People Power

Inspiring Stories from San Diego's Eastern Region

EMPTY CHAIR AT THE HOLIDAY TABLE CAMPAIGN HIGHLIGHTS STORIES OF LOSS CAUSED BY “FAILED” WAR ON DRUGS

During the dual crisis of COVID-19 and opioid overdose, Moms United to End the War on Drugs Campaign representatives speak out to reduce stigma and promote harm reduction strategies during the holidays 

Source: Moms United to End the War On Drugs

 

November 25, 2020 (San Diego) -- The holidays can be a particularly painful time for families who are missing a loved one at their holiday gathering. Each holiday season mothers across the globe are joining Moms United to End the War on Drugs “Empty Chair at the Holiday Table” Campaign by sharing photos of the empty chair with a picture of a lost or missing loved one due to the War on Drugs. These photos represent the tens of millions of families that have been ravaged by punitive prohibition policies, whether it is separation due to a loved one’s incarceration; an accidental overdose; their being harmed or killed by drug war violence; or their being lost on the streets due to drug problems. During the isolation of the pandemic, this holiday season can be particularly troubling for families who have a loved one struggling with a substance use disorder, and a dangerous time for vulnerable at-risk communities.


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SECRET HOLIDAY HELPER DONATES OVER $30,000 TO HELP FAMILIES IN NEED THIS THANKSGIVING

 

East County News Service

View video: https://vimeo.com/483714601  

November 25, 2020 (San Diego) -- Lots of smiles, tears of joy, surprise and speechless reactions greeted Sheriff's Deputies Saturday who partnered with a holiday helper for a mission of kindness. The local businessman, who asked to stay anonymous, donated $30,000 in cash and $2,000 in grocery gift cards to help struggling local families.


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LEMON GROVE TOY DRIVE ALSO AIDS LOCAL BUSINESSES

By Councilmember-Elect Liana LeBaron

Photo:  Aubree Russell from Kids Fashion Network and Liana LeBaron with Alonso, the owner of family run Islander Grill on Broadway in Lemon Grove

Kids Fashion Week Network and Lemon Grove Parents United present a community centered Lemon Grove Toy Drive. To accommodate varying preferences, toys can be dropped off at the COVID-friendly drive though event at Treganza Heritage Park, 3200 Main St. in Lemon Grove on Dec. 13th from 1-3 p.m. or at any of the participating Lemon Grove Mom-and-Pop local businesses now through Dec. 12.

All wanting to experience neighborly holiday cheer are invited to come on December 13th to donate their toy in the city’s beautiful and historically rich Treganza Park. Those who donate at the event can pick up a cup of hot chocolate provided by Nitro Monkey Coffee as a small thank you gesture. Thoughtful shoppers can also shop at the hyper-local Lemon Grove vendor tables that will be selling hot items ranging from handmade pet clothing to handmade holiday ornaments.


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A LIFE OF GIVING BACK: AARP CALIFORNIA AWARDS STATE’S HIGHEST HONOR TO FOUNDER OF VOLUNTEERS IN MEDICINE CLINIC IN EL CAJON

By Suzanne Potter, California News Service

November 24, 2020 (El Cajon) -- A San Diego man has won AARP California's Andrus Award - the organization's highest honor. At age 85, Stuart Harvey is a retired civil engineer and a founding board member of the Volunteers in Medicine free clinic in El Cajon.


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UNION BANK SURPRISES PINK ROSE CAFÉ OWNER IN LA MESA WITH $5,000 GIFT

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo by Sandra Small, La Mesa Chamber of Commerce
 
November 22, 2020 (La Mesa)  -- After Union Bank of La Mesa burned down amid civil unrest on May 31, Nadia Zamora, owner of the Pink Rose Café, organized on social media to collect messages of hope, love and peace. She and other volunteers hung those messages on a safety fence around the rubble of the burned bank. 

