Colonel Baker’s Field: An American Pioneer Story Reviewed…

Blog Author’s Note: Camille was a colleague and friend of mine in Bakersfield. However, she was always a journalist so it was, indeed, an honor to have her review our book when it was published in 2013.

Since then it has gone into 2nd print and based on multiple comments “this book should be in our schools, 1,200 copies were donated to the middle schools in of Greater Bakersfield in November 5, 2016 on Colonel Baker’s birthday with the support of many local contributors, the Kern County Superintendent of Schools and former Mayor Harvey Hall.

As Chris states in the last paragraph of this review, the story is far from over. The goal is to make sure all residents know Colonel and Ellen Baker as the namesakes of Bakersfield — today and tomorrow.

The book is available on Amazon, Russo’s Books in Bakersfield and Coalesce Book Store in Morro Bay or Volumes of Pleasure Book Store in Los Osos. The authors are available for presentations — just leave a comment!  

The real Colonel Baker: Writers sift fact from fiction

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Col. Thomas Baker and Chris Brewer.

“Colonel Baker’s Field: An American Pioneer Story,” a new book on the life of our city’s namesake, is interesting in terms of its content, its structure and its genesis.

Primarily, it’s a biography of Thomas Baker, tracing his life from his birth in Ohio in 1810 to his death in Bakersfield in 1872 — and the man’s achievements as well as the obstacles he faced during the 62 years of his life.

 

Lead author Judy Salamacha has written the text in a style often referred to as “creative nonfiction” or “interpretative history.” Such a technique helps to make the story more readable than an ordinary textbook and gives life to its principal subjects.

In this case, it also makes it easier to present two stories — one that took place in the 19th century, the other in the 20th century and beyond. What readers will find is imaginary conversations based on personal diaries, newspapers and other documents as well as family lore and present-day interviews with Baker’s great-great-grandson, Chris Brewer.

 

It also corrects errors in previous treatments documenting the elder Baker’s life, Brewer said, like the fact that Baker was a true colonel in the Iowa Territorial Militia. Some historians have suggested the title was merely honorary.

“In those days (the 1840s), the United States didn’t have an army,” Brewer said in a recent telephone conversation about the book. “Each state was responsible for protecting its borders with its own army or militia.”

 

Also, as pointed out in “Colonel Baker’s Field,” before moving westward Bakersfield’s founder served in several elective offices in Iowa, including today’s equivalent of lieutenant governor. In 1841 the self-taught lawyer became the first U.S. district attorney of Polk County in Iowa Territory.

 

The book’s prologue begins with a rather formal dialogue between Baker at age 18 and his father, Nathan Baker. It takes place in Zanesville, Ohio, in 1828, and emphasizes the young man’s adventurous spirit and his love of books and reading.

 

In Chapter One, the time frame shifts to 1976 and a conversation between Brewer and Frank Capezio, a friend and fellow musician. It takes place backstage at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. During their talk, which is filled with lighthearted humor, Brewer tells Capezio he’s ready to give up his successful career as a trombonist with Paul Anka’s band and become a historian, devoting himself to researching his family’s role in the development of Bakersfield.

 

It continues with the introduction of Chris’ father, the late Harold Baker Brewer, who thinks that everything about their ancestor is already known and there’s no need to do any further research. Chris proves him wrong with a document verifying Thomas Baker’s standing in the Iowa armed forces during a border battle between Missouri and Iowa.

 

The book goes on to recount Baker’s experiences in California and the San Joaquin Valley, including being arrested for treason in Visalia — a charge that turned out to be false –and the fact he had been married three times and had nine children.

It concludes with the Baker family’s move to Kern Island, as our city was then known. It got the name because although most of the area was swampland, fed by the meandering Kern River, the only inhabitable place was a low-level knoll in the area of present-day 19th and M streets.

 

The book is enhanced by colorful artwork done by the author’s daughter, Jody Salamacha-Hollier. In an explanatory note, the artist said: “I used black and white historical photos as a base image, retouched and added color to the images, and then used Photoshop brushes to create a painted look.”

 

It also contains a timeline of the colonel’s life as well as an extensive bibliography that includes websites as well as written sources. However, the book has no footnotes or endnotes to acknowledge sources and it lacks an index, which would have been helpful.

Salamacha gives full credit to Sandy Mittelsteadt, president of a company that connects businesses to education, for coming up with the idea for the book and for guidance as it was being written.

 

The two women first met when they worked together on projects in Bakersfield. At the time, Salamacha held public relations and marketing positions with KGET-TV, Channel 17 and Castle & Cooke. She now lives in Morro Bay and writes a weekly column for the San Luis Obispo Tribune. She also is the director of the Central Coast Writers’ Conference at Cuesta College.

 

Obviously, much of the information in the book came from interviews with Brewer or from sources he made available to Salamacha and her collaborators. But according to him, there’s even more digging to do and more stories to tell.

 

“Although we worked pretty hard on the book, there is a ton of material that hasn’t been published,” he said. “The joy of this one is going to be the next book, with all the material in it that I’ve been gathering for years.”

Spencer’s Market: A Family Owned Business Who Cares & Provides Local

DSC05872John Spencer’s boyhood home was a cattle ranch in Santa Maria where his dad raised prime beef. One summer while in middle school, his dad taught him exactly where and how to plant cuttings for a cabernet sauvignon vineyard. At fifteen the Righetti High School student coveted a car. His dad expected him to earn it if he wanted it, thus, began his life’s career in the grocery business. His first job was “meat clean-up” at Williams Brothers Store #7 — the Santa Maria store that would become the first independent neighborhood grocery owned and operated by John and Beatrice Spencer.

“We just celebrated our 20-year anniversary owning Spencer’s Fresh Markets,” said Spencer. The couple currently own and operate stores in Santa Maria at 3580 Orcutt Road and Morro Bay at 2650 Main Street with approximately 100 employees. www.spencersfreshmarkets.com. Note the word fresh in their name!dscf0752.jpg

 

But first Spencer would experience intensive on-the-job training to learn the grocery business inside and out. He worked his way up at Williams Brothers to store manager before he was promoted to operations supervisor overseeing 19 stores. “I preferred being out in the stores. When Vons purchased Williams Brothers they saw I knew first hand what was going on so kept me on.”

For four years Spencer did the forecasting and budgeting for The Vons Companies. When he realized a couple of the locations were not performing up to corporate standards, he worked out a deal with then CEO Phillip Hawkins to purchase the Santa Maria store.

Meanwhile, Young’s Market owners Phil and Yvonne Young wanted to retire from their Morro Bay store.  “They liked how I ran Williams Brothers when I was the store manager. We put together a handshake deal and they are still my landlords although we lost Phil a couple years ago.”

“My time spent with Vons is probably the reason we are still in business today,” said Spencer. He added his stores operate professionally using corporate procedures while remaining a neighborhood grocer offering many local products.

Spencer still prefers his time in the stores. “I like that our people are neighbors serving neighbors. Customers can talk to the store manager and request the products they want to see us carry.”

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Many local products got their start or expanded their popularity at Spencer’s Fresh Markets. “We develop personal partnerships with our local product owners,” said Spencer. “Darren’s Berries started in a fruit stand then approached us to be his fruit stand. Twenty years later we’re still carrying Darren’s Berries.”

