Sacratomato Festival Week Returns

By Traci Rockefeller Cusack   |  2017-07-19

Come enjoy some great salsa! Photo courtesy T-Rock Communications

Coming to Midtown’s Sutter District July 22-30 

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - Get ready to savor the tomato when Midtown Sacramento’s Sutter District presents the crowd-favorite Sacratomato Festival & Week July 22-30, 2017. The food-focused week will kick-off with a fun and FREE family-friendly festival that will take place on the grounds outside of Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park (SHP) on Saturday, July 22, from 5 to 9 p.m.  After that, a week-long celebration of Sacramento’s signature commodity will continue throughout the Sutter District.

To kick-off a week filled with tomato themed festivities, a large family-friendly festival will take place outside on the grounds of Sutter’s Fort SHP.  The free Sacratomato Festival will include lots to see, do and taste, such as the following: an incredibly popular (adults only) Bloody Mary station; delicious food booths (for sampling and/or purchase) from popular Sutter District restaurants including Barwest, Café Bernardo, Centro, Harlow’s, INK Eats & Drinks and Paragary’s Midtown; an engaging and hands-on “Tomato University” area for kids featuring tomato planting, art activities and more; an appearance by “Juicy Tomato” mascot from 5 to 7 p.m.; cooking demonstrations by the area’s talented top chefs; a variety of popular Midtown Farmers Market vendors; a live music and entertainment stage with headliner Simple Creation, a Sacramento based reggae band blended with touches of roots, rock and dub; a fun and lively salsa making competition.

Interested community members are encouraged to sign up for the salsa making competition that will be judged in a blind taste test by Sutter District restaurants representatives.  All ingredients and materials will be provided although competitors are each allowed to bring special ingredients if desired. Deadline to enter online is July 17 at 5 p.m. and the cost is $25 per person to participate.  The winner of the salsa making competition will win a fun gift basket – filled with gift cards and items from Midtown restaurants, bars and destinations plus an opportunity to shop at the Midtown Farmers Market with Kurt Spataro, Executive Chef of Paragary Restaurant Group -- and the coveted “Best Salsa in the Sutter District” title. 

“Sacratomato Festival & Week” is presented by Midtown Sacramento’s Sutter District with generous support from Midtown Association (MA) and produced by Unseen Heroes. Sponsored in part by Republic Services and Sacramento Municipal and Utility District (SMUD), more information about the 2017 Sacratomato Festival & Week is available at www.exploremidtown.org.
 
The Sutter District includes an eclectic and engaging group of restaurants, bars and nightclubs located in the vibrant and easily accessible Midtown Sacramento bordered by Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park and Marshall Park.   Popular with locals and visitors alike, the Sutter District includes the following: Barwest, Biba, Cafe Bernardo, Centro Cocina Mexicana, Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub, INK Eats & Drinks, Monkey Bar, Paragary’s, Midtown and Red Rabbit Kitchen & Bar.  More information about the Sutter District is available by calling 916-452-1500 or visiting www.exploremidtown.org/best-of-midtown/the-sutter-district


Source: T-Rock Communications


...Read More!  
  |  

Compassion Through Action

Story and Photos by Jacqueline F  |  2017-07-18

William Magana, a recent graduate of Union Gospel Mission’s Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Program, now works onsite as the kitchen intern.

Union Gospel Mission at 55

Sacramento, CA (MPG) – For William Magana, it began with cutting. Up and down the Southern California native’s body, he says, are more than 200 scars from self-mutilation that began when he was only 11, just after his mother, struggling to overcome a heroin addiction, was sent to prison outside Sacramento.  

Until he was nearly 30, Magana lived between the two sides of the revolving door of foster homes, juvenile hall, mental wards, drug and alcohol addiction, arrests, prison, recovery and relapse.

“I supposed I was acting out because I wanted my mother, I wanted to be with her,” says Magana, now 33. “So I started with cutting and then later it was drugs and drinking and all the things that go with that.”

