Congressional Kudos Crowns Junior Artists

Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2019-05-16

Congressional District 7 staffers Philip Norton (left) and Ivanna Pincilotti (third from right) presented awards to national art contest winners at Sacramento Fine Arts center.
The artists are Justine Ibarra, Madeleine Ng and Riley Bloodworth.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Congressman Ami Bera’s office rewarded teenage artists during a recent presentation at Sacramento Fine Arts Center, Carmichael.

Sponsored by the Congressional Institute, the contest annually seeks entries from across the nation. In 37 years, more than 650,000 high school students have participated.

Artists submit entries to their representative’s office; a district judging panel then chooses the best. First place achievers win a trip to Washington DC to see their art displayed in a U.S. Capitol exhibition that hangs for one year. Top 7th District prize was awarded for Madeleine Ng's portrait of her sister Jaslyn in a balletic leap on a New York City rooftop. Called "Little Dreamer Dancing on Top of the World," Ng’s canvas reflects Jaslyn’s ambition to study at Julliard School of Dancing. Madeleine (15) is in11th grade at Cosumnes Oaks High School, Elk Grove.

Second prize was claimed by Justina Ibarra (18) from Sheldon High School, Sacramento. Dr. Bera will display Justina's colorful "Bouquet at the Market" in his DC office. Elk Grove High School student Riley Bloodworth (17) won third place for her digital composition "Looking Within." This will hang in Bera’s Sacramento headquarters for a year.


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Lanterns Launch Peace, Love and Memories

Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2019-05-09

Newly-wed Shivangi Dhaundiyal decorated her lantern in honor of a “perfectly imperfect” romance shared with her husband

Gibson Ranch Lantern Fest

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - A Water Lantern Festival at Gibson Ranch last weekend launched thousands of hopes, dreams and memories on the reserve’s lake.

Organized by One World LLC, the event continued an international trend inspired by oriental tradition. At similar events hosted by hundreds of US locations, paying participants receive lanterns and marker pens. Sustainable rice paper is the canvas upon which messages of whimsy, emotion or hope are expressed. Illuminated by battery lights, the luminarias are then liberated to float in rose-hued armadas, carrying serenity and goodwill into the universe. The idea, say organizers, is to unite friends, families and strangers in celebrating life. For the Woodstock generation, it’s like attending a tamer, Max Yasgur’s Farm – with fairy lights and without mud.

Promoted largely by social media, the Gibson Ranch celebration drew almost 5000 participants. Some travelled from the Bay Area and Nevada. Indian-born newlyweds Shivangi and Bhasker Dhaundiyal heard about the karma-fest in their Sunnyvale suburb and trekked to Elverta. The couple celebrated the “perfect imperfection” of their marriage by lamplight.

Many luminarias were decorated with blessings of peace and serenity. Bereaved mom Ayrika Caeton dedicated her love-light to a lost infant son. Deceased pets, whales and unicorns were carefully drawn and launched. Before the launching ceremony, festival-goers were encouraged to meditate and share goodwill with fellow attendees. Music played, merchandise was sold, food trucks did brisk business and thousands of selfies were indulged. With as much serenity as is possible in a traffic jam, festival goers later departed amidst clouds of Gibson Ranch dust. Once the music ended, a chorus of perplexed goose-honking continued lakeside melodies.

Organizers spent the next day in rubber boots, clearing litter and lifting thousands of wood and paper craft from the lake.

Water Lantern Festival LLC is based in Utah and supports, an international nonprofit that promotes safe water in developing nations.

Learn about future water lantern events – including an October 6 festival at Lake Folsom at


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I’m Listening!

By Sal Arrigo, Jr.  |  2019-05-09

Suicide Prevention Awareness Program

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - In the 1990’s there was a television sitcom named “Frasier” about a radio psychiatrist who greeted his callers with the phrase “I’m listening.” Although it was a comedy, the show did focus on real-life topics and relationships and often the discussions led to one question:  what is the root cause of your issue?

Suicide is a very real issue in this country. We hear that a person “seemed just fine to me,” but that was only on the surface. To be quite frank on why I am writing about this subject is easy – I have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and I can relate to all the buildup and emotions on why someone would take their life.

Suicide, the act of intentionally causing your own death, is listed as a top ten cause of death in the United States, according to a 2017 Center for Disease Control report. So, I ask, are you listening when the person who committed suicide remained silent up to the end?

