Society for the Blind Receives $10K from Senator Lions Club for Device Lending Library

Society for the Blind staff members show Sacramento Senator Lions Club representatives the device lending library that the club helped to fund with a recent grant.

Society for the Blind received a $10,000 grant from the Sacramento Senator Lions Club to fund a device lending library in the organization’s Low Vision Clinic. The lending library will allow patients to borrow low vision devices such as hand-held magnifiers and portable electronic devices to determine if they are a good fit. These devices enlarge text or convert text to speech so people with vision loss can continue to read.

“Thanks to the Sacramento Senator Lions Club, our patients will now have access to vital assistive devices that allow them to maintain their independence,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “We could not have established this much-needed lending library without this grant.”

Society for the Blind operates a full-time Low Vision Clinic in Sacramento and a satellite office in Roseville. It 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 an occupational 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.

“The Senator Lions are pleased to make this gift in celebration of the Lions Club International Centennial,” said Senator Lion Vicky Brady, who coordinated the Centennial Gift. “Our longstanding dedication to assisting people with vision loss continues through this contribution to Society for the Blind.”

For more than 60 years, 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 6,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyfortheBlind.org.

The Sacramento Senator Lions Club was chartered in Lions Clubs International in 1954. The Senator Lions Club belongs to District 4-C5 and resides in the Crocker Zone of the Sacramento Region. The club participates in local community service projects including sponsoring the UC Davis Children’s Hospital; providing meals, toys and clothes to the needy via their Salvation Army partners; sponsoring the Sacramento Zoo’s Sensory Garden and Fairytale Town’s Japanese Garden; and more. To learn more, visit SacramentoSenatorLions.org.

Women’s Empowerment Gala Raises More Than $214,000

Five hundred guests at Women’s Empowerment’s 17th Annual Celebration of Independence Gala raised more than $214,000 to support the organization’s job training program for women and mothers experiencing homelessness in Sacramento. The event, which took place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Sacramento, had 75 graduates of the program in attendance dressed in ballgowns donated by the community. The evening included a formal dinner, live and silent auctions, live music and inspiring speeches from program graduates.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg presented Amanda Buccina and Rennie Jemmings of Sutter Health with the 2018 To Heal the World Award, created in honor of Women’s Empowerment’s founding social worker Erie Shockey. The award recognizes a local hero who inspires others to engage in social change and make Sacramento a better place for all. The two nurses were honored for providing street medical care to people who are homeless in Sacramento.

“This event is a powerful reminder that when we come together as a community we can break the cycle of homelessness,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “From the generosity of our donors to the inspiring words of our program graduates, the Gala was a magical night of celebration. The critical donations raised that night will fund our vital mission of ending homelessness through empowerment and employment.”

Women’s Empowerment was featured on NBC’s The TODAY Show in 2015 for offering the most comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women who are homeless and their children. The award-winning organization has graduated 1,527 homeless women and their 3,684 children. Last year, 92 percent of graduates found homes and 77 percent found jobs or enrolled in school or training. The program combines self-esteem courses, job training, health classes and support services to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and receives no government funding except for in-kind rent from the County of Sacramento. To make a donation: www.womens-empowerment.org.

United Way Helps Sacramento Region Claim $10M in Tax Refunds

Nearly 8,500 households in the Sacramento area took advantage of United Way-led free tax help programs for the 2017 tax year, resulting in more than $10 million in money claimed through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), other credits and refunds. The in-person Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, led by United Way California Capital Region with support from Citi Community Development, helped 7,422 local households, and United Way’s MyFreeTaxes.com helped 1,066 users file taxes. Thanks to two-year funding from Citi Community Development, free tax help was significantly expanded across the region in Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties this year, increasing the number of households helped by more than 2,500 and resulting in more than a $3 million increase in refunds for the region compared to last year.

A limited number of appointments are still available this summer for households looking for help with late filing and which earned $54,000 or less in 2017. IRS-certified volunteers will provide free basic tax return preparation with electronic filing and will help local households claim tax credits, including federal and state EITC, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. This year, more households are eligible to earn up to $6,500 in federal and state EITC, including those who are self-employed. To make an appointment, call 2-1-1 in Sacramento, or (916) 498-1000 if living outside the city, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

“This free tax help is crucial to ensuring our local families are financially healthy, and we are grateful to our funders and partners and 433 volunteers who have already served more than 16,000 hours to help local families,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region.

