The Walnut Creek Downtown Business Association fosters community engagement and the vitality of local merchants through a variety of programs, events, and general support. Popular events held throughout the year include wine walks, sidewalk sales, and fine-arts festivals.
Certified personal trainer Cleveland Hughes Jr. leads up to 30 clients at a time in high-energy workouts on weekday mornings. Every 55-minute workout is different, but classes are composed of aerobics, strength training, kickboxing, gymnastics, and games. Nutritional guidance is also offered.
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.
The mentors at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the North Bay donate their most valuable possession, their time, to continue a national tradition more than a century old. The volunteer mentors match up with a youngster from the Big Brothers Big Sisters wait list—typically an at-risk child who might come from a neglectful or abusive situation. The pair then meets in the community once a week, whether to hang out in the park, attend a sporting event, or simply chat about what’s going on in each others’ lives.
For the 1,600 children currently served in Marin, Napa, Sonoma and Solano Counties, the chance to spend time with a positive adult influence can have long-lasting effects. This regular interaction can help level the playing field for children facing an uphill battle to success, allowing them to grow, giving them encouragement to stay on the path to success, and helping them avoid negative influences. The evidence is in the numbers. According to the Big Brothers Big Sisters website, Littles are 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs and 52% less likely to skip school.
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As with so many worthwhile endeavors, Guide Dogs for the Blind began in response to a critical need. In the spring of 1942, founders Lois Merrihew and Don Donaldson recognized that many service members were returning from World War II with visual impairments. Although select guide-dog schools existed on the East Coast, there wasn?t anything available on the West Coast. The duo decided to open a campus in San Francisco where not only would the best and brightest pups train to become guide dogs, but their owners would be welcomed and shown how to use their companions to lead a more fulfilling life.
More than 70 years later, the school has graduated more than 10,000 teams of guide dogs and their human masters from its training programs. The school has also expanded considerably in terms of physical size, encompassing both an 11-acre main campus in San Rafael, California, as well as a campus in Boring, Oregon, that opened in 1995. At each location, labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and crosses of the two breeds train from an early age under the tutelage of licensed instructors, who impart all of the necessary skills to help visually impaired owners navigate daily life.