Donations Needed for Baby Basket Drive

By Kristin Thébaud  |  2017-12-11

A Sacramento Life Center client receives a baby basket shortly after giving birth. The center is running its annual Baby Basket Drive through December. Photo courtesy SLC

Donate to Help New Moms at Sacramento Life Center

Sacrament Region, CA (MPG) - Local residents are invited to be a baby’s first Santa as Sacramento Life Center holds its annual Baby Basket Drive for local women and teens spending the holidays preparing to become new moms in the coming year. The drive runs through Dec. 31 so the Sacramento Life Center can provide a basket of needed items to every patient who gives birth in 2018. Donations can be made online at www.saclife.org. Gifts can be made in any increment, but a donation of $50 buys one basket, which includes formula, diapers, newborn clothes, pacifiers and more.

“One of the most overwhelming feelings is learning that you’re pregnant and fearing you won’t have the resources to care for your vulnerable baby,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “Sometimes something as simple as a gift of diapers and newborn clothes can give expecting mothers the confidence that they have a support system to help raise their child. Gifts to our Baby Basket Drive give expecting mothers proof that they will always have a family here at the Sacramento Life Center and cheerleaders out in the community rooting for their family.”

The Sacramento Life Center’s mission is to offer compassion, support, resources and free medical care to women and couples facing an unplanned or unsupported pregnancy. The Sacramento Life Center’s licensed Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic includes a primary clinic and two Mobile Medical Clinics that provide all services for free, including pregnancy tests, STD tests, ultrasounds, peer counseling for men and women, education and resource referrals. The nonprofit also offers a school-based teen education program, a 24-hour hotline and a program for women seeking support after having an abortion. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center’s Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic, visit www.svpclinic.com. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center or to make a donation, visit www.saclife.org

Source: Kristin Thébaud Communications

Much Needed Warm Wishes from Meals on Wheels

Story by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-12-14

The non-profit provides roughly 500,000 meals and safety checks to roughly 1,500 home-bound seniors annually.  Photo courtesy Meals on Wheels

Sacramento County, CA (MPG) - To have food to eat is one thing.  To be warm and remembered may possibly be the other top two most requested “gifts” on the list of many seniors this year, and Sacramento’s Meals on Wheels is hoping for your help in making those wishes possible.

If Meals on Wheels doesn’t ring a bell it should.  The non-profit provides roughly 500,000 meals and safety checks to roughly1,500 home-bound seniors annually.  The Sacramento operation is part of a network of more than 5,000 local Meals on Wheels chapters across country.  Meals on Wheels was established under the Older Americans Act created by congress in 1965 to ensure seniors 60 and over have food.  It is funded through a combination of public-private partnerships, state and federal grants, private donations and an army of volunteers.

This year, the agency has introduced a new program giving you another option for supporting: Project Warm Wishes, says Michelle Bustamante, program specialist for Meals on Wheels, Sacramento, has a goal to give each of its participants the gift of warmth, as in fuzzy slippers, blankets, throws, hats, gloves and socks, anything to help participants stave off the cold.  

“The goal of this new part of our services is to provide a simple Christmas gift to let people know they are remembered and they are not alone, because so many are isolated and don’t have anybody to share the holidays with,” said Bustamante.  “So our goal is to get a gift to all of those individuals who are registered for our home delivery program and we are thinking about ways to keep them warm and comfortable.”

Scarves, warm sweat suits, even tea and tea kettles are also potential gifts you can donate through Project Warm Wishes, and you can add to the list things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, coloring books for adults, jigsaw puzzles and word search books.

“In addition to a meal, this holiday season we also want to give the gift of warmth and let our participants know that, even though they may be alone, they are not forgotten,” Bustamante said.

If you want to go deeper, consider becoming a driver for Meals on Wheels.  While the job is 100% volunteer base and requires you to use your own car and pass a DMV and background check, the relationships formed with participants and the warmth you get in return are unsurpassed.

“I will tell you that, in addition to providing nutritional meals for our participants, one of our main areas of focus is the relationships that are formed between the drivers and our participants,” said Bustamante.  “We provide a safety check with every visit and the bonds formed between our drivers and the participants is unbelievable.  They are so reliant on seeing that friendly face and the elimination of isolation is so important.”

Not all seniors are homebound.  For those who are more mobile, Meals on Wheels has 20 All Seasons cafes set up across the Sacramento County region where more than 1,000 receive a free lunch and a place to socialize with others —a critical component of fighting off isolation.

There is an All Season Café set up at Rusch Park Community Center in Citrus Heights, Mission Oaks Community Center in Carmichael, and the Orangevale Community Center.  Transportation to and from the café’s is available for some participants.

“The café population is a bit more mobile, and they love the idea of having a place to go each day during the week for a meal and contact with others,” Bustamante said.  “Those folks are also forming relationships with the volunteers and some of these centers where the cafes are, is like a second home to them.  They’ll celebrate birthdays there together, the birth of grandchildren, and really make connections that are so important when you are elderly and perhaps on your own.”

There has never been a more critical time to support Meals on Wheels, including becoming a volunteer.   Congressional budget cuts could impact the future of the public-private partnership for the agency, Bustamante said.  Having a solid core of rotating volunteers (there are currently about 500 in the region) who spend their time either preparing the packing of the meals for the drivers, delivering the meals and providing safety checks, or working in one of the cafes, lays a foundation for longevity.

“We are always in need of new volunteers to help us out,” Bustamante said.  “We are not really clear on what the future holds.  As we all know there are future budget cuts that could affect us and the senior population is skyrocketing, so we need to be able to keep up.”

Humans are not the only ones who benefit.  The aniMeals on Wheels program also provides pet food for the critters who provide vital companionship for many Meals on Wheels program participants.

“Seniors’ pets are often the only family member they have,” said Bustamante.  “And we found out that many of our participants were feeding their pets part of the meals we deliver, so we always need donations to help make it possible for them to keep their pets and enjoy their meals.”

Meals On Wheels, Sacramento/Project Warm Wishes
7375 Park City Dr., Sacramento
To Donate or Inquire about Volunteering:
Call (916) 444-9533
www.mowsac.gov

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Sacramento, CA (MPG) - How often do you see prices go down in today’s economy? Well, that’s exactly what going to happen at the Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT). The Board of Directors unanimously voted last night to roll back SacRT’s student monthly pass from $55 to just $20 (65% reduction). The fare reduction is being proposed as a six month pilot and is expected to cost the District approximately $100,000.

“The reduction in price is part of SacRT’s effort to encourage young people to learn about the region’s public transportation system and travel without restriction,” said SacRT Board Chair Andy Morin. “It’s our hope that students in grades K-12 will adopt this mode of travel as they become adults, so providing them affordable transit access in their youth seems to be an excellent approach.”

It’s all part of SacRT’s Ridership Building Initiative.  A recent analysis of ridership data identified K-12 students as the least subsidized category of passengers with the highest sensitivity to rate increases.

A ridership committee recently spent several months evaluating ridership trends, and determined that this fare reduction would have the greatest number of positive impacts, including increased ridership. 

“In addition to ridership building, we believe the discounted student monthly fare will help many Sacramento families by reducing the financial burden of transportation,” said Henry Li, SacRT General Manager/CEO. “Attracting more students to transit would also have the residual effect of reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, because fewer parents would need to shuttling their children from place to place in a car.”                                                                                 

The $20 student monthly pass and $10 student semi-monthly pass will go into effect on Monday, January 1, 2018, and will remain in effect through June 30, 2018. Advance sales of the January monthly pass will begin on December 20, at the reduced price.

SacRT operates approximately 69 bus routes and 43 miles of light rail throughout Sacramento County, including the cities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove.  Sacramento buses and light rail trains operate 365 days a year. SacRT's entire bus and light rail system is accessible to the disabled community. ADA services are provided under contract with Paratransit, Inc.

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Help Eliza Seither Bring Her Heart to Haiti!

