People Power

Inspiring Stories from San Diego's Eastern Region

EDCO’S BURR FAMILY RECEIVES STATEWIDE RECOGNITION AS CHAMPIONS OF COMMUNITY

East County News Service

 

Photo courtesy of Sharp Healthcare

 

April 27, 2021 (La Mesa) -- The California Park & Recreation Society (CPRS) announced at its annual conference held virtually this month that Ed and Sandy Burr were recipients of the organization’s 2020 Champion of the Community Service Award of Excellence. The award honors individuals or organizations who have contributed significant effort to influence and improve the quality of their community through parks and recreation. This statewide award recognizes the contributions of those who volunteer and/or provide support and services that furthers the mission and quality delivery of park and recreation services, programs and facilities. 


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BUILDING COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS VIA HOOPS

Story and photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

April 27, 2021 (El Cajon) Helping to build community relationships via a game of hoops, the El Cajon Police Department’s team played a team of kids at the East County Transitional Living Center on Monday, April 19. The center houses formerly homeless families transitioning to begin new lives.


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LIONS TIGERS & BEARS TO RESCUE WHITE TIGER, SERVALS

East County News Service

 

April 24, 2021 (Alpine) -- Lions Tigers & Bears in Alpine, San Diego’s only accredited big cat and bear sanctuary, is rescuing three exotic cats –   the last animals left at a facility in Southern California that will shutter at the end of the month. The new residents will be Lily, a female white tiger, Eli, a male African serval and Savannah, a female African serval.


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FUNDRAISER TO SAVE BIRDSELLS’ HOME IN JULIAN

By Miriam Raftery

 

April 24, 2021 (Julian) –  Betty Birdsell has served as an elected member of Julian’s community planning group, secretary of the Julian Chamber of Commerce, owner of the former Bad Betty’s boutique and helped organize relief efforts after the Cedar Fire.  Her husband, Jim, is a long-standing Julian resident whose family has been in the community since the late 1800s.  An engineer and contractor for the National Forest Service, he is also a ham radio operator and along with Betty, helped many residents after the devastating 2003 firestorm.

 

But now the couple has fallen on hard times due to health issues and the pandemic. So a fundraiser has been set up at GoFundMe to help save the home that the couple shares with their dog, Buddy. The fundraising page is titled “Help us save  Buddy’s home.” But so far, only about 10 percent of the $25,000 goal has been reached.


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RANCHITA’S MARKET DESTROYED BY FIRE, FUNDRAISER AIMS TO HELP FAMILY REBUILD

By Miriam Raftery

 

April 20, 2021 (Ranchita) – The Manzanita Valley Market, Ranchita’s only grocery outlet, is known for its iconic Yeti statue. The market has long been a roadside attraction for motorists and cyclists heading to or from the Anza Borrego desert. It’s also been a popular stop for hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail, who would stock up on supplies or even sleep over in a bunkhouse.  


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ALPINE NONPROFIT SEEKS WAREHOUSE SPACE TO STORE ITEMS FOR FAMILIES IN NEED

East County News Service

 

April 11, 2021 (Alpine) – Serving Good, a nonprofit organization that provides food and basic necessities to families in need, needs additional warehouse space for inventory.


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RAMONA COMMUNITY FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES GRANTS TO MEET EMERGING COMMUNITY NEEDS

East County News Service

April 7, 2021 (Ramona) --Ramona Community Foundation (RCF), an affiliate of The San Diego Foundation, has announced the availability of grant funding through the Vibrant Community program to enhance the quality of life for those who live, work and play in Ramona.  

“We want to help organizations that have a strategic impact in Ramona to ensure the community thrives,” shared Kristin Zook, RCF Board Chair. “After a year of pandemic woes, we recognize the needs of the community might be different now and these grants aim to address those emerging needs.” 


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THE CONRAD PREBYS FOUNDATION AWARDS $25,000 TO ST. MADELEINE SOPHIE'S CENTER

Source: St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center

 

Photo:  Artist Kristin McKenney shares her woven bookmark with other artists at one of the evening Art Social hour classes.  Kristen used a cardboard loom kit from the Galley to make her brother-in-law this bookmark.