Funding support from Citi Community Development is enabling United Way California Capital Region to increase the capacity and reach of the local VITA program to meet additional need and demand this year and next. The funding is helping to expand the number of sites offering free tax preparation and to increase the number of volunteer tax preparers.

“Nearly 20 percent of households in the Sacramento region are living on low incomes, and nearly half lack the savings to sustain an unexpected shock to income,” said Vicki Joseph, Northern California market manager for Citi Community Development. “By expanding access to free tax preparation services, United Way is enabling more families in need to benefit from this vital tax credit and helping to build their financial resiliency.”

Local households that made $66,000 or less in 2017 were eligible to file state and federal taxes online for free at MyFreeTaxes.com, sponsored by United Way Worldwide. The site provided households with free tax help so they could maximize refunds and credits and save an average of $200 in preparer fees, guiding users through federal and state filing with software powered by H&R Block.

Other sponsors of United Way’s 2018 free tax preparation programs include the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, SAFE Credit Union and SMUD. For a list of collaborating partners, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/VITA.

United Way California Capital Region is leading these free tax help programs as part of its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. Household financial well-being is a key factor in student success. Through nine decades of work and research across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties, the local United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones for success in college or career. To donate or volunteer, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Citi Community Development leads Citi’s commitment to financial inclusion and economic empowerment for underserved individuals, families and communities across the U.S. Through innovative collaborations with municipalities, community groups and leading nonprofit organizations, the group harnesses Citi’s expertise, products and services to help expand opportunity for all. For more information: CitiCommunityDevelopment.com, @Citi on Twitter, YouTube.com/Citi, http://Blog.Citi.com, Facebook.com/Citi and LinkedIn.com/company/citi. 

Women’s Empowerment Receives $11,500 from American River Bank

American River Bank Foundation recently granted $11,500 to Sacramento nonprofit Women’s Empowerment to provide paid job training for homeless women through the group’s Get A Job Kit small business. Funding also will support Women’s Empowerment’s new property management training program REstart in partnership with the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) Sacramento.

“American River Bank Foundation’s funding has been absolutely vital as we’ve grown The Get A Job Kit small business over the past four years, ” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “We are so thankful to American River Bank Foundation and its continued investment in paid job training for women who are homeless. They stepped up to fund The Get A Job Kit, and now they’re making the same commitment by investing in our REstart program to train women in the field of property management.”

The Get A Job Kit was launched under Women’s Empowerment’s name in April 2014 after the business was donated by local entrepreneur Shirley Willey, who had created and run the business for nearly 25 years. The social enterprise trains graduates of Women’s Empowerment’s nine-week job-readiness program in the production, customer service, quality assurance, forklift operation, shipping and receiving industries. Over the course of five weeks, trainees are paid to assemble the Get A Job Kits, an all-in-one career organizer, to fill customer orders while receiving hands-on training, performance evaluations and relevant job experience. Since launching the small business, Women’s Empowerment has sold 15,000 Kits to high schools, veterans programs, nonprofits, vocational and technical colleges and anti-recidivism programs.

Women’s Empowerment’s recent partnership with IREM Sacramento provides Women’s Empowerment graduates with paid training in property management, a career that provides both stable employment and housing on the property being managed.

“As homelessness increases in our community, and finding affordable housing becomes even more challenging, we developed a strategic partnership that provides both income and housing,” Culp said. “We are grateful to American River Bank Foundation for seeing the value of this new, innovative training program.”

The Get A Job Kit and REstart are two components of Women’s Empowerment’s programs that end homelessness for women and children in Sacramento. Women’s Empowerment was featured on NBC’s The TODAY Show in 2015 for offering the most comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women who are homeless and their children. The award-winning organization has graduated 1,503 homeless women and their 3,600 children. Last year, 92 percent of graduates found homes and 77 percent found jobs or enrolled in school or training. The program combines self-esteem courses, job training, health classes and support services to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and receives no government funding except for in-kind rent from the County of Sacramento. To make a donation: www.womens-empowerment.org. For more information or to purchase The Get a Job Kit, visit www.getajobkit.com.

Sacramento Life Center Receives Health Care Accreditation

The Sacramento Life Center has achieved accreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care. The independent evaluation ensures the Sacramento Life Center has met nationally recognized standards for the provision of high-quality outpatient health care. Sacramento Life Center, which provides free medical care to women and couples facing an unplanned pregnancy, joins more than 6,000 ambulatory – also known as outpatient – health care organizations across the country.

