Out & About

By Jessica Laskey
March 2021

Jewish Film Festival

Annual event presents international perspectives and experiences
For the 22nd year, the Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region will present the Sacramento Jewish Film Festival, virtually this year, from March 3–24.

The festival includes 24 films in genres such as comedy, dramedy, drama and documentary from a variety of countries, including Israel, Canada, Norway, Germany, Slovakia, Italy, UK, Ireland, Morocco and U.S. Viewers will have the chance to participate in live Zoom chats with filmmakers and community forums.

Festival highlights include two Northern California premieres. “Tango Shalom” is the story of a down-on-his-luck rabbi who discovers a love for dance—without being allowed to touch his dance partner (played by “Dancing with the Stars” pro Karina Smirnoff). “Maverick Modigliani,” a documentary about the Jewish avant-garde painter, marks the 100th anniversary of his death.

Two documentaries with local ties also will be presented. “Surviving the Silence” is a love story of two women surviving the oppression of a closeted military career. “Stranger/Sister” is a documentary about cities like Sacramento that have built Jewish and Muslim women’s chapters to overcome distrust between their two religions.

All films will be available to stream for two to three days each. For a complete list of films, trailers, tickets, scheduling and more, visit jewishsac.org/sjff.


The Wildlife Care Association is in the process of replacing its aviary flight cage that was damaged in a storm earlier this year. The cage is a crucial part of rehabbing thousands of birds to test their flight readiness before being released back into the wild.

The damage was a huge unexpected hit on the volunteer-run nonprofit’s budget, with an estimated replacement cost of $25,000. It’s crucial that the cage is replaced by early April to accommodate the growing spring bird population.

“Our busy baby season is just weeks ahead so getting this test flight aviary rebuilt is a critical need,” says Rick Reed with WCA. Last year, WCA helped a record 6,700 animals, most of them birds.
WCA rescues, rehabilitates and releases injured, orphaned and displaced birds and small animals in our region. To volunteer to help with constructing the new flight cage, email volunteer@wildlifecareassociation.com. To donate, visit wildlifecareassociation.com.


Speaking of the Wildlife Care Association, this year’s winner of the 6th Annual Fall Photo Contest is Jody Reese of Fair Oaks who won for her beautiful picture of a red-shouldered hawk.

The annual photo contest takes place from October through December to promote outdoor activities and appreciation for our avian neighbors, as well as to raise funds for WCA.


Sacramento County has launched a COVID-19 vaccine information webpage at saccounty.net. The site is regularly updated to provide information about the safety and timing of the vaccine.

Sacramento County Public Health is working with local partners, including hospitals, long-term care facilities and clinics, to distribute the vaccine in phases to those with highest risk. Monitor the webpage for timely updates on new phases, vaccine availability and group prioritization.


The popular multi-faceted playground at Patriots Park in Fair Oaks has given local kids joy for more than 12 years. In dire need of maintenance, the playground recently received repairs from parks staff that involved some extra legwork.

After the Carmichael Recreation and Park District developed the 3-acre park and accompanying playground in 2008, the company that manufactured the playground equipment went out of business. To complete repairs, parks staff had to get specialty parts manufactured, making this a particularly labor-intensive job for five team members and the district’s certified playground safety inspector Phillip Hurt, who’s overseen playground maintenance for the past four years.

“I love this park and playground,” says Hurt, who took part in its development early in his career. “It’s very important to me that the playground is safe and clean for everyone in the community to enjoy.”


Addie Estrada-Huerta, a bilingual outreach youth services librarian at the Sacramento Public Library, has been named one of 10 national winners of the American Library Association’s “I Love My Librarian Award.”
Estrada-Huerta was selected from 1,865 nominations for her outstanding service to Spanish-speaking families, which includes her development of an innovative model that allows librarians to offer storytimes in languages, like Spanish and Russian, they don’t speak. She also helped the library adapt its programming to a virtual format due to the pandemic.

“Equal parts creative, technologically savvy, keenly knowledgeable of cultural trends, a generous mentor, evaluator and analyst, and community convener, Adilene has raised up not just Spanish language services, but also helped so many others throughout this library system to be impactful with their work,” her nominator wrote. “She shows up each day for families and co-workers, ready to bring to reality the best promises of excellent library services.”