Recently, California State University, Sacramento hosted the Send Silence Packing national tour, a program of the Active Minds organization that brings awareness to college students who take their own lives. Founded by Alison Malmon when she was a junior at the University of Pennsylvania after the suicide of her older brother, and only sibling, Brian, she started the Active Minds organization. According to the organization’s website, Active Mind’s purpose is “to reflect the organization’s focus on action and student advocacy in mental health.” They have been doing this since 2003.

Each year, as stated on the Active Minds website, Send Silence Packing visits 30-40 schools and communities. The all-day exhibit raises mental health awareness, inspires action for suicide prevention, connects viewers to mental health resources, and jump starts action.

Send Silence Packing catalyzes conversations in a way that contributes to a community’s overall positive climate for mental health. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students. The Active Minds website, has a simple, and yet very powerful message: “Are you listening?”

I spoke with Barbara Gillogly Ph.D., a Developmental Psychologist and licensed Family Therapist, about her experiences with clients who discussed suicide. “I cannot tell them not to do it (suicide), but I can listen and validate their feelings.” Dr. Gillogly continued, “People just want to vent and be heard, and not be judged. I listen to the emotion behind the words and find people just want to talk.”
I asked Dr. Gillogly what she tells someone who has lost a loved one or friend to suicide. “Go to a support group because they have been there.” It is not pretty to go through the grieving process regarding suicide as this is the toughest guilt for the survivors: could I have done something to help?”

I asked Barbara if there are any signs that are tipping points to someone taking their own life. “A person may start to give away their personal items, or they slowly start retreating from life in general” she said. My initial thought after interviewing Dr. Gillogy was that I wanted to find out more about local support groups. As it turned out, I found a person who has actually been to one, and provided me with a personal and tragic story. Sharon Ruffner lost her brother Eddie to suicide many years ago. Sharon told me that Eddie struggled with his addiction to prescription drugs and had been in some trouble with the law. Sharon told me, “Eddie was brilliant; he was a gifted pianist, artist and scientist.”

Although Eddie struggled in his life, his sister never stopped loving him and when Eddie would call and blame Sharon for an array of problems she did not create, Sharon always told her brother, “I love you and if you need help I am here for you.” It was soon after that Eddie overdosed on the prescription drugs. One question haunts Sharon: “Did Eddie really mean to do this or just happened to take extra pills by mistake?” As with my interview with Dr. Gillogly, Sharon agreed that when a family member or friend commits suicide it is difficult to comprehend. “What signs did I not recognize?” is a question that Sharon replays over and over. One piece of advice Sharon gives to other people in a similar situation is that you “never get over it; you just travel through the grief.” Eddie’s mother, Norma, went into a deep depression which Sharon described as “having her right arm cut off.” Although her Mom felt this way, Sharon said to me “I never felt devastation; I just tried to help my Mom.”

I asked Sharon what kept her going after Eddie took his life. “I kept myself busy by taking some classes and learning some professional skills. It eventually led to a career position with the San Juan Unified School District.” Sharon did tell me, “you need to allow people to help you, and that grief is an incredible personal journey. You do need to take your time to grieve.” In order to help ease the pain, Sharon said that she copes to this day by taking piano lessons to honor her brother. She also goes to Pacifica Beach in the San Francisco Bay Area and throws a rose into the water because “it was one of Eddie’s favorite places to go.”

Sharon presented me with a newsletter from the Friends for Survival, a nationwide non-profit organization with a Sacramento chapter. The mission statement says, “We are dedicated to providing a variety of peer support services that comfort those in grief, suicide grief support, encourage healing and growth, foster the development of skills to cope with a loss and educate the community regarding the impact of suicide.” In addition, the organization states, “The loving outreach of Friends for Survival can bridge the gap between despair and renewed hope. Those whose loss is recent can lean upon the shoulders of those who have made progress in the difficult task of working through grief after a suicide death.”

The Sacramento chapter of Friends for Survival can be reached at 916-392-0664 or 800-646-7322. Their website is

Personally, I came away from this story not with an ending, but a beginning. There is so much the general public needs to understand about this very real societal issue. I intend to continue writing more about this subject in the future with the goal of helping one person or one family. It is that important!

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7) at 1-800-273-8255 or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Helpline at 1-800-662-4357.