“I am proud to announce that after a rigorous process, the Sacramento Life Center has received its official certificate of accreditation,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “Every day, we strive to provide the highest level of medical care to the women, teenagers and couples that walk through our doors seeking our help. This accreditation ensures Sacramento Life Center will continue to provide high-quality health services for our community.”

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 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.

The Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, founded in 1979, is the leader in ambulatory health care accreditation. The association accredits a variety of organizations including ambulatory surgery centers, office-based surgery centers, endoscopy centers, student health centers, military health care clinics, and large medical and dental practices. The association serves as an advocate for the provision of high-quality health care through the development of nationally recognized standards and through its survey and accreditation programs. This accreditation is recognized as a symbol of quality by third-party payers, medical organizations, liability insurance companies, state and federal agencies, and the public. For more information, visit www.aaahc.org.

Society for the Blind Receives $10K from Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society Alliance

Seniors with vision loss in the Sacramento region will receive assistive tools and technology, thanks to a $10,000 grant from Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society Alliance. The grant will help fund Society for the Blind’s Senior IMPACT Project that empowers people 55 and older with alternative, non-visual techniques and skills that enable them to perform day-to-day tasks and activities so they can maintain or increase their independence.

“We are so grateful to Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society Alliance for providing vital assistive tools for seniors with vision loss,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “This critical funding will provide tools like white canes and digital voice recorders so seniors losing their vision can stay independent and confident while living their lives to the fullest.”

The Senior IMPACT Project includes an eight-day retreat offered monthly at Society for the Blind that gives seniors an immersion experience where they learn alternative techniques and skills to travel safely, efficiently and independently. They practice alternative techniques and use adapted tools to perform tasks of daily living including cooking, cleaning, shopping, home maintenance, organization, personal finance and more. They learn how to use the latest in assistive technology to operate computers and mobile devices for home, school and work, and they learn Braille. Participants receive individualized attention from instructors and mentors who are blind or low vision, and they have the opportunity to join in discussion groups with peers on issues around vision loss and participate in community activities.

For those unable to attend retreats, Society for the Blind sends instructors to their homes to teach skills and offer resources. The Senior IMPACT Project also includes monthly peer support groups for English and Spanish speakers and workshops throughout the year.

For more than 60 years, 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 6,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyForTheBlind.org.

The Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society Alliance is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of health in the community through education, funding and volunteer support. For more information, visit SSVMSA.org.

Graduate Sponsors Needed for Women’s Empowerment Gala

Community members are invited to sponsor a graduate or buy tickets to attend the 17th Annual Celebration of Independence Gala that benefits Women’s Empowerment, a local nonprofit job training and empowerment program for women who are homeless and their children. The event, which raises funds for the organization and honors the group’s 1,503 graduates, will take place 5:30-8:45 p.m. on May 23 at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 2001 Point West Way, Sacramento. Guests will mingle with graduates from the program and enjoy a formal dinner, live and silent auctions, live music and presentations from the graduates.

Tickets are $125. Those who cannot attend, or wish to contribute more, can sponsor graduates to attend the event. For tickets or sponsorship opportunities, call (916) 669-2307 or visit www.womens-empowerment.org.

Women’s Empowerment also will announce the winner of the 2018 To Heal the World Award. This award, created in honor of their founding social worker, Erie Shockey, recognizes a local hero who inspires others to engage in social change and makes the Sacramento community a better place for all.

“This event is truly the bridge that connects donors with women who have overcome homelessness thanks to their generosity,” said Lisa Culp, executive director of Women’s Empowerment. “The Annual Gala is our largest fundraiser of the year, but it also brings the community together to celebrate these incredible women who have risen from homelessness, rejoined our workforce and broken the cycle of homelessness so that their children can succeed. ”

Women’s Empowerment was featured on NBC’s The TODAY Show in 2015 for offering the most comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women who are homeless and their children. The award-winning organization has graduated 1,503 homeless women and 3,600 children. Last year, 92 percent of graduates found homes and 77 percent found jobs or enrolled in school or training. The program combines self-esteem courses, job training, health classes and support services to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and receives no government funding except for in-kind rent from the County of Sacramento. To make a donation: www.womens-empowerment.org.

Women’s Empowerment Receives $25K From Save Mart

Save Mart Companies C.A.R.E.S. Foundation recently presented Women’s Empowerment with a grant for $25,000 to support health and employment programs for homeless women. Funds will provide weekly domestic violence support groups, cooking and nutrition classes, and wellness and recovery groups. Funds also will support onsite employment specialists and social workers who help homeless women secure employment, regain housing and create a healthier lifestyle.