By Eliza Seither  |  2017-12-14

For the past year I have been looking into Humanitarian Programs. Photo courtesy Seither family

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”

For the past year I have been looking into Humanitarian Programs. A few months ago, I finally found one that felt right for me! I just got my acceptance letter and I am so excited to go! I leave for Haiti in January and I will be there until Late April/early May. I will be living in an orphanage in the city of Saint-Marc. Because this is a humanitarian trip, I will have to pay a little more for food and stay. I have been saving up as much as I can but I am trying my hardest not to take out any loans. I hate asking for money, so don't feel pressured in any way into donating, but anything would help! I will keep you all updated on my entire trip while I’m there so you can enjoy the experience with me! Here is the program I’m going with so you can read more about it! http://www.ilp.org/haiti/

You can donate to help fund the trip at www.youcaring.com/elizaseitherhaiti

Thank you so much!

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Sacramento, CA (MPG) - California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith today advised residents where wildfires have been burning in Southern California, along with people in the smoke’s path, to stay indoors and reduce outdoor activity.

“Smoke from wildfires can cause eye and lung irritation. Breathing smoke can also make asthma symptoms worse. People with underlying lung or heart problems should limit their exposure by staying indoors,” said Dr. Smith. “Heavy smoke exposure can also cause more serious disorders, including reduced lung function and bronchitis.”

People who must be outdoors for long periods, in areas with heavy smoke, or where ash is disturbed, should wear an N95 respirator mask. Since wearing a respirator can make it harder to breathe, those with lung or heart problems should ask their doctor before using one. For more information on the use of particulate respirators (masks) to protect from wildfire smoke or ash, please visit CDPH’s website.

When it is safe for residents to return home, caution should be used during the clean-up process. Ash from trees burned in wildfires is relatively nontoxic and similar to ash that might be found in your fireplace. However, ash from burned homes and other items will likely contain metals, chemicals, and potentially asbestos, items that may be considered toxic if breathed in or touched with wet skin.

If ash is inhaled, it can be irritating to the nose, throat, and lungs. Exposure to airborne ash may trigger asthmatic attacks in people who already have the respiratory condition. In order to avoid possible health problems, the following steps are recommended for people in burned areas with ash:

·       Do not allow children to play in ash or be in an area where ash-covered materials are being disturbed. Wash ash off toys before children play with them. Clean ash off pets.

·       Wear a tight-fitting N95 or P100 respirator mask, gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants when cleaning up ash. Avoid skin contact. If you do get ash on your skin, wash it off immediately. Some wet ash can cause chemical burns.

·       Avoid getting ash into the air as much as possible, for example, by avoiding sweeping it up dry. Use water and wet cloth or a mop to clean items and surfaces. Do not use leaf blowers or take other actions that will put ash into the air. 

·       Shop vacuums and other common vacuum cleaners do not filter out small particles. They blow such particles out the exhaust into the air where they can be inhaled. The use of shop vacuums and other non-HEPA filter vacuums is not recommended. HEPA filter vacuums could be used, if available.

“Residents should seek medical care if they experience health issues such as chest pain, chest tightness or shortness of breath. It is especially important to monitor children and young adults as they may be more susceptible to the health and emotional effects of fire recovery,” said Dr. Smith.

Visit CDPH’s website for more information on how you can protect yourself during a wildfire and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services for more information on the hazardous debris,  wildfire recovery and worker safety in wildfire regions.

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Area Museums Get Into the Holiday Spirit 

By Traci Rockefeller Cusack   |  2017-12-06

Sacramento Area Museums (SAM) are featuring a number of holiday-related events and activities. Photo courtesy of Sacramento History Museum

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) -  Imagine. Explore. Discover.  In addition to its fascinating Gold Rush past, the Sacramento area is rich with an amazing array of state-of-the-art museums and historic sites that offer visitors the chance to explore California’s fine art, history, science, and wildlife treasures all year long. In December, many of the nearly 30 members of Sacramento Area Museums (SAM) are featuring a number of holiday-related events and activities, a sampling of which includes the following:

Twinkling Tractors at the California Agriculture Museum – Now thru December 
The California Agriculture Museum in Woodland offers fun holiday sights and music to experience as they showcase tractors decked with holiday lights. Offered on Tuesdays through Fridays now through the month of December, guests can stroll through the Museum and enjoy holiday lights without concern of being rained out. For more, visit www.californiaagmuseum.org.

