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PostHeaderIcon Friends of Faith Benefit Tonight

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U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is coming to San Francisco Monday night to give a piano concert, talk about the first installment of her two-series memoir and raise money for low-income women with breast cancer.

Proceeds will benefit Friends of Faith, a nonprofit organization that was founded by  Faith Fancher, (left) a KTVU news reporter and personality who died in 2003 at age 53 after a seven-year battle with breast cancer. The organization’s mission is to provide financial support and resources to low-income, uninsured and at-risk women with breast cancer who have no where else to turn.

The benefit is from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Rice will be joined in a conversation with award-winning KQED-TV journalist Belva Davis, who has been in television for three decades.

Rice will talk about her career, growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, becoming the first African-American female Secretary of State and about her own mother’s battle with breast cancer.


“I lost my mother... in 1985 to breast cancer— and at that point I did feel like I'd lost part of my anchor. I would urge women -- particularly if you have a risk factor like I do -- to make sure that you're getting the proper screening, and to work out a screening regimen with your doctor”  Rice said in a statement.


When Faith was diagnosed with cancer in 1997 she chose to share her story on television. "Faith's Story," an award-winning multi-part series aired on KTVU-Channel 2, and followed her journey from surgery through treatment. During her battle against breast cancer, she worked to raise awareness and money to help grassroots programs benefiting low-income women with breast cancer.


Tickets are available through www.cityboxoffice.com or by calling 415-392-4400
VIP tickets are $250 and include a private reception and photo with Rice.
Event tickets are $50 and $100, depending on seating location. --KB

Last Updated (Wednesday, 31 March 2010 00:20)


PostHeaderIcon Ukulele Sensation is No Don Ho

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The Bay Area is in for a real treat this month when musician Jake Shimabukuro performs his amazing ukulele show at three local venues.

The 33-year-old Hawaiian sensation brings his one-man act to the stage at The Bankhead Theater in Livermore this Wed. Mar 17; the Napa Valley Opera House on Mar. 19; and two shows at Yoshi’s in San Francisco on Mar. 20 and 21.

Shimabukuro (pronounced she-ma-BOO-koo-row) is recognized by music critics and music lovers alike as one of the most exciting and innovative ukulele players and composers in the world today. His concerts world-wide have sold out and his viral videos on YouTube.com have made him a household name.

Jake’s newest album "Live" is his first since the best-selling 2006 CD "Gently Weeps," where he does a dazzling performance of the Beatles classic. And if you haven’t caught his ukulele performance of Queen’s "Bohemian Rhapsody" then you are missing one of the most mesmerizing performances you may ever see.

With lighting-fast fingers and a revolutionary technique, Jake will move you with his ability to create sounds and melodies from what has traditionally been a Hawaiian regional instrument. Defying our pre conceived notions of what the ukulele can do, he plays jazz, blues, funk, classical, show tunes and rock. His personal mission is to show the world what the ukulele is capable of. This is not your Father’s Don Ho luau show. Can you imagine hearing Michael Jackson’s Thriller this way? Unbelievable. He will forever change your perception of what this instrument can do.

Starting out in his native Hawaii, Jake has performed all over the world, including Sweden, Finland, France, Spain and Brazil. He performs regularly with musical legend Jimmy Buffet and had the once-in-a-life time opportunity to share the stage with Bette Midler in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen at a fund-raising concert in Blackpool, England last December.

A humanitarian as well as a consummate musician, Shimabukuro visits schools to talk and play for the children of Hawaii. He is the key spokesman for "Music is Good Medicine" an organization promoting a healthy life and mind through music.

Jake is funny, infectious, brilliant and puts on a show you won’t soon forget. Catch this remarkable and talented man at one of his three Bay Area shows this coming week. You won’t forget it. Here he is at San Francisco’s KFOG Radio station. Jake Shimabukuro performs Michael Jackson's "Thriller" on KFOG Radio.--SEW

For more information about the three upcoming shows, go to:

Bankhead Theater in Livermore –www. livermoreperformingarts.org

Napa Valley Opera House – www.napavalleyoperahouse.org

Yoshi’s – www.yoshis.com

Last Updated (Tuesday, 22 March 2011 21:14)


PostHeaderIcon Fortune cookie comes true

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On the afternoon before the Citizen of the Year awards dinner, Robin Moreno and her mother went to lunch at a Chinese restaurant.

"My fortune cookie said, ‘You will be honored with a prestigious prize or reward. Wow, I put that sucker in my wallet for good luck. And it worked,'’’ said Moreno, the 2009 recipient of the Citizen of the Year Award given by the San Ramon Chamber of Commerce.

Carolyn C. Degnan, president and chief executive officer of the chamber, said the award recognizes an individual who "exemplifies the city’s model of an ideal citizen---innovative, creative, professional, involved and committed."

A significant contribution to education, the arts, community service and the general welfare of the community is also a requirement. Teamwork, a common vision and establishing high standards of personal excellence are also a must, Degnan said.

"She was chosen for her work with the Soroptomists and dedication to giving back to the community.  She is a fabulous role model,’’ Degnan said.

For more than 35 years, Moreno, 61, has been a charter member of Soroptimist International of  the San Ramon Valley. Soroptimist is an international organization that helps women and girls around the world.  The group seeks to educate people about the dangers of Internet predators and human traffickers among other things.

"We train women in poor countries to be self supporting, so they don't have to endure domestic abuse and so they can support and educate their children.  We help remove land mines and dig wells. We have a seat in the United Nations as an Non-Governmental Organization,’’ Moreno said.

She first came to the organization in 1984 after she and her husband Victor opened an insurance agency and helped start the San Ramon Chamber.  

