United Way Women Collect Hundreds of Towels for Local Foster Youth

United Way’s Women in Philanthropy and members of the community donated 360 towel sets, 100 pieces of luggage and hundreds of toiletries for local foster youth preparing to move out on their own. The items from United Way’s Women in Philanthropy Spring Drive were donated to Sacramento County’s Foster Youth Emancipation Basket program for more than 260 local foster youth getting ready to leave the system. More than a dozen volunteers came together in late April to package the towel sets and write notes of encouragement to each of the foster youth who will receive an emancipation basket

“It was incredible to see so many people from the community come together to support local foster kids, many of whom are getting ready to move out with nothing but the clothes on their backs,” said Romy Cody, member of United Way’s Women in Philanthropy Leadership Council. “Luggage, toiletries and towels are tangible items that many of us take for granted but will mean a better start for these resilient kids transitioning to adulthood.” 

United Way’s Women in Philanthropy brings local women together to end poverty for local foster youth by helping them become financially prepared for life after foster care. This focus is part of the Square One Project, United Way’s 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 believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones to prepare for success in college or career. To learn more about United Way’s Women in Philanthropy, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org

The ALS Association in Sacramento Adds First Development Director

Trish Ellis of Yuba City has been hired as The ALS Association Greater Sacramento Chapter’s first director of development, overseeing the local chapter’s fundraising efforts to find a cure for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in the greater Sacramento region.

“I’ve always been involved with nonprofit organizations and fundraising – my mom ran her own organization while I was growing up, so it’s in my blood,” Ellis said. “I fell into development work through volunteering, and while I will always be a volunteer at heart, I love being on staff to fundraise professionally. The opportunity to work with The ALS Association’s local team to create a world without ALS is a dream job for me.”

Ellis is a United States Air Force veteran and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Brandman University, based in Irvine, Calif. Prior to her work at The ALS Association, Ellis served as senior development officer with the California Waterfowl Association in Roseville.

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 and is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.alssac.org.

Sac’s Society for the Blind to Compete in National Fitness Challenge

Sacramento nonprofit Society for the Blind is one of 13 groups across the nation – and one of only three in California – that are competing in the United States Association of Blind Athletes’ and Anthem Blue Cross Foundation’s fifth annual National Fitness Challenge. Society for the Blind and its competitors will provide more than 300 blind and visually impaired youth and adults with an opportunity to increase their physical fitness levels and live healthier, more active lives. Other California participants are Junior Blind in Los Angeles and Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in the Bay Area.

“We are pleased to again partner with USABA to help break down barriers, and leverage technology to help those with vision impairments enjoy the physical and emotional benefits of exercise,” said Brian Ternan, president of Anthem Blue Cross. “Together, we want to ensure that those with visual impairments are not denied the opportunity to lead an active life and have the opportunity to avoid the health risks that come from a sedentary lifestyle.”

Research has consistently shown that individuals who participate in regular physical activity to improve their health have higher energy levels, a lower risk of health-related diseases, improved psychological health, and lower rates of depression and anxiety. Because of the many barriers and misconceptions about their abilities, approximately 70 percent of the nearly 56,000 children and youth who are blind and visually impaired in the United States do not participate in even a limited physical education curriculum.

When the National Fitness Challenge kicked off in Sacramento this spring, participants who signed up with Society for the Blind had a number of physically challenging activities to look forward to. In efforts to increase participants’ levels and step counts, staff at Society for the Blind will be working with dance instructors, personal trainers, judo instructors and more. In addition to raising their overall physical activity, participants will also become more aware of opportunities in their community.

“Society for the Blind is honored and excited to again be a part of the National Fitness Challenge,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director. “This partnership with USABA and Anthem raises awareness and, more importantly, participation of people with vision loss in health and fitness activities. We look forward to friendly challenges among our fellow participating agencies as we increase the physical fitness and overall health and wellness of our participants.”

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: www.SocietyfortheBlind.org.

Since its founding in 1976, USABA, a community-based organization of the United States Olympic Committee, has reached more than 100,000 blind individuals. The organization has emerged as more than just a world-class trainer of blind athletes, it has become a champion of the abilities of Americans who are legally blind with a mission to enhance the lives of blind and visually impaired people by providing the opportunity for participation in sports and physical activity. For more information: www.usaba.org, www.twitter.com/USABA or on Facebook as United States Association of Blind Athletes.

In addition to grant funding, Anthem Blue Cross Foundation will provide volunteers at events across the state during the nine-month program. Local employees will have the opportunity to meet participants and help them achieve their health and wellness goals.

Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Association promotes Anthem Blue Cross’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that the company serves. The foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Associate Giving program and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates’ pledges.

®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross names and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association. Anthem Blue Cross is the trade name of Blue Cross of California. Anthem Blue Cross and Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Association. For more information: www.twitter.com/AskAnthem, www.twitter.com/AnthemBC_News or www.facebook.com/AskAnthem.

Tickets on sale for Women’s Empowerment’s Annual Gala

Community members are invited to the 16th 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 1,411 graduates, will take place 5:30-8:45 p.m. on May 17 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 a graduate to attend the event. For tickets or sponsorship opportunities, call (916) 669-2307 or visit www.womens-empowerment.org.

“This event is like no other in Sacramento,” said Lisa Culp, executive director of Women’s Empowerment. “Rarely will you attend a fundraiser where donors and community members have the chance to meet and talk with women who have overcome homelessness. It’s our largest fundraiser of the year, but it’s also a night filled with laughter, tears and joy as we celebrate the incredible women who have shared their journeys with us.”

