SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - On June 11, 2019, all Sacramento area Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs kicked off this year’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN Hospitals) fundraising campaign to help treat local children who are sick or injured. All money raised during the Sacramento area CMN Hospitals campaign directly benefits UC Davis Children's Hospital to fund critical treatments, pediatric medical equipment, research and charitable care. The Walmart - Sam’s Club CMN Hospitals campaign runs through July 7.

“There are so many Sacramento families depending on donations from Walmart’s Children’s Miracle Network campaign to provide hope in times of desperation,” said Roseville Walmart store manager Patrick Phelps. “We are proud to raise funds for the UC Davis Children’s Hospital, and admire the customers who help us give back every year with their donations.”

Walmart and Sam’s Club associates, members and customers in Sacramento area have raised over $7,080,273 for UC Davis Children's Hospital, most of it one dollar at a time. On a national level, Walmart and Sam’s Club have raised more than $1 billion for CMN Hospitals; the largest cash amount ever raised by one company for a nonprofit in North America.

The need is staggering – 62 children enter a Children’s Miracle Network hospital for treatment every minute. Helping these children is easy, here’s how to participate: Donate $1 or more at the checkout lane or self-checkout of any Sacramento area Walmart store or Sam’s Club; Spread the word and encourage others to support the CMN Hospitals campaign via social media with custom CMN Gifs and the hashtag #HelpKidsLiveBetter

Through the leadership of Sam Walton, Walmart and Sam’s Club joined the CMN Hospitals fundraising family in 1987. This annual fundraising campaign supports Walmart’s core belief of leveraging the company’s strength to give back to local communities.

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million treatments each year to kids across the U.S. and Canada. Donations stay local to fund critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care. Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has raised more than $5 billion, most of it $1 at a time through the charity's Miracle Balloon icon. Its various fundraising partners and programs support the nonprofit's mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. Find out why children's hospitals need community support, identify your member hospital and learn how you can Put Your Money Where the Miracles Are, at CMNHospitals.org and facebook.com/CMNHospitals.

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA (MPG) Compassion & Choices praised University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) officials for responding to letters of protest from hundreds of Compassion & Choices volunteers in California and other state residents by dropping a proposal to expand its relationship with Dignity Health.

If the University of California’s Board of Regents had approved the proposed partnership, Dignity Health’s Catholic ‘common values’ would have prevented patients at UCSF’s four Bay Area hospitals (Dominican Hospital, Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, Sequoia Hospital and St. Mary's Medical Center) from using or receiving information about California’s End of Life Option Act. UCSF’s announcement to drop the proposal follows Compassion & Choices’ May 23 grassroots campaign launch, resulting in nearly 400 of its volunteers writing UCSF officials to oppose the partnership.

“The irony of Dignity Health’s ‘common values’ rejection of medical aid in dying is polling shows three out of four Californians say medical aid in dying is a common value they support,” said Kim Callinan, CEO of Compassion & Choices. “We greatly appreciate UCSF’s decision because it shows the medical community is undergoing a critically important transformation to ensure that patients’ values drive the decision-making process for their healthcare, especially at the end of life.”

“...[W]e have seen and heard hundreds of thoughtful, principled, and impassioned statements about UCSF’s proposal to expand our relationship with Dignity Health… a health care system that has certain limits on women’s reproductive services, LGBTQ care, and end-of-life options,” wrote UCSF Health Chancellor Sam Hawgood and President/Chief Executive Officer Mark Laret in a letter posted today on the UCSF website. “Given the concerns, we will not continue to pursue the affiliation as it had been envisioned.”

“We thank the hundreds of Compassion & Choices’ volunteers and our coalition partners, including the ACLU and LGBTQ groups, whose advocacy helped persuade UCSF officials to drop this ill-advised proposal,” said Samantha Trad, California State Director for Compassion & Choices. “Without this collective effort, UCSF officials would have moved forward with this proposed partnership that would have caused needless suffering for patients at its four Bay Area hospitals.”

“Two Dignity Health-owned facilities rejected my wife’s request for medical aid in dying to peacefully end her suffering from terminal cancer, so I thank UCSF officials for dropping this proposed partnership,” said Tom Whaley, whose 42-year-old wife Christina finally was able to find a provider who would write the prescription at UCLA, 200 miles from their San Luis Obispo home, so she could die peacefully last year. “The reality is most terminally ill people who try to utilize the End of Life Option Act are much older and weaker than Christine was, so they wouldn’t be able to overcome the obstacles she did to use the law to end their suffering.”

