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SACVOLUNTEERS: 
CITY OF SACRAMENTO VOLUNTEER PROGRAM

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

 

Tom DiFiore: Service with a Smile

 Tom DeFiore at the Sacramento Zoo

 

 By Montana Greeno

 

When walking into the Sacramento Zoo, you are guaranteed to see a warm smiling face greeting you.

Tom DiFiore is one of the smiling faces that is dedicated to making you feel excited to be at the zoo. With a warm welcome and all the information you could possibly desire, Tom is a passionate volunteer who loves making a difference with the zoo and with its visitors.

 Tom, who has been volunteering with the zoo for about two years, described what drew him to volunteer.

“My sister and I used to walk past the zoo every day,” he said. “One day my sister suggested that I should volunteer. I love animals and animal conservation, both global conservation and more local.”

If one wishes to volunteer at the zoo they must begin in an entry level position, known as the zoo ambassador. After becoming a zoo ambassador, volunteers then have the option to move up to a level two position such as docents, garden volunteers, and keeper-aide volunteers.

When asked about his favorite part of being a volunteer, Tom had a hard time picking just one aspect.

“Being an ambassador is great because you are the director of first impressions. You are the first person people get to see, we get to be helpful, help raise money for conservation and tell people about the events,” he stated. “I do a lot of other things as well.  I am a docent, work in horticulture, and grounds keeping. All of them have their different perks for instance I get to help with a lot of the shows and programs.”

When discussing the program and volunteering with Tom, it is plain to see through the excitement in his eyes and the joy in his smile that he is extremely passionate about volunteering. When asked about how important volunteering is, Tom was proud to share his answer,

“It’s hugely important!” Tom said. “I have been volunteering since I was 12 with a lot of different organizations, many have been social justice programs. When you volunteer you get to meet the best people and it gives you the best feeling. The zoo is fantastic, they treat their volunteers so well -  like we are all part of one big community. Being out here and making a difference is very important work. It is also such an amazing feeling to be around wild animals and hear their sounds, calls, and noises.” 

The zoo always welcomes new volunteers and Tom’s advice is to be proactive.

“Apply!” Tom said “The process can be big, you need to apply, do an interview before-hand, and then of course there is the tier system of entry level and level two positions. Make sure you go into everyday with a positive, helpful attitude and show how excited you are to be at the zoo.”

If you are interested in making a difference like Tom does volunteering at the Sacramento Zoo, check out their multiple opportunities, including teen programs, here https://www.saczoo.org/support/volunteer/

 

 


 

 

 

 

Sacramento Fire Reserves is the New Guided Pathway to Becoming a Firefighter

 

 

 

 

 

By Montana Greeno

 

When it comes to firefighting, the Sacramento Fire Reserves has changed the game.

This volunteer program, which was originally started in 1953 as the Sacramento Fire Auxiliary for Civil Defense, has an intensive training program, shifts and drills, and they often attend public events. So what is the draw to the program? It is the new guided pathway to becoming a firefighter.

“This is the only guided career pathway into the fire service where you do not have to have any training.” Captain Robert Anthony stated, “We are a 15 unit course through American River College, we have priority seating in the American River College's Emergency Medical Technician and Paramedic Class. It is the only part-time fire academy allowing reserves to work and/or go to school. It is part of our career pathway, over the last year the City of Sacramento Fire Department has hired six reserves, West Sacramento Fire Department has hired one reserve, and this current recruit academy has eight reserves in it! This a truly a guided career pathway into the fire service.”

 For many of the volunteers they chose the Reserves to fill a lifelong dream and desire to become a firefighter. When asked why he chose to be in the Fire Reserves Juan Cibrian, who has been with the program about a year and a half stated, “Fire services was an interest of mine growing up. For me it was the perfect match. I grew up in Sacramento and this program really helps me get my foot in the door.”

When asked the same question, Kyle Raggio, who has been in the program for about 7 months stated, “I wanted to be a firefighter since I was little so I have always felt very strongly about this program. I have been able to learn so much and I have been able to connect with the City of Sacramento Fire Department which is great.”

Ryan Hetchison, who has been with the program for a few months, had a slightly different answer.“I came from Cal Fire originally. Being able to be here has helped me keep my fire skills sharp.”

The Reserves does have its challenges. A reserve pulls one shift every six days, if the shift falls on a weekday it is 12 hours, 1900-0700 and on a weekend it is a 24 hour shift 0700-0700. In addition, training drills are held every Wednesday night 1900-2300 and every third Sunday 0800-1700. When asked about the challenges, all three agreed that time commitment was one of the more difficult parts of the program.

“You need to have a lot of commitment to the program, with drills on Wednesdays 7 until 11, Sunday drills there is a lot involved.” Juan said, “There are also events that we attend and those are sometimes mandatory as well.”

“I would also like to add that you need to be in charge of different things the farther along you come in the program.” Kyle stated, “This also means you have an added responsibility on top of the time commitment.”

“It’s all about trying to find balance as well.” Ryan said, “Overall, you need to be able to find a balance between work and the time commitment involved volunteering here. It’s important to always keep in mind what the end goal is and that it will all be worth it in the end.”