State Capitol Holiday Music Program Now thru December 23, 2017
Amid a beautiful backdrop of vintage decorations in the Capitol Rotunda, a variety of diverse and amazing holiday musical performances will entertain State Capitol guests throughout the holidays. Depending on the day, visitors will enjoy FREE live musical entertainment from groups and performers such as High Voltage - El Dorado Theater Co., Camellia Flute Choir, Sacramento Opera Carolers, Salvation Army Brass Band, Girl Scouts of the Sierra, bell-ringers, harps, accordions, Broadway-style song and dance, baroque and brass ensembles, talented school choirs, and barbershop harmony. For more, call 916-324-0333 or visit www.capitolmuseum.ca.gov/images/pdf/holidaymusicprogram2017.pdf.
 
Home for the Holidays Exhibit at the Roseville Utility Exploration Center – Now thru 1/4

Shopping, decorations, visitors, travel....the holiday season can be a stressful time for everyone and for our planet, too. Learn ways to take care of yourself and the earth as you prepare for this busy time. Stop by for some helpful hints on making your holidays more sustainable with the Home for the Holidays exhibit. Learn what lights are the most efficient to use when decorating, where to dispose of that tree when you're done with it and how to keep those pipes clear when you're cooking all day. Help make it a clean, green and happy holiday for everyone. For more, visit www.roseville.ca.us/explore.

Gingerbread Holiday at the Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum – 12/1 thru 12/21
The community is invited to enter gingerbread creations at the Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum 12/1 or 12/2 and also encouraged to visit the museum to see dozens of sweet confections on display during the 30th Annual Gingerbread Holiday celebration. Always FREE, there will be houses, mansions, shacks and other gingerbread structures created by school children, families, bakery academy students and adults. Contest entries are divided into categories:  children, youth, adult, family, school or youth groups and high school culinary academies and guests can vote in the “Visitor’s Favorite” category. For more, visit http://oldsacschoolhouse.scoe.net/.

DDSO Holiday Pop-up at Verge Center for the Arts – 12/1, 12/9 & Ongoing thru December
Verge is teaming up again with DDSO (Developmental Disabilities Service Organization) for the holidays! The community is invited to shop for original artworks, pillows, clothes, jewelry and other one-of-a-kind gifts for your loved ones (or for yourself). DDSO is one of the most respected nonprofits in the Sacramento and San Joaquin regions, providing a diverse range of services for adults with developmental disabilities. This is a great opportunity to help support them and champion the creativity and potential within the hearts and minds of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Verge looks forward to welcoming the community this December on First Friday, Second Saturday (6 to 9 p.m.) or during normal gallery hours. For more, please visit http://www.vergeart.com/attend/ddso-holiday-pop-up/.

Gold Fever! Tours Offered by the Sacramento History Museum – Weekends thru 12/17
Perfect for families and friends, guests to Old Sacramento can experience what it was like to catch gold fever while getting actively involved in the intriguing Gold Fever! guided tours. Each tour guest has the unique opportunity to take on the persona of a character in history – or a “real-life rascal” – who scratched and clawed their way to make this area the center of the Gold Rush. Never the same tour twice, Gold Fever! tours depart at 10:30 a.m., noon and 1:30 p.m. from the Sacramento Visitors Center in Old Sacramento. For more, visit www.sachistorymuseum.org.



Old Sacramento Underground Tours Offered by the Sacramento History Museum – Weekends & Daily 12/26 thru 12/31
To finish off the 2017 season in a festive and fun way, Old Sacramento Underground Tours continue on weekends in December and are offered daily between Christmas and the New Year. The Sacramento History Museum offers a unique and memorable underground tour experience for friends and families to enjoy together. Visitors can take the hour-long tour at either 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. or 2 p.m. each weekend and day during this holiday week. Note no tours are available 12/24 or 12/25.  For more, visit www.sachistorymuseum.org.



