Sacramento Life Center’s Baby Basket Drive Raises Most Funds Ever

The Sacramento Life Center’s third annual Baby Basket Drive for new moms raised the most funds of all three years, totaling $8,470, which will buy 170 baskets in 2017. The drive is held each December to kickstart the 500 baby baskets needed so that every Sacramento Life Center patient who gives birth in the coming year can receive a basket of needed items, including formula, diapers, newborn clothes, pacifiers and more.

Donations will be accepted throughout 2017 and can be made online at www.saclife.org by writing Baby Basket Drive in the message box on the donation page. Gifts can be made in any increment, but a donation of $50 buys one basket.

“Many of our patients come in scared that they might be pregnant, and it’s our job to provide them with a warm, caring support system and resources that will sustain them long after the baby comes,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “We want to encourage women, teen girls and their partners that they are capable of caring for a child. These baskets give new parents a boost of confidence along with much needed supplies.”

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.

Women’s Empowerment Receives $25K From Save Mart CARES

Save Mart CARES has donated $25,000 to help homeless women in Sacramento find homes and jobs to support their families through Women’s Empowerment’s comprehensive job readiness program. The mission of Women’s Empowerment aligns closely with the mission of Save Mart CARES, which supports programs that have a record of results and contribute to the advancement of community, arts, recreation, education or sports. 

“A significant measure of a community’s health is how many of its residents are employed,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “Women who experience homelessness face profound barriers in their search for employment, so we empower them with tools to overcome those hurdles and secure jobs that will support their families. We are grateful to Save Mart CARES for recognizing that when women rise from homelessness, the entire community rises with them.”

In Women’s Empowerment’s initial eight-week program, women who are homeless receive free onsite child care in the group’s child development center and transportation assistance. Each woman works with a master’s level social worker to address her root causes of homelessness. She attends classes on job readiness, confidence building, health and empowerment, as well as support groups for domestic violence and substance abuse. Women then focus on job placement with their employment specialist and volunteer career mentor. Women who have graduated from the eight-week program can enroll in the group’s graduate services at any point in their lives when they need assistance. Services include paid job training, vocational certifications, counseling with a social worker and employment specialist, access to a professional clothing closet, financial coaching and job retention services for employer and employee.  

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 1,386 homeless women and their 3,750 children. Last year, 92 percent of graduates found homes and 81 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. 

Save Mart CARES is a 501c3 charitable organization focused on supporting community, arts, recreation, education and sports. The foundation was created by Save Mart Supermarkets and operates with a separate board of directors maintaining a separate focus on supporting the company’s principle of giving back to the communities it serves. For more information, visit www.savemart.com/community/cares-foundation

Free Tax Help for Sacramento and Placer Families

VITA volunteer helps a local resident file her taxes through United Way-led programs

Local households that earned $54,000 or less in 2016 can receive free tax help in person through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance effort led by United Way California Capital Region in Sacramento and Placer counties. The program will kick off with a Super Saturday event from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Jan. 28 at Grant Union High School in Sacramento, where IRS-certified volunteers will provide free basic tax return preparation with electronic filing. Volunteers will inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify, such as the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and Cal EITC), Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.

For information and a list of Super Saturday events and weekday tax help sites, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org/VITA or call (916) 498-1000. Sacramento residents can call 2-1-1. VITA is a national IRS program that offers free help to people who make a limited income and need help preparing their tax returns.

Local households that made $64,000 or less in 2016 can qualify to file their state and federal taxes online for free at MyFreeTaxes.com, sponsored by United Way Worldwide. The site provides local residents with free, easy tax help they can trust so they can maximize refunds and credits. The site helps people save an average of $200 in tax preparer fees, guiding users through federal and state filing with software powered by H&R Block. Users need a valid email address and income forms. The nine-year-old program is available in all 50 states.

“We want to make sure more Sacramento-area households are financially healthy, and that starts with not spending unnecessary money on tax preparation and making sure they receive all of the refunds to which they are entitled,” said Stephanie Bray, United Way California Capital Region president and CEO.

Both the in-person and online filing opportunities are designed to help households receive the maximum credit of $6,000 through EITC and Cal EITC. This is the second year that California is offering a state Earned Income Tax Credit to benefit California’s working families. Many Cal EITC-eligible households are not legally required to file taxes due to low income, however if they do file, they can claim state and federal EITC credits for which they are eligible. Those who file for EITC, Cal EITC or the Child Tax Credit should plan for their refund to be delayed, as a law requires the IRS to hold those refunds until Feb. 15.

“We want to encourage people to plan ahead for this delay instead of signing a refund anticipation loan that will end up being very costly in the long run,” Bray said. “And don’t pay a preparer if you qualify for free services. You won’t receive your refund sooner.”

Sponsors of United Way’s tax help programs include the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, SAFE Credit Union, SMUD, United Way California Capital Region and Wells Fargo. For a list of partners, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org/VITA.

United Way California Capital Region is leading these tax help programs to ensure more households are financially healthy. This work is part of United Way’s 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. Through nine decades of work and research across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties, the local United Way now believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones for success in college. Household financial well-being is a key factor in student success. To donate or volunteer, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org.