In 1997 Magana was given his first hit of methamphetamine and, for the next 17 years or so would work various jobs just to get enough money for more drugs. Stealing and robbing from his own employers, in one case $8,000 from the till at a local convenience store, for which he would be convicted of a felony embezzlement charge, became routine survival tactics.

“I worked to drug and drugged to live,” said Magana. “It was just an ongoing battle.”

Eventually, he overdosed on his psych medication and wound up back inside one more mental institution near downtown Sacramento.  But upon his release form that hospital, Magana says, something different happened, and it would set him on a course for change.

“I got out with nowhere to go and a couple of homeless guys said ‘Go over to Sacramento’s Union Gospel Mission. They can help you there,’” Magana recalls.  “So I went. And I thank God every day for this place.”

In 2015 Magana enrolled in the Union Gospel’s nine month drug and alcohol rehabilitation program for men, began studying the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible, a requirement all who wish to receive services at Union, and started to turn his life around. But, as is often the case with addiction and mental health issues, Magana began cutting again and within a few months left and got back into old patterns of self-destruction.  But the seed had been planted and he returned in March of 2016.

“You can do that here if you are willing,” says Magana.  “They saw me come back and they took me in again.”

Now, 16 months clean and sober, Magana is a graduate of Union’s rehabilitation program and is working as the Mission’s kitchen intern, assisting with the preparation of the meals given out to the roughly 120 men and women who walk through doors each day.
 
At 55, Union Gospel is on the precipice of growth and much-needed restoration. The restrooms inside the men’s rehabilitation center and living quarters at its Bannon Street facility have, through the donations of supporters, been given a makeover, complete with new floors, private stalls and granite countertops.  Granite countertops and new floors, says Director Pastor Time Lane, may seem like small things, but to the men who are enrolled in the Mission’s rehabilitation program, and the guests the facility serves, they represent little reminders of self-worth.

“What we want to do with the renovations is provide a space that gives our residents a sense of pride and value,” said Lane, who has served in his current capacity at Union Gospel since 2005.

Union Gospel can currently house up to about 60 men in its temporary shelter, but those stays are only good for roughly seven nights, after which they must leave for a minimum of three nights before cycling back in again. This is to allow others to rotate in.  They must carry a current TB card, proof of a recent, negative Tuberculosis test and inoculation and attend bible study sessions.

Meals are served twice daily inside the main dining hall.  In 2016, more than 100,000 men, women and children received a hot meal at Union

Although the area’s homeless population is rising, the numbers served at the mission remain relatively consistent, but that is because availability is limited to current capacity only. Union Gospel’s Bible-based, modified 12-step drug and alcohol rehabilitation program can serve up to 24 men at a time.  Its goal is to steer participants toward a life of recovery, as well as a life centered on the gospel.

“They don’t have to convert, but they have to give us a chance to offer them information about the teachings of the Bible and how, if they want to, they can change for the better, change for good,” says Lane.

Union Gospel Mission offers free showers and access to clean clothes for men who come in from the street during specified hours during the week. In addition, weekly food boxes are donated at a rate of roughly 2,000 a year. The Mission also hands out some 12,000 hygiene kits with shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes and other essentials that are hard to come by for many of the area’s homeless, as well as job-preparation training, mailroom services, locker rentals, access to a medical clinic, free haircuts, toys for children at Christmas, and other services as the need arises.

The main dining hall is transformed into a warming center in winter and, especially with the region’s latest heatwave, serves as a cooling center during the day time. Every August, Union also puts on a massive birthday party open to anyone on the streets, working or living onsite, as way to provide them with recognition of a day that, for many, often goes unnoticed.

“When you’re on the streets, homeless, or estranged from family members, your birthday can come and go without anyone acknowledging that,” says Eileen Trussell, Union Gospel’s office manager. “So we get balloons and have a giant cake and just offer one big birthday party for anyone who wants to come. It’s an important thing to have someone acknowledge your birthday.”

