Checkers ‘Rallying’ For Arrival

Story and photos by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-07-20

I knew this was the right franchise for me,” says Aibuedefe. Photo by Jacqueline Fox

Citrus Heights, CA (MPG) – Indicative, perhaps, of the early fruits of redevelopment momentum already in play along the Auburn Road corridor, is the pending arrival of a new quick-service restaurant, Checkers, slated to possibly occupy the vacant side of the corner lot at Grand Oaks Boulevard.

Roseville resident Ben Aibuedefe said he doesn’t have a construction start date yet but, barring any unforeseen setbacks, will bring the first Checkers burger restaurant to Citrus Heights, marking the first foray into the Sacramento region for the Florida-based Checkers and Ralley’s burger chain, which currently has roughly 800 locations nationwide.  

“I believe the closest Checkers is in Fresno,” said Aibuedefe, a Nigerian native who came to the country roughly 14 years ago and, for much of the last 12 years owned and operated a Union 76 gas station franchise in the Bay Area.

Aibuedefe said all told, he will have invested roughly $1.4 million in the first of what he hopes to expand to a multi-location ownership of Checker’s stores across Sacramento County.

“I have had the idea in my head to get into a quick service franchise for a long time,” Aibuedefe said. “I envision this being my first store and then expanding out from there, but staying in the Sacramento area.”

Aibuedefe said the restaurant will be roughly 1,000 square feet in size and, in keeping with the Checkers and Ralley’s model, will offer double drive-thru and walk-up service for burgers fries and shakes, with limited outside seating.

Aibuedefe said he has initiated the assessment phase of the project with the city’s engineers to ascertain what, if any improvements to the lot space must be made before permits for construction can be obtained. Once those requirements are met, however, the build out won’t take long, as the restaurant will be erected using the company’s modular construction format, involving prefabbed “cubes” ready to drop in, a process Aibuedefe says can save roughly $100,000 in construction fees and have the eatery up-and-running in as little as 4-6 weeks.

“It’s a very fast process, once you have the modules delivered,” he said.

Aibuedefe conducted a vast search across Sacramento County for a location before settling on Citrus Heights. The location is well-suited, he says, for a burger chain, as it would share the large, corner lot with Fireside Lanes bowling alley. But the other draw, he said, was the ongoing redevelopment and expected revitalization of the retail sector along the Auburn Boulevard corridor.

“Citrus Heights has been involved in a lot of redevelopment plans in the area, and that is very important for me,” said Aibuedefe.  “Also, with the bowling alley nearby, this is an excellent location. There is plenty of visibility and I see my restaurant as being part of the revitalization of the area and giving locals more options.”

Aibuedefe said he’d been hoping to buy into a quick-service food franchise for several years, and certainly considered others, including some of the bigger players, such as Panera.  But lower startup and construction costs, coupled with attractive franchise fees, and the company’s rating as one of the top 50 franchises in the nation, he said, cinched the deal for him.

“I looked at all the bigger franchises out there and they wanted between $45,000 and $75,000 in franchise fees, but this one, the fees are closer to $30,000,” Aibuedefe said.  “Also, they take smaller sales percentage of sales, something between 2.5 and 4 percent, compared to others who ask for between 3 and 7 percent.”

Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc. was formed in 1999 with the merger between Rally’s Hamburgers, Inc., out of Louisville, Kentucky, and Checkers out of Mobile, Alabama.  The chain offers a 1950s, pit-stop feel, complete with checkered flag facades, red and chrome accents, and double-drive-thru access.
Never mind the aesthetics, says Aibuedefe. The menu, which includes burgers, fries, frozen drinks, shakes, wings and even fish sandwiches, and prices are hard to beat.

“From the minute I walked into meet the company representatives, I knew this was the right franchise for me,” says Aibuedefe. “But, in addition to that, this food is really good and so are the prices. I think locals are going to be very happy with us.” 

 

Photo credit: Jacqueline Fox

Renderings: Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc. 


Sacramento, CA (MPG) - The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced July 20th, 2017, a large increase in the number of reported Valley Fever cases in California with illness onset in 2016.