Spencer’s was first to feature Central Coast grown avocados. Customers will also find a variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables, including early season strawberries. Santa Maria-style barbecue meats and products, Brian’s Bread made in Atascadero, Cayucos Hot Sauce and local wines can be found at Spencer’s.  Many partnerships started during the Thursday afternoon Farmer’s Market at the Morro Bay store.

Spencer noted Frank Bouget was a find for Spencer’s Fresh Markets. “He trained in French culinary schools and can bake anything. I met him in the late 1980s when he first arrived in the United States.” Spencer lured him to Williams Brothers and then re-hired him in 2010 to handle all the store’s fresh bakery items and special orders out of the Santa Maria store.

“We have fun, too,” said Spencer. “When we added Cal Poly Eggnog, Frank came up with Cal Poly Eggnog Cream Pie. He also created Raspberry Pinot Noir Cream Pie.“

The market produces its own salsas and a variety of sausages from a fully customized meat department. The deli features prime Boar’s Head products and creates fresh signature sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes and deep fried and roasted chicken.IMG_1145

Spencer gets teary-eyed talking about how he met and hired Doug Carroll, popularized on KVEC’s Dave Congalton Show as Pastor Doug. “It all started as Free Flapjack Fridays on Sunny Country. (From his wheelchair) Pastor Doug would cook with me during customer appreciation breakfasts. Then he created his own recipes pulling products off the shelves and serving samples in the stores.” All the while Carroll battled Multiple Sclerosis with a positive attitude, infectious laugh and stories that inspired all who met him until he succumbed at 54 in 2011.

Spencer can be heard regularly on KVEC-Radio promoting local seasonal products and Spencer’s Fresh Markets’ deals of the week.

Beatrice still works with her husband in the office. They married August 1, 1981 and have four daughters, Caitlin, Kristine, Kayla and Cameryn, each a graduate or current student of Cal Poly.

Note: John Spencer was also the exclusive market to support the Kelsey Wine Program that benefits the Morro Bay Maritime Museum.

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Garden House of Morro Bay: A Love Home for Seniors with Dementia

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Since 2012 “Overcoming the stigma of dementia” has been in discussion worldwide by members of Alzheimer’s Disease International. For some, dementia is part of the normal ageing process. For others dementia is considered a mental illness. Rather than seek activities to improve caregiving and quality of life, people are isolated, even hidden away with assumptions nothing can be done to help them anyway. This is counter to ADI’s vision and goal to increase public awareness and understanding, thus, seeking a shift towards acceptance and inclusion of people affected by dementia.

Kasey Watson, administrator/owner of Garden House of Morro Bay, an award-winning home for mature adults, including those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, has wrestled with overcoming this stigma. In 2017 she discovered the true value of the age-old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Annually her nonprofit produced a calendar so she got the idea to feature willing residence in their favorite daily activity or an activity they used to perform regularly. She thought the exercise would be great for the residence and just might be the magic needed to overcoming ADI’s dilemma to further the international dialogue. Here is Watson’s story:

“Just point your camera, Luke,” said Kasey Watson. “Judy’s moment will be showing you how she hasn’t forgotten how to flirt.”

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Internationally accomplished photographer Luke Severn and Watson collaborated recently to release their 2017 calendar. The seventh annual calendar profits provide subsidies for veterans or their spouses to afford the “gold standard round-the-clock care” provided Garden House of Morro Bay. Previous calendars featured paintings produced by residents during MnemaTherapy sessions (www.artwithoutbounderies.net) conducted by Watson while contracted by Gari Cave, the owner of Garden House before Watson’s family purchased it in 2013. Numerous art pieces have been exhibited locally, at California’s State Capitol in Sacramento and at the University of Southern California.

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However, as Watson witnessed the benefits of the art and music therapy sessions, she realized a gnawing at her psyche – a growing desire to provoke a worldwide attitude adjustment towards those living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

“If the world could see what I see,” she said. “If people – even their families — could see with their hearts instead of what they think they see with their eyes.”

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Case in point, she introduced Severn to Richard Gatchel who had spent a career teaching philosophy and religious studies at the university level. “He is always the gentleman,” said Watson. “He loves to walk arm in arm and finds such peace watching the boats in Morro Bay.”

Severn was in between assignments with clients such as the Guggenheim and Bridges of Hope, South Africa when he decided to volunteer at Garden House. He’d grown up with a loved one who had Alzheimer’s and wanted to spend some time helping wherever he was needed. When Watson discovered Severn’s desire “…to reveal the deep connections between real people with real stories using my passion for photography…” the concept for the 2017 calendar was born.

Watson wanted to capture her residents experiencing that moment of joy remembering what they struggled day-to-day to recall. “MnemeTherapy gave me a solid foundation to recognize strengths and deficits in our residents so I was prepared to operate Garden House,” she said. Being onsite full-time confirmed her hypothesis, “They’re still in there wanting to relive the good times — hungry to tell their story.”

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Wally Jackson retired from PG&E. His children say he was always optimistic. Watson was called in during his darkest days spent in his trailer with alcohol his chosen friend. Secure now at Garden House, he enjoys leading the breakfast table in song yet faces each day with extreme anxiety, a compulsive routine and fears going out. Watson thought his intense politeness might enable him to accept the offer for an outing in a classic car. Indeed, Wally enjoyed a memorable ride around Morro Bay.

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Sybil Crook can no longer sequence or follow pattern instructions, but she loves talking sewing all day any day. Each square sparks a memory of who wore her creations or good times spent quilting with her sister.

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Gerry Maddren was born in San Francisco in 1924. She met her husband while attending college in Oregon. An only child she loved raising seven children while writing books and children’s short stories. Although her creativity today is consigned to coloring books, she continues to model her sophisticated upbringing so Severn recaptured her 1988 pose depicted on her book jacket for The Case of the Johannisberg Reisling.

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Ruth Ericson spent her early years playing golf at Marshall Cangory Country Club in Claremont, CA. Very competitive, she sunk three lifetime holes-in-one. At first, she didn’t mingle well at Garden House. She titled her first MnemeTherapy painting “Misfit.” Ruth called Watson crazy when she suggested they go to the golf course. But Ruth remembered exactly how to grip her putter, exactly how to sink the ball, has exact recall of that memorable day and won’t hesitate when invited to enjoy another moment on the golf course.

 

Tony and Aggie Wisniewski married and operated a citrus ranch in Sanger. They moved to Cayucos in 1978 and Tony planted 80 rose bushes. Each day he brings her his gift. She smells the bouquet then returns his gift – her joyful smile.GH 3

 

“This is me,” all twelve portraits shout, “enjoying a moment. I’m here and I haven’t forgotten…”

 

To find out more about Garden House, MnemeTherapy, or make a $20 donation to receive the 2017 calendar go to www.gardenhousemorrobay.org.Maddie and Marg

Note: the 2019 calendar features residence enjoying life at Garden Housing especially the new gardens created by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students – from design to permitting with the city and landscape construction, they have produced a student project of beauty and all documented in the calendar.

Another note: Looking for a wonderful place to work. Garden House is periodically looking for caregivers. They will train.

