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PostHeaderIcon Around Town

PostHeaderIcon Athletes Pitch in to Help Kids

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"You made me realize that I can be a doctor because if you can do it, I know I can do it. And since you finished your dream, I know I can finish mine."
-3rd grader- Atlanta, GA (Classroom Champions class of 2010)

It feels like every day you hear about new cuts that are happening to our school systems.  As a parent, it's frustrating because there's not much you can do about what's going on.  You want your child’s education to be the best available but you wonder just how that can happen with programs being removed left and right.

That being said, thankfully there are always great advocates for schools that are making exceptional programs to benefit our kids and supplement some of the programs that are being removed due to budget cuts.

One of these exciting programs is called Classroom Champions.  Starting in 2010, Classroom Champions began with their mission statement : “To inspire, motivate, and educate students in high-need schools to recognize their potential, set goals, and dream big.”  What makes these classroom champions any more exciting than a member of the community that volunteers their time and finances towards a school system?  These champions are our countries top athletes who are getting involved and showing kids just what can be achieved through hard work and dedication.

Not all kids have the benefit of having strong role models or influential people to help encourage them to work towards a bright future.  In lower income neighborhoods, it might seem impossible to kids that escaping the reality they face every day is a feasible goal.  The people working with Classroom,  Champions aim to address the issues surrounding neighborhoods just like this.  By introducing Olympians and Paralympians to students from grades 3-8 all around the nation, they hope to spread hope and teach kids that setting goals and creating hope is a positive thing.

Each Athlete Ambassador adopts 1-3 classrooms per year, and via technology like video chats and blogging, they teach kids about the hard work it takes to achieve your goals.  That it's not just about wishing it true, but setting reasonable steps to set your goals, training or working towards your goals, and the perseverance it takes to keep working for it.

Not only do the kids get to interact with these top athletes, the program also helps support the teachers by helping them incorporate the activities into their current curriculum. It's inspiring as a parent to know that there ARE advocates for our schools.  That while I do my best to do my part, there are amazing people that are working together to provide hope for a better future for our kids and our teachers. 

For more information about Classroom Champions, visit their website : classroomchampions.org .  If you are a teacher and would like to participate in this program, you can also apply on their website by using the “Apply Now” tab.--AG


Amy is a stay at home mother of 3. Between chasing her children, she does freelance writing, Professional Organizing and Virtual Assisting. Amy also has a website Mommy Optimistic, which focuses on the happiness of being a parent.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 29 May 2012 06:57)


PostHeaderIcon Rich Little to Perform in Orinda Saturday

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The Orinda Theatre celebrates its grand re-opening with a comedian who has been called “the last great impressionist of our time," Rich Little. The evening of laughs, fun, and excitement will be held on the big auditorium of the Orinda Theatre on Saturday, May 14 at 8 p.m. Organizers say that Little, who is a master mimic of at least 200 voices, including the voices of United States presidents and Hollywood celebrities, will bring his famous Las Vegas Show to the Orinda Theatre.

The evening will be hosted by San Francisco Bay Area Film Critic, Jan Wahl. Organizers said the show will have the entertainment vibe parallel to Vegas’ and New York’s comedy shows, where people come to see, to be seen, and most importantly, enjoy the company of friends and relatives. It will be a night to remember for all.

The Orinda Theatre re-opened in late March under a new management team that has been managing the New Rheem Theatre since  last June. The area now has a 7-cinema complex that will present different movies on each theatre screen.

Ticket prices for the Rich Little comedy show are $35.. There is alos a $125 dinner package for 25 people, first come-first-served basis, with Little. A reception ticket, $45, which includes light refreshments and limited to 100 people, first come-first-served basis, is also available. Tickets may be purchased at the Orinda Theatre’s Box Office, 4 Orinda Theatre Square or on the theatre’s website (www.theorindatheatre.com ). For more details, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 925.254.9065. Tickets are on sale now.--KB

Last Updated (Monday, 09 May 2011 18:21)


PostHeaderIcon Shoe Charity trying to Collect 11 Million Pairs

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A group called Soles4Souls Inc. is trying to collect and distribute11 million pairs of  shoes in 2011 to people living in extreme poverty and those recovering from natural disasters.

Between April 16 and 23, Soles4Souls and AAA at 3055 Oak Road in Walnut Creek will be collecting your gently worn footwear and/or donations.

"With the earthquakes in countries like Haiti and Chile, on top of the enormous needs elsewhere, we can use the estimated 1.5 billion shoes taking up space in the closets of ordinary people to change the world one pair at a time," said founder and CEO of Soles4Souls, Wayne Elsey. 

Since 2005, Soles4Souls has distributed more than 13 million pairs of shoes because of the generosity and commitment of people and organizations like AAA, charity officials said.

"Donating shoes is one of the most simple yet profound gifts you can make, because it will greatly improve someone's life in the most difficult of times,’’ Elsey added.

Soles4Soul and Clothes4Souls collects, recycles and reuses shoes from warehouses of footwear companies and closets of individuals. The group recycles less than 2 percent of donated footware. Shoes have been distributed in 125 countries, including Haiti, Kenya, Nepal and the United States. 