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MAKE THE HOLIDAY BRIGHTER FOR HOMEBOUND LA MESA SENIORS

East County News Service

 

November 21, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Chamber of Commerce is seeking donated items to brighten the holidays for 24 homebound seniors in La Mesa. All items must be received by Friday, November 27, 2020, to be included in the senior gift bags and baskets.

 

All of the gifts are wrapped and placed in decorative baskets, so that our seniors receive these gifts with a festive flair. 


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USPS OPERATION SANTA 2020 – THE DOCUMENTARY AND THE PROGRAM

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photo courtesy of USPS)

Nov.  21, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- The United States Postal Services’ USPS Operation Santa 2020 will offer the opportunity for you to be Santa’s helper and more, even during the pandemic. 

December 4 is the world premiere of ‘Dear Santa,’ a documentary, on the program.  The program offers the opportunity to read digital letters sent to Santa and adopt a family or child by buying gifts. Or for the young and young-at-heart to send in a letter.

“The 108-year-old program that fulfills wish lists for needy families and kids couldn’t come at a more crucial juncture,” postal service spokeswoman Kim Frum told USA TODAY.


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SAFELY GIVE YOUR TIME AND MONEY TO CHARITIES THIS HOLIDAY SEASON—EVEN IN A PANDEMIC

By Brent Wakefield, President and CEO, Meals on Wheels San Diego County 

November 19, 2020 (San Diego) -- This holiday season, charitable giving and volunteering will look a lot different, thanks to COVID-19. The need for volunteers and donations is greater than ever as millions more people than usual struggle amid the pandemic’s economic disruption.


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JOIN LA MESA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND ASSIST CHILDREN OF MILITARY FAMILIES IN LA MESA MILITARY HOUSING

Source: La Mesa Chamber of Commerce
Photo: CC by NC-ND
 
November 18, 2020 (La Mesa) - Want to make a difference this holiday season for the children of military personnel who live in La Mesa military housing? Then join the members of the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce and purchase toys, diapers, gift cards and other items that will make their holiday season special. 
 
The Chamber is again coordinating this holiday project with Lincoln Military Housing and are collecting toys, diapers and other items for children of military families living in La Mesa military housing between the ages of 2 -13 years old. Lincoln Military Housing facilitates holiday events for over 2,000 military children within our region. This project allows the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce to continue their commitment to making a difference in La Mesa and the lives of those within our community.

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COMPUTERS FOR FOSTER KIDS

 
By Katie Cadiao, County of San Diego Communications Office
 
 
Several local foster families received an early holiday present yesterday: a computer.
 
The families received the free computers as part of the 20th annual Computers for Foster Families Program. The collaborative effort between the County of San Diego and the San Diego Futures Foundation is especially important this year, as many children are distance learning due to COVID-19.

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EAST COUNTY TRANSITIONAL LIVING CENTER RECEIVES LARGE BLANKET DONATION FROM SUBARU OF EL CAJON

Source: East County Transitional Living Center (ECTLC)

November 12, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Tomorrow at 2:00 p.m., East County Transitional Living Center will be accepting a generous donation of 80 blankets from the local El Cajon, Subaru dealer. “The Center is thrilled to receive great contributions like this from a wonderful local business so they can continue to help homeless and struggling individuals in the community,” says Helen Zamora, director of development at the ECTLC.

Subaru of El Cajon is teaming up with Beantown Blankets, an organization that helps businesses and people donate blankets, beanies, bags, and more to good causes to provide the contribution of blankets. Beartown Blankets also matches whatever amount the individual or business buys to donate.

Click Read more to hear about ECTLC's mission, vision, and virtual Gala fundraiser Saturday.


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BOBCAT BURNED IN EL DORADO FIRE TURNS CORNER AT RAMONA WILDLIFE CENTER

By Nina Thompson, San Diego Humane Society
 
November 9, 2020 (Ramona) — A bobcat who arrived at San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center with severe burns from the El Dorado Fire in Yucaipa, California, has a good chance of making a full recovery. After nearly a month of intensive treatment by Project Wildlife’s medical team, the bobcat is healing well.
 
