CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - September’s luncheon opened with the Pledge of Allegiance before Chaplain Debra Fontes and Citrus Heights Police Chief Ron Lawrence spoke in remembrance of 9/11.
“Let us remember what was lost on this day seventeen years ago, but even more importantly, we remember that this day is a reminder of our nation’s unity, resilience, and strength,” said Fontes. “May all of our endeavors here today make us stronger tomorrow.”
Chief Lawrence said that “this is the first year that we’ll have seniors graduating from high school who were just being born when that tragedy occurred, which means that the next generation will not know what that moment was like. Those of us in this room probably distinctly remember where we were, what we were doing, and what we felt like. And for a few brief weeks after that tragic incident this country was united like I have never experienced in my life.”
“The truth is, it’s not going take a national, a political party, or some big movement to make things better in our country, it’s going to take communities just like ours right here in Citrus Heights banding together and having those moments of clarity of who we are, what we’re about, and what brings us together as a city.”
Following the introduction of dignitaries and sponsors, Sgt. Wes Herman spoke about the newly created Mesa Verde High School Pathway Program, a “multi-year educational opportunity” for high school students to focus on academics and career opportunities. “For eighteen weeks, they get an opportunity to explore the different fields,” he said. “After that, they have an eighteen week internship in our police department or a neighboring department where they’ll get hands-on experience.” Currently, 18 students, many from outside of Citrus Heights, are enrolled.
Presentations about the Citrus Heights Police Foundation by Lt. Chad Morris and Student Connect by Haley Reid followed. A motorcycle skills challenge and safety fair on September 29 will benefit the foundation. Backpacks and other school supplies will be distributed on the same day at Advent Lutheran Church.
Education Committee Chair Rosa Umbach introduced the CHPD Youth and Family Services Unit - Sgt. Wesley Herman, Juvenile Detective William Dunning, School Resource Officer Barron Cox, School Resource Office Jacob Davis, JDEP Coordinator Judie Cooper, and PAL Coordinator Kendahl Smallwood. Certificates were presented by the Citrus Heights City Council and the offices of Congressman Ami Bera, Senator Jim Nielsen, Assemblyman Ken Cooley, and Supervisor Sue Frost.
Chief Lawrence presented the “State of the Police Department” report. “We could not do our job unless our community has complete faith and trust in your police department. This community loves our police department, and we love you.”
Lawrence praised the professionalism of the men and women in the twelve-year-old department. The budget, he said, has come in at or under for the eight years he has been chief. Crime rates are down overall and the trend continues. He addressed the importance of Citrus Heights having its own “full service police department.”
Initiatives during the past 18 months include a regional approach to homelessness, drone program, and housing inspection unit. CHPD is on two area task forces, partners with WEAVE, recently secured a $450,000 three-year grant to help pay for the program, and operates a mobile crisis team three days a week which is expected to grow to daily service.
Jonathan Glatz, representative of Assemblyman Ken Cooley’s office, presented Chief Ron Lawrence with an Assembly Resolution. “On behalf of Assemblyman Cooley, I want to thank Chief Lawrence and the members of the Citrus Heights Police Department for all the work that they do on a daily basis keeping us safe and for the sacrifices they make to the people of Citrus Heights.”
Chief Lawrence accepted on behalf of the department and recognized the City Council. “Your support means a lot. We could not do what we do without you.”
For additional information about the Citrus Heights Chamber of Commerce, visit www.chchamber.com. For additional information about the Citrus Heights Police Department, visit www.citrusheights.net/222/Police. For additional information about the motorcycle skills challenge, visit www.sunrisemallonline.com/event/traffic-safety-day-and-police-motorcycle-skills-challenge/2145510611.
CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - Back in 2017, the Sunrise MarketPlace Business Improvement District (BID) joined with Sunrise Mall on an ambitious idea to bring a variety of exciting events to the City of Citrus Heights. The plan was to develop a Pop-Up Stadium that would be located at Sunrise Mall and would generate business by attracting more visitors to the area for entertainment, cultural, and sporting events. The city approved the idea, and the project was granted $300,000 in Economic Development funding.
