Cake4Kids Still Cooking One Year Later

Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar  |  2019-08-21

Volunteer bakers from the 2nd Sacramento orientation on August 18, 2018 at Arcade Library.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - In 2018, Cake4Kids arrived in Sacramento, thanks to Mary Barnes’ efforts. Barnes is the Sacramento ambassador for the Sunnyvale-based nonprofit. She has grown her area volunteers into a force of nearly 100 strong. Two dozen gathered on August 3rd to celebrate the one year anniversary of the first cake delivery in Sacramento to Opening Doors.

Since that first delivery, Barnes and her volunteers have made 135 deliveries to more than two dozen agencies throughout the region. The group averages 2.5 deliveries per week, and Barnes said that volunteers are eager to bake more cakes, cupcakes, and cookies.

“I’ve not found a lack of agencies to partner with,” said Barnes and explained that the process is long, especially since many nonprofits have limited staff.

She worked closely with Alison Bakewell, Director of Operations for Cake4Kids, to reach out to agencies by telephone or mail, and they both did a lot of follow up, often waiting to hear back for several months.

One of the agencies she contacted is Next Move Family Shelter. Javier Leon, the organization’s Children’s Services Coordinator, gave a short presentation to the volunteers.

“I try to make sure the children don’t miss out in development opportunities and having fun,” he wrote in an email. “Since February 2019, I have been able to get volunteer bakers from Cake4kids to bring cupcakes, one of the biggest highlights of each party! The children look forward to each batch of cupcakes because each volunteer baker adds their own special design on it. Once a volunteer baker made cupcakes with frosting shaped as flowers. Some kids didn’t want to eat it because they thought it was so beautiful. I’m very thankful Cake4kids exists to allow children experiencing homelessness to not miss out in having cupcakes at birthday parties.”

Leon’s statements echo those of other agencies since the purpose of Cake4Kids is to provide children with possibly the only birthday cake they have ever received. Many children are homeless, recent immigrants, in foster care, or victims of human trafficking.

Volunteer bakers are often challenged by requests for perhaps a vegan banana cake topped with vegan chocolate frosting, the request for the first cake delivered to Opening Doors on August 3rd, 2018.

The process to become a volunteer baker includes a mandatory orientation in order to learn more about Cake4Kids, including the demographics served, and resources. Orientations are held most months and are listed on the organization’s website. The next Sacramento orientation takes place in September.

Barnes, who is as dedicated to bringing cakes to at-risk children as she is to her full-time employment, said she spent an hour on her birthday meeting with representatives from Guardian Scholars Program at Sacramento State. The program serves transitional foster youth up to the age of 24 who are attending college, a program that Barnes called “amazing,” because few foster youth attend college.

Many, she added, don’t graduate from high school, but she learned that two who are being assisted by Guardian Scholars are pursuing master’s degrees.

To be able to meet face to face with agencies is one of Barnes’ goals. She has the opportunity to learn more about the organization, the population it serves, and express Cake4Kids’ gratitude for how each organization serves and supports the community.

“It really helps plant a strong relationship from the beginning,” said Barnes.

She has expanded the region from the first agency in Arden Arcade and volunteer bakers from Sacramento to agencies and volunteers in Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova, Carmichael, Roseville, and all of Sacramento. She is discussing future plans with agencies in Placer county.

“We can’t do it without our volunteers’ help,” she said, and that she’d like to work hand in hand with a volunteer in the future.

“Our volunteers are everywhere in the Sacramento region. They make my job much easier. They’re doing the weekly deliveries. I’m behind the scenes.”

Although volunteers bake the goodies, decorate them, and package them according to Cake4Kids’ guidelines, they never see the smiles of the children. It doesn’t seem to matter to them. They want to bake and bring the joy of a birthday treat to children.

“Another Cake4Kids celebration,” Barnes said, “is right around the corner.” On September 17th, the public and interested bakers are invited to attend an open house and information session.

One year ago, Barnes said her goal was to reach 100 volunteers, and she’s nearly accomplished that feat.