From January through December 2016, 5,372 new cases of Valley Fever were reported to CDPH corresponding to an incidence rate of 13.7 cases per 100,000 people. This is very similar to the most recent peak in 2011 (5,213 cases), which was the highest number of cases since individual cases were made reportable in 1995. 

“People who live in or travel to areas where Valley Fever is common should take steps to avoid breathing in dusty air,” said CDPH Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “If they develop flu-like symptoms, such as cough, fever, or difficulty breathing, lasting two weeks or more, they should ask their doctor about Valley Fever.”

Many counties in the Central Valley and Central Coast regions, where Valley Fever is most common, reported an increase in cases in 2016 compared with 2015. The largest number of cases and highest incidence rate in 2016 were in Kern County where more than 2,200 cases, or more than 250 cases per 100,000 people, were reported.

Valley Fever, also known as coccidioidomycosis, or cocci, is caused by the spore of a fungus that grows in certain types of soil. In California, Valley Fever is most commonly reported in the Southern Central Valley and Central Coast.  People get infected by breathing in spores present in dust that gets into the air when it is windy or when soil is disturbed, such as through digging in dirt during construction. The incidence of Valley Fever depends on a variety of environmental factors and types of human activity in areas where the fungus is present. Valley Fever symptoms can be similar to other illnesses and it is not always recognized: changes in testing, diagnosis and reporting patterns can also impact reported disease levels. It is unknown why there has been such a large increase in reported Valley Fever cases in California in 2016.

While anyone can get Valley Fever, those most at-risk for severe disease include people 60 years or older, African-Americans, Filipinos, pregnant women, and people with diabetes or conditions that weaken their immune system. People who live, work, or travel in Valley Fever areas are also at a higher risk of getting infected, especially if they work outdoors or participate in activities where soil is disturbed.

A person can reduce the risk of illness by avoiding breathing in dirt or dust in areas where Valley Fever is common. In these areas, when it is windy outside and the air is dusty, stay inside and keep windows and doors closed. While driving, keep car windows closed and use recirculating air conditioning, if available. If you must be outdoors, consider wearing a properly fitted mask (such as an N95 respirator mask which is widely available in retail stores), and refrain from disturbing the soil whenever possible. Employers should train their workers about Valley Fever symptoms and take steps to limit workers’ exposure to dust.

Most infected people will not show signs of illness. Those who do become ill with Valley Fever may have flu-like symptoms that can last for two weeks or more. While most people recover fully, some may develop more severe complications of Valley Fever which may include pneumonia, or infection of the brain, joints, bone, skin or other organs. If you think you have Valley Fever, you should contact your physician.

For additional information on Valley Fever, please visit the CDPH website.

Source: www.cdph.ca.gov


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Hearing In CHP Officer’s Death Set

Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-07-20

CHP Officer Lucas Chellew. Courtesy CHP

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - A July 13 preliminary hearing for the man accused of causing the death of CHP Officer Lucas Chellew February 22 in South Sacramento, has been rescheduled in order to give CHP investigators more time to complete their investigation of the accident.

Defense attorney Alice Michele requested an extension for the hearing for her client, Alberto Quiroz, 26 at the time of arrest, who faces one misdemeanor and three felony counts of vehicle theft, possession of a stolen vehicle and resisting arrest.

Motorcycle patrolman Chellew was pursuing Quiroz, also on a motorcycle, on Fruitridge Road, when he was suddenly cut off by a passing car, lost control of his motorcycle and hit a pole. He was taken to UC Davis Medical Center where he later died from his injuries. Quiroz was arrested shortly after the pursuit.

Deputy District Attorney Aaron Miller confirmed that the hearing, which was stalled for several months for settlement conferences before being calendared, was delayed so that CHP officials conducting a detailed investigation into the crash that killed Chellew could have more time to prepare.

“They need more time to put together their report before we can move forward,” Miller said, adding that the original charges have not changed in the case against Quiroz, but declining to say that they could.

The CHP report is expected to play a critical role in the case against Quiroz.  Should it reveal willful recklessness on the defendant’s part, charges against him could change to include at least one count of vehicular manslaughter.

