Chamber Award Event Honors Business Leaders

Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-03-22

Chef/restaurateur Lina Fat (center) celebrated her Carmichael Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year award with husband Dr. Ken Fat and family at Arden Hills Resort.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Carmichael Chamber of Commerce has named Lina Fat – a powerhouse member of Sacramento’s famous Fat family of restauranteurs – as Carmichael Person of the Year. A recent awards dinner saw Fat, three more business people, a community volunteer and a local non-profit honored.

More than 200 Chamber supporters attended the fundraiser at Arden Hills Resort. Program emcee was 2017 honoree, Good Day Sacramento anchor Tina Macuha.

Cheered by a contingent of relatives, Lina Fat was recognized for professional and philanthropic vision. Born in Honk Kong, she worked as a pharmacist in Sacramento before joining her husband's family business. The mother of three earned culinary laurels while training with top international chefs and was later a pioneer in Asian-fusion cuisine. Now 79, she is vice-president of Fat City Inc. A proponent of performing arts, Fat launched the Sacramento World Music and Dance Festival in 2007. This colorful annual pageant showcases diversity in the Sacramento region through music and dance. Celebrating her own culture, the awardee wore a gown embroidered with koi carp – an auspicious Chinese symbol of prosperity and good fortune.

The award dinner also recognized Shawna Rivera as Businesswoman of the Year. A hairdresser-turned-baker, Rivera established a coffee shop for coiffeur clients more than 20 years ago. Much enlarged and in new quarters, the Lido Café is now among Carmichael’s most popular eating spots.

Japanese-born chef Taro Ara Arai sported pink hair, rhinestone-encrusted shoes and gave thanks to God for his phenomenal American success. Arriving in USA as a teenager who barely spoke English, the flamboyant “sushiologist” dreamed big. He now owns Mikuni’s Group, a multi-restaurant operation that annually feeds millions of California sushi lovers.

Aged, 33, Carmichael-raised Comerica Bank executive Dan Kellow was named Young Professional of the Year. Barbara Safford was cheered for years of volunteer service to the Chamber and many other non-profits.

Among silent auction items offered at the fundraiser, a painting of Old Sacramento by Carmichael artist David Peterson fell for $800. Donated by the Fat family, a lavish dinner for 10 won a $2,000 bid. A sushi-making class with Mukuni’s chefs garnered $1,000 and a group breakfast at Good Day Sacramento with Tina Macuha raised $500.

The Sacramento District Dental Foundation – whose projects benefit children and families who are unable to afford dental care – is 2018 Non-Profit of the Year and shared part of the evening’s proceeds.

Event sponsors included: Dignity Health, SMUD, Post Modern Marketing, Sacramento District Dental Society, Safe Credit Union, the American River Natural History Association and the Carmichael Times. 

Sacramento Regional Transit District Moves Art

By Wendy Williams  |  2018-03-22

Each unique in style, color and design, the artists’ designs were transferred to vinyl and then applied using a standard fabrication and installation method to attach to the train. Art by Ruby Chacon. Photo by Rick Sloan

Local Artists Design Light Rail Wraps for “Rolling Art” Exhibition

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - In partnership with the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission (SMAC), the Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) unveiled four light rail trains that have been wrapped with art designed by four local artists: Ruby Chacón, Linda Nunes, Kerri Warner and Donine Wellman at the 7th & Richards/Township 9 light rail station in the River District.

“I want to thank the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission for being a great partner in our endeavor to bring creative energy and joy to our community,” said Henry Li, SacRT General Manager/CEO. “We are continually looking for ways to improve our riders’ experience, contribute to the beautification of Sacramento, and operate in a fiscally prudent manner. Art-wrapped trains accomplish each of these objectives.”

Chacón’s art creates spaces of belonging and builds community through art. Nunes’ artwork is a surreal and condensed landscape environment created with impenetrable vegetation, sunny colors, and subtle texture. Warner wanted her art to be colorful, whimsical and relatable to the people of Sacramento. Wellman chose bright and cheery colors with a countdown as the train arrives in a whimsical city.