April 6, 2019: Garden House is participating in the Morro Bay Citywide Yard Sale. Check it out. Garden House calendar 2019

 

 

A Hallmark Encouragement

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In a couple weeks — April 5-7 to be exact — Morro Bay produces another Citywide yard sale. It has become a big deal since it began at least eleven years ago. Tourists visit to discover treasures or trinkets they can’t live without and some even bring trailers to take home furniture or larger items. Local use it as a time to spring clean and make a few extra bucks. There is a gentleman from Ventura, I think, that comes by every year and asks my husband if he has coins to sell. He offers a fair value and we make Bob buy the family dinner that night…or used to before the crab feed!!

The city garage company waives fees for hauling big items away the week after the yard sale. So everyone wins. And now groups are piggy-backing on evening opportunities for tourists to stay and play in Morro Bay.

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Speaking of crab feeds!!! Morro Bay Rotary has an “all you can eat” crab feed with all the fixings on Saturday evening April 6. Proceeds benefit community groups needing a boost of cash. Morro Bay Tourism recognizes this event as a true tourism opportunity so pitches it to visitors.

Only a $60 a ticket and almost sold out!! But then where else can you get a dinner among friends and lots of crab from Tognazzini’s Dockside? My son-in-law consumed 6 crabs last year and we all ate our share. And Rotarian servers even break the parts up enough so lazy-pickers like me can enjoy.

The Community radio station The Rock also has a big night. They offer lots of good songs dancing and adult beverages at the Morro Bay Veteran’s Hall. Have to work off a big crab dinner someway!!

So why am I promoting here besides a couple good causes to enjoy? I’m getting ready for the Citywide Yard Sale. We’ve decided to help out Garden House of Morro Bay this year. Garden House is a a wonderful home a couple blocks from us that helps senior residents with all kinds of dementias. Our Aunt Stella spent several lovely years there and now my good friend Kasey Watson owns it and my mother’s granddaughter Jody is her administrative assistant. Just as Mom found her new satisfying life in Cayucos, Jody has found another career utilizing all her best talents. Mom would be amazed and so proud Jody has found her career-feeder!

Looking through my stuff I found a Hallmark birthday card to me from my mother, Pat McKaye. She moved to Cayucos when she was 80 and was totally involved in her adopted community. She ran the thrift store and coordinated the Cayucos Senior Volunteers, which donated so much back to the community. She made wonderful friends and found her new home away from home — a haven to feed on. She was also proud of me that I had found my first love — the career I wanted in high school. I was writing for the local newspapers. I had forgotten she had given me this story idea.

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Mom was excited Jody and Mike were back permanently from Louisiana. He was from there and she was in school back there, but that’s another story. Somehow she linked that with  the Hummingbirds she loved to watch from her patio-slider door. At our house we would watch out of our kitchen window where we once saw a family of hummingbirds build a nest, birth their children and fly away. Having the kids close was a joy although she never hovered — visited, enjoyed the nectars offered and flew away…then back again another day.

She thought of names like Holly because it was close to their last name of Hollier. The villain bird or was it the hero bird was Anne, the middle name of both my daughter and I. She did mention another bird, a red necked bird who tried to steal the nectar from the feeder, but as you will see Anne protects it for her own.

Birds are jealous of each other, she wrote. “They love to sit on the feeder and chase each other off. They are very curious and love to play especially when the water hose is on. They also like things to stay the same.”

She told how once she got a new feeder and they refused to drink from it or play on it. She returned the older feeder to its roost and they were back again — playfully. Another time a storm was blowing hard even for her protected patio. The wind and the rain knocked over a large gardenia bush. “They flew in and around and around and chattered as if to say, ‘What’s wrong'”

Another time the wind was blowing the feeder sideways to and fro up and down. The hummingbirds would fly around and around begging it to stop. When it wouldn’t stop they finally took a risk and flew onto the branch. They rode it like a bucking roller coaster. When the feeder was empty they would fly to the window and hover as if to say, “We are out. We need more. We want to stay.”

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One time a bird hid in the bush near the feeder or maybe it was refuge in the fallen gardenia bush. Whenever another bird would fly to the feeder, the stalking bird would fly out and chase it away. Contrary to popular belief, he or she would sit there for hours protecting his/her feeder from marauders.

Mom thought Anne was a good name for the bird who captured her favorite place and guarded it as if her own. After a time Anne was the only one using the feeder and one day Mom wrote she came out and there were all kinds of hummingbirds of smaller sizes and variations of green — lighter to darker green — feeding all at once from the same feeder. She wondered if Anne drive them away. Then she saw Anne. It looked like she would try to make them leave the feeder, but instead she joined them and flew around them. Mom thought she is protecting her own. Anne was saying, “Feed my babes. I have captured our safe place for them and you can help me nurture and grow to fly away to make their new home.”

This is the story Mom wanted me to tell — the circle of life — the love of a mother for her own. I’m sure Mom thought the story would most likely in a children’s book at the Cayucos Library and Coalesce Book Store in Morro Bay, but…..

This was about nine years ago when Mom flew away. She found her safe haven or heaven. Who then would have really understood blogging is also meant for storytelling.

And so it goes…..Thanks, Mom.

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For the Love of a K9: New Life K9s Gives New Life for Inmates, PTSD victims & Donors

Author Note: This article has been updated from recently published LIVING LAVISHLY & INSPIRED HEALTH magazine that is distributed at the Inspired Health Expo at Madonna Inn March 23 & 24 and through Simply Clear Marketing http://www.simplyclearmarking.com

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New Life K9s business model is dedicated to training and matching a receptive K9 to a human in crisis to modify immediate and long lasting results. Jack Gould is the founder of the program headquartered on Buckley Drive in San Luis Obispo. “We prepare dogs to be of service for Veterans or First Responders with Post Traumatic Stress. Nicole, Rosa and Courtney are the moving parts to make it work.”

For the past two to three years New Life K9s found training support at San Luis Obispo’s California Men’s Colony. Inmates who qualified for the program worked together in teams within a separate unit from the rest of the CMC population. And although New Life K9s original and still ongoing goal is to offer a second chance to humans who’ve earned it, early results confirm that positive interaction and multiple bonding experiences among humans and K9s equates to new life beginnings and the promise of successful future outcomes for all involved in the process.

IMG_2264A second graduation day was held June 6, 2018 at CMC proving beyond expectations that the program works. Participating teams demonstrated – over and over again the bonds created with the dogs and each other. The following is but a snapshot of a most inspirational day spent “inside” CMC. The graduates were Eddie, Hope & Josie trained by New Life K9s staff with support by volunteer inmate-handlers and “outside” weekend puppy raisers. Private funding by groups such as Rotary-founded Pawsabilities for Veterans plus two years of puppy training produced a capable rescue dog ready to give new life — healing and unconditional love to their matched Veteran and First Responder families.

Gould gives Warden Josie Gastelo credit for recognizing the potential of a partnership between New Life K9s and CMC. “Nicole attended a seminar back East and met Sister Pauline, the ‘godmother of the prison puppy program.’ Sister Pauline said she’d write a letter to CMC’s warden. Frankly, we didn’t expect anything to happen. New on the job Warden Josie discovered Sister Pauline’s letter unopened on her desk and she knew she could never ignore a nun’s letter.” In 2018 New Life K9s expanded to Salinas Valley Prison in Soledad.

Warden Gastelo opened the ceremonies. “It is unheard of – in fact crazy — for a parolee to request an extended stay in prison. Mike (Nelson) is delaying his parole to participate in today’s New Life K9s graduation ceremonies. Most prisons have training programs for no-kill rescue centers, but our program is different. We have Jack and Nicole and Lt. Noland running a successful program with no problems — no issues – only success.”

In fact, a behind the scenes story was circulating among the visitors and inmates.  When some of the volunteer inmates announced they couldn’t live together peacefully in the CMC-West unit area or work with certain inmate-handlers that were from another other gang or ethnic background, Warden Josie told Lt. Noland to shut it down if they couldn’t make their peace. Faced with giving up their puppy-friends, order was instantly controlled and two years later working together grew into commaraderie and lifelong friendships.

When Nelson approached the podium approximately 50 visitors and 30 inmate-volunteer-handlers participating in the New Life K9s/CMC training program stood for an extended standing ovation. Nelson was the CMC primary handler for Eddie. After two years of 24-7 weekdays working with Eddie, he would complete the training process by formally giving up the leash to Greg, a former first responder serving San Luis Obispo County.

Working to get his emotions in check, Nelson said, “I’m not crazy to stay inside another day, but I really love Eddie. I wanted to show up for Eddie and be true to me. He’s a big part of my life — my walk. I came here (to prison) when I was fifteen to serve a life sentence because I did a lot of bad things to hurt a lot of people. I never could have imagined what Eddie would teach me. I met him August 12, 2016. He taught me to be more connected — to tap into my own senses — look around at perfection all around me. Training Eddie has opened doors to more experiences and opportunities to continue my path of healing after 20 years inside.” Mike’s next journey would begin the following day heading to northern California to complete a six-month transitional program with two job opportunities pending. Note: Mike has completed his transitional programs and is working with other inmates to help their transitions as well as New Life K9s prison programs.

Nelson introduced Lt. Patrick Noland, “We call him ‘The Dog Father.’ He makes sure the program works – anything from purchasing the dog toys to taking their temperature if they get sick.” Lt. Noland is Program Liaison serving on New Life K9s Advisory Board. Noland served ten years with the U.S. Navy completing three combat duties. In a New Life K9 newsletter Nelson wrote, “Lt. Patrick Noland has dealt with death, seen his military brothers commit suicide and has witnessed a number of evils that Noland attributes to himself and to others. He also deals with his own PTSD, a truth that he remained in denial of for over 25 years.”

Lt. Noland, a big man, stepped up to offer a few words with even bigger emotions. “I have PTSD myself. This program got me through my angry bursts the last couple of years. These are all my dogs so I can’t retire.” Referencing the style of training used by New Life K9s, he added, “I’ve trained dogs for 15 years, but I’ve changed my philosophy how to train since working with Nicole. New Life K9s works.”

The Bond-Based Choice Teaching method was demonstrated by current K9s 2-months to 18-months into training and their Inmate-handlers. The method was developed by Jennifer Arnold & Canine Assistants. Inmate-Handler Kristopher remarked, “We don’t push. We show them. We have to learn patience. We want them to want to do it on their own.”

Time and space does not allow the glowing remarks of other handlers about their K9 buddies, however, a few remarks including:

Richie said, “Hope…taught me love and forgiveness — love and trust…learning that helping others is a beautiful thing.”

Kristopher said, “Josie ‘s best quality was her sense of what is needed. She just knew how to perform it.”

Raymond’s PTSD after serving in Iraq was complicated by alcoholism. “Not addressing my weakness soon enough got me into trouble and landed me here at CMC. Josie taught me how to open my soul. Since working with Josie I have no nightmares about the war. I’m proud of myself today.”

40964691634_5f04f7f985_o46083366692_33085accab_oNew Life K9s Education Director Nicole Hern provided a new insight about the program. “We all knew we were here to thank, honor and support our servicemen, but we didn’t realize the impact the program would have for the handlers. It is an honor watching them give their hearts…then change their lives. Where else would you see a prison staff and the inmates interact so respectfully?”

During the last three months of the two-year program, the veterans and first responder matches took the dogs home to see if the match worked. Veteran Alan served in the U.S. Navy Special Forces. He received two purple hearts and for his efforts returned home with PTSD. Matched with Hope, he explained, “I couldn’t handle crowds, didn’t go out with my family. Now Hope is right there and she nudges when extreme anxiety is present and she calms me. In three months, she has changed by life. I’m no longer a shut-in.”

First responder Greg was matched with Eddie. “For 22 years I was an officer on patrol, investigator, traffic scene investigator. I saw some gnarly stuff before I retired with a neck injury. I became suicidal, had nightmares and flashbacks about the job. I became isolated, depressed and took lots of medications. Now with Eddie I go out with friends and family. The attention is on the dog and I can talk to people about him. Eddie calms me when startled and I’m sleeping regularly with few nightmares. My worst nightmare lately is when I dreamt Eddie was taken. I still have trouble with my memory and forget to take medications so Eddie reminds me. I’m excited to live again with my family.”

And how will Mike move forward with his New Life without Eddie? “During the matching process, Eddie chose Greg. I appreciated that. Greg thoughtfully preparrf for and welcomrf Eddie into his home even before their matching and boot camp was complete. I know Eddie has a loving home where his wellbeing is valued.”

2018-12-29 10.28.28Each family received a portrait of his K9 painted by Inmate-Handler Wesley. Self-taught while inside, his talent emerged when inspired by the puppies. Art by Wesley is currently on display and for sale at Top Dog Coffee Bar in Morro Bay on Main Street with sales wholly supporting New Life K9s. Additionally, Top Dog owners Patrick Bietz and Suzanne Maury have also created a special labeled coffee and subscription service directly benefiting New Life K9s training program.

Gould graciously thanked the many donor partners. The program cost was $10,000. Kudos were given to an original funding partner, Pawsabilities for Veterans, created by Gil Igleheart and Dick Mellinger while members of the Rotary Club of Cayucos Seaside. Now with Rotary Passport Club of Central Coast, they funded $2,000 for each puppy purchased from breeders at Quail Haven Ridge of Arizona and Kathy’s Lab’s of Arroyo Grande. The training dollars for Hope, Josie and Eddie was funded by Nichols Foundation, Darla Postil, and Idlers.

2019-01-19 12.08.46Pawsabilities in Rotarian MagazineFor more inspiration or information check out www.NewLifeK9s.org.

Update info since the June graduaton:

Rotarian Co-Founders of Pawsabilities for Veterans are Dick Mellinger and Gil Igleheart: Gil said, “We are proud to be considered a partner. Jack calls us “Ambassadors”for New Life K9s. In four years we’ve raised $120,000 by visiting 13 Rotary Clubs in District 5240 and other area districts. Members and clubs have supported New Life K9 through Pawsabilities for Veterans based on their personal or business interests and support for the program. Our mission is specific. We raise funds to directly pay for the cost of the puppies that will be trained by New Life K9s and donated to a Veteran with PTSD at no cost to the Veteran. We’re working on incorporating the First Responder with PTSD as well. In 2018 we have the funds for 7 dogs and have provided 5 of the dogs to be trained.