A total of 768 terminally ill Californians received prescriptions for aid-in-dying medication and 485 (63%) of them took the medication between the first day of the law took effect, June 9, 2016, until Dec. 31, 2017, according to California Department of Public Health annual reports.

California is one of eight states — including Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington — as well as the District of Columbia, that have authorized medical aid in dying. Collectively, these nine jurisdictions represent more than one out of five Americans (21%) and have 40 years of combined experience successfully implementing this end-of-life care option.

ABOUT COMPASSION & CHOICES:                                                                                                      

Compassion & Choices is the nation's oldest and largest nonprofit organization working to improve and expand health care options at the end of life, with 450,000 volunteers nationwide. For more information, visit: CompassionAndChoices.org

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SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the $4.4 billion recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2019-20.

“Sacramento County’s FY 2019-20 budget provided substantial challenges due in part to decreased state and federal revenues, significant costs around lawsuits and increased expenditures,” said District 2 County Supervisor and Board Chair Patrick Kennedy. “We were able to weather these challenges with a balanced budget that minimizes the impact to critical services, without eliminating whole programs or services.”

The County’s General Fund and Restricted Funds budgets for FY 2019-20 totaled $2.7 billion in appropriations, which is a 4.2 percent increase over last year’s total. Enterprise and special revenue funds comprise the remaining $1.68 billion.

“We were able to recommend a balanced budget that avoided eliminating whole programs or services, limited the impact on Board-priority programs and avoided employee layoffs,” said County Executive Nav Gill.

In spite of the growth of revenue, reductions in positions and programs were necessary due to lawsuit costs, investments in the jails in order to resolve a lawsuit around conditions of confinement, decreases in state and federal revenue for certain programs, as well as other obligations.

To close a general shortfall of $55 million, Sacramento County recommended $43 million in reductions in General Fund Departments and $12 million in General Fund reserves to bridge the gap.

General Fund departments identified a number of targeted program and position reductions. The reductions included the elimination of 181.3 FTE positions that were either vacant or, in a few cases, filled by employees who were shifted to other positions in the same class. No layoffs were necessary.

The budget also recognized areas of growth, including:

$21.7 million to make improvements to the County’s jails as part of continuing efforts to resolve conditions of confinement concerns identified in a recent lawsuit; $2.3 million in state and federal revenue to add 25 FTE positions in Child Support Services; $1.2 million in 2011 Realignment Local Innovation funds to add seven positions in Probation to establish a Pre-Trial Assessment and Monitoring Pilot Program; $1 million set aside for costs related to the Hardesty/Schneider lawsuit against the County; $3.5 million to add 29 FTE positions in Airports Department to handle the impact of increasing passenger and freight volume; and $668,000 to cover the cost of postcards and postage for the March 2020 Primary Election, as required by state law.

The budget also continued funding for programs and services that were initiated over the last few years with Board approval, including:

Homeless Initiatives: The FY 2019-20 Budget expands services in several areas using state and federal funding, for a total of a $20 million budget for the initiatives. A $700,000 reduction in funding for the Scattered Site Housing program subsidies (contractor did not need the full amount and placed families in federally funded housing slots). The remaining amount for the Scattered Site Housing program is $2 million;

The Parkways and Unincorporated Communities Clean-up and Safety Initiative to reduce the incidence and mitigate the impact of illegal camping in the County’s parkways and unincorporated communities received continued funding with a reduced level of deputies on the Homeless Outreach Teams, reduced hours for the Parks Resource Team and eliminated funding for an animal control officer;

The intelligence-led policing model implemented by the Sheriff’s Department;

The Healthy Partners Program that provides healthcare services to undocumented immigrants;

A strategic plan to reduce disproportionate African-American child deaths through community-based contracts and targeted staffing in Child Protective Services, Public Health and Probation;

Implementation of an Adult Supervision Model in Probation that will prioritize supervision and services for high-risk probationers in the first six months to a year of probation;

Behavioral Health Services enhancements to provide appropriate services to persons with serious drug and alcohol use disorders, reducing reliance on hospital emergency rooms, and ensuring that individuals experiencing a mental health crisis receive treatment in the most appropriate setting for their needs;

Continue to implement the Board-approved three-year MHSA (Mental Health Services Act) to expedite mental health services for individuals with serious mental illness and/or co-occurring substance use disorders and are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless;

Animal Care Initiatives focused on improving animal care, increased spay/neuter services and increasing the Bradshaw Shelter’s live release rate. The budget recommends reductions in contracts and two positions, but the department expects to continue to maintain its high live release rate;

Efforts to reduce fire danger and illegal camping, increase debris removal and enhance the visitor experience in the American River Parkway and the County’s Regional Parks will continue with a reduced number of seasonal staff hours from 9,000 to 4,654;

For details, read the County Executive’s Budget Letter or view the budget documents on the Office of Budget and Debt Management;

The numbers on the Recommended Budget will change between now and September, when the County receives new information, including the impact of the State Budget and updated revenue totals. The Final Budget will come back to the Board of Supervisors in September for review and adoption.