Despite the challenges, they all agreed that the benefits outweighed any hardships and that the end result was always going to be worth it. When asked about some of the benefits of being in the Reserves they had some amazing things to say.

“The program has grown a lot and actually mirrors a lot of what is done in the fire academy” Juan said, “It used to be you would only have the choice of the academy, but this gives you very similar training without the cost of going to the academy. With all the resources from the fire programs and also learning EMT work, you get a lot of guidance in the right direction.”

“You get the benefit of networking to all the departments” Ryan stated, “You can have some experience or no experience at all, the Reserves will always help get everyone on the same page and get the training we need.”

“You get your face and your name out there.” Kyle stated, “It also helps you build a great work ethic and gives you the drive you need to succeed in the firefighting world.”

Captain Anthony also has some rewarding aspect to his job.  “The best part of my job is seeing a former reserve walk across the stage to get their badge pinned on, as a full time paid firefighter.”

In addition to the benefits they listed, the Reserves also has the pleasure of going out to different community events to lend a helping hand. This helps the community become more aware of the program and helps build a great relationship between the program and the community. When asked what their favorite event was, they all had a different answer.

“Mine was probably the Pig Bowl.” Ryan stated, “It was awesome to talk to the different departments and see the role they play in the community.”

“I liked the Santa Parade.” Kyle said, “You get to drive the antique fire truck with the water guns and hoses attached to the side. Getting to represent the station is always at the top of my list.”

“I always like doing the crab feeds.” Juan said, “Everyone gets to get together serving the food for a good cause. It makes us feel like one big family and it’s always fun to do!”

With all the benefits of training, networking, events, and gaining the work ethic you need, one of the biggest benefits is the impact they make on our community.

“Our number 1 goal is to serve the community.” Ryan stated,“That is why so many people are drawn to it. It is a very rewarding experience. We also get the benefit of attending all the events and seeing what an impact we make. It makes a difference in our work.”

The application for the Reserve Academy is due by April 30th. If you dream of being a firefighter and are interested in volunteering with the Reserves or want to learn more, please visit http://sacramentofirereserves. org/

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

CERT Responds to Camp Fire

 

By Montana Greeno

 

When emergency calls, CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) responds.

The Camp Fire in Paradise hit so hard so fast causing hundreds of animals to be displaced from their homes and leaving some in critical condition. Luckily, there has been a huge amount of help from community, including a big helping hand from CERT.

In November, a CERT Task Force consisting of 28 members was deployed to the Camp Fire for 7 days. The Task Force was comprised of members from Sacramento CERT (Sacramento Fire), Folsom CERT (Folsom Fire), Elk Grove/Galt CERT (Cosumnes Fire), and West Sacramento CERT (West Sacramento Fire). These members worked 18 or more hours each day helping at the Chico Airport Animal Shelter. Robert Ross, Chief of operations at CERT, gave us a look into how they managed these long hours.

“It really was a group effort.” He said “We would need to be up and ready for the shelter morning briefing at 7 am and we often weren’t done for the day until the shelter closed at 9 pm.  Staffing was provided for the shelter 24X7 and animal transport was provided 24X7 as well.  Sometimes that meant working until 11 pm or sometimes even 2 am. We would take shifts and wake the person up if a car ever drove up because then we knew we needed to get ready in any way they needed us.”

The team spent time working in the Annex building and also helped run the 24x7 transport operations which recovered burned or injured animals out of the burn zones and transported them back into the vet offices in Chico and UCD Vet Center in Davis.

When rescuing animals, especially household pets, one thing you wouldn’t expect to see is exotic animals. Ross got to see his fair share of unusual animals.

 “My most exotic recoveries were a ball python in a pillowcase and a bearded dragon.” He said “We all got a kick out of a pygmy goat that was brought down as well.”

CERT members weren’t the only ones to encounter an animal they didn’t expect.

I think my favorite was a CHP officer that stopped us at a checkpoint for ID.  When he heard what we were doing, he says ‘oh, so you are here for the tortoise!’  Our team says ‘no, we are here for 3 chickens and 6 cats...’.  He says ‘no, you don't understand, you -are- here for the tortoise - I've had him for 6 hours and I have no idea what to do with him - you aren't leaving here without him!’” No matter what the animal, CERT was proud to do their part and help the community and animals in need.

 

When asked how he felt knowing he helped the community in such a large way Ross said, “It’s a really rewarding feeling. We would have some people at the shelter right when we opened looking for their pets every day. We went some days seeing 20-30 people not being reunited. I was lucky enough to witness 3 or 4 pets being reunited with their owners and just to see those few reunions really made it all worth it.”

If you are interested in finding out how CERT does its part when emergencies hit or you'd like to train to become a member, you can check out their website at www.sfdcert.org or for any additional questions about CERT  you can contact Robert Ross at info@sfdcert.org


 

 

 

 

AmeriCorps NCCC Gold 4 Gets Things Done For Sacramento

 

AmeriCorps NCCC Group Photo 

 

By Rebecca Case

 

AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) team, Gold 4, is serving with the City of Sacramento and Lutheran Social Services (LSS) from November 6th until December 19th. Gold 4 consists of eleven young adults from across the United States who will serve together for ten months.

