Category Archives: Non-profits

At the Write Home Project, the young homeless are heard

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By Victor Casillas Valle

Nestled behind St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, on Bancroft Way in Berkeley, is one huge set of steel steps covered in rust and foliage. Walking up them, there’s a feeling of urban beauty, something that is calming with a rush of city excitement. Reaching the top, you enter a high-ceilinged auditorium with huge windows and an airy sense of natural light. Every Monday, the room is filled with conversation rising from the writing workshop, or occasional open mic, provided by the Write Home Project.

Conceived and run by two UC Berkeley alumni and working poets, Gabriel Cortez and Natasha Huey, The Write Home Project facilitates creative arts work by homeless youth (under 25). Write Home provides an outlet for its participants to be heard while they tell stories about, and create a dialogue around, the state of homelessness. … Continue reading »

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Free events celebrate Berkeley’s revamped libraries

Kids browse the bookshelves at the December 2014 opening of the South Branch. Photo: Richard Friedman
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Call it a “library warming.”

As a way to celebrate the completion of its branch renovation campaign – and highlight the dozens of community programs it presents each month – the Berkeley Public Library is hosting a month-long party.

The Branch Out! celebration will bring concerts, art exhibits, pop-up libraries at food truck gatherings, a sleepover party for stuffed animals, mindfulness meditation, and that beloved event – author readings – and much more to a branch near you in April. … Continue reading »

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Bike rentals and much more planned for Aquatic Park

Street Level Cycles, or Watershed Workshops, is a non-profit that uses use vocational education to promote youth development.
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A popular bike shop and community bike repair space in West Berkeley’s Aquatic Park won approval recently from the city’s zoning board to expand its buzzing operation into new digs and bring bike rentals, and much more, to the park.

A new space for Waterside Workshops at 90 Bolivar Drive will give Street Level Cycles the space to offer low-cost bicycle rentals, more youth education, longer community hours and a community meeting space, as well as — possibly — a small indoor coffee bar. The organization currently has a café with outdoor-only seating.

“We see the building as a jump‐off point for community recreation that will make the park more accessible for all Berkeley residents, regardless of income level,” according to the group’s applicant statement. … Continue reading »

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Years of work culminate in new Berkeley medical clinic

Officials and staff cut the ribbon to dedicate the new clinic. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Hundreds of people gathered Sunday afternoon to celebrate the grand opening of Lifelong Medical Care’s new West Berkeley clinic, and for many of the dignitaries, it was a reunion of sorts.

Amid speeches about the glorious new building and the patient-centric care it will foster, came memories of Berkeley in the 1970s and the push to revolutionize health care. … Continue reading »

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Lifelong Medical celebrates renovated Berkeley space

For 38 years, Lifelong Medical Care has been been providing high-quality medical, dental, and other services to Berkeley’s most vulnerable residents. Started by the Gray Panthers as the Over 60 Health Clinic in 1976, LifeLong has now grown into nine different facilities around the Bay Area, with most centered in northern Alameda County.

Lifelong just renovated and expanded its health center at 2031 Sixth Street in West Berkeley and will be holding a grand opening celebration Sunday, March 2, 3-5 p.m. to which the public is invited.

To recognize the work Lifelong does in the community, Berkeleyside commissioned contributing photographer Pete Rosos to create a photo essay on Lifelong Medical Care. Rosos spent several weeks on the assignment, photographing patients taking part in several Lifelong programs, including its Healthy Kids group, the Men’s Health group, a Power Yoga class and a Parenting class. Take a minute to view the slideshow above to see his beautiful images. (Hover over a photograph to see captions and to pause the slideshow.) … Continue reading »

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Lawsuit yields money for historic preservation in Berkeley

Concerned Library Users did not want Berkeley to tear down the old South Branch because they and others considered it historically significant.
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Berkeley residents may soon see the fruits of a legal settlement between the city and a group that sued over plans to tear down and rebuild two branch libraries.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced Wednesday that it will award $87,000 in grant money to historic places in South and West Berkeley. The money can be used for maintenance, physical improvements, and preservation of historic properties.

The Trust is encouraging “properties with a clear public benefit that are open to the public on at least a part-time basis,” to apply online by May 15 for grants ranging from $10,000 to $25,000. … Continue reading »

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Photo gallery: Berkeley’s brand new West Branch library

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On Saturday, Berkeley welcomed a new West Branch library at 1125 University Ave. (at San Pablo). Read all about it in our story published last week. And enjoy these superlative photographs by Richard Friedman, taken on opening day.

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Excitement and concern mark opening of Savers Thrift

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A new for-profit thrift store opened its doors on University Avenue on Thursday in a ceremony filled with balloons and music – but already burdened with the job of doing damage control with its neighbors.

