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


 By Michael Lingberg

If one looks closely inside the Ethel Hart SeniorCenter, 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.”