The 6- to 8-month-old bobcat arrived at the Ramona Wildlife Center on Oct. 13, 2020, after a call by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CADFW). The warden explained that a citizen from Yucaipa had been out with her dogs when the dogs spotted the bobcat. The dog owner was able to get between the animals to prevent any injuries. The cat was then taken to a veterinary clinic in Grand Terrace. The cat was so growly that veterinary staff hesitated to open the carrier and instead contacted CADFW. Staff at San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife confirmed it was a bobcat by looking at photos and identifying the markings on the animal.

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REMEMBERANCE & FUNDRAISER NOV 13 FOR ALPINE RESIDENT NICKI BUQUET

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Nov. 11, 2020 (Alpine) -- A remembrance & fundraiser for Alpine resident Nicole (Nicki) Erin Buquet, 37, will be held this Friday, Nov. 13, at the Alpine American Legion Post 258 on Alpine Boulevard. Buquet leaves behind two young boys and a husband. 

She was killed on Oct. 21 in a suspected DUI crash in La Mesa on state Route 125. Buquet was a passenger in a truck that slammed into the back end of a flatbed tow rig parked on the shoulder just south of Interstate 8 according to the San Diego Medical Examiner.


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COMMUNITY POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD RECRUITMENT NOW OPEN

Source: City of La Mesa

Photo: Themis, Blind Justice, Cast Bronze by Design Toscano

Click here to apply

October 28, 2020 (La Mesa) – Applications are now being accepted for the newly created Community Police Oversight Board (“CPOB”). The deadline for submission of applications is 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, December 1, 2020, in the City Clerk’s office at La Mesa City Hall, 8130 Allison Avenue. Applications may be obtained at City Hall or from the City of La Mesa website.

The CPOB will provide recommendations to the Chief of Police, Mayor, City Council, and City Manager on the La Mesa Police Department procedures and policies and on matters of public safety within the City. The CPOB will consist of an 11 member panel (must be residents of the City of La Mesa) as follows:


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AHEAD OF HURRICANE DELTA, DOGS EVACUATED TO GILLESPIE FIELD IN EL CAJON

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson)

Oct. 10, 2020 (El Cajon-Gillespie Field) Over one hundred dogs were flown from Louisiana to Gillespie Field in El Cajon by an emergency animal rescue organization, Wings of Rescue, on October 10  in anticipation of Hurricane Delta’s hit on the Gulf Coast state.  The San Diego Humane Society will provide medical care until the rescued dogs are ready for adoption locally.

This is the second time in less than a month that local animal welfare organizations have offered help to evacuate animals from Louisiana. The transport aimed to create space in shelters there for pets anticipated to be displaced from the hurricane. Wings of Rescue is a 501(c)(3) charity, founded in 2012, that flies endangered pets from where they are, to other shelters/homes. Circle Air Group, LLC’s plane, at Gillespie Field, used their equipment, an Embraer EMB-120, to fly the dogs in.

Hurricane Delta fluctuated from a category 2 to 3 and the outer rings hit southeast Louisiana and southeast Missouri on Friday and into the weekend as well.  Visit: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ for current information. Here is a summary of the situation as of October 10:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/10/10/hurricane-delta-update-damage-weakens-tropical-storm-power-outages/5952093002/

How did the dogs do on take-off?


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SYCUAN CASINO IS SUPPORTING WALK TO DEFEAT ALS, A VIRTUAL FUNDRAISER, SUNDAY, OCT. 18

East County News Service

October 9, 2020 (El Cajon) - Sycuan Casino in El Cajon is among the local partners supporting the ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter’s 2020 Walk to Defeat ALS, the nonprofit’s 20th annual fundraising walk, to be held on Sunday, Oct. 18 as a virtual fundraiser due to Covid-19 restrictions. The fundraiser is free and open to the public. Information is available at www.alsasd.org.