“I’m so appreciative of all the volunteers who have come forward. It was daunting to start this. I believed it and people showed up,” said Barnes, adding that she is indebted to the volunteers. For additional information, visit https://www.cake4kids.org/.

 

 

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Honoring Grandparents With Butterfly Release

Story by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-08-15

Participants will release Monarch and Swallowtail butterflies in honor of Grandparents

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Sunday, September 8 is national Grandparents Day, and two local non-profits are observing the day with a Grandparents Day Butterfly Release. Sacramento Children’s Museum (SCM) and Snowline Hospice are hosting the Butterfly Release ceremony at 11:30 am at the museum, which is located at 2701 Prospect Park in Rancho Cordova.

 SCM’s mission is to inspire a love of life-long learning by providing a space for children to play, create, and explore. Snowline’s mission is to help patients through end-of-life care and support their families through the grieving process. The Grandparents Day Butterfly Release is a way to support two great causes at the same time while also recognizing the vital role grandparents play in children’s lives.

SCM’s director of museum advancement Meghan Toland said, “We chose Grandparents Day because grandparents are so important to us at the museum — we see them bringing kids in every day. … Celebrating grandparents is a great way to bring awareness to Snowline and the Sacramento Children’s Museum.”

Participants can dedicate a butterfly in name of a beloved grandparent. “You can reserve as many butterflies as you want,” said Toland. The event will include Monarch and Swallowtail butterflies — both beautiful options to honor grandparents’ significant impact on our lives.

The butterflies are locally and sustainably sourced, and they will be transported to the museum on ice — putting them into a temporary hibernation until they are woken up at the event. Participants will wake the butterflies by warming them in their hands during the dedication, and then the butterflies will be ready for release after the ceremony.

Grandparents are an important part of all our lives, so Toland explained that the event is not just for children — all ages are encouraged to attend. She also emphasized that the dedications do not have to be in remembrance: “It’s to remember those we don’t have any more and also to celebrate those still in our lives every day.”

Toland said they expect to release 400 butterflies, so they are anticipating a large turnout at the event. After the Butterfly Release, a celebration will feature games, activities, face painting, and food vendors.

Proceeds from the event will benefit SCM’s educational programs and Snowline’s Healing All Together (HAT) grief group, which helps children and their families deal with grief after losing a loved one. Because it can be difficult for kids to verbalize their emotions, HAT helps kids express their grief through art, motion, music, and play. SCM works in partnership with Snowline, which hosts the HAT program at the museum twice a month.

Butterflies for the event must be reserved in advance on the website, and people are already signing up. The deadline to reserve a butterfly is Friday, September 6 and the cost is $10 per butterfly, or $15 for a butterfly and admission to the museum. To reserve a butterfly — or to sign up as a vendor or sponsor — visit www.sackids.org.

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Over 16,000 Diapers Donated To Sacramento Life Center Through Leatherby’s

By Kristin Thébaud, Kristin Thébaud Communications  |  2019-08-07

Volunteers at Sacramento Life Center organize diapers donated through Daddy Dave’s Diaper Drive. Photo courtesy Kristin Thébaud Communications

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Local residents who brought an unopened pack of diapers to any Leatherby’s Family Creamery location on July 20 received a $5 gift card to Leatherby’s, resulting in donations of more than 16,000 diapers for the Sacramento Life Center. Daddy Dave’s Diaper Drive, which took place during National Ice Cream Month, provided diapers for low-income moms in the Sacramento area and honored the life of the ice cream shop’s founder Dave Leatherby Sr. who passed away earlier this year and supported the Sacramento Life Center for decades.

“It was heartwarming to see the Sacramento community come together to support local moms and babies in need, as well as to honor my dad who believed so much in this cause,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “Thank to you everyone who brought diapers or donated online – these diapers mean the world to families in our community.”

The Sacramento Life Center accepts diaper donations all year at its primary clinic at 2316 Bell Executive Lane in Sacramento. Families in need of diapers can call the clinic at (916) 451-4357 to learn if they qualify to receive free diapers.