All Nations Native Craft Faire at the Maidu Museum & Historic Site – 12/2
Guests will enjoy an artisan crafts such as Native jewelry, basketry, handmade crafts and more. There will be more than 20 Native American artisans from California tribes and the Cherokee Nation.  Shoppers will also enjoy live entertainment including tribal drumming, traditional music and singing. For more, visit www.roseville.ca.us/cms/one.aspx?pageId=8918739.

All Aboard for Story Time with Mrs. Claus at the Railroad Museum – 12/4
 It’s All Aboard for Story Time! with Mrs.Claus as a celebrity guest reader at 11 a.m. at the California State Railroad Museum. To the delight of young children and train enthusiasts alike, Mrs. Claus will read the children’s books The Night Before Christmas and Thomas and the Christmas Tree (both are Thomas and Friends books). In addition to this special, holiday-style All Aboard for Story Time!, photos with Santa Claus will be available (for a fee) on Wednesdays through Sundays through December 21 from 2:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the historic Eagle Theatre located in Old Sacramento State Historic Park. For more, please visit www.californiarailroad.museum

11th Annual California Hall of Fame Ceremony & Exhibit at the California Museum – 12/5 & 12/6
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and First Lady Anne Gust Brown will soon induct the California Hall of Fame 11th Class at the California Museum. The new class of inductees includes Lucille Ball, Susan Desmond-Hellmann, Mabel McKay, Mario J. Molina, Jim Plunkett, Gary Snyder, Steven Spielberg, Michael Tillson Thomas and Warren Winiarski. The California Hall of Fame celebrates Californians who embody the state’s spirit of innovation and have made their mark on history. Members of the public are invited to watch the ceremony live webcast on 12/5 at 7 p.m. at https://youtu.be/Cr2wqqCr9AU and visit the Museum’s all-new exhibition featuring artifacts on loan from inductees opening on 12/6. For more, please visit http://www.californiamuseum.org/california-hall-fame.

Winter Wonderland at Fairytale Town – 12/9, 10, 16 & 17
Celebrate the holiday season in Whoville!  Fairytale Town will be trimmed with festive holiday décor and a dazzling display of lights, starting at dusk each evening. Guests will enjoy Dr. Seuss and Grinch-themed hands-on activities throughout the event. Visitors can listen to strolling Victorian carolers, shop for gifts from local vendors, step inside a giant snow globe and enjoy a flurry of snow falling nightly at 7 p.m. near the Mother Goose Stage.  For more, visit www.fairytaletown.org.

Holiday Magic at the Sacramento Zoo – 12/9
Why should only humans receive gifts during the holidays? It’s time for Holiday Magic when the community has the special opportunity to watch as the animals unwrap their holiday goodies!  Plus, Zoo visitors who bring a donation for Loaves & Fishes will receive $1 off admission. For more, visit www.saczoo.org.

Holiday Craft Bar at Verge Center for the Arts – 12/9
Stop by Verge and add that extra touch to your holiday gifts and decorations! Whether you want to make your own wrapping paper, holiday cards, present tags, bows, or other holiday touches, Verge will have the materials for you. This is a drop-in event running from 2 to 5 p.m. for one-day-only. Head to Second Saturday after making your items for a full art day. For more information, visit http://www.vergeart.com/classes/holiday-craft-bar/.

Hands on History: A Simple Emigrant Christmas at Sutter’s Fort – 12/9
In John Sutter’s day, people from around the world passed through the gates of Sutter’s Fort, each with their own customs and traditions for the holiday season. “A Simple Emigrant Christmas” offers several vignettes showing holiday scenes, including foods, music, decorations, and traditions from other cultures. During this special “Hands on History” event, Fort visitors can participate in a number of hands-on activities such as dipping and creating their own holiday candles, crafting their own “keepsake” holiday ornaments – that include snowflakes, cornhusk angels and bird nests – plus making holiday cards with nib (or “dip”) pens and colored ink, grinding raw wheat into “Christmas flour,” singing Christmas carols with Fort musicians and more. For more, visit www.suttersfort.org.

