Alameda Elks’ Blood Drive ‘A Success’

The Alameda Elks Lodge (No. 1015) and the Blood Centers of the Pacific say that their partnership led to a very successful blood drive on Sunday, January 10. 

The groups’ minimum donation goal was 35 pints, though 57 donors were scheduled. 

At the end of the day, the groups share, they had to turn people away since supplies had been used up.

“The Elks did a great job booking appointments, and we had a tremendous walk-in volume,” says Diana Lulofs.  “For many, it was the first time they have donated blood.”

Those who gave blood received a free breakfast, free tickets to a raffle that featured a 32-inch flat panel TV, and a free gift certificate from Hornblower Dinner Cruises. 

And, the groups say, most important, those who gave blood help save a life.

Congratulations to donors like Greg Falkner, staff including nurse Janet Roach (see photo above), and the community members who turned out for the event.

Before Saturday’s event, the Elks hadn’t staged a blood drive in Alameda for 16 years. 

Looks like a new tradition has begun.  

Note: At the Elks’ Facility Breakfast (held before the blood drive), the 2010 Senior Class from the Alameda Community Learning Center bussed the tables and earned tips.  The money, the kids say, will be used for their graduation ceremony and celebration.


Alameda Birders Walk the Walk

The members of the Bay Farm Nature Connection, including Ralf Stinson, are eager to share their knowledge.

They host a bird walk around Bay Farm, other parts of Alameda or nearby areas, every month or two. Their most recent walk was held January 9, and an earlier walk took place November 7.

On November 7, Stinson put together a list of the birds observed by some group members, and a brief description:

American Wigeon – duck w/blond strip on top of head
Mallard – green head (the white ducks are fallow domestic ducks)
Greater Scaup – black head w/yellow eye
Surf Scoter – big bill w/ some orange color
Bufflehead – large white patch on head
Ruddy Duck – tail sticks up
Clark’s Grebe – grebe w/long bill
Brown Pelican – you know
Double-crested Cormorant – our common inland cormorant
Great Blue Heron – big & blue gray
Snowy Egret – black bill & black legs w/yellow feet
Turkey Vulture – black but two tone under wings
American Coot – common & black w/white bill
Ring-billed Gull – look at the name
Forster’s Tern – black on head & swallow tail (forked)
Anna’s Hummingbird – unless you see a ruffus color, it is probably an Anna’s – the most common BF hummer
Black Phoebe – black flycatcher w/white on the lower breast & belly
American Crow – square tail, the larger raven has a pointed tail
Golden-crowned Kinglet – check the name
European Starling – black w/stars & stubby tail
Yellow-rumped Warbler – yellow on top head, throat, sides and rump
White-crowned Sparrow – black and white strips on head (female brown)
Dark-eyed Junco – black head, ivory bill, brown back, white belly, pink legs
Brewer’s Blackbird – black w/yellow eyes

The group also has a list from the Mount Diablo Audobon Society that it uses to tally what birders see and hear on the walks around the Island.

 In other words, BFNC provides residents with great opportunities to learn more about our local wildlife.

The first bird, in the above photo, is a …. (Pick from the above list of 24 birds)… a Clarke’s Grebe.

 The second one is a  …. Golden-crowned Kinglet.

Bird identification is tough, as is deciding whether or not a bird is female or male.

Can you tell if the first White-Crowned Sparrow, is a male or …

… female?

If not, I’ll share the news: the male’s photo is the first one… (Note the difference in the coloring of the feathers on their heads; the male’s are black and white.) 

Here’s to hoping that both ladies and gentlemen alike will join the group on its next bird walk.

And for those interested in learning more about birding and bird-rescue activities, the group invites everyone to an event at the Oakland Zoo: “Saving Seabirds – Stories from the Frontlines” at 7 p.m., January 28. The cost is $10-$20.

Jay Holcomb of the International Bird Rescue Research Center will make a presentation.  Holcomb pioneered the search and rescue program at the Exxon Valdez oil spill, managing the entire rehabilitation program that cared for over 1,600 birds. He also played a key role in managing the rescue and rehabilitation of 20,000 oiled African Penguins.


Alameda Firm’s Global Business Plans, Lessons

There’s a lot going on at UTStarcom, which has its global headquarters on Bay Farm Island.

The global telecommunications-technology firm has received a fair amount of of attention over the past few weeks, after agreeing to pay a fine of $3 million to the Justice Department and Securities & Exchange Commission. The fines were related to charges that — between 2002 to 2007 — the company gave trips, jobs and other favors to officials mainly in China, but also to some in Mongolia and Thailand.