The stadium was originally scheduled to “pop up” in the spring of 2019. But unfortunately, Sunrise Mall recently canceled the plans for the Pop-Up Stadium. In an email, Kathilynn Carpenter, executive director of Sunrise MarketPlace BID, stated, “Sunrise Mall has recently advised us that, given the mall’s current state of affairs, they are unable to commit to the Pop-Up Stadium as originally planned.”
The terms of Sunrise Mall’s commitment to this project included providing the location for the stadium (the former tennis courts/concerts stadium area) through 2021 and annual contributions (in the form of cash as well as goods and services) for operations and programming.
Carpenter said, “As there is no comparable space (with existing electrical infrastructure, parking for event patrons, etc.) in the District, this decision effectively puts an end to the project.” Because Sunrise MarketPlace BID can no longer fulfill the terms of the grant agreement with the city, they have returned the $300,000 received in funding for this project.
At the time that Sunrise Mall withdrew from the agreement, Sunrise MarketPlace BID had spent less than $5,000 on the project, most of which was in staff time and production. So while the financial loss was not particularly significant, there were substantial time and resources output in the planning and preparation for the project.
When asked if Sunrise Mall has offered any further explanation for the current state of affairs that caused them to withdraw from the plan, Carpenter replied, “No, we have not received additional information from the mall. And, I don’t have any information on the current state of affairs.”
Carpenter is confident that Sunrise Mall disclosed their intent to cancel the plans as soon as they could, stating, “I would assume the mall advised us of their inability to participate in the project as soon as they became aware of it.” So while it appears that Sunrise Mall entered into the plan in good faith and did not unnecessarily delay this revelation, they have yet to offer a more detailed explanation for canceling this potentially lucrative project that had so much support among local residents.
Spinoso Real Estate Group, which is based out of New York, acquired ownership of Sunrise Mall in 2015. Spinoso’s website showcases their decades of experience in mall acquisition, stating, “Through careful analysis, we can determine the strengths and weaknesses of a particular mall, as well as develop an achievable vision of what can be done to create value.” In an email to Spinoso, they were asked to offer a detailed explanation of why they backed out of the stadium plans, and if commitments to the Pop-Up Stadium project (such as the location and cash contributions) would have potentially interfered with future redevelopment plans. As of press time, Spinoso had not responded to the request for additional information.
Now that the plans for the Pop-Up Stadium have been canceled, Carpenter was asked about the upcoming projects that Sunrise MarketPlace BID is pursuing. She replied, “We have focused aggressively on ‘turning the ship,’ so to speak, and working on new strategies for 2019. Three things already in the works will receive more funding and emphasis: Magical Moments holiday events, June 2019 BeefFest, and 20th Anniversary activities. We premiered Magical Moments in 2017; there will be four events around the district that invoke the magic of the holiday season, creating memories and traditions for our guests. The BeerFest will be a new event here in the District featuring specialty craft beer tasting, food, and entertainment. In 2019, we’ll be celebrating our 20th Anniversary with activities all year long, including new banners and Facebook giveaways.”
Although the cancelation of the Pop-Up Stadium is a disappointment, Sunrise MarketPlace BID is looking to the future and moving forward, implementing new and exciting projects in the area. Carpenter said, “Sunrise MarketPlace will continue to do what is has done for the past 19 years and strongly focus on improving the economic vitality of the district by driving traffic and generating positive awareness. We will continue to activate space in the district with special events and other activities. We will continue to focus on our mission of providing value and benefit to the properties with the BID.”
Successful Leaders Are Made Here
CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - It’s 6:15 a.m. Thursday morning. As the meeting room at Perko’s Café Grill begins to slowly fill up it is obvious those arriving are there for a purpose. After the cobwebs have been shaken off with a good cup of coffee and greetings exchanged, the Pledge of Allegiance is recited and the fun begins. This is Sunrise Center Toastmasters.