Pajama Party at the Sacramento Zoo – 12/24
Guests can celebrate Christmas Eve for FREE at the Sacramento Zoo without even changing out of their pajamas! Festive and fun, get there early as the Zoo will close early at 1:30 p.m. that day so the dedicated staff can enjoy time with their families. Plus, the community is encouraged to join the Loaves & Fishes Holiday Drive at the zoo by donating baby wipes, new gloves, news socks, or unused toiletries at the zoo entrance. For more, visit www.saczoo.org.

New “Forces: Earth & Space” Exhibit Opens at the Powerhouse Science Center – 12/16

Powerhouse Science Center is offering a wonderful holiday destination for guests to enjoy when they open a new exhibit that showcases how the forces of the universe make stars shine, planets orbit, and galaxies hold together complex extraterrestrial systems. In addition, guests will learn how matter and energy work in synchronicity and incredible things happen in the vastness of space. Note the museum will be closed 12/4 thru 12/15 to prepare for the exciting new exhibit. For more, visit www.powerhousesc.org.

Free Admission Day at Fairytale Town – 12/24
As a special holiday treat, Fairytale Town is giving the gift of free admission to guests who visit on Christmas Eve between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season with a day of free play for the whole family. What fun! For more, visit www.fairytaletown.org


“Twelve Days of Space Science” at the Powerhouse Science Center – 12/26 thru 1/7
The community is invited to celebrate “Twelve Days of Space Science” at the Powerhouse. From alien encounters to comet parts and fizzing liquids to ice moons, guests will check out a different hands-on space activity and space-themed story each day (excluding New Year’s Day when the science center is closed). For more, visit www.powerhousesc.org.

“The Sound of Music Holiday Event” at the Crocker Art Museum – 12/28
The Crocker’s screening of The Sound of Music returns for its sixth and final year with costume contests, door prizes, yodeling, singing, and lots of laughs. Starring Julie Andrews, with music by the famed Rodgers and Hammerstein, this multi-Academy-Award-winning film tickles the heart and warms the soul. Dress in costume, purchase a Movie Fun Pack to make things even more interesting, and sing your heart out to the film’s iconic and beloved soundtrack. Two screenings will be held in the Crocker’s plush auditorium at 1:30 and 6 p.m. Advance registration is encouraged as this event sells out each year. For tickets, please visit www.crockerart.org or call 916-808-1182 for more information.

Who Year Celebration & New Year’s Eve Party at the Sacramento Children’s Museum – 12/31
During the daytime, the Museum is proud to offer a fun Who Year New Year celebration! Every hour on the hour starting at 12 p.m., guests can enjoy bubble stomps to ring in the New Year around the world. They’ll also have noise-maker making in the Art Studio and more!  Then in the evening, guests can enjoy the 2nd Annual Who Year New Year’s Eve Party (a ticketed event). Festivities will go from 9 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. and will include dancing, continued noise maker-making and bubble stomps, games, light refreshments, and Museum play, culminating in a New Year's countdown to midnight. For more, visit www.sackids.org.

For more information about upcoming activities offered by Sacramento area museums, “like” them on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/SacMuseums, follow them on Instagram and Twitter @SacMuseums or visit the user-friendly website at www.SacMuseums.org.
 

About the Sacramento Area Museums (SAM)
Comprised of nearly 30 greater Sacramento area museums working in partnership with Visit Sacramento, SAM’s mission is to raise awareness of local museums by giving the community the opportunity to discover California’s fine art, history, science and wildlife treasures. SAM achieves its mission through implementing cooperative promotions and developing strategic marketing alliances, by encouraging sharing of knowledge and resources among its partner institutions.  For more information, visit www.SacMuseums.org
 

Source: T-Rock Communications

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Ring We Now of Christmas

By Gerry Halley  |  2017-12-06

Bel Tempo, a community handbell choir

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Silver Bells, Silver Bells, its Christmas time in the city.  Actually the bells of the Bel Tempo Handbell Choir are Gold, and the sound is Golden!  The holiday season is a special time of year of wonder and excitement.  It's also a time to reach out and help others who are less fortunate. This year on Sunday, December 17, at 4 p.m., 3235 Pope Avenue, you are invited to help others while enjoying an afternoon of holiday music from around the world with Bel Tempo, a community handbell choir sponsored by Northminster Presbyterian Church. The concert has become a holiday tradition for music lovers of all ages. In addition to handbell music, Bel Tempo will be joined by soloists on violin, marimba, English horn and a variety of percussion instruments.  Audience members will have a chance to try their skills with hand chimes and join in carol sing-a-longs.

