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.
Armed with current techniques for properly maintaining noggin lawns, Regis Salon’s network of stores keeps clients’ hair in order as dictated by the latest trends. Within this caravan of hair bazaars, customers’ wild manes are tamed by skillful stylists. Use your Groupon toward a shampoo, cut, and style ($31–$38) and lean back and dream of break-dancing Stay Puft Marshmallow Men as a stylist carefully cleanses hair with shampoo and conditioner and then clips it into stylish head-hedges that beautifully complement scalp-garden pathways. Afterward, the hair that’s left behind will receive a loving condition for a style that gleams and glitters like a ruby-encrusted bowling ball. During the treatment, stylists offer helpful tips and tricks to help clients care for hair at home. If a shampoo and cut isn't your cup of sports drink, put your Groupon toward the cost of another service, such as hair coloring ($60–$70), highlights ($80–$90), or a perm ($75–$85). Prices vary by location.
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.
Members of City Carshare, the company reports on its website, drive 50% less than individual car owners, annually saving more than 20 million pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. This is exactly what the local nonprofit had in mind in 2001 when they opened more than 200 Bay Area lots full of fuel-efficient, alternative-fuel, and electric cars and sleighs pulled by Virginia creeper. These vehicles are the linchpin in their two-fold social commitment to creating healthy urban spaces and strong communities.
The first part of that is relatively straightforward: fewer cars on the road mean less congestion and smog and reduced demand for parking lots that could be transformed into parks that grow into concrete jungles. The company defrays the high monetary costs of car ownership by providing insurance coverage, 24-hour roadside assistance, and all the fuel your vehicle needs to get on the road. To foster a sense of community, they hook members up with a private ride-sharing program and entice them to explore the city via their key fob, which unlocks perks at other local businesses. Their mission is backed by a global network of transportation visionaries in the international CarSharing Association, of which City Carshare is a founding member.
Food & Wine magazine has drawn editor-in-chief Dana Cowin's expertise of all things edible for 17 years. The monthly publication introduces readers to unique ingredients and up-and-coming chefs, as well as home-entertainment tips and wine-pairing advice. Restaurant reviews suggest new eateries to try when you don't want to dirty your dishes or attempt to pronounce “worcestershire sauce,” and articles about international food provide constant culinary inspiration.
"Travel + Leisure is a celebration of travel," says editor-in-chief Nancy Novogrod. Browsing the magazine's table of contents reveals the truth of this statement; an affection for the road shines through in articles about domestic and international destinations, tech tips for sightseers, and glossy photos of stunning locales. Writers bring to life seasonal festivities around the world and weigh in on the best hotels, resorts, and wax museums with unobservant guards. Themes covered include adventure vacations, eco-travel, and kid-friendly trips.