United Way Honors Five Local Donors and Volunteers

Five of United Way California Capital Region’s donors and volunteers were honored by the local nonprofit last week for their commitment to United Way’s Square One Project that is ensuring local students graduate from high school prepared for success in college and beyond. Honorees included Al Goldberg of Natomas, Amber Lovett of East Sacramento, Jim Shetler of Galt and Sandy Smoley of Midtown Sacramento. Del Paso Heights-based Dr. Pepper Snapple Group was United Way’s fifth honoree.

At the recognition event held at restaurant Mulvaney’s B&L in Midtown Sacramento, United Way California Capital Region President and CEO Stephanie Bray told the guests and honorees, “All of you in this room have played a powerful role in changing people’s lives this year. None of this would have been possible without your time and financial commitments, which will continue to fuel our Square One Project in coming years.”

Goldberg was named Young Leaders Society Member of the Year for his dedication to United Way’s Young Leaders Society by reaching out to new members, promoting events and bringing ideas to the group. Lovett received the Women in Philanthropy Member of the Year Award for her work getting United Way’s Women in Philanthropy off the ground 15 years ago and her continued dedication to the group as a donor. Shetler received the Boje and Price Award for Outstanding Volunteerism for his service on the group’s board of directors creating a five-year strategic plan in addition to being a top United Way donor. Smoley received the Frances Wisebart Jacobs Live United Award for her longtime commitment to United Way since 1967 through a women’s group, leadership on the board of directors and donations to United Way’s Women in Philanthropy.

Dr. Pepper Snapple Group was honored with the Cornerstone Award for achieving outstanding results in the company’s United Way campaign and making volunteerism and community engagement part of its company culture. The company has contributed countless volunteers and more than $273,000 over the last five years.

“I know we have a bright year ahead as we continue to work together to make sure kids succeed in school and beyond,” Bray said. “But it’s going to take all of us. By bringing together companies, schools, government and individuals across the region we know that we can bring about that change.”

United Way California Capital Region has launched the 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. Through nine decades of work and research across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties, the local United Way now believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones for success in college. To donate or volunteer, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org.

Local Runners Invited to Lou Gehrig Roseville Run for a Cure Jan. 7

Local runners looking for training opportunities can sign up for the ninth annual Lou Gehrig Roseville Run for a Cure on Jan. 7, which is professionally timed by Rich Hanna and his Capital Road Race Management Team and benefits The ALS Association Greater Sacramento Chapter that is working to cure Lou Gehrig’s disease. Area residents also can sign up for the event, which includes a 5K and 10K walk/run and a half-mile kid’s fun run. Lou Gehrig Roseville Run for a Cure will begin at Sculpture Park in Roseville and travel along the Miners Ravine Trail to Sierra College.

“This event gives runners the chance to train in a professionally timed race while also raising funds to fight Lou Gehrig’s disease, which affects so many families in the greater Sacramento area,” said Wendy Ehlen, race founder. “The best part is 100 percent of the proceeds go directly to The ALS Association, so you know every step you take in this race makes a difference.”

The event, which now offers team signups, will include prizes for each age category and a raffle, and will happen rain or shine. To register: www.lougehrigrunroseville.com.

The ALS Association is leading the fight to treat and cure ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, through global research and nationwide advocacy while also empowering people with the disease and their families to live fuller lives by providing them with compassionate care and support. The local chapter of the organization best known for its Ice Bucket Challenge fundraiser serves 24 Northern California counties. To make a donation, visit www.alssac.org.

Society for the Blind Telephone Reading Service Expands to Humboldt Area

Society for the Blind and Reading Service of the Redwoods staff work together in the Arcata recording booth.

Reading Service of the Redwoods will continue to operate for residents of Humboldt, Mendocino and Del Norte counties who have low vision when it joins Society for the Blind’s Access News telephone reading service in Sacramento. Beginning January 1, 2017, Society for the Blind will operate the service for residents of those counties who are blind, have low vision or are unable to read print materials due to illness or disabilities.

“We are delighted that Society for the Blind is able to incorporate our long-standing service to the Humboldt community into their Access News telephone reader service so we can still bring them local news,” said Joan Sikkens, executive director of Reading Service of the Redwoods, who will be retiring at the end of December. “This truly shows the power of collaboration.”

Sikkens, Doug Rose and a team of volunteers created Reading Service of the Redwoods in 1998, and the program reaches 200 people. Funded in part through a grant from the California State Braille and Talking Book Library, Society for the Blind’s Access News Program has been serving people with vision loss and other reading challenges for 20 years. Access News reaches 2,000 listeners each year.

“People who are blind or have low vision can feel very isolated,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “To be able to call Access News and hear a live voice giving local and regional news and information helps people stay connected.”

Volunteers in Humboldt, Mendocino and Del Norte counties will continue to record newspapers and local publications, but listeners also will be able to hear more regional and national publications as part of Access News.

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 26-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 www.SocietyfortheBlind.org.

