Much Needed Warm Wishes from Meals on Wheels

Story by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-12-14

The non-profit provides roughly 500,000 meals and safety checks to roughly 1,500 home-bound seniors annually. Photo courtesy Meals on Wheels

Sacramento County, CA (MPG) - To have food to eat is one thing.  To be warm and remembered may possibly be the other top two most requested “gifts” on the list of many seniors this year, and Sacramento’s Meals on Wheels is hoping for your help in making those wishes possible.

If Meals on Wheels doesn’t ring a bell it should.  The non-profit provides roughly 500,000 meals and safety checks to roughly1,500 home-bound seniors annually.  The Sacramento operation is part of a network of more than 5,000 local Meals on Wheels chapters across country.  Meals on Wheels was established under the Older Americans Act created by congress in 1965 to ensure seniors 60 and over have food.  It is funded through a combination of public-private partnerships, state and federal grants, private donations and an army of volunteers.

This year, the agency has introduced a new program giving you another option for supporting: Project Warm Wishes, says Michelle Bustamante, program specialist for Meals on Wheels, Sacramento, has a goal to give each of its participants the gift of warmth, as in fuzzy slippers, blankets, throws, hats, gloves and socks, anything to help participants stave off the cold.  

“The goal of this new part of our services is to provide a simple Christmas gift to let people know they are remembered and they are not alone, because so many are isolated and don’t have anybody to share the holidays with,” said Bustamante.  “So our goal is to get a gift to all of those individuals who are registered for our home delivery program and we are thinking about ways to keep them warm and comfortable.”

Scarves, warm sweat suits, even tea and tea kettles are also potential gifts you can donate through Project Warm Wishes, and you can add to the list things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, coloring books for adults, jigsaw puzzles and word search books.

“In addition to a meal, this holiday season we also want to give the gift of warmth and let our participants know that, even though they may be alone, they are not forgotten,” Bustamante said.

If you want to go deeper, consider becoming a driver for Meals on Wheels.  While the job is 100% volunteer base and requires you to use your own car and pass a DMV and background check, the relationships formed with participants and the warmth you get in return are unsurpassed.

“I will tell you that, in addition to providing nutritional meals for our participants, one of our main areas of focus is the relationships that are formed between the drivers and our participants,” said Bustamante.  “We provide a safety check with every visit and the bonds formed between our drivers and the participants is unbelievable.  They are so reliant on seeing that friendly face and the elimination of isolation is so important.”

Not all seniors are homebound.  For those who are more mobile, Meals on Wheels has 20 All Seasons cafes set up across the Sacramento County region where more than 1,000 receive a free lunch and a place to socialize with others —a critical component of fighting off isolation.

There is an All Season Café set up at Rusch Park Community Center in Citrus Heights, Mission Oaks Community Center in Carmichael, and the Orangevale Community Center.  Transportation to and from the café’s is available for some participants.

“The café population is a bit more mobile, and they love the idea of having a place to go each day during the week for a meal and contact with others,” Bustamante said.  “Those folks are also forming relationships with the volunteers and some of these centers where the cafes are, is like a second home to them.  They’ll celebrate birthdays there together, the birth of grandchildren, and really make connections that are so important when you are elderly and perhaps on your own.”

There has never been a more critical time to support Meals on Wheels, including becoming a volunteer.   Congressional budget cuts could impact the future of the public-private partnership for the agency, Bustamante said.  Having a solid core of rotating volunteers (there are currently about 500 in the region) who spend their time either preparing the packing of the meals for the drivers, delivering the meals and providing safety checks, or working in one of the cafes, lays a foundation for longevity.

“We are always in need of new volunteers to help us out,” Bustamante said.  “We are not really clear on what the future holds.  As we all know there are future budget cuts that could affect us and the senior population is skyrocketing, so we need to be able to keep up.”

Humans are not the only ones who benefit.  The aniMeals on Wheels program also provides pet food for the critters who provide vital companionship for many Meals on Wheels program participants.

“Seniors’ pets are often the only family member they have,” said Bustamante.  “And we found out that many of our participants were feeding their pets part of the meals we deliver, so we always need donations to help make it possible for them to keep their pets and enjoy their meals.”

Meals On Wheels, Sacramento/Project Warm Wishes
7375 Park City Dr., Sacramento
To Donate or Inquire about Volunteering:
Call (916) 444-9533
www.mowsac.gov

A Purpose in Life

By Margaret Snider  |  2017-12-14

 Pat Nelson (left) and Lisa Oakumura register clients at the front desk of the Orangevale Food Bank. Photo by Gary mcFadyen

Providing Food, Resources and Hope

Orangevale, CA (MPG) - Orangevale Food Bank found its mission when it was conceived as an idea in 2011.  That mission is to make a positive impact in the communities of Orangevale and Fair Oaks by providing food, resources and hope to families in need.  Their doors opened in January of 2012. 