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Lions Donate $150k to Society for the Blind

By Kristin Thébaud, Marketing for a Better World  |  2019-05-09

Members of the Northern California Lions Sight Association join Lions District 4-C5’s Doug Wight and Sheri Retzlaff to present a check to Society for the Blind’s Shari Roeseler.

Funds to be Used to Expand the Low Vision Clinic

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Society for the Blind recently received a Vision 2020 campaign donation of $150,000 from the Northern California Lions Sight Association (NCLSA) and the Lions Clubs International (LCIF) to support the expansion of the group’s Low Vision Clinic and training space for people who are blind or have low vision.

NCLSA donated $75,000 to purchase equipment and vision testing devices for the clinic and secured an additional matching grant of $75,000 from LCIF to add an indoor orientation and mobility course.

“Lions Clubs across the world have a long history of supporting organizations that help people with vision loss, so we are deeply honored that the Lions chose to invest in Society for the Blind here in Sacramento,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. Roeseler continued:
“As the only comprehensive vision rehabilitation center in the Sacramento region, Society for the Blind is a critical resource for people who are blind or have low vision. The generosity of the regional and international Lions means that more people across California who are experiencing vision loss will have access to critical assessment and treatment.”

Society for the Blind’s Low Vision Clinic is one of the longest running community-based clinics in the region. The Low Vision Clinic provides care, vision rehabilitation, low vision devices and transportation assistance to more than 375 people each year.

Clinics are staffed by three optometrists with special training in low vision eye care and serve patients with cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and other congenital and degenerative eye diseases.

Clinic staff includes a vision rehabilitation therapist who works with patients with some functional vision, teaching them techniques to use their remaining vision safely and effectively and providing training on assistive devices.

“It’s in our Lions Club DNA to help organizations like Society for the Blind,” said Douglas Wight, governor, Lions District 4-C5. “Across the world, we work to bring greater stability and independence to people with vision loss by providing services and supporting organizations that do this work.”

Celebrating its 65th anniversary this year, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential.

Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for more than 5,000 youth, working-age adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit

Lions Clubs International is the largest service organization in the world with more than 1.4 million members. The organization’s mission is to support the efforts of Lions clubs and partners in serving communities locally and globally, giving hope and impacting lives through humanitarian service projects and grants. For more information, visit

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Rejuvenating Homes Together

Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar  |  2019-05-09

Left to Right: Mayor McGarvey, Lorianne Ulm, Lexi Hansen (with paint brush), Diane and Patrick Crocker (front), Jason Theriault (far right)

Community Enhancement Fund Organizes Rebuilding Together

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - Volunteers arrived as early as 7 a.m. Saturday morning to help repair, rebuild, and rejuvenate thirteen houses in Aspen Creek, Cordova Lane, and Walnutwood neighborhoods. Rebuilding Together, volunteers from Teichert, and others took up paint brushes, hammers, screwdrivers, and other tools to perform tasks that included tree trimming, completely renovating a bathroom, electrical work, fence replacement, and painting.

Patrick and Diane Crocker have lived in their home for half a century, raised their three children, and collected a lot of treasures throughout the years. On Friday, volunteers arrived to clear the garage.
Like many homeowners, Patrick and Diane were not sure what to think when City of Rancho Cordova Community Engagement Assistant Matt Buland approached them and started talking about the program which fixes up houses free of charge to the homeowners. With so many scams being played out in neighborhoods across the nation, there were many doubters.

“What can I lose?” Patrick accepted the application from Buland, completed it, listed everything he and Diane would like to have done, which included fence replacement, and submitted it.
The Crocker’s application was one of 65 received from residents in the three neighborhoods.
“Getting the applicants is the hardest part,” said Community Engagement/Volunteer Coordinator Lorianne Ulm.

Homeowners, she said, think it may be too good to be true. Letters are mailed to every homeowner within the neighborhood, notices are posted in newsletters and on Nextdoor, and people like Buland canvas each house, sometimes returning at different times or on different days in hopes of contacting the homeowner.

Buland, a personable fellow who Patrick spoke highly of, was hired in November. His approach was simple – walk the neighborhood and start a conversation.

“It feels really good,” he said. “I get used to ‘no.’”

He reached over 100 homeowners, spoke to about 30 percent. About half were “kind of interested,” and one third of those he felt would follow through.

