Out and About

By Jessica Laskey
June 2020


Sacramento steps up on Big DoG

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has put an immense economic squeeze on Sacramento restaurants, businesses and nonprofits. While some organizations have been forced to close altogether, many are scraping by thanks to emergency funding sources, small business loans and donations from the community at large.

To that end, the annual Big Day of Giving—held this year May 7—was more important than ever for nonprofits throughout the region to raise critical funds through the Sacramento Region Community Foundation’s philanthropic program made possible through the foundation’s GivingEdge nonprofit database.

Since 2013, the Big DoG has generated nearly $40 million for more than 600 local nonprofits. Last month was no exception. The 2020 campaign raised approximately $11.9 million for 615 different organizations from more than 65,000 donations.

“For the most part, where (our partners) had a goal—they made it!” reports Jody Ulich, director of the Sacramento Convention and Cultural Services.

But the Big DoG isn’t the only answer. The Sacramento Region Community Foundation awarded funds of its own through its Sacramento Region Disaster Relief Fund to the tune of $520,000 (as of the end of April) to 73 local nonprofit organizations providing essential services—emergency assistance, food security, health care and childcare—that are facing severe operational challenges.

Awards from the relief fund are flexible, one-time grants made on a rolling basis. For more information, visit sacregcf.org/covid-19.

If there is a nonprofit you love—a theater, gallery, school, animal shelter, any kind of community organization—don’t wait. Donate now. Your dollars could be the difference between them weathering the storm and going down with the ship.


Sacramento Self Help Housing’s free Renters Helpline is experiencing an uptick in calls. In April, the hotline received 828 calls, with 170 specifically related to COVID-19.

The helpline is staffed by experts who assist callers with issues such as renter discrimination, tenant/landlord disputes, new laws about rent increases and “just cause” evictions, and temporary moratoriums due to COVID-19.

Launched in 2016, the helpline is a collaboration between Project Sentinel and Legal Services of Northern California, and is part of SSHH, a 20-year-old nonprofit that assists those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless find and retain stable and affordable housing.

The Renters Helpline is available at (916) 389-7877, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit rentershelpline.org.


Forty percent of Sacramento children struggle with obesity, and 58 percent use free and reduced lunch programs. Now, 100 percent of kids are out of school, which is where many of them received vital sustenance. The Food Literacy Center continues to be a valuable part of both educating the Sacramento community about eating healthy and providing the resources and tools to do so.

To support its crucial programming—much of which has moved online—the Food Literacy Center recently received grant funding from Dignity Health, The Rite Aid Foundation KidCents program, Sierra Health Foundation, The Anthony Cerami and Ann Dunne Foundation for World Health and UC Davis Health.

The Food Literacy Center also recently partnered with the Sacramento City Unified School District’s Nutrition Services Department to distribute Veggie STEM Boxes targeting food- and nutrition-insecure elementary students who would normally attend the center’s afterschool programs. Each box is provided to students for free and contains a lesson plan, recipe, veggie garden plants from Soil Born Farms and information on video demos at foodliteracycenter.org/curriculum.
To help fund the Veggie STEM Boxes, visit foodliteracycenter.org.


Toilet making a funny noise but you don’t want to call a plumber due to social distancing? Locally owned Bonney Plumbing, Heating & Air has implemented a new virtual diagnosis service where callers can be connected to an expert to determine whether a house call is needed.

“There are three possible outcomes for a virtual plumbing call,” explains plumbing general manager Sam Blakely. “If the issue or concern you are experiencing is not a problem, our experts will give you the peace of mind in knowing that your home does not need care.

“If your plumbing problem requires a quick and easy fix, we will waive the virtual plumbing fee in exchange for a modest service cost and walk you through (the step-by-step repair process) via Google Duo. If your issue requires expert care, we will waive the virtual plumbing fee and schedule an at-home visit to complete your service.”

Bonney diagnostic plumbing virtual calls are $39 (unless the fee is waived). For more information, call (916) 444-0551 or visit bonney.com.