This scenario is repeated day and night throughout the United States and internationally as men, women and young adults of all ages, different cultures, professions, interests and life experience come together as part of Toastmasters International. They are there to learn how to become better communicators at their job, other organizations and in their personal relationships.
Toastmasters International (TI) is a nonprofit, educational organization that operates clubs worldwide to promote public speaking communication, and leadership skills. Members give speeches, make presentations and do projects, continually challenging themselves to improve. Impromptu speaking, evaluations and mentoring are all important components of the program.
Sunrise Center Toastmasters was founded in 1976 by a small group of experienced Toastmasters from a club in downtown Sacramento. Over those 42 years hundreds of members have come and gone and a few remain today. Armed with the knowledge and confidence gained from their work with the club, members have become entrepreneurs, advanced in their present jobs, become leaders in the community and local government, and simply become better people.
Founding members Dave Mason and Ed Schroeder fought through the hard times as they grew but forged on as they believed that “one person can make a difference, two can change the world,” setting the tone of excellence for the life of the club.
By 1986, club membership reached 88 members, earning Sunrise the #3 position in the world of Toastmasters. They were forced to split and formed American River, Spellbinders and Birdcage clubs, among others.
On April 26, 2001 nearly 40 members and guests, including 14 past presidents, gathered to celebrate the club’s 25th anniversary. Former member and then District 39 Governor, Ruth Maloney had been quoted as saying, “What we learn at Toastmasters we take with us forever. You never know when you’ll make a difference (with your words) in another person’s life.”
At least five members have received their Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM), the highest honor to be earned. The club itself has been in the “Top 10” clubs in the world for eight years in a row.
Distinguished Toastmaster, Marty Maskall has been a member of Sunrise Center for 35 years. She credits the confidence and knowledge gained from Toastmasters to her authoring two books, starting a business and becoming the co-founder of the Fair Oaks EcoHousing project to open in 2019.
Toastmasters come from all backgrounds, including local government and community services, art, finances, law, education, health, and law enforcement. Members and guests heard stories from speakers such as a former Vietnam fighter pilot who ejected from his jet as it crashed to the ground; the vacation one member was compelled to take to the North Pole; and a story told by a member of her harrowing experience at the age if nine as she became one of the thousands of “Boat People” escaping North Vietnam in the 1970s.
Why the continued success of the Toastmasters program and Sunrise Center specifically? Members attribute success to having fast moving, well run meetings, being supportive of all members, and having fun. Many also see fellow members as family, with whom they share their lives each week. The endless cache of speech topics keeps members coming back. Each meeting gives three speakers the opportunity to talk about things such as their greatest challenges, world-wide travels, newly discovered book or magazine article, or a poignant story of the loss of a beloved family member.
Two quotes from founder Ralph Smedley explain the Toastmaster philosophy. He said, “Ours is the only organization I know dedicated to the individual, we work together to bring out the best in each of us and then we apply these skills to help others.” And, “All speech is for communication, and there is no possibility of communication unless people understand. Your club can help you find out whether you are making yourself understood.”
Sunrise Center Toastmasters meets at Perko’s Café Grill at 6215 Sunrise Boulevard at the corner of Greenback. Meetings are held every Thursday except major holidays from 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.
Answer in DNA
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - It was an eerie, familiar feeling as Sacramento District Attorney stood alongside state law enforcement agents and in front of media members, announcing the arrest of yet another notorious California serial rapist.
58-year-old Roy Charles Waller of Benicia was linked through DNA to the heinous NorCal Rapist crimes committed on at least 12 victims that date back beginning 27 years ago and took place across six counties.
“The answer has always been in the DNA,” said Schubert, coincidentally in the midst of National Forensic Science Week. She explained the partnership of tireless science and police work that led to a breakthrough over the past 10 days, eventually leading to the arrest.
“Today we can bring some closure to the victim in Contra Costa County who was attacked on Halloween in 1996,” said Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton.
