Central Coast Kind Issue 7

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D o e s i t m a t te r ? Y e s i t d o es ! Why yo u ask? Just because! Someone's listening, the minds a feeder! Don’t you know,

you’re a leader?

Someone's learning, t e a c hin g a b a b y , a child, a friend, a s t r a n g er m a y b e! What yo u say, what yo u do , it all matters, i ts up to yo u! Mind Kind



CCK Readers, writers and advertisers, thank you for allowing me another opportunity to share, spread and celebrate Kind acts from the Coast of California. Each issue my yearning heart asks the same questions. What message do you want to share with people? How can you help ease anger and increase forgiveness? What message are you sending? If this was your very last chance to scream out to the world, what would you say?

Take a minute just to pause and breathe. Your health, life and future depend on your attitude today. How do you want to be remembered? Keep your mind ‘kind.’ Peace, Kim Iribarren Founder

I would say “Don’t just change the channel, turn the noise off! Go live your life! Be the kind of person you want people to be towards you! Don’t carry around unnecessary burdens you can’t control. Don’t hold onto yesterday, but move towards a better tomorrow. Don’t be so quick to respond. Practice listening to others. Don’t assume it’s all about you, but rather appreciate that it is not! Share a smile, lend a hand, think before you speak and challenge yourself daily to make the world more peaceful. Try not to judge others; I’m sure if you look deep enough you will find a similar situation in your own life.

You may read or share this issue online at CentralCoastKind.com! For copies of printed issues and/or a full subscription, please mail info (name, address and phone) along with a check for $36.12 to: Central Coast Kind Attn: Subscriptions P.O.Box 6555 Santa Maria, Ca 93456

For a printed copy of this issue, please mail info (name, address and phone) along with a check for $5.20 to: Central Coast Kind Attn: Subscriptions P.O.Box 6555 Santa Maria, Ca 93456 centralcoastkind.com


Spread the Love



Issue 7 | 2020


Take a minute out of your crazy busy life and commit to being KIND to yourself! As you read through this issue, you will find different challenges to consider. In this world today, we must start with self... we must feel good inside to be able to create a happy atmosphere outside! Look for these challenges... I hope they bring you an inner peace that spreads through you and all around you!



CONTACT US Central Coast Kind Magazine 805.862.9595 PO Box 6555, Santa Maria, CA 93456 www.centralcoastkind.com

4 Poem 5 A Word from the Founder 6 Spread the Love Challenge / Challenge #1 10 Meet Some of Your Kind Writers 12 A Nurturing Way 16 A Generosity of Spirit Can Improve the Lives of Others


18 Looking at the Bigger Picture 21 Poem

Kim Iribarren, Publisher, President Macy Haffey, Creative Director Dennis Young, Executive Producer Judythe Guarnera, Managing Editor

22 Al Chavez- A Connector of People 26 Challenge #2 28 Foreign Exchange 30 Knowing When to Act 32 No Rocking Chair for Stelle Stanhill

CONTRIBUTORS WRITERS: Joe Amaral Carolyn Chilton Casas Patricia Gimer Sarah Newfeld Green Judythe Guarnera Steven Mintz Mary Silberstein Lili Sinclaire Chris Strasser Dennis Eamon Young PHOTOGRAPHERS: Justin Gardner | justinwandering.com Dennis Eamon Young See articles for additional photo credits

37 Shirley Bianchi 40 JoeMania: On Fate’s Fast Track 46 Challenge #3 48 Generous Giving 51 Santa Maria Valley YMCA RiseUp- Caring is Catching 52 The Perfect Team 56 The Way of the Elder 59 Poem 60 Challenge #4 62 He Likes It Shiny 64 Greenspace- The Cambria Land Trust 68 Daniel Sievert 73 Meet the Author Program at Grover Beach Community Library 74 Challenge #5 76 Poems

ON THE COVER Cover Story: JoeMania: On Fate's Fast Track Page 40


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81 Wildflower & Botanical Adventure 82 A Good Deed




40 centralcoastkind.com




Joe Amaral Joe Amaral’s poetry collection “The Street Medic” won the 2018 Palooka Press Chapbook Contest and his poem “Epochal” was a finalist for the 2019 River Heron Review Poetry Prize. His writing has also appeared in awesome places like 3Elements Review, AntiHeroin Chic, New Verse News, Panoply, Poets Reading the News, Rise Up Review and Writers of the Portuguese Diaspora. Joe works 48-hour shifts as a paramedic on the California central coast, spending days off adventuring outdoors with his young family: camping, hiking, globetrotting and hosting foreign exchange students. He is also the recipient of the 2014 Ingrid Reti Literary Award from ARTS Obispo and the 2018 Golden Quill Award from SLO NightWriters for poetry. You can find him at jadetree.org 


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Patricia Gimer

Lili A. Sinclaire Lili is a local author with three books published: The Fork in the Path: Nine Mindful Choices to Well-Being and The Fork Trail Guide: The Three Questions to Change Your Story & Change Your life are books about creating change. Her novel, The Bridge, is a Young Adult story set in a rural town on the California Coast in the 1960’s. Lili has studied conflict resolution and communication for twenty years. She’s worked as a crisis phone counselor for The Parent Connection and for Stand Strong, formally The Woman’s Shelter. All her books, both fiction and non-fiction, are about relationships. Her goal in writing is to create a space of curiosity, allowing people to experience meaningful and fulfilling lives. Find her at LiliaSinclaire.com. 

