People Power

Inspiring Stories from San Diego's Eastern Region

FUN RUN/WALK JUNE 7 TO BENEFIT HOWIE HAWVER, GROSSMONT COACH WITH LOU GEHRIG'S DISEASE

The Grossmont College Athletics Dept. will present “Le Tour de Grossmont College,” a fund-raising fun walk/run, starting at 8 a.m. on Sunday, June 7, at the college. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m. at the Main Quad area on campus. The event will raise money for medical expenses for Grossmont College women’s soccer coach Howie Hawver, who is currently battling ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

 

SMILE! LA MESA DENTIST OFFERS TEETH WHITENING AT DISCOUNT, DONATES PROFITS TO BRING SMILES TO POOR ON HUMANITARIAN MISSIONS

June 1, 2009 (La Mesa) -- Jeff Gray, DDS, recently led a team from his La Mesa office on a 10-day humanitarian mission to provide dental care to people living in rural villages in the Dominican Republic. Originator of Smiles for Life, an annual fundraiser for children’s charities supported by more than 800 dentists nationwide, Gray has committed half of the SFL funds raised this year by his office to the Dominican project. Smiles for Life continues through the end of June.

RESCUE TASK FORCE ISSUES URGENT PLEA TO HELP VICTIMS OF HONDURAS EARTHQUAKE; ORPHANAGE SPONSORED BY EL CAJON GROUP HAS BEEN HARD HIT

May 28, 2009 (El Cajon)--Rescue Task Force (RTF) and World Emergency Relief (WER) are responding to the 7.1 earthquake that struck Honduras at 2:20 AM this morning.
“The orphanage that WER-CA sponsors has sustained heavy damage to the dormitory,” Gary Becks at Rescue Task Force informed East County Magazine.

COMBAT VETS LEARN ORGANIC & HYDROPONIC FARMING SKILLS AT ARCHI’S ACRES

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

May 9, 2009 (Escondido)—After serving three tours of duty in Iraq, including urban combat zones in Fallujah and Haditha, former Marine Kevin Archipley and his wife, Karen (shown in photo) bought a farm in Escondido and resolved to help returning combat veterans adapt to civilian life.

 

MAY 17 HARVEST PROJECT BENEFITS ARCHI’S ACRES, HELPS VETERANS FIND NEW ROOTS

May 9, 2009 (Escondido)--The independent arts organization contACT ARTS (formerly xDrop Arts Organization) is sponsoring The Harvest Project, a benefit event to help Archi’s Acres organic farm build a new greenhouse to serve more combat veterans in its Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) program. The event is on Sunday, May 17 from 1 – 6 pm at the World Beat Center in San Diego’s Balboa Park. (Photo: Ex-Navy Lt. Olaf Hansen tends hydroponic basil at Archi's Acres.)

 

MONSIGNOR RECALLS HARROWING ESCAPE FROM IRAQ IN INTERVIEW AT CHALDEAN FESTIVAL

May 3, 2009 (El Cajon)—Over 1,000 people turned out to sample Middle Eastern cuisine, dancing and wine-tasting at the third annual Chaldean Food Festival . Held at St. Michael’s Chaldean Catholic church in El Cajon, the event celebrates the culture of San Diego County’s 15,000 to 20,000 Chaldean Christians. Most are refugees from war-torn Iraq—including Monsignor Polis Khammi, who escaped after enduring death threats.

 

GROSSMONT COLLEGE HONORS EL CAJON POLICE CHIEF IN WALK OF FAME

By Miriam Raftery May 2, 2009 (El Cajon)—El Cajon Police Chief Pat Sprecco was inducted into the Grossmont College “Walk of Fame” yesterday at a ceremony in which he was honored by Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (photo) and other local leaders. Sprecco, a 1976 graduate of Grossmont, praised his fellow police officers, then revealed that he drew inspiration from his parents--who were both law enforcement officers.

 

FREE PROM DRESSES! OPERATION FAIRY GODMOTHER TODAY, MAY 2

May 2, 2009 (San Diego)—It sounds too good to be true—but it’s real! Operation Fairy Godmother, a program offered by the Soroptomists International of Valle de Oro, will be giving away free prom dresses to all girls who present a valid high school I.D. card today. Now you can be like Cinderella. (Sorry, Prince Charming is not included.) The Soroptomists do, however, provide beautiful shoes and jewelry to accessorize your dream dress.