Waller was arrested in Berkeley near the U.C. Berkeley campus. He has been a U.C. Berkeley employee for the past 25 years. The Sacramento Police Department and the Berkeley Police Department made the arrest.
The suspect has been charged with 12 counts of force-able sexual assault, plus enhancements. There are also allegations that he used a gun. He’s been awarded no bail and his arraignment is set for Monday in Sacramento.
CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - You’ve seen the cats scurry into the brush when you walk by, or the kitten who shows up on your doorstep every so often looking for something to eat. Some people consider these feral cats nuisances; some consider them cute; and others, like Sac Feral Resources, understand the need for the neighborhood to work together to manage feral cat colonies. A workshop being offered on September 30 at Carmichael Library will teach community members how to improve the situation for both feral cats and humans who share the same neighborhood.
The workshop, part of the Community Cats Project, will be divided into two parts. The morning session will focus on feral and community cats. This session may be taken alone, but it is a prerequisite for the afternoon that will discuss and teach Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). The workshops are free and open to the public.
“I want to improve the situation for the cats and for the neighbors,” said Linda Morgan of Sac Feral Resources, a non-profit all-volunteer organization. “Ultimately, the objective is to stop more kittens from being born into a situation where they are not welcomed, wanted, or cared for,” she said, “and to humanely care for cats already in the neighborhood.” The hope, she added, is that people, even those currently caring for feral cats, will “take something away that will improve the lives of the cats and the neighborhood.”
How do these cats get into the neighborhood? Some are left behind after the humans move. Others are set outside after a death in the family. Still others are put out instead of taken to one of the shelters because the people fear the cats will be euthanized. There are many reasons. Sac Feral Resources’ intention isn’t to focus on the reasons. It is to teach people how to control the cat population.
“There’s a method to colony management,” she said.
“I don’t think people realize how much of a problem this is. Throughout the county there are between one and two hundred thousand feral cats. There is no inventory.”
By learning how to monitor and manage the colony within a neighborhood, she added, the population can stabilize and eventually will decrease because cats are trapped, spayed, neutered, and returned. They are unable to reproduce. There is also what Morgan calls a feeding protocol, which is not simply leaving a bowl of food outside for the neighborhood cat.
The organization encourages people to register colonies, to learn what needs to be done within an apartment complex or neighborhood. Some residents, she said, have been faced with eviction if they continue to feed the cats. Socializing feral kittens helps make them adoptable.
“The in-depth workshops cover the background of what these cats are, the philosophies of people in the neighborhood, and why it is a neighborhood problem,” said Morgan. “Cats are left behind. People are dumping cats where they see cats being fed. Cats are out there because of human action or inaction.”
What can attendees expect? Morgan will bring in traps and demonstrate their use. She’ll show videos, and teach how to talk to others as a colony manager. She’ll teach how to trap the “untrappable” cats. She’ll also explain how to feed cats. “There’s a protocol behind it that will make you more successful,” she said. “With TNR, responsible feeding, and colony management, the cat population will stabilize and ultimately be reduced through attrition. Neighborhood cat issues can be resolved when residents are empowered to work together in this shared objective.”
For additional information, visit: www.sacferals.com. If you’re going: Saturday, September 30 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.at the Carmichael Library, 5605 Marconi Avenue, Carmichael, CA.
RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - At 1:44 p.m. on September 17, 2018, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Communications Center received a 911 call regarding a disturbance at a local business, located at the 10000 block of Folsom Boulevard. Two Rancho Cordova Police Department Officers, which is a contract city with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, responded to the scene. The initial call for service gave no indication that the suspect was armed or dangerous. Upon the officers arriving, they were fired upon by the suspect and were able to return fire.
The suspect fled from the initial scene on foot and was again engaged by other responding deputies at a secondary scene. The suspect was taken into custody and transported to a local hospital, where he is currently in stable condition.
During this encounter, two officers were shot by the suspect.