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 1,411 homeless women and their 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.

Heroes Walk for Life to Raise Funds for Low Income Pregnant Women

Local residents are invited to dress up as their favorite superheroes and join Sacramento Life Center’s Heroes Walk for Life on May 20 at Maidu Park in Roseville from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The 2K and 5K walk and fun run will raise funds for free pregnancy services at the Sacramento Life Center, benefiting low-income pregnant women and teens. The family-friendly event will include a rally, toddler dash, bounce house, face painting, crafts, magic show, and capes and masks for kids. Registration is $30, but free for kids ages 12 and under. For more information, to sign up or to make a donation, visit www.walkingheroes.org.

“This is a great opportunity for families, individuals and teams to be heroes for mothers and babies in need of care,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “This will be a fun day celebrating the amazing work being done in our community to ensure low-income pregnant women and teens are well cared for.”

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 testing, STI testing, ultrasounds, advocacy 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.

Donate Towels, Toiletries and Luggage for Foster Youth Today!

Local residents can donate new towels, toiletries and luggage for local foster youth through United Way’s Women in Philanthropy Spring Drive happening through end of today. Items will be donated through Sacramento County’s Foster Youth Emancipation Basket program to more than 260 local foster youth preparing to leave the system and live on their own for the first time. Donations can be purchased from the Amazon wishlist at www.yourlocalunitedway.org/spring-drive or can be dropped off at United Way’s office at 10389 Old Placerville Road in Sacramento before 7:30 p.m. Volunteers are needed from 5-7:30 p.m. at United Way’s office to package the donations.

United Way’s Women in Philanthropy brings local women together to end poverty for local foster youth by helping them become financially prepared for life after foster care. This focus is part of the Square One Project, United Way’s 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 believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones to prepare for success in college or career. To learn more about United Way’s Women in Philanthropy, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org.

Women’s Empowerment Receives $32,500 in Grants

Borchard Foundation, American River Bank and State Farm recently gave grants to Women’s Empowerment’s comprehensive job-readiness programs for women who are homeless. Borchard Foundation donated $12,500 and American River Bank and State Farm each donated $10,000.

“The work we do relies on community donations,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “It’s heartening to see these three organizations step forward with substantial gifts that will ensure more women can break the cycle of homelessness for themselves, their children and generations to come. We are extremely grateful to Borchard Foundation, American River Bank and State Farm for their generosity and care for the women and children in our community.”

In Women’s Empowerment’s initial nine-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 nine-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 1,411 homeless women and their thousands of children since 2001. 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.

United Way Recognizes AmeriCorps VISTA Members During National AmeriCorps Week

From leading the business arm of a local nonprofit to serving summer meals to kids, 40 AmeriCorps VISTA members will dedicate a year or a summer to serving the Sacramento region as part of the AmeriCorps VISTA program led locally by United Way California Capital Region. United Way is celebrating these 40 individuals this week as part of National AmeriCorps Week, running March 4-11.

“These young people dedicate a summer or a year of their lives to bringing change to local communities across the nation,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “Many are assigned to projects far from where they grew up. They gain valuable experience through their service to communities in need. Here in Sacramento, many nonprofit organizations rely on these dedicated individuals.”

The AmeriCorps VISTA program in the Sacramento region, as well as the service of this region’s members, is valued at $419,000. Members are serving locally at Communities and Health Professionals Together/UC Davis Pediatrics, Health Education Council, Lutheran Social Services, Opening Doors, PRO Youth and Families, Sacramento Loaves and Fishes, Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness, Sacramento Self Help Housing, United Way California Capital Region, Wellspring Women’s Center, WIND Youth Services, Women’s Empowerment and Woodland United Way.

“With this program rumored to be on the Trump administration’s chopping block, it’s more important than ever to make sure people know how incredibly valuable AmeriCorps VISTA members are to our community and the work of nonprofits in our region. Their service is vital to our community’s health,” Bray said.

VISTA was founded in 1965 as a national service program to fight poverty in America. In 1993, VISTA was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs under the umbrella of the Corporation for National and Community Service. AmeriCorps VISTA taps the skills, talents and passion of more than 8,000 Americans annually to support community efforts to overcome poverty. Members make a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit or public agency. They focus their efforts to build the organizational, administrative and financial capacity of organizations that fight illiteracy, improve health services, foster economic development and otherwise assist low-income communities. For more information: www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/americorps-vista.

United Way California Capital Region is leading the AmeriCorps VISTA program in the Sacramento region as part of its efforts to increase capacity at local nonprofits and schools for its Square One Project, United Way’s 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. 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 www.yourlocalunitedway.org.

 

Society for the Blind Receives $20K From US Bank

US Bank recently gave $20,000 to Society for the Blind in Sacramento to help fund its job-readiness programs for youth and adults with low or no vision.

“The unemployment rate is 70 percent for people with vision loss, so we are especially grateful to US Bank for acknowledging this gap and helping to fund our programs that will help youth and adults with low or no vision land good jobs,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind.

Society for the Blind’s job-readiness programs assist transition-age youth and working-age adults in career planning, setting and meeting educational goals, job placement and coaching. Programs include job exploration counseling and work-based learning experiences. Participants with little or no work experience learn workplace readiness skills and are placed in internships prior to career exploration.

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 www.SocietyfortheBlind.org.

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.