Volunteers Give Back

Reduction Formula

You probably know the environmental three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Recycling is most familiar, but reducing has the biggest impact. Alex Aruj is determined to help Sacramentans learn how.

“I watched the documentary ‘The Story of Plastic’ and I was shocked and outraged at the environmental degradation going on through the lens of the plastic waste crisis,” says Aruj, a former Bay Area resident who moved to East Sacramento in 2020.

All In The Family

When the Sacramento Greek Festival returns for its 60th year Oct. 6–8 at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation across from McKinley Park, it won’t just be a celebration of Greek food, music and culture.

It will be a celebration of decades—and generations—of community.

“Everyone has something to do,” says Sophie Theodore, one of the festival’s longest-serving volunteers. “Some people make the sweets, some do the main dishes, someone makes sure the rice isn’t mushy. We even have the teenagers clean the tables.”

Never Forget

As the 9/11 anniversary approaches, the third annual Sacramento Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk supports local first responders and helps remind us of brave acts 22 years ago.

“9/11 is a very personal day, in my opinion. It means something different to everybody,” says Mary Parra, volunteer race director. “What really makes this event unique is we have replica badges of all 343 firefighters who lost their lives in 9/11.”

The local run/walk is Nov. 4 at William Land Park.

“To me, New York feels so far away, but the very first year, a woman came up and found her boyfriend’s best friend’s badge,” Parra says. “She started crying and said it was so special. It’s a way for people to embrace someone who was special to them.”

Strength In Numbers

Helen Dittus’ workout regimen is impressive. Every morning, she wakes up at 5:15 to take care of her two cats. Then she walks for an hour.

After breakfast, she goes to the gym. Then she teaches a senior exercise class at Belle Cooledge Library or Belle Cooledge Community Center. She finishes the day with another 1.5-mile walk.

The fact that Dittus turned 85 in April makes her workout impressive, though she insists she’s not superhuman.

Water Wizards

A cardboard box can save lives.

Don’t believe me? Ask Robert Metcalf, professor emeritus of biological sciences at Sacramento State and co-founder of International Water and Health Alliances.

With his wife, Mary Beth, a retired physician, Metcalf helps raise funds to support an organization called Friends of the Old, or FOTO, a community group in Lower Nyakach, Kenya.

The program provides reading glasses for elderly people, seeds for the neediest households, education for girls and, perhaps most importantly, water-treatment supplies.

Eaten Alive

The prey lands. A trap is sprung. The prey struggles but is no match for the enzymes that slowly digest it between vibrant green lobes with tooth-like trichomes.

No, this isn’t a scene out of “Little Shop of Horrors.” It’s the daily eating habit of a Venus flytrap, one of hundreds of carnivorous plant species that capture our imagination.

“Carnivory in plants has arisen at least 12 different times in 12 different areas around the world,” says Ron Nies, president of the Sacramento Bromeliad and Carnivorous Plant Society. “The whole idea of plants absorbing insects makes sense. They grow in areas with nutrient-poor soils, so they catch insects to supplement their needs.”

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