Opening of Carmichael’s First Winter Sanctuary

Submitted by HART  |  2017-12-22

For some time, Carmichael faith communities have recognized the need to address homelessness in our community. Photo courtesy HART

Carmichael, CA (MPG) - An unprecedented partnership of Carmichael churches, nonprofits and business groups is collaborating on a “Winter Sanctuary” for the community’s homeless population.

Participating churches will host as many as 25 people every night for eight weeks, beginning New Year’s Eve. Sacramento County and nearby cities have operated shelters in the winter’s coldest months for several years. For the first time, Carmichael will have its own winter shelter under the leadership of Carmichael HART (Homeless Assistance Resource Team), a partnership of more than half of the community’s churches, the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce, the Carmichael Improvement District, the San Juan Unified School District, Sacramento Self-Help Housing, and ATLAS of Carmichael.

“For some time, Carmichael faith communities have recognized the need to address homelessness in our community. The outpouring of support for HART’s Winter Sanctuary has certainly exceeded our expectations. We’re responding to the need for emergency shelter but also committed to providing services and resources that will help people find permanent housing,” said Scott Young, President of Carmichael HART.

Other HART programs plan shelters in Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova, Citrus Heights, and Folsom. Hundreds of volunteers from Carmichael churches helped with the Citrus Heights Winter Sanctuary last winter. Many of them also participated in the Greater Sacramento Winter Sanctuary program that’s based downtown. For the past six months, Carmichael’s Christ Community Church has hosted a four-hour monthly open house offering meals, clothes, counseling and showers to local homeless people.

“Our volunteers come mainly from faith-based groups who recognize the need for shelter, clothing, food and resources like job searches, health and welfare, paperwork required for identification, and transitional housing,” said Fred Green, co-chair of Carmichael HART’s Winter Sanctuary Committee.

“Beyond meeting some immediate needs, our longtime goal is to develop some level of personal relationships with people. We want them to be comfortable with us, and to help us identify prospects among them for housing as it becomes available.”

Green continues to stay in touch with five people who participated in the Winter Sanctuary operated by Citrus Heights HART with the help of Carmichael churches last winter.

“One married couple is still in touch, and still on the street. Another friend works part-time in construction and lives in his car. Another works full-time but also lives in his car because he can’t afford housing. One man found temporary housing, was given a car, had regular work for several months, and is looking for a new job. Several people are now regularly attending church.”

Organizers project that hundreds of volunteers will participate in the Winter Sanctuary program this coming winter. The Church on Cypress will be the intake center where “guests” are processed, beginning at 5:00 p.m., then bused to a host church for an evening meal, offered donated clothing, and signed out with a cot and sleeping bag. They will be given a bag breakfast and bused back to the intake center by 6:30 a.m. the next day. They use the same sleeping bag for a week at a time.

Host churches that are committed to a week or more are St. John the Evangelist, Carmichael Presbyterian, Crossroads, Christ Community, Touchstone, and American River Community. Volunteers and meals also will come from “helping churches” including Our Lady of the Assumption, St. Michael’s Episcopal, Redeemer and Gethsemane Lutheran, and Congregation Beth Shalom. Intake center volunteers come from area churches of the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints. Carmichael HART participants also include members of Carmichael Seventh-day Adventist, Epiclesis church, Carmichael Church of God, The Orchard, veterans’ groups and private citizens.

Organizers estimate the shelter program cost at $8,500, which is higher in the first year because of initial one-time purchases like sleeping bags (assigned to individuals, laundered and swapped out each week), cots, storage racks, insurance, ongoing cleanup and storage expenses.

Several donations already have come in. Significant initial support came from the Carmichael Improvement District, a collaboration of property owners along the Fair Oaks business corridor, and from ATLAS, a nonprofit that uses its Thrift Shop on Fair Oaks Boulevard to help needy people and connect them with resources aimed at developing healthy independence.

Civic groups and business teams are welcome to become volunteers or to donate meals. Monetary donations are accepted online at (Tax ID. #82-1889336)

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Bera Accepts International Franchise Association’s Small Business Award

By Jack Miller  |  2017-12-22

Rep. Ami Bera Accepts the International Franchise Association’s 2017 Small Business Award. Photo courtesy Office of Ami Bera

Washington DC (MPG) - Congressman Ami Bera accepted the International Franchise Association’s (IFA) 2017 Franchise Small Business Award last week for his support of the small business community. Rep. Bera was recognized for championing local franchises and businesses, as well as his leadership on smart policies that promote economic growth and job creation.