Chellew’s widow was present in the courtroom for the hearing.  She sat flanked by CHP patrolmen, presumably colleagues of her late husband, as Judge Kevin J. McCormick asked Quiroz, clad in an orange jumpsuit inside a detaining cell, if he agreed to waive his right to have his case heard sooner. He did.


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BBB Sacramento Region Names New CEO

Danielle Spang, BBB Marketing & Communication Manager  |  2017-07-19

Lynn Conner, new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BBB serving Northeast California. Photo courtesy of BBB.

West Sacramento, CA (MPG) - Better Business Bureau (BBB) Board Chair Archie Milligan announced on July 19th,  that Lynn Conner accepted the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BBB serving Northeast California. Conner also served as the interim CEO after former CEO, Gary Almond, chose to step down in late March.

“We are very fortunate to have someone with Lynn’s impressive resume leading the BBB. Even more important for us, though, is Lynn’s character and her commitment to our mission and values, demonstrated during her many years of service on our Board,” said Milligan. “I personally appreciate the most recent example of Lynn’s commitment – her positive response to my request to serve as our interim CEO, and I certainly appreciate the extraordinary efforts of the staff to convince her to take on the position permanently,” he added.

“I’m honored and excited to be taking on the challenge as CEO of BBB serving Northeast California. Marketplace trust is as vital as ever, and I look forward to continuing to develop and promote programs that advocate trust and bring attention to those who have chosen to become BBB Accredited Businesses,” said Conner.

Conner served on the BBB Board of Directors for six years, and was the chair of that board in 2015 and 2016, helping guide the organization during a period of significant financial growth. For the last two years she was also given the distinct honor of serving on the national board of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB), and is currently a member of the Finance Committee.

Conner brings thirty-five years of managerial and business related experience to this endeavor. Her background is both varied and extensive. She worked for Parasec, a $15 million public records research company, for 30 years, 22 years as President until she was succeeded by Matt Marzucco in 2009.

In addition, while working with Parasec, Lynn assisted a partner CPA firm for nine years, Flemmer Associates, as their Business Development Manager.

In 2010, Conner and her husband started their own company, Hialeah Terrace, a six-bed residential care facility for the elderly. She is the Licensee and Administrator for that company.

Conner believes in the value of the BBB mission and has demonstrated her support by maintaining both companies, Parasac and Hieleah Terrace, as BBB Accredited Businesses.

Having served for more than 12 years on the board of the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA), Lynn’s skills led to her election as Chair of the Board. In that role she continues to demonstrate her commitment to SETA’s mission to develop a viable, vibrant workforce in Sacramento and the surrounding areas.

Lynn holds her Certification as a Residential Care Facility Administrator.


Lynn earned a Bachelor of Science in Botany from UC Davis, as well as a Master’s of Business Administration from California State University, Sacramento.

Source: BBB Media


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District Attorney's Office Updates Public on Arrests

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - “On June 26, 2016, members of the Traditional Worker’s Party (TWP) held a rally on the west steps of the state capitol after securing legal permits from the California Highway Patrol. The rally began at 11:00 A.M.  Numerous counter-protesters also arrived at the capitol to block the rally, none of whom were lawfully permitted to conduct their demonstration. In the hours that followed, violent clashes occurred between the two groups resulting in a number of assaults and several stabbings.

The California Highway Patrol Protective Services Division investigated the incident.  After several months of reviewing video footage, interviewing witnesses, and attempting to identify participants, the investigators submitted arrest warrant requests to the District Attorney for review.  In all, arrest warrants for 101 individuals were submitted for consideration.  Many of the charges submitted did not meet the District Attorney’s filing guidelines including: 85 counts of Unlawful Assembly, 55 counts of Conspiracy to Unlawfully Assemble and 32 counts related to the possession of illegal signs and banners.  In several other cases, there was clear evidence of felonious conduct but the identity of the perpetrators could not be established. Unfortunately, included in this category were all of the stabbings and the attack on a local television reporter. After reviewing all of the evidence submitted, the District Attorney’s Office sought and received arrest warrants for individuals whose conduct represented the most egregious offenses that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

