Assemblyman Cooley, California Legislature  Recognize Callejas

By Jillena Hernandez  |  2019-04-03

Michelle Callejas has worked in the health and human services field for over 25 years. She received the award from Ken Cooley. Photo courtesy Office of Ken Cooley

Named as Extraordinary Woman at Annual Celebration

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Assemblyman Ken Cooley joined the California Legislative Women’s Caucus to recognize extraordinary women from across the state in celebration of Women’s History Month. This year, the Assemblyman honored Michelle Callejas of Sacramento. 

“Recognizing Michelle on this momentous occasion at the Capitol brings me great pride,” said Assemblyman Cooley. “Michelle’s dedication to working collaboratively with families and partners within our community fosters better experiences and exemplifies outstanding community service.”

Michelle Callejas has worked in the health and human services field for over 25 years and is currently the Director of Child, Family and Adult Services for Sacramento County. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, a Master’s Degree in Counseling, and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. 

She began her career at W.E.A.V.E., a local domestic violence agency, providing services for victims of intimate partner abuse and sexual assault.  She also provided group counseling for children exposed to domestic violence and delivered court-ordered counseling services for women involved in Child Protective Services trying to reunify with their children. 

She began working for Sacramento County in 1996, and has served in child welfare, mental health, and the District Attorney’s Victim-Witness program working with family members of homicide victims and victims of hate crimes. 

Michelle served as Deputy Director of Child Protective Services for seven years, where she identified opportunities to work with system and community partners to better address the complex needs of children and youth in foster care. She and several other leaders in Sacramento completed a Multi-System Integration Certificate Program at Georgetown University and have implemented practices to reduce the number of foster children that cross over to the Juvenile Justice system. The team also worked with other community partners to develop a county-wide protocol to identify and serve child victims of commercial sexual exploitation. She is currently co-leading efforts to develop a county-wide prevention plan that focuses on strengthening families and preventing child abuse.

 “It is truly humbling to receive this award.  I consider it a privilege to serve our community and want to acknowledge the dedicated staff in the Department of Child, Family and Adult Services who are serving and supporting children, families and adults each and every day in District 8 and the larger Sacramento area,” said Michelle. 

Assemblyman Ken Cooley represents the 8th Assembly District which includes the communities of Arden-Arcade, Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Rancho Cordova, Rancho Murieta, Rosemont, Wilton and other portions of unincorporated Sacramento County.   For more information, please visit

Source: Office of Ken Cooley

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Hey Stingrays: Lights-Camera-Action!

By Jan Float  |  2019-04-03

The 2018 Stingrays. Photo by Tom Jones

GOLD RIVER, CA  (MPG) - Gold River’s Awards Season is not over. In fact, its highly-rated Spring & Summer production has just begun. Those actors in leading roles, the Stingrays themselves, are working diligently with their directors … in-the-water coaches on stage and in-the-gym trainers behind the scenes. Nuanced talent is developing among cast members, wardrobe has been fitted, and set designers are auditioning the sound system and other equipment. Through April, before the opening, swimmers are participating in daily run-throughs and memorizing their starting scripts for well-timed scenes.

Akin to live-action human animations, swim meets require seamless choreography in a collaborative effort to form an ensemble that is both harmonious and vivacious. No walk-ons, fill-ins or cameos; rehearsals are imperative. The team’s Board members, parental keypersons and all volunteers [some needing official actors’ certification] play supporting roles; and Sponsors have graciously accepted serving in the capacity as promotors. This huge cast and crew ensures that the production has solid entertainment value, builds into a thrilling crescendo, and enjoys a successful and rewarding long run.

At present, more experienced, older leads are demonstrating to the younger how to lay it all out there in front of a live audience. Stagefright? Good. Tap into those nerves and use them as performance-enhancing special effects. When the audience responds with applause and cheering, there’s a mutually palpable and undeniably intense exchange of energy. This reciprocal interaction, which then courses through the actors’ veins, spurs them on to give it even more than they thought they had … and generates over-the-top enthusiasm for intros into each of their upcoming scenes!

On May 11, the Stingrays dress rehearse at Time Trials. Individually strong and confident, and coagulating into an equally-so ensemble, they’ll have established a baseline and are then able to reach for summited performances, until the award-winning production closes down at season’s end. With four other teams in the Gold Rush Conference, for its Festival of Competition debut, the Gold River players are traveling in concert to Rocklin on May 18. Lights-Camera-Action!

