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El Cerrito: Views inside the renovated Chung Mei Home for Chinese Boys

Below are photopraphic details of the historic 1935 Chung Mei Home for Chinese Boys that visitors have been able to see at two recent open houses hosted by the Richmond-based Chamberlin Family Foundation and the El Cerrito Historical Society following a nine-month renovation.

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Ornamentation over the entry to the building.

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Decorative panel under one of the front windows.

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The original bannister was retained and painstakingly raised to meet modern height requirements, while a standard modern bannister was installed on the inside.

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One of the new finials made of fiberglass that weighs four pounds, left, compared to 60 pounds for the originals, right. The originals were taken down by Windrush School due to safety concerns.

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Windows were carefully renovated to keep the original detail.

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A mural, signed by artist Dupont, that is original to the Chung Mei days. The inscription on the scroll translates to “Whenever you open a book, you benefit.”

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Special steps were taken to seismically reinforce the top of the building without removing the original roof.

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View looking out of the basement, where a pillar was strengthened with a half-inch wrap of carbon fiber for reinforcement. A new drainage system was also installed to take rainwater away and prevent persistent flooding.

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Decorative details of ceiling beams.

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More detail is seen on the rear of the building.

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Richmond: Students invited to free screening of “Selma” on Monday

Students will be admitted free to the 10:50 a.m. Jan. 19 showing of the film “Selma” at the Century Hilltop 16 Movie Theater, 3200 Klose Way, in celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Admission is on a first-come, first-serve basis and the ticket price for adults will be $7.
All other screenings that day will be at the regular ticket price.
Free bus transportation to the showing, leaving at 10 a.m., will be available at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, 684 Juliga Woods St.
The shpwing is sponsored by Richmond Cease Fire/CCISCO and Cinemark Theaters.

selma

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Richmond: Adult literacy program celebrating 30 years on Sept. 21

LEAP, the Literacy For Every Adult Program in Richmond, has been serving the community for 30 years and will celebrate its successes at an anniversary event from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Sept. 21 at its offices at 440 Civic Center Plaza, Suite 150 in Richmond.
The celebration will be an open house with “entertainment, raffle prizes, informational workshops and networking opportunities for all.” The community can meet LEAP volunteer tutors past and present, and learn about the success stories of those served by the free program, which is sponsored by the Richmond Public Library.

Below, courtesy of LEAP volunteer Paul Ehara, are examples of lives changed by the program:

If it hadn’t been for that moment 28 years ago when she snapped at her seven-year-old son for asking how to spell a word she didn’t know, maybe Mary Johnson wouldn’t be sitting now in her office at Contra Costa Community College as coordinator of its Cooperative Education program.

Mary vividly remembers that moment and her son Rodney’s reaction to her frustration. “The look in his eyes… he was confused, surprised more than scared. I’ll never forget it,” she said. At the time she was a single mother living in Richmond, California. “My son at age seven was reading and spelling better than I was,” she said. “I felt so badly that I couldn’t help him.”

Most of the adults in Mary’s early life didn’t anchor her childhood and could not always be counted on. And so she had vowed to be a permanent resource for Rodney. “Not being able to help him, it’s when I realized I needed to do something, if only so that he could have a better life,” Mary noted. Compelled by the desire to help her son, Mary set out to become a better reader. Only later would she come to understand that learning how to read and write proficiently would also be a gift to herself.

Shortly after the incident Mary watched a television public service announcement from the local library offering help with reading and writing skills. So she called the Richmond Public Library and the staff there referred her to the Literacy for Every Adult Program, or LEAP, where she received a skills assessment. Mary learned that her overall academic prowess was at a fifth/sixth grade level, and she had the reading and writing skills of a second grader.

How could this be? While Mary had in fact graduated from high school, she had known for years that she possessed beginning literacy skills. Years of moving and changing house-holds between Trenton, New Jersey, Jacksonville, Florida and California had exacted their toll. “I kept quiet in school and was obedient,” she recalled. “I picked up enough survival skills to get to the next grade level.” Mary memorized hundreds of words by sight and thus could read to herself, but she didn’t like reading aloud in front of others; she did so slowly and haltingly. It was an embarrassing and humiliating experience.