“We primarily get our food through small local donations in addition to donations from local grocery stores,” said Keith Wright, assistant director.  “We get close-to-date food from Trader Joe’s, WalMart, Safeway, and Sprouts locally.”  They also have food drives to collect nonperishable foods. 

The food bank relies on volunteers for everything from bringing food in, to sorting it and preparing it for easy dispersal.  On distribution days volunteers check in clients and distribute the food.  “I come on Monday before they open up at 11,” said volunteer Linda Eldredge.  “I do the bags, and I stock and I condense, and tell them what they’re going to need . . . I think the hardest part is that we sometimes don’t have enough volunteers.”

Linda Ervin was a client of the food bank at one time, when her husband had passed away and she needed help.  She figured that they were helping her, she should start giving back.  Ervin started volunteering three years ago.  “I love the clients, they’re fantastic, the volunteers are fantastic, they’re my second family.”  Ervin also serves the organization as ambassador to the Orangevale Chamber of Commerce from the food bank.  “The work is so rewarding.  It’s my first love,” Ervin said.  “I will never give this up, never in a million years.”

Wright joined up soon after the organization started.  A friend was volunteering there and since Wright had construction skills, the friend recruited Wright to do light construction work.  Now he serves alongside the volunteers as assistant director, along with Tom Carden, executive director.  Wright said the biggest challenge right now is reaching the people who need help.  “Some people don’t have the means to get here, or don’t have the physical capability to get here,” Wright said.  “We’re a volunteer organization . . . So we’ve got to find a way to meet that need without overtaxing our volunteer sources.”

Ray Cook, who is retired, finds the food bank a great place to volunteer.  “You feel like you’re part of something bigger than you could be as an individual,” Cook said.  “This, to me, is my purpose in life, to help other people.”

The volunteers at Orangevale Food Bank are very mission driven, Wright said.  “I think they are here because they want to take care of people.  I assume the same is true of all food banks, but I feel like Orangevale does a fantastic job of nurturing that volunteerism.  People who come here seem to come with the spirit that they really want to help people.”

The food bank is open for food distribution three days a week:  Mondays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesdays from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The food bank is located at 6483 Main Ave. in Orangevale. 

You can sign up to volunteer for the Orangevale Food Bank by going to https://www.justserve.org.  Just enter your town or zip code to find a variety of projects and ways to serve in your community. 

...Read More!  
  |  

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - How often do you see prices go down in today’s economy? Well, that’s exactly what going to happen at the Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT). The Board of Directors unanimously voted last night to roll back SacRT’s student monthly pass from $55 to just $20 (65% reduction). The fare reduction is being proposed as a six month pilot and is expected to cost the District approximately $100,000.

“The reduction in price is part of SacRT’s effort to encourage young people to learn about the region’s public transportation system and travel without restriction,” said SacRT Board Chair Andy Morin. “It’s our hope that students in grades K-12 will adopt this mode of travel as they become adults, so providing them affordable transit access in their youth seems to be an excellent approach.”

It’s all part of SacRT’s Ridership Building Initiative.  A recent analysis of ridership data identified K-12 students as the least subsidized category of passengers with the highest sensitivity to rate increases.

A ridership committee recently spent several months evaluating ridership trends, and determined that this fare reduction would have the greatest number of positive impacts, including increased ridership. 

“In addition to ridership building, we believe the discounted student monthly fare will help many Sacramento families by reducing the financial burden of transportation,” said Henry Li, SacRT General Manager/CEO. “Attracting more students to transit would also have the residual effect of reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, because fewer parents would need to shuttling their children from place to place in a car.”                                                                                 

The $20 student monthly pass and $10 student semi-monthly pass will go into effect on Monday, January 1, 2018, and will remain in effect through June 30, 2018. Advance sales of the January monthly pass will begin on December 20, at the reduced price.

SacRT operates approximately 69 bus routes and 43 miles of light rail throughout Sacramento County, including the cities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove.  Sacramento buses and light rail trains operate 365 days a year. SacRT's entire bus and light rail system is accessible to the disabled community. ADA services are provided under contract with Paratransit, Inc.

