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Rachel Witte

Women veterans find peace in Alameda community group

When former Staff Sergeant Starlyn Lara joined the Army fresh out of high school in Roswell, New Mexico, it was a time of peace for those who were serving in the military. Then came September 11. Suddenly, for many who joined the armed forces in search of serving their country—what Lara calls a desire to “be a bigger person than I was”—that peacetime was no more. “I sat there for about an hour, just dazed and confused, in awe of…

Richmond hosts annual summit for children and youth

Contra Costa County child advocates, teachers, nonprofit groups, medical professionals and community members gathered at the Richmond Civic Center Auditorium on Wednesday and Thursday to talk about the status of children’s health at the state and county levels. The fourth annual California Summit on Children and Youth is “an annual opportunity for the best minds in the country to come to Richmond, meet with people who are active in youth issues, and really talk about and learn from each other…

Doctor’s Medical Center celebrates cancer survivors

At an event organized by Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo last Wednesday; former breast cancer patients celebrated their survival of cancer. The survivors received special treatments like free beauty makeovers and make-up gift bags, which donated by Bare Escentuals, a company based in San Francisco. For the women who were there, it was a moment to reflect on the effect the disease has had on their lives. They celebrated life altogether and enjoyed the special care they got on…

Lavender Seniors group provides community, education for LGBT elders

In 1994, Marvin Burrows and a few of his friends placed an ad in the newspaper inviting gay and lesbian seniors in the Bay Area to join Burrows and his friends for a meeting at the Bayfair Mall in San Leandro. They called themselves the “Lavender Seniors.” “The thought was to have a social group that mixed gay men and lesbians, which is unusual in our time period,” Burrows said, “and to advocate for LGBT senior issues, to do things…

Richmond leaders and educators gather to discuss future of education in the school district

When Jose Irizarry took his Richmond High School class to visit San Francisco General Hospital recently, it was not your typical field trip. The students donned scrubs and spent time with hospital surgeons learning how to tie sutures and practice with arthroscopic surgical machines. They even got to study a human cadaver. For Irizarry, the trip was a chance to teach real world skills required for a career in a health profession. The visit, and the goals, are part of…

Homes in need: A look at foster care in the East Bay

Every holiday season Nancy DeWeese and her husband, Gary, host a Christmas party. But it’s not your average family gathering, because this is not your average family. At these parties, three dozen children from all walks of life, including the couple’s four biological kids, gather to share in a common experience: Each child has spent part of their lives growing up at the DeWeese family home in Moraga. “They see each other and they’re like, ‘Oh, we started out as…

California Dream Act’s second bill aids undocumented students in funding college education

When Carlos Martinez, an undocumented college student who lives in Contra Costa County, checked his bank account last Sunday he could not believe what he saw. Like at the start of most college semesters, he logged on to his account expecting to see a bill for close to $500, payment for his courses at the City College of San Francisco. But this time, the account showed a bill for only $23. “I logged out and logged back in again, and…

County Board of Supervisors approves $4 million to invest in jail alternatives

Step foot into the Reach Fellowship for Women in North Richmond, and Dr. Edwina Perez Santiago will greet you like an excited aunt hosting a holiday dinner party. “Come on in baby,” she says to the women as they enter through the front door, a welcome accompanied by a warm smile and a handshake. There are five women in attendance today, from different walks of life but here for the same reason: they want to get their lives back on…

Police seek to bridge gap between foster youth and officers

The Richmond Police Department held its first annual Foster Youth Conference on Saturday at the LaVonya Dejean Middle School on Macdonald Avenue. About 100 foster youth, foster parents, Richmond police officers, staff from West County Children and Family Services and community members filled the multipurpose room early in the morning for a day full of workshops to promote community involvement and provide resources needed by children and teens in foster care. “There are caring adults here who understand that it…

Romeo and Juliet in Richmond

Students from Richmond are putting a new spin on Shakespeare’s classic tale of forbidden love, making it meaningful to life on the streets.

Council looks forward after election

The City Council returned to business – with the meeting going into the next morning and the occasional spat between councilmembers — at its first post-election meeting Tuesday night. Before the meeting started, audience members were told to wait outside while fire and police officials responded to a carbon monoxide leak in the council chambers building. Richmond Fire Marshal Terry Harris said that the Fire Department responded to a call by a person who complained of the smell of gas…

Election recap: Voters seek familiar faces

When the official returns came in on Wednesday morning, Richmond voters had decided that after the most expensive campaign in city history, what they wanted was familiar faces. Incumbents Nat Bates and Tom Butt were re-elected to the City Council, and Gary Bell, who will return to the dais after an eight-year hiatus, will take the seat vacated by retiring Councilmember Jeff Ritterman. The city’s proposed tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, Measure N, was defeated. Money was a major talking point…

Bates, Butt and Bell win council race

In a hotly contested City Council election, with millions of dollars at play and a recent push into the national spotlight, Richmond voters have elected Nat Bates, Tom Butt and Gary Bell to the three open seats on the council dais. The two RPA candidates, Eduardo Martinez and Marilyn Langlois, finished just outside the top three, with Martinez trailing Bell for the final council spot by 600 votes. The return of Bell after an eight-year hiatus and reelection of incumbents…

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