The artists were selected from a juried registry based on their individual bodies of work that would suit the scale of light rail trains. Their colorful masterpieces will be traveling throughout the Sacramento region at various speeds – while also reflecting joyful expressions of our diverse Sacramento communities.

“These four artists represent such range in terms of their content, subject, style and design. Each artist came up with a unique message, completely different from the other, which is what I love about this exhibition,” said Patrick Kennedy, Chair of the SacRT Board of Directors and Vice Chair of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. “Art does many things – it inspires, it creates conversation and it brings joy. SacRT is proud that our trains can bring a positive visual impact and message in each community.”

Each unique in style, color and design, the artists’ designs were transferred to vinyl and then applied using a standard fabrication and installation method to attach to the train. Wrapping is an efficient and cost-effective way to improve the exterior of older light rail trains. Funding for the project was provided through existing SacRT resources.

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SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Simple Energy and SMUD are expanding SMUD Energy Store to include home services.

Since last year, visitors to the store have been able to shop for energy-related and smart-home products. Now customers can also choose from a variety of home services categories, each featuring project ideas, available SMUD rebates and financing options, a contractor matching tool and educational resources. The contractor matching tool, powered by HomeAdvisor, helps homeowners connect with the right service professionals to complete home projects.

“This addition to SMUD Energy Store will make it easier for our customers to complete energy-saving home improvement projects,” said Nicole Howard, SMUD’s chief customer officer. “It brings together our product catalog, rebates, financing and HomeAdvisor’s network of pre-screened service providers, and we think our customers will love it.”

SMUD Energy Store’s home services offering helps customers in a variety of ways. Customers who know what they’re looking for—such as a contractor to do a furnace tune-up—will quickly be matched with available pre-screened contractors. Customers looking for inspiration can browse services such as Heating & Cooling, Appliance Upgrades and Water Heaters & Plumbing and find step-by-step instructions, locate a class or workshop and get equipment operating tips.

Simple Energy CEO Yoav Lurie said: “Our utility-branded marketplace has been proven to drive the most customer transactions, and this product launch is a significant step forward for our platform. We’re excited to help SMUD deliver a delightful customer experience for home services and be their customers’ trusted advisor for all of their energy-related needs.”

By providing project inspiration, a network of pre-screened local contractors, cost guides, how-to information and access to available rebates and financing, SMUD Energy Store gives our customers what they need to successfully complete their home improvement projects. Over time, SMUD Energy Store will continue to expand the services and products it offers.

As the nation’s sixth-largest community-owned electric service provider, SMUD has been providing low-cost, reliable electricity for more than 70 years to Sacramento County and small adjoining portions of Placer and Yolo Counties. SMUD is a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies, and for its sustainable solutions for a healthier environment. SMUD’s power mix is about 50 percent non-carbon emitting. For more information, visit

Simple Energy is the leading provider of utility-branded marketplaces for large investor-owned, municipal, and cooperative utilities including Exelon, Southern Company, Xcel Energy, National Grid, and SMUD. Simple Energy’s software as a service (“SaaS”) instant rebate, customer engagement, digital marketing, and ecommerce solutions engage customers, drive energy savings, facilitate the sale of energy-saving products and services, and serve as the platform for the utility of the future. Learn more at

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United Way Women to Collect Towels, Toiletries and Luggage for Local Foster Youth

By Kate Towson  |  2018-03-21

Volunteers are needed on April 17 from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at United Way’s office to package the donations and write notes of encouragement to each of the foster youth. Photo courtesy United Way

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Local residents can donate new towels, toiletries and luggage for local foster youth through United Way’s Women United Spring Drive happening now through April 17. 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 or can be dropped off at United Way’s office at 10389 Old Placerville Road in Sacramento.

Volunteers are needed on April 17 from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at United Way’s office to package the donations and write notes of encouragement to each of the foster youth.