What’s next? Expansion to Rotary Districts bPFV Journey TM-01DSC06156eyond 5240 to spread the word and receive additional funding. We would also like to link with a training facility like Cuesta College that will certify the inmates with skilled training options so they will be prepared to earn a living wage once paroled.

It has been proven the relationship developed during the inmates training year and the transference of the trained dog will give new life to the future owner. It has also been proven the dog  will change the heart of an inmate giving him the will to remain on the outside. But until the parolee can earn their way financially there is the temptation to fall back into the lifestyle they lived in the past. New Life K9s is the bridge to guide them over the hump. Job skill training will get them to step beyond the bridge and a living wage job will offer the dignity and reason to stay on the other side.

Nicole Hern: Nine imate-handlers have been paroled since June, 2018 and none have returned or missed an appointment with their parole officer. This is good news for the high incidence of recidivism, which is a drain on state prison system costs.

KVEC Radio Talk Show Host Dave Congalton challenged listeners to support the program by donating together. If 22 people donate $22 for 22 months it will pay for the cost of the dog and the training program.

Top Dog Coffee has funded Cooper and is well into the training program. Check out the website at www.newlifek9s.org to see if you might join a team!!!

Time for Change Again- Commentary Today Based on Stepping Up Column in 2006-7 in The Bay News…

Editor’s Back-Story: For a brief time — 2006-07 — it appears, Heather Osgood, then publisher of The Bay News invited me to serve as publisher. It was then owned by the Colhouer family. Heather and Lani Colhouer had developed a partnership to produce what has grown to be the highly successful Inspired Home & Health Expos at Madonna Plaza and the Paso Robles Event Center in 2019. Obviously their budding ownership was taking off and Heather needed to focus elsewhere.

It meant I needed to give up reporting to take on the duties of the publisher — mainly find a productive sales rep to fund the product or do it myself, manage the staff of three, and produce a weekly paper even if it meant staying well into the night to send to the printer. I had great support from the family, but it meant giving up regular reporting which I loved.

However, periodically, I found time to write a community commentary, which in hindsight it was one of the community pieces published at just the right time that was the catalyst for an offer to write my By the Bay column in the SLO Tribune literally the day we closed the Morro Bay office since Bret and Lani Colhouer merged to create Tolosa Press. But that’s another story for another time.

Now in 2019-20 as the current Morro Bay City Council work on current goal setting with new council members led by Mayor John Headding and a fairly new city manager in place, Scott Collins, Additionally, the Chamber of Commerce has established a Governmental Review Committee (GRC) and is working side-by-side with the Tourism representatives.

And City Tourism has assumed production leadership of the Citywide Yard Sale realizing its attraction for a broader network of visitors. And both the Morro Bay Rotary Club and the Community radio station The Rock have created Saturday night events for community and visitors to attend after the Yard Sale neighbors have closed for the evening. April 4-6 is the Yard Sale at NO COST to the vendors to be on the map; Rotary’s 2nd annual crab feed is at the Community Center and The Rock’s Jam Concert is at the Veteran’s Hall.

I thought this flashback timely. Do things really change? I don’t believe positive change happens unless leadership, business and community members seek to work together. It happened briefly in 2006. I’m looking forward to seeing more sustainable fruits of collaboration happening again.

From The Bay News — 2006

Your Community – Stepping-Up  by Judy Salamacha, Publisher

Times, they are a-changing. While most of the changes are subtle they are often significant and noteworthy.

About 18 months ago, four Embarcadero business owners – Ed Biaginni, Stan Trapp, Paul Van Buerden, and Doug Redican – met to discuss what they could do collectively to bring more business to Morro Bay. They discovered the business community’s political strength once they determined their common direction and established a forum to voice concerns and support to elected representatives.

As tourism was currently the only viable industry, supporting events to increase tourism became the common direction.  A loosely structured Business Forum that was open to all began to meet weekly on Thursdays at 9am at Rose’s Landing upstairs. Chamber of Commerce Director Peter Candela was tasked with chairing the forum and offering topical speakers, yet all who attended had a voice, thus it became the methodology to share information and plan strategies.

Speaking out against and suggesting viable solutions with commitments to participate in each other’s event was the action taken. This group would be the last to take credit for the success of event planning in Morro Bay, however, utilizing the Business Forum as a collective body of individuals seeking community success, it is noteworthy that the Harbor Festival recovered from a $40,000 debt with a healthy bank account to plan 2007.

What the group should take credit for is creating a partnership between business and city leadership to implement a vision for a healthier economy through successfully planned and executed events.

And although the Morro Bay Kite Festival was the brightest star so far in 2007 for events held by the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce, Peter Candela recognized a critical changing community attitude at the Jazz Festival. Not only did the business community and the city support the concept and risks of consuming major public parking on the Embarcadero for a temporary festival staging area, but for the first time Peter saw more than the regular Chamber volunteers at the event.  Community members, city staff and elected officials were there not just attending an event for their own entertainment, but working the event to make it a success.

And if you missed the first edition of the season of Morro Bay Art Association’s Art In the Park, note it was bigger and better this year, but also recognize that again the city staff, elected officials, business supporter and the artists community collaborated with Morro Bay Beautiful to transform ten non-descript trash cans into beautiful works of art and recommend to our visitors they visit all the sites from Main Street to Morro Bay Blvd. to Tidelands Park to Market Street. When was the last time an event collaborated to have visitors visit all parts of the Morro Bay?  Oh!  The Morro Bay City-wide Garage Sale!

And when the Morro Bay Fire Department indicated they needed the community to step-up if we were interested in getting 40 teams and families from all over California to come for a fireman’s muster, a community committee joined forces to allow this event to return to Morro Bay after a hiatus of 20 years.

Times are subtly changing in Morro Bay through the coming together of community members collectively interested and willing to give their time, expertise, and even expendable dollars to build a new economy for the city. Each event has its own culture of community leadership to spark the idea, promote the benefits, reach out for sponsorship and welcome volunteer help.  Yet each time people cross-over to get involved beyond their specific interest area, it has allowed new community friendships and understanding.

If there is a day for community bonding and family fun, it has to be 4th of July.  For years the Chambers of Commerce in both Morro Bay and Cayucos have created an All-American family friendly day. There is music and games and sandcastles and parades and picnics and pancake breakfasts and barbecues all capped by a wonderful Fireworks display.  Yes, they have become tourist-driven community events, however, what Morro Bay has discovered in the last 18 months at the Business Forum is the real secret to making successful community events is not always the slick, well organized activities, it is the “feel-good time” for the visitor realizing they are in a special community where so many smiling residents work together and play together to host guests from afar.

Why not give your Chamber a call today and join the 4th of July family fun in your community. They need you and a successful community needs more smiling people to welcome and host our visitors so they continue to vacation here for the health and wealth of our economies.