By the numbers: $4.4 B: Total Budget; $1.8 B: General Fund; $1.6 B: Enterprise and Special Revenue; $918 M: Restricted Funds; 12,307: Number of Employees.

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Celebrate Recovery with Higher Power

Story by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-06-19

Women pray together at a Higher Power recovery celebration. Photo courtesy of John Heath

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Higher Power Ministry hosts a recovery celebration at Lakeside Church in Folsom every Friday at 7:00 PM. Christian bands from a variety of genres such as blues, country, and rock and roll perform at the celebration. Lead Director of Recovery John Heath joked, “I turn the church into a nightclub every Friday night, with Jesus in the middle.”

A speaker talks to the group about recovery from addiction such as drugs, alcohol, gambling, food addictions, sexual addictions, workaholics, co-dependency, and self-harm. “These are life and death situations for the people that come in here, and there’s no such thing as a hopeless case,” said Heath. “We’re getting phenomenal results.”

Higher Power Ministry originated in 1992 at Central Peninsula Church in Foster City. Senior Pastor Jeff Farrar saw the need to help people overcome the addictions that were leading them to jail, institutions, and death. Pastor Steve Aurell, who was a ministry leader until his death in 2013, knew just how difficult it is to overcome addiction since he had once served 15 years in San Quentin Prison because of his own drug addiction. As Pastor of Recovery at Higher Power, Pastor Aurell saved many lives — including the life of John Heath.

Heath had a long history of addiction. During the early 1980s, at the height of the cocaine craze, Heath worked for the Cartel transporting drugs over the border. In 1983, after a serious overdose, he was admitted to the SHARE Unit in San Francisco, the nation’s first cocaine recovery center. He spent 60 days there, breaking medical records for the levels of cocaine in his system. Even after extensive treatment, his addiction continued for many years. In addition to cocaine, he used alcohol, heroin, and eventually moved on to meth.

Heath’s wife sought guidance at Higher Power, and Pastor Aurell urged her to stand by her husband in his time of need. Heath said that Pastor Aurell “was responsible through God’s Grace for saving my life, marriage, and my family.” Heath started attending Higher Power in 2006: “It was like no other church or place I had ever been.… I felt comfortable in my skin for the first time in my life.”

After a year of sobriety, Pastor Aurell asked Heath to become a leader in the Higher Power Ministry.  “I then knew that God had a sense of humor,” said Heath. After seeing firsthand all the good Higher Power had done for people in need, Heath felt compelled to spread the message to other communities: “God tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to start a recovery church.”

Heath moved to Shingle Springs and spent a year in prayer. Then he met Pastor John Voelz at Lakeside Church, who invited him to use the church as the site of a new Higher Power Ministry. Heath said, “We are so appreciative to Lakeside Church for allowing Higher Power to exist in Folsom and for letting us use their site to further our mission of helping those who are lost to addiction in the community.” Higher Power at Lakeside opened on July 7, 2017. “Seven, seven, seventeen — three sevens. I believe those are divine numbers,” said Heath.

“I started the ministry one person at a time,” Heath said. “We accept them however they are — high, drunk, or however they walk in.” Anyone who comes to the celebration can share with the group and seek help. “We stay there all night long if we need to,” he said. Higher Power Ministry leaders then follow up during the next week to offer additional help. If someone needs a recovery program, the leaders will find one for them. “We’re building a family,” said Heath. “It’s a huge support system.”

Many of the leaders are also recovering addicts, and Heath shares his story to inspire others to overcome their own struggles. Although Heath is not an ordained pastor, he found a way to ensure that Higher Power has a strong spiritual support system. He established an Elder Board comprised of two recovery pastors — each with 30 years of sobriety — who give spiritual advice and guidance. Heath said that Pastor Gary Freitas from Manteca and Pastor Dale Marsh from Oroville provide “spiritual direction, protection, and correction in the ministry.”

The events are open for anyone to attend. Heath said, “It’s a lot of fun. It’s not too churchy.” They serve free dinner, dessert, coffee, and other refreshments. Higher Power is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization; donation checks can be written to Higher Power Ministry and then mailed to Lakeside Church, 745 Oak Avenue Parkway, Folsom, CA 95630.