“The goal of the Spring Drive is to support foster youth as they prepare to leave the system,” said Jessica Gauna-Miller of United Way’s Women United. “Foster youth in our community often lack the basic household necessities you need when living on your own for the first time, such as towels, luggage and toiletries. When you participate in the Spring Drive, you’re setting foster youth up for success.”

United Way’s Women United action group in the California Capital Region is a powerful force of 350 local women and supporters making sure local foster youth are prepared for success in college or career when they leave foster care. This focus is part of the Square One Project, the local United Way’s 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of 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.

Formerly known as Women in Philanthropy, the local Women United group is now part of the global Women United network of more than 70,000 women leaders taking action in their communities. For more information or to make a donation, visit

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Recycling It Right Reduces Contamination

Sacramento County News Release  |  2018-03-21

Sacramento County Department of Waste Management & Recycling (DWMR) encourages everyone to recycle it right!

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - With all that goes in your recycling cart, do you know what it means to recycle it right? For starters, it means not placing garden hoses in your green waste cart or household batteries in your mixed recycling or garbage cart. Even though recycling has been around for a long time, it can still be very confusing about what goes where. What you do really does matter – a lot! Because, if you are not disposing of your items correctly, chances are, neither are your neighbors and that can add up to a big contamination problem. Sacramento County Department of Waste Management & Recycling (DWMR) encourages everyone to recycle it right!

Let’s sort out recycling!

DWMR provides curbside garbage, recycling and green waste service to about 154,000 customers in the unincorporated area. With that many customers, recycling can easily go wrong. When you load up your recycling cart with clean metals, glass beverage and food containers, and paper, and then you throw in just one unacceptable item such as Styrofoam, a light bulb, or even garbage – especially if it is a greasy pizza box or other food-soiled material – you have just contaminated all your recyclables. When those contaminated recyclables are added to our trucks, it contaminates your neighbor’s recycling, so by the time our truck finishes the route, the entire load will be a mess. 

Why is contaminated recycling such a big deal?

When a truckload of recycling has too much contamination, recycling processors either have to slow down the sort line to effectively recover the recyclables, which substantially increases the cost to recycle, or they have to reject the entire load and it’s sent to the landfill. This hurts our program and the environment, which ends up wasting the value of the material and filling up landfill space.

Sacramento County and Sacramento-area municipalities are reminding all customers about the problems of contaminated recycling – for more information, read the insert: Recycle It Right

What’s in and what’s out?

Now that we know the importance of recycling it right, there are many resources available to help you remember what to put in and what to leave out of your curbside carts! Review acceptable and unacceptable curbside recycling materials. For helpful information to learn how to recycle or properly dispose of specific items, go to the A to Z Materials Guide, or check out the lineup of Recycling Brochures. There are also a host of short recycling videos on the County’s YouTube Utilities & Residential Services Playlist

Customer outreach – more on recycling it right!

We all have busy lives and are bombarded with information every day. DWMR is currently developing a customer outreach campaign to remind residents about the importance of recycling it right and could include a door hanger “packet” with information on acceptable and unacceptable items for the garbage, green waste, and recycling carts. Additionally, DWMR is researching other measures to reduce contamination in curbside recycling carts before they end up in collection trucks. It is our goal that this outreach will help remind customers what, and what not to put in each cart. By working together, we can reduce contamination and protect our environment.

For waste management and recycling questions:

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Project Linus Seeks Blanketeers for Local Children in Need

By Elise Spleiss  |  2018-03-20

An elementary soccer team with blankets from Sacramento Chapter Linus Project Photo courtesy of Claire Gliddon

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) – On Christmas Eve morning, 1995, Karen Loucks came across the compelling photo of a bald three-year-old girl named Laura Williams in a long pink dress, holding her special “blankie.”   

Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning photo-journalist Eddie Adams, the article in Parade Magazine told of Laura’s battle with leukemia and how her blanket has helped her get through more than two years of grueling chemotherapy.

After reading that article, Karen Loucks, who was 23 at the time, and had just learned to crochet, decided she could crochet blankets to help children like Laura; thus started Project Linus.

