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Inspiring Stories from San Diego's Eastern Region

INSPIRING STORIES FROM 2013

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 8, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Too often, media only reports the bad news.  But there are many unsung heroes , dedicated do-gooders and citizens work to make the world a better place, proving that dreams do come true, helping others, or simply offering inspiration to us all.   There are stories here that will tug at your heartstrings and, perhaps, move you to take action in some way.

 Here are a dozen people and organizations who you may never have heard of; most are not famous, but all have stories worth taking to heart as we begin the New Year.

BRADY COMPANIES PLEDGE $3 MILLION TO BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF EAST COUNTY

 

January 5, 2014 (San Diego's East County)--The Boys and Girls Clubs of East County Foundation reports it is halfway toward a goal of raising $8.9 million in donations that will be used to construct a new clubhouse in La Mesa, renovate an existing teen center and fund an endowment to operate both facilities.

Jerry Fazio, Foundation executive director, reports he has commitments of $4.45 million, including a $3 million pledge from La Mesa residents Mary Alice and Ron Brady, founders of The Brady Companies, a San Diego-based construction firm.

TAKE A QUIZ AND FEED A HUNGRY CHLID

 

By Miriam Raftery

It’s the season for peace, goodwill toward men.  But one out of every eight people in our world goes to bed hungry each night.  Yet the world actually produces enough food to feed all of the 7 billion people on earth.

So why are so many going hungry?

ALPINE COUPLE’S HOME DESTROYED IN CHRISTMAS EVE FIRE

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 31, 2013 (Alpine) – Residents of Alpine are pulling together to help a young couple whose home on Arnold Way was destroyed by a fire on Christmas Eve.

Shara Halverson and her boyfriend, Sean Barrett were away visiting friends when their home caught fire.  They have no renters insurance and lost almost everything in the flames, though they are grateful for small miracles.

HELP SENIORS IN NEED WITH M.O.M. THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

 

December 17, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – This holiday season, More on the Menu, or MOM, is asking San Diego County residents to step up to the plate — the salad plate — to help senior citizens in our region.

MOM is a non-profit program that delivers fresh fruits and vegetables to local, homebound senior neighbors across San Diego County.  The organization has been dedicated to supporting seniors with home-delivered meals since 1992. But, with many seniors unable to shop for themselves or able to afford the cost of fresh produce, it is the recipients’ everyday nutrition that now seems most pressing.

EAST COUNTY GOOD SAMARITAN RECOGNIZED WORLDWIDE FOR PAYING IT FORWARD, HELPING STRANDED MOTORISTS

 

Story and photos by Sharon A. Penny

December 1, 2013 (El Cajon)--Thomas Weller of El Cajon has had stories printed throughout the nation about his acts of kindness (by CBS News, The LA Times, People Magazine and NPR, among others), as well as international publications. Yet this East County man remains humble and steadfast in his pursuit of paying it forward.

Weller, known as the San Diego Highwayman (www.sandiegohighwayman.com) has been helping distressed motorists for almost 50 years. He never accepts payment for his kind gestures – which include providing gas for empty tanks to replacing batteries to fixing flats. Instead, he hands each motorist a card with the following inscription:

“Assisting you has been my pleasure. I ask for no payment other than for you to pass on the favor by helping someone in distress that you may encounter.”

A BIRDSEYE VIEW INSIDE THE WADDLE AND TROT THANKSGIVING DAY 5K RUN

 

By  Grey Feathers

November 28, 2013 (Santee) – The second annual Waddle and Trot 5K run began and ended at the Pathways Community Church, the sponsors of the event.  Proceeds will be evenly split between the Santee Santas and the Santee Food Bank.  This was a certified 5K run on a fast and nearly flat course around Santee Lakes.  The family-friendly event attracted serious runners to casual walkers on a sunny beautiful Thanksgiving morning.

On the starting-line were contestants with team shirts and bright-colored running-shoes.  In the middle of the crowd were great grandfathers, teenagers, parents with infants and children.  Near the back were dozens of strollers with precious cargo along for the ride. 

This was my first 5K run ever and I found myself locked in an epic battle for last place.

SAN DIEGO FILIPINOS HELP TYPHOON VICTIMS

 

By Jordan Schaffner

Photo: USaid.gov

November 26, 2013 (San Diego)--Many Filipinos live and work in San Diego County.  Some of them have relatives back home in the Philippines who have been affected by the tragic typhoon Haiyan (which translates in English as typhoon Yolanda)  that hit a few weeks ago.

In an interview with East County Magazine, Rex Mortensen, a local recruiter with American Solar Direct, said he has several dozen family members in the hard-hit city of Tacloban, where he was born and raised until age 8. 

“All but one of my family members have been found," he said, but added that "odds are not good” due to current conditions; all of their homes have been destroyed and their belongings are gone. “They are hungry, thirsty, severely injured and with only the clothes on their backs, are trekking up to Manila to relocate and live permanently with our aid.”

INTERNATIONAL VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN DAY: MEASURE INTRODUCED IN CONGRESS TO PROTECT WOMEN AND GIRLS AROUND THE WORLD

Online effort mounted to ask Congress to support International Violence Against Women Act

By Miriam Raftery

November 26, 2013 (Washington D.C.) – Yesterday was officially the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women.  To mark the occasion, the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA)  has been introduced into Congress last week—for the third time. 

“Gender-based violence remains an epidemic of global proportions that cuts across every social and economic class, ethnicity, race, religion and education level,” Secretary of State John Kerry stated yesterday.  “In fact, nearly one-third of women worldwide have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence. This is an unacceptable statistic and must be a wake-up call.”

BARONA RESORT AND CASINO STANDS BY FILIPINO COMMUNITY IN WAKE OF TYPHOON HAIYAN

 

Barona Pledges More Than $20,000 & Launches Fundraiser for Typhoon Relief Efforts

November 22, 2013 (Lakeside)– Barona Resort & Casino has joined in relief efforts to help those affected by the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan. Barona presented a $10,000 donation to the Philippine American Business Improvement and Development during the organization’s annual gala. Barona will also continue to support those affected by Typhoon Haiyan with another $10,000 cash donation and a three-week, casino-wide fundraiser that will benefit relief efforts through the American Red Cross.

The casino-wide fundraiser begins on Saturday, November 23 as Filipino politician and boxing legend Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao takes on Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios in a pay-per-view fight which will be shown at the casino. From November 23 through December 15, Barona will match, dollar-for-dollar, the price of each Filipino-inspired entrée purchased at Ho Wan Noodle Shop. Players and staff will also have an opportunity to make a donation in designated collection boxes throughout the casino and everyone who makes a donation will be given a special thank-you button for their support.

SALVATION ARMY PREPARES FOR HOLIDAY SEASON WITH A KETTLE KICK OFF PARTY

 

By Janis Mork

November 17, 2013 (El Cajon)- On November 14, the Salvation Army of El Cajon Corps held its 38th annual Kettle Kick Off party at Hooleys Irish Pub and Grill in the Grossmont Center mall. The day after, people started ringing bells at different businesses for people to put money in the red kettles to raise money for East County children and families in need during the holiday season. This year will be a challenge because of when Thanksgiving falls, and the season will be shorter than last year. The organization hopes to provide 500 families with Thanksgiving baskets.

ECM interviewed Captain Terry Masango (photo, left), administrator of all of Salvation Army’s services and pastor of the Salvation Army El Cajon Corps Community Center.  “We have senior homes, serve meals to the seniors, have after school youth programs, and serve groceries to 1100 families a month,” he said, adding that Salvation Army believes in offering help to those in need as part of its mission. ”We’re also in the process of registering 1400 families for Christmas.”

NEED HELP FOR YOUR FAMILY THIS HOLIDAY SEASON? EAST COUNTY TOY AND FOOD DRIVE WILL ACCEPT APPLICATIONS NOV. 23 AND DEC. 7

 

To help brighten the holidays for families in need, the Salvation Army in El Cajon will be holding the 38th Annual East County Toy & Food Drive. 