For all its able to provide the area’s homeless and needy population, Union Gospel’s resources for women are limited, although statistics suggest women, including those with with children in particular, represent a growing sector of the homeless population across the region and nationwide.

The Bannon Street facility does provide one critical service: It’s women’s drop in clothes closet, where blouses, dresses, skirts, jackets, shoes, purses and even accessories, are available, free to any one in need. There is also a small inventory of clothing and shoes for children.

Lane, who was raised by a single mother, said the clothes closet fills a significant gap for many women and those with children, but added that there is a vital need to do much more, as more women are not just in need of clothing but also a place to sleep.

“We served just over 1,500 women and children through the clothing closet in 2016,” said Lane. “But clothing is not enough. We are seeing more and more women on the streets with no place to go. Right now we don’t have the facilities to house women who need a place to sleep, but we are moving in that direction.”

Earlier this year, Union Gospel purchased a 9,600 square-foot building on B Street in the River District with the intention of establishing a women’s rehabilitation program with beds for overnight stays.  Permits are being pulled for the new enterprise, but unfortunately, says Lane, the process is moving very slowly, as officials have been reticent to allow for the opening of one more homeless services center in an area of town largely considered to be saturated with homeless services already.

“We are in the permitting process now, but it’s moving very slowly,” said Lane.  “Unfortunately the city has some concerns, and we understand why.  With the confluence of two rivers, you have all the homelessness you need. But the need is strong. We are seeing many more women out there than we used to see. I know one woman who literally grew up on the streets. Her mother was homeless. I don’t know where she is today, but her daughter is out there. She’s had three babies out there on the streets. The state takes them away each time and she goes right back out again.”

 But for every heartbreak story there is the potential for thousands of stories of success: More than 21,000 men received services through Union Gospel in 2016 and, of that number, 12 successfully enrolled in and graduated from the mission’s nine-month rehabilitation program and started new lives in recovery and service, Magana among them. 

He has re-established a relationship with two of this three children and is looking forward to once again having a place of his own where they can be a family again.  As a condition of his parole, Magana promised to back the employer he stole from in exchange for a reduced sentence on his record. With the help of the $200 a month he earns working in the kitchen, he’s managed to whittle that $8,000 down to $3,000.   

“This time, I’ve gone deeper into God,” said Magana. “I worked hard to learn as much as I could and today I have no desire to drink, use drugs or cut myself. God has taken those impulses away from me.”

While the journey has included a few bumps and detours, Magana is on a new path, one of recovery fueled, he says, by the power of prayer and the commitment to one day giving back what has so freely been given to him.  Twice. 

“I never knew how much happiness I could get out of helping others,” Magana said.  “It’s filled a piece of me I think was missing.”

WAYS TO HELP:
Trough Summer:
Union Gospel Back to School Drive
Items needed: binders, paper, note pads, pencils and pens, markers
Some of the items needed year-round: Clothing and shoes for men and women, children’s clothing and shoes, toys, backpacks, travel sized hygiene products for men and women, laptop computers, vehicles. Visit: http://www.ugmsac.com/items-needed


...Read More!  
  |  

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) -The latest quarterly survey of Sacramento regional employers has discovered that ‘helicopter parenting’ is apparently landing at work. Polling employers regularly since 1992 it appears a new trend may be emerging in workplaces involving ‘parental hovering’.  HR contacts surveyed say they are hearing more often now from parents than in past years.

Contact by a parent on behalf of an applicant or employee was noted by twelve percent (12%) of service firms, two percent (2%)of manufacturers, six percent (6%) of construction companies and five percent (5%) of retail employers polled directly by phone between May 22 and June 22, 2017. Pacific Staffing learned one quarter, or twenty-five percent (25%) of all companies reported having had this experience recently when asked about it directly. This is an unwelcome new trend and seems to be growing in the workplace.

In anecdotal comments, the people who hire and manage people suggest they don’t want to hear from parents in any way. Comments described personal contact by a parent as ‘meddling’, an ‘embarrassment for parent and child’, ‘not appropriate’ and whether positive or negative unwelcome as an ‘intrusion’ that raised ‘privacy issues’ and often resulted in an unfavorable view of that individual as an applicant, or as an employee.