Psychotherapist, Patricia Gimer has been writing because she has to for as long as she can remember. She writes poetry, adult fiction, children’s fiction, creative nonfiction, and profiles of kind people who contribute to their community. She is a member of SLONightWriters of San Luis Obispo, and Coastal Dunes, a chapter of the California Writer’s Club. Pat has previously been published by Solo Press of Santa Barbara, Simply Clear of San Luis Obispo, Central Coast KIND Magazine of San Luis Obispo, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. Pat writes from the heart about real life issues that inspire courage and result in emotional and spiritual growth. Since 1981 she has felt blessed to live and raise her family on the Central Coast of California. 

Carolyn Chilton Casas Mary Silberstein Mary Silberstein has been living on the Central Coast for 30 years and writing poetry for just as long. Winner of several local poetry contests, her book of poems, No One Told the Redwood, can be found on Amazon. She gets her inspiration from the natural beauty around her, the times we live in and the unceasing hope she has for humanity. 

Steven Mintz Steven Mintz, PhD, is an emeritus professor from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He blogs under the name “Ethics Sage” and has recently published a book Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior. Dr. Mintz has been recognized for his work as a teacher and scholar by the American Accounting Association having been selected for the prestigious award of Accounting Exemplar. Steven is a member of Coastal Dunes Writing Club and SLO NightWriters.You can contact him through his website, www.stevenmintzethics.com, or email him at: steve@ethicssage.com. 

Dennis Eamon Young Dennis has worked in all areas of photography, specializing in travel and adventure photo-journalism as well as product and portraiture photography. His unique ability to synthesize passion and technical expertise is evident in his varied portfolio of images. Dennis’ photos have appeared in major publications and newspapers, such as GQ, SLO City News, Cosmopolitan. His travel landscapes have appeared in several galleries, including SLO Museum of Art. Some local clients are SLO Symphony, Opera SLO, Children’s Resource Network, SLO Night Writers, Clever Ducks, Endeavour Institute and many other private clients and businesses. 

Carolyn Chilton Casas is a practicing Reiki Master/Teacher and a student of metaphysics and healing. She is happiest writing stories and poetry, reading, spending time with family and friends, volunteering and playing beach volleyball. This year marks Carolyn’s fiftieth year of living on the Central Coast and thirty-two years of running a business here that she and her husband started the year they got married. She can be contacted at ceccasas@aol.com. 

Judythe A. Guarnera Judythe is the author of Twenty-Nine Sneezes, A Journey of Healing, and editor of The Best of SLO Nightwriters in Tolosa Press. She has been published in many online and local publications, and in ten anthologies, three of which she edited. Judythe, Mentor Mediator for Creative Mediation, promotes connection, communication, and kindness as a mediator and in her writing. She has volunteered for almost 50 years in order to give back to her community. Judythe enjoys editing, doing writing presentations, and speaking to local book clubs. She can be reached at: follow.yourheart@sbcglobal.net or on Face Book. 






Juan Manuel Perez Salazar, a Mexican farm boy with his hands in the dirt, became an award-winning artist and teacher. His hands are still in the dirt, but he has added the medium of paint to express that connection.

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hen I first spotted Juan Manuel at a party in Shell Beach, I didn’t connect him to the canvases blossoming on my hosts’ walls.

He seemed like a quiet, bemused young man with greying hair, rather lost in the throng. Another look had me convinced that my first impression might have been wrong. Although quiet, he seemed self-possessed, sure of his place in the world, and of letting that world come to him. Patience is one of his strongest qualities. Born in 1975, in Jiquilpan de Juarez Michoacán, Mexico, this soft-spoken man of the earth speaks in loud and vibrant phrases on the canvases where he brings nature to life. His work demands an intense relationship with the viewer. Juan is the same in his personal relationships, as he draws you into his world with a warm and solid handshake. Then he proceeds to explain how the expansive blooms are an integral part of his conversation with everyone. He wants to spread an appreciation and understanding of our intrinsic relationship with the plants and f lowers that form the building blocks of our lives. This is his deeply-held mission. You can see it in his sparkling eyes as he speaks.

In Juan’s own words: “My studio practice explores boundaries of painting and sculpture, crossing and transposing various modes of styles in search of my own images. The experiential and symbolic association of specific subjects and materials fuels my explorations. “In these recent oil paintings, I am interested in utilizing flowers to seduce the observer to take pleasure in watching f lowers bloom. Inspired to compose what I gather with my senses in the garden, I often cut my own flowers or buy from vendors, specific color samples which then serve as models. Their resemblances and impressions begin to brighten and occupy the visual spaces in my canvas. “The subject chosen for its multiple open readings serves me as signif iers referencing myth, poems, songs, history, folklore science and spirituality. I have cultivated and painted sunf lowers, irises, water lillis, roses and poppies as well as some fruit trees and vegetables. Planting, transplanting, blossoming and producing fruit is a mysterious natural cycle that continuously moves and captivates my mind.

A graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting, Juan has been the recipient of various awards: a Los Padres Artist Guild Grant; a Sculpture award #1 from Santa Barbara City College; the David Sanchez Art Scholarship; and a San Francisco Art Institute Best of Painting Program Award. His exhibitions range from: “Ref lections in Poverty” at the Faulkner Gallery in Santa Barbara; the “IAM, International Exhibition” at the S. Kumar Art Gallery in Mamallapuram, South India; “Under Skin/Understand,” The C Gallery, Los Alamos, California; and too many others to list here. Juan is currently a resident of Santa Maria, California. He is constantly inspired by the agricultural air he drinks in every day. In 2018 he coordinated with Lindsey Collinsworth Morgan, Education Director of the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden for an exhibition, “Mayo Botanico.” They became fast friends and have been working on various projects, including his most recent exhibition there in summer 2019, where I met him. The proceeds from the sale of his exhibition pieces were donated to the Botanical Garden.

“Flower blossoms have ever been the promise before the fruit. It is nature’s way of announcing its unfolding power to create and deliver future nourishment to animal and human families. The diversity and abundance of blossoms produce a heightened human sense of positive emotions of plentitude and well-being.” 



(A Nurturing Way: continued)

In conclusion, Juan tells us: “Recurring themes in these paintings are the notion of an original Golden Age in which humans enjoyed a perpetual springtime. From medicinal to edible purposes, collecting and cultivating these exotic specimens stimulates my interest. It pleases me to produce and share these paintings, for they serve as a reminder to maintain a passionate appreciation of and active consciousness of nature.”

Only now that we see daily examples of aberrant behavior in the patterns of nature which we formerly depended on, do our eyes slowly open to what Juan and others like him are trying to tell us. We cannot keep destroying and poisoning everything around us in a blind quest to have more of the things we do not need, and which do not even seem to make us happy. As I sat in the meeting room at the Botanical Garden listening to Juan and Lindsey articulate plans for more joint ventures, I was impressed with the positive energies just waiting to blossom and come to fruition. Not only in this spacious room filled with nature ready to burst off the various canvases, but also in their lives and ambitions, these are humans at work, trying to save the rest of us and leading by example. Juan is off to Mexico now, to set up another exhibition and explain his mission to those who will slow down and listen. While there, he will spend time with family and re-charge his own spirit in the deep well of those who created and nurtured him and then sent him out into the world to spread the kindness and hope that only he, in his own generous and special way can do. 

The first of Juan’s images to captivate me was that of an older Mexican woman, dressed simply, and viewed from slightly above, as she presents to the viewer an artichoke in semi-open bloom. The lady seems to have grown out of the ground along with the thistle-like plant she cups. She epitomizes the kind and patient fertility of the earth itself. Later, in conversation with Juan, I discovered that the lady was his own mother. The familial sense of love and generous respect for nature and all creation is apparent in Mother and son. In my own view we need to revive what Juan and his mother represent—their sense of being in a natural web of life which begins with the earth itself. This is what Juan presents us within his work and asks us to share with him.


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WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE? Juan Manuel can be reached at: artjmp@gmail.com Follow him on Instagram and Facebook

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A Generosity of Spirit Can Improve the Lives of Others “Generosity is the most natural outward expression of an inner attitude of compassion and loving-kindness.” — Dalai Lama


he Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, thought of generosity as giving to others without expecting anything in return. It is a selfless act done out of concern for the well-being of others. Generous people are kind people and guided by a spirit of compassion and empathy for others. Generosity is the essence of giving to others in need. Being generous is a tangible way to show kindness. We think of it in terms of giving our time, donating to worthy causes, volunteering to do community service, and going beyond our own interests to better the lives of others. Both kindness and generosity are values we should try to cultivate in ourselves and others. They are characteristic traits of behavior of a good person just like honesty

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and respect for others. We become kind and generous by engaging in kind and generous acts. In other words, by repeating kind and generous acts we create excellences of character or what the ancient Greeks thought of as virtue. Happiness and meaning in life are two goals of virtuous behavior. We become happier and lead more meaningful lives through kind acts and generous behavior. Being kind and generous are two key elements of ethical behavior because they relate to The Golden Rule: Treat others the way you wish they would treat you. Virtually all people seek out kind and generous friends who freely give of their time and are dedicated to worthy causes that qualitatively improve the lives of others. Generosity comes in various forms. There are no rules of the road. Our motivation for acting in a generous

way should be to make a positive difference in the lives of others. There are many ways of doing so but one constant is to not expect generosity in return. We should be generous in thought and action because of the warm feeling we get by doing good deeds for others. In other words, generosity is its own reward. Here are a few examples of generosity in action.