Such charges have gotten other telecom firms, such as Lucent, in trouble in the past decade or so, as well.

While UTStarcom sold about $500 million in technology over the past 12 months, it is not profitable.  For instance, in the second quarter of 2009, it lost over $50 million.

It is taking steps to resolve its financial woes, though, and aims to trim its global workforce down from 4,400 to under 2,000. 

It sold some of its mobile phone operations and one of its factories in China in the past 18 months. And it’s hired new leadership; many of its top executives have held posts at well-known firms like Unisys, Hewlett-Packard and the like.  

 With no debt and plans to further cut costs, product lines and activities — as well as consolidating more functions in China — it will be interesting to see how this global player manages its relations with officials in Asia and elsewhere as it grows globally and restructures its operations in the coming months.

It appears to be at the forefront of Internet Protocol-based entertainment, for instance, and could put Alameda on the world’s multimedia map if it can turn a healthy profit and avoid future legal issues.

Stay tuned.


Alameda Event to Focus on Teen Girls

Before they feel a need to be “Supermoms,” young women and teen girls — including those in and around Alameda — think they need to be “Supergirls.”

That issue can cause depression and other issues, says Stephen Hinshaw, chair of psychology at UC Berkeley.

He addresses these issues in his book “The Triple Bind: Saving Our Teenage Daughters from Today’s Pressures,” and will be discussing them at 6 p.m., Tuesday, February 2, at the Alameda Public Library, 1550 Oak Street.

The community event is being sponsored by the the Women of the 21st Century Club, which is part of Girls Incorporated of the Island City in Alameda.

See KGO-TV’s report on the issues for more background.


Alameda Kiwanis Chili Cook-Off Entries Due Next Friday

The 11th annual Alameda Kiwanis Club Chili Cook-Off is set for 5:30-10 p.m., Saturday, January 23, at the Al DeWitt Officers Club, 641 West Red Line Ave., in Alameda Point.

You can come to the event as a cook-off contestant, judge the chili samples, or just attend and support the crowd of tasters and revelers. All those attending as encouraged to dress “western.”

The event includes a barbeque, raffle (for prizes of $250, $500 and $1,000), no-host bar and silent auction. There’s also dancing and a kids’ area for children three to seven years old.

Tickets are $50 for all individuals age 7 and up; kids under age 7 get in free.

Those entering the chili cook-off for $25 get two tickets as part of their entry. Plus, those in the cook-off can buy a third entry ticket for $25. Registration for cook-off entries ends next Friday, January 15, and the forms can be completed online.

The Kiwanis Club says that all proceeds will go to charity.

Past winners include members of the Alameda Firefighters Association, the Alameda Food Bank and the Alameda Education Foundation.


Alameda Theatre New Year’s Benefit: A Big Success

The balloon drop wasn’t the only thing that a few hundred Alamedans enjoyed on New Year’s Eve at the Alameda Theatre. Residents are buzzing about what a great event “Casino Night” at the theatre was — including some Las Vegas- style performers, games, fine wine and plenty of other treats and entertainment.

Proceeds from this polular “retro” event are going to the Alameda Civic Light Opera, Alameda Civic Ballet, Blossom Garden Alameda Chapter of Oakland Children’s Hospital, Midway Shelter for women and children, and Alameda Meals on Wheels.

Past charity events staged at the theater have collected as much as $14,000. So, let’s keep our fingers crossed that this event did as well or better.

Event sponsors included the Bank of Alameda, Rosenblum Cellars, Alameda Point Wine Works at Rock Wall Wine Company, Pappo Restaurant, Culina Gourmet Deli, Hangar One, Burgermeister, Torani syrups, A Sound Explosion and Parker Orthodontics.

About 180 VIP (or “high-rollers”) tickets and another 500 general admission tickets were being sold, and there’s talk in town that they all sold out.

Past charity events staged at the theater have collected as much as $14,000.

Many thanks and congratulations to theatre owner Kyle Conner, performer Chuck Campagnet and event sponsors.

Building on the success of the New Year’s Eve benefit, Conner’s organized “Valentine’s Rock” for February 13.

The theatre is also hosting a classic film series from January 13 to February 11.

It showcases local talent every Friday and Saturday night before the last two shows in the historic theatre. To participate, come to a Tuesday night try-out session.


Alameda Blood Drive, Community Breakfast Set for Sunday

The Alameda Elks Lodge has lots of plans for January 10. First a community breakfast from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and then a blood drive from about 1:15 p.m. to 3 p.m. or later.