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Sacramento Life Center Receives $10,000 for Medical Services for Low-Income Pregnant Women

By Kristin Thébaud, Kristin Thébaud Communications  |  2019-05-17

A patient receives an ultrasound at Sacramento Life Center. The nonprofit recently received grants for its free medical services. Courtesy Sacramento Life Center

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Sacramento Life Center in Arden has received $5,000 each from the Leonard Family Foundation and Kelly Foundation to provide free medical services to low-income pregnant women and teen girls through the group’s primary clinic located in the Arden area and its Mobile Medical Clinics that travel throughout the Sacramento area.


“We are grateful to the Leonard Family Foundation and the Kelly Foundation for this generous funding,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “The Sacramento Life Center has seen a 30 percent increase in women and teen girls seeking our services since our move to Arden. The majority of them are low-income, and half have no medical insurance. These grants will help thousands of mothers and their children receive the medical care they need.”


The Sacramento Life Center’s mission is to offer compassion, support, resources and free medical care to women and couples facing an unplanned or unsupported pregnancy. The Sacramento Life Center’s licensed Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic includes a primary clinic and two Mobile Medical Clinics that provide all services for free, including pregnancy tests, STD tests, ultrasounds, peer counseling for men and women, education and resource referrals.


The nonprofit also offers a school-based teen education program, a 24-hour hotline and a program for women seeking support after having an abortion. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center’s Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic, visit www.svpclinic.com.


For more information about the Sacramento Life Center or to make a donation, visit www.saclife.org.
Source Kristin Thébaud Communications

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Sacramento SPCA Receives $25,000 to Help Cats

By Sarah Varanini, SSPCA  |  2019-05-16

Mark M. Glickman petting an adoptable cat named Valentina at the Sacramento SPCA. She was adopted a couple of days after this photo was taken by Karen Goff, Content Marketing Coordinator for the Sacramento SPCA.

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento SPCA announced the receipt of $25,000 to help senior cats and cats needing extended medical care at the Sacramento SPCA through a single gift made to establish The Joe Willie Initiatives. But more important is the story behind this gift; a remarkable bond between a man and his special needs cat, Joe Willie, that inspired a movement.


Mark M. Glickman, a resident of Carmichael, was inspired by his cat, Joe Willie, who had significant medical needs when Mr. Glickman adopted him 29 years ago.


“In November 1990, I was on a noon-time walk in the San Francisco Financial District when I came upon a mobile adoption site”, shared Mr. Glickman. “One of the kitties was a small Tuxedo cat. He had neurological damage in his back-side, and did not walk well. I expected that he would require ongoing attention for his condition, but adopted him anyway and named him Joe Willie.”


Stiff legs were just the first of Joe Willie’s challenges. He had serious gastro-intestinal issues and eventually lost his ability to walk. Later, he suffered other significant medical conditions. Throughout all of this, Joe Willie remained the sweetest, most loving cat that Mr. Glickman had ever known.


Realizing that there were cats just like Joe Willie in need of care in Northern California shelters, in February, Mr. Glickman established The Joe Willie Initiatives, which will fund medical and placement assistance to encourage the adoption of senior cats and other cats with special needs.


“One out of every five animals that arrives at the Sacramento SPCA needs specialized veterinary care before they can be ready for placement in a new home. The percentage is even higher for senior cats,” stated Kenn Altine, Chief Executive Officer of Sacramento SPCA.


“Mark’s incredible support over the past year has helped us to spotlight and promote our senior cats, who many times are overlooked by potential adopters. Now, with this generous gift designated for medical care for cats, we will be able to save even more lives.”


Mr. Glickman’s donation is the largest donation the organization has ever received for senior kitties and those with special needs. In addition to the Sacramento SPCA, Mr. Glickman honors the memory of Joe Willie through his support of other animal welfare organizations, including Marin Humane and Field Haven Feline Center.


“All of my cats have inspired me,” said Mr. Glickman. “While I learned about cats from them, I learned about myself from Joe Willie. I want other people to adopt a cat and have that opportunity for an extraordinary connection.”


The Sacramento SPCA reports an overall increase in cat adoptions since partnering with Mr. Glickman with more than 60 adopted through the program. And the goodwill is spreading – other Sacramento SPCA supporters have also been inspired to sponsor adult and senior cat adoptions.
Mr. Glickman issued the following statement:


“Historically, cats have not been treated with the same level of respect, understanding or attention as other animals. That has not been true of the Sacramento SPCA. For the last three years the organization has been at the forefront of this issue, seeking to change those perceptions. I am hopeful that my gift will allow them to continue their work, in new and innovative ways.”