 

April 1, 2021 (El Cajon) -- St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center (SMSC), a nonprofit organization that serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has been awarded a grant from The Conrad Prebys Foundation for $25,000. The grant is designated towards Sophie’s Gallery Virtual Art Program. SMSC was among 121 local arts, education, health, and science projects to receive a combined $78 million in grant funding from The Conrad Prebys Foundation’s inaugural grant cycle. 


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MORE MEALS TO BE SERVED TO UNSHELTERED THROUGH SHERIFF, NONPROFIT PARTNERSHIP

By Donnie Ryan, County of San Diego Communications Office
 
Image Credit: San Diego County Sheriff's Department
 
San Diego County Sheriff's Department staff prepare and package meals which are distributed to the unsheltered as part of a partnership with The Lucky Duck Foundation.
 
March 24, 2021 (San Diego) -- The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously March 16 to execute a new three-year agreement between the County, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, and the local nonprofit Lucky Duck Foundation to help prepare and distribute 1,000 daily meals to unsheltered residents seven days a week.

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MILITARY MAN RECEIVES A CAR AT SPRING VALLEY’S WOLF RANCH TOWN CENTER

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photo-left Renz Michael Palaylay and wife Harvey, daughter Luna. Photos courtesy of Caliber Collision)

March 22, 2021 (Spring Valley) – As a part of the National Auto Body Council’s (NABC) “Recycled Rides” program, an active-duty Navy sailor, Renz Michael Palaylay, received a 2015 Hyundai Elantra on Wednesday, March 3.

The Armed Services YMCA San Diego worked in conjunction with Caliber Collision - Spring Valley, Farmers Insurance and NABC.

Caliber Collision auto technicians donated their own personal time to refurbish the vehicle provided by Farmers Insurance.

“They, the technicians, jumped at the chance to give back to our military,” said the general manger of Caliber Collision, Chuck Cruz, during a phone interview. “We also donated a car a few months ago to a first responder.”


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EAST COUNTY WOMAN FINDS LOST DIAMOND FOR NEIGHBOR

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photo -left – courtesy of Michelle Marks)

March 16, 2021 (El Cajon) --- It takes a village to find a lost diamond. Such is the case with an El Cajon woman, Michelle Marks, who lost a round, one-carat diamond stone valued at $3,000 while walking her dogs in the Fletcher Hills area.

After Marks posted about the loss on a Nextdoor neighborhood forum,  70 people posted comments, some offering help--and one neighbor found the stone. That gifted hunter was Tiffany Johnson.

Johnson doggedly pursued finding the lost diamond that had become dislodged from Marks’ engagement ring--a ring that Marks’ husband, Eddie, had proposed with 27 years ago.


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ACTIVIST REV. HARRIS RALLIES LOCAL LEADERS TO DELAY CLOSURE OF SAN PASQUAL ACADEMY, BOARDING SCHOOL HAILED AS MODEL FOR FOSTER YOUTHS

By Briana Gomez

Photos via Rev. Shane Harris

March 7, 2021 (Escondido) -- Local activist and national civil rights leader Rev. Shane Harris is calling on the state to keep the San Pasqual Academy open, at least until the Dec. 2021 original projected closure date for the foster youth boarding school, and preferably longer. 

San Diego County child welfare officials were alerted by California regulators that the school would be closing by October of this year. 

San Pasqual Academy is a county-run boarding school in Escondido for foster youth, uniquely positioned between supervisorial District 5 and District 2. It is the first of its kind in the nation – the first residential academic home for youth who are dependents of the state. 


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ROCK CHURCH GIVING AWAY FREE FOOD TO FAMLIES IN NEED N EL CAJON, CITY HEIGHTS AND SAN MARCOS

Partnering With Local Businesses To Connect Resources With Those In Need

East County News Service; photo CC via Bing

March 3, 2021 (San Diego) – Rock Church is hosting three community distributions of free food, diapers and supplies to help those in need during the COVID-19 crisis. The dates and locations are:

Thursday, March 4 at 12 p.m., the Rock Church San Marcos (1370 West San Marcos Blvd., San Marcos)

Thursday, March 11 at 12 p.m., the Rock Church City Heights (4001 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego)

Tuesday, March 16 at 12 p.m., the Rock Church East County campus (808 Jackman Campus, EL Cajon)


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SAN DIEGO COUNTY CHILD SUPPORT SERVICE RECOGNIZED BY DHHS FOR OUTREACH EFFORTS

By Donnie Ryan, County of San Diego Communications Office

Photo:  the San Diego County Department of Child Support Services was recently recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for its innovative bilingual outreach program.

