Out and About Sacramento

By Jessica Laskey
September 2021

Saint John’s Square

New housing community opens for women and children

Saint John’s Program for Real Change recently celebrated the opening of Saint John’s Square, its newest affordable modular housing community.

The square consists of 11 new units to house up to 55 formerly homeless women and children in two-bedroom, one-bath units. The new community also offers professional wrap-around services for mental health, addiction recovery, parenting and financial guidance, and is suitable for employed mothers with children and/or individual employed women seeking interim housing.

“Saint John’s Square has been a great project because of everyone who came together to make this community possible,” says Julie Hirota, CEO of Saint John’s.

Key advocates and stakeholders include the city of Sacramento, Councilmember Eric Guerra, Project HomeKey, HomeAid Sacramento and construction company Roebbelen Contracting. For more information, visit saintjohnsprogram.org.


Bonney Plumbing, Electrical, Heating and Air recently launched BonneyU, a 10-week program to train the next generation of plumbing installers and technicians. The program will give students more than 400 hours of practical experience and the opportunity to be hired after completion.

The first cohort began classes in June at Bonney’s headquarters in Rancho Cordova with traditional classroom instruction, as well as hands-on training. During the accelerated BonneyU program, students spend 40 hours per week learning through real-life scenarios taught by Bonney’s industry experts. The program is designed to allow students to become skilled technicians in less time than a traditional apprenticeship program, which usually takes two years.
“The past year has shown that those who work in the trades are indispensable members of our community—they keep our daily lives afloat,” says Bonney HR Director Peter Meadows. “We are training the next generation of talented trades workers to keep our community going through good times and bad.”
For more information, visit bonney.com, under “About Us.”


The Ancil Hoffman Habitat Restoration Project will restore crucial habitat by recreating spawning and rearing areas for native salmon and steelhead trout in the river at Ancil Hoffman Park in Carmichael.

Fall-run Chinook salmon migrate to the Lower American River as adults to spawn from October through December. To aid this process, the project will lay approximately 15,800 cubic yards of clean gravel into the flowing river and carve a new alcove in the existing gravel bar as a place for eggs to be laid and safely hatched before the young salmon travel back to the Pacific Ocean.

For more information, visit waterforum.org/ah.


With the support of Suncrest Bank, the Republic FC Kickstart grant program has awarded $10,500 in cash grants to local LGBTQ+ businesses. The five finalists receiving grants are the Lavender Library, Little Sparrow Childcare (winner of the $5,000 grand prize), Plant Daddy Co., Strapping and Sugar Sweetery.

“The struggles small businesses faced during the pandemic were detrimental, and to be able to be granted funds to help us get back on track is just amazing,” says Little Sparrow Childcare owner and operator Carin Humphrey. “The love and support from the community was more than I expected and I am deeply grateful for this experience.”

Each business can access free educational services and consulting resources to support growth and development. Later this year, Republic FC Kickstart will hold two more grant rounds to support businesses owned by Asian and Pacific Islanders and veterans.


The Downtown Sacramento Partnership has debuted a new Downtown Dollars e-gift card program that offers a convenient way to shop local and help spur more retail recovery Downtown.

E-gift cards can be purchased in amounts as low as $25 (volume discounts are available) to be used at more than 25 participating businesses for dining, shopping, entertainment, professional services and more.

Downtown Dollars are powered by Mastercard and Yiftee, and never expire. To purchase, visit godowntownsac.com/downtown-dollars.


Similar to Downtown Dollars, the Downtown Sacramento Partnership has also rolled out the Old Sacramento Rewards program, a new mobile shopping promotions marketplace backed by Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

Online marketing platform Saltwater Loyalty is helping Old Sacramento Waterfront merchants create promotions, rewards and other customer incentives to aid in retail recovery. The incentives are then offered to rewards members through mobile device notifications.

Sign-up is free. For more information, visit oldsacramentorewards.com.


If you’ve driven down Eastern Avenue this time of year and wondered about the beautiful American flag display on both sides of the road, there’s an equally beautiful story behind them.

The 175 flags are displayed every year from July 4 through Sept. 11 as a tribute to United Airlines Flight 175, which was hijacked on 9/11 and flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

This year, on Saturday, Sept. 11—the 20th anniversary of 9/11—a dedication ceremony hosted by Sacramento Stand Down will be held at 9:02:59 a.m. at the Little League park at Eastern Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard. A plaque will be dedicated to Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Station 110 in memory of Captain Victor J. Saracini, his crew and the passengers of Flight 175, as well as the first responders who gave their lives on 9/11.

The ceremony will include the reading of prayers and the names of the crew and passengers, a bagpipe performance and singing to mark this somber occasion. For more information, visit sacramentostanddown.org.


The city’s Front Street Animal Shelter is waiving all fees for an entire year for owners to retrieve their lost pets.
Forty-four percent of Front Street’s lost animals were claimed in 2020, but the shelter wants to do better. “We are concerned that many animals may not be picked up because their families are experiencing financial hardship and we don’t want cost to be a barrier,” says Front Street Animal Shelter Manager Phillip Zimmerman.

The fees will be covered by Friends of Front Street, a nonprofit organization that supports the shelter’s lifesaving efforts.

If your pet has gone missing, the shelter recommends using the services listed on the city shelter’s website at frontstreetshelter.org, under “Lost & Found”; posting on Facebook, Craigslist, Nextdoor, and other social media and advertising websites; talking to neighbors; and hanging large missing-pet posters in the area.

Residents should also check all area animal shelters for at least a few weeks after a pet runs away, since it often takes time for animals to be found and brought into a shelter.


Registration is now open for the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s Capitol-to-Capitol advocacy program, which will meet virtually Oct. 25–29.

Policy experts will focus on our region’s priorities and participants will have the opportunity to add thoughtful insight while helping to identify solutions that address the most pressing issues facing the greater Sacramento area.

“Our legislative leaders rely on our collective expertise to guide decisions that will impede or advance our dreams of being a world-class economic powerhouse,” says Amanda Blackwood, Metro Chamber president and CEO. “We invite experts in business and guardians of our legacy to join us as we work to achieve our visions for greater prosperity in the regional business community that will serve generations to come.”

For more information or to reserve a space, visit metrochamber.org/capitol-to-capitol-2021.


Young musicians can now apply for the Cordova Youth Spotlight Orchestra, with scholarships provided by the Sacramento Performing Arts Conservatory available for up to 200 qualified students.

Auditions are required for the first five stands. The rest will undergo 10-minute “get to know you” Zoom meetings.
The season starts this month and runs through next May. All orchestral instruments are welcome with a minimum three years of study or at least Suzuki book level 3. CYSO members receive private instruction from members of the Sacramento Philharmonic, as well as free healthy meals and snacks, an instrument lending program and complimentary in-house repairs provided by SPAC.

Since 2005, SPAC has brought performing arts classes with professional arts faculty to school districts around the region. To register, text (916) 308-2307 or email clara.spac@live.com. For more information, visit sacramentoconservatory.com.


A new art installation—Wisdom Travels—is up along Natomas Central Drive and in North Natomas Regional Park consisting of 49 banners boasting photographs of North Natomas residents ages 50 and older in motion.

To create the banners, local documentary photographer Janine Mapurunga was selected and paired with local nonprofit North Natomas Jibe, an organization that encourages the community to walk, bike and use public transportation.

The project includes beautiful photos with the subjects’ personal narratives about important times in their lives when active transportation played a role, says the city’s Arts Program Manager Melissa Cirone.

Wisdom Travels was organized and funded through the city’s Office of Arts and Culture and its Artist in Residence Program. All photos and stories can be found at jibe.org.


The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors recently appointed Dalen Fredrickson as the new director of child support services and Emily Halcon as director of homeless initiatives.

Fredrickson has served in the department since 2015, first as assistant director and most recently as acting director. He obtained his juris doctorate from Northwestern California University School of Law and is licensed to practice law in California.

Halcon was also promoted from within—she previously worked with the county as a homeless initiatives consultant, providing guidance on key homeless programs and services. Prior to serving at the county, Halcon worked as the homeless services manager for the city of Sacramento.

“Knowing that we already had the best candidate in-house for this critical position ensures that Emily is ready to hit the ground running and take our homeless response to the next level,” Interim County Executive Ann Edwards says.


Four local high school students recently completed paid summer internships with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Sacramento as part of the Bank of America Student Leaders program.

The Student Leaders class of 2021 are Eden Getahun, a 2021 graduate of McClatchy High School who has held leadership positions in the Youth Rise Commission, Girls Around the World and Student Advisory Council, and is now attending Yale; Elsa Fishman, a senior at Saint Francis High School who volunteers with NorCal Resist, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting immigrants and asylum seekers; Arveen Birdi, a senior at Manteca’s Sierra High School who started a club to promote anti-bullying, anti-drug education and the protection of students’ rights; and Vicente Contreras, a 2021 graduate of Stockton’s Saint Mary’s High School who led his youth mentorship group to compete in the Science Olympiad.

The Student Leaders program recognizes 300 community-focused juniors and seniors from across the U.S. each year. Student leaders of greater Sacramento engage in an eight-week paid internship and programming that includes a collaborative, mentor-focused project with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Sacramento.


United Way California Capital Region has launched a three-year digital equity partnership with the cities of Sacramento and Rancho Cordova, SMUD and community nonprofits to close the local digital divide.

United Way is partnering with select nonprofits to identify households eligible for broadband assistance, devices and digital literacy training. Digital champions (community residents with tech skills who speak multiple languages) will provide outreach and case management in targeted geographic areas. Other partners, including local school districts and social service providers, will provide outreach, direct assistance and basic digital literacy.

“Closing the digital divide is crucial to ensuring that everyone in our region can access educational and economic opportunity,” says Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “I’m proud that as a city, we have invested nearly $200 million over the past three years directly in community programs like these.”

Eligible households can complete an initial screening application to be considered for a variety of services, including internet access, refurbished desktop computers and digital literacy training through online resources and classes. For more information, visit yourlocalunitedway.org/digital.


Sacramento County declared a climate emergency in December 2020 and began to assemble a Climate Action Plan to address the issue locally.

CAP will outline not only the reduction in greenhouse gases we hope to achieve, but also what actions the county and its residents will take to reach these goals in relation to transportation, development and infill, urban greening, and other policies.

To view or comment on the CAP final draft, visit saccounty.net, then search for “Climate Action Plan.”

“Decisions in the CAP will impact the quality of life in our region for decades,” says Jill Peterson, local issues lead for the Sacramento Citizens’ Climate Lobby. “Now is the time to get engaged. Let your voice be heard.”

For more information, contact Peterson at jcarlapeterson@gmail.com.


The Sacramento Children’s Home is now safely welcoming back volunteers and offering tours at its facilities.
Volunteers are needed in administrative departments, including human resources, finance, philanthropy, medical and the front desk, and for the Residential Treatment and Crisis Nursery programs and special projects.

Main campus tours are available on the fourth Thursday of each month. Crisis Nursery tours are by reservation only. In both cases, masks are required when indoors. When touring Crisis Nursery locations, advance proof of full vaccination is required.

Since 1867, the Sacramento Children’s Home has provided crisis support for families with infants and toddlers, as well as short-term residential care for foster youth who have suffered trauma. Programs promote child safety, positive parenting, education and mental health for more than 7,000 children and 4,300 families each year. For more information, visit kidshome.org.


The Sunrise Recreation area is looking extra spiffy thanks to a new mural by artist Tyler Stauss as part of the Sacramento County Department of Regional Parks’ “Life Looks Good on You” water-safety campaign.

The campaign began in summer 2015 when 16 confirmed drownings occurred in Sacramento-area rivers. Since the campaign’s inception, drowning rates have dropped considerably due to messages addressing risky behavior and water safety.
The new mural acts as a reminder to parkway visitors to wear life jackets and take safety precautions while enjoying the area’s local waterways. For more information, visit regionalparks.saccounty.net.


The Sacramento SPCA’s Third Annual “Art Fur Paws” Benefit Auction seeks donations of collectibles, fine art, jewelry, decorative arts and more.

The online auction will be hosted by Witherell’s from Nov. 18 through Dec. 2 to raise much-needed funds for the local animal shelter.

Donations must be received by Oct. 1. To donate an item or for more information, contact Amber Emerson at aemerson@sspca.org or (916) 504-2803.


The UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Sacramento County’s 2022 “Gardening Guide and Calendar” is now available.

The highly anticipated annual guide includes a month-by-month “what-to-do” in the garden, a seasonal guide with charts for planting and harvesting fruits and vegetables in the Sacramento region, a veggie advice column with science-based tips for planting, irrigation, fertilizing, pruning and pest management, and a visual display of luscious fruit, from citrus to the exotic muskmelon.

Proceeds help support Master Gardener community projects. For more information, visit sacmg.ucanr.edu.


Orangevale resident Pranavkrishna Bharanidharan recently won five medals in the International Academic Competitions’ National Championship Exams.

International Academic Competitions sponsors various national science and history exam contests for elementary, middle and high school students in more than 25 countries.

The 2021 examinations were conducted in May, when California Montessori Project middle schooler Bharanidharan came first in the Latin American History and Asian History Exams. He also won the International Geography Bee quiz bowl competition, earned second place in the National Ecology and Environmental Science Exam, and third place in the National Historical Geography Exam.

“I’m extremely happy with the end results,” says Bharanidharan, who also plays guitar and chess. “It is a culmination of lots of hard work and preparation. I prepare about two hours on a weekday and four hours on a weekend in these subjects. Competitions are a great way to learn more about the world, make friends and, above all, have fun.”


SacTown Bites Food Tour Adventures has launched its newest excursion, “A Taste of the Delta,” showcasing the best of the scenic Sacramento Valley.

The tour includes a pear farm visit and cidery tour, cider tasting with snack pairing, lunch at a historic taphouse, and wine tasting and pairings of cheese, jams and chocolate at a local winery.

Tour partners include Hemly Cider, Husick’s Taphouse, Silt Winery and Grazing Craving. Tours operate most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 11 a.m. in Courtland through October. The tour lasts approximately four hours.
For more information and to reserve tickets, visit sactownbites.com/tours/a-taste-of-the-delta. For private bookings of groups of six or more, contact sactownbites@gmail.com.


The McKinley Rose Garden, known for its beautiful flowers, has recently become a drop-off spot for abandoned kittens.
According to McKinley Rose Garden Manager Nisa Hayden, several litters of kitties have been left in bushes around the garden this summer. These are not feral cats. They are friendly and have clearly been around people.

For those who enjoy the garden, please keep an eye out for these vulnerable animals. If you’re able to foster and find the kittens homes, please do. Alternatively, consider contacting a local no-kill animal shelter.


Sacramento Republic FC and Western Health Advantage are now offering an ongoing series of workouts at the team’s newly renamed home field, Heart Health Park. Expert staff from The Academy Training & Performance Center hold public workouts, as well as community health and wellness events to inspire people to make fitness a priority.

Workout participants choose from six different 20-minute stations that include cycling, boxing, medicine balls, bodyweight, stadium stairs and core fitness, plus a warm-up and cool-down zone. All exercises can be modified for different fitness levels and ages.

Registration is open for the Sept. 25 session. Registration is free, but with a $10 donation, participants receive a ticket to an upcoming Republic FC match, as well as a two-week pass to The Academy Training & Performance Center. Participants who donate $40 receive a limited-edition Republic FC workout kit with a water bottle, workout towel and gym bag, as well as two tickets to a Republic FC match and a two-week pass to the training center.

Net proceeds will be donated to the American Heart Association. For more information, visit sacrepublicfc.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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