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 mobile clinic that provide all services for free, including pregnancy tests, STD tests, ultrasounds, peer counseling for men and women, education and resource referrals. In 2018, the Sacramento Life Center achieved accreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, which ensures the group has met nationally recognized standards for the provision of high-quality health care. The nonprofit also offers a school-based teen education program, 24-hour hotline and program for women who have experienced reproductive grief.

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.

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SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Members of the media and public are invited to attend Inner SOUL, a silent art auction to benefit Joshua’s House, Sacramento’s first hospice house for the terminally ill homeless on August 10, at 5-8pm.

The Second Saturday art reception will feature a silent auction of over 90 pieces of art based on SHELTERS. All proceeds from the sale of donated artwork will go to completing the building of Joshua’s House, which has received strong support from community leaders such as Congresswoman Doris Matsui, City of Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and City Council Member Jeff Harris along with the entire City Council.

Area artists, along with Tony Natsoulas and Julia Didion, are invited to participate in this first of its kind art show here in Sacramento. Using the SHELTER as a symbol, we invite them to sculpt, paint, stitch and embellish. The results are a remarkable and beautiful art show.

Please join us for a special tribute art show to help bring awareness and raise funds for a critical new project here in Sacramento. The donated art will help open the doors to the new hospice house dedicated for the terminally ill homeless. This art show will be hosted at E Street Gallery, 1115 E Street, Sacramento. The art will be on display August 8-26 with a special reception on August 10th 5-9 pm where all artwork will be part of a silent auction

For more information about Joshua’s House, please email Dr. Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater at fitzm@hcri.com

If you’re interested in making a donation to Joshua’s House, search @JoshuasHouseSacramento on Facebook or visit www.thehcri.org.

For more information about the art show “inner SOUL” please call Helen Plenert at 916-599-2608 or email Helen@hplenert.com

 

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A Personal Blast Off!

By Sal Arrigo, Jr.  |  2019-08-07

Image of a Saturn V rocket similar to the one that carried the Apollo 11 space capsule to the Moon. Photo by Sal Arrigo, Jr.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - It all started in northern New Jersey at Kittle Field, a part of the Stokes State Forest Service. I was 10 years old and my Dad and I were about to blast off my first Estes model rocket. I was hooked after that experience. Fast forward to July 16, 2019, and I was at the U.S. Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama, ready to witness the world record attempt of the launching of 5,000 model rockets simultaneously in honor of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and the Apollo 11 astronauts.

To achieve the record, the Rocket Center said the launch must meet the following criteria: Use commercially available rockets and build them following basic manufacturer guidelines; Pass 30 meters (or about 100 feet) in altitude; Have an independent specialist verify the counting method. An independent specialist is anyone who can claim a general level of experience or knowledge in the specific field of our record attempt (someone who has experience with model rocketry or aerospace engineering.)

Part of the verification process is determining that a record number of rockets exceeded the 100-feet threshold. The launch at the US Space Center successfully launched 4,923 model rockets. Although confident that the 100-foot mark was achieved, (the previous world record was 4,231 model rockets successfully launched), the Space Center said it may take up to 16 weeks to receive confirmation from the Guinness World Records officials.

What fascinates us with the moon and the stars and the planets? The Apollo 11 astronauts represented all those people like us who thirst for adventure, and we are fascinated when someone actually lives our dream for us. I met a volunteer named Eli, who works as a Planetarium Specialist at the US Space Center. He told me he has a love of rockets and enjoys “educating people about his work.” We discussed how many people, approximately 3,000, came to witness the model rocket launch.

One aspect of the launch was the number of children who witnessed the event, and it makes sense since children from all over can enjoy Space Camp at the US Space Center. It is one of the most popular programs, and according to the US Space Center it is “designed to inspire and motivate youth to push the boundaries of human exploration just as generations before them did. Space Camp is internationally popular, with visitors from all 50 states and more than 60 foreign countries.”