In lieu of in-person classes, Sutter Middle School art instructor Kelly O’Neill has moved her gallery of student artwork online for the entire community to enjoy.

“With school closures and no access to walls to showcase the students’ wonderful work, it made the most sense to create the website,” says O’Neill, who’s taught at Sutter for 20 years. “I love that the website can be seen by anyone, anywhere, giving the kids a greater sense of motivation and pride.”

Check out the gallery at sites.google.com/scusd.edu/ms-oneill-art/home.


Your trash pickup day may have changed as of Feb. 1. The Recycling and Solid Waste Division is undertaking a citywide collection reroute to be more efficient, accommodate city growth, and get ready for food waste collection and recycling in 2022.

To see if your collection day has changed, check your address on the Public Works page at cityofsacramento.org/public-works/rsw. More than 60 percent of customers will have a new trash day and/or a new recycle week. You can also sign up for text reminders by downloading the free SacRecycle app.


The Renaissance Society of Sacramento has gone online for its spring seminars, presentations and shared interest groups. The society provides opportunities for older adults to participate in lifelong learning and community engagement.

Instead of hosting its usual classes and seminars on the Sac State campus, the society has made all of its programming virtual for safe participation. To view the spring catalog and register for upcoming events, search “Renaissance Society” on Sac State’s website at csus.edu.


The Crocker Art Museum will present “The Edge of Elegance: Porcelains by Elsa Rady” from March 21 through Nov. 1.

The exhibition of more than 45 objects is the late American artist’s first solo show in more than a decade. It will explore Rady’s transition from producing functional objects to sleek sculptural vessels she is best known for today.

For more information, visit crockerart.org/exhibitions/the-edge-of-elegance. Due to changing health orders, check the Crocker website before visiting to ensure the museum is open.


The city of Sacramento recently received a $1.8 million grant from the California Energy Commission to bring electric-vehicle programs to community centers and libraries to help Sacramento achieve its goal of becoming the “zero-emission vehicle capital of California.”

The grant will fund electric-vehicle charger installation at seven city community centers, car- and bike-share programs, and public art to help underserved communities access affordable, environmentally friendly transportation. Construction is expected to begin this spring and be completed by early 2024.


Though summer may seem like a faraway dream, camps are already filling up. Save 10 percent on your tuition to CLARA Performing Arts Summer Camp by registering by March 15.

CLARA’s two-week camps offer an extensive range of artistic activities, such as dance, music and theater, for campers ages 11–18. Classes are offered in two sessions, June 21 to July 2 and July 26 to Aug. 6. CLARA also is introducing a one-week Performing Arts Junior Camp for kids ages 6–10 from July 19–23.

Tuition includes daily snacks and lunch, class and performance materials, a reusable water bottle and T-shirt. All camps take place at CLARA at 1425 24th St. CLARA has a digital camp contingency plan should local health orders prohibit in-person activities. To register, visit claramidtown.org/camp.


Beloved former teacher, personal trainer and veteran Richard Commins wasn’t going to let the pandemic get in the way of celebrating his 94th birthday. So he and his wife Rona, a vocal instructor and professional singer, hosted a drive-through birthday party at their Arden-Arcade home.

A Marine veteran, Commins served in World War II at age 18. “I thought I would die for sure, but good luck got me through,” he wrote in his birthday invitation. “I don’t know if I will make it to 100, so I’m doing it right now at 94.”

Dozens of friends and family showed up to celebrate the nonagenarian who also taught middle school, won a regional gold medal for weightlifting in the Senior Olympics and worked as a personal trainer into his 80s. Not a bad way to ring in your 10th decade!


Sacramento’s Society for the Blind and Colorado-based Blind Institute of Technology have joined forces to create a new pathway to employment for people living with blindness or visual impairment.

The Society for the Blind is the region’s only comprehensive training and rehabilitation center serving people with BVI. The nonprofit offers services like the Core Blindness Skills program, Low Vision Clinic and other supportive programs to nearly 6,000 people in 27 counties. In 2018, the group established the CareersPLUS program to address high unemployment rates among people with vision loss. In the past three years, more than 65 people have found employment or pursued college and vocational training through CareersPLUS.

