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


Danielle Ferroni - Dedicated to Excellence

 Danielle Ferroni


By Michael Lingberg

As the old saying goes, "fake it 'till you make it."

Visit Sacramento's Danielle Ferroni can say just that because she was selected Volunteer Coordinator of the Year, and Sac Event Crew, the volunteer program she leads, earned the title of Sacramento’s Best Place to Volunteer, by Sacramento Magazine, the third year in a row. 

Five years ago, Ferroni joined Visit Sacramento after the position was created specifically for her. From that point on, she learned by jumping into the deep end of the pool, so to say. 

Her first event was the 2014 Amgen Tour of California. Most of the volunteers were needed in downtown Sacramento, but the check-in booth for volunteers was placed at Sacramento State University instead. It was a decision that leaves her flummoxed to this day. 

"What the heck was I doing," she asked. "That was crazy. I had no idea the magnitude of the event. I've learned a lot since then." 

Has she ever. Ferroni has come all the way from starting with just a desk and a computer by herself to having more than 4,700 volunteers in the system today. At last month's Farm-to-Fork festivities, she had more than 800 volunteers fill in nearly 1,100 shifts. Her program obviously has a solid following. 

"It feels great," she said of the recognition. "It says a lot about the organization for being recognized and of course, our volunteers. We have a great following. When they volunteer with us it's their way of giving back. A lot of people like to see the behind-the-scenes work and they get a front row seat to some of the best events in Sacramento."


Sac Event Crew

Sac Event Crew is now like a runaway train. The sheer amount of volunteers that help with every aspect of event management ensures that it won't fail anytime soon. Volunteers even show up to staff meetings at Visit Sacramento. But throughout all of the energy of this juggernaut, Ferroni is still the constant, the "fearless leader."

"I'm pretty driven, competitive," she said. "My personal goal is to increase the volunteer base to ensure our events are properly covered, but more importantly, I want to make sure that everyone on Sac Event Crew has a memorable and rewarding experience, and I feel fortunate to be part of that."

Though this position can be stressful, requiring 14-hour days during events, lost sleep, endless emails, a clear temperament and crystal clear expectations, Ferroni wouldn't have it any other way. It's the people who keep her going. 

"It's important to acknowledge each and every one, and… if you want to see some of the hardest workers at Sacramento’s biggest events, keep your eye out for those in T-Shirts labeled “volunteer”

To volunteer for Sac Events Crew, contact Ferroni at (916) 808-7781 or




Sacramento Hotel Association’s 12th Annual Community Service Day

The Hospitality Industry Helping in the Community


 Sacramento Hotel Association Volunteers



By Johnny Chao

Sacramento Hotel Association helped local organizations during its 12th annual community service day on Sept. 8, 2018. It was a gathering of more than 250 volunteers from 15 local hotels and 4 vendor partners. After a quick assemble at the Oak Park Community Center, locations were given out and each team left to improve our community.

It was a day of improvements, donations and community pride as teams left places like American Legion High School, Fairytale Town and Ronald McDonald House better than when they arrived. While volunteers were out improving the community, a team stayed back and created greeting cards that were donated to Meals on Wheels and UC Davis Children's Hospital. Volunteers also donated over 549 pounds of nonperishable food items, which were given to the River City Food Bank and Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.

“The volunteer list kept growing for this annual community service event, so we kept adding partner organizations to assist,” said Teresa Stephenson, Executive Director of the Sacramento Hotel Association. This is the Association's 12th annual community service project - The Hospitality Industry Helping in the Community.



The nonprofit and governmental agencies where the Sacramento Hotel Association’s volunteers served included:

 A photo album on SacVolunteers’ Facebook page captures the action: Sacramento Hotel Association Community Service Day

The Sacramento Hotel Association provides educational, informational, and networking experiences for those engaged in the lodging industry in the Sacramento region and advocates for recognition of the industry as an important segment of the regional economy. For more information about the association, visit:









Stephanie McCall

Rock Star Volunteer at Front Street Animal Shelter


By Michael Lingberg


What do you get when you place four cats, four dogs, three chickens, various numbers of foster cats and dogs, one man and woman in one home?

“It’s our own little farm in Loomis,” Front Street Animal Shelter volunteer Stephanie McCall said.

McCall, a native of Texas, has become the rock star of the shelter because she has fostered more than 1,000 kittens for it. In 2017 alone, she and her husband, Garrett, cared for 180 kittens, all of which ranged from one week old to eight weeks old.