As you start to grasp the history that surrounds you at the US Space Center, one does not need to go any farther than to stand face to face with two of the most iconic symbols that represent our space program – the Saturn V rocket and the Space Shuttle. I have to admit I am still in awe of seeing these two monuments, and part of the generation that welcomed them to our side. What was it like to be in these vehicles for our space explorers? Fortunately, we had a president that also wanted to know the answer.

In September 1962, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech that focused the United States on landing men on the moon. The President said, “… the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading spacefaring nation.”

It wasn’t long after that we became “trekkies” and became obsessed with the science fiction television show called “Star Trek” that debuted in 1966 and ended in 1969, just one month before we landed men on the moon. Whether a television show or a real life space drama, we were imagining being on the moon, or being one of the characters on “Star Trek.” I take note when we can see an eclipse, or to see the planets align, or witness shooting stars. What exactly is out there in space? 

Now nearly fifty-seven years since President’s Kennedy speech, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced the creation of the Artemis program. Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology. The goal of the program is to return astronauts, including the first woman and the next man, to the lunar surface by 2024. American astronauts will also step foot where no human has ever been before - the Moon’s South Pole. When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, it is estimated that 600 million people watched, and I ask you, will you and your family be watching in 2024?

For more information on the US Space Center and the City of Huntsville (the Chamber of Commerce is especially helpful), please visit these helpful websites:

https://www.rocketcenter.com/

https://www.rocketcenter.com/INTUITIVEPlanetarium/daily#page-title

https://www.rocketcenter.com/featuredexhibitions

https://www.huntsville.org/

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Eppie’s Race is Back On

Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2019-07-11

Great American Triathlon organizers are business partners Ken McGuire (left) and Dan Niccum.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Businessman Ken McGuire last year feared was the end of an era when the “final” Eppie’s Great race was announced.

Co-founder of Innovations Health Systems – a network of heath-centered services and facilities in the Bay Area – McGuire (52) never actually competed in the annual event.

“I felt it was too great a tradition to let die,” he explains. “People came here from all over the USA to compete. Eppie’s was a boost for our national profile. We Sacramentans talked about the great race in the same conversation as Kings Basketball games and the California International Marathon. It helped charities. For all sorts of good reasons, keeping Eppie’s alive seemed critical.”

Now, thanks to McGuire, the world’s oldest triathlon has not quite ended, after all. Steered by the Sacramento businessman, the contest that the late Eppie Johnston began in 1974 has new branding. From the starting gun July 20, and for future summers, it will be run as The Great American Triathlon. The endurance epic will again follow the American River Parkway in foot, bicycle and kayak stages. While benefitting charities, it will endure as one of our area’s great summer events.

Via many meetings and phone calls, McGuire persuaded major Eppie’s supporters to keep paddling. In January, Sacramento County gave approval for the new parkway event.

Capital City Road Management will continue to manage the race. Former volunteers have rallied, and more than 20 companies have agreed to co-sponsor. McGuire’s business partner, Carmichael resident Dan Niccum, is onboard for brand development.

The new race will continue restauranteur Eppie Johnston’s philanthropic drive that raised more than a million dollars for non-profits over 48 years. “Our fundraising for the American River Parkway Foundation and children’s health charities is important,” confirms McGuire. “We hope to write big checks for good causes. But above all, we want to maintain a community event that defines summer in Sacramento.”

The world’s oldest triathlon will set a cracking pace through the accustomed river stretches of Arcade, Carmichael, Fair Oaks and Rancho Cordova. Starting line is at William Pond Park. Athletes will follow a six-mile route to the Guy West Bridge near CSUS, and then grab bikes to pedal 12 miles to the beach below Sunrise Boulevard (Fair Oaks). There is no swimming stage; contestants will board kayaks, brave the San Juan Rapids and follow the river downstream to Rancho Cordova. Thousands of supporters, onlookers and volunteers traditionally cheer athletes through all stages. Après-race celebrations will include live music, food trucks and a beer garden beside the River Bend Park finish line.