EL CAJON POLICE CHIEF JOINS GROSSMONT COLLEGE WALK OF FAME

April 28, 2009 (El Cajon)--On Friday, May 1, the Grossmont College Foundation will induct El Cajon Police Chief Pat Sprecco into their Walk of Fame for 2009. The public is cordially invited to attend the ceremonies honoring Chief Sprecco that will start at 9:00 a.m. at Grossmont College's Main Quad area; this is following the conclusion of the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce First Friday Breakfast, which will begin at 7:15 a.m. at Grossmont College's Student Center. The Walk of Fame is located on campus in the Main Quad area, a short distance from the Student Center.

RESCUE TASK FORCE TO MERGE WITH WORLD EMERGENCY RELIEF

By Miriam Raftery April 20, 2009 (Carlsbad and El Cajon)– In an effort to provide more efficient and effective delivery of programs and services to help people worldwide, World Emergency Relief (WER) and Rescue Task Force (RTF), an El-Cajon based nonprofit organization, announce their merger following approval by the organizations' two boards of directors. The combined organizations will now move forward toward integration of the two nonprofit organizations into one corporate entity.

READY, SET, GO!  CANCER SOCIETY HOLDS RELAY FOR LIFE IN LA MESA APRIL 25

April 7, 2009 (La Mesa)--Remember when you wanted to stay up all night just for the fun of it? Well, now you can, and for a good cause too. The American Cancer Society invites you to form a team and join its Relay For Life, an all-night, action-packed event to fight cancer on April 25th. 
           
More people than ever before are surviving cancer. If you are a survivor, this is your chance to inspire others. You can also participate to honor the memory of friends and loved ones.

GREYHOUND FOUND BY EL CAJON POLICE

April 11, 2009 (El Cajon)—Holly, a former racing greyhound lost Thursday morning at Bradley Street and Highway 67 near Gillespie Field airport, has been found by El Cajon police following a doggedly determined search effort involving volunteers across the country. The brindle (brown striped) dog had only been in her new home for one day.

 

MORE THAN PUPPY LOVE: FREE CANINE COMPANION SERVICE DOGS BENEFIT LOCAL SENIORS

By Miriam Raftery

(Canine Companions for Independence)

April 1, 2009 (San Diego County) – Disabled seniors and organizations that serve senior citizens can obtain free service dogs thanks to a grant provided by the Gary and Mary West Foundation. Canine Companions for Independence will provide dogs to help seniors throughout San Diego County with tasks such as opening doors, retrieving objects, and even alerting hearing impaired owners to ringing phones or doorbells. “CCI assistance dogs can help seniors in their homes or at treatment centers. We’d like to reach as many people as possible!” said Linda Valliant, CCI Southwest Executive Director in Oceanside.

“I really can’t imagine my life today or any time in the future without a CPI dog,” said Peter Wolcott of Santee, who relies on his golden retriever, Shelton, to fetch items and more. “It has enriched my life immeasurably, not only from the assistance aspect but also from the companionship aspect.” View a video by Rob Constantine of Wolcott and his CCI dog, Shelton:

FASHION SHOW FUNDRAISER IS A MODEL OF SUCCESS FOR HEARTLAND LIONS CLUB

By Miriam Raftery

Models Emily Withers-Roberts, Penny Shidner, Judy Godde, and Monica Zech

March 28, 2009 (El Cajon)—Local celebrities including former TV and radio broadcaster Monica Zech strutted their stuff as runway models in the 21st annual Touch of Spring Fashion Show and Silent Auction to benefit the Heartland Lions Club. Held at the Elks Lodge in El Cajon, the event included a champagne luncheon, silent auction and drawing for prizes. Over 176 people attend this year’s show, which raises funds for the many local charities supported by the Lions. Lest you think the Lions Club is an all-male bastion, the ladies clearly ruled the day on this festive occasion.

PUMPED UP: CHAPARRAL HIGH STUDENTS TAKE ON POLICE IN SHOW OF STRENGTH

Campus Supervisor Tim Wargo (left), Resource Officer Steve Paz, and Officer Joe Crawford spot student Brandon Lawtum-Grindle

Annual bench-press competition fosters trust between El Cajon Police Officers and at-risk teens.

By Gayle Early

March 25, 2009 (El Cajon)—Twenty-three Chaparral Continuation High School students flexed their muscles last week during a weight-lifting competition with members of the El Cajon Police Department in a show of strength and good will. Local TV stations trained cameras on the bench press, center stage, while a Channel 933 music van piped the jams, ratcheting up the already hyperkinetic energy of teens and classmates. The El Cajon Police Officers Association and Wal-Mart sponsored the event. Classmates, family, and friends poured onto the high school lawn at lunchtime to whoop, holler, and pump up the competitors.