...Read More!  
  |  

John Adams Academy Celebrates Groundbreaking

By Norman Gonzales, DOC  |  2017-12-12

The project is expected to be completed in time for the 2018-19 school year. Photo courtesy John Adams Academy

New Performing Arts and Athletics Building at the Roseville Campus

Roseville, CA (MPG) - Officials from John Adams Academy charter school celebrated recently with a groundbreaking ceremony for their new performing arts and athletics building, to be known as the “Jefferson Building”.   John Adams Academy, a free charter public school serving grades TK through 12, and located in Roseville, names each of their buildings to honor the Founding Fathers.    Thomas Jefferson was selected as the founding father to honor as he was known for being a renaissance man with multiple interests and talents.  The Jefferson Building joins a campus with buildings honoring John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and George Washington. 

“When completed the Jefferson Building will be approximately 11,600 square feet,” said Executive Director Joseph Benson, “It will have a gym floor, stage, two multi-purpose classrooms, and office space.”

“We are extremely excited about this enhancement to our Roseville campus.” said Dr. Dean Forman, Founder and Board President. “The Jefferson Building is designed to support our classical education model by providing a home for our performing arts and athletics programs.”

The project is being delivered by DesCor Builders and is expected to be completed in time for the 2018-19 school year. 

 John Adams Academy is Northern California's only tuition-free, K-12 Classical Leadership Education charter school with campuses in Roseville, El Dorado Hills and Lincoln. Since opening its doors in 2011, enrollment at the Roseville campus has reached over 1300 scholars in grades TK-12. 

John Adams Academy is preparing future leaders and statesmen through principle-based education centered in classics and great mentors. Scholars enjoy a classical liberal arts curriculum encompassing history, English, math, visual and performing arts, laboratory science, foreign languages including Latin and Greek with college preparatory electives. John Adams Academy is fully accredited by the Schools Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Apply or learn more here: http://www.johnadamsacademy.org

Source: John Adams Academy 

...Read More!  
  |  

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith today advised residents where wildfires have been burning in Southern California, along with people in the smoke’s path, to stay indoors and reduce outdoor activity.

“Smoke from wildfires can cause eye and lung irritation. Breathing smoke can also make asthma symptoms worse. People with underlying lung or heart problems should limit their exposure by staying indoors,” said Dr. Smith. “Heavy smoke exposure can also cause more serious disorders, including reduced lung function and bronchitis.”

People who must be outdoors for long periods, in areas with heavy smoke, or where ash is disturbed, should wear an N95 respirator mask. Since wearing a respirator can make it harder to breathe, those with lung or heart problems should ask their doctor before using one. For more information on the use of particulate respirators (masks) to protect from wildfire smoke or ash, please visit CDPH’s website.

When it is safe for residents to return home, caution should be used during the clean-up process. Ash from trees burned in wildfires is relatively nontoxic and similar to ash that might be found in your fireplace. However, ash from burned homes and other items will likely contain metals, chemicals, and potentially asbestos, items that may be considered toxic if breathed in or touched with wet skin.

If ash is inhaled, it can be irritating to the nose, throat, and lungs. Exposure to airborne ash may trigger asthmatic attacks in people who already have the respiratory condition. In order to avoid possible health problems, the following steps are recommended for people in burned areas with ash:

·       Do not allow children to play in ash or be in an area where ash-covered materials are being disturbed. Wash ash off toys before children play with them. Clean ash off pets.

·       Wear a tight-fitting N95 or P100 respirator mask, gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants when cleaning up ash. Avoid skin contact. If you do get ash on your skin, wash it off immediately. Some wet ash can cause chemical burns.

·       Avoid getting ash into the air as much as possible, for example, by avoiding sweeping it up dry. Use water and wet cloth or a mop to clean items and surfaces. Do not use leaf blowers or take other actions that will put ash into the air. 

·       Shop vacuums and other common vacuum cleaners do not filter out small particles. They blow such particles out the exhaust into the air where they can be inhaled. The use of shop vacuums and other non-HEPA filter vacuums is not recommended. HEPA filter vacuums could be used, if available.

“Residents should seek medical care if they experience health issues such as chest pain, chest tightness or shortness of breath. It is especially important to monitor children and young adults as they may be more susceptible to the health and emotional effects of fire recovery,” said Dr. Smith.

Visit CDPH’s website for more information on how you can protect yourself during a wildfire and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services for more information on the hazardous debris,  wildfire recovery and worker safety in wildfire regions.

