Society for the Blind Wraps Up Fitness Challenge

By Kristin Thébaud  |  2017-12-22

Ramona Herriford learns adaptive judo from 2012 London Paralympian Katie Davis at Society for the Blind’s Paralympic Sport Event that wrapped up the group’s participation in the National Fitness Challenge. Photo courtesy Society for the Blind

Participates in National Fitness Challenge with Paralympic Sport Event

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - More than 30 kids and adults with vision loss across the Sacramento region came together in November to learn Paralympic sports at Society for the Blind in Sacramento. The all-day event was the grand finale to Society for the Blind’s participation in the National Fitness Challenge sponsored by the United States Association of Blind Athletes and Anthem Foundation. The Paralympic event included clinics in rowing, golf, judo and goalball, as well as lunch and presentations by athletes leading the clinics.

“This was a really exciting day as we had kids as young as 10 and seniors up to age 85 learning favorite Paralympic sports and discovering ways to stay active and competitive with vision loss,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “This was such a fun way to wrap up our hard work in the National Fitness Challenge.”

Society for the Blind finished seventh in the challenge out of 13 groups across the nation – and one of only three in California – that competed in the United States Association of Blind Athletes’ and Anthem Blue Cross Foundation’s fifth annual National Fitness Challenge. Society for the Blind and its competitors provided more than 300 blind and visually impaired youth and adults with an opportunity to increase their physical fitness levels and live healthier, more active lives. Other California participants were Junior Blind in Los Angeles and Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in the Bay Area.

When the National Fitness Challenge kicked off in Sacramento this past spring, participants who signed up with Society for the Blind had a number of physically challenging activities to look forward to. In efforts to increase participants’ levels and step counts, staff at Society for the Blind worked with dance instructors, personal trainers, judo instructors and more. In addition to raising their overall physical activity, participants became more aware of opportunities in their community.

For more than 60 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers that included the Lions Clubs of America to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for 6,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation: www.SocietyfortheBlind.org

Since its founding in 1976, USABA, a community-based organization of the United States Olympic Committee, has reached more than 100,000 blind individuals. The organization has emerged as more than just a world-class trainer of blind athletes, it has become a champion of the abilities of Americans who are legally blind with a mission to enhance the lives of blind and visually impaired people by providing the opportunity for participation in sports and physical activity. For more information: www.usaba.orgwww.twitter.com/USABA or on Facebook as United States Association of Blind Athletes. 

In addition to grant funding, Anthem Blue Cross Foundation will provide volunteers at events across the state during the nine-month program. Local employees will have the opportunity to meet participants and help them achieve their health and wellness goals. 

Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Association promotes Anthem Blue Cross’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that the company serves. The foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Associate Giving program and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates’ pledges. 


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As tax filing season approaches, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers there are things they should do now to get ready for filing season.

For most taxpayers, Dec. 31 is the last day to take actions that will impact their 2017 tax returns. For example, charitable contributions are deductible in the year made. Donations charged to a credit card before the end of 2017 count for the 2017 tax year, even if the bill isn’t paid until 2018. Checks to a charity count for 2017 as long as they are mailed by the last day of the year.

Taxpayers who are over age 70 ½ are generally required to receive payments from their individual retirement accounts and workplace retirement plans by the end of 2017, though a special rule allows those who reached 70 ½ in 2017 to wait until April 1, 2018, to receive them.

Most workplace retirement account contributions should be made by the end of the year, but taxpayers can make 2017 IRA contributions until April 18, 2018. For 2018, the limit for a 401(k) is $18,500. For traditional and Roth IRAs, the limit is $6,500 if age 50 or older and up to $15,500 for a Simple IRA for age 50 or older. Check IRS.gov for more information about cost-of-living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2018.

Taxpayers should be careful not to count on getting a refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying other financial obligations. Taxpayers can take steps now to make sure the IRS can process their return next year.

Taxpayers who have moved should tell the US Postal Service, employers and the IRS. To notify the IRS, mail IRS Form 8822, Change of Address, to the address listed on the form’s instructions. For taxpayers who purchase health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, they should also notify the Marketplace when they move out of the area covered by their current Marketplace plan.

For name changes due to marriage or divorce, notify the Social Security Administration so the new name will match IRS and SSA records. Also notify the SSA if a dependent’s name changed.  A mismatch between the name shown on your tax return and the SSA records can cause problems in the processing of a return and may even delay a refund.

Some refunds cannot be issued before mid-February. By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds before mid-February for tax returns that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting on Feb 27, 2018, if they chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return.

Some Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers must be renewed. Any Individual Taxpayer Identification Number not used on a tax return at least once in the past three years will expire on December 31, 2017. Additionally, all ITINs issued before 2013 with middle digits of 70, 71, 72 or 80 (Example: 9XX-70-XXXX) will also expire at the end of the year. As a reminder, ITINs with middle digits 78 and 79 that expired in 2016 can also be renewed. Only taxpayers who need to file a U.S. federal tax return or are claiming a refund in 2018 must renew their expired ITINs. Affected ITIN holders can avoid delays by starting the renewal process now.

Those who fail to renew before filing a return could face a delayed refund and may be ineligible for some important tax credits. More information, including answers to frequently asked questions is available on IRS.gov/ITIN.

Keeping copies of tax returns is important. Taxpayers may need a copy of their 2016 tax return to make it easier to fill out a 2017 tax return. Some taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need to provide their 2016 Adjusted Gross Income, or AGI, to e-file their 2017 tax return.

Taxpayers who do not have a copy of their 2016 return and are existing users can log in to IRS.gov/account if they need their AGI. Otherwise the IRS will mail a Tax Return Transcript if requested online or by calling 800-908-9946. Plan ahead. Allow five to 10 days for delivery. Learn more on the website about identification verification and electronically signing tax returns. The IRS has a special page on IRS.gov with steps to take now for the 2018 tax filing season.