One officer, Julie Robertson (28), a three and a half year veteran, was shot in the arm and is in stable condition.
The other officer, Mark Stasyuk (27), was shot by the suspect. He was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.
An uninvolved citizen was shot, presumably by the suspect. That citizen appears to be in stable condition at this time.
Deputy Mark Stasyuk was a four and a half year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department and was assigned to the Rancho Cordova Police Department as a patrol officer. Deputy Stasyuk leaves behind a wife, mother, father, and sister. He was preceded in death by his older brother.
The investigation into the incident will be conducted by the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau and Professional Standards Division, which is standard practice for any officer-involved shooting that occurs in the Sheriff’s Department’s jurisdiction. An independent review of the officer-involved shooting will be conducted by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. In accordance with the Sheriff’s Department policies and procedures, the deputies involved in the shooting will be placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.
Deputy Mark Stasyuk Memorial Fund
A memorial fund has been set up to help Deputy Mark Stasyuk’s family. Donations can be made by visiting the CAHP Credit Union website or by mailing checks to:
Deputy Mark Stasyuk Memorial Fund
CAHP Credit Union
2843 Manlove Road
P.O. Box 276507
Sacramento, CA. 95827-6507
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Behavioral health issues will plague one in four Americans in their lifetime, and half of us will care for someone living with a mental health issue during our lives. If you are not experiencing a behavioral health challenge right now, someone you know certainly is. These issues can strike someone once during their lifetime, or they may be something a person deals with every moment of every day.
In my role with Mental Health America of California, I work closely with youth and in the workplace mental health space. I see that the state of California, and the nation as a whole, is facing significant issues when it comes to behavioral health. Children are dying from substance use disorder and overdoses; they are dying from suicide. Neighbors are disabled because of behavioral health challenges.
MHAC has been working for 60 years to ensure that everyone in California who needs mental health services and support has access to appropriate help before they reach a point of crisis. But we cannot do this alone. That’s why we have joined forces with a first-of-its-kind coalition called Behavioral Health Action. The coalition brings together more than 50 diverse organizations that touch behavioral health in some way. This includes law enforcement, health care providers and hospitals, education, business, government and labor. Our goal is to elevate the issue of behavior health and raise awareness among the public and elected officials about what we can do to make a change.
Today, many elected officials are concerned about reducing costs of health care in the state of California. Others are concerned about closing achievement gaps. One way to solve these problems is to address behavioral health challenges and treatment. While we as the Behavioral Health Action coalition can create innovative solutions, it is up to the legislators to implement policies and bring change at a statewide level.
This issue runs deep. It is going to take steadfast effort from our whole village to make a dent in behavioral health outcomes and to improve the lives of people living with these challenges. If we do not include many partners with many perspectives, we’ll never make a difference.
I lost two siblings to suicide. I grew up in a family and in a community where substance use and mental health issues were prevalent, but no one ever talked about it. No one discussed treatment. Because of this, behavioral health has always been my top priority, and I hope others will give it the importance it deserves – from our neighbors and friends to our local and state representatives. We all need to take responsibility, and we all need to unite our voices, if we want to make progress on this issue.
If you are not mentally well, how can you achieve anything else? If we don’t highlight and elevate behavioral health, reduce its stigma and identify appropriate services and support that our communities need, we’re going to have many more problems before anything gets better.
I am a candidate this year for the San Juan Unified School Board. I can assure you that behavioral health will be my chief concern as I run for elected office, and I urge all other elected officials and candidates to make it a priority as well when they are on the campaign trail.
Zima Creason is President and CEO of Mental Health America of California
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The Big One is Back! Circus Vargas Delivers the Ultimate Entertainment Extravaganza for 2018! Debuting their latest, new and amazing animal-free production in Citrus Heights, the much-anticipated tour begins September 20th and runs through October 14th with stops in Roseville and Folsom!
Always fun for the entire family, Circus Vargas’ incredible new production highlights an amazing cast of world renowned performers! Death- Defying Acrobats, Daredevils, Flying Trapeze Artists, Jugglers, Contortionists, Comedians, Clowns, Motorcycles and much, much, more!