• Share your good fortune with others. • Give of your time, money, skills and knowledge to better the lives of others. • Emotionally connect with others through understanding and empathetic listening. • Be generous in your encouragement of others to enhance their feelings of self-worth. • Seek out ways to help others through random acts of kindness.

There is a link between generous behavior and civility. It often seems like civility is a lost art in society. This is due, at least in part, to the absence of kindness and generosity. Increasingly, we witness one group of people making offensive comments to another. It seems selfish behavior all too often crowds out altruistic behavior. Some people seek to use others for their own gain rather than to improve the lives of others. Learning how to be kind and generous by sharing with others all that we can give is the key to a more thoughtful, civil, and ethical society. Being generous brings significant benefits including an outlet to channel our own emotions in the service of others. By giving to others we can reduce stress in our own lives. The good feeling of having improved the lives of others creates

a pathway to happiness and greater meaning in life. We feel better about ourselves. Others hold us in high esteem. We can become a better person by doing good deeds for others. The warm feelings we get improve our self-image and make our lives more meaningful. By behaving in a way we wish others would behave we can spread the message of kindness and generosity and improve society for all. Even the simplest type of action can generate positive feelings and improve the lives of others. Think about the following acts and how you can incorporate them into your everyday life.

• Cook a meal for a neighbor whose spouse is in the hospital.

• Ask a new employee out to lunch on their first day. • Let someone behind you in a line at the bank go first. • Pay for the groceries of the person behind you in a supermarket. These are random acts of kindness that can improve the lives of others even if in the smallest of ways. We don’t have to donate a lot of money or time to be a generous person. It only takes a small act to make a difference. Practicing random acts of kindness and generosity are the essence of our humanity. It illustrates the message of a moral society, which is being good by doing good. 

• Offer to watch your neighbor’s dogs so they don’t have to go to a kennel.



LOOKING AT THE BIGGER PICTURE Can a country girl mix up a batch of sociology, English, French, graphic arts and environmentalism to wind up being the Education Director of San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden? The short answer is a big Yep.


indsey Collinsworth Morgan was born to spend most of her time outdoors. A combination of family and environment fostered a love of and curiosity about all things Nature, as she grew up in the foothills between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe. As she grew, so did her appreciation for her magnif icent surroundings and for spending her time outside playing with family and friends. Dennis Eamon Young

“I was able to spend wonderful periods climbing trees, floating on the rivers, hiking and biking,” Lindsey says, “with parents, grandparents and greatgrandparents, all of whom shared different aspects of nature appreciation. They also helped foster my curiosity for reading, drawing, and gardening.”


These aspects of her nature are easily discernable as we sit in the great room of the Botanical Garden surrounded by walls full of painted blooming f lowers which seem to be on the verge of escaping their canvas boundaries. They are the creations of her friend Juan Manuel Perez Salazar and is the second exhibition of his works which she has co-sponsored at the Garden. They discuss the possibility of more joint ventures to enhance visitors’ appreciation of the importance of the vastness of our environment and the impact it has on us all.


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Obviously, this lady didn’t just fall off a turnup truck. I dig for more depth concerning her pathway from a carefree youngster to this lovely thoughtful director, with a cadre of tools at her disposal. Like a master painter she describes her goals and aspirations in broad brush strokes, then fills in the details, using all the colors of her palette. “After high school, I attended several community colleges where my interests led me to study and work toward an Associate Degree in Sociology. I transferred to Cal Poly.” She leans back to chuckle. “I started as an English Major with a French Minor but became distracted and found my way to the Art and Design program. I fell in love with all the painting, sculpting, photography, and graphic design. Hands-on fun!” Lindsey completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Graphic Design. One week after graduating, she was hired by Gaia Graphics

and Associates in San Luis Obispo. She was drawn to the environmentally friendly practices maintained by the business, as well as the various forms of translating information into easy to comprehend and aesthetically pleasing designs. “I was very happy there,” she tells me, “but after two years of computer work, I felt the outdoors beckoning me. I applied for an AmeriCorps position in San Luis Obispo and was placed at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden.” Now, nine years later, as Educational Director, she is thrilled at the variet y of tasks, the amazing volunteers and staff, beautiful landscape, and the vision of area conservation which keep her striving to make the Garden better and more meaningful to the community. She has utilized the early input from her carefree days and her variety of school and work experience, synthesizing every one of them into a driving vision for the future.

San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden is currently celebrating its thirtieth year of sowing seeds and growing together. The Garden, located at 3450 Dairy Creek Road, is spread over 150 acres in El Chorro Regional Park off Highway 1, between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo. When the Master Plan is complete, the Garden will be the only one of its kind in the United States which is exclusively devoted to the ecosystems and plants of the five mediterranean climate regions of the world. Lindsey is spearheading many programs to help speed and enable this process. She is very much a hands-on director, not one to be chair bound. “Through its programs and facilities,” she says, “the Garden fosters an appreciation and understanding of the relationship between people and nature. This in turn encourages a sense of connection and stewardship for the natural environment.” 