...Read More!  
  |  

Soroptimist Club Sews to Dress 300 Girls

By Karen Fraser-Middleton  |  2017-12-11

Pictured (R to L) Carol Pepper-Kittredge, Sharon Miranda and Debi Schneider show dresses being made by the Loomis Soroptimist International club and distributed by Dress a Girl Around the World. Photo courtesy of Karen Fraser-Middleton

Loomis, CA (MPG) - Soroptimist International of Loomis Basin (SILB) is making a difference by sewing dresses to be distributed to girls in the United States and around the world. The club’s goal is to sew and engage others in the community to help complete 300 dresses by March 31, 2018. The project is part of an effort organized by the Sierra Nevada region of Soroptimist; the region’s mission is to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. The simple dress takes about an hour to make and the club is supplying the materials.

At a recent meeting of the Loomis Soroptmist Club, guest speaker, Sharon Miranda, Northern California Ambassador of Dress a Girl Around the World, explained that the pretty, unique dresses give the girls in orphanages dignity. “The dresses decrease the chance of the girls being mistreated in the community or becoming victims of sex trafficking because the new dress shows that someone cares for them,” said Miranda. The organization started in 2009 with “pillow-case” dresses and the northern California office has distributed over 30,000 dresses and the United States has sent 600,000 dresses to poverty stricken areas in this country and abroad.

Carol Pepper-Kittredge, Statewide Project Manager CCC Maker, housed at Sierra College, was also a guest speaker. Pepper-Kittredge arranged for the Soroptimist club to hold a community meet-up in the sewing lab at Hacker Lab Powered by Sierra College in Rocklin in November. “Sierra College is not just about preparing students with skills to achieve in their careers,” said Pepper-Kittredge. “We engage students in service projects so they learn how to give back to the community. We are delighted that students can get involved and Hacker Lab’s makerspace with Juki, serger and Bernina sewing machines can support this project.”

Individuals and groups can participate in this project by contacting Debi Schneider, President, Soroptimist International of Loomis Basin at (916)749-8680. The club can provide materials and instructions for those who want to make the dresses at home. Contact Debi if you’d like to make a dress, attend an upcoming sewing meet-up or if you’d like to host one for your group to support this project.

Soroptimist (soroptimist.org) is an international volunteer service organization for business and professional women who work to improve the lives of women and girls, in local communities and throughout the world. Soroptimist International of Loomis Basin is a 501(c)(3) organization.

To learn more about the club, join SI Loomis Basin for weekly club meetings at the Train Depot at Taylor Rd. and Horseshoe Bar Rd. in Loomis. Visitors are welcome to attend club meetings on the first and third Wednesday at 5:30 PM. Learn more at www.soroptimistloomis.com and find Soroptimist Loomis Basin on Facebook. 

...Read More!  
  |  

Senator Ted Gaines Named “Champion of Manufacturing”

By Betsey Hodges  |  2017-12-11

Senator Ted Gaines

Sacramento, CA (MPG) -  Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) recently announced that he has been named a “Champion of Manufacturing” by the California Manufacturing & Technology Association (CMTA) on their 2017 Manufacturing Vote Record. CMTA represents 400 businesses from the entire manufacturing community – an economic sector that generates more than $230 billion every year and employs more than 1.2 million Californians.

“I have been a long-time champion of California’s manufacturing industry and am proud to have earned this important designation,” said Senator Gaines. “For many manufacturers, it’s become increasingly difficult to do business in California. I’ve carried and supported numerous bills that would let businesses keep more of their money so they can reinvest it back into their businesses, create more jobs and boost the economy, instead of handing it over to the government. They should be rewarded for their contributions to our state, not continually penalized at every turn. I remain committed to fighting on their behalf.”

The Vote Record looked at legislators’ floor votes in the Assembly and Senate on 10 key bills impacting California manufacturers and technology companies. The results showed that only 44 out of 120 legislators supported California manufacturers at least 70 percent of the time, receiving the “Champion of Manufacturing” designation.

Source: From the Office of Ted Gaines

Senator Ted Gaines represents the 1st Senate District, which includes all or parts of Alpine, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Shasta, Sierra and Siskiyou counties.

...Read More!  
  |  

Auburn, CA (MPG) - At its December 7 meeting, the Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) Board of Directors adopted the Agency’s 2018 budget. The combined budget totals $111.3 million. 

PCWA’s budget is comprised of three divisions: water, power, and agency-wide. In 2018, the operating budget for water totals $38.7 million, while the operating budget for agency-wide totals $2.5 million. The power division, totaling $22.3 million in operating costs, is funded through appropriation from the Middle Fork Project Finance Authority. In addition to the operating budgets, the 2018 budget also designates $47.8 million to capital improvement projects, which includes $7.5 million for capital-related debt service.

