Baby Boomer Group Raises Funds for Local Charities
By Jessica Laskey
Stuart Walthhall is a proud East Sac Baby Boomer. In fact, he was one of five founders of the group of the very same name—East Sac Baby Boomers—in 2015 that brought together local folks born between 1946 and 1964 to raise funds for worthy causes.
“A group of us who all went to school together 50 years ago would get together and have lunch once a month to catch up and gossip,” says Walthall, who was born (along with his twin sister Beverly) at Sutter Memorial Hospital in 1951. He attended El Dorado Elementary, Kit Carson Junior High, Sacramento High, Sacramento City College and Sacramento State. “Our conversations slowly turned toward the fact that we had a lot of resources among us and that our lives seemed to have drifted toward helping various charities and causes. We thought, why don’t we form our own group and see what we can do?”
The first step was to file as a nonprofit to make sure they could accept tax-deductible donations. Then came the question of who to help.
“One of our founding members and current vice president, Steve Cippa, was already working with the American Cancer Society, so we went over there to check it out,” recalls Walthall, who became president of ESBB this year. “It was great, but it was huge! We knew we wanted to help on a more local level. Then we discovered the underfunded Road to Recovery program, which provides local cancer patients transportation to and from treatments. Not only did they need money, they were also very trackable in terms of knowing exactly how many people would benefit from our involvement. We saw that we could actually make an impact.”
ESBB has raised funds for Road to Recovery for the past two years through various means, but Walthall’s personal favorite has been Concerts for Life, a series of live music presentations staged at local entertainment venues. As a musician and a piano and guitar teacher for the past 45 years, Walthall has taught more than 1,500 students. He’s worked out of Skip’s Music on Auburn Boulevard for the past 38 years—so music is really his jam.
When the group was brainstorming ways to raise funds for their chosen charity, Walthall suggested booking some concerts, where they could not only sell tickets, but also solicit sponsors and donors, and raffle off prizes “to make money in wads instead of dribs and drabs.”
The model was a massive success, so this year the group has decided to add another charity to its roster. They selected Society for the Blind’s Senior Impact Project, which empowers individuals 55 or older living with low vision or blindness to achieve their full potential through free services like classes, discussion groups, seminars and excursions, as well as an eight-day intensive training program that teaches non-visual skills and alternative techniques to help clients maintain independence.
“We were shocked at how quickly our membership grew,” Walthall admits. “But that means we can help even more people.”
When Walthall isn’t organizing benefit concerts or teaching, he’s also donating his time to causes close to his heart in Locke, the historic, unincorporated community on the Delta built by Chinese immigrants during the early 20th century.
“I used to be deeply involved in painting 40 years ago,” Walthall says. “And I would visit Locke because it was so picturesque. When I had the chance to move there in 1983, I jumped on it and eventually formed the Locke Foundation in 2003 to educate the public about the history, culture and legacy of this amazing place.”
Walthall now splits his time between a home in Locke and an apartment near Skip’s Music, but he loves the communities equally. He reports that one of the most rewarding charity projects he’s involved in is providing Christmas—complete with presents, a visit from Santa and a giant holiday meal—to the children of farmworkers and their families along the Delta every winter.
“The thing about being an East Sac kid is that you’re keenly aware that you’re often perceived as entitled,” Walthall says. “That’s why it’s important to give people the opportunity to pay their good fortune forward. For the East Sac Baby Boomers to be the organization that gives people that opportunity—to be thankful that you’ve had advantages and now be able to help other people—and then see the results of their generosity is exactly what we were after.”
Jessica Laskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.