(Looking at the Bigger Picture: continued)

Lindsey says they host many different groups from senior clubs to school groups, as well as featuring renowned speakers to present programs for the public. In addition are the exhibitions such as Juan Manuel’s, where all the pieces are for sale and the proceeds benefit the Garden. “Being that people can interact with him and understand his passion for painting the flowers and vegetables, they come to also experience him as an avid gardener.”

seasonal plant information to attendees on how to tend plants, then harvest and use them for a big dinner. The reverence for the bounty of nature and the deeply symbiotic relationship between plants and people is something Lindsey delights in sharing. She tells me she would like to re-institute this tradition, one of many ideas she keeps in mind to make the Garden a true community gathering place which holds real meaning for all.

One example of upcoming events at the Garden is partone of an herbal workshop series: Herbal Medicines for Sleep and Relaxation by Dr. Anne Kennard. She will share her extensive knowledge of common herbs for relaxation and sleep, preparing teas, tinctures and glycerides. Attendees take home a personalized, hand-crafted herbal remedy and a plan for attaining more healthful sleep. All materials are provided.

Lindsey and her partner enjoy living in Morro Bay where they can be spotted surfing, or at work (and play) in their home garden on the weekends. 

Another program, Why Birds Flock at SLO Botanical Garden, will feature a local biologist who will explain why some birds f lock and others do not. Everyone will be learning the latest scientific research concerning bird behavior and biology. The event contact phone number is 805-541-1400 x 304. The public can also check on upcoming events throughout the year. “I love that we are such an accessible facility,” Lindsey says. “The fact is that the public can come at any time to walk among the f lowers and trees, taking their time and breathing in the fresh air as they enjoy the serenity of their natural surroundings. There is no need to make a special appointment, nor are people limited in the amount of time they spend, whether it is to relax on a lunch break, or bring a family to engage with nature, or a photographer/ artist looking to expand their portfolio of natural images.” As we stroll among the trees, she points out the signage, placed there so that people can become educated, at their own pace and in their own way, to what they are experiencing. Her long strides speak volumes about her authenticity in the world she inhabits, just as the big grin on her face bespeaks the joy she lives with. Lindsey expresses gratitude for the wisdom shared with her through previous Chumash Kitchen programs at the Garden. Local Chumash women provided


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WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE? For further information, you can contact Lindsey at: lindsey@slobg.org Event contact phone number is: 805-541-1400 x 304 San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden is located at 3450 Dairy Creek Rd. San Luis Obispo and is open to the public from 9AM to 5PM, Monday through Friday.

P l an t a s e e d , i n o n e 's m i n d , ask yourself, w as i t K i n d ? Speak with thought, consideration, intelligence, admiration? W o rd s y o u s a y , ca n c h a n g e o n e ' s co u r s e , Communication.... a Powerful SOURCE!

Mind Kind



Linda Blue Photography

a connector of people


y friend, Al Chavez, has lived on the Central Coast for thirty-one years and has been a UPS driver the entire time. He likes his beautiful, rural Santa Ynez route and getting to know the people he delivers to. His entire life he has been a connector of people –musicians, artists, authors, and other new friends he meets. He says he didn’t have a name for what he does until several years ago, when on an organic farm tour he had organized, one of the participants pulled him aside and said, “Al, what you do is unique and not many people can do it. You connect people.” Al hadn’t thought of it that way, but he realized then his friend had just defined him and what he loves to do.


Carolyn Chilton Casas | ceccasas@aol.com

What Al does -


For thirteen years, Al has organized events for the community, mostly in Los Olivos and Santa Ynez, but sometimes in other Central Coast areas. He started in 2006 by putting together a Santa Ynez dinner group comprised of men he had met on his UPS route. His goal was to bring people together. The group grew to a hundred men, and eventually he made the dinners coed, because women were asking to join in. They named themselves Al’s Pals and Al’s Gals, although Al modestly told me he always called it the Santa Ynez Dinner Group. They increased to 3500 members in less than two years. Al would bring in guest speakers to the dinners, people who had done marvelous things in their lives. In the beginning, he had a friend interview the speaker after dinner was served. Al didn’t feel comfortable being the emcee himself in front of so many people. He really wanted to be the interviewer, though, so he practiced for months, sometimes in front of a mirror, until he felt he could finally do it even though his hands were sweaty, and his voice cracked. Facing this personal challenge made him more outgoing. Now it’s easy for him to talk in front of large audiences. Organizing these dinners created a lot of opportunities. He decided to add a music component to the

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events and began to scout musicians. A musician would play for the first thirty minutes, followed by the dinner, and then the interview of a celebrated person. This eventually led to Al booking musicians in other venues and then expanding his events to include space for artists to exhibit their work. Between 2006 and 2019 Al organized more than 2,000 events in our area including lunches, dinners, tours, photography, and art exhibitions, book fairs, and music events. Al has done all this without receiving renumeration. Each event has either broken even or he has paid a part out of his own pocket. This is how his events operate: the owner of the venue, like the Corner House Café in Los Olivos, where many of the events are held, doesn’t charge Al to hold his events; owners benefit from increased patronage to their place of business. Musicians, artists and authors are not charged for their spaces at the event and they have the opportunity to sell their CD’s, art or books. It’s a win-win venture. Over the years the format of the events has changed. During the first ten years events were private and hosted in homes, wineries or restaurants. Three years ago, Al started opening the events to the public and now they are held in coffee shops or restaurants. The inspiration behind the desire -