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Sacramento, CA (MPG) - Re-imagining transit service is a top priority for the Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT). The SacRT Board of Directors took a major step toward that goal this week by unanimously voting to award a $400,000 contract to Jarrett Walker + Associates (JWA ) to conduct a Route Optimization Study (ROS).

JWA has an excellent reputation in the transit industry for being innovative in its approach to planning and redesigning transit systems.  Under the guidance of Jarrett Walker, JWA was responsible for successfully re-imagining the Houston Transit System and for leading a Comprehensive Operational Analysis of the public transit network in Indianapolis.  Closer to home, JWA is credited with developing “Next Network” a Transit Ridership Improvement Program that was rolled out for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), which operates in the Silicon Valley.

“Walker is a dynamic presenter, known for building Board consensus along with community support for study recommendations,” said SacRT Chair Andy Morin.  “This is an extremely important factor, if this study is to be a useful model to govern redesign efforts.” 

The ROS will evaluate SacRT’s existing service conditions, as well as current travel patterns, to determine the type of design changes to recommend.  The goal is to provide frequent service on bus routes that are traveling to destinations where people want to go. New transit trends, such as on-demand bus service using a smartphone app and zero-emission bus deployment, will be evaluated for possible inclusion into SacRT’s service design. 

“Our number one priority is to significantly improve mobility and connectivity in the Sacramento region for years to come,” said General Manager/CEO Henry Li.  “Improving accessibility and convenience is essential, if we are to become a world-class transit system in the Sacramento region.”

JWA, a Portland, Oregon based company, will rely on AIM Consulting, a Sacramento public relations firm, to manage local community outreach for the ROS.  AIM intends to outreach to passengers and non-transit users alike during two intense cycles that will be defined through a Public Engagement Plan.  Community input will be a major component of the study, and JWA has committed to creating compelling visuals to effectively engage the public.  Virtual workshops and online surveys will be major components of the outreach effort.

“Transit planning requires some tough choices, but we know how to lead conversations that will help stakeholders and officials understand their options fully,” said Jarrett Walker, Principal-in-Charge. “We build the understanding so that when a final plan is adopted, everyone understands the rationale behind the new network.”

JWA will begin work on the ROS in January with SacRT’s team, and it’s expected to take approximately 12 months to complete. Visit sacrt.com and click on the Route Optimization Study to learn more about the upcoming route redesign.

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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SMUD thanks customers who donate every month to provide assistance to others in the community

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Some Sacramento residents find it tough to make ends meet, particularly during the holiday season. With EnergyHELP, SMUD customers can quickly and easily help others in the community who are struggling to pay their electric bills.

Participating in EnergyHELP is easy. Customers can sign up at smud.org/EnergyHELPin about two minutes. They simply enter their account information, choose a donation amount and choose one of four partner nonprofit agencies—Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, the Salvation Army, Travelers Aid Emergency Assistance Agency or the Folsom Cordova Community Partnership. Those agencies then provide up to $200 in bill assistance to low-income customers whose electric power has been, or is about to be, disconnected for non-payment.

The agencies also work directly with the households receiving bill assistance to provide in-person resources and support to help them get back on track and moving toward a more stable future. So far this year, the agencies have assisted more than 4,000 community members via the EnergyHELP program.

About 14,000 SMUD customers now donate monthly to EnergyHELP. Typical monthly tax-deductible donations range between $1 and $10, but some customers contribute as much as $100 per month. By December 31, SMUD customers will have donated more than $500,000 this year.

Since its inception in 2004, EnergyHELP has raised more than $5 million and benefitted more than 37,000 households in crisis.

To learn more about EnergyHELP, visit smud.org/energyhelp or call 1-888-742-7683.

Source: SMUD Media

 

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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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John Adams Academy Celebrates Groundbreaking

By Norman Gonzales, DOC  |  2017-12-12

The project is expected to be completed in time for the 2018-19 school year. Photo courtesy John Adams Academy

New Performing Arts and Athletics Building at the Roseville Campus

Roseville, CA (MPG) - Officials from John Adams Academy charter school celebrated recently with a groundbreaking ceremony for their new performing arts and athletics building, to be known as the “Jefferson Building”.   John Adams Academy, a free charter public school serving grades TK through 12, and located in Roseville, names each of their buildings to honor the Founding Fathers.    Thomas Jefferson was selected as the founding father to honor as he was known for being a renaissance man with multiple interests and talents.  The Jefferson Building joins a campus with buildings honoring John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and George Washington. 

“When completed the Jefferson Building will be approximately 11,600 square feet,” said Executive Director Joseph Benson, “It will have a gym floor, stage, two multi-purpose classrooms, and office space.”

“We are extremely excited about this enhancement to our Roseville campus.” said Dr. Dean Forman, Founder and Board President. “The Jefferson Building is designed to support our classical education model by providing a home for our performing arts and athletics programs.”

The project is being delivered by DesCor Builders and is expected to be completed in time for the 2018-19 school year. 

 John Adams Academy is Northern California's only tuition-free, K-12 Classical Leadership Education charter school with campuses in Roseville, El Dorado Hills and Lincoln. Since opening its doors in 2011, enrollment at the Roseville campus has reached over 1300 scholars in grades TK-12. 

John Adams Academy is preparing future leaders and statesmen through principle-based education centered in classics and great mentors. Scholars enjoy a classical liberal arts curriculum encompassing history, English, math, visual and performing arts, laboratory science, foreign languages including Latin and Greek with college preparatory electives. John Adams Academy is fully accredited by the Schools Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Apply or learn more here: http://www.johnadamsacademy.org

Source: John Adams Academy 


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