 

 

 

 

A Rare Travel Story

Editor’s Note: My first paying job was in high school –15-going on 16. That summer, I was in summer school at Bakersfield High School taking typing in the morning and my friend’s (Bette Lou Kane) father was the publisher of THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN He got me the job taking classified advertisements in the afternoons until I could be full time once summer school was over. However, it was Mr. Partridge, my immediate boss,  who literally taught me how to type, requiring I type the ads directly from the phone conversation with the client instead of writing it out and then typing. Somehow I did it, but that’s another story maybe for another time.

The job I really wanted was upstairs in the newsroom, but it took a career of teaching 4th graders, then high school English, then radio, TV, etc. etc. and moving to the Central Coast before I worked for a newspaper writing stories about the people and events that happened in Morro Bay, Cayucos and Los Osos.

Early in my journalistic career my husband and I vacationed in Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire. I was excited about finally writing for the newspaper and picked up all the local free papers along the way to glean ideas. I was working for The Bay News at the time in Morro Bay and found a way to adapt our vacation to my new home town.

Might Morro Bay’s Sister City Be Kennebunkport, MN  By Judy Salamacha

Central Coast to East Coast – from sea to shining sea – people and places are so different yet so much alike.  While traveling the south-central coast of Maine recently, I noticed a New England accent couldn’t disguise the parallel lives shared by new friends met with friends back home on the Central Coast.  In particular I found three individuals that instantly reminded me of a Morro Bay counterpart.

Named the “Best Family Restaurant on the Maine South Coast,”Mike’s Clam Shack and Fish Market is located in Wells, MN.  Owner Mike McDermott has been in the family business forever and his philosophy and operations reminded me of Giovanni’s Fresh Fish Market.  Not just because Gio was awarded by the Morro Bay Harbor Festival “Best Clam Chowder” for three year’s running, but both Mike and Gio are popular with locals and tourists. Both pride themselves on featuring fresh fish and family friendly prices.  Walk in either restaurant and you’ll hear “Where’s Mike?” – “Can I talk to Gio?”

Mike has expanded four times growing from a 20X20 clam shack serving 125 on a good night to over 2,000 a night at the height of the summer season.  Gio is currently expanding again and likely serves almost as many on a good summer day.  Mike buys fresh daily at the Portland fish market, while Gio often buys direct from the fisherman right off his dock.  Mike and Gio cater to locals, who in turn recommend their restaurants to tourists.  Mike’s Clam Shack is well known for their Haddock & Chips, Lobster Rolls and, or course, like Gio, award-winning Clam Chowder.

Then there was Harbor Master Lee McCurdy of Cape Porpoise Harbor in Kennebunkport.  Like Morro Bay’s Harbor Master Rick Algert, McCurdy manages the dock and reports to the local advisory board.  Both supervise the harbor patrol and harbor leases. McCurdy handles the fisherman’s day-to-day off-loading of lobster traps while Algert is more involved in harbor management.

Although lobster fishing is still going strong in Maine, legislation is continually hampering the working fisherman. Both McCurdy and Algert are advocates for the shrinking number of fisherman still trying to survive in an overly regulated environment.  Just as Morro Bay’s fisherman continually fight for their right to fish, so it was with the latest issue for the lobster fishermen.   Due to two incidents of whale entanglements in the last couple of years, the fisherman might have to re-engineer their float ropes at thousands of dollars to the fisherman.

McCurdy, a former gill netter, enjoys being close to the water and industry without his livelihood tied to the sea, but with shrinking numbers of fisherman in his harbor he, like Algert, share concerns about life as they’ve known it.

The Noonan family was a local dynasty reminding me of the Tognazzinis. Richard Noonan, like Mark Tognazzini was a fisherman’s fisherman.  Richard works 800 lobster traps. Richard’s daily catch went directly to their restaurant, Noonan’s Lobster Hut, in Kennebunkport, just as Mark fishes for Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant when allowed to fish.  And just like the Tognazzinis, the entire Noonan family, including the patriarchs George Noonan or Wilmer Tognazzini, is involved in the restaurant.  And just like Mark, Richard works closely with other fisherman promoting fishing and consumption of fresh-caught fish and seafood in Maine and on the Central Coast of California.

Hoping to continue the family tradition Richard’s son, John, loved lobstering with his dad. He had just completed his first full year with his own traps and it was a good year.  At age 20, he hoped he could survive in the business, but was realistic enough to take construction management at the community college just in case times got leaner.  Another son, Ben, was a master boat mechanic.  His biggest client was the Secret Service based at former President Bush’s Kennebunkport estate.

Sister-city programs foster sharing commonalities and better business practices. The Central Coast could learn some tricks of the tourist trade from Maine’s tourism-based communities. Maine has many more than the two lighthouses in San Luis Obispo County, Maine, however, has preserved, protected and endowed their lighthouses in order to attract the tourists by car, tour bus, trolley or harbor cruise.  Portland alone offered multiple harbor cruises with picture-perfect views of five lighthouses.

Both coastal communities had a familiar variety of gift shops, shirt shops, art galleries, and nautical museums. One entrepreneur we visited had found his niche. The Lighthouse Store in Wells attracted busloads of tourists, which had basically the same products for sale as Central Coast gift shops, but it was marketed on-line and around the tourist communities as the “ultimate lighthouse destination” boasting 12,000 lighthouse products.  Tourists had to stop just to see if the shop really had 12,000 lighthouses.

Like Morro Bay, Maine had harbor dinner cruise vessels similar to Morro Bay’s Papagallo II or The Chablis.  Whale watching and sport fishing tours were comparable to Virg’s Landing.

However, the Central Coast might be missing one cruise opportunity.  Non-fisherman, most likely tourists, pay the lobster captains big bucks for a chance to crew on a lobster boat.  On the other hand, not this land-lubber. No, thank you,

In fact, Gio or Mark, can you take the lobster meat out of the shell before serving me, please?

 

 

 

 

 

Senior Care With a Personal Touch

Editor’s Note: This column first ran in INSPIRED HEALTH Magazine Volume 4 — published by http://www.simplyclearmarketing.com.

Inspired Heath — Dr. Steven Sainsbury

Dr. Steven Sainsbury hates meetings – except those face-to-face with his patients in San Luis Obispo County or some-wherever he is needed in the rest of the world.

Back in November, 2008 he transitioned from hospital emergency care to develop a unique mobile primary care practice — visiting his patients in their homes creating a true house-call practice.


Dr. Sainsbury served patients for 20 years chiefly as an emergency physician at Sierra Vista Hospital. He discovered he liked the night shift best.

“I could be off duty sleeping when staff meetings were held,” he joked.

The U.S. Census as of July 1, 2016 lists the SLO County’s 65 and over population at 18.9%. As Dr. Sainsbury contemplated retirement, he realized he had developed the skills to prepare him to advocate, diagnose and treat San Luis Obispo’s growing senior population. He realized there was a hole in patient care in the county and decided to consult with two north county practitioners, including his fellow medical director at Central Coast Hospice, Templeton’s Dr. Jeffrey Bourne. www.centralcoasthospice.com.

“They liked their practices so I decided to try it,” he said. “I needed a saner lifestyle and serving seniors offered the best of what I liked about patient care – diagnosis and immediate treatment.”

Hospital emergency care had also established contacts with every doctor in the community so his fledgling practice grew quickly with immediate referrals.