When Al was between five and eight years old, his older sister, Mary, was studying at Marymount Loyola University in southern California. She decided to take it upon herself to give her younger brother some culture. She took him to the theater, to classical and big band concerts, and to art galleries and museums. These experiences made a big impact on Al. As a dad, he has done the same for his children and now that he has two grandchildren, he is doing it with them. Because his sister showed him an appreciation for the arts, he feels inspired to help musicians, photographers, painters, ceramic artists, and authors of books and poetry. And he does it all for zero profit.

Another experience that inf luenced Al’s desire to offer cultural events was reading three of Dale Carnegie’s books at a young age. One of the most popular at the time and even still today was How to Win Friends and Inf luence People. Al learned the following three lessons from Carnegie’s books: 1) how important it is when first meeting people to remember their names; 2) to be a good listener, make eye contact, be sincere and have good manners; and 3) to be able to recount people’s stories back to them, which shows you are really listening and helps them trust you. Al remembers reading that most people miss eighty percent of what others communicate to them and that people can tell if you aren’t focused on what they are saying. He said playfully that the tips from Carnegie helped him learn to talk to girls and not be so shy when he was a young man. Why these events have continued -

Al told me he has continued to organize events for thirteen years for the love of it. He thinks what he does would lose its luster if he did it for profit. Positive feedback and comments about his events warm his heart, though. He considers bringing cultural events to the Central Coast a hobby, one

that includes the things he loves—art, music and books. He likes helping budding artists, musicians and authors, sometimes by giving them their first opportunity to put what they create out in public. Occasionally he is offered gifts, but he prefers small things, like a book, CD or greeting card with the artist’s creation on it, instead of a more valuable item like a painting, which one artist offered him. He would rather artists sell their art to make money for themselves. The people Al has met -

A speaker at one of Al’s events was a Japanese American nuclear scientist who wrote a book about the Fukushima disaster. At Biltmore dinners in Santa Barbara, which Al organized, a Hollywood actor and a talk show host have spoken, as well as a renowned saxophonist and composer. An Olympic gold medalist spoke at one of Al’s luncheons at the Ballard Inn. At an upcoming event, the speaker will be a man who invented a large drone to fight fires and is working with Cal Fire to make putting out fires quicker and less dangerous for firemen. Al told me he appreciates all the musicians, artists and authors, not just the well-known ones who attend his events, and what they offer to our world. 



(Al Chavez | A Connector of People: continued)

A life philosophy -

Al doesn’t watch television. He wants to have as many life experiences as possible. Every evening he plans his activities for the next day. He is willing to travel to see other people’s cultural events. It’s not unusual for him to see five musicians or more performing in a day. If he is not emceeing, Al is happy to be behind the scenes; he likes creating the event and then watching as it comes to fruition. He favorite part is turning the mic over to the guest speaker and taking it all in from the back. He loves to see the pleasure on people’s faces as the event starts to come together. Al hopes to make an impact on the world and he constantly pushes himself towards that end. He is not looking for recognition. As a matter of fact, I’m the first person to interview Al, although he has been asked several times for interviews. Someone even offered to write a book about what he does. One time Al did receive recognition when a friend from a Rotary Club tricked him by inviting him to breakfast. It turned out that his plan all along was to take Al to a Rotary meeting where he, along with a few other awardees, was to be acknowledged for community service in Santa Ynez Valley. Although he doesn’t care for the attention, he was honored to receive this award. The greatest benefit -

“I’ve gone from a sweating-over-my-lines, young introvert to a confident extroverted adult,” Al told me, “and I’ve met so many wonderful people in our community.” He describes himself as a natural giver, a person with his heart on his sleeve who likes to have fun. What Al does in his free time -

It makes me tired just thinking about Al’s schedule. During the week, he sometimes works his UPS route up to fourteen hours a day, especially during the holiday season. Then he often goes to multiple gigs to see friends and clients perform music, to author presentations or art shows. I asked him if he doesn’t sometimes just want to rest. He answered, “No, I like to stay active.” His favorite thing to do on the weekends is spend time with his grandchildren. Al says they fill him with overf lowing happiness. His preferred physical activities are hiking and beach volleyball with friends he found through Meetup groups. He’s met a lot of new friends this way. That is where I first met Al, playing volleyball on the beach at Pismo. He initially struck me as a kind, sincere, attentive person with many friends. Al gets much pleasure from watching people with like interests come together. By the time Al invites new


Issue 7 | 2020

friends to his dinners, he knows something about their lives, and so he seats individuals with similar pursuits next to each other. He introduces them and brings up a topic of a shared interest. Then he stands back and watches them discover what they have in common. Al imparted that giving brings him happiness. “Life is short. I think I will be promoting artists until my last breath.” As we were getting ready to wrap up our interview, Al showed me the heading on his Facebook page. It says, “A few years back I was very lucky to find out why I’m here. Sweet and simple – I’m a connector.” To contact Al Chavez -

If you are interested in receiving more information about Al’s upcoming events, or you are a musician, photographer, painter or book author who might would like information about participating in one of his events in Santa Ynez or Los Olivos, you can contact Al Chavez at alchavezups@yahoo.com.  Al was interviewed Carolyn Chilton Casas on June 27, 2019.