Entry in the Great American Triathlon costs $40 for athletes 18 and under; $150 for adult competitors; junior relay is $110; adult relay is $225. Tandem water craft admission is $300. Contestants may use rented kayaks. For information, go to www.greatamericantriathlon.com

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Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain Prepares for Fall Opening

Story by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-07-11

A rendering of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain. Image provided by Zimmerman Agency

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Opening this fall as Hard Rock’s first Vegas-style casino in California, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain recently announced its top-tier executives. “I’m very impressed with the caliber of experience of our executive team. They have over 200 years of combined gaming experience,” said Mark Birtha, president of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain. “We attracted very capable individuals from around the country.”

“This is the best team I’ve ever been a part of in my entire career. They are all experts in their fields,” said Birtha. “We’re a beacon for the area. Wheatland might not have been on their radar, but now they are excited to build long-term interaction with the community.” The executives will all be relocating to the Greater Sacramento Region and will be working on site in Wheatland every day.

Christopher Balaban, vice president of finance, has an MBA and over 20 years of gaming experience in Las Vegas, Florida, and the Bahamas. In addition to prior VP of finance roles, he led hotel and food and beverage operations, giving him a diverse operational background.

Ryan Flieger, vice president of human resources, has worked with Hard Rock since 2012. He held leadership roles at hotels in San Diego and Las Vegas, and he worked on several Hard Rock expansions. Flieger has experience in talent acquisition and retention, training, and culture setting.

Anika Gaskins, vice president of marketing, has an MBA and was recently the VP of national marketing for MGM Resorts as they opened a new $1 billion casino property. Gaskins has worked in various marketing roles in casinos from Canada to Las Vegas, developing marketing initiatives and increasing revenue.

Paul Mollo, vice president of table games, has almost 40 years of gaming experience and has been working with Hard Rock for more than a decade. Mollo used his expertise to help HBO Productions create authentic scenes of casino gaming on “The Sopranos”.

Matthew Morgan, vice president of information technology, has more than 20 years of experience in gaming technology. He has an MBA, and he has worked in Las Vegas and in local casinos Red Hawk and Thunder Valley. Morgan focuses on bringing mobile products to the casino market.

Will Provance, vice president of slot operations, has more than 20 years of leadership experience in restaurants, entertainment, hotel operations, and casino gaming. He has an executive certificate in customer-driven marketing, an MBA in international hotel and tourism management, and a Master of Science in hotel administration with a concentration on gaming.

Kaywan Samadani, vice president of hospitality, has worked at casinos in Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, Missouri, and Ohio. Samadani has extensive restaurant and casino hospitality experience — working as a chef, director of food and beverages, director of hospitality, and VP of casino services.

Birtha said they will be taking occupancy of the administrative offices, kitchens, security offices, and surveillance and storage areas in early July. Then they’ll start moving in the furniture, equipment, and gaming tables. “Everything is on schedule and on budget,” said Birtha. “Our company has had that vision to stay focused.”

Hard Rock also just launched a social gaming app: Hard Rock Social Casino. “It’s a way to engage loyal Hard Rock followers and allow them to interface with the casino before it opens,” said Birtha. The free “social casino” will give people a taste of the gaming experience on their smart phones, tablets, or computers. Payment is not required to play, and winners earn virtual credits. Players can select Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain as their casino for the chance to win real-world prizes and promotions to use when the casino opens this fall.

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain advertising campaign is also launching soon, with large outdoor billboards, social and digital marketing, and TV and radio ads. Birtha said, “This will be our formal introduction to the region, from Tahoe to San Francisco.” Birtha was also proud to announce some of Hard Rock’s local partners: Toyota Amphitheatre, Sacramento River Cats, Sac Republic FC, and Golden 1 Center.

Birtha said that Hard Rock has a “philanthropy of social engagement” and is committed to hiring local people and building partnerships with local vendors to bring in produce, wine, and art. For information about upcoming hiring and vendor fairs, visit www.hardrockhotelsacramento.com.

 

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