Victor had joined the Rotary Club and Moreno said she wanted "something fulfilling for just me." Back in 1984, women were not allowed in Rotary, she said. So she joined the Soroptimists and never looked back.

"I love the Soroptimist members because they are so creative, selfless, intelligent, hard-working, cheerful, caring and compassionate women. They are women I am proud to associate with and women I aspire to be like. I love knowing I am making a difference in my community, my country and my planet.  I am honored to be working together with women I like and respect,’’ she said.

Locally the group gives scholarships to high school girls involved in community service and to women who are supporting their family while going to school to get better paying jobs.

Moreno has been active in supporting the Alzheimer’s Foundation, the Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation, National Public Television, and the U.S. National Park Service, she said.

"In my experience, I have seen (Moreno) be the first to step up to volunteer to do things that need to be done. She is the first to offer ideas and solutions to problems when they arise,’’ said Mary C. Whipple, who nominated Moreno for the award. "She is active not only with Soroptimist but also with the San Ramon Chamber, supporting the business community."

Moreno has served on the board for at least 10 years, including two terms as president and two terms as vice president. She has also been the treasurer and a director. She has headed the fundraising, membership, service and community event groups, she said.

Born in Hayward, she hasn’t strayed far from her roots, but she has moved 22 times over the year. She has two children, three step children and 17 grandchildren. With her husband now retired Moreno still owns and works at Moreno Insurance, which she said has merged with San Ramon Insurance Agency. When she isn't donig community service, she loves the mountains, the seashore, camping in the Sierras, watercolor painting, spending time with her family and keeping in touch with everyone via e-mail and Facebook. She also enjoys Chinese food, especially when she gets a fortune cookie with a message that comes true.-- KB

Last Updated (Sunday, 25 July 2010 19:35)


PostHeaderIcon That's a Lot of Thread

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This season marks Alameda resident Kitty Muntzel’s 20th anniversary making costumes for Berkeley Reperatory Theatre.

Muntzel has worked on 150 shows since starting with the theatre in 1989.

She “has an amazing aesthetic and a really great eye,” observes Maggi Yule, Berkeley Rep’s costume director. “She pays a lot of attention to detail, and everything she makes is beautifully done – clean, all finished off. She’s really conscientious and is great about figuring out how to make things work. That’s all part of the expertise she provides to designers to help them have a better product.”

Muntzel’s job is to realize the designer’s vision. She starts with what lies underneath the garment that will help create the proper silhouette. Using muslin (an inexpensive, workmanlike fabric), and the actor’s measurements, Muntzel begins draping the dress-form to create a mock-up for the garment that will then be used for the actor’s first fitting.

Once adjusted on the actor, the parts of the muslin garment are traced onto sturdy brown paper, which then become pattern pieces in the costume puzzle.

During the weeks or months before the show, there is never an idle moment in the costume shop with Muntzel constantly cutting, fitting, stitching, and, most importantly, problem-solving to make sure each costume looks and works exactly as it’s supposed to for the actor.

For Muntzel, the greatest reward of her job is watching a show come together and then experiencing the audience’s response on opening night. “That is such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and pride,” she says.

Muntzel comes from family with a keen eye for design – her father was an architect and her mother designed stationery.

“Costuming is a bit like both of those arts,” she muses. “Everything has to support everything else.”

Constantly striving to learn new skills (last summer she taught herself how to “felt,” or turn raw wool into cloth), Muntzel is still excited to come to work every day – even after 20 years.

“I love my work,” she concludes. “I learn something new and grow with every show.”

In addition to working on 150 shows over the years, one benefit of Muntzel’s tenure at Berkeley Rep was meeting her husband, Paul Feinberg, who was a properties manager at the theatre. The couple lives in Alameda, where Muntzel is also active with East Bay Heritage Quilters making quilts for children in hospitals and homeless shelters.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 22 March 2011 21:26)


PostHeaderIcon Sister's death drives jazz man to donate CD sales to stroke foundation

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When jazz guitarist/vocalist Mike Glendinning's 37-year-old sister died of a massive stroke in 2006, he felt he had to do something. He's been donating proceeds to the Stroke Awareness Foundation at his CD-release parties ever since.

“If people come to this benefit knowing nothing about the signs of stroke but leave knowing more and then can help themselves, friends or family members (if) they have (a stroke), I would feel great,” says Glendinning, who lives in Albany with his wife Christina (who sings on his albums), their infant daughter Zoe and tiny black dog.

He debuts his latest “grunge jazz” release – "Psychotic America" – at Chester's Bayview Cafe from 7 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 18. There's no cover charge, and Glendinning's CD sales will benefit stroke awareness (www.strokeinfo.org). Chester's is located at 1508 B Walnut St. in Berkeley.

“This is my second benefit for the foundation and I hope to play more,” Glendinning said.

Stroke is a leading cause of death in America, but through awareness of its causes and symptoms, lives can be saved. The foundation has reached more than 90,000 people through its participation in local health fairs and health-related events, including regional symposiums at Stanford University, Glendinning said.

Glendinning, 33, began playing guitar at age 12, when he was inspired by the music of Jimi Hendrix. He played in his high school jazz band and later a rock band. His own original music began to take off in 2002 when he built a home studio and started recording his compositions. Nine months later, he released his first CD – “Machine In The Sky” – featuring himself on guitar and wife Christina on vocals. He released his second CD, “The Mike Glendinning Band,” in 2005.

More information can be found at www.mikegrungejazz.com. - Steve Taylor

Steve Taylor is a Berkeley freelance writer.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 12 January 2010 03:03)

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