Peace Corps but since 2004, she has been rooted in Sacramento.

“My wings have been by my side for the most part since then,” she said about her move to Sacramento.

Munirah retired in 2015. During her time in San Francisco she worked with homeless youth and single mothers, and it was during times of great stress when she flourished.

“It was crisis I thrived in,” she said. “I like working in crisis situations and helping people work through it.”

Needless to say, Munirah is an asset for the Hart Senior Center, according to Volunteer and Leisure Enrichment Program Coordinator Alicia Black.

“I was immediately impressed by her organizational skills, kind nature and her strong desire to share her vast knowledge and time at the Hart Center,” Black said. “It was clear early on that her talents would be a great opportunity for us to expand our programming in new and interesting ways.”

According to Black, Munirah’s “professionalism, dedication and sense of humor” have gained her a small following of students who eagerly sign up for the courses she leads.

“I fell in love with the staff,” Munirah said. “They are fantastic people. I fell in love with the participants and all they had to offer. It’s kind of a mutual love affair.”

Having spent a lifetime helping others solve their problems, Munirah has developed a mindset that focuses on celebrating what is going well in one’s life, rather than what isn’t going to plan.

In order to be more optimistic, Munirah encourages people to take the first step even though the staircase cannot be seen. Everything will be alright eventually. Her philosophy for sharing knowledge is one of self-growth.

“If you keep your skills and knowledge inside,” she said, “there’s no space for anything else. I feel like I’m growing and developing as an individual when I volunteer. I feed off the energy of people discovering something new and turning on that light.”


 

WHEN ONE CAREER ENDS, ANOTHER BEGINS

By Michael Lingberg

Gordon Lau, 60, retired from his IT job at the UC Davis Medical Center in July of 2016. Since then, he has become one of the nearly 4,200 individuals who make up Sac Event Crew

 

 

This organization’s dedicated troop of volunteers – led by Volunteer Coordinator Danielle Ferroni – assists at several large-scale events that take place in the city of Sacramento, including the Amgen Tour of California Bike Race, the California State Fair, and the Farm-to-Fork Festival on Capitol Mall. In 2017, Sac Event Crew logged an impressive 10,000+ hours of volunteer service.

“When volunteering, you get to know people and make friends,” Lau said. “I’m doing stuff that’s fun for me.”

Lau has had the opportunity to participate in and assist with events like the 2017 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament (March Madness) at Golden 1 Center. He utilized his professional skillset by overseeing the Media/IT Help Desk, all while enjoying a veritable front row seat at one of Sacramento’s coolest events.

Being in the front row isn’t necessarily what motivates Lau, however. A large draw to these types of events is his inquiring mind.

“I have a curiosity in how things work,” he said. “Being a volunteer, you see all of the stuff that goes into setting up the event and taking it down.”
Even when he’s not supporting Ferroni and her crew, Lau continues to donate his time to a variety of causes. He’s been known to volunteer at the hospital as a test patient for medical students, and he assisted KCRA 3 when the news station held a fundraiser during the Santa Rosa wildfires. He’s a member of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and has trained on Emergency Response Vehicles with the Red Cross. Lau said that part of the reason he volunteers so much is his pride in his community. He and Ferroni promote Sacramento as a great place to volunteer because of the numerous events that occur throughout the year.

If there’s one message to take away from Lau, it’s a relatively simple one: “When people ask if I get bored in retirement, I tell them there are many ways to volunteer to help the community. There’s no excuse to be bored.”

**If you’re interested in learning more about volunteering with Sac Event Crew, please visit their website or contact Danielle Ferroni at dferroni@visitsacramento.com with any specific questions.

CITY OF SACRAMENTO DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES INTERNS: YEE XIONG AND WARINGA WAITIKI

By Michael Lingberg

Written policies and procedures serve as internal controls to aid organizations in preventing, detecting, and correcting wrongdoing. Effective policies help minimize waste, fraud, legal liability, and loss of public trust and assets.

As a Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional, Sally Ly understands the value of having effective policies and strong policy governance. In her former role as a compliance manager for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), she led the development and implementation of a policy development and management framework for the organization.

In her new role as a program specialist for the Human Resources Department, the majority of her time is dedicated to policy analysis and development. Her current focus is tackling the development of several new policies. However, her long-term goal is to conduct a comprehensive review of existing human resources policies to identify potential gaps and opportunities for improvement.

To get going on the longer-term policy project, she has two volunteer interns who will assist her with the initial review of existing human resources policies.

The interns, Yee Xiong and Waringa Waitiki, will both use a policy analysis matrix developed by Ly to assist with the preliminary analysis. In doing so, they will capture key characteristics such as the intended purpose of the policy, policy scope, stakeholders, roles and responsibilities, explicit directives/mandates, authoritative sources such as laws and regulations, and related documents. The information gathered will assist Ly in diving into the subsequent phases of her policy analysis.

Xiong and Waitiki are the first interns Ly has brought on board since Ly made the switch from CalPERS in October of this year. She saw this as a chance to indulge in one of her passions.

“I’m really excited about it,” Ly said. “I saw it as an opportunity to bring talent on board and develop others. I’m passionate about developing others.”

Waitiki and Xiong are teaming up for what seems like a deep and dense task, one that requires plenty of focus and patience. For Xiong, who is originally from Olivehurst, this is right up his alley as he graduated from Sonoma State in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and researched theoretical frameworks of the physical workplace and their effects on job performance.

Xiong hopes to use his experience to join a Human Resources team in the future. He wants to help maximize the potential of his fellow employees.

“I believe [policy analysis] is an important tool to have and understand when becoming part of a Human Resource[s] team,” he said. “My goal is to maximize positive benefits from all angles and mitigate negative effects to an organization.”

In his spare time, Xiong enjoys a form of outdoor adventure travel called Overlanding, in which the traveller is self-reliant in their trek to remote locations, often enjoying the journey itself.

As for Waitiki, she has a bit more of a winding road behind her. Originally from Kenya, she has spent the past nine years in Sacramento and about 12 years in social services, working with children and adults in the foster system. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and is one semester from obtaining her Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of the Pacific.

“Policy analysis requires in-depth study and focus which are essential for my career paths,” she said.

Her future could be many different things, but she enjoys working with foster children because their roads are more difficult than most.

“I would like to work in education policy and advocacy for foster children since their outcomes tend to be negative,” she said. “Improving education outcomes for foster children would greatly improve their overall life outcomes.

Outside of her internship and schooling, Waitiki is in the process of staining a dresser.

So far so good. Ly said Xiong and Waitiki are enjoying the work and the process of learning even more.

“They’re very eager to learn,” she said. “They’re like little sponges soaking up knowledge.”