LOCAL GROUP HELPS WOMEN IN SUDAN: MARCH 29 WALK FOR DARFUR PLANNED HERE

By Miriam Raftery

March 26, 2009 (San Diego)--Horrified to learn that women in Darfur were being attacked by soldiers when they would go out to gather wood for cooking, San Diego-based Voices of Women started raising funds to send solar-powered stoves to the women of Darfur.

ALL ABOARD! SD LAS HERMANAS HOSTS CASINO FUNDRAISER ON RIVERBOAT

March 17, 2009 (San Diego)--San Diego Las Hermanas, a group of East County women who raise money for East County charities, is hosting Casino Night with the San Diego Las Hermanas Riverboat Queens on Friday, March 27. The spring fundraiser is being held aboard the William D. Evans Riverboat, launching from the Bahia Hotel in Mission Bay.

 

SDSU STUDENTS ORGANIZE ART RELIEF EVENT MARCH 14 TO BENEFIT KATRINA VICTIMS; PLAN TRIP TO NEW ORLEANS MARCH 28-APRIL 4.

By Matt Schauer

March 8, 2009 (San Diego) — An Art Relief Auction on March 14th will raise funds to benefit College Students for New Orleans, a non-profit organization intent on rebuilding homes in New Orleans and restoring lives of people affected by Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Katrina. We travel to Louisiana four times a year with groups as small as four and as large as 37. Our upcoming spring break trip from March 28 to April 4 will be the largest yet, with 50 people. We will spend our spring break rebuilding homes in an impoverished community plagued by a variety of problems. These range from severe economic woes and skyrocketing crime rates to the reason we are there: a lack of homes to live in.

NEW ORLEANS JUST MIGHT BE THE PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENT

By Maia Neubig

Maia Neubig is an SDSU senior who traveled to New Orleans on two separate occasions as part of the Art Relief effort.

The best part about the trips are the people down there, they are some of the nicest, most caring people I have ever met in my life. They truly love and appreciate every one of us for coming down there and never let us forget it.

MISS LA MESA AND MISS SANTEE QUEENS CROWNED

Santee Mayor, Randy Voepel presenting Sierra Billock and Nicole Ehlke La Mesa Mayor, Art Madrid presenting Stephanie Packard and Katarina Schweitzer

March 10, 2009 (Santee) — Cheers and tears of joy greeted the crowning of Miss La Mesa and Miss Santee on Friday, March 6, 2009. The pageants have been a tradition in the two cities since the late 1960's, providing a mentoring program for young women. Mayors Art Madrid and Randy Voepel were in attendance to formally present Miss La Mesa 2009 Stephanie Packard, Miss La Mesa Teen 2009 Katarina Schweitzer, Miss Santee 2009 Sierra Billock and Miss Santee Teen 2009 Nicole Ehlke.

EIGHT YEARS AFTER SANTANA AND GRANITE HILLS SHOOTINGS, PEACE PATROL PROGRAM TEACHES NONVIOLENCE; ROTARY AWARDS PEACEMAKER AWARD TO STUDENT EVY PONCE

By Miriam Raftery

Evelyn Ponce, 9, receives Peace Award from La Mesa-Sunrise Rotary Club President David Roberts

(Miriam Raftery)

March 8, 2009 (La Mesa) — The La Mesa Sunrise Rotary chapter has presented its Peacemaker of the Year Award to Evelyn (Evy) Ponce, a nine-year-old student at Lexington Elementary School in El Cajon to honor her "outstanding work" with Peace Patrol and Bullies Beware. "She is a gifted and dedicated student with an incredible ability for peace," said Rotary president Dave Roberts. A trainer of peace patrollers who came to America just two years ago, Ponce is now translating Primary Peacemakers lessons into Spanish and has personally intervened to prevent bullying in her neighborhood. Ponce is the first child to be honored with the annual award.

COCONUTS SPA BRINGS TOUCH OF TROPICS TO LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

Bob Lyon and his wife, Deedee

March 8, 2009 (La Mesa) — Luau foods, seashell leis, and other touches of the tropics greeted guests at the grand opening of Coconuts Salon & Day Spa in La Mesa this weekend. Located behind the Brigantine Restaurant at 9340 Fuerte Drive, the salon formerly known as Transformations has been transformed into a tropical-themed motif by new owners Bob Lyon and Joey Atkins. "My wife, Deedee, and I came up with the name," said Lyon, sporting a Hawaiian shirt. "In the spirit of Hawaii, we created a waterfall and a whole Hawaiian motif."