This year's concert, “Ring We Now of Christmas,” is a benefit for Family Promise of Sacramento.  Family Promise helps displaced families renew their dreams and re-start their journey towards independence. Permanent housing is the ultimate goal, along with developing the self-sufficiency needed so that homelessness is less likely to reoccur.  Family Promise partners, with over two dozen, host and support congregations.  During the day, the Family Promise Day Center, located in the Loaves & Fishes complex, provides a safe and secure haven for families.  Each evening, Family Promise transports the families to the host congregation for that week and then transports the families back to the Day Center each morning.

The afternoon of music is free.  A freewill offering will be accepted to benefit Family Promise.  For more information, call (916) 487-5192 or go to northminsteronline.org.

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Save for Retirement Now, Get a Tax Credit Later

WASHINGTON, DC - The Internal Revenue Service reminds low- and moderate-income workers to plan now to earn a credit on their 2017 tax return. A special tax break can help people with modest incomes save for retirement. It’s called the Saver’s Credit and it could mean up to a 50 percent credit for the first $2,000 a taxpayer contributes to a retirement plan.

Also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, the Saver’s Credit helps offset part of the amount workers voluntarily contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA, a 401(k) or 403 (b) plan, and similar workplace retirement programs.

Taxpayers with an IRA have until April 17, 2018, (the due date of their 2017 tax return) to contribute to the plan and still have it qualify for 2017. However, contributions (elective deferrals) to an employer-sponsored plan must be made by the end of the year to qualify for the credit. Employees who are unable to set aside money for this year may want to schedule their 2018 contributions soon so their employer can begin withholding in January.

The Saver’s Credit can be claimed by:

  • Married couples filing jointly with incomes up to $62,000 in 2017 or $63,000 in 2018
  • Heads of Household with incomes up to $46,500 in 2017 or $47,250 for 2018
  • Singles and married individuals filing separately with incomes up to $31,000 in 2017 or $31,500 in 2018

To qualify for the credit, a person must be:

  • Age 18 or older
  • Not a full-time student
  • Not claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return

Like other tax credits, the Saver’s Credit can increase a taxpayer’s refund or reduce the amount of tax owed. Though the maximum Saver’s Credit is $1,000 ($2,000 for married couples), the IRS cautioned that it is often much less and may be zero for some taxpayers.

The amount of the credit is based on filing status, income, overall tax liability and the amount contributed to a qualifying retirement plan. It may also be impacted by other credits and deductions or reduced by any recent distributions from a retirement plan.

To claim the Saver’s Credit, taxpayers must complete Form 8880 and attach it to their tax return. Form 8880 cannot be used with Form 1040EZ.

In tax year 2015, the most recent year for which complete figures are available, Saver’s Credits totaling nearly $1.4 billion were claimed on more than 8.1 million individual income tax returns.

The Saver’s Credit can also add to other tax benefits available to people who contribute to their retirement; for example, most workers can also deduct contributions to a traditional IRA.

Source: IRS Media

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SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - The California Highway Patrol (CHP) joins the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) in recognizing December 4-8, 2017, as Older Driver Safety Awareness Week.

According to the AOTA, with increasing age come changes in physical, mental and sensory abilities that can challenge a person’s continued ability to drive safely.  Family and friends have a major role in identifying changes in driving behavior and beginning discussions about older driver safety.  It is important to start these conversations early and discuss any needed changes in driving habits before it becomes a problem, allowing older drivers to be actively involved in the planning. 

“Most drivers want to continue driving for as long as possible and maintain their independence,” CHP Acting Commissioner Warren Stanley said.  “Family and friends play an important, but often difficult role, in discussing how long it is safe to continue driving.”