At LEAP Mary found help. She experienced the “Aha” moment that she wasn’t alone. “We were all low-level readers,” Mary recalled. “We were all scared, not wanting anybody to know we were there.

“LEAP was like a safe haven, so we could be ourselves and not be embarrassed or ashamed. We could let people know where we were at, and learn. We could support each other, and seeing others in the same situation took away the fear.” The stigma, if not removed, had been softened.

Enter Doris Lopez. A Richmond resident like Mary, living not far from the LEAP office, Doris had recently become a volunteer and had been assigned by LEAP staff to be Mary’s tutor. “This was the best match ever made,” said Mary. “Without Doris I wouldn’t be where I am now.” LEAP had just received a donation of two Apple computers, and the learning materials were being converted from printed materials to software. “But the main resource was the tutors,” said Mary. With help from Doris, Mary worked to improve her reading and writing skills.

“Mary was my first student at LEAP,” recalled Doris. She had just started volunteering, and she remembers noticing Mary’s penchant for African American history and culture. So one day she cut out an article in the Smithsonian magazine about the acclaimed painter Jacob Lawrence and brought it in for the two of them to read together. “Doris would bring in materials she knew I’d be interested in,” recalled Mary. “An article or something to read about Jacob Lawrence, or Othello, anything that tied back to African American or African history. I’d want to read it.” Then there was the time Mary wanted to throw a Kwanzaa celebration, and the two of them worked on the invitations together. Call it a practical writing exercise.

Doris said many times Mary would bring Rodney to the tutoring sessions because she had no other childcare option. For his part, Rodney remembered how many times—for months on end—that Doris would go out of her way to pick them up at their home and drive them to the Richmond Public Library where the tutoring sessions took place. “Eight or nine times out of ten, I’d be in the Children’s Library while my mom worked,” Rodney recalled. Here he spent the time reading books. “That’s where I learned to love books, to love reading,” he said. And if it got late and the library closed, he’d head over to the LEAP office and play learning games on one of the computers. After the tutoring session was over, Doris would then drive them back home.

Soon Doris and Rodney Ferguson, LEAP’s Learning Center evening manager at the time, both encouraged Mary to think about attending the local community college. With some trepidation, Mary would enroll at Contra Costa College and go on to earn her degree. The road was not without its washboard moments. During this time Doris continued to tutor Mary; every now and then Mary would call her, asking if they could get together so she could get some help with a paper she was working on. Thirty years later, they still keep in touch. “It’s been a great friendship,” said Doris. “I’ve been very impressed with her,” she added. “I always thought Mary was an intelligent person. To navigate in a world and not being able to read, you had to be very intelligent.”

Rodney looks back on his mother’s struggles with grace. If Mary’s beginning literacy skills prevented her from helping her son the way she wanted to, she did the next best thing. “I learned how to become self-reliant,” Rodney said, “because she taught me how to look stuff up on my own.”

# # #

§ After earning her associate degree at Contra Costa Community College, Mary Johnson went on to receive her B.A. in psychology at California State University, Hayward. In 1996, two months after graduating, she was hired by LEAP Director Isabel Emerson to be one of the organization’s Learner Coordinators, recruiting students and tutors until 2003. Mary would later earned her graduate degree in marriage and family counseling. She is currently the Cooperative Education Coordinator and an instructor at Contra Costa College, and also serves clients through her private practice.

§ Doris Lopez lives in Richmond and is a volunteer for Richmond Trees (www.richmondtrees.org), founded in 2011. To date Richmond Trees volunteers have planted over 300 trees throughout the city’s neighborhoods.

§ Rodney Wilson (Mary’s son), 35, is the father of a daughter and son who will turn seven and six, respectively, this month. He’s currently majoring in American Studies at UC Berkeley with a concentration in Race and Education. Rodney is applying to Ph.D. programs in sociology and plans to begin earning his doctorate degree in the fall of 2015.