We cannot disclose the names of all of the individuals for whom warrants have been issued until after arrests have been made. We can confirm at this time that William Planer and Porfirio Paz have been arrested on charges of Assault with a Deadly Weapon or by Means of force Likely to Inflict Great Bodily Injury and Participating in a Riot. Planer was arrested in Colorado and is pending extradition to California. Paz was arrested in Southern California and is scheduled to be arraigned on July 24, 2017 in Department 63 at 8:30 AM.” - Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Grippi

District Attorney's UPDATE (July 19, 2017):

Yvonne Felarca was arrested last night in Southern California on charges of Assault by Means of Force Likely to Inflict Great Bodily Injury, Participating in a Riot, and inciting a riot.  We have no further information as to Felarca’s court date at this time.

Michael Williams was arrested today in Yolo County on charges of Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Participating in a Riot. Williams is set for arraignment on July 21, 2017 at 1:30 in Department 63 of the Sacramento Superior Court.

There are no further outstanding warrants related to this incident.


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Crumbling Seat of Govt Looks Towards a Facelift

Debra Gravert, Office of Ken Cooley  |  2017-07-19

Ken Cooley at the Annex Hearing. Photo courtesy Office of Ken Cooley

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - Chairman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) of the Joint Committee on Rules convened the second of several hearings to examine the condition of the State Capitol Building Annex and the Legislature's options for dealing with California’s aging seat of government on July17th, 2017.

“The functionality of our State Capitol Annex is key to our ability to govern,” said Chairman Cooley. “Today’s hearing made clear that the current status of our building does not match our basic needs as a co-equal branch of government.  Our partners in the Executive branch stand ready to help move us forward to build a ‘People’s House’ we can all be proud of for the next century.”

Testimony at the committee began with strong statements of commitment from Marybel Batjer, Secretary, Government Operations Agency and Daniel C. Kim, Director, Department of General Services (DGS) for the Legislature’s endeavor.  Jason Kenney, Chief, Project Management and Development Branch, DGS then gave a presentation regarding the current conditions and status of the building and what next steps can be taken.

Mr. Kenney remarked on the fact that the Capitol’s East Annex was finished in 1952 and was designed for a part-time Legislature and before modern technology.  Today, the Annex’s wear and tear has significantly increased beyond its original intended usage.  There have not been any significant renovations to the major systems in need of repair.  Many “band-aids” have been used, but most upgrades cannot be done while the building is occupied.  According to Mr. Kenney, this project offers the Legislature an incredible opportunity to make significant upgrades to security, technology, and the free movement of people.  He also spoke about the planning process to identify space for lawmakers and staff during construction and potential Capitol Park impacts. 

Diane Boyer-Vine, Legislative Counsel, next spoke on the law and legal precedent for Capitol projects.  She remarked that the Legislature is the law-making branch and that this is reflected in the law governing the Capitol, with the exception of the first floor that houses the Governor and Lieutenant Governor and is overseen by DGS.  She also described the funding that was set up by SB 836 of 2016, which also outlines legislative control over the building and its zoning.

One of Chairman Cooley’s primary considerations has been to engage security partners from the beginning so that safety components are integrated into the initial design as opposed to attempting to fit these needs as an afterthought into an already re-constructed building.  To conclude the Joint Rules hearing, a presentation on public building design considerations by Senate Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Debbie Manning, Assembly Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Bryon Gustafson, and California Highway Patrol Chief Chris Main reinforced the need to make security discussions a priority.  Many security considerations in the Capitol have been a reaction to incidents at the Capitol or elsewhere and are outside of the basic architectural design.  A more in-depth look at the particular security needs will be delivered to the Joint Committee on Rules during a closed meeting on August 22, 2017.

The Assembly maintains a website for the Architectural Program for California’s Capitol at http://annex.assembly.ca.gov/.  The full video of the hearing is posted on the website.