“The majority of our students are survivors of domestic violence, and many struggle with substance abuse, mental health challenges, diabetes and high blood pressure,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “We believe that employment is the best long-term solution to ending homelessness, but securing a job first starts with ensuring you can be a healthy, active employee. We are so grateful to Save Mart for continuing to prioritize the health of homeless women and children in our community.”

The grant check was presented by Victoria Castro, Save Mart Companies public affairs manager, and Andy Butler, Save Mart store manager, at a Women’s Empowerment graduation ceremony.

“Through the Save Mart C.A.R.E.S. Foundation, The Save Mart Companies has had the pleasure of working with Women’s Empowerment for the past eight years,” Castro said. “We are so proud to partner with such an amazing group like Women’s Empowerment with all of the invaluable services they provide to the community.”

Women’s Empowerment was featured on NBC’s The TODAY Show in 2015 for offering the most comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women who are homeless and their children. The award-winning organization has graduated 1,503 homeless women and their 3,600 children. Last year, 92 percent of graduates found homes and 77 percent found jobs or enrolled in school or training. The program combines self-esteem courses, job training, health classes and support services to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and receives no government funding except for in-kind rent from the County of Sacramento. To make a donation: www.womens-empowerment.org.

Society for the Blind Receives $15K From Whitmire Family Foundation

Seniors with vision loss in the Sacramento region will have greater access to tools for independence, thanks to a $15,000 grant from M&M Whitmire Family Foundation in Roseville to Sacramento-based nonprofit Society for the Blind. The grant will help fund Society for the Blind’s Senior IMPACT Project that empowers people 55 and older with alternative, non-visual techniques and skills that enable them to perform day-to-day tasks and activities so they can maintain or increase their independence.

“As the senior population continues to grow rapidly in Sacramento, it is imperative that we provide services that help them stay as independent as possible,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “When seniors begin to lose vision, they are not only three times more likely to fall and experience injury, they often feel profound loneliness. This grant from the M&M Whitmire Family Foundation helps us ensure they have a support system so they can feel hope and possibility.”

The Senior IMPACT Project includes an eight-day retreat offered monthly at Society for the Blind that gives seniors an immersion experience where they learn alternative techniques and skills to travel safely, efficiently and independently. They practice alternative techniques and use adapted tools to perform tasks of daily living including cooking, cleaning, shopping, home maintenance, organization, personal finance and more. They learn how to use the latest in assistive technology to operate computers and mobile devices for home, school and work, and they learn Braille. Participants receive individualized attention from instructors and mentors who are blind or low vision, and they have the opportunity to join in discussion groups with peers on issues around vision loss and participate in community activities.

For those unable to attend retreats, Society for the Blind sends instructors to their homes to teach skills and offer resources. The Senior IMPACT Project also includes monthly peer support groups for English and Spanish speakers and workshops throughout the year.

For more than 60 years, 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 that included the Lions Clubs of America 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 6,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyForTheBlind.org.

The M&M Whitmire Family Foundation’s purpose is to assist children in need and senior care within the Sacramento area. For more information, call (916) 660-0573.

Society for the Blind Expands Onsite Retail Store Through New Partnership

Sacramento region residents with vision loss will have greater access to low-vision and blindness technology and products thanks to a new partnership between Sacramento nonprofit Society for the Blind and North State Assistive Technology in Chico that began Feb. 1. Through the partnership, Society for the Blind’s onsite retail store at 1238 S Street in Sacramento is now open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday and will include weekend and evening appointments. The store, now called North State Assistive Technology at Society for the Blind, offers an expanded collection of assistive technology products with better pricing, in-home delivery and set-up, training and online shopping. For more information, visit SocietyForTheBlind.org/Store.

“This partnership ensures a one-of-a-kind retail store for our region that continues to offer products and devices for people with vision loss while also expanding to provide even better service to the many Sacramento region residents who are learning how to achieve fulfilling lives with vision loss,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind.

The expanded store features products and devices for people with low vision and those with no functional vision, including canes, talking clocks and calculators, kitchen products, and various video imaging and optical reader devices.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to bring more products and services to people living with low vision and blindness throughout all of Northern California,” said Cory Hanosh, owner, North State Assistive Technology.

For more than 60 years, 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 that included the Lions Clubs of America 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 6,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyForTheBlind.org.

North State Assistive Technology is an industry leader and statewide resource for products, technology assessments and training on devices for people living with vision loss. For more information, visit NorthStateAT.com.