Nonprofit News

Society for the Blind Joins National Fitness Challenge

Society for the Blind, a Sacramento-based nonprofit serving blind and low vision people in Northern California, has received a grant from Anthem Blue Cross and CareMore Foundations to create opportunities for individuals to participate in the National Fitness Challenge, an initiative founded by the United States Association of Blind Athletes and the parent Foundation of Anthem Blue Cross and CareMore. Society for the Blind is one of 17 organizations across the nation that is participating in the National Fitness Challenge and is using grant funding to offer adaptive yoga classes, walking groups, running clinics and other sports and fitness activities that can help people who are blind or low-vision to maximize healthy lifestyles. These activities will be offered over the course of eight months to help hundreds of youth and adults to increase physical fitness levels and live healthier lives.

“The goal of the National Fitness Challenge is to help people with visual disabilities to live more active lifestyles,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “The program launched during Blindness Awareness Month in October, and through May 31, 2019, will highlight what people with visual disabilities can do, rather than what they cannot do. We are lucky to live in an age where a person with vision loss can achieve most anything they set their mind to doing, and we are grateful to Anthem Blue Cross Foundation and CareMore Foundation for helping us to empower this year’s participants.”

This year’s challenge integrates technology and social media to inspire participants to set goals, create team environments and encourage leadership. Each participant has been provided with a Fitbit Flex 2 wearable – a universal way to measure activities, calories burned and number of steps taken. Participants also have the opportunity to utilize Fitbit Coach, which is a personalized training app that provides adaptive video workouts and audio coaching. Foundation grant funding is being used to provide Fitbits, fitness and nutritional instruction, performance prizes as well as technical and financial support for all participants.

“Research has consistently shown that individuals who participate in regular physical activity to improve their health have higher energy levels, lower risk of health-related diseases, improved psychological health, and lower rates of depression and anxiety,” said Ricardo Young, CareMore Health Medical Director. “We are proud to support members of the Society for the Blind through our collaboration with the National Fitness Challenge, and to create access to activities supporting healthier individuals and stronger communities.”

More than half of those who are blind or low vision in the United States do not participate in even a limited physical fitness routine, mostly due to barriers to accessible fitness or misconceptions about their abilities. Individuals of all abilities should have equal opportunities to engage in activities that improve health outcomes, so the National Fitness Challenge aims to increase access to fitness and health for blind and low vision people.

“Anthem Blue Cross Foundation is committed to removing barriers and increasing access to critical programs and services that help individuals and communities to lead healthier lives,” said Dr. Barsam Kasravi, Interim Anthem Blue Cross Medicaid Plan President. “We are proud of our Foundation’s ongoing support of people with visual disabilities and are confident that this support will go a long way in helping Californians to improve their overall wellness while enjoying the physical and emotional benefits of exercise and group sports.”

Since 2011, the parent Foundation of Anthem Blue Cross and CareMore has provided $1.3 million in grant funding to U.S. Association of Blind Athletes for the National Fitness Challenge initiative and has impacted thousands of Americans with visual disabilities by partnering with 40 different agencies across the country. To learn more about the National Fitness Challenge, visit www.usaba.org/NationalFitnessChallenge.

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 more than 5,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information: SocietyfortheBlind.org.

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 healthcare 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 that provides a 50 percent match of associates’ pledges, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross names and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association.

The CareMore Foundation is the philanthropic arm of CareMore Health, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anthem, Inc. Together, with local, regional and national organizations, the CareMore Foundation works to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in the communities that CareMore serves. CareMore Foundation funding is focused on strategic initiatives working to address and provide innovative solutions for complex health conditions like diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and congestive heart failure, and those promoting prevention and healthy aging. It also supports programs and initiatives addressing social determinants and barriers to quality care.  CareMore Foundation also promotes the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative with five areas of focus: Healthy Heart, Cancer Prevention, Healthy Maternal Practices, Type 2 Diabetes Prevention and Healthy Active Lifestyle.

Donate Gifts and Stockings for Foster Youth Through United Way

Many Sacramento-area children uprooted from their homes this holiday season and placed in foster care will enter the system too late to sign up for gift donations through Sacramento County Child Protective Services. To fill this need, United Way California Capital Region has expanded its Holiday Gift and Stocking Drive focus to include these children. Local residents can join United Way’s Women United and Young Leaders Society action groups in spreading holiday cheer to foster youth by purchasing gifts from United Way’s Amazon wishlist, donating $25 for a filled holiday stocking, or giving the Ultimate Gift Package – a $100 donation that provides a filled stocking and gift for foster youth, as well as a donation to United Way California Capital Region. To learn more about United Way’s Holiday Gift and Stocking Drive, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org.