The Blind Institute of Technology focuses on employing BVI professionals in corporate America, placing them in positions through networking, education and workforce development.

“It is so important for blindness organizations like Society for the Blind to be creative and really make a difference in the employment opportunities for people living with low vision and blindness,” says Shari Roeseler, Society for the Blind’s executive director. “I believe that collaborations allow us all to do more and be more effective, and that is why I am thrilled to be partnering with BIT.”

To learn more, visit societyfortheblind.org.


Sacramento Self-Help Housing and HARTS Together (Homeless Assistance Resource Teams) have opened five additional local respite centers for needy individuals and families.

The two nonprofits work together to assist those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless by providing needed services, as well as helping clients find and retain stable and affordable housing.
Respite centers are open to adults age 18 and older (pets are welcome) and offer a variety of free services that vary by location, including snacks and/or hot meals, technology charging stations, complimentary water and coffee, mobile showers and coat donations.

For locations and information, visit hartstogether.org or sacselfhelp.org.


United Way California Capital Region’s Free Tax Prep program is offering households earning $65,000 or less throughout the Sacramento region free virtual help preparing taxes and claiming credits.

Qualified households can upload documents online and a United Way IRS-certified volunteer will call them to help claim the maximum tax credits for which they are eligible, including the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credit.

The Arden and Carmichael areas have a higher-than-average number of households that are eligible for CalEITC. This year, more people than ever are eligible to receive these credits thanks to Assembly Bill 1876. Households may be eligible for CalEITC if the taxpayer is at least 18 years old and the household earned less than $30,000 in 2020.

“After a year where many people lost employment and income, it’s more important than ever for households in our region to take advantage of this program that helps people save money on tax-preparation fees and ensures they apply for the maximum refund and credits for which they are eligible,” says Stephanie Bray, president/CEO of United Way California Capital Region.

To learn more, visit yourfreetaxprep.org.


Sacramento Country Day School has earned the 2020 College Board AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in advanced placement computer science. The private K-12 school was one of 232 schools recognized in the category out of 20,000 institutions worldwide that offer AP computer science courses.

“During an unprecedented year, Country Day’s female students have demonstrated perseverance and dedication in their study of AP computer science,” says Country Day’s IT director and computer science teacher Shelley Hinson. “We could not be more proud of these young ladies for staking their claim as the next generation of STEM and computer science professionals.”

For more information, visit saccds.org.


A new wildlife habitat and the extension of Two Rivers Bike Trail is in the works after the city of Sacramento recently agreed to acquire two areas of land near Sutter’s Landing Park at 20 28th St.

“We’re going to add about 30 acres to Sutter’s Landing Park and secure a section of the American River Parkway … for the future inhabitants of the railyards and River District,” District 3 Councilmember Jeff Harris says.

The land is made up of roughly 17 acres acquired from the California Almond Growers Exchange (also known as Blue Diamond) and 16 acres of former landfill transferred to the city by SMUD.

City staff also are planning to extend the park’s Two Rivers Bike Trail to connect to the nearby Sacramento Northern Bikeway and American River Parkway. The park also features basketball courts, bocce courts, a dog park and skate park.


McKinley Village recently dedicated—sans ceremony due to COVID-19—its westernmost park to late community leader and Tower Records founder Russ Solomon as part of its McKinley Village Art Walk project.
The 0.68-acre park, located at 3111 McKinley Village Way in East Sacramento, was completed last October and is now open to the public.

The park contains two turf areas, beautiful plantings, a concrete ping pong table, benches and chairs, and public art specifically designed for the park, including Brenda Louie’s “The Ring,” which is marked with the words “Cheers Russ,” based on Solomon’s signature signoff.


Archival Gallery presents work by Gary Dinnen and Leslie McCarron from March 4–27.

The show will feature Dinnen’s raku ceramics and his popular paintings of dogs and cats alongside McCarron’s large oil paintings of landscapes and still-life florals based on her popular “31 Days” series.
Visitors are welcome during normal business hours, no appointment needed. Masks are required at all times.

Archival Gallery is located at 3223 Folsom Blvd. More info is at archivalgallery.com.

Jessica Laskey can be reached at jessrlaskey@gmail.com. Submissions are due six weeks prior to the publication month. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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