Data from the California Department of Motor Vehicles shows drivers age 65 and older made up approximately 15 percent of the licensed drivers in California in 2016.  Last year, more than 5,100 fatal collisions were recorded in California.  Preliminary data from the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System indicates drivers age 65 and older were involved in 10.7 percent of the fatal collisions and 8.3 percent of the injury collisions in California in 2016. 

As part of our efforts to help California’s seniors drive safely for as long as they can, the CHP offers a free, two-hour Age Well, Drive Smart course.  Through this program, seniors can sharpen their driving skills, refresh their knowledge of the rules of the road, and learn how to adjust to normal age-related physical and mental changes.  The CHP North Sacramento Area office will hold a free class at the First Baptist Church of Fair Oaks located at 4401 San Juan Ave, Fair Oaks, CA. Class size is limited so it is encouraged that all who plan on attending RSVP.

Persons interested in signing up for the class will need to register for the class by emailing Officer Chad Hertzell at chertzell@chp.ca.gov or by sending a private message to our Facebook account at Facebook.com/chpnorthsac or calling him at 916-348-2317.

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Nearly 90 percent of older drivers do not make inexpensive adaptations to their vehicles that can improve safety and extend their time behind the wheel, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Common vehicle adaptations like pedal extensions, seat cushions and steering wheel covers can help to improve safety by reducing a senior driver’s crash risk. Seniors aged 65 and over are more than twice as likely as younger drivers to be killed when involved in a crash.

“While many seniors are safe drivers, they are also the most vulnerable,” said Michael Blasky, spokesman for AAA Northern California. “We urge seniors to consider making the necessary adaptations to their vehicles in order to reduce crash risk and extend the time they can continue to drive. Simple, inexpensive features can greatly improve their safety and the safety of those they share the road with.”

The research brief, In-Vehicle Technologies, Vehicle Adaptations, and Older Drivers: Use, Learning, and Perceptions is the first phase in the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s groundbreaking Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD) project.

For this phase of the study, researchers investigated 12 vehicle adaptations and found that fewer than nine percent of senior drivers reported using any of the devices in their vehicles. Some of the inexpensive devices that can be purchased and put to use in new or existing vehicles are: Cushions and seat pads can improve line of sight and can help alleviate back or hip pain; Convex/ multifaceted mirrors can improve visibility and minimizes blind spots; Pedal extension can help drivers obtain a safe distance from the steering wheel/airbag and optimize visibility; Steering wheel covers can improve grip for drivers with arthritic hand joints; Hand controls can help the driver to perform all vehicle maneuvers and functions without the use of lower extremities.

Choosing the right features and working with a trained technician is imperative to safety behind the wheel. Of those drivers who have a device, almost 90 percent reported that they did not work with a trained professional to install the modification, a key recommendation by both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). AAA urges drivers to consult with a trained technician to guide them in making adjustments to their vehicle.

Vehicle adaptions also benefit seniors’ mental health by extending their time on the road. Previous research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that seniors who have stopped driving are almost two times more likely to suffer from depression and nearly five times more likely to enter a long-term care facility than those who remain behind the wheel.

“Knowledge is power when it comes to extending time behind the wheel, and AAA is committed to providing seniors with the information they need to make sound decisions,” Blasky said.

AAA is promoting the report in partnership with the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) to support Older Driver Safety Awareness Week. AAA and AOTA worked in collaboration with the American Society on Aging and AARP to develop CarFit to help senior drivers better utilize the features and technologies in their vehicles. AAA also offers the Smart Features for Older Drivers tool, which can help senior drivers identify in-expensive devices and vehicle features that optimize their comfort and safety.

About LongROAD: Recognizing that lifestyle changes, along with innovative technologies and medical advancements will have a significant impact on the driving experiences of the baby boomer generation, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has launched a ground-breaking, multi-year research program to more fully understand the driving patterns and trends of older drivers in the United States. The LongROAD (Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers) study is the largest and most comprehensive senior driver database on senior drivers incorporating 2,990 participants. It will support in-depth studies of senior driving and mobility to better understand risks and develop effective countermeasures.

Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded more than 100 years ago. Visit AAA.com.

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