 

The City of Sacramento’s mission is to protect, preserve, and enhance the quality of life for present and future generations in the community. The city government works to maintain public parks, host events for its residents, and create gardens for community use. LSS of Northern California has served homeless people and emancipating foster youth in Sacramento County for over 50 years. Their mission is to care for, support, and strengthen individuals, families, and communities. LSS operates nine housing programs in Sacramento and San Joaquin counties, providing transitional housing for homeless families, individuals, and youth; permanent supportive housing for disabled individuals, families, and youth emerging from foster care; and case management for individuals and families who are permanently housed.

 

To help the City of Sacramento achieve their mission, Gold 4 will remove 10 acres of overgrown brush, clean 7 zoo habitats for animals, and trim 100 trees to help beautify parks. In serving with LSS, the team will also assist 200 people experiencing homelessness with the resources they need, paint 5 apartments for youth to move into, and wrap 50 Christmas presents for children.

 

AmeriCorps NCCC Members painting at Lutheran Social Services

 

Team leader Yoshi Reyes says of the team’s efforts, “I'm proud of the efforts put in by Gold 4 to beautify parks for the City of Sacramento and help Lutheran Social Services with their continued efforts to end homelessness. We have received positive response from patrons and we all look forward to continuing the beautification of parks around the city, and helping people experiencing homelessness with anything they need.”

 

In addition to their service with City of Sacramento and LSS, members of Gold 4 also assist in various volunteer opportunities around the area. Other organizations they have worked with include the McKinley Rose Garden and Fairytale Town.

 

Gold 4 at McKinley Park Garden

 

AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time, residential, national service program in which 2,800 young adults serve nationwide each year. During their 10-month term, Corps Members – all 18 to 24-year-olds – work on teams of eight to twelve on projects that address critical needs. Traditional NCCC members work on a variety of different six to eight week-long projects related to natural and other disasters, infrastructure improvement, environmental stewardship and conservation, energy conservation, and urban and rural development. The Pacific Region campus in Sacramento is one of four regional hubs in the nation and serves ten states in the western part of the country. For more information, go to www.nationalservice.gov

 

 

Volunteer Stars at Oak Park Community CenteR

 

 Photo of Janice Bailey

 

By Michael Lingberg

 

The key to a life of volunteerism is a solid foundation. 

Several volunteers at the Oak Park Community Center in South Sacramento have just that: a strong foundation.

Josephine Atkins, Janice Bailey and Ollie Watson are all important figures in the Oak Park community, and each has a history of being taught from an early age that volunteerism is a civic duty. 

Bailey, who retired in 2007 from the VA hospital, started her volunteer career at 16 years old with the Red Cross. Her father, William, was a constant presence in the community and his efforts rubbed off on his daughter. 

"It's something that was instilled in me," she said. "It excites me to see people smiling. If you help someone else, it helps you get away from your own stuff."

The Oak Park Community Center hosts many events including a children's movie night, September's Sacramento Hotel Association Community Service Day and a monthly food giveaway aimed at needy families. Atkins helps with the food giveaway, which serves 40 people with food donated by local food banks.

As someone with 13 brothers and sisters and two children of her own, Atkins said she can't seem to get away from the caretaker role she's had her whole life. 

"Something within me," she said. "I think it's my purpose."

Atkins is a jack of all trades sort of person. If she sees something that needs to be done, she jumps into action. The drive to volunteer is constantly there, even if the reason why isn't exactly clear. Perhaps it's become part of her routine. 

"It's become habit," she said. "I don't know how; I just do it."

When she retired in 2001 from a career in education, Watson said her older friends at the time informed her that she needed to be taught about how to be a senior citizen. She saw how many programs there were for seniors in the area and opportunities to help others in the community. 

"I was hooked in," she said. 

She started by donating her time, money and effort to senior activities, and that spread to events geared towards academia, health, voter registration, youth workshops. She's also involved with her church, St. Paul's Baptist. Originally from Louisiana and part of a family with six other siblings, Watson and the rest of her brothers and sisters were instilled with this duty by their father, Emile Washington who, like Bailey's father, William, was heavily involved in the local community. 

"It's our passion," Watson said. "It's in our blood."

Bailey said the duty to help others and volunteer falls on everyone because that's what it means to be a citizen of a city.

"It takes a village to help people," she said.

To volunteer with the community center, give the office a call at (916) 808-6151 or email City of Sacramento Volunteer Coordinator Mary Lynn Perry at mperry@cityofsacramento.org


 

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 dferroni@visitsacramento.com

  


 

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:  https://sacramentohotelassociation.com/

 


 

 

 

 

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 jwagaman@cityofsacramento.org or visit:  http://www.cityofsacramento.org/Community-Development/Animal-Care/Volunteer

 


 

 

 

 

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: 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.”