Get ready to unleash your imagination and discover a world of pure circus magic and wonderment under the Big Top, where memories are made and cherished for a lifetime!
Join us for a swashbuckling circus spectacular, with this year’s theme “Dreaming of Pirates!” A fantastic voyage of nonstop action and adventure guaranteed to thrill and enchant children of all ages! Prepare to witness the impossible and experience the unforgettable!
Circus Vargas’ Dreaming of Pirates… A true circus treasure!
Arrive 45 minutes early for an entertaining, interactive pre-show celebration, where kids can create their own magic under the big top, learning circus skills such as juggling, balancing and more! Meet and mingle with the entire cast after each performance. Capture the fun by posing for pics or selfies with your favorite cast members, all part of an unforgettable Circus Vargas experience!
Ticket Information: General admission tickets start at $15 for children and $25 for adults.
For Circus Vargas performance dates, times and to purchase tickets, visit www.circusvargas.com, call 877-GOTFUN-1 (877-468-3861) or visit the box office at each location.
Follow Circus Vargas on Facebook and Twitter for updates, discounts and behind the scenes video.
ORANGEVALE, CA (MPG) - Orangevale Community Center was electric Sunday morning, August 26 as more than 200 men, women, and children filled the gymnasium for a two hour Zumba marathon to raise funds for the Firefighters Burn Institute’s Youth Firesetter Program. With fourteen fully energized instructors from the region on stage to guide, instruct, and inspire, the crowd sweated and burned calories from the 10 a.m. start until noon. “Zumba Love,” “Peace Love Zumba,” “Make It Happen,” “Free Zumba,” and “Zumba Boss” were some of the slogans on shirts. Red was the color of the day and fun was the attitude.
Lorie Valdez-Hobart, the event’s instructor coordinator and Zumba guru, reminded the group of the four rules of Zumba. “Let go,” she said. “Let everything go that’s bothering you. Two, keep it safe.” She reminded dancers to take breaks and keep hydrated. Water bottles lined the walls while the gym shimmied and rocked to the sounds of Reggae and Latin rhythms and a touch of hip hop. Every so often, the instructors would slow things down so dancers could towel off beads of sweat and bring heart rates down just a bit.
“There are no wrong moves in Zumba,” Valdez-Hobart shouted to the audience who returned the shout. “Have fun!” And the party began in earnest with that last rule. Instructors rotated and brought his or her personal style to the party. Dancers heeded the rules. Valdez-Hobart has been hosting the Zumbathon since 2013 when she was first contacted.
“I love doing this event!” said Valdez-Hobart, saying how “empowering it is to be able to bring over 200 people together through Zumba to raise money for such an amazing organization!”
The Firefighters Burn Institute provides many services for fire victims of all ages, including firefighters and children. Firefighters Kids Camp and Little Heroes Camp provide nurturing environments where young burn survivors can be active, do crafts, and have fun. Firefighter Robert Knaggs praised the camps and the opportunity for children to be outdoors safely. “They don’t cool off as well after being burned,” he said.
The Youth Firesetters Program offers a range of services to youth and their families. “We help the children build self-esteem,” said programs manager Kara Garrett, who works with youth as young as five in weekly classes to help them learn how to turn themselves around.
The program includes a nightly dinner, the opportunity to receive mental health and social services for the child and family, and requires the students to find a volunteer opportunity in the community and sign a note “promising to make the world a better place,” added Garrett.
Several firefighters, including some new to the field, were on hand to talk with, sell raffle tickets, take photos with, and support the event which has grown during its five years and is expected to return next August.
There are many ways to support the Firefighters Burn Institute including its annual “Fill the Boot for Burns” boot drive fundraisers and the 5th Alarm Chili Cook Off at California Automobile Museum on Saturday, October 20 from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. For additional information, visit https://www.ffburn.org or www.firesetter.ffburn.org.