The Camellia Society of Sacramento is celebrating the successful replanting of the city’s oldest camellia tree. The camellia had graced the entrance of Sutter Memorial Hospital—long known as “Sacramento’s Baby Hospital” where 350,000 babies were born—since its opening in 1937.

When Sutter Memorial closed in 2017, the plan was to move the tree to another medical center. But nurses and staff convinced the hospital to temporarily remove the camelia and keep it alive while the Sutter Park neighborhood was being built on the site at 51st and F streets. Then the tree could be replanted once again. Today, the 80-year-old camelia stands at the entrance to Sutter Park to beautify the city for another generation.


We all need a laugh right now—so get some giggles with comedian Grant Lyon’s debut label standup comedy album, “Scheduled Fun Time.”

Lyon—who attended Sacramento Country Day School for his last two years of high school—is known for his intellectual but silly observational comedy. Over the last 15 years, he’s performed across the country at clubs and festivals. He’s featured on the second season of “Corporate” on Comedy Central and stars in the Amazon Prime feature film “Killer Kate!”

Download “Scheduled Fun Time” for various platforms at https://800pgr.lnk.to/lyonem.


When the Sacramento Zoo reopens, be sure to check out the zoo’s newest denizens—two female ostriches. Cinnamon and Clove arrived from San Diego Zoo Safari Park and are now sharing space with the zoo’s three Grevy’s zebras.

At 2 years old and roughly 6 feet tall, the ostrich siblings are full-grown—they’re the world’s largest and heaviest bird species. And they’re fast. Though they can’t fly, ostriches can sprint up to 43 miles per hour.

Ostriches have returned to Sacramento as a part of the zoo’s collection for the first time since 2015. For more information, visit saczoo.org.


The city of Sacramento has dedicated its newest urban pocket park, Ricardo Favela Park, located within McKinley Village in East Sacramento.

The park is named in honor of late Sac State art professor Ricardo Favela, who founded the renowned artists collective the Royal Chicano Air Force.

Two new public art installations will adorn the park: “Everyday Light” by Hearne Pardee and “Coffee and Oranges in a Sunny Chair (After Wallace Stevens)” by Julia Couzens. Both are part of the McKinley Village Art Walk, which will contain 10 public artworks by local artists.

For more information, visit mckinleyvillage.com/public-art.


Though productions have stopped at Sacramento Theatre Company, the nonprofit’s School of the Arts is keeping hundreds of students involved via Zoom classes taught by the company’s teaching artists.

STC will hold auditions via Zoom for both the Young Professionals Conservatory (eighth–12th grade) and Pre-Professional Ensemble Company (fourth–seventh grade). These 10-month conservatory programs offer weekly classes in theater, music and dance, as well as the opportunity to perform in age-appropriate roles on the Main Stage.

For more information or to schedule an audition, contact education coordinator Lyn Alessandra at education@sactheatre.org, or visit sactheatre.org.


Though your favorite dance studio might be closed, you can still use this time at home to get fit.
The Sacramento Ballet’s School of Ballet is offering virtual classes for current youth students as well as adults, including senior fall prevention, conditioning, adult ballet, contemporary dance, and sculpt and stretch. For inspiration, check out videos of past performances at sacballet.org. For more information on classes, visit sacballet.org/sb-at-home.

Sac Dance Lab, a local dance studio owned by former Sacramento Kings dancer Isela Perez, is offering live Zoom classes and video tutorials. Its regular instructors are also offering free online classes to keep the community connected.

“The closure of Sac Dance Lab is really hard, not just financially but mentally, physically and
emotionally,” says instructor Marcy Byers. “I’m grateful that we are able to host online classes so we can stay on top of our dance training and connect virtually. It’s great because you can try something new at home and on your own time.”

Zoom classes are $5 and range from beginner to advanced in styles such as hip hop, jazz, ballet and heels. For more information, visit sacdancelab.com.


While all local museums are temporarily closed, many are offering fun, free activities for families to do at home.

The Aerospace Museum of California has hands-on activities, tutorials and easy-to-replicate demonstrations on the museum’s Facebook page: @AerospaceMuseumCA.

