Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in October

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Bay-Area-Pet-Fair-Adoptathon-pet-adoptions-be-a-good-neighborThe Federal Government may be temporarily shut down, but the business of being a good neighbor is always open, which is why I present to you the monthly “Five Ways” column. This month is probably the best month to act on one of these suggestions, because chances are you alone can’t change what’s happening at the national level at the moment, but you can absolutely make a difference in at least one life in your own neighborhood.

Got more ideas for how to be a good neighbor? Tell us in comments!

1. Adopt a Rescued Pet: There are many opportunities to adopt a rescued pet this month, starting October 5-6 at the Bay Area Pet Fair and Adoptathon. In addition to hundreds of dogs, cats, and small animals available for adoption, the fair features stunt dog shows, splash dogs, police K9 units, 200 pet supply vendors, activities for kids, and much more. Admission and parking is free at the event, which takes place 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days at the Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. For more dog rescue events this month, check out the Doggie Protective Services website.  Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue is hosting an adoption event from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 6, at the Brentwood Shadow Lakes Golf Course Event Center, 401 West Country Club Dr., in Brentwood. You can find out more about this event, and other Mickaboo October events at the group’s website.  [Read more…]

New Cupertino Poet Laureate Seeks to Inspire

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jennifer-swanton-brown-cupertino-poet-laureate-cupertino-libraryThe Cupertino City Council unanimously approved the recommendation of the Cupertino Library Commission naming Jennifer Swanton Brown as the second Poet Laureate of Cupertino. Her two-year term will be from October 1st, 2013 to September 30th, 2015. David Denny, the City’s first Poet Laureate fulfilled a “very successful” first term, engaging all ages of the community in poetry.

Brown “has many ideas about increasing poetry knowledge, enjoyment and participation in Cupertino.” The experience of writing and publishing poems as a school girl “was transformative, and something I believe I can offer the children of our community.” She will also focus on international styles of poetry. “A community as diverse as Cupertino should celebrate the ancient and varied poetic traditions of its citizens’ literature and cultures,” notes Brown. [Read more…]

San Francisco Vigil For Missing Bay Area Young Men This Weekend

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Jackson Miller

Jackson Miller

The families of five young men last seen in San Francisco are banding together for a vigil at 2 p.m., this Saturday, Sept. 14, in Golden Gate Park to raise awareness and advocate for more police involvement in search efforts.

“Why are five young men, most of them in their early twenties, missing from San Francisco?”, asks a press release for the vigil. “What is San Francisco Police doing to help locate the missing young men?”

The five families are hoping that the public vigil and the sharing of their “heart wrenching stories”, will bring new light to the missing men’s cases, which are going cold as time passes.

One of the families behind the vigil is that of Jackson Miller, 23, who went missing three years ago on May 15, 2010, from his home in Cupertino. His car and identification were found in San Francisco, and witness sightings place him in the city after the disappearance. He is considered an “endangered adult”, yet he remains missing despite many search parties, media, and other efforts by his parents, Paul Miller and Gina Funaro, family, and friends. [Read more…]

Church Pieces Together Healing for San Bruno

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Bethany Presbyterian member Roberta Henry with the mural.

Three years after a massive explosion along a PG&E gas pipeline underneath a San Bruno neighborhood, a local church is helping the community heal using shattered bits of ceramics and glass from the blast itself in a poignant mosaic.

Three of the eight people killed on Sept. 9, 2010, were members of the Bullis family and Bethany Presbyterian Church—Lavonne, 82, her son Greg, 50, and his son William, 17.

All that was left of the Bullis home were pieces of cups, saucers, and Christmas decorations from Lavonne Bullis’ collections. Lavonne’s daughter, Jeannie Bullis Young, found shards of the orchid pattern china used when the family gathered for Easter and summer birthdays, a small angel holding a harp, and a sweet nativity scene that once decorated the home at Christmas, along with other reminders of happier times.

Young and other stunned family members scooped up the remnants out of the ashes of the family home while escorted by emergency personnel and Red Cross workers days after the tragedy. They tucked away the fragments, not sure what they would do with them. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in September

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housing-one-housing-1000-silicon-valley-homelessness-five-ways-to-be-a-good-neighbor-september-2013Summer vacation is over and the rush into fall has officially begun. Before you rush ahead too far, consider carving out a little time to help others around you this month. Use one or more of our five suggestions below as a way to get started. Have more suggestions? Tell us in the comments section!

1. Help the Homeless: Cuts to Section 8 housing vouchers this month and sky high housing costs will most likely throw some Bay Area neighbors into homelessness, and will definitely keep those who are already homeless, and want to be housed, on the streets. Consider helping an organization in your community that is making significant progress in working to house people. Housing 1000 is a community campaign in the Silicon Valley that has been working the past two years to house 1,000 people by the end of 2013. As of July the campaign is still more than 50 percent away from that goal, but the efforts continue. You can help by visiting the Housing One website, where you can see stories of people Housing 1000 is helping and donate either toward specific clients, or more generally to the organization. For a sobering look at what we’re up against in the fight against homelessness in the Silicon Valley, see the Business Insider’s recent special report on the issue.

2. Volunteer in Honor of 9/11: Sept. 11 was declared a National Day of Service and Remembrance in 2009 to honor the fallen from the [Read more…]

Islam: Separating Fact From Fiction Free Event in Sunnyvale, Aug. 22

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truthislam_1In an era of misinformation prompting fear and wondering about Islam and Muslims, a Sunnyvale church is hosting a free community dinner and discussion on Thursday, Aug. 22, featuring a Silicon Valley “Woman of Influence” who is the founder of a national Islamic outreach group, and a local Christian author of a new book on Islam.