To apply for help, applications will be taken on Saturday, November 23rd and on Saturday, December 7th, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Salvation Army offices, located at 1011 E. Main Street in El Cajon.  Toys are for children ages 12 and under.

18 LOCAL HEROES HONORED BY KPBS AND UNION BANK

Photo by Melissa Jacobs

November 18, 2013 (San Diego) –Union Bank N.A., joined KPBS to honor 18 inspirational individuals at the 16thAnnual Local Heroes celebration.  The honorees were announced as part of the 2013 Local Heroes Program, which pays tribute to exemplary leaders who are making a difference and enriching the lives of others by improving their community, region and the world. 

"NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN": DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RALLY IN EL CAJON

 

By Ariele Johannson       

November 13, 2013 (El Cajon) – In observance of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the crowd shouted, “No more violence! No more pain!” as they rounded the turn into Prescott Promenade off Main Street in El Cajon with signs and energetic chanting. The East County Domestic Violence Coalition “Not to be Forgotten” rally on Friday, October 18 was also a memorial for the 26 San Diego County victims, some from East County, who lost their lives in 2012 in domestic violence tragedies.

2ND ANNUAL WADDLE AND TROT 5K AND FUN RUN IN SANTEE THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28

 

November 13, 2013 (Santee) – Thanksgiving 5K road races, also known as Turkey Trots, have increased in popularity in recent years, as they provide participants an excellent opportunity to lace up their sneakers and get some much-needed exercise before the big holiday meal.  Now, residents of Santee and surrounding areas can enjoy this fun holiday tradition right in their own backyard, while also helping two very special local charities.

On Thursday, November 28 at 8:00 am, Pathways Community Church will be hosting the 2nd Annual Waddle and Trot 5K and Fun Run.  This fun family event is intended for runners and walkers of every fitness level, and all proceeds will go to Santee Santas and the Santee Food Bank.

DONATIONS SOUGHT FOR MILITARY CARE PACKAGES

 

November 7, 2013 (El Cajon) – The City of El Cajon’s Special Events Committee, a group of city employees volunteering their time for city and community projects, is seeking item and monetary donations to mail care packages to military members serving overseas through the second annual “They Serve Us, Let’s Serve Them” campaign from “9-11 to 11-11.”  

“We’ve had an outpouring of care package item donations and will probably be able to assemble 30 care packages to help our military this year,” according to Ron Luis Valles, a coordinator and member of the special events committee.

SECOND CHANCE PROGRAM GIVES TROUBLED YOUTH A ‘SECOND CHANCE AT LIFE’

By Janis Mork

October 24, 2013 (San Diego)- The Second Chance Program in Southeast San Diego deals with the hard-to-serve population, giving formerly incarcerated, former substance abusers, homeless vets, and at risk youth a ‘second chance’. They offer programs such as Strive, JOLT workforce, and recovery groups.  Their mission is to empower people to change their lives.

Robert Coleman, executive director of Second Chance, was recently interviewed by ECM to share more details about this program.

SAVE ROCKINGHORSE RANCH: THERAPY PROGRAM NEEDS HELP TO STAY IN EL CAJON

By Janis Mork

October 23, 2013 (El Cajon)- Rocking Horse Ranch has been in business since 2006, and  now its operators are asking for help to help save the property. The ranch pairs up troubled horses with abused and neglected children, and in time, both child and horse learn to heal.

ECM recently sat down with founder and executive director, Kathy Plaisted to learn more.

She told us that the ranch is special because “it is such a unique environment.. .We bring horses that come from troubled backgrounds and pair them up with people who have suffered as well.. We’re volunteer driven and serve over 500 people each month. We rehabilitate [the horses], work with kids, adopt the horses to forever homes, and bring in another one.”