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El Cerrito and Richmond high school athletes of the 1940s and ’50s relive glory days at annual reunion

Sights from the annual Newell Sports Luncheon, a gathering April 25 at the Salesian Boys & Girls Club in Richmond that reunites 1940s and 1950s athletes who attended Richmond Union and El Cerrito high Schools.

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Baseball greats Jackie Jensen, Ernie Broglio, Mickey Mantle, Darrell Johnson, and Billy Martin at the opening of Martin’s Cerro Square Club (formerly the Six Bells) in El Cerrito in 1961.

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The 1951 Richmond Union High Oliers team that tied with El Cerrito for the league title. The team had two players named Jim Landis, and one of them went on to a major league baseball career.

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The Richmond Merchants team.

reid bates dedication
Charles Reid and Nat Bates at the dedication of the Sheilds Reid Center. Reid played baseball for the Pierce Giants of Richmond. Bates was on the El Cerrito High Gauchos squad in the early 1950s, when his teammate was Pumpsie Green, who later broke the color barrier as the first black player with the Boston Red Sox.

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The Pierce Giants, an early black team, in 1921.

oil can
The Richmond Oilers were well represented at the luncheon.

kamb trophy
Ron Kamb, left, presents a plaque of appreciation to Jack Newell, second from right, for “keeping athletics alive.” Next to Kamb is Pete Schober, and on the right is RUHS grad Mike Farmer, who went on to play at USF and in the NBA.

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Jim Landis holds a picture from his playing days with the Chicago White Sox.

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The 1948 champion El Cortez merchant team.

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Ernie Broglio (back row) was one of the members of the El Cerrito team, playing high school and American Legion ball before starting a professional career.

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Three-time gold medal water skiing champion Art Smrekar, a graduate of Richmond Union High.

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Historic Pinole school bell will be celebrated Saturday

bell

The bell that summoned generations of students to class at Pinole-Hercules School #1 has been refurbished and will be dedicated at a ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at Collins Elementary School, 1224 Pinole Valley Road in Pinole. Light refreshments will be served.
The bell is a remnant of the school that served children in Pinole and Hercules from 1906 to 1966. The school was demolished in 1968.
“The West Contra Costa Unified School District rescued the bell from its outdoor location at Pinole Middle School, where it had been subject to the elements
for several decades,” notes the Pinole Historical Society. “The bell, rusted and pock-marked, was placed in storage in several locations until mid 2013, when the WCCUSD authorized its restoration. The bell was sandblasted, power-coated with a satin black finish, and sealed.”

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JFK High in Richmond is seeking Career Fair speakers to inspire students

Kennedy High in Richmond is looking for people from the community to discuss their jobs at its Career Fair on Jan. 24.
The event was selected to fall on the week of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as part of the “I have a dream” message, writes Jamie Myrick, who is lining up guests for the event.

Ninth grade JFK student Luis Calixto wrote the following for the Kennedy Eagle Eye:

Kennedy High school is hosting a career fair and looking for speakers to talk about their jobs on Jan. 24th. We want people to come in and motivate students to succeed in their high school years. Too many students are dropping out during their senior year based on failing classes in their 9th grade year. If someone were to come and speak to them about their struggles in school and how they managed to succeed in life maybe the dropout rate would decrease. That way our schools test scores will continue increase.
John F. Kennedy high school is designed to prepare us for life and college. We have many programs and academies to help students get ahead, including Saturday school and parent workshops. The test scores have gone up this year because of this and the quality of the school has improved. As I type this, there are workers outside renovating the science buildings. However we still need great speakers for the career fair.

President Kennedy once said “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Too often people talk about the government not doing things for youth, but today we are asking you to join in changing the youth of our community. When you give time to the Kennedy High school students you are helping them become successful in their academics. As the future leaders of America we need help and support from people who have made it in life. We ask you do send someone to Kennedy to speak to the 9th grade class and tell them how important it is to do well in school.
The careers that appeal to me are working in law as a Judge or medicine as a Doctor. They pay well and help people in need.