One HR contact says they were surprised when a parent called to say they fired their child without taking time to really ‘understand’ them. The response was ‘just need them to do the job, not understand them’.  Another described a parent who called to say they should not rescind a job offer as a parking valet, but couldn’t dispute the decision when they learned the individual was let go when they could not drive a stick shift. A fact not revealed in the interview or to the parent.                           

With seventy-two percent (72%) of employers in the Sacramento region hiring in the next three months, new challenges are emerging. They include finding qualified applicants, including a wide variety of IT positions, construction equipment operators and skilled trades, sales, customer service and adequate numbers of entry level people. HR contacts also report retention of current workers and growing wage pressure from the thin talent pool as issues in Q3. Nineteen percent (19%) of hiring was motivated by seasonal needs in July, August and September.

For more information, employment blogs and market surveys go to www.pacificstaffing.com.


...Read More!  
  |  

Funding notice encourages local applicants to use Housing First approach

Washington, D.C. (MPG) - In an effort to prevent and effectively end homelessness, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is making $2 billion available to support thousands of local homeless assistance programs nationwide. Funded through the Continuum of Care (CoC) Homeless Assistance ProgramHUD’s funding notice continues to encourage local applicants to use a Housing First approach to help individuals and families move quickly into permanent housing.  Read HUD’s Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA).

HUD’s Continuum of Care homeless assistance grants support a wide variety of local programs from street outreach and assessment programs to transitional and permanent housing for individuals, including, veterans, youth, families, and persons experiencing long-term or chronic homelessness.

“We know these grants can make a huge difference in ending homelessness” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson.  “HUD continues to forge deep relationships with our local partners to invest in proven programs that are working to reduce the scale of homelessness in their communities.”

HUD continues to place a major emphasis on ending homelessness for all persons experiencing homelessness, creating a systematic response to homelessness and improving how resources are used to end homelessness. These priorities will make it much more competitive and increase incentives for communities to improve their performance. As part of these priorities, HUD is continuing incentives to adopt best practices for rapid-rehousing and Housing First, an approach that has proven effective in helping communities to make progress on their goal of ending homelessness.

Additionally, HUD is encouraging communities to end veteran, chronic, family, and youth homelessness and to use their data to strategically target their available resources to end homelessness. Finally, to help communities reach these goals, there is greater flexibility provided to create a variety of new projects that will allow recipients to serve different populations of individuals and families experiencing homelessness as well as to support increased data collection and analysis.

HUD requires prospective grantees to submit applications electronically at www.grants.gov. Any changes to HUD-published funding notices will be made available to the public through a Federal Register publication and published on this government-wide portal. Applicants are urged to sign up for Grants.gov’s notification service to receive periodic updates or changes to these grant offerings.  The application deadline is September 28, 2017. 

HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov 

Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,

Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20410            


...Read More!  
  |  

Senator Gaines Calls Cap-and-Trade Deal a Massive energy Tax 

Sacramento, CA (MPG) Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) on July 13th, voted against Assembly Bills 398 and 617 during a Senate Committee on Environmental Quality hearing. These bills are the Governor and Legislative Democrats’ attempt to extend California’s cap-and-trade program.

“Cap-and-trade is bait and switch.

“Governor Brown is full of talk about cap-and-trade ‘benefits’ we never verify and jobs we never see. What we do see are electricity rates that are 50-percent higher than the national average and a million California households living in energy poverty and struggling to get by because we push power prices up beyond affordability.

“California just passed a new gas tax that will add twelve cents to the cost of every gallon of gasoline starting this fall. This cap-and-trade extension could add about another seventy-three cents a gallon on top of that. While the rest of the country is paying $2 a gallon for gas, we are going to be paying a dollar and a half a gallon just in taxes and climate fees!

“Governor Brown and his cadre of climate change extremists won’t be happy until California leads the nation in wind, solar and poverty. 