To date, Loucks, her friends and hundreds of volunteers have presented thousands of homemade blankets to Denver's Rocky Mountain Children's Cancer Center and many other venues locally and worldwide.  

‘Linus’ was chosen for the logo, as the image of Charles Schulz’s beloved Peanuts character with his trusted security blanket tells the mission of the project perfectly.

Since 1995, 400 chapters nationwide have delivered close to 7,000,000 blankets to children in need of all ages.

In a recent phone interview with Loucks, she said, “For me, it’s thrilling to be a part of this… I don’t like to do something unless I can make a difference. I don’t get on the hamster wheel just to see it turn…. Here I can see results every day. We can’t stop the disasters but can have a positive effect and help where we can… It’s kids helping kids, they use their own hands to help others.”

The Sacramento Chapter, with Claire Gliddon at the helm since 1997, is working tirelessly to get their own blankets out to children in need in Sacramento and Placer counties. Local “blanketeers” made and delivered 12,437 blankets to needy children in 2017.

Today Gliddon is seeking more volunteers of all ages and organizations that need that “hug” for children.  Donations of material and yarn to make even more blankets are needed. Seniors and others who love to knit, crochet, quilt or sew can join in the fun and camaraderie of creating something that will make a huge difference in the life of a child or teenager. These ‘homemade hugs’ can be as simple or complex as the creator choses.

There are no meetings, no quotas.  The only requisite is that blankets be new, handmade and washable. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, whether you can make one blanket a year or 100, all are welcome. Blankets can be made at home, with friends, at a community facility such as the Fair Oaks Library, or at one of the many chapter gatherings that take place all over Sacramento and Placer County. Yarn and fabric is available if needed.

“Blanketeers” include seniors, members of faith communities, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H Clubs and both junior high and high school students needing community service hours.  Yarn is even provided to the Chowchilla Women’s Prison and men at Folsom State Prison to make blankets for the chapter. 

Blankets are donated to over 100 local organizations all year. These include hospitals, low-income elementary schools, food closets, shelters, police departments, child abuse prevention programs, the Sheriff’s Department, Ronald McDonald House, My Mother’s Voice, My Sister’s House and Wellspring Women’s Center, to name a few.  Blankets are also donated to children of veterans.  Every blanket gets a tag sewn on that says, “Made with Love for Project Linus.”

The children know the difference from a manufactured blanket and are “touched that a stranger would take the time to make something for them.” One child stated, “This is the only thing in the hospital that’s mine.”

Following the Columbine school shooting in 1999, blanket donations expanded to victims of other disasters. Besides mostly staying local, children affected by 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, fires in California, and school shootings are just some of the recipients of blankets from Gliddon’s blanketeers.

Gliddon and her volunteers have been invited to exhibit their blankets at the California State Fair since 2015.

A special plea is going out to all collectors for new or almost new Beanie Babies. The project starts at the beginning of each December when they choose a handful of low income schools and present every kindergartener with a warm blanket.  A very special touch is the addition of a Beanie Baby in a little pouch with each blanket.  In 2017, 790 blankets were delivered to these schools just before Winter break.

Those who join receive an information packet with a list of gatherings, drop-off sites and suggested sizes.  For more info, contact Claire Gliddon at (916) 965-8955, e-mail or visit their website and Facebook page at Project Linus-Sacramento-Chapter.

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Choosing Kindness: A Hands-On Approach to Understanding

Story and photos by Jacqueline Fox  |  2018-03-20

Dwight Lunkley has a little fun with some of the students in a sensitivity workshop at California Montessori Project, American River Campus in Fair Oaks.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - One of the students had a little trouble reaching the foot pedals on his wheelchair.  The break was a bit of a challenge too. As he tried rolling it out on to the blacktop at the California Montessori Project, American River Campus in Fair Oaks, a trail of fellow fourth graders followed, bringing up the rear.