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DYING MOUNTAIN LION CUB SAVED BY SAN DIEGO HUMANE SOCIETY'S PROJECT WILDLIFE IN RAMONA

East County News Service

October 7, 2020 (Ramona) -- An orphaned mountain lion cub who arrived at San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife — Ramona Campus in critical condition is finally feeling better after weeks of intensive care by medical staff.

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LAKESIDE FAMILY GROWS 1,600 PUMPKIN

By Miriam Raftery

 

October 1, 2020 (Lakeside) – The Fredricks family in Lakeside is once again vying to earn the title of biggest pumpkin grown in San Diego County this year—and maybe ever.


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CRISIS HOUSE URGENTLY FUNDRAISING TO PURCHASE NEW BUILDING; COPLEY FOUNDATION WILL MATCH DONATIONS

By Kendra Sitton

 

September 19, 2020 (El Cajon) - The Crisis House is urgently fundraising in its biggest campaign ever so that it can purchase a new building before the City of El Cajon ends Crisis House’s lease and forces it to move out by December 31, 2020. 


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JAMUL’S CHANDELIER LOUNGE CUISINE SUPPORTS FIRST RESPONDERS AND THOSE DISPLACED BY VALLEY FIRE

By Henri Migala

 

September 15, 2020 (Jamul) - One of Jamul’s newest restaurants, Chandelier Lounge Cuisine, has not only become a local favorite, but is on the front lines in supporting our first responders and those displaced by the Valley Fire.


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MISS LAKESIDE WINNERS CROWNED AFTER VIRTUAL PAGEANT

Source: Miss Lakeside Pageant

All photos by Rob Riingen Photography

Photo: 2020 Queens left to right: Priscilla Guidi, Trinity Stewart, and Brylee Cox. 

September 13, 2020 (Lakeside) - On March 12, 2020, due to nationwide shutdowns Jill Fleming, the Miss Lakeside Scholarship Pageant Executive Director since 1997, was faced with postponing or cancelling the Miss Lakeside Pageant for the 1st time ever, two days before the actual event was scheduled to take place due to sudden COVID-19 shutdowns. After months of preparation, the program books were printed, new sashes and crowns ready to be placed, families, friends, and community members were excited to see our Lakeside girls take the stage, and our contestants were ready for their time to shine...the 58th Annual Miss Lakeside Scholarship Pageant was 48 hours from taking the stage! After 5 months of waiting, hoping, and praying to be able to reschedule the "normal" pageant.. Director Fleming came to the conclusion that it was time to move forward.


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FLOWERS FROM GUN OWNERS PAC POSTPONED DINNER DONATED TO EAST COUNTY FIRST RESPONDERS

East County News Service

Aug. 31, 2020 (Santee) – The San Diego County Gun Owners PAC (SDCGO), a political action committee promoting Second Amendment rights in San Diego County, was ready with 90 fresh-flower arrangements, including 65 centerpieces and 25 wrapped bouquets, for its Second Amendment Celebration Dinner, an annual fundraiser benefiting Second Amendment advocacy.


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'GREAT PLATES’ TO CONTINUE, EXPAND MEAL DELIVERY TO HELP MORE ADULTS WITH HEALTH CONDITIONS

Source: County of San Diego

August 25, 2020 (San Diego) - More than 2,000 older adults in the “Great Plates Delivered” program will continue to receive three free and healthy meals a day. Launched in mid-May, the program is a collaboration between the County and 31 local restaurants. Now the County is expanding the service, originally for seniors with health conditions, to include all adults with a disability or health condition that puts them at higher risk from COVID-19.


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LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS IN ALPINE WORKS TO SAVE ANIMALS AT SUSPENDED ZOO FEATURED ON TIGER KING TV SHOW

By Miriam Raftery

August 19, 2020 (Alpine) – Bobbi Brink, owner of the Lions, Tigers and Bears animal sanctuary in Alpine, has offered to aid in the rescue and relocation of all animals at G.W. Zoo. The U.S. Department of Agriuclture has suspended the exhibitor license for the facility also known as the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park featured on the Netflix docu-series “Tiger King.”