SAN DIEGO’S BOYS AND MEN OF COLOR: ASSEMBLYMEMBER SHIRLEY WEBER COHOSTS BRIEFING

 

Researchers, policymakers, advocates, and students depicted the state of San Diego’s boys and young men of color, sharing information on  to improve their social and economic conditions

October 23, 2013 (San Diego) – Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber’s (D-79) Youth Advisory Council and the California Assembly’s Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color, chaired by Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-62), held a joint informational briefing yesterday evening to discuss the status of boys and men of color in the San Diego area and to connect the work of the Select Committee to the local community.

“As one of the state’s fastest growing populations, we should be investing in our boys and men of color, not leaving them behind,” said Assemblymember Weber. “This is a rescue mission to save California.”

LOCAL HEROES HONORED FOR DISABILITY AWARENESS MONTH

 

October 22, 2013 (San Diego) – In celebration of Disability Awareness Month and as part of its ongoing commitment to cultural diversity and responsible banking, Union Bank, N.A., has joined with KPBS to honor two inspirational individuals as local heroes.  The 2013 Disability Awareness Month honorees are: Linda Bounds, founder of L.E.A.P.S. (Lovingly Energetic Artistic Programs for Seniors) and BOUNDS; and Al Kovach, Jr., national senior vice president of Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA).  Both will be recognized with other heritage month honorees during a November celebration in San Diego.

SPRITES OF EAST COUNTY SEEKS MOTHER-DAUGHTER VOLUNTEERS

 

September 30, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Sprites of East County, a mother-daughter non-profit philanthropic organization, is looking for new members. The organization’s goals include providing volunteer service to local charities, financial assistance to their philanthropies, along with providing scholarships to deserving young girls in the community. Sprites is comprised of mothers and their 7th-12th grade daughters who reside in the Grossmont Union High School District.

Those interested in becoming a “Sprite” can contact membership coordinators Jocelyn Cherin and Emily Waring at contact@spritesofeastcounty.org, on Facebook, and by mail at Sprites of East County Inc., P.O. Box 786, El Cajon, California 92022-0786.

STRONG WILL FOUNDATION GOLF TOURNAMENT NOV. 1 AIMS TO RAISE FUNDS FOR TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY PATIENT

 

 

September 26, 2013 (San Diego ) – JVD Golf and Promotions in Rancho San Diego is teaming up with the Strong Will Foundation to host the annual STRONG Will Foundation Golf Tournament, complete with helicopter ball drop contest and a chance to win $2,500—even for non-golfers.

The event will be held Friday, November 1 at The Crossings Carlsbad Golf Course, and benefits patients with traumatic brain injuries.  The tournament is named after Will Barton, who was shot three times at close range while walking home from work at Barrio Star.  With a bullet lodged in his brain, his chance of survival was less than one percent.

GOVERNOR HONORS CHP OFFICER FOR BRAVERY

 

September 26, 2013 (Sacramento) – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. recognized California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer Dane Norem with the 2012 Governor’s Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor for performing extraordinary acts of bravery on October 25, 2012.

While on duty, Officer Norem of the CHP’s Riverside Area office responded to a call of a potential suicidal subject attempting to jump off of a freeway overpass to the roadway below. Officer Norem arrived at the scene and observed an adult male climbing the overpass fence. While attempting to save the subject’s life by preventing him from jumping, Officer Norem was stabbed nine times, including in the eye, with a utility knife. Despite his injuries, and continually being stabbed, Officer Norem continued to hold onto the man’s leg until help arrived to take the man into custody.

JIM MULVANEY’S CONCERT ON THE GREEN OCTOBER 5

 

Sept. 23, 2013 (Spring Valley) – The Mulvaney family is sponsoring the 3rd Annual Jim Mulvaney’s Concert on the Green to benefit Noah Homes Inc. on October 5, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 12526 Campo Road, Spring Valley.  The concert will feature the Irish music of The Tim Foley Band.