Clothes4Souls, a new division of Soles4Souls, provides hope for people in need through the gift of new clothing from manufacturers, designers, and retailers.  Those who give away unused inventory are assured their donations are distributed to people around the world living in desperate need. Donating parties are eligible for tax advantages. Visit www.giveshoes.org, www.clothes4souls.org or www.soles4souls.org for more information.  --KB

Last Updated (Friday, 15 April 2011 18:53)


PostHeaderIcon A Mom Asks: Where are MY Bon Bons?

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Growing up I remember watching shows that might include the occasional house wife watching soap operas and eating bon bons.  My own mother watched her fair share of soaps, though after my first year in school she reentered the work force.  Thankfully for her, it didn't mess up her "Days of Our Lives" time.  I can also remember my first taste of bon bon, which was given to me by my mom and my aunt – whom I think worked but would often come over during her lunch break to enjoy a good drama on TV.

I'm a stay at home mom.  First by choice, then even when I considered the work force, finances dictated I stay at home since I didn't finish a degree.  I've been doing freelance work as a virtual assistant for about 5 years now, odd jobs as a professional assistant here and there, and now, quiet a bit of writing.  However, first and foremost,  my life revolves around the kids.

Unlike some of my friends, my house is not spotless, though I wish it was, but my kids are mostly well mannered, very happy, and pretty healthy.  Their pediatrician claims that they are above the intellectual average for their age because of the learning activites we do (however I kind of think she tells ever mom that).  As I write this, my smallest is wrapping himself in my blanket and sing-songing peek-a-boos at me.

Recently an old friend of mine left the work force and opted to stay at home with her son.  Over half of her paycheck was going to sitters that never worked out and she finally decided staying at home was the best option.  What she's found is that stay at home moms are busy people!  I think she figured that she'd finally be able to relax, get caught up on everything, and just go where the breeze takes her.  Recently on Facebook she asked when she would be able to stay at home, because since she left work she hasn't stayed at home one single day.

Now before I continue I want you to know, I have nothing but respect for working moms and I don't understand how they get it all done.  Most moms I know that work come home from a full day job to being a very interactive mom, do the chores, make dinner, clean the house, etc.  Like I said, my house needs some cleaning, and I don't go to an office.  My friends claim that they don't understand how I manage staying at home with three small children, so I guess it's one of the mysteries of the universe. 

Anyway, these days, especially with great online resources like meetup.com, the Moms Club, and even local parenting groups, mom's have no reason to just hang out at home.  We find other moms and focus on socializing our kids (and ourselves).  By the time we're done socializing, it's time to run the errands.  After errands, we might hit up a Gymboree or any of the local play things (a favorite of many in the Bay Area is the Play Cafe in Oakland.  Gotta love being able to relax with a fresh cup of coffee, hook up to your laptop, and let your kid run loose!). 

After finally finding our way home,  I often find myself too tired to consider cooking anything – especially if grocery shopping was one of my errands!  I have to suck it up and find motivation.  Throughout the day  I'm tending to my kids, giving them interaction, positive reinforcement, time outs, seemingly feeding them every time I sit down, etc.  I honestly clean the house daily but if you ask my husband I'm sure he'll say it's more like once a month.  It never ends – especially with 3 small kids.

Do I find it worth it?  I sure do.  Even on the crazy days, one of my kids will make me remember why I do it.  When I look at the photo's I've taken and all the parks and places we've visited I love it.  The bon bons can wait until the kids are asleep and my DVR is filled with my favorite programs, and I have a glass of wine ready to go.  Maybe that's the new face of stay at home moms.  Cheers!

 Amy is a stay at home mother of 3. Between chasing her children, she does freelance writing, Professional Organizing and Virtual Assisting. Amy also has a website Mommy Optimistic, which focuses on the happiness of being a parent.

Last Updated (Saturday, 02 April 2011 20:22)


PostHeaderIcon April Ful's Night is Friday

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April Fools' Day is Friday, but an evening event at the Oakland Museum of California is no joke.

From 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 1, at the garden at  museum at 1000 Oak Street in downtown Oakland th will be open for April Ful's Night, a communal meal of Egyptian food. "Ful," pronounced "fool" is the Egyptian national dish of roasted goat and fava bean. 

People from the Middle East communities and others will share a meal, and meditate upon and share thoughts on the Middle East's spirit of liberation. They will also interact with artists and lay people in Egypt and other countries live via Skype throughout the night. Bring a dish to share and a blanket to sit on.

California is a long way from Egypt, yet the recent events lead us to remember our own past and the events that helped shape who we are as a people. Explore the museum Galleries of California Art and California History—featuring half-off admission until 9 p.m.—as museum docents give spotlight tours on the work of Rupert Garcia and Emory Douglas; a bronze sculpture of the Huey Newton chair; infamous Captain Jack artifacts from the Modoc war of 1872-73; and the story of an ex voto from the Mexican Wars for Independence.

These artists and events help us understand our own history, and shed light on the current events around the world.
The Friday night event is a project of the Oakland Standard, organized by the Citizens Laboratory, with the collaboration of Bay Area Middle Eastern organizations, and various artists based in the Middle East.

The Citizens Laboratory is an offshoot of OPENrestaurant. April Ful’s Night also celebrates the occasion of the 2011 California Studies Association conference, Food Fights: Popular Struggles Beyond California Cuisine, held at the museum April 2.  For more information check out http://museumca.org/theoaklandstandard/april-fuls-night. --KB

Last Updated (Wednesday, 30 March 2011 03:26)

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