“Development of the budget is an interactive, team effort that commences in the spring,” said Director of Financial Services, Joe Parker. “I want to thank the entire Agency for participation in that process, especially the finance personnel who worked tirelessly to finalize a lean budget for 2018.”   

PCWA’s 2018 budget is available on the Agency’s website at pcwa.net.

The next regular meeting of the PCWA Board of Directors will be held on Monday, December 18, 8:00 AM at the PCWA Business Center, 144 Ferguson Road, in Auburn. PCWA board meetings are open to the public.

For information on PCWA board meetings, please contact the Clerk to the Board at (530) 823-4850 or (800) 464-0030.

Source: PCWA

...Read More!  
  |  

PCWA Tours Several Water Systems

PCWA release  |  2017-12-11

Tour attendees visit the Dutch Flat Mutual Water Company treatment plant. Photo courtesy PCWA

Auburn, CA (MPG) - At the October meeting of the Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) Board of Directors, the Board toured six small water systems located in Placer County to get a better understanding of the needs and unique challenges of operating and maintaining such systems. Stops on the tour included water treatments plants in Colfax, Monte Vista, Dutch Flat, Alta, Heather Glen, and Meadow Vista.

Following the tour, the Board heard a report from the State Water Resources Control Board on statewide concerns associated with small water systems, the importance of having safe and reliable drinking water, and recent legislation aimed at encouraging consolidation of small water systems wherever feasible and appropriate.

PCWA staff also provided a report on the status of several on-going efforts to take advantage of state funding opportunities in support of small water systems and to extend service to several underserved areas within Placer County.

In total, there are 128 public water systems in Placer County, 44 of which are regulated by the State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water; the remainder are regulated by Placer County Environmental Health.

PCWA board meetings are open to the public. For information on PCWA board meetings, please contact the Clerk to the Board at (530) 823-4850 or (800) 464-0030.

Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) is the primary water resource agency for Placer County, California, with a broad range of responsibilities including water resource planning and management, retail and wholesale supply of drinking water and irrigation water, and production of hydroelectric energy.

...Read More!  
  |  

If you have Medicare, you can protect your identity and help prevent health care fraud by guarding your Medicare card like you would a credit card. 

Identity theft arising from stolen Medicare numbers is becoming more common. Medicare is in the process of removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards and replacing them with a new, unique number for each person with Medicare.

Medicare will mail new Medicare cards with the new numbers between April 2018 and April 2019.

The new card won’t change your Medicare coverage or benefits. And there's no charge for your new card.

But watch out for scammers!

Thieves may try to get your current Medicare number and other personal information by contacting you about your new Medicare card. They may claim to be from Medicare and use various phony pitches to get your Medicare number, such as: Asking you to confirm your Medicare or Social Security number so they can send you a new card; Telling you there's a charge for your new card and they need to verify your personal information; Threatening to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share your Medicare number or other personal information.

Don't fall for any of this.

Don’t share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by phone, email, or by approaching you in person, unless you’ve given them permission in advance.

Medicare, or someone representing Medicare, will only call and ask for personal information in these situations; A Medicare health or drug plan can call you if you’re already a member of the plan. The agent who helped you join can also call you; A customer service representative from 1-800-MEDICARE can call if you’ve called and left a message or a representative said that someone would call you back.

Only give personal information like your Medicare number to doctors, insurers acting on your behalf, or trusted people in the community who work with Medicare, like counselors from the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).

If someone calls you and asks for your Medicare number or other personal information, hang up and call us at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).  

There are other steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft that can lead to health care fraud.

Don’t ever let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare number. And review your Medicare Summary Notice to be sure you and Medicare are being charged only for items and services you actually received.

We’re in the midst of Medicare open enrollment season right now. This is the time every year when you can sign up for, switch, or drop a Medicare health plan (Part C) or a Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D). Open enrollment ends Dec. 7.

Scam artists often try to take advantage of open enrollment season. So if someone calls and tries to get you to sign up for a Medicare plan, keep in mind there are no “early bird discounts” or “limited time offers.” 

Don’t let anyone rush you to enroll by claiming you need to “act now for the best deal.” And be skeptical of promises of free gifts, free medical services, discount packages or any offer that sounds too good to be true.

It probably is.

To learn more about protecting yourself from identity theft and health care fraud, visit www.Medicare.gov/fraud or contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol (www.smpresource.org).

Greg Dill is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii, and the Pacific Territories. You can always get answers to your Medicare questions by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

...Read More!  
  |