The new practice offered two major surprises. “Paperwork,” he said. “I always had staff to take care of filing Medicare and insurance. I needed to carve out time to do it myself.”  He spends a minimum of three hours per day on paperwork.

“I also didn’t anticipate the number of phone calls. Now I’m working directly with the patients, families of patients and medical facilities where most of my patients reside.”

Dr. Sainsbury visits 25 private homes monthly and has 300 patients in a variety of homecare facilities. Typically, 250 are private Medicare patients with others under Hospice care. However, after eight years, he is finally in a place where he’s adjusted his schedule so he can sleep at night. He doesn’t take calls after 9pm. And he doesn’t take on more than the load he is currently carrying.

Why is such a practice valuable within a community? “It’s hard for many patients to leave their homes even to go to a doctor’s office and they are always more comfortable in their home environment,” Dr. Sainsbury explained. “At home I can also check their meds and eliminate what they shouldn’t be taking.” He mentioned many seniors are taking Lipitor or Statins. “Frankly, after 90 they don’t need them. The side effects could be making them uncomfortable.”

His biggest challenge is dealing with patients’ families. “The family wants the best or the most care needed for their loved one, but in-reality will a mammogram help an elderly patient in all cases? Should I diagnose chemo when I know the outcome would be the same anyway? When I know a treatment won’t improve quality of life should I recommend it anyway?”

Dr. Sainsbury’s stated his ethic. “I’m the advocate for the patient. All I care about is what the patient wants and his/her quality of life.”

He adamantly advises families need a clear DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) policy earlier than later in life and one that everyone must agree to abide by. All must do what the patient originally wanted. The DNR will not complicate decisions when emotional stress takes hold.

Family – his and others – have always been very important to Dr. Sainsbury. His personal life has been full raising children, volunteering as team football physician for Cal Poly and traveling annually on medical missionary trips to faraway places such as the Congo, Jordan, Guatemala and the Amazon with several different groups — Flying Doctors, Doctors on Call and more.

“It takes a certain personality to provide a house-call practice,” he said. “It is easier or at least much different when patients come to an office or to the ER. “There is plenty of work for others to come into the field, but I believe there are only a few doctors that are willing to do what I do.”

Editor’s Note: Dr. Sainsbury is loved by patients, families of patients, and administrators at the facilities he serves. I know this first hand. He cared for our Aunt Stella for the three years she lived and thrived at Garden House in Morro Bay after breaking a hip at her assisted living home in Michigan where the employee ratio was not sufficient to care for her so we were able to bring her to California and to Garden House.

Kasey Watson, Administrator/Owner of Garden House of Morro Bay, which is the first SLO County nonprofit secured home for patients of all dementias, works regularly with Dr. Sainsbury, which is how our family first met him. He regularly serves most of the residents at Garden House. There are fifteen residents living onsite at any given time. Garden House has a waiting list and encourages families to plan ahead, tour the home and if it will fit future needs, register on the waiting list.

Kasey Watson: “Dr. Sainsbury takes the time to listen to his patients needs and concerns, as well as their family members. He is available by phone and willing to meet with families when they have questions.   He collaborates with our care team by seeing our residents monthly which maximizes the quality of their lives by keeping him educated as to a resident’s current well-being. Our Residents needs can change dramatically in a short amount of time. When we need to inform or consult with him because of a change in a residents’ status he always responds quickly, either by phone, email, fax or text, whichever is most appropriate. Because he does this so quickly, it elevates our response times and ensures that best possible comfort and outcomes for the Resident.” Kasey Watson, Administrator, Garden House of Morro Bay

For more information: www.drsainsbury.com (805) 546-7650

To Contact Garden House of Morro Bay contact www.gardenhousemorrobay.org. Ask for Jody Salamacha-Hollier or Kasey. Another note: After moving to Morro Bay and experiencing Garden House while Aunt Stella was there years ago, she discovered what a positive work-environment it could be for her and is now Assistant-Administrator after two years on the job.  Jody and Kasey are always on the look-out for caregivers to help fulfill their mission providing the highest quality of life and health and companionship for their residents. If you care and are looking for a loving place to work, give Jody or Kasey a call.

 

 

 

North County Adaptive Sports & Recreation Program

The North County Adaptive Sports & Recreation Program is an amazing program for a group of Central Coast citizens that needed to find each other to work and play together. Families network together and things happen within their communities. This story ran the summer of 2018, but was a long time coming to print, but well worth the wait since it merged groups together to play together. Enjoy and maybe you’ll want to get involved.

Image 2-5-19 at 2.24 PM

Photo by Tom Grant

Symbiotic Networking is defined as business and community representatives of like-purpose and interests coming together for mutual benefits. You won’t find it defined in the dictionary or listed as one of the top business practices in INC. Magazine, but it produces results – instantly or after years of nurturing relationships. And when it all clicks magic happens for all concerned.

For example, San Luis Sports Therapy, Morro Bay Councilman Matt Makowetski, North County Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program, Cal Poly University, the cities of Morro Bay and Atascadero and Project Surf Camp – just to name a few of the beneficiaries — realized Symbiotic Networking’s results when linking their business models to nonprofit community projects.

The magic happens again Friday, June 29, from 11am to 5pm at 890 Shasta in Morro Bay when the public is invited to the 6th Annual Benefit Barbecue for Project Surf Camp hosted by Clinic Director Michael Williams, owner of San Luis Sports Therapy (www.slsportstherapy.com).

“We move out the therapy equipment to become a cafeteria,” Williams said. “It’s a pre-holiday free lunch. I provide the Tri-tip and friends help barbecue and bring side-dishes. Local businesses donate gifts and we draw tickets all afternoon. Last year we gave $5,600 to Project Surf Camp. We’re hoping to give over $6,000 this year.”

Williams’ converted an annual appreciation potluck to a community event ultimately benefitting three nonprofits — Project Surf Camp, United Blood Services and the North County Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program.

“When I opened the business in 2002, I decided to thank everyone with a BBQ before the 4th of July holiday. We also offered a blood drive with United Blood Services. It grew every year until we were at around 200 guests.”

At the same time, Williams and Makowetski coached their children in youth recreation programs. A teacher during the school year, Makowetski spent his summers helping John Taylor, founder of Project Surf Camp, provide ocean experiences for special needs adults and children. When Makowetski explained the concept of Project Surf Camp to Williams, he realized, “It was right up my alley. More than 200 good-hearted people already enjoy our barbecue. Why not make it a community event?”

Williams admired that John Taylor enjoyed surfing with a prosthesis and created Project Surf Camp www.projectsurfcamp.org so everyone on the Central Coast might experience ocean recreation – especially those with varying disabilities.

The day camps are half-days at Morro Rock Beach near the Morro Creek outlet. Four paid specialists and many community groups and individuals volunteer to provide the instruction and safety support for the campers as they test out the waves.

Ron Vasconcellos is a longtime participant of San Luis Sports Therapy’s wellness program. He suggested to Williams the NCASARP (www.ncasarp.org) participants, fondly called the Bulldogs, were a perfect group to benefit from a surf camp session. Ron and his wife Ruth started NCASARP in 2010 with several parents, Cal Poly coaches, and professors, students and community volunteers to develop a year-round, county-wide sports and recreation program for kids and adults who live with developmental disabilities.