“Owning a small business is part of the American Dream,” said Rep. Bera. “If you work hard and play by the rules, everyone should have the opportunity to get ahead. I’ve seen how hard small business owners work in Sacramento County and we need to support them every way we can. Thank you to the International Franchise Association for this award. I look forward to working together to continue improving Congress’ support for small business.”

“Congressman Bera has proven to be steadfast advocate who ensures small businesses are protected in his district and across the country,” said IFA President and CEO Robert Cresanti. “Franchise businesses are the small business backbone of our economy and hugely important to their local communities. They create a significant portion of our nation’s jobs, give aspiring entrepreneurs a unique and guided path to business ownership, and even sponsor local teams and charitable events. On behalf of the 733,000 franchise businesses across the country and the 7.6 million people they employ, the IFA is proud to recognize Congressman Bera today.”

Rep. Bera is committed to supporting Sacramento County’s vibrant small business community by fighting for common-sense tax relief, reducing burdensome regulation, and ensuring that government is a strategic partner for growth – not an obstacle. His office can also connect local businesses with resources they can use to grow and hire. For more information on Sacramento County’s small businesses, visit

Source: Office of Ami Bera

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SMUD thanks customers who donate every month to provide assistance to others in the community

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Some Sacramento residents find it tough to make ends meet, particularly during the holiday season. With EnergyHELP, SMUD customers can quickly and easily help others in the community who are struggling to pay their electric bills.

Participating in EnergyHELP is easy. Customers can sign up at about two minutes. They simply enter their account information, choose a donation amount and choose one of four partner nonprofit agencies—Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, the Salvation Army, Travelers Aid Emergency Assistance Agency or the Folsom Cordova Community Partnership. Those agencies then provide up to $200 in bill assistance to low-income customers whose electric power has been, or is about to be, disconnected for non-payment.

The agencies also work directly with the households receiving bill assistance to provide in-person resources and support to help them get back on track and moving toward a more stable future. So far this year, the agencies have assisted more than 4,000 community members via the EnergyHELP program.

About 14,000 SMUD customers now donate monthly to EnergyHELP. Typical monthly tax-deductible donations range between $1 and $10, but some customers contribute as much as $100 per month. By December 31, SMUD customers will have donated more than $500,000 this year.

Since its inception in 2004, EnergyHELP has raised more than $5 million and benefitted more than 37,000 households in crisis.

To learn more about EnergyHELP, visit or call 1-888-742-7683.

Source: SMUD Media

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Much Needed Warm Wishes from Meals on Wheels

Story by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-12-14

The non-profit provides roughly 500,000 meals and safety checks to roughly 1,500 home-bound seniors annually.  Photo courtesy Meals on Wheels

Sacramento County, CA (MPG) - To have food to eat is one thing.  To be warm and remembered may possibly be the other top two most requested “gifts” on the list of many seniors this year, and Sacramento’s Meals on Wheels is hoping for your help in making those wishes possible.

If Meals on Wheels doesn’t ring a bell it should.  The non-profit provides roughly 500,000 meals and safety checks to roughly1,500 home-bound seniors annually.  The Sacramento operation is part of a network of more than 5,000 local Meals on Wheels chapters across country.  Meals on Wheels was established under the Older Americans Act created by congress in 1965 to ensure seniors 60 and over have food.  It is funded through a combination of public-private partnerships, state and federal grants, private donations and an army of volunteers.

This year, the agency has introduced a new program giving you another option for supporting: Project Warm Wishes, says Michelle Bustamante, program specialist for Meals on Wheels, Sacramento, has a goal to give each of its participants the gift of warmth, as in fuzzy slippers, blankets, throws, hats, gloves and socks, anything to help participants stave off the cold.  

“The goal of this new part of our services is to provide a simple Christmas gift to let people know they are remembered and they are not alone, because so many are isolated and don’t have anybody to share the holidays with,” said Bustamante.  “So our goal is to get a gift to all of those individuals who are registered for our home delivery program and we are thinking about ways to keep them warm and comfortable.”