THE BRANDING – YMCA 20TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION IS SEPTEMBER 28

August 18, 2013 (Spring Valley) – The Branding, celebrating the YMCA’s promise to strengthen the foundation of the East County Community will be held at the McGrath Family YMCA, 12006 Campo Road, Spring Valley on September 28 from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. The event will bring country glam to East County, with dining and dancing under the stars to the live music of the Carolyn Sills Combo and Crosswinds Band.

2ND ANNUAL WINE & CHEESE “FRIEND-RAISER” SEPT.14

 

September 14, 2013 (Alpine) – The 2nd Annual Wine & Cheese “Friend-Raiser”, a benefit for the Back Country Land Trust at Wright’s Field is today from 6 – 9 p.m.  This event benefits land conservation, watershed stewardship and environmental education in East County.  Hosted bar, hor’doeurves, fruit and dessert plates will be available.

FASHION ARTISTRY SHOW TO BENEFIT EAST COUNTY ARTS SEPTEMBER 12

 

 

September 4, 2013 (El Cajon) – Friends of East County Arts, Inc. presents “Fashion Artistry” on Thursday September 12, 2013, at the Ronald Reagan Community Center, located at 195 East Douglas Avenue in El Cajon. 

Festivities begin with an 11:00 a.m. check-in, followed by a silent auction, and an opportunity drawing at 12:00 p.m.  The annual luncheon and fashion show will be featuring fashions by Draper’s & Damon’s and Chico’s. The cost is $65 per person.  For reservations, please contact Margie Hartman at (619) 440-2449. Proceeds will go to support fine arts and artists in the East San Diego County area.

FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL URGES SERVICE TO COMMUNITY AT GLOBAL LEADERSHIP SUMMIT

 

“Leaders inspire people to reach beyond themselves.”—Former Secretary of State Colin Powell 

By Janis Mork

September 5, 2013 (La Mesa)- More than 500 people gathered at Journey Community Church in La Mesa on August 8 and 9 to watch a videocast of the 10th annual Global Leadership Summit broadcast from Willow Creek Church in Illinois to over 300 host sites in 100 countries.  Bill Yaccino, Connection and Formation Pastor at Journey Community Church, hosted the event.

DISABILITIES CHAMPION ALEX MONTOYA, PADRES STAFFER, INSPIRES CROWD AT CUYAMACA COLLEGE COMMENCEMENT

 

By Janis Mork

August 17, 2013 (El Cajon)- Born missing three limbs due to a rare birth defect, Alex Montoya has triumphed over adversity. Now manager of Latino affairs for the San Diego Padres, he met representatives from Cuyamaca College after speaking at the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park and was invited to deliver the commencement speech.

Montoya moved here from Columbia when he was 4 years old. “It was absolutely a new world. It was at times scary and at times daunting, but really it was refreshing and exhilarating,” he told ECM. “I realized that there were boundless opportunities.”

He learned English by watching baseball. Montoya is most passionate about baseball because “it’s a very fair and very beautiful sport..I quickly saw that it was America’s past time… [It] was something that really stayed with me my entire life.”

HELP NEEDED TO FUND SURGERY FOR RESCUED DOG

 

August 8, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – About two weeks ago, two East County residents, Courtney Case and Victoria Haynes, rescued a female stray Chihuahua-Dachshund mix in Bakersfield. Now she is seeking donations to fund surgery for the rescued dog, which is needed to save her from a degenerative disease.

“She did not have a collar, her nails were painfully overgrown, and she had acquired a limp on her back hind leg,” said Case, an assistant manager at Partnerships with Industry in Santee. “After returning to East County, she had already found a permanent home with a loving family; they fell in love with her sweet and loving personality instantly. Her new family got her all cleaned up and named her Koa, but unfortunately her limp persisted. Koa was taken to the vet to get X-rays and she was diagnosed with Legg-Calvé-Perthes syndrome. This involves spontaneous degeneration of the head on the femur bone. Unfortunately, it was determined that she needs immediate surgery or her condition would worsen and cause her even more tremendous pain and no use of her back right leg.”

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