“This so-called historic agreement is really just a big fat energy tax. Californians will have to use less but pay more for it. That is a rotten deal for our families and businesses.”

Senator Ted Gaines represents the 1st Senate District, which includes all or parts of Alpine, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Shasta, Sierra and Siskiyou counties.


...Read More!  
  |  

Women’s Empowerment Raises $205K at Gala

By Kristin Thébaud Communications  |  2017-07-10

Women’s Empowerment graduates celebrate at the organization’s 16th Annual Gala in May. The event raised more than $205,000 to help Sacramento homeless women find homes and jobs. Photo by Jessie Rose Photography, jessierosephotography.weebly.com

Helps Homeless Women Find Jobs and Homes

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Four hundred guests at Women’s Empowerment’s 16th Annual Celebration of Independence Gala raised more than $205,000 for the organization’s comprehensive job-readiness program for women who are homeless in Sacramento. The event, which took place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Sacramento, included the chance to meet 75 graduates of the program who arrived wearing ballgowns and enjoy a formal dinner, live and silent auctions, live music and presentations from some of the graduates. 

“This event always feels like a magical night as women once isolated and homeless are now dressed to the nines and laughing with some of Sacramento’s top donors,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “Once again, hundreds of people came together in one night to commit to ending homelessness in Sacramento, one woman, one family, at a time. This is a community that cares deeply, and it shows.”

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 1,437 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

Photo by Jessie Rose Photography, jessierosephotography.weebly.com 


...Read More!  
  |  

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - New data released by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) show an increase in newly reported hepatitis C cases among young adults in the state. Between 2007 and 2015, newly reported hepatitis C infections increased 55 percent among men 20-29 years of age and 37 percent among women in the same age group.

These data are consistent with increases in hepatitis C across the country and highlight the importance of hepatitis C testing, treatment, and prevention. Injection drug use among young adults increases their risk of both hepatitis C transmission and infection. Prevention strategies, including access to sterile syringes and safe injection equipment and treatment for opioid use disorders, can reduce the rate of new hepatitis C infections among young people who inject drugs by 60 percent.

“As a physician, I have seen firsthand the deadly effects of hepatitis C,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “Patients with advanced liver disease may not know they are infected until it’s too late,” said Dr. Smith. “However, this is preventable. New treatments can cure hepatitis C in as little as two months. I urge people to speak with their doctors about getting tested.”

An estimated 400,000 Californians live with chronic hepatitis C, but many do not know they are infected. Hepatitis C-related deaths now outnumber those due to HIV.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the use of new treatment for adolescents 12 years and older, raising hopes for teenagers infected with hepatitis C. Although young Californians (ages 20-29) make up an increasing number of newly reported infections, baby boomers account for about one out of two newly reported chronic hepatitis C cases.

“Two groups are top priority for hepatitis C testing – young people who inject drugs and baby boomers,” said Dr. Smith. “Drug users may be at high risk for transmitting hepatitis C to others if they are not being treated, and baby boomers may be at risk for developing serious liver disease, even if they have no symptoms.”

CDPH urges all Californians who have ever injected drugs, even once, and all people born between 1945 and 1965 to talk to their doctors about getting tested for hepatitis C. Patients who test positive should receive care from an experienced provider.

The Department is working to address hepatitis C on multiple fronts, including monitoring hepatitis C trends, producing data reports, educating health care providers on hepatitis C screening and treatment guidelines, and supporting hepatitis C testing and access to care in settings where at-risk people are served. CDPH also supports coordinated HIV and hepatitis C testing in non-traditional settings, such as mobile health vans. In 2016, about 7,200 people received hepatitis C testing through these programs.

The California Legislature allocated $2.2 million in July 2015 for three-year pilot projects to help ensure people with hepatitis C are aware of their infections and linked to care. 

For more information about viral hepatitis prevention in California, visit the CDPH Office of Viral Hepatitis Prevention webpage at www.cdph.ca.gov


...Read More!  
  |