February 11, 2021 (San Diego) - The San Diego County Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) was recently recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for its outreach efforts in 2020 to be inclusive to all members of the diverse San Diego community.


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VOLUNTEERS NEEDED AT ALPINE’S LIONS TIGERS & BEARS ANIMAL SANCTUARY

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Photo at left of volunteer measuring animal meals  courtesy of Lions Tigers & Bears 

Feb. 3, 2021 (Alpine) -- Veterinary students, animal lovers, high school students getting their volunteer hours in, young and old volunteers are wanted, and needed, at Alpine’s Lions, Tigers & Bears Animal Sanctuary.

“Making bear food, helping with landscaping, and office work” are just a few of the tasks volunteers can assist with, said founder Bobbi Brink during a phone interview.

“Volunteers receive passes, behind-the-scenes access, t-shirts,” said Brink.  “We also have two volunteer appreciation events each year,” among other tangible rewards, she added.

The intangible rewards include seeing animals such as lions, tigers and bears on-the-job.


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EAST COUNTY RESIDENTS HELP FEED SHERMAN HEIGHTS DURING THE PANDEMIC

By Mimi Pollack 
 
January 29, 2021 (La Mesa) -- 2020 was the year of the pandemic that brought shock, tragedy, and a big change to life as we knew it. It was also the year that proved to be a catalyst for those who started second careers or were moved to donate time and money to help others as many communities were hit hard by COVID-19.

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STAR TREK ACTOR BEAMS INTO LA MESA COUNCIL MEETING TUESDAY TO HONOR JAPANESE-AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST FRED KOREMATSU

By Miriam Raftery

January 24, 2021 (La Mesa) – This Tuesday, January 26th, the city of La Mesa will proclaim January 30th as Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties. The proclamation honors the late civil rights activist, who fought for the rights and freedoms of Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps during World War II.

During a 6 p.m. City Council meeting held via Zoom, special guests beaming in remotely will include Korematsu’s daughter, Dr. Karen Korematsu, Founder and Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute as well as actor George Takei, best known for portraying Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu (right) in the original Star Trek TV series and later, Captain Sulu in Star Trek: Voyager. 


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HOW THE PANDEMIC LED TO HORSES AND SECOND ACTS

By Mimi Pollack
 
January 22, 2021 (El Cajon) -- 2020 was a strange, difficult, and even transformative year for so many. In my case, the pandemic made me feel very mortal and I decided to start checking things off my “bucket list.” First up was going back to horseback riding after 20 years of not riding or being in the horse world.

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SANTEE COLLABORATIVE LAUNCHES NEW CAMPAIGN PROMOTING DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION

Source: Santee Collaborative
 
Photo: Rebecca Jefferis Williamson
 
January 13, 2021 (Santee) – The Santee Collaborative, a one-stop resource center for Santee students and families, has launched a new campaign to reflect and educate people about Santee’s changing demographics.
 
“The city is experiencing a positive change in demographics that make it a much more diverse community than in the past,” a press release from the Santee Collaborative states.
 
The student population for Santee School District reflects growing diversity with only 54% white, not Hispanic (CDE, Dataquest). The white population includes Middle Eastern families, and it is estimated that Middle Eastern students make up between 4-5% of the students in the school district. These are students whose first language is Arabic, Kurdish, Chaldean, Farsi, Hebrew, or Assyrian. There are 29 languages spoken by families who attend Santee School District from all over the world.  This makes Santee a very diverse community with students of different races, ethnicities and religions all living together. 

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ALS ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES $25K YEAR-END MATCHING DONATION CHALLENGE THROUGH DEC. 31

East County News Service

December 23, 2020 (San Diego) -- The ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter has announced a year-end, matching donation challenge that’s part of a $25,000 donation from Rick Greenberg, a retired San Diego sports medicine physician.