Like many 9th grade students, I haven’t really thought seriously about what I want to be when I get older but I am leaning towards these jobs and hearing about how the classes we take relate to employment, careers and starting businesses will help each of us. We would love to meet people from a wide variety of fields, hear about how to succeed in high school and college. Many people celebrate

Dr. King’s holiday by giving time to their community, we hope you will spend time with the students of Kennedy High.
The career fair is scheduled for January 24th. Speakers may talk in 30 minute increments for more information call Ms. Myrick at 510-333-1306

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Writing coach program puts out call for volunteers

WriterCoach Connection is seeking volunteers for its upcoming training:

Volunteer Writing Coaches Needed for Teens: Free Trainings Start January 14

WriterCoach Connection volunteers help teens develop confidence and gain
competence in their thinking and writing skills. Our volunteers work with students
on their classroom writing assignments providing one-on-one support for every
student in a participating class.

No prior experience is necessary; you bring the commitment and we’ll provide the
training and ongoing support that you need to work effectively with students,
including your own.

If you can commit to a regular 1-2 hour time slot, 2-4 times per month during the
school day–we especially need coaches for 8:00 and 9:00 am class periods in some
locations– we invite you to join over 600 volunteers, many of whom feel this is
”the highlight of my week!”

We currently need coaches at: Albany Middle School; Life Academy and Fremont High
in Oakland; El Cerrito High and Portola Middle School in El Cerrito; Berkeley High
and King and Longfellow Middle Schools in Berkeley.

New coach trainings begin January 14. Join us now for the best opportunity you’ve
ever had to learn to help teens think critically and find their voice.

For more information about our program, and to register online, please go to
www.writercoachconnection.org.

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Richmond-El Cerrito fire and police ask for support helping needy families

PRESS RELEASE:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 6, 2013

Contact: Michelle Milam  (510) 837-9257

Richmond-El Cerrito Fire/Police Toy Program Needs Santa’s Helpers

Description: Richmond-El Cerrito Fire/Police Toy Program seeks help for needy families 

Richmond, CA —  December 4, 2013 –  First responders from Richmond and El Cerrito are asking the public for help to provide Food and Toy baskets to over 1700 families this coming holiday season.  The Richmond-El Cerrito Toy program is seeking to help needy families who have a hard time making ends meet.  Each year the program gets applications from the two cities from needy families hoping to receive a food basket and toys for their children under 12. This year 1700 families signed up for the program. Others were turned away because of the great need.

 “I think even the most jaded person will believe in miracles when they see these kids faces,” said Richmond firefighter Rod Woods, the brainchild of the 20 year old program, “We believe there are still good people in this world who will help us make this miracle happen.”  “This is not an easy season for many families, which is why we should all help one another when we can,” said Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus, “There are people who gave to this program in the past who will be in line this year due to a job lay off or illness. You always hope help will be there for you if you need it. Sometimes kids give to the program, which is really heartwarming. What better way for parents to show their kids the spirit of the season than to give as a family.”

The public can help donate to the program by visitingwww.toyprogram.org. The public can also help by getting their school, place of employment, or religious organization to make a donation. Sharing the information with friends online via social media also helps. This year every dollar donated up to $10,000 will be matched by Chevron Corporation, so the money goes even further.

The toy program was started 20 years ago when Richmond Firefighter Rod Woods parked his vehicle in a low income neighborhood and distributed toys to the local children during the holidays. A police officer saw that he needed help and assisted him in the distribution. Since then it has grown to serve thousands of needy people each year.

Contact Information: 
Richmond-El Cerrito Food and Toy Program 
Contact: Michelle Milam  (510) 837-9257 
www.toyprogram.org

 

Who: Richmond, El Cerrito Firefighters and Police

What: Toy and Food Program

When: Need online donations

 

Mission

The Richmond/El Cerrito Fire & Police Holiday Toy Program exists to collect and distribute new, unwrapped toys to economically disadvantaged children in the western Contra Costa County area during the holiday season.