HEARTLAND LIONS CLUB PRESENTS TOUCH OF SPRING FASHION SHOW & SILENT AUCTION MARCH 28 IN EL CAJON

March 6, 2009 (El Cajon) --“ Fashions by Dress Barn will be modeled at the Heartland Lions Club's 21st annual Touch of Spring fashion show. The event also includes a champagne luncheon featuring chicken cordon bleu, a silent auction, and a raffle--all to benefit worthy causes. The fashion show will be held on Saturday, March 28th at the Elks Lodge, 1400 Washington Street in El Cajon. Cost is $25 per person. Doors open and silent auction begins at 11 a.m.; lunch will be served at noon, followed by the raffle prize drawings.

 

EL CAJON EMPLOYEES GIVE BACK TO COMMUNITY

 

March 3, 2009 (El Cajon)—From blood drives to helping families during the holidays, City of El Cajon employees take pride in getting together throughout the year to help others. When City employees learned of the shortages occurring at the local food banks due to the struggling economy, the Employee Special Events Committee launched a food drive. For over a month, City employees brought in non-perishable food items to be donated to families trying to make ends meet. On Monday, March 2, City employees gathered in front of stacks and stacks of donated food items and delivered it to the Crisis House on Magnolia Avenue.

VROOOOOM! DREW FORD/LA MESA KIWANIS CLUB TO HOLD SOAP BOX DERBY RALLY RACES MARCH 7 & 8

"There's No Substitute for Experience," Says Derby Director

March 1, 2009(La Mesa)--In the seventh year of its Soap Box Derby program, the Drew Ford and the Kiwanis Club of La Mesa will hold two days of Rally Races on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8. The back-to-back races lead to the Annual La Mesa Soap Box Derby in late May. Winners of that contest are sent to the National Derby in Akron, Ohio, in July.

A REAL FAMILY CIRCUS: EIGHT GENERATIONS UNDER THE BIG TOP

By Yuliana Cerda

Vittorio Arata,
Gabriella Quiroga (1),

Katya Quiroga,
Mariella
Quiroga
(Mark
Raftery)

February 21, 2009 (El Cajon) — Circus Vargas distinguishes
itself from the competition because the audience becomes part of the show.
Every child who attended a recent performance at Parkway Plaza was invited
to participate in the pre-show and taught to juggle scarves, spin hula hoops,
and balance peacock feathers.

Unlike some shows in sports arenas or other large buildings, this circus is
held under a big-top tent.

FAMED STARGAZER & NIGHT SKY PHOTOGRAPHER DENNIS MAMMANA OF ANZA-BORREGO SHARES SECRETS OF SUCCESS-- AND ANNOUNCES UPCOMING TRIPS TO VIEW CELESTIAL WONDERS IN THE NIGHT SKY

By Miriam Raftery

Northern lights images from Anza Borrego desert

February 22, 2009 (Anza Borrego) — In celebration of the International Year of Astronomy, we thought it fitting to share with our readers the beauty and grandeur of the night sky as depicted by Dennis Mammana, world-famous night sky photographer and East County resident. His dazzling photos include rare shots of the Aurora Borealis (Northern lights) viewed from the Anza-Borrego desert, where he lives, as well as images of solar and lunar eclipses, comets, and other astronomical events taken around the globe. Also a prolific writer and instructor, Mammana teaches courses and hosts camp-outs locally, also leading astronomy and sky photography expeditions worldwide--such as an upcoming journey to China to view and photograph a total solar eclipse.

CONFRONTING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HEAD ON: LEARN THE WARNING SIGNS--AND WHERE TO GET HELP. POTRERO'S JAN HEDLUN, PANELIST AT FEB. 27 CONFERENCE IN SAN DIEGO, SHARES HER STORY

Author Jan Hedlun

Potrero resident Jan Hedlun shares her personal and deeply moving experiences
as a former victim of domestic abuse in hopes of helping others. Hedlun
will appear as a panelist at a Feb. 27 conference at Thomas Jefferson School
of Law titled "Confronting Domestic Violence Head-On." (Click
here for conferences details
). Domestic violence is the most common cause
of serious injury to women in the U.S. According to the American Psychiatric
Association, one in five women has been raped by an intimate partner. Even
more have suffered emotional abuse. Men can also be domestic abuse
victims, though such cases are less common. Below is Hedlun's story,
along with a list of warning signs for abuse--and where to get help.

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