Founded in 1892, the Sacramento SPCA has been providing homeless animals with individual comfort, shelter, and love for more than 127 years. The 100% not-for-profit organization provides compassionate medical care to tens of thousands of animals annually and offers a variety of programs and services designed to keep people and pets together for life.
www.sspca.org

 

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One Step at a Time

By Cady Nagy-Chow, CRPD  |  2019-03-21

CRPD wins ‘Excellence in Design’ Award for fitness course and launches new program at Lincoln Village Community Park. Photo courtesy CRPD

CRPD Receives Recognition for Dedication to Community Health

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - Cordova Recreation & Park District (CRPD) recently accepted an Excellence in Design award from the California Park and Recreation Society (District 2) for the fitness course addition to Lincoln Village Community Park. Adding to the theme of physical health, CRPD is excited to start offering the Walk With Ease  program to the community at Lincoln Village Community Park beginning April 1, thanks to an instructor training grant from the National Recreation and Park Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They received the award on March 7, 2019.
While CRPD's programs have long been centers of health and wellness in the community, parks and facilities had yet to offer a free workout environment. After the Lincoln Village Community Park walking paths were upgraded last year, the Neil Orchard Senior Activities Center members expressed an interest in “gym-quality” equipment to supplement the District’s aerobic offerings. Inspired by neighboring parks and recreation agencies and their residents, CRPD launched the Outdoor Fitness Course Project a multi-agency, non-profit partnership between the Cordova Recreation and Park District, the City of Rancho Cordova, and the Neil Orchard Senior Activities Center Advisory Board. 

CRPD Park Planner Cristina James, the project lead, spoke to the growing popularity with outdoor fitness courses and how the course will benefit the community. “Research shows that working out in nature and sunlight triggers chemicals in your brain that help you sleep better! After we’d heard from residents and read about mental and physical health benefits like that, we were convinced that providing a fitness course was exactly what the community needed,” Cristina said.

Beyond the health benefits, the District felt that outdoor fitness courses also provide a welcoming social environment, different than that of a traditional gym. “Having fitness equipment outside makes it feel like an adult playground in some ways. We were able to transition empty space into shared, endorphins-producing space that fosters social connection in both the older and younger generations,” Cristina said.


For this project to become a reality, CRPD relied on public outreach to shape the design of the accessible, state-of-the-art, 5-piece course, and funding from the City of Rancho Cordova’s Community Enhancement Fund. With a matching amount and in-kind labor provided by CRPD, the Lincoln Village Community Park fitness course came to life and is now able to provide an environment for thousands of residents to engage in an active lifestyle.

Beyond the course, CRPD’s new Walk with Ease (WWE) program, developed by the Arthritis Foundation, will contribute to increasing activity in community members daily routine. Studies by the Thurston Arthritis Research Center and the Institute on Aging at the University of North Carolina have shown that WWE helps reduce pain and stiffness associated with arthritis, offers benefits for people managing other chronic conditions, contributes to reduced pain, increased balance and strength, increased levels of physical activity, and improved overall health.

“Walking can offer numerous health benefits to people of all ages and fitness levels. It may also help prevent certain diseases and even prolong your life. This grant from NRPA and the CDC allows us to add a new way for community residents to fulfill daily recommended exercise, and all you need to start is a sturdy pair of walking shoes,” District Administrator Patrick Larkin said.

As one of only 40 park and recreation agencies across the country to be awarded the WWE instructor training grant, CRPD’s fitness instructors will receive grant-funded training so they may offer the best level of service to the community. “We are extremely grateful to be the recipient of the WWE grant because it allows us to continue to help our community keep fit in mind, body and spirit,” Heather Schelske, Recreation Supervisor at the Neil Orchard Senior Activities Center, said.

The Walk with Ease program will be offered three times per week for six weeks by certified and trained instructors. The classes are ideally suited for seniors 50+ who are interested in a low-impact exercise program in their local community, especially those looking to manage a chronic condition. The program is scheduled to begin Monday, April 1 at 10:30 a.m. For more information, visit crpd.com/programs/active-senior

About CRPD: Cordova Recreation & Park District is one of the largest independent special districts in Northern California serving over 120,000 residents and four school districts in the greater Sacramento area. CRPD provides over 40 parks and recreational facilities, as well as youth & adult sports, camps, enrichment classes, educational programs and special events for the community. 

California Park and Recreation Society is a membership organization with just over 4,000 members representing the 535 local parks and recreation agencies throughout the state. The mission of CPRS is to advance the profession and its members through education, networking, resources, and advocacy.  Learn more at www.cprs.org.

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of more than 60,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.

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