“Most nonprofits have to begin creating gift donation drives in the fall. That means many children uprooted from their homes through no fault of their own in the last couple months of the year will not receive a gift or stocking – that is unacceptable, so we’re filling that gap,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “All children in our community deserve to feel cared for during the holidays, no matter where they live.”

A donation of $25 purchases one holiday stocking filled with personal items, a gift card, gloves and a blanket. Holiday gifts purchased through United Way’s Amazon Wishlist must be new, unused, unwrapped and received by Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. at United Way’s office, 10389 Old Placerville Road, Sacramento.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending generational poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation: www.yourlocalunitedway.org.

Be Baby’s First Santa: Baby Basket Drive for Sacramento Life Center

Local residents are invited to be a baby’s first Santa as Sacramento Life Center holds its annual Baby Basket Drive for local women and teens spending the holidays preparing to become new moms in the coming year. The drive runs through Dec. 31 so the Sacramento Life Center can provide a basket of needed items to every patient who gives birth in 2019. 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.

“One of the most overwhelming feelings is learning that you’re pregnant and fearing you won’t have the resources to care for your vulnerable baby,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “Sometimes something as simple as a gift of diapers and newborn clothes can give expecting mothers the confidence that they have a support system to help raise their child. Gifts to our Baby Basket Drive give expecting mothers proof that they will always have a family here at the Sacramento Life Center and supporters out in the community rooting for their family.”

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 experiencing 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.

Filled Stockings Needed for Formerly Homeless Women and Kids in Sacramento

Women's Empowerment graduate receives holiday stocking

Local residents can bring smiles to formerly homeless women and children in Sacramento this holiday season by contributing to Women’s Empowerment’s annual Holiday Stocking Drive. The group is seeking 250 unstuffed stockings and specific fillers for local infants and toddlers, children, teens and adult women by Dec. 5. For the list of items needed: www.womens-empowerment.org.

“The women and children in our program have known the coldest, loneliest holiday seasons. The community’s simple gift of stockings brings immeasurable joy along with warm winter accessories as they celebrate their first holiday season in a home they can call their own,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment.

Those interested also can donate $40 to have a volunteer elf fill a stocking or donate $15 Target gift cards. Items can be dropped off at 1590 North A Street in Sacramento, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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 1,543 homeless women and their 3,710 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.

Sac Artists and Singers Go Underground to Raise Funds for Women’s Empowerment

Community members are invited to go underground on Oct. 27 to attend Cabaret on K, an evening of musical performances with a nod to Halloween, featuring a haunting mix of cabaret, jazz, classical and musical theatre pieces by Sacramento group Rogue Music Project. Guests are welcome to come in costume and will enjoy complimentary desserts and drinks for purchase.

The event, sponsored by Capital Public Radio, will take place in the Capitol Plaza Ballrooms basement, 1025 9th Street in Sacramento, and will raise funds for Women’s Empowerment’s job-readiness programs for homeless women and the group’s onsite center for homeless children. Nearly a dozen local artists will display and sell their work, with 50 percent of art proceeds donated to Women’s Empowerment. Tickets are $50 at www.womens-empowerment.org. Guests must be age 21 or older.

“Cabaret on K is the perfect opportunity to have a positive impact on your community while celebrating Sacramento’s thriving arts scene,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “Guests will enjoy live music and art while helping to end homelessness for women and their children.”

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 1,543 homeless women and their 3,710 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.

Thousand Volunteers Needed for United Way’s Day of Caring

One thousand local residents are needed to spend a day caring for the community Sept. 21-22 by signing up for more than a dozen volunteer projects happening at nonprofits and schools across the region during United Way’s annual Day of Caring, sponsored by Nationwide. As part of Day of Caring, United Way and Robla School District will host the Robla I Care Fair for families on Sept. 22 at Robla Community Park, 625 Bell Avenue in Sacramento. The event will include family activities and resources for United Way’s Square One Project that is working to increase the number of students who graduate from high school prepared for college or career. To sign up to volunteer for a Day of Caring project or become a sponsor: http://www.yourlocalunitedway.org/day-caring.