The goal of  “Islam: Separating Fact From Fiction”, taking place at 6:30 p.m., inside Fellowship Hall at Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church, 728 W. Fremont Ave., is to help people better understand their estimated 300,000 Muslim neighbors and coworkers here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Speakers Maha ElGenaidi, founder of Islamic Networks Group (ING), and Ben Daniel, a local Presbyterian pastor and author of The Search for Truth About Islam; A Christian Pastor Separates Fact From Fiction, will speak and answer audience questions.

Advanced registration is encouraged. Register at https://islamfactfromfiction.eventbrite.com. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in August

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Photo by Nikolaus Koumoundouros

Every month I give a shout out to five ways to be a good neighbor/better citizen/all-around-nicer person. It could be a special event, a kindness idea, or a volunteering opportunity. Check out this month’s suggestions, and chime in with your own ideas for August in the San Francisco Bay Area, or upcoming months.

1. Promote Peace: Commemorate the 68th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the 12th Annual Peace Lantern Ceremony, 6:30 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 3, at the north end of Aquatic Park in Berkeley. All ages are invited to decorate shades for the lanterns, listen to music and messages, and then participate in floating the lanterns between 8 and 9 p.m. If you’ve got time during the day, consider volunteering to set up the event.

2. Practice Forgiveness: The first Sunday of every August is International Forgiveness Day, and this year the Bay Area’s Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance is sponsoring an extraordinary event at 7 p.m., on Aug. 4, to [Read more…]

How to be a Good Neighbor During a Heat Wave

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santa-clara-county-department-public-health-hot-weather-safety-flierIt’s hot here in the San Francisco Bay Area this week, with temps spiking in the triple digits in some inland areas. Cooler weather is not expected until Friday, July 5, which is prompting public health directors from counties in the region to issue health warnings to residents.

While it’s important for each of us to keep ourselves cool, it’s equally important to look out for others in our communities who may need extra help during a heat wave. Here are a few ways that you can help:

  • Check in on any elderly or frail people you know in your community often, and make sure they are remaining cool, and well hydrated. The elderly, infants, people with chronic diseases, and people with mental illness are the most vulnerable during excessive heat. Check with your local city or county government for cooling centers for the elderly and people with chronic diseases; most senior centers are equipped for this circumstance.
  • Know the warning signs for heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps. The Santa Clara County Public Health Department has a well-written information sheet you can download; it comes in English, Vietnamese, and Spanish. Call 911 if you think someone is in distress.
  • Be on the lookout for people or animals left in parked cars, and get help immediately.
  • Make sure animals have access to plenty of water in a shady area.
  • Limit your appliance and any large power usage to nighttime, so as to reduce the overall demand on the power grid. Too much demand for power during the day could lead to major blackouts.
  • Join with your neighbors at shopping malls, movie theaters, libraries, and other public places with air conditioning.
  • If you must work outdoors, use a buddy system. Check on your co-worker or buddy often for symptoms of heat-related illnesses, like disorientation and unconsciousness, and have that person do the same for you. Get anyone with symptoms (see link above) to a shady, cool area, and call 911. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in July

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be-a-good-neighbor-in-july-happy-fourth-of-july-good-neighbor-storiesCelebrate America’s birthday by being a good citizen during July! Here are five ways you can exercise your citizenship in the San Francisco Bay Area.

1. ‘Party On’ This Fourth: Spend some time getting to know others in your community by joining in on local celebrations. Every city has events to bring its residents together on the Fourth of July, sometimes all day, with pancake breakfasts, parades, festivals, and of course, fireworks once the sun sets. Check out the list on Kidmatter.com for events all over the Bay Area. Want to stay home? Consider inviting your neighbors over for a barbecue. Start planning a block party together for later in the summer—you can use our guide to how to plan a great block party!

2. Get to Know Japanese Buddhist Neighbors: July and August are Obon season for Japanese Buddhists, a time to honor ancestors with feasts, dancing, and memorial services. Two South Bay Buddhist temples and one in Berkeley are hosting festivals for the entire [Read more…]

World Refugee Day Raises Awareness

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World-Refugee-Day-Event-El-Grito-de-la-Cultura-Folk-Dance-Acadamy-by-pam-marino-good-neighbor-storiesToday, June 20, is World Refugee Day, dedicated to raising awareness about the plight of more than 43 million refugees around the world, who are forced to flee from their homes under threat of persecution, violence, and war. Thousands of refugees live here in the Bay Area.

Last Friday, June 14, the American Red Cross Silicon Valley Chapter, PARS Equality Center, The Presbytery of San Jose, and the Refugee and Immigrant Forum of Santa Clara County, collaborated to host the 21st Annual World Refugee Day event at the Campbell Community Center. A few hundred people gathered to enjoy music, dance, and food representing a number of cultures represented by the refugees present.

Performances included traditional dances from Russia, Eritrea and other parts of Africa, Mexico, and Israel. In addition, volunteers from several agencies who give hundreds of hours of service to mentor and care for refugees in Santa Clara County were honored.

UPDATE: You can still celebrate at the Friday, June 21, World Refugee Day 2013 event in Oakland. It’s taking place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lake Merritt Bandstand, behind Fairyland. It includes food, performances, games, and free Fairyland tickets to the first 300 families. The event is sponsored by the East Bay Refugee Forum, and other local organizations.

See more photos and find out how you can get involved after the jump. [Read more…]