Source: Office of Ken Cooley


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All Aboard for Story Time 

By Traci Rockefeller Cusack   |  2017-07-19

Sacramento Republic FC Player Adam Moffat. Photo courtesy T-Rock Communications

Shared with Sacramento Republic FC Player Adam Moffat


Sacramento, CA (MPG) -  It’s All Aboard for Story Time! with Sacramento Republic FC midfielder Adam Moffat as a celebrity guest reader on Monday, July 31, 2017, at 11 a.m. at the California State Railroad Museum. To the delight of young children and soccer fans alike, Moffat will read the children’s book Thomas and the Big, Big Bridge (Thomas & Friends). Originally from Scotland, Moffat joined Sacramento Republic FC this season bringing with him MLS experience to the wildly popular local professional soccer team.


All Aboard for Story Time! is offered every Monday morning year-round. Through this interactive and fun program, parents are encouraged to let trains and railroading introduce and foster the love of reading with their imaginative young children ages two to five. The Story Time! program showcases different railroad-related books each month. Afterward, children and parents are encouraged to explore the Museum. Whether it’s toy trains or big locomotives, there is always something to discover in the California State Railroad Museum – North America’s most popular railroad museum – that will thrill children (and adults) of all ages. 

The All Aboard for Story Time! program is included with Museum admission: $12 for adults; $6 for youths ages 6-17; free for children ages 5 and under. For more information about the reading program or the California State Railroad Museum in general, please call 916-323-9280 or visit https://www.californiarailroad.museum/.  

Subscribe to California State Parks News via e-mail at info@parks.ca.gov or via RSS feed. 

California State Parks Mission is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high quality outdoor recreation. 


Source: T-Rock Communications


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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


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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


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To Hold Life-Changing Workshops for Officers

Citrus Heights, CA (MPG) - The Citrus Heights Police Department was the recent recipient of an $8,000 donation to bring a nationally-renowned author and expert on the emotional survival of law enforcement officers and their families to Citrus Heights for a one day workshop.

On June 19, members of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) Citrus Heights Women’s Club (CHWC) met at the Citrus Heights Police Department (CHPD) to present Commander Gina Anderson, Police Chief Ron Lawrence and other staff with the gift.

The funds will be used to put on an intensive one day workshop for the entire Citrus Heights Police Department including officers, staff and families at Sierra College in Rocklin. The workshop will be followed by a special BBQ lunch.  During this time police officers from surrounding law enforcement agencies will be protecting the streets of Citrus Heights.

Commander Gina Anderson, who was instrumental in its conception, described the event in an email. “This November, CHPD will have the honor of hosting Dr. Kevin Gilmartin, author of Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement, a staple for anyone in Law Enforcement.  He is a nationally recognized speaker with amazing insight and tips on staying focused to what is truly important in our lives.  The lessons in his teaching can be life-changing for officers, support staff, and their friends and families”. 

Funds to finance the workshop were raised April 28 at ‘A Taste of Citrus Heights’ (TOCH), a fundraiser which took place at the Citrus Heights Community Center. Local restaurants and other culinary merchants came together for an evening of great food, beer and wine samplings, enjoyed by 300 attendees from Citrus Heights and neighboring communities, all for the ticket price of $35.  

Additional donations included a $1,000 grant from the Citrus Heights Rotary Club, $1,350 from an anonymous donor, and $350 from American Legion Post 637.    

Darla Buechner, president of GFWC’s Sutter District and Commander Anderson worked together for months with club members, police staff, event sponsors and the community to make TOCH a success. Buechner’s own experience as the wife of a retired police officer, and mother of two daughters presently in law enforcement, gave them a common bond after they each became aware of Gilmartin’s’ work.

When Buechner became president of Sutter District she chose TOCH as her President’s Fundraiser and the beneficiary was obvious. Its success will not only allow CHPD to have their workshop but Buechner plans to help fund the program for other first responders including fire, 911 and other emergency service personnel and their families.

Anderson thanked Buechner and CHWC president and TOCH chair Kristy Hernandez for the donation saying, “We are grateful to GFWC for assisting us with the funding for this important event”.  Funds will also be used to purchase Gilmartin’s book for each participant and to purchase training DVDs so his life-saving program will become an indispensable part of wellness training for the department. 


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