Scarves, warm sweat suits, even tea and tea kettles are also potential gifts you can donate through Project Warm Wishes, and you can add to the list things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, coloring books for adults, jigsaw puzzles and word search books.

“In addition to a meal, this holiday season we also want to give the gift of warmth and let our participants know that, even though they may be alone, they are not forgotten,” Bustamante said.

If you want to go deeper, consider becoming a driver for Meals on Wheels.  While the job is 100% volunteer base and requires you to use your own car and pass a DMV and background check, the relationships formed with participants and the warmth you get in return are unsurpassed.

“I will tell you that, in addition to providing nutritional meals for our participants, one of our main areas of focus is the relationships that are formed between the drivers and our participants,” said Bustamante.  “We provide a safety check with every visit and the bonds formed between our drivers and the participants is unbelievable.  They are so reliant on seeing that friendly face and the elimination of isolation is so important.”

Not all seniors are homebound.  For those who are more mobile, Meals on Wheels has 20 All Seasons cafes set up across the Sacramento County region where more than 1,000 receive a free lunch and a place to socialize with others —a critical component of fighting off isolation.

There is an All Season Café set up at Rusch Park Community Center in Citrus Heights, Mission Oaks Community Center in Carmichael, and the Orangevale Community Center.  Transportation to and from the café’s is available for some participants.

“The café population is a bit more mobile, and they love the idea of having a place to go each day during the week for a meal and contact with others,” Bustamante said.  “Those folks are also forming relationships with the volunteers and some of these centers where the cafes are, is like a second home to them.  They’ll celebrate birthdays there together, the birth of grandchildren, and really make connections that are so important when you are elderly and perhaps on your own.”

There has never been a more critical time to support Meals on Wheels, including becoming a volunteer.   Congressional budget cuts could impact the future of the public-private partnership for the agency, Bustamante said.  Having a solid core of rotating volunteers (there are currently about 500 in the region) who spend their time either preparing the packing of the meals for the drivers, delivering the meals and providing safety checks, or working in one of the cafes, lays a foundation for longevity.

“We are always in need of new volunteers to help us out,” Bustamante said.  “We are not really clear on what the future holds.  As we all know there are future budget cuts that could affect us and the senior population is skyrocketing, so we need to be able to keep up.”

Humans are not the only ones who benefit.  The aniMeals on Wheels program also provides pet food for the critters who provide vital companionship for many Meals on Wheels program participants.

“Seniors’ pets are often the only family member they have,” said Bustamante.  “And we found out that many of our participants were feeding their pets part of the meals we deliver, so we always need donations to help make it possible for them to keep their pets and enjoy their meals.”

Meals On Wheels, Sacramento/Project Warm Wishes
7375 Park City Dr., Sacramento
To Donate or Inquire about Volunteering:
Call (916) 444-9533

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Sacramento, CA (MPG) - How often do you see prices go down in today’s economy? Well, that’s exactly what going to happen at the Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT). The Board of Directors unanimously voted last night to roll back SacRT’s student monthly pass from $55 to just $20 (65% reduction). The fare reduction is being proposed as a six month pilot and is expected to cost the District approximately $100,000.

“The reduction in price is part of SacRT’s effort to encourage young people to learn about the region’s public transportation system and travel without restriction,” said SacRT Board Chair Andy Morin. “It’s our hope that students in grades K-12 will adopt this mode of travel as they become adults, so providing them affordable transit access in their youth seems to be an excellent approach.”

It’s all part of SacRT’s Ridership Building Initiative.  A recent analysis of ridership data identified K-12 students as the least subsidized category of passengers with the highest sensitivity to rate increases.

A ridership committee recently spent several months evaluating ridership trends, and determined that this fare reduction would have the greatest number of positive impacts, including increased ridership. 

“In addition to ridership building, we believe the discounted student monthly fare will help many Sacramento families by reducing the financial burden of transportation,” said Henry Li, SacRT General Manager/CEO. “Attracting more students to transit would also have the residual effect of reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, because fewer parents would need to shuttling their children from place to place in a car.”                                                                                 

The $20 student monthly pass and $10 student semi-monthly pass will go into effect on Monday, January 1, 2018, and will remain in effect through June 30, 2018. Advance sales of the January monthly pass will begin on December 20, at the reduced price.