Women’s Empowerment Receives $30K in Grants

Three foundations each recently awarded $10,000 to Sacramento nonprofit Women’s Empowerment that educates and empowers women who are homeless to find a safe home, steady job and healthy lifestyle. The grant from Kaiser Permanente funds the nonprofit’s support groups for women who have faced domestic violence and substance abuse. Bank of America granted funds for Women’s Empowerment’s job training programs, and Arata Brothers Trust provided funding for the group’s overall program.

“We rely on the community to fund our comprehensive approach to ending homelessness for women and children, and we are fortunate to live in a community that does just that,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “We are grateful to Kaiser, Bank of America and Arata Brothers Trust for providing steadfast funding that helps women overcome the many barriers to homelessness and transform their lives.”

In Women’s Empowerment’s initial eight-week program, women who are homeless receive free onsite child care in the group’s child development center and transportation assistance. Each woman works with a master’s level social worker to address her root causes of homelessness. She attends classes on job readiness, confidence building, health and empowerment, as well as support groups for domestic violence and substance abuse. Women then focus on job placement with their employment specialist and volunteer career mentor. Women who have graduated from the eight-week program can enroll in the group’s graduate services at any point in their lives when they need assistance. Services include paid job training, vocational certifications, counseling with a social worker and employment specialist, access to a professional clothing closet, financial coaching and job retention services for employer and employee.

Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, Women’s Empowerment was recently featured on NBC’s TODAY Show and on CNN.com for offering the most comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women who are homeless and their children. The 2014 Organization of the Year has graduated 1,367 homeless women and their 3,500 children. Last year, 93 percent of graduates found homes and 83 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.

 

 

Baby Baskets Needed for New Moms at Sacramento Life Center

Sacramento Life Center client receives a baby basket donated by the community.

As local women and teens spend the holidays preparing to become new moms in the coming year, the Sacramento Life Center is holding its annual Baby Basket Drive through Dec. 31 so it can continue to provide a basket of needed items to every patient who gives birth in 2017. Donations can be made online at www.saclife.org. Gifts can be made in any increment, but a donation of $50 buys one basket, which includes formula, diapers, newborn clothes, pacifiers and more.

“Many of our patients come in scared that they might be pregnant, and it’s our job to provide them with a warm, caring support system and resources that will sustain them long after the baby comes,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “We want to encourage women, teen girls and their partners that they are capable of caring for a child. These baskets give new parents a boost of confidence along with much needed supplies.”

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.

Give Holiday Stockings to Formerly Homeless Women and Children

Women's Empowerment graduate receives holiday stocking

You can bring smiles to formerly homeless women and children this holiday season by contributing to Women’s Empowerment’s annual Holiday Stocking Drive. The group is seeking 200 unstuffed stockings and specific fillers for local infants and toddlers, children, teens and adult women.

“There is nothing like hearing the squeals of joy from children and their mothers who have gone from having nothing to now having a place to call home during the holidays and cheerful stockings to hang in their homes,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “But these stockings not only bring joy, they give these families necessary items so they can stay healthy and warm this winter as they rebuild their lives.”

For the list of items needed, visit www.womens-empowerment.org. Those interested also can donate $35 to have a volunteer elf fill a stocking or donate $15 Target gift cards. Items are needed by Dec. 7 and can be dropped off at 1590 North A Street, Sacramento.

Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, Women’s Empowerment was recently featured on NBC’s The TODAY Show for offering the most comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women who are homeless and their children. The 2014 Organization of the Year has graduated 1,367 homeless women and their 3,700 children. Last year, 93 percent of graduates found homes and 83 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.

Holiday Opportunities Abound at United Way’s Online Volunteer Center

Looking for holiday donation and volunteer opportunities? Visit United Way California Capital Region’s online Volunteer Center at www.yourlocalunitedway.org to find more than a dozen needs in one place. Holiday volunteers and donors are encouraged to post photos of their work on social media using #happy2help.

“The Sacramento region is filled with generous people wanting to give back during the holidays, so we’ve gathered numerous opportunities in our online Volunteer Center to make it easy to choose the project you’re most passionate about,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region.

Anyone can sign up to volunteer or donate, and most nonprofits across the region are eligible to add their volunteer opportunities, and can do so through the website. For questions, contact volunteer@uwccr.org.

United Way launched its online Volunteer Center in 2014 to provide an organized, community-wide portal that connects the Sacramento region’s volunteer and donor base with United Way’s 160 local nonprofit partners and other local organizations. The center is designed to connect individual donors and volunteers, as well as corporate or group volunteers, with opportunities of all sizes and commitments throughout the year. Community members can log onto the website and create a profile that lists their interests, become fans of participating nonprofits, join volunteer groups, donate unused materials and household items to nonprofits in need, learn about upcoming special events and fundraisers, and advocate for causes. The center was partly launched in response to United Way’s 450 corporate partners looking for a coordinated way to engage employees in corporate social responsibility through volunteer work, donation opportunities and events.

United Way’s Volunteer Center is part of United Way’s Square One Project, which recognizes the importance of volunteers in making sure nonprofits and schools are equipped to provide a full support system for kids. The Square One Project is a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. Through nine decades of work and research across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties, the local United Way now believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones for success in college. To donate or volunteer, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org.