Since United Way California Capital Region held its inaugural Day of Caring in 2013, 3,692 volunteers have donated 18,054 hours of service for 182 projects benefiting nonprofits and schools across the region.

“This is the single largest volunteer day in our region,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “This is our opportunity to volunteer our time and energy as we dig our hands in to help the nonprofits and schools that do so much for our community every day.”

Day of Caring is part of United Way California Capital Region’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, 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: www.yourlocalunitedway.org.

Society for the Blind Receives $15K from Wells Fargo

Society for the Blind in Sacramento recently received a $15,000 grant from Wells Fargo to provide education, training and assistive devices to Sacramento-area seniors who are blind or have low vision. The funding will support Society for the Blind’s Senior IMPACT Project that empowers people age 55 and older with alternative, non-visual techniques and skills that enable them to perform daily tasks and activities so they can maintain or increase independence.

“As the senior population in Sacramento continues to expand, so does the need for services like our Senior IMPACT Project that help seniors not only cope with vision loss, but also regain their independence,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “We are so thankful that Wells Fargo has invested in active aging and vitality of older adults in our region.”

Society for the Blind’s 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 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, can join discussion groups with peers on issues around vision loss, participate in community activities, attend monthly peer support groups in English and Spanish, and attend workshops throughout the year. For those unable to attend retreats, Society for the Blind sends instructors to their homes to teach skills and offer resources.

“Wells Fargo understands the importance of empowering individuals who are in need of critical community resources,” said Kären Woodruff, community affairs senior consultant. “Our investment in this program builds confidence and independent living skills for these seniors and goes a long way to strengthen and reinforce the efforts of Society for the Blind’s overall programming.”

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.

Wells Fargo provides monetary support, expertise and volunteers to national and local nonprofit organizations and causes that align with their business priorities, values, business expertise and geographies. The company focuses its philanthropic activities on creating long-term strategic relationships with nonprofits and other organizations to create innovative, sustainable solutions to meet local needs. Wells Fargo supports thousands of national and community-based nonprofits annually to help revitalize and strengthen communities. The company is among the top corporate cash donors among U.S. companies, donating $286.5 million to 14,500 nonprofits in 2017 to support critical social, economic and environmental challenges. To learn more, visit WellsFargo.com.

100th Formerly Homeless Woman Graduates From Paid Job Training Program

Women’s Empowerment’s paid training program, The Get A Job Kit, celebrated its 100th graduate in July. The program also graduated its first two lead supervisors who will oversee production. The Get A Job Kit provides formerly homeless women with 120 hours of training in production, customer service, quality assurance, forklift operation, shipping and receiving industries. Over four weeks, trainees are paid to assemble the Get A Job Kits to fill customer orders while receiving hands-on training, performance evaluations and relevant job experience. Women’s Empowerment is one of the only nonprofits in Sacramento providing paid job training to formerly homeless women, allowing women to gain financial stability while getting the work experience they need to succeed. More than 70 percent of The Get A Job Kit graduates have secured stable employment.

“We serve many homeless women who are ready to work but lack current job experience or have been out of the workforce for more than three years. The Get A Job Kit offers an innovative solution to this problem, providing women with hands-on training, invaluable work experience and a paycheck,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “I could not be more proud of the 100 women who have worked hard in this program and now are more prepared than ever to land a job that supports their families.”

The Get A Job Kit was launched under Women’s Empowerment’s name in 2014 after the business was donated by local entrepreneur Shirley Willey who created and ran the business for nearly 25 years. The Get A Job Kit has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and CNBC, and in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. The award-winning kit is an all-in-one career organizer designed to help organizations across the country empower job seekers of all ages and backgrounds. All profits from the sales of The Get A Job Kit are reinvested in the program, ensuring homeless women can continue accessing this vital paid training. Since launching the small business, Women’s Empowerment has sold more than 20,000 kits to Career Technical Education programs, high schools, veteran programs, nonprofits, vocational and technical colleges and anti-recidivism programs. For more information or to purchase The Get a Job Kit: www.getajobkit.com.

“The Get A Job Kit was the next step I needed to regain my confidence and fill that gap in my resume,” said Get A Job Kit graduate Kristin Hawkins who is now working as a property manager of a 48-unit community where she now lives. “And to receive a paycheck was so helpful. I really earned that paycheck by working hard every day.”

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. For more information: www.womens-empowerment.org.

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.