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PYGMY HIPPO CELEBRATES BIRTHDAY WITH ZOOM PARTY AND CAKE IN RAMONA

Hannah Shirley’s wildlife friends surprise her with socially distanced well-wishes
 
Source: Ramona Wildlife Center
 
December 20, 2020 (Ramona) — North America’s oldest living pygmy hippo, Hannah Shirley, celebrated her 47th birthday Thursday at San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center today with a Zoom party and cake. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Hannah Shirley was not able to get together with her friends, but that didn’t dampen the celebration, which included a cake made out of her favorite grains, fruit and veggies all held together with pumpkin purée  —and yummy cucumber-melon water in a big bucket. Hannah Shirley’s caretakers set up a “living room” in her habitat for her party, with pumpkin goodies, photos of her friends (including other sanctuary animals), a Zoom feed and a number of enrichment stations. Despite being a nocturnal animal, Hannah Shirley decided to take part and enjoy the occasion.
 

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DEL MAR HIGHLANDS TOWN CENTER GIVES LAKESIDE CHILD THE GIFT OF JOY FOR HOLIDAY SEASON

Center gives family huge holiday sea star after it sparked joy and smiles from a 5-year-old girl who suffers from CDKL5 deficiency disorder. The 6+ foot holiday sea star was delivered to Brooklynn Jarvis yesterday, Dec. 19.
 
Source: Del Mar Highlights Town Center
 
December 20, 2020 (Lakeside) – Del Mar Highlands Town Center is showing the spirit of the season with its surprise gift to a local customer who had a joyful experience on property in December.
 
Del Mar Highlands Town Center’s annual holiday “’Tis the Sea Sun” display features larger than life décor, from a towering 36-foot Christmas tree made of 44 surfboards to bright orange holiday sea stars adorning Santa’s red hat. When the Jarvis family visited Del Mar Highlands Town Center in early December, little did they know they would get the holiday spirit in action.
 
Their daughter, Brooklynn Jarvis (age 5) suffers from CDKL5 deficiency disorder. She has had seizures since she was two months old and suffers with severe developmental problems. She loves bright colors and lights so when the family came upon the "tis the sea sun” themed holiday decor created by Shine Illumination, Brooklynn beamed with a beautiful smile. Her family was so excited they shared pictures of this incredible moment for their daughter at the Center with support groups on Facebook.
 

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ALPINE’S JEFF CAMPBELL’S GIFT BAG DRIVE, A HOLIDAY COLLECTION TRADITION BENEFITING CHARITIES, NOW IN ITS 22ND YEAR

East County News Service

December 20, 2020 (Alpine) – Alpine real estate broker Jeff Campbell of San Diego Estates is celebrating his 22nd annual Gift Bag Drive, a holiday collection drive benefiting several local charities.

More than 25 businesses in Alpine, including banks, retail stores, insurance offices and coffee shops, have hosted collection bins where residents have donated nonperishable canned food items, personal hygiene items and unwrapped children’s toys beginning in mid-November, said Campbell. New this year has been a donation of several hundred jackets, shirts and hoodies from an El Centro-based embroidery company that closed its doors.

Campbell said the deadline for donations is Tuesday, Dec. 22.


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SHANE HARRIS HOSTS CHRISTMAS DAY EVENT FOR FOSTER CHILDREN: DONATIONS AND VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

By Miriam Raftery

 

December 19, 2020 (San Diego) – The  Fourth Annual Shane Harris Community Christmas Day Breakfast for foster youths will be held on Christmas Day, December 25, 2020 between 8:00 a.m. and 11 a.m.at the Jacobs Center 404 Euclid Ave. San Diego. The event is at capacity, with 800 families registered to attend.

 

Volunteers are needed, as well as donations to provide each family with toys and gifts for children of all ages and a gift-card to a local restaurant for a holiday breakfast.  


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REPURPOSING YOUR LIFE AFTER UNEMPLOYMENT WITH TRUCK DRIVING TRAINING

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photos courtesy of Advanced Training Systems) 

Dec. 18, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) Women faced with sudden job loss from the pandemic may consider going to truck driving school to repurpose their life and source of income.