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Issue 7 | 2020


Challenge yourself to feel the beauty in your own world!

MAKE IT COUNT! centralcoastkind.com



foreign e

y wife, daughters, ages two and four, and I hosted a seventeen-year-old Italian girl visiting America for the first time. Her name was Silvia and in email exchanges the month leading up to the trip we became mutually excited at the cultural opportunities both sides offered. Silvia was like any teenager, enthused about Hollywood heartthrobs and movies, wide-eyed at getting to tour Los Angeles, lost in the City of Angels, and all the other American accouterments we take for granted (like corn dogs, snow cones, S’mores and peanut butter)! We even sought Abercrombie in three different cities searching for the same pair of perfectly rip-torn jeans! Silvia speaks four languages and her English and grammar were amazing. Her respectful attitude and kindness to our daughters made her a pleasure to host, despite the continuous stream of pop music! She’s a Justin Belieber…as were the Indonesian, Spanish and Chinese girls we have since hosted.


Joe Amaral

But I had an ulterior motive, a blurry idea that blossomed beyond my wildest dreams. My passport lies stagnant in a desk drawer, dust-coated, set to expire but stamped with all my grand old adventures before career and kids careened in. With a young family, local trips and campgrounds have been our satisfying yet smaller world.


I saw hosting a student, learning about her nation and proudly showing her ours, as a huge benefit of travel-in-reverse. I remember my airplane flights home from some epic holiday in Portugal, Africa or Peru, the overwhelming tears that flowed, memories so acute and stunning, like bright summer light, I had to temporarily put aside

Issue 7 | 2020

because they were too fresh and raw. They hurt so good and I missed that. We made a list of things to do and let Silvia pick. We started with frozen yogurt topped with every sweet candy she could fit in the bowl, then the Arroyo Grande Village farmer’s market and car show, Pismo Pier, bowling and Black Sand fraps at Red Dirt Coffee. She had the best sushi of her life in Santa Barbara. We spent a lazy, meandering day driving across Big Sur on Highway 1, hiking to McWay Falls, posing at Bixby Bridge. Watching Silvia’s eager reaction to the ocean juxtaposing into rugged cliffs bleeding jade green into the redwood and rock encrusted road was wondrous. It made my family and I break away from the normal doldrums, the routine we find ourselves in with multiple activities and day-to-day grind. We went for it, staying up late, taking the kids anywhere and everywhere no matter what time just to see something we usually take for granted, like the view from Dinosaur Caves, Three Stacks and a Rock in Morro Bay, pedicures, Higuera Street or a bonfire on the beach. We day-tripped to San Francisco, the long drive there and back sandwiched between Fisherman’s Wharf, the Presidio, shopping Union Square and a boat ride under the Golden Gate Bridge around Alcatraz, squeezing it all in so Silvia could tour California. There was so much to see, and we attacked it with abandon. Silvia rewarded us with joyful, tireless exuberance, even when the kids had had enough and screamed it so. She even cooked us eggplant fettuccini, a home recipe although we had some confusion to

exchange ingredients, not knowing what an aubergine was. Silvia became part of our family, an adopted daughter and big sister, a new contact in the connected web of this tiny earth. She said this was the most beautiful journey of her youth and I can think of no better compliment for my family or country. It was a reminder to enjoy the microcosms of life and not the sad news and sinking feelings that seem to constantly cyclone around us in the media. It made us step up and start anew, right here, now, doing what feels true and worthy and keeping the rest at bay. The travel-in-reverse experiment was a rousing success! People ask if we get paid money to host students from other countries and I say yes, but not in dollars. I can think of no prouder duty than being a representative of my nation, the person they spend the most time with, get to know, and I accept that responsibility, especially when they say they want to come back and live here. And sometime down the golden-threaded road we share, we will go and visit their countries too. Silvia told us she cried on the airplane flight home to Italy. She wasn’t the only one. ď Ž





e all have a memory of our past where someone showed us kindness and it meant more than they would ever know, right? Brittany Tarkington, a young inspiring author, shares a moment that created a movement, after memories touched her heart. Brittany explains…. Over the summer I found myself behind someone unable to pay for their items. Her child was by her side, holding her hand and I looked at their buggy, noticing many items were for the child.


Kim Iribarren

Without making a scene, I quietly paid for their items without their knowledge and brought it out to them.


Previously as a young, single mother, I had been in situations like this. The lady was grateful and relieved, but I could tell she was somewhat embarrassed. I told her how I struggled before graduating college and getting married and that everyone goes through a rough patch in their life.

A week later, I was still thinking about this encounter. I felt sad about both the mother and child and wondered how someone could make a difference for them because I knew unfortunately, they aren’t the only ones who are struggling.