So far, 30 out of 57 donor slots for the blood drive have been reserved. That means the Elks need another 27 more donors – or more to reach their goal.

According to Ted Hommert, co-chair of the blood drive, the blood donations will go to Blood Centers of the Pacific. This organization, he says, has regularly partnered with the San Francisco Elks Lodge twice a year, collecting about 100 pints at each event.

The Alameda Elks Lodge is located at 2255 Santa Clara Avenue at Oak Street.

Donors will get more than just a hug and “thanks.”

Those registering online for the 57 slots get an invitation and free breakfast, a $50 Hornblower Yachts gift certificate and a raffle ticket for a 32-inch flatscreen TV.

To register, go to the Blood Centers of the Pacific website, click on “donate blood,” type in “alamedaelks” (one word), then click on the date or location to bring up the appointment schedule, and select a time to give.

Volunteers expect to stay at the lodge until 4 p.m., if enough volunteers drop in Sunday afternoon.  

“We will stay an extra hour, so walk-in donors are just fine,” says Hommert.

Tickets for the breakfast are $8 and tips collected at the event are donated to charity. This weekend’s event should benefit the Alameda Elks’ scholarship fund.


Alameda Museum Sale Draws Crowd

Dozens of Alamedans and other Bay Area residents visited Alameda Museum this past Saturday (off Park Street on Alameda Avenue) for a special sale of items once owned by a three generations of a Los Angeles-based family that traces its roots to Southern California pioneers. 

There were also items from the museum’s own reserve of goodies.

Museum curator George Gunn eagerly shared his thoughts on various quilts, chairs, tables and other furnishings. One “crazy quilt” dated from the 1800s and included feather stitching. 

“People know we do a lot of research. And we tag items with historical information,” Gunn says. “If it costs several hundred dollars, people want to know that a piece is authentic.”

 There were several Victorian chairs for sale, some dating from 1870. And a Leopold Stickley Cherry Valley table, two leaves and four chairs were offered for just $800.

“We price to sell,” said Gunn, who notes that 40 percent of the proceeds from estate sales go to the museum.

For those looking to remodel or rework a home, there were several antique doors on sale. And a rickshaw was priced at just $65.

A couple from Berkeley admired an old adding machine, but declined to buy it as a key was missing. 

The modern-day register kept humming along, though, as visitors found items from the past to take home with them and enjoy in the future.


Extend a Helping Hand (or Two)

During the holidays, Alamedans have really shared the spirit of giving.

In November, for instance, the Alameda Food Bank received 750 turkeys, well above and beyond the 700 that the organization was hoping for.

But times are still tough. So, if possible, stop by the food bank with any non-perishable leftovers or other items that might serve a family in need.

The food bank is located at 1900 Thau Way (at Constitution Way) — to share whatever you can. The hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 10:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Tuesday;  11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Thursday; and 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on the second and third Saturday of every month.

There are spots to drop off food around town, too, such as at the Alameda Main Library and in Alameda Town Centre (at Color Me Mine).

And feel free to get creative when reaching out.

After watching a movie about a homeless man in Los Angeles, “The Soloist,” over the holidays, I found myself helping Mary and her three children collect cardboard boxes this weekend on Lincoln Avenue.

The family also was asking for glass bottles, milk containers and other recyclables that can be exchanged for cash at area recycling centers. I went through my recycling bin to pitch in and then found a few more residents willing to do the same.

I understand that some community members may not want others to go through their trashcans. So, as I have seen some residents do in Oakland, just put the recyclables that may be worth some change, in a separate bag or container, if you can. And you might try doing the same with your old cardboard.

It’s quite likely that someone in need, such as Mary and her three kids,  would be more than happy to take care of those discarded items — and doing so might be more helpful to them than you might imagine.


Happy New Year, Alameda

The lights were bright in town last night, especially around the historic Alameda Theatre, which hosted a gala benefit.

A few blocks away, at the intersection of Broadway and Washington, holiday lights, toy soldiers and more kept other community members entertained as well.

These residents decorate their historic home throughout the year, and that efforts surely must be appreciated by the residents of Broadway Gardens (across the street) and others.

Like many Alameda residents, these home owners have brought their neighborhood an entertaining and delightful display full of the holiday spirit.

So, let’s say thanks to folks that post welcoming signs and other greetings of good cheer throughout town. Especially during hard times, this friendly message strikes the right cord.   

Happy New Year, Alameda!