The California Museum has launched a new Distance Learning program providing educational materials for K–12th-grade students on California history, arts and culture. Visit californiamuseum.org/distance-ed.

The California State Railroad Museum offers virtual versions of All Aboard for Story Time! on Mondays at 11 a.m. with local influencers reading children’s railroad-related books via Facebook Live @CaliforniaStateRailroadMuseum.

The Center for Sacramento History has original film productions, recordings of past Speaker Series events and access to more than 100 history-rich films and video clips at youtube.com/centerforsacramentohistory.

The Crocker Art Museum provides virtual art and gallery tours and activities for all ages at crockerart.org/oculus and on the museum’s YouTube channel.

For more information, visit sacmuseums.org.


The Downtown Sacramento Partnership has released a free collection of nine coloring pages drawn by local artists featuring Downtown destinations.

Artists include Alex Trujillo, Arturo Romero, Brianne Channey, Emilee Rudd, Franceska Gamez, Jeremy Stanger, Nick Jacoy and Nicole Alvarez.

Download the pages at godowntownsac.com. Tag, snap and share your drawings with @DowntownSac and @OldSac for a chance to be featured on the Downtown Sacramento Partnership’s social accounts.


Camellia Waldorf School is known for its experiential, hands-on, in-person learning, so the school’s closure in March was understandably devastating.

Faculty quickly came together to revise the curriculum using online classroom tools and meeting software to keep students engaged in science, reading, math, language, art, music and movement.

“Our goal is to continue to meet the needs of our children during this crisis while delivering the best possible educational program,” says Sidonie Ospina, director of admissions and outreach. “As the landscape of our world shifts, the continuity of our children’s education is more important than ever.”

For more information, visit camelliawaldorf.org.


Francophile film buffs can now watch movies online on the Sacramento French Film Festival’s Virtual Cinema platform.

To view a film, visit sacramentofrenchfilmfestival.org, click on the film you’d like to watch, create an account, then rent or screen the film for $10 (SFFF gets 50 percent of the net revenue). The film will be available for 72 hours on any computer, laptop, iPad, Chromebook or other mobile device. Bon spectacle!


Archival Gallery is featuring artists Davy Fiveash, Jolene Matson and Shenny Cruces from June 4–30. Though the gallery is still closed for walk-ins, it is now offering bookable private tours.

Fiveash is presenting paintings on canvas and fabric collage. His public mural can also be seen on the side of the Archival Gallery building. Matson is exhibiting her well-known clay horse sculptures. Cruces is showing her signature ceramic and porcelain assemblage wall sculptures.

Appointments can be made at archivalgallery.com.


Master Laboratories, a Sacramento-based manufacturing company, is using 3D-printing technology to create FDA-registered nasal swabs for COVID-19 testing for hospitals, clinics, government agencies and armed forces.

“After losing 90 percent of our dental device business within hours after the shelter-in-place order went into effect, our expert team of technicians and staff looked at ways to design and manufacture nasal swabs using 3D-printer technology,” says Michael Kulwiec, a Carmichael resident and owner of Dental Masters Laboratories.

In addition to its EnvisionTEC NP Swabs, Master Laboratories has begun production of full-face shields. For more information, visit masterlaboratories.com.


It was with heavy hearts that the owners of Biba Restaurant—founded in 1986 by the late, great chef Biba Caggiano—announced they would be closing the iconic Sacramento eatery.

Rising operational costs were compounded when the pandemic forced the restaurant to offer only takeout. The decision to close was pressing, but no less difficult for the team that had kept the restaurant going after Bologna-born Caggiano passed away last August at age 82.

Just like its accomplished and warm proprietress, Biba Restaurant will be sorely missed.


You read that right: Stop buying toilet paper. Why? Just ask Dr. Lance A. Casazza, local chiropractor and author of “Stop Buying Toilet Paper: Your Guide to Surviving 90 Days.”

Casazza has written six books and counting, all available on amazon.com. In his newest release, the owner of Casazza Chiropractic, located at 2716 V St., and motivational speaker discusses immunity, home defense, survival skills and sanity.

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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