It is, he added, an opportunity for him to meet new folks, learn more about the neighborhoods, and “help citizens be more active” in their community.

Several neighbors came out to see the work being done at the Crocker house and chatted with city staff, perhaps considering what they might need done when the applications open again.

The program is funded through both a $150,000 grant from the Community Enhancement Fund and Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit organization whose roots date back to 1973 when a group of neighbors banded together to fix up homes in their neighborhood. More than 6,700 Sacramento county homes have been serviced since 1991.

“This was our fifth Rebuild Event,” wrote Rebuilding Together’s Executive Director Carrie Grip, in an email, referring to rebuilds in Rancho Cordova. “65 homes were homes improved during the Rebuild Events with Community Enhancement Funds. We have provided home safety and minor energy services in over 140 additional homes in Rancho Cordova over the years.”

Applications are forwarded to Sandy Econome, Program Manager – Rebuild Day Events at Rebuilding Together for review. She checks the requests to see what both skilled and unskilled volunteers can do and what can be done in one day.

“We focus on health and safety issues,” she said, as well as curb appeal.
The Crocker home required new paint, downspout work, a garage makeover which will include new shelving and bins, electrical work, and a brand new fence.

“Neighbors get a benefit, too,” said Jason Theriault, Teichert estimator by day and site house captain for the Crocker house rebuild.

Many Teichert employees from all areas and with various skill sets once again showed up to help in the community.

Jud Riggs, Teichert’s CEO by day, was a laborer on Saturday.

“We should be serving,” he said, adding that his volunteer employees are “eager to come and help.” He referred to the opportunity to team build and the firm’s core value of giving back.
“We’re putting feet to that belief.”

“Teichert has been a great supporter,” said Rebuilding Together’s Econome, adding that this is the third year they came for a Friday preparation day to lighten the load for Saturday’s heavy work. The number grows each year, she said.

“This year we had 100!”

Rebuilding Together supplies tools, including a brand new auger it purchased this year.
“Republic donated all the dumpsters for the event,” she said.

The plan is for the program to be non-invasive. Volunteers enter the home only if there is work to be done inside.

The goal is for the volunteers to do all of the work, but if the homeowner can physically participate, they are invited to do so. If not, they are encouraged to chat with the volunteers.

The rebuild day takes place each April as part of National Rebuilding Month and is one of several programs Rebuilding Together offers. More than 25 organizations, including banks, SMUD, realtor associations, construction, and engineering firms also contributed to the rebuild event.

“This is a blessing,” said Patrick and Diane Crocker, who look forward to many more years in their home.
For additional information, visit: To learn more about Rebuilding Together, visit

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The Revival of the Miss Rancho Cordova Pageant

By Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-05-07

The Miss Rancho Cordova Pageant is scheduled for Saturday, June 29 at the Rancho Cordova City Hall. Photo provided

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - Lucinda Witte got involved in pageants at 15 years old and has maintained a passion for them throughout her life. She has been crowned Mrs. Rancho Cordova, Mrs. Greater Sacramento, Mrs. Sacramento, Miss Citrus Heights, Miss Metro, Miss California Talent, and Mrs. Roseville-City. She loves the gowns, the sparkly crowns, and — most of all — the wonderful and inspiring women. Witte’s love of pageants has inspired her to bring back the Miss Rancho Cordova Pageant for a new generation of girls.

The last Miss Rancho Cordova Pageant was held in 2005. The pageant was originally run by the City of Rancho Cordova in the late 1970s and was later directed by Mary Purvis, who passed away in 2014.

As a long-time resident of Rancho Cordova, Witte has always been very involved in the local community, and she loves finding ways to get more people involved. With her extensive pageant experience, Witte is excited to take on the challenge of reviving the Miss Rancho Cordova Pageant.
Witte described many pageant directors as cold and singularly focused on the business at hand. She contrasted that to her experience participating in pageants with Purvis: “Mary wasn’t all business. Mary was different. She had so much warmth. … She could sense who needed the extra hugs. … She was a mother figure, mentor, and friend. … That’s why people today still talk about her with a smile.”

“She made an impression on me,” said Witte. “I carry that with me.” To honor Purvis’ legacy, Witte plans to manage the pageant with the same warmth and care for her girls.
Rancho Cordova is a very diverse community, and Witte said that all girls over the age of 13 are welcome in the pageant. Unlike the Miss California Pageant, which has a citizenship requirement, the Miss Rancho Cordova Pageant is open to everyone. “I believe everyone should be able to participate,” said Witte. Witte is also willing to waive the $50 application fee if interested applicants have financial hardships.