Savers Thrift Store opened at 1414 University Ave., the former site of Andronico’s, on the heels of a lawsuit that gave the building’s owners exclusive rights to the adjacent parking lot, which had once been shared by neighboring businesses. The decision to only allow Savers customers to use the lot prompted nearby residents to threaten to boycott Savers.

“We’ve always wanted a store in Berkeley because our stores do best with a very broad demographic,” Savers president and CEO Ken Alterman said at the ribbon-cutting. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Food and Housing Project wins $1m grant

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Berkeley Food and Housing Project was recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs last week with a grant of more than $1 million to expand its services to homeless veterans.

“This is huge for our agency,” Jim Huntley, BFHP director of advancement, said. “This is a population that really needs all the help that society can muster.”

The VA currently helps to fund the nonprofit’s small-scale men’s shelter, which has the capacity to provide food, shelter and other services to 12 homeless veterans at a time. With the help of the $1,007,000 Roads Home grant, the shelter will be able to increase the number of homeless veterans it can help and almost double the area it covers, by extending services to Solano and Contra Costa counties. The money will officially become available to the organization in October. … Continue reading »

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Firefighters, volunteers fill 800 grocery bags for seniors

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Berkeley Fire Station #2 on Berkeley Way was filled with an unusual sight on Saturday morning: a sea of grocery bags. Firefighters and dozens of volunteers filled the bags with chickens, fresh fruit and vegetables, and canned food, for delivery to Berkeley seniors.

The annual event is organized by Berkeley Firefighters Random Acts (BRFA), Berkeley Firefighters Association, the Berkeley Fire Department, San Francisco Fire Credit Union, Berkeley and West Berkeley Lions Clubs, and the City of Berkeley. Donations came from Grocery Outlet, Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, Monterey Market, Berkeley Bowl, Ashby Plumbing & Heating Supply and private citizens. … Continue reading »

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New Edible Schoolyard head Heron plans for growth

Journalist Katrina Heron takes the reins at the Edible Schoolyard Project Photo: Alex Stock
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Veteran writer and editor Katrina Heron — who has done stints at The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, and Wired — was recently named the new director of The Edible Schoolyard Project, the nonprofit started by school food champion Alice Waters which seeks to promote edible education and reform the National School Lunch program.

While taking the reins at the school cooking, gardening, and lunch advocacy organization is a departure from Heron’s journalism career, she has long been associated with the group and reported on a range of food matters for high-profile outlets.

Heron began working with ESYP (then the Chez Panisse Foundation) 11 years ago as a volunteer, joined the board of directors in 2003 and served until 2010.

“When I learned, on quite short notice, that the director role was open, it just seemed like the right time to assume a more active role in advocating for edible education,” said Heron, who follows in the footsteps of several short-lived leaders of the institution, most recently Quinn Fitzgerald, Francesca Vietor, and Brian Byrnes. Prior to that, the post was held by Carina Wong, who departed to work for the Gates Foundation in Seattle. … Continue reading »

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Swim Across America raises funds for cancer research

Swimmers cross San Francisco Bay during the 2010 Swim Across America event. Photo: SAA
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When Edna Helmrich was pregnant with her second child in the 1950s, her doctor recommended she take a new drug, DES, to prevent miscarriages. Edna followed her doctor’s advice and gave birth to Susan on Nov. 14, 1955.

For 21 years, Susan thrived. Growing up in Kingston, NY, she worked hard in school, swam on the high school swim team, and went to swim competitively at Syracuse University. But when Susan was just 21, she received a devastating diagnosis: she had cancer, most likely from the DES her mother had taken to promote her survival.

That diagnosis was just the start of a long journey for Helmrich, a Berkeley resident, a PhD, and a health and wellness coach. She went on to be diagnosed – and survive — two other different cancers.

On Saturday, Sept. 29, 35 years after her first cancer diagnosis, Helmrich will join 200 others – including 12 Olympians — at Swim Across America, an event that will raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for pediatric cancer researchers at Children’s Hospital Research Center in Oakland and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco.  … Continue reading »

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Council members’ charitable donations vary widely

City Council members can use their annual budgets to make charitable donations. Some donate less than $1,000 a year and some donate much more. Chart: Natalie Orenstein
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By Hannah Long and Natalie Orenstein

During the past four years, city council members have used money from their city budgets to donate $99,999 to various charities, such as the Juneteenth Festival, UC Berkeley student associations, local business groups, and non-profit arts and community organizations, according to public records.

These donations range from $100 to a few thousand dollars, and, while some city council members are big spenders when it comes to supporting community organizations, others choose to use their money elsewhere.

District 7′s Kriss Worthington is consistently the most liberal with his donations. According to public records, he donated $7,807 to community organizations in the 2012 fiscal year. His $4,332 donation to the Northside Merchants’ Association to buy Christmas decorations was more than the total donations of any other council member in 2012. Other large contributions include $1,000 to Youth Spirit Artworks and $700 to San Francisco LGBT Pride, where Berkeley had its first parade float this year. … Continue reading »

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