Last year’s cast and crew have now received their last Standing O’s and taken that final curtain call. During an annual, fun social event at the club on April 28, the new leading actors and directors will line up as a Singular Sensation and pose for another professional picture, the returnees adding 2019 to their burgeoning portfolios.

Before the ensemble and audience break for intermission, June’s script requires rapid fire dialogues. How about six meets, including two invitationals? Practice makes perfect. Perform and reform -- move and improve. Repeat with every live performance. Such is the nature of the Stingrays’ Superstars and their claim to fame. Lights-Camera-Action!

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United Way Announces Sacramento Foster Youth Summit in April

By Kristin Thébaud  |  2019-04-03

Stephanie Bray of United Way stands with keynote speaker September Hargrove, emcee Kitty O’Neal from KFBK and local foster youth at the annual Women United Luncheon where she called for a summit to address foster youth graduation rates. Photo courtesy United Way.

Findings will determine how to prepare foster youth for success in college and career

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - United Way is gathering foster youth and community leaders working on foster care issues for its inaugural Foster Youth Summit on April 5 from 9 am-3 pm at the Sacramento State Ballroom, 6000 J Street.

The summit will identify opportunities to increase the number of foster youth who graduate from high school and go on to complete post-secondary education. Summit findings will be released as a report that will determine the direction of United Way’s foster youth programs. For more information and to sign up:

Stephanie Bray, president and CEO of United Way California Capital Region, announced the summit to 300 supporters at United Way’s 17th Annual Women United Luncheon on March 21. More than $78,000 was raised through the luncheon for United Way’s programs that are preparing foster youth for success in college and career. Since 2002, United Way’s Women United action group has raised more than $2 million for programs for local foster youth.

“It’s time to take our work to the next level,” Bray said at the luncheon. “For far too long, we have talked about the drop-out and homelessness rates for foster youth. We know that no one person or organization can do this alone. So we are convening a public forum to discuss how we move the needle on high school graduation and college or career attainment for foster youth so that fewer struggle as they transition into adulthood.”

Nonprofit service providers, state and county foster youth advocates, school districts, foster youth and other supporters will come together for a deep dive into community level data, a foster youth panel on real-world implications of the data, breakout sessions and a keynote speech by Jennifer Rodriguez, JD, executive director of Youth Law Center and a former foster youth.

At the luncheon, Bray cited a 2018 Annie E. Casey Foundation report that noted without any support, California foster youth drop out of high school at a rate of 24 percent, 30 percent do not have stable housing and 51 percent are unemployed.

 “That is so much lost potential,” Bray said. “We at United Way believe that every child, including each foster youth, has the opportunity to achieve. Imagine the impact if we don’t invest in our foster youth’s potential.”

Bray referred to luncheon keynote speaker September Hargrove as an example of how foster youth achieve success, not only for themselves but for communities across the country. Hargrove, a former Sacramento foster youth who volunteered with United Way a decade ago, is now VP of global philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase & Co., leading the company’s $150 million commitment to Detroit through neighborhood revitalization, small business, financial capability and workforce development.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond.

United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation:

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Hailing Volunteers

Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2019-03-29

 Max McGregor (center), Dick Laursen (second from left) and other supporters were recently commended for volunteer effort at the Effie Yeaw nature Center. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Effie Yeaw Nature Center recently honored top volunteers with an awards luncheon.

Located in Ancil Hoffman park, the non-profit facility lost County funding nine years ago. Its educational mission is now spearheaded by the American River Natural History Association. Center doors stay open with the assistance of supporter donations and 250 nature-loving volunteers.

One of two helpers surpassing 1000-hours of selfless service was 17-year-old Max McGregor from Sacramento. The home-schooled teenager has assisted in animal care for three years and is the youngest of many volunteers to reach the 1000-hour mark. ARNHA board member Dick Laursen (90) also passed the grand milestone. 

Located in Ancil Hoffman Park, the Effie Yeaw Nature Center and its 100-acre preserve see many thousands of visitors in all seasons of the year. For information, call (916) 489-4918.

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All Buttoned Up

Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2019-03-29

Rancho Cordova button collector Barbara Alfidi (right) enjoyed a display of historic fasteners with fellow enthusiast Dawn Healy at the Button Bazaar in Carmichael. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Dealers and collectors from three states recently assembled in Carmichael for the California Button Society’s bi-annual show. This year’s event was co-hosted by the Sacramento and Santa Clara Button Clubs.