This is a small task right now, but I hope it grows into a group of people sending out supplies to our local schools each month. Sometimes a small act of kindness can grow into so much more, says Brittany Tarkington! 

About six months ago, I left my full-time job as a paralegal and began writing and taking care of things at home full time. When my son went back to school, I knew I would have extra time on my hands. I decided I could try to do more for them. I messaged a few contacts through different schools in our area and a few agreed that there is a need. From there I began talking to people that could help donate items that kids need to schools. So far, I’ve been able to team up with a nurse from a school district in our area. It’s a small start, but I have an amazon wish list to keep supplies on hand. We message back and forth and she will tell me needs that we can help with.

Brittany is a wife, mother, daughter and sister, an author of now her fifth published novel. She also volunteers her time working on several community projects and working with her children and looks for ways to consistently help others.

There's so much more to know about Brittany! Visit her at brittanytarkington.com, or find her on Amazon.com, Goodreads.com, Pinterest.com or just google her! Issue 7 | 2020


127 W. Boone St. | Santa Maria, Ca 93458 | minervaclubofsantamaria.webs.com


hen people have a passion for helping others and for making their communities happier, kinder places to live, they often look for volunteer opportunities that match their skills and interests. But what happens when that person, because of age or disability, is no longer able to accommodate the requirements of available volunteer activities? I knew just the person to ask—Stelle Stanhill, who had recently completed over sixteen years of volunteering as a Senior Peer Counselor for Wilshire Community Services. Now eighty-seven, with everworsening arthritis, she f inds it too diff icult to navigate steps to access her clients. Years ago, a national senior organization which supports the efforts of older people to contribute to their communities, ran an advertisement of a man and woman, ensconced in rocking chairs on a front porch. The ad said, “No more rocking chairs for seniors.” If you expect to see Stelle sitting in a rocking chair on her front porch, you’ll be disappointed. Before I reveal what she is doing these days, I’d like to share a bit of the story of her life and how she became a volunteer.


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No Rocking Chair for Stelle Stanhill Although she couldn’t put her finger on anything specific that happened that drew her to a life of service, as she spoke, an answer appeared in how others perceive her. Although she didn’t understand why, Stelle says people regularly came to her with their problems. Besides her warm and open smile, she leans in to hear you, doesn’t interrupt, and gives the impression that what you have to say is super important to her. Stelle worked in the Athletic Department at Cal Poly, where she earned the love and respect of other staff, professors, and student athletes. She maintains a friendship with many of them to this day. When Stelle talks about people in her life, I realize how often she describes those she associates with—at work, volunteering, in her neighborhood—as family. Who or what has been your greatest inspiration? Stelle said her father inspired her, as did her mother-in-law, who taught her all about cooking. “She could make a meal out of two chicken wings, which was a plus during lean times.” Possibly the best gift her mother-in-law gave her was as a role model. “She never criticized me.”

Stelle recalls moving to Los Angeles when she was thirteen, just nine days before the war was over. She admits she was a total introvert and the prospect of making new friends seemed an insurmountable task.

One joy for Stelle is reading. Retired now for many years, she says she still feels like she’s playing hooky when she reads during the day. If flies in the face of her upbringing which says you finish your chores before you play. During the three years she sat on the board of her senior village association, she knew all her neighbors. Stelle loves dogs and usually has at least three dogs a day come to visit with their owners. Last week she welcomed a seven-year-old Yorkie, Maggie, into her home. After years of volunteer service, it’s time to look at how a retired Stelle continues to serve her neighbors and community. It helps that she has doesn’t distinguish recreational activities from acts to help others. Many volunteers say that doing for others, bringing a smile to people’s faces, helping them through a difficult time, all stir an inner joy in the person giving, as well as the person receiving. Stelle agrees. What might readers be surprised to know about you? “That I was always very shy. I used to walk behind my husband, as though I was hiding.” She stresses that becoming a part of the Athletic Department ‘family’ at Cal Poly changed her. She admits she has an easier time speaking what’s on her mind. What gets you out of bed in the morning? “Looking forward to the day and visits from friends and their dogs.” She enjoys shopping– always looking for something different to buy for someone she loves.

What has been your greatest challenge?

If you were to live your life over, would you have done anything different?

In 1985, after Cliff died, Stelle had to recreate her identity which was so closely tied to her family and

The answer to that might have been yes, except for the fact that her kids were so important to 


Judythe Guarnera

Years later, after she married and had four children, her husband’s declining health dictated a move out of the smoggy LA basin. Although Stelle would have preferred to move where cool weather prevailed, they moved to Santa Maria to be closer to their kids.

What do you do for fun?


How did you find your way to California and eventually to the Central Coast?

to years of caregiving. As part of this search, she took psychology and speech classes which led her to volunteer for the Senior Peer Counseling Program where she practiced what she learned.


(No Rocking Chair for Stelle Stanhill: continued)

her. Much of Stelle’s behavior and choices seem indicative of those who put others’ comfort and needs before their own. She knew her parