Rebuilding Together Oakland’s Safe at Home program transforms the houses of low-income seniors and people with disabilities with safety and efficiency modifications to prevent falls and improve accessibility. Safe at Home house remodelers install grab bars, raised toilet seats, shower seats, handheld showerheads, nightlights, and non-slip mats to prevent falls in accident-prone spots such as the bathroom and hallway. The program also outfits homes with emergency equipment including smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers, and performs checks of equipment that is already present in the home. If necessary, Safe at Home can also provide wheelchair ramps to improve mobility. Since its inception in 2007, Rebuilding Together Oakland has installed safety modifications in the homes of more than 475 homeowners.
Grammy winner and R & B singer Rihanna unleashes her formidable pipes and celebrated songbook as she continues on her LOUD tour. Vibrant costumes and first-rate production harmoniously augment the singer's chart-topping oeuvre, which includes hits such as "Umbrella," "S & M," "Only Girl (In the World)," "SOS," and "What's My Name?" From the Oracle Arena's 100-level seats, concertgoers can marvel at the elaborate set pieces gilding the stage as their eardrums feast like hungry dachshunds in an unmanned pizza parlor. Opener J. Cole adds his own vocal talents to the evening's aural enticements, creating a two-pronged attack on musical monotony.
Loved Twice's community volunteers seek out recyclable infant attire and assemble separate wardrobe sets for boys and girls, which licensed social workers then distribute to low-income mothers. Each wardrobe-in-a-box contains 75 clothing and accessory items in sizes 0–12 months, including newborn onesies, sleepers, hats, booties, books, a warm blanket and a First 5 California new-parent-education kit. In 2010, Loved Twice recycled enough items to clothe 1,050 newborns, thus keeping babies warm while easing new parents' financial burden.
The organization's Family Literacy Nights provide parents and students with academic tools and services aimed at ensuring that children master reading and writing in English. The program provides an opportunity for parents and children to share a learning experience as they play games, solve puzzles, and craft projects designed to boost literacy. OASES hopes to distribute literacy kits for up to 240 students at Family Literacy Nights held at Lincoln Elementary School on October 20 and at Cleveland Elementary School on December 16. Each kit includes a book, a parent-participation guide, puzzles and word games, and a notebook and pencils for practicing writing skills.
When the voices of a choir come together, they produce a warmth and a power greater than the sum of their parts. "There is something special that happens when you bring people together in music in general—something about the power of the human voice," explains Oakland Youth Chorus Executive Director Keri Butkevich.
The Oakland Youth Chorus (OYC) helps children find that power. The chorus started in 1974 as an effort to unite youth from different neighborhoods of Oakland. It reached across racial, cultural, and socioeconomic barriers to teach musical-performance skills and foster friendships that might not otherwise occur. Today, it serves more than 600 students in 18 school and community sites. In addition to eight K–5 choruses, OYC directs a city-wide Concert Chorus for middle- and high-school students that has won several national awards at Heritage Festivals and sung at the White House.
The school and community choirs are open to anyone who wants to join. Choir directors assess students' current skills and help them grow from there. The students then showcase these skills in performances ranging from city-wide parades to local school recitals. These concerts present a repertoire that includes everything from the Beatles to Panamanian work songs. In addition to reflecting the community of Oakland, these diverse performances help to "extend people's knowledge of music of the world" by incorporating melodies from Russia and Bulgaria, says Keri.
The K–5 choruses, known as Miracle Choruses, frequently use their voices for good, performing at American Cancer Society events or promoting AIDS awareness and urban-farming initiatives. These performances in particular show what choral music can do. Not only can it transform shy children into musicians—it has the "power of bringing people together." And by using their voices for community service, Keri explains, the singers develop "an awareness and appreciation for being part of a movement for positive change."