The one-day bazaar drew 17 vendors and more than 200 aficionados to the la Sierra Center. “We’ve preferred Carmichael for 12 years,” explains Sacramento Button Society treasurer Sue Rhoades. “La Sierra Center is a great facility that affords lots of light – that’s very important for viewing – and it’s easily accessible from the Bay Area and the Foothills. Our vendors are experts from Washington, Nevada and California. A button show is a new experience for many people; we welcomed many new faces and everyone had a good time.”

The Sacramento Button Society is 65 years old. Its 25 members meet monthly. For information, contact

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DOVIA Presents Annual Awards

By Trina L. Drotar  |  2019-03-29

Darlene Cullivan, CVA (Outstanding Achievement in Volunteer Engagement winner) with Rachele
Doty, Photos by Mika Guevarra, courtesy DOVIA Sacramento

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - On March 14, volunteers were recognized by Directors of Volunteers in Agencies (DOVIA) at Shriner’s Hospital for Children – Northern California. Nearly 100 people attended the annual awards ceremony which recognized three categories of volunteers – Youth Volunteer of the Year, Individual Volunteer of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Volunteer Engagement.

Rachele Doty, CVA is the board’s chair and presented the welcome to all nominees, their friends and families, judges, and Brian Ricks from Assemblyman Ken Cooley’s office. Doty said that each of the nearly twenty-five nominees present received certificates from DOVIA and from Cooley’s office. He was unable to attend this year but is very supportive of the awards.

The Youth Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Abby Schumacher, who has volunteered at Fairytale Town since 2016. In addition to the certificate, she received the $500 Margaret Einsphar Memorial Scholarship award to assist with college tuition. Youth volunteers are under 21 years of age and must currently be students. They are also required to have donated a minimum of 25 hours of service during the year and are nominated by their organizations.

Schumacher was nominated by Fairytale Town’s Education and Program Coordinator, Samantha Hawes who wrote, “Abby has truly made the lives of people who come to our park helping in summer camp, programs, events, marketing and so much more. We are so proud of her, and she is truly a wonderful volunteer.”

Doris Henke, a decades-long volunteer with Snowline Hospice received the Individual Volunteer of the Year award. She received a certificate and a $100 honorarium gift for Snowline Hospice. Henke has spent a lifetime giving back to the community in El Dorado County where she has lived since the 1960s.

“Doris Henke is a name to be recognized and remembered. Her name is truly synonymous with love and caring because of the profound difference she makes in the lives of others,” wrote Bonnie Davis, CVA, Director of Workforce and Volunteer Services for Snowline Hospice. Davis nominated Henke for the award. “It is impossible to quantify the hundreds or thousands of lives she has touched through the years. This loving wife, encourager, mother, caregiver, businesswoman, selfless giver, community developer, friend, ministry-builder, and mentor lives an intentional life of service to others and is a shining example of ‘giving your all’.”

The Individual Volunteer Award of the Year is new this year, said Doty. “We had always focused on the youth volunteer, and DOVIA is looking to the future.”

The final award for Outstanding Achievement in Volunteer Engagement award was presented to Darlene Cullivan, CVA of Eskaton for her work. “I am honored to receive this special award as it demonstrates Eskaton’s vibrant philanthropic culture. Eskaton is grateful for the over 2600 volunteers who invest their time, talent and compassion to enrich the lives of seniors. I am inspired daily by people of all ages aspiring to make a difference. Eskaton volunteers illustrate our belief that Age is Beautiful.”

Nominees were judged by Carla Lehn, CVA, Cole Forstedt, and Valeri Mihanovich and had, Doty said, a difficult time making the final decision this year because all of the nominees were “so wonderful.” Volunteer service must have been performed in Sacramento, Yolo, Placer, or El Dorado counties during the 2018 calendar year.

Service includes work release time, without pay or for student course credit, and each nominating organization must provide service for the larger community, not simply for its members.