The owner, Jeff Lowe, “just announced that he has actually relinquished his license and will no longer be exhibiting animals,” Brink says. Lowe will be banned from exhibiting big cats, bears, primates or other USDA-regulated species at any other property as well as at G.W. Zoo.

The USDA suspended the license after inspectors in June found injured and sickly animals with dangerous and dismal living conditions including:


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SWIPE RIGHT TO HELP CLEAR THE SHELTERS

 

By Yvette Urea Moe, County of San Diego Communications Office

Video by Autumn Endara

August 15, 2020 (San Diego) - Are you looking for unconditional love, companionship and fun? We may have the next big love of your life waiting for you at one of our animal shelters. The County Department of Animal Services is participating in this year’s monthlong Clear the Shelters adoption event being done online to prevent potential spread of coronavirus.


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GROSSMONT HEALTHCARE DISTRICT SUPPORTING ALS ASSOCIATION’S ALS FIESTA, A VIRTUAL FUNDRAISER, AUG. 12

East County News Service

August 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – The Grossmont Healthcare District (GHD) has been named a supporter of the ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter’s 2020 ALS Fiesta, the chapter’s annual major fundraiser. This year’s ALS Fiesta, the fifth annual, will be held as a virtual online event from 7 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 12. Participation in this year’s ALS Fiesta is free and open to the public. Proceed will benefit the chapter’s services provided to local families living with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often called Lou Gehrig’s disease.


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A GRANDDAUGHTER’S LOVE FOR HER “PAPA” INSPIRED ZOE’S BAKERY

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photos courtesy of Tina Bernard, L. Zoe Bernard) 

July 30, 2020 (La Mesa) -- A granddaughter’s love for her grandfather is so strong she decided to open a pop-up venture, Zoe’s Bakery, to raise money for  Parkinson’s Disease on behalf of her grandfather, La Mesa resident Joseph "Papa" Contogenis.

That granddaughter is nine-year-old La Mesa resident Zoe Bernard.

The pop-up bakery is a canopy with tables and baked goods.  The “bakery” is on 3900 Agua Dulce Boulevard between Toledo and Alta La Mesa, and is held from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. most Saturdays, or as long as supplies last.  


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FEEDING THE HUNGRY AMID A PANDEMIC

By Helen Horvath

 

July 27, 2020 (San Diego) -- In an interview with Jim Floros, president and CEO of the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, ECM discusses the push to end hunger in San Diego during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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CAMPO FAMILY SUFFERS DEADLY CRASH: FUNDRAISER STARTED TO HELP SURVIVORS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via GoFundMe

July 21, 2020 (Campo) – Brad and Crystal Sparks’ family from Campo suffered a devastating rollover accident in New Mexico on July 12 while traveling home after a visit to friends in Texas. Two of their children were killed and five other family members had injuries. Brad works for Symons Fire Protection in Poway.

A GoFundMe Page has thus far raised over $187,000 to help Brad and Crystal Sparks, their surviving children and an unborn baby.


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HOW WILL THE YMCA SURVIVE THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC?

 

 

By Dr. Helen Horvath 

 

July 19, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- In this ongoing series about impacts of COVID-19 to our families and vital community nonprofit services, ECM explores  the pandemic’s effects on operations at the YMCA of East County and San Diego County through an exclusive interview with Courtney Pendleton, Association Director of Public Relations and Communications, San Diego YMCA. 

 

The YMCA of San Diego County has served our region for 138 years with a dedication to strengthening our communities through physical activities that feed the mind, body, and spirit of our communities. The Y, as most people affectionately call the YMCA, has become one of the most diverse organizations serving our areaThrough the years, for many, the 18 YMCAs in San Diego County have become places of diversity and inclusion to meet up, exercise, socialize, and meet new and old friends while potentially learning new skills.  

But shutdowns of facilities, programs and fundraising events have posed daunting challenges for the YMCA to work out.  


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