SacRT operates approximately 69 bus routes and 43 miles of light rail throughout Sacramento County, including the cities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove.  Sacramento buses and light rail trains operate 365 days a year. SacRT's entire bus and light rail system is accessible to the disabled community. ADA services are provided under contract with Paratransit, Inc.

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A Starry Christmas

Words and pictures by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2017-12-14

Jack Loverich (7) and sister Lucy (8) got a taste of white stuff generated last week by snow machines in Carmichael Park.
Festivities included live music, a visit from Santa Claus and a count-down for Christmas light illumination. Picture by Susan Maxwell Skinner

Carmichael, Ca (MPG) - Thanks to the Property and Business Improvement District (PBID), a restored holiday decoration is icing on Carmichael’s Christmas cake. High above historic Palm Drive, the old Post Office star once again shines from an ancient evergreen.

Palm Drive is lined with Canary palms that community matriarch Mary Deterding planted around 1909. At the same time, neighbor John Scroggs nourished a deodar cedar on his property. The tree grew up with Carmichael. It became a celebrated cause in 1960, when the US Post Office planned a Palm Drive facility. Federal architects sentenced the evergreen – then about 50 years old – to the saw mill.

Neighbors were distraught. Carmichael’s famed naturalist Effie Yeaw lived yards from the sentenced giant and began a petition to save it.  Eventually, Washington DC relented. To mark the community victory, a low concrete wall and a plaque honoring Effie Yeaw was installed beneath the tree.  Sometime later in its 100-plus years, the deodar was crowned with a five-foot star. Its illumination became a Christmas tradition and long-time residents recall finding their way home on winter nights by the lofty icon.

The Post Office later moved to Fair Oaks Boulevard, but the ornament shone through many more Decembers. Electricity for the cause was donated by successive building occupants. About 10 years ago, the star’s wiring fizzled out. No one seemed game to climb 80 feet up for a repair job.

Effie’s tree remained dark until PIBD chairman Gary Hursh beheld the forlorn bauble and saw a fitting project for his organization. “We’re trying to improve the quality of local businesses and our residential environment,” the attorney explains. “We decided the star needed to be relit. Sacramento Metro Fire Department was eager to help. They sent out a ladder truck and four firefighters. A fireman climbed up and replaced many light bulbs, but the wiring was still defective.”

AAA Crane Company owner Gary Matranga and his massive Kenworth crane truck was next to the rescue. On his 78th birthday, Matranga rose like a winged Mercury to string new lights around the star. “I haven’t had so much fun on my birthday in years,” he declared.

As night fell, the lights came on again. Palm Drive neighbors were elated. “I’ve been feeling sad about that old star for years,” said a senior pedestrian. “Now it seems like part of our history as been lit up again.”

 Power came courtesy of RES T+D, a renewable energy company that now occupies the old Post Office. “PBID and I are grateful to the fire department, AAA Cranes and RES T+D for getting our star relit,” approved Gary Hursh. “Carmichael’s a brighter place thanks to efforts like this.”

The Post Office star is visible from many parts of Carmichael. It will be lit until after New Year. To visit the site, go to 5945 Palm Drive. Learn about PBID at

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Help Eliza Seither Bring Her Heart to Haiti!

By Eliza Seither  |  2017-12-14

For the past year I have been looking into Humanitarian Programs. Photo courtesy Seither family

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”

For the past year I have been looking into Humanitarian Programs. A few months ago, I finally found one that felt right for me! I just got my acceptance letter and I am so excited to go! I leave for Haiti in January and I will be there until Late April/early May. I will be living in an orphanage in the city of Saint-Marc. Because this is a humanitarian trip, I will have to pay a little more for food and stay. I have been saving up as much as I can but I am trying my hardest not to take out any loans. I hate asking for money, so don't feel pressured in any way into donating, but anything would help! I will keep you all updated on my entire trip while I’m there so you can enjoy the experience with me! Here is the program I’m going with so you can read more about it!

You can donate to help fund the trip at

Thank you so much!

...Read More!