Nominees were involved with Access Leisure and Paralympic Sport, Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, ACC Senior Services, Sacramento Sheriffs Explorer Program, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento, Breathe California Sacramento Region, yolo County 4-H, Project R.I.D.E., Inc., Sacramento Tree Foundation, First Call Hospice, Sacramento SPCA, Foothill Therapy Dogs, Sutter Hospice, Oak Park Community Center, Gardenland/Northgate Neighborhood Association, and Junior League of Sacramento, Inc., Snowline Hospice, Eskaton, and Fairytale Town.

“DOVIA exists to support the volunteer managers, to provide networking, continuing education and support,” said Doty who has held several board positions. DOVIA presents at least one event each month.

For additional information, visit

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Chamber Bestowes Best in Business Awards

By Patrick Larenas  |  2019-03-29

Members of Redtail Technology received awards joined by Rancho Cordova Chamber members. Pictured with award in hands, beginning left center to right: Andy Hernandez, COO; Krysta Malonson with award in hands, Director of PeopleOps; Ryan Oakes, Director of DevOps; Alison Hawkins, Director of Customer Service; Sarah Thomas, Managing Team Lead, Customer Service. Photo by Rick Sloan

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - This past month of March, the Rancho Cordova Chamber of Commerce celebrated the 2018 BIBA Best in Business Awards for businesses and individuals contributing to the economic prosperity of the region.

The Chamber of Commerce bases its awards on “business growth, financial health, excellence in the marketplace and contributions to the community.”

The Micro Business Award was given to Gloria Howe Nycum and Kerry M. Shaw of Howe’s It’s Done Catering; The Small Business Award was given to Usha Datla of AlphaGraphics a graphic design, sign and banner company serving Rancho Cordova; The Medium Business Award was given to Heritage Community Credit Union.

For Large Business, Redtail Technology was awarded and recognized for its Web-based financial advising firm which interestingly incorporates in its offices a foster dog haven. The Nonprofit Award was given to The Sacramento Children’s Museum of Rancho Cordova. The Rising Star recognition was given to Fox Family Heating and Air.

This year, the Chamber introduced a new feature to their awards ceremony by establishing a Business Hall of Fame in which Curt Haven, the Director of Economic Development for the City of Rancho Cordova, and Aerojet Rocketdyne were inducted.

The retiring Haven was lauded for having turned Rancho’s tide after the Mather Air Force Base shut down over three decades ago. Assemblyman Ken Cooley attending the awards told the audience, “I know what it takes to succeed in business and what you need is a good story, and this man has it.”

Haven of 62 years of age said, “I am retiring to make room for other people and to mentor a new generation.” “I know there are some really strong business women in this place,” directing a welcoming invitation to the new leadership of the city.

Celebrating 70 years of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s history, the aerospace and defense manufacturer, with some 5,000 local employees, joined Haven in Rancho Cordova’s Business Hall of Fame.

The recognition for Ambassador of the Year award was given to Thomas L. Steinbach of Steiny’s Mobile Notary Service; Steinbach a 55 year old native of Rancho Cordova with a passion for his city has been an ambassador of the Chamber since 2015.

Steinbach is a Graduate of The Leadership Academy and heads Rancho Cordova’s HART Homeless Assisted Resource Team. Mixing passion and compassion for the community is a driving ideal for him. “Any person can become homeless, the car breaks down, the boss gets mad and then they get fired,” he explained.

The Chairman’s Award was given to the Cordova Community Council for its 60 years of service and having Rancho Cordova recognized as an ‘All American City’. Larry Stafford of the council received the award on behalf of the organization.

The Chamber of Commerce also welcomed the new additions to the Chamber’s Board of Directors for 2019 including: Ken Henderson, Sublime Digital Marketing Group; Hyowan Kim, KP International; Anil Kondakrindi, Sacramento Telangana Association; Krysta Malonson, Redtail Technology; and Chad Suggs, Heritage Community Credit Union.

New directors Hyowan Kim and Anil Kondakrindi were highlighted for bringing that “vital global perspective.” Recently, Rancho Cordova was recognized #1 city in building diversity in the State of California.

The Chamber also thanked those completing their service: Douglas A. Brewer (State Farm Insurance Agency), Board Chair 2016 & Director 2013-2018; Kate Malmgren (VSP), Director, 2016-2018; David Mathis (Small Business Representative), Director 2017-2018 Steve Millner (US Bank), Chair 2014 & 2015, Director, 2012-2018.

Chamber staff member Ani Salakian of Administrative and Membership Services received a touching bouquet of flowers and will be missed by the staff.

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