As professional firefighters, we see the ravages brought on by the loss of both homes and property. Our non-profit organization strives to brighten the lives of needy children in Richmond, San Pablo and the surrounding communities, particularly during the holidays. Both monetary donations and donations of new, unwrapped toys are accepted throughout the calendar year. With generous donations from both local corporations and individuals, the Richmond/El Cerrito Fire & Police Holiday Toy Program distributes toys to children ages 12 and under residing in western Contra Costa County. Also, in conjunction with staff from the Richmond Police Department, the Richmond/El Cerrito Fire & Police Holiday Toy Program distributes food baskets so that families can enjoy a holiday dinner.

The primary objective of the Richmond/El Cerrito Fire & Police Holiday Toy Program is to assist underprivileged children and their families in western Contra Costa County during the holidays.

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5-year anniversary celebration for RYSE Youth Center

 

PRESS RELEASE:

RYSE YOUTH CENTER CELEBRATES FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY & Hosts 2nd Annual Winter Wonderland Community Event

What: RYSE Center 2nd Annual Winter Wonderland and FiveYear Anniversary Community Event

Where: RYSE CENTER, 205 41st  Street (at Macdonald Avenue), Richmond, CA

When: Saturday, December 14, 2013, 12 noon – 4 p.m.

RICHMOND, Calif… The RYSE Youth Center will be celebrating five years of youth empowerment and community service by hosting its 2nd Annual Winter Wonderland Community Event.

RYSE’s Winter Wonderland, a free community event, will include a toy giveaway for newborns and kids up to 12 years old, music, arts and crafts activities, tree decorating and more! The purpose of this event is to bring communities together, support youth and their families in celebrating the holiday season, and honor RYSE’s fiveyear anniversary and commitment to serving young people in the community.

The Center opened its doors to the community on October 18, 2008 after a string of youthrelated homicides near Richmond High School in 2000 mobilized students to take action to address the violence and lack of safety at school and in the community. Students organized vigils and community forums with more than 1,500 youth and community members, and met and worked with local officials and stakeholders on a comprehensive assessment of youthidentified priorities and solutions.

RYSE Youth Center

Grounded in social justice, RYSE builds youth power for young people ages 1321 living in Richmond and West Contra Costa County to love, learn, educate, heal and transform lives and communities.

Since 2008, more than 3,000 young people have participated in programs and activities. For more information go to www.rysecenter.org.

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Chevron launches major new round of Fuel Your School funding

PRESS RELEASE:

Chevron’s Fuel Your School Program Launch in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties

In-person classroom delivery to kick off $1 million local public school funding

With intense budget cuts and an ever-growing list of needed supplies for teachers, Chevron has created an innovative approach to help local public classrooms through its Fuel Your Schoolprogram. Chevron is collaborating with DonorsChoose.org, an online organization that organizes funding for schools across the country, to supply Alameda and Contra Costa counties with materials – ranging from pencils to live spiders – to help make activities come alive for students this year.

 

On Wednesday, Chevron and DonorsChoose.org teams will deliver puzzles, counting trays, shopping simulation supplies and various math and science manipulatives to kindergarten students at Ford Elementary School in Richmond. 

       What: Classroom delivery of needed materials funded through Fuel Your School

·         When: Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 9:15 a.m.

·         Where: Ford Elementary School [2711 Maricopa Ave., Richmond, CA 94804]

   How Fuel Your School Works: Beginning in September, teachers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties submitted projects/materials that need funding at DonorsChoose.org. In the month of October 2013, Chevron will donate $1, up to $1 million, when consumers purchase eight or more gallons of fuel at participating local Chevron and Texaco stations in Alameda and Contra Costa counties to help fund the eligible classroom projects. You can even track the progress of funded projects in participating counties at www.fuelyourschool.com

 

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