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - A baker’s dozen is thirteen as the cake enthusiasts who attended Cake4Kids’ orientation at Arcade library on Saturday, August 18 know. This second orientation in the Sacramento region for the Sunnyvale-based nonprofit drew bakers of all backgrounds and ages hailing from Carmichael, Arden Arcade, Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove, Rancho Murieta and beyond to learn more about Cake4Kids.
Mary Barnes, Cake4Kids’ Sacramento ambassador, led the hour long program. Barnes is a Sacramento native who first discovered the group when she lived in San Francisco. When she returned to Sacramento to pursue her legal career she wanted to bring the program with her and spoke about why she chose the eastern part of Sacramento.
“We thought about logistics,” she said, “An area where there were a good number of residential areas to pull volunteers from.”
This area, she explained, is close to freeways, homes, several nonprofits serving the demographic that Cake4Kids supports – homeless, recent immigrants, those in foster care, and victims of human trafficking – and it doesn’t cost money for parking so that left downtown and midtown out of the running.
“It is supported by Carmichael, east Sacramento, Sac State students, and ARC students. We thought it was a good location to start because of all of those factors.”
In addition to being the nonprofit’s Sacramento ambassador and tackling the job of finding volunteers, contacting agencies, and filling requests, Barnes, like other volunteers, works full time. She is also a volunteer baker and delivered the first cake in Sacramento to Opening Doors, an organization that serves individuals and families escaping human trafficking and refugees new to the area. She baked a vegan banana cake for a boy and decorated the cake with a racecar theme, complete with toy cars atop a protective layer of marzipan, and topped with vegan chocolate frosting.
“We have several requests for vegan cakes from this organization. We’re challenging our bakers right away,” said Barnes, adding that all requests had been claimed and filled since the first orientation in July with twenty attendees.
In 2010, Cake4Kids was born. Only thirteen cakes were baked and delivered that year. Fast forward eight years when more than 10,000 cakes have been baked and delivered by volunteers as far south as San Diego. The nonprofit also serves Fresno, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, and five other California counties. Each cake is prepared from scratch especially for the child, decorated, packaged in a cake box, and delivered to the requesting agency. Although volunteers never meet the children, they often receive thanks from the children or, in some cases, from the parents or caregivers.
Before volunteer bakers can claim cakes, they must attend a mandatory orientation where they’ll learn about the organization, the demographic served, logistics, and resources. One of the volunteer benefits is that each baker may take cake decorating classes and be reimbursed for up to $100.00 each year. The ability to be a fabulous decorator is not a requirement, although some cakes are quite lavish. Each cake, she added, must have the child’s name.
During the orientation, Barnes said that 60,000 children are in foster care and only 5% between 15 and 18 years of age are adopted in California. Nearly 30 percent of children are homeless in the United States, and Barnes referenced the thousands of U.S. based human trafficking cases annually. These are some of the at-risk children Cake4Kids serves.
Julie Eades, the organization’s executive director, attended the inaugural orientation in July and said in a telephone interview that, “When you’re on or near the poverty line, a cake might not be the thing you choose to spend your money on. We talk about the fact that these children get moved from home to home and sometimes they don’t get any birthday celebrations. Not because nobody cares. It’s just one thing extra that people caring for them have to think about.”
Cake4Kids serves children and young adults up to the age of 24 and Eades said that some children as old as twenty have never had a cake before the one baked and delivered by a volunteer. She also said that the older children are extremely appreciative of the cake made just for them. Everyone should feel special one day a year.
Men, women, and children 16 years and older interested in baking cakes and bringing joy to a child should sign up to be a volunteer on the organization’s website. Sacramento orientations will be held through December at Arcade and Arden-Dimick libraries. The goal is to have 100 volunteers on board. On October 20 and December 22, orientations will be held at Arcade library on Marconi from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. On November 10, Arden-Dimick will host from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. The September orientation date and location has not been set. For additional information, visit www.cake4kids.org.