This was exactly the kind of learning experience intended: hands on, real time, fumbling through it kind of learning.  It was only for practice however, practice for what it really feels like to be wheel chair bound.  Once the students tackled the wheel chair they got a shot at walking blindfolded with a white cane, punching out their names backward in Braille, learning about how prosthetic limbs work and what it feels like to have the not-so visible kinds of disabilities, such as autism and dyslexia.

“It’s not as easy as it looks,” said Alaina Lawrence, 9 of Carmichael working at the Braille learning table.  She and some of her schoolmates were participating in an onsite sensitivity and awareness workshop led by volunteers with the Granit Bay-based nonprofit organization, A Touch of Understanding (ATOU).  Officially launched in 1996 by Leslie DeDora and her father, Edward Ennis, ATOU marshals the wisdom and experience of volunteers, many with disabilities themselves, and, along with a truck-load of props, heads into schools across many portions of the Northern California region to conduct onsite workshops for school age children in an effort to minimize bullying, social isolation and discrimination against those living with disabilities. 

“We know children are curious and they will ask questions if they feel comfortable doing so,” said DeDora.  “What we do is provide a safe space for them to learn how to talk to and accept someone who is different from them. I think in many cases kids in schools mistreat others because we don’t give them the information they need to truly understand what it means to walk in someone else’s shoes.”

Dwight Lunkley, who sports two prosthetic arms and is partially disfigured from a near-death off-roading accident in 1994, handled a portion of the speaker sessions that accompany the hands-on activities.  He says there’s nothing more impactful than one-on-one interaction with children as a way to teach tolerance and educate them about what happened to him and how it has impacted his life.  

“I love coming in to the schools and talking to kids,” said Lunkley.  “You’d be amazed at how smart, compassionate and inquisitive they are about me.  So we work together to teach them about what is going on with us, why and how we are really just like them and that even with a physical disability we can have happy lives.  But we show them, we don’t just tell them.  That’s how they learn the compassion.”

DeDora said her aunt had intellectual disabilities that were initially difficult for her to understand until she was taught by her parents about the importance of celebrating, not rejecting someone because of their differences.

“I remember inadvertently making my aunt cry because I didn’t understand why she looked like the adults in the room, but acted like the kids,” said DeDora.

DeDora parlayed that early education in compassion into a career working as a tutor of students with disabilities in the public schools system.  Realizing more could be done to provide young people with tangible opportunities for breaking down misconceptions about people with disabilities, she launched “Walk a Mile In Their Shoes” in 1996.  After conducting 60 successful “pilot” presentations, ATOU was formed.  Today, the organization has an annual budget of approximately $400,000, three staff members and an army of volunteers, including interns from Sacramento State College working on degrees in adaptive recreation, nursing programs or other related fields.

Much of ATOU’s funding comes through grants and the sensitivity workshops, the fees for which $1,200 each are split between ATOU and the participating campus.

ATOU also relies heavily on funds raised during its annual “Art from the Heart” gala, now in its fifth year.  This year’s gala is slated for April 20.  Donated artwork is displayed and available for purchase.  The event includes silent and live auctions, a raffle, wine, appetizers and likely some of the most inspirational speakers you’ll ever have the pleasure of hearing from.

“It will be a fun, informative and inspirational evening, celebrating art in its many forms and embracing those among us with disabilities,” DeDora said.

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Cougars Share Their History

Story and Photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-03-16

Carmichael Elementary Principal Brandei Smith (back right) and students join the school’s cougar mascot. Cougar, alumni and current enrollees invite the community to celebrate the school’s centenary on May 9.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Carmichael’s oldest school will host centenary celebrations on May 9. Established on Sutter Avenue in 1917, the school aimed not just to educate farm children but also to attract more families to developer Daniel Carmichael’s new colony. Carmichael School, as it was then called, began in a wooden building that was uprooted from nearby Winding Way.

Because many pupils rode to school, the campus included a horse shed. Farm kids provided hay for their mounts. At recess, impromptu derbies tore up the playground.