“We were looking for more activities — sports and social activities — for our son, Chris,” said Vasconcellos. The program launched when Atascadero Parks & Recreation offered their gym one-day weekly all year long. Bulldogs’ families and board members operate the activities for the nonprofit. “It takes a village – so many partners have helped develop it into a county-wide program.  Kevin Taylor, Cal Poly Kinesiology Department (www.calpoly.edu), Coach Faith Mimnaugh and Cal Poly students have made a big difference.”

The Bulldogs recently received the Paul Wolff Accessibility Advocacy Award during a Community Foundation Awards Night recognizing Cal Poly’s participation. At least 18-20 students participate weekly offering everything from strengthening skills to high-fives and friendship. “Many students have changed their career paths after their involvement in our program,” said Vasconcellos. “Our Bulldogs respond to those closer to their age.”

Regularly 35 participants from 13-70 years old show up to play basketball, volleyball, broomball, kickball or line dancing in Atascadero. Each Monday Kennedy Fitness in San Luis offers their pool for aquatics. Social activities like bowling, pizza parties, Blues Baseball, and Cal Poly sporting events become social get-togethers for Bulldogs and families. Discounted Ride-On transportation is available.

Thus, Project Surf Camp was a natural expansion activity for the Bulldogs and Vasconcellos had volunteers to help to support a day at camp.

Williams liked the idea. Not only could his business and patrons support Project Surf Camp financially, but his staff would benefit with on-the-job-training sea-side working with special needs campers. “Saturdays are the only days we can take off from our regular patrons,” said Williams. “This year our day with the Bulldogs is July 21.

Indeed, Symbiotic Networking makes things happen. June 29 meet the team at Michael Williams’ barbecue. Many will go home with a Coast Electronics-donated television, or a surfboard, or restaurant gift certificates or…..good vibrations for networking to help Project Surf Camp in 2018.

And now it is 2019…all the programs are ongoing through the year and then summertime Project Surf Camp will kick in again. Will your group be involved?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking Back: Flooding in Morro Bay & Gary & David Owens Come to the Rescue

Late 2018 the Central Coast saw lots of good rain and thankfully no or little damage. 2019 is stacking up to be a wet year and we’re facing another big storm coming in this afternoon or tonight which is February 1. Midwest-style thunder and lightening happened a couple days ago, but then gentle rains. The winds and high — King Surf, Blood Moon have all been exciting.

I thought it would be interesting to post the following column that appeared in Tolosa Press, the former name of Simply Clear Marketing and Media. It was my “Then & Now” Column for 1/14/16 and appeared in The Bay News, Coast News, and SLO City News. It was reflective of years ago when Morro Bay actually experience flooding and the Gary and David Owens Family, owners of Village Cleaners in Morro Bay came to the rescue…what we do in small communities!

Enjoy the column:

Cheers! As of January 4, 2016, PG&E Meteorologist John Lindsey announced on his FACEBOOK page, “El Niño has arrived. A series of storms will march across the Pacific toward California this month, if not longer.”

And as promised, January 5 saw rain dousing the plains – and rooftops, freeways, wine grapes and avocado trees, lettuce and strawberry fields with more expected the entire week.

Let’s hope it continues at a steady start-and-stop pace rather than what happened March 10, 1995 when father and son, Gary and David Owens, were called into duty rescuing folks from their cars, waterlogged under the Hwy. 1 — Main Street underpass. The corridor was flooded all the way to the intersection at Hwy. 46. Main and Radcliffe Streets which were underwater by over 4-feet deep.

“I don’t expect this to happen again,” said David. “Both of the trailer parks were flooded from all night rain. A shed got loose and lodged under the highway so the water backed up. I’m sure we’re better prepared to handle El Nino today.”

Gary Owens further explained, “There was a major fire a few months earlier off Hwy. 46 — almost to Hwy, 101 and SLO — so the ground behind the trailer parks couldn’t absorb the water. We got 9.5 inches in less than 24 hours.”

David and his mother, Marlene, were co-owners and operators of Village Center Dry Cleaners at 750 Napa in Morro Bay. David took a call for one of his employees, Carol Harpster. The fire department was looking for her husband, Fred, because they knew he had a boat.

“I volunteered I had a Zodiac we used for diving,” said David. He was immediately enlisted to help. The inflatable was at his dad’s home a couple blocks away from the cleaners. “I said to Dad – Do you want to go rescue people?”

David said there were three to four cars stalled near Radcliffe with “water up to the roof.”

Gary said he noticed the “bottom of the water was to the top of the street sign. Estero Glass (fronting Main Street) had cars parked with water running over them.”

When they launched the inflatable, David stepped onto the street at the Radcliffe intersection and it was almost over his head. “It was deep enough to run a 6-hp motor,” he said. “The first guy had dropped his keys and wanted Dad to dive for them. He found his keys. Then there were two guys standing on the top of their Volkswagen grateful to be rescued.”

Next the Owens motored over to Preston Lane where there were people trapped in an apartment complex.

“We rescued two ladies, a guy and their cats. One lady was most grateful for us rescuing her luggage. The firemen couldn’t take it,” said David. “I had to leave Dad there because I didn’t have room. It was a bumpy ride going against a swift current getting the ladies out. I later found out one of the ladies was Norm and Nancy Blackburn’s mom and she had a heart condition, but she made it even though one of the cat carriers was sloshing out of control. At the exit an ambulance was waiting to check them out.”

The Owens team even had to rescue a CDF team. “Their ‘turn-out’ suits filled with water as they were trying to dislodge the shed,” said David. “There was so much current around Preston Lane, I got banged up shins and we both ended up with poison oak getting in and out of the water.”

The entire Owens Family have been business owners in Morro Bay and active community members. Gary and David are both past presidents of Morro Bay Rotary. Marlene has since retired and spends time making finely crafted walking sticks after recuperating from a car accident and making sure she would not only walk, but hike again. She sold her half of the business to David in 2000. Her father, Pete Stock, started it in 1969 after bringing the family to Morro Bay from Nebraska. She was on the founding board of directors for Camp Hapitok, which closed as of 2015. Marlene is also very active as a member and in leadership positions for Quota Club of Morro Bay. They have been involved since it began in the early 1970s.

(Note: Author update information) Today in his spare time Gary enjoys woodworking and is proud of his grandchildren.

David wonders how many of his softball tournaments and games might be rained out this season. Besides managing the cleaners he officiates for the American Softball Association (ASA), recreation department basketball, and high school volleyball. Last year he officiated over 170 games. (Note: David has added Cal Poly events to his officiating schedule since this column was published.)

David also served as president of the board and then director of the Morro Bay Harbor Festival for five years. Wife Dawn was volunteer coordinator for the Harbor Festival and the two of them have four children; Dak, 22, Dari, 20, Dexton, 16, and Devan, 11.

We will hear more from the Owens family. Their children were active at Camp Hapitok and Dari has taken top academic honors at college and Dak is fitting nicely into the family-owned business.

Thank you, Owens Family, for all you do for the Central Coast and Morro Bay.