ECM interviewed CEO John Kearney of Advanced Training Systems via email for his insights and tips on pursing a career in truck driving.

ECM: What are the costs and/or scholarships for the training?

Kearney: Costs vary depending on school, public or private.  Costs are the same for men and women. Women should contact the Women in Trucking Association to learn what the possibilities are and how women in trucking is really a growing field.  Some high schools have a driver training program, and the cost is very low because students take the driver training program as part of their regular school program.  Many trucking schools that have training programs will train the student without cost unless they quit soon after the training.  Costs for many of the programs can run from $4,000 to just under $7,000.  I suggest that individuals interested in driving contact local schools, trucking companies and the workforce agencies in their area to determine the local possibilities.  Workforce will often help with the cost of the training.  


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JULIAN FAMILY LOSES HOME TO FIRE: UNINSURED LOSSES INCLUDE TOYS, CHILDREN’S LAPTOPS NEEDED FOR SCHOOL

By Miriam Raftery

 

December 14, 2020 (Julian) – A GoFundMe page has been set up by Julian community members to help the Lares family members, who lost everything in a fire at their home yesterday. 

 

“Perla Lares, a Senior at Julian High School served as Teen Miss Julian Princess in 2018 and 2019, dedicating many hours to community service for Julian and San Diego County.  Her brother, Gabe, is a Freshman at Julian High School,” says Jill Fleming, who started the fundraising page.


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COUNTY HAS ABOUT $4 MILLION FOR NON-PROFITS SERVING PEOPLE IMPACTED BY COVID-19

By Jose A. Alvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office

Image credit:  Shutterstock

December 13, 2020 (San Diego) - Do you run a non-profit organization which serves low and moderate-income people who’ve been impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic?


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LEMON GROVE RESIDENT WINS 10TH ANNUAL HOEHN MOTORS LUXURY CAR RAFFLE TO BENEFIT RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE

East County News Service

Photo courtesy of Hoehn Motors: Winner Thomas A. Schaefer had a choice of these vehicles

December 12, 2020 (Lemon Grove) --  Raising $320,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities® of San Diego to support families with a child in a medical crisis, the 10th Annual Hoehn Motors Luxury Car Raffle concluded last week, naming Thomas A. Schaefer of Lemon Grove, the grand prize winner. 


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COUNTY HAS ABOUT $4 MILLION FOR NON-PROFITS SERVING PEOPLE IMPACTED BY COVID-19

By José A. Álvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office

Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Do you run a non-profit organization which serves low and moderate-income people who’ve been impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic?

If so, you may qualify for a share of about $4 million from the County Housing and Community Development Services’ Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

The funds are available for projects in the following areas:


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KAREN DEVOS, SPRING VALLEY KNITTER EXTRAORDINAIRE, HELPS HOMELESS STAY WARM IN WINTER

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photo of Karen DeVos courtesy of Nancy Rinard)                  

Dec. 3, 2020 (Spring Valley) -- Covenant Living at Mount Miguel, located in Spring Valley, has a resident devoted to helping others via her knitting needles.  That resident is Karen DeVos, a retired teacher and librarian. Her brand of inspiration is knitting beanies, sweaters, and even personalized Christmas stockings.  But in particular, she likes to donate her warm, soft beanies to the homeless.

DeVos donated 45 beanie caps to the homeless choir in San Diego, known as Voices of our City Choir. The group has been featured performing on America’s Got Talent. That connection to Voices of our City Choir came about after meeting Rob Thorsen, a bass player, who is married to the choir co-founder, Steph Johnson, at a jazz performance.

DeVos, 83, and her husband, John, 89, have lived in the Spring Valley facility for several years. They moved to California to be closer to their daughter and grandkids. The pandemic has curtailed socializing and getting to know other residents well, but she hopes that will change in the future.

“We wanted to bond with our grandchildren,” said DeVos. She has achieved that desire during the COVID19 pandemic through Zoom meetings and by reading books to them such as  “Summer of the Monkeys” by Wilson Rawls.


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