Though the 100-year milestone was reached last year, festivities are designed to fit into the 2018 spring semester.  Principal Brandei Smith promises some things old and many things new. “We’ll have a history museum, a then-and-now video and student performances,” she says. “The choir will sing our famous “Cougar Song,” which is all about building character and reaching goals.”

Administered by the San Juan Unified School District, Carmichael Elementary has 400 pupils from kindergarten to Fifth Grade. Students come from all over the world: in the school office, ‘welcome’ is written in English, Spanish, Ukrainian, Arabic and many other languages.   “Our diversity reflects what’s happening all over America,” notes Principal Smith. “We feel exposure to many nationalities enriches children’s education.”

Centenary festivities will showcase a campus whose 10 original acres were a gift from Daniel Carmichael. Near neighbor since 1931, the Crossroads Church will provide hotdogs and treats for the children.  A volunteer group from Del Campo High School will supervise a kids’ zone with face-painting and crafts.  Fitness professional and children’s author Sami Kader will present a program that includes an exercise circuit. An event show-stopper, predicts the principal, will star kindergarten pupils singing Louis Armstrong’s “Wonderful Word,” complete with sign language.

“We’re opening our doors to show the community how we’ve evolved,” says Smith. “People who attended here love to come back. They’re nostalgic and enjoy sharing memories. We hope they’ll join us on May 9. They’ll be amazed to see how our classrooms have changed.”

Centenary planners hope to borrow old photos and memorabilia associated with the school. A 1972 time capsule will be unearthed before the celebrations. “We’ll also bury a new capsule,” says Principal Smith. “Sometime in the distant future, students will dig it up and see what we were like.”

Anyone may attend the May 9 celebration at 6141 Sutter Avenue. The program begins at 5 pm. For information, and to contribute historical items, call (916) 971-5727 or E-mail the campus representative:

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Dog Day Fun Planned for New Park

Story and Photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-03-16

Nhia and Marco Ramos (and pooches) were among the first Eastern Oaks Park patrons to take advantage of a new dog enclosure at the seven-acre reserve.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Eastern Oaks Park’s doggie corral was liberally baptized when dozens of pets enjoyed freedom to run and socialize last month. Re-opened and featuring many new family facilities, Eastern Oaks is the first of 17 Mission Oaks Recreation and Park District properties to offer a canine enclosure.

The area provides seating so pet owners may also socialize. Other perks include pooch drinking fountains and ready supplies of plastic baggies for waste-disposal. Carmichael Park added a fenced dog park to amenities in 2014; Eastern Oaks joins the handful of Sacramento reserves with off-leash provisions. “We’re pleased at how much use the enclosure has already got,” said Mission Oaks Recreation Superintendent Barry Ross. “We had earlier surveyed our residents to see what they wanted in a park. Dog parks were near the top of the list.”

A dog day afternoon is planned on April 21 to celebrate the new amenity. The park district invites canines and owners to compete in categories that include prettiest; best costume; best kisser; best trick and human-dog lookalike. Festivities run from 11am to 2 pm Sign-ups are $5; contestants may register on line at

Anyone may visit Eastern Oak Park at 3127 Eastern Avenue, Sacramento.

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Kiwanian Receives Dunlap Award

By Kiwanis Club of Carmichael  |  2018-03-16

Len Ohlendorf and Wayne Lang. Photo courtesy Kiwanis Club of Carmichael

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Kiwanis Club of Carmichael member Len Ohlendorf received the prestigious William A. Dunlap Fellowship Award to recognize and celebrate his service to the community, the Kiwanis Club and to the positive elements of Kiwanis.  Len continues to demonstrate dedication to community service and provides inspirational and innovative leadership of the club.  Len has served as the club president, committee chairman, advisor to the Key Club and various other positions.  As membership Chairman, Len implemented strategies leading to seventeen new members last year.  Current Club President Wayne Lang says, “He is a dynamo of enthusiasm, fun, and commitment.  Len is a sterling example of the positive force of Kiwanis in serving the children of our community.”

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