The Miss Rancho Cordova Pageant is a non-profit organization. Witte is currently funding the pageant herself, but she hopes to secure sponsorships to help cover the operating costs once the pageant is established as a community asset.

The pageant will crown the top-scoring girls as Miss Rancho Cordova, Miss Gold River, Miss Anatolia, and Miss Mather. The titles are all equivalent and will be assigned based on a preference ranking system. The girls will rank their title choices on their initial applications, with the highest scoring girl getting her first choice of title.

The scores will be calculated based on four equal categories: swimwear, to show the girls’ commitment to physical fitness; evening wear, to highlight their grace and poise; fun wear, to show their personality; and interviews, to demonstrate their intelligence and eloquence. An all-female panel will judge the competition and determine the final scores.

The girls who are crowned as queens will act as ambassadors for the Rancho Cordova, Gold River, Mather, and Anatolia communities. Witte said she wants the queens “to be an active presence” and serve as role models and mentors to younger children in the area. Their role as ambassadors will increase their self-confidence and help them become leaders in the community.

The associated community service work will enable the young women to interact with many different people and take on new responsibilities, which will provide various opportunities to further their personal and professional goals.

Witte said that participating in pageants “brought brightness” into her life. She hopes to bring that same illumination into the lives of local girls. For Witte, the measure of success is if the girls “flourish in all ways in their lives.” She doesn’t expect them all to go on to become Miss America; she wants them to serve the community, take advantage of networking opportunities, and become the women they want to be.

The Miss Rancho Cordova Pageant is scheduled for Saturday, June 29 at the Rancho Cordova City Hall. Applications are due by May 25. To apply or get more information, email or visit 

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Rancho Cordova Police Lieutenant Honored

By Ashley Downton, Rancho Cordova Police Department  |  2019-05-07

Rancho Cordova Police Department (RCPD) Lieutenant Rob Patton (on left) presented with the award. Photo courtesy City of Rancho Cordova

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - On April 13, Rancho Cordova Police Department (RCPD) Lieutenant Rob Patton was honored as a Distinguished Alumni at the Sacramento State University Division of Criminal Justice’s 50th Anniversary Gala.

The gala theme was “50 Years of Justice Education Leadership” and honored nine distinguished alumni who have graduated from Sacramento State University with degrees in Criminal Justice. Lieutenant Patton was selected as an honoree for creating the Sheriff’s Leadership Program (SLP) at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

Lieutenant Patton has been with the Sheriff’s Department for 20 years and worked in a variety of assignments. He joined RCPD one year ago as the Day Shift Watch Commander supporting patrol officers in their role responding to 911 calls, critical incidents and traffic accidents.

While he was working for the Sheriff’s Department, Lieutenant Patton decided to pursue a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from National University and graduated in 2014.
“I realized at that time that my passion and purpose in life was leadership,” said Lieutenant Patton. “Once I started to look within at what I was good at in my career, I realized a lot of things that I was doing weren’t working, and I needed to create change from within.”

Once he graduated with his Master’s Degree, Lieutenant Patton created SLP, which is open to his colleagues at the Sheriff’s Department. The goal of the program is to help his colleagues learn, lead and grow as people and employees so they are prepared for leadership opportunities in their current roles, specialized assignments and supervisory positions.

SLP is a three-month program that includes two days each month of facilitated instruction and group dialogue, which covers a variety of leadership methods, styles and concepts. Twenty-five employees are selected to participate in each program, and SLP is now in its sixth class.

In addition to teaching in SLP, Lieutenant Patton travels throughout California with the California Peace Officers’ Association teaching eight hour courses on Transformational Leadership at other law enforcement agencies.

Lieutenant Patton was humbled to have been honored by Sacramento State University for his leadership roles at the Sheriff’s Department and RCPD.

“It’s humbling to have been honored because I have struggled my whole life until I joined law enforcement,” said Lieutenant Patton. “Leadership is not about you, it’s all about you. It’s about how you affect change in yourself before affecting change in people and teams. In other words, be willing to look within in order to have the impact you want on others.”

Please join RCPD in congratulating Lieutenant Patton for this honor!

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