Since January 2017, she has put in 200 hours of volunteer service to the shelter and “Ringworm Town”, which is the kennel where cats infected with ringworm live. Ringworm Town treats the skin fungus cats have to make them ready for adoption. Since 2016, the kennel has treated approximately 160 cats.

Volunteer Coordinator Janice Wagaman described McCall as a highly dedicated shelter ally.


Stephanie McCall with kittens


Definitely not a glamorous job, but Stephanie is faithful and dedicated to the health and wellbeing of the cats,” Wagaman said. “She is a true asset to our team and we are very grateful to have her volunteer here at Front Street.”

McCall and her husband have lived in the Sacramento area for the past eight years. Her foster story began in 2014 when the two bought their home, where a pregnant and injured cat showed up on their doorstep. She cared for the cat, and thus began her journey.

“It’s definitely something that just happened,” she said.

She started with one litter of cats and enjoyed it so much that at any given time these days, she and Garrett usually have between one to three litters of kittens as guests in their home.

“We’ve pretty much turned my house into an extension of the shelter,” she said. “I’m really lucky that my husband is so supportive; I wouldn’t be able to do anything without him.”

All of the animals already living in the house provide help with fostering. For example, if a kitten has trouble transitioning to canned food, McCall gives it scrambled eggs that come from the family chickens.


Photo of Stephanie McCall with cat



Through this level of service and dedication to the animal shelter, McCall discovered something she is really good at doing. It also saved her because she was diagnosed with depression in 2013.

“Something about being here and helping save lives really helped me,” she said. “If I can do something for the shelter, I will. The only thing that could bring me more joy is becoming a mother.”

This is something McCall was born to do, and she now envisions the day of her retirement. Her mission is to help 90 percent of dogs and cats become spayed and neutered.

“Front Street is trying to make it happen,” she said. “It’s awesome to be a part of it.”

For more information about how to volunteer for the Front Street Animal Shelter, contact Wagaman at (916) 808-8166 or or visit:







 City of Sacramento Youth Volunteers Help FairyTales Come True

By Michael Lingberg

The youth of Sacramento are the future. 

So, it only makes sense that two local teenagers are providing plenty of community service to Fairytale Town, a 3.5-acre haven of childhood imagination and joy in Sacramento's William Land Park since it opened in 1959. 

Within these magical confines, Abby Shumacher, 16, and Hadley Nevin, 16, are full-fledged community-service superstars. Combined, the two have logged more than 550 volunteer hours in at least two years of service each, much more than most of their peers will have managed by the time high school ends. 

Shumacher has gotten a taste of many different areas while volunteering, including activity preparation, event preparation, facilitating arts and crafts for young children, working in theater, leading games and telling stories. Sarah Thomas, Education & Program Manager at Fairytale Town, described Shumacher as an "all-around helpful person" who conducts herself with maturity and professionalism. 

And Shumacher’s most important qualities? She's reliable and enthusiastic. 

"Her cheery attitude brightens up everyone's day," Thomas said, "and she is always willing to jump in and help."

Shumacher said she most enjoys seeing the growth in the children. 

"I look forward to summer camp each year," she said. "I love watching the kids grow throughout the week. They start out very shy and by the end of the week they are running around with all the other children." 

Nevin does more behind-the-scenes work, such as painting and theater production, but she does work directly with the public as well. She had the lead role in a production that more than 9,000 Sacramento-area school children saw last year

Thomas said Nevin's artistic talent and listening skills highlight her many great qualities. 

"Hadley has shown that she is a self-starter and approaches her responsibilities with both eagerness and a willingness to learn new things," Thomas said. 

"I enjoy working at Fairytale Town because it's always fun here," Nevin said. "There are many different things to do, such as helping with field trips, making sets for plays or dressing up as a superhero or princess and having a dance party on the Mother Goose Stage. It's a great place to spend my Tuesdays and Thursdays."

Both Nevin and Shumacher visited Fairytale Town as children and were influenced by it. Hopefully their presence has influenced today's children to pay it forward as well. 

Fairytale Town is open every day during the summer from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on July 4th. Admission is $5 for adults and children aged 12 and under on weekdays, and $6 on weekends.








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:   Contact them at  For more information about the City of Sacramento’s Community Gardens visit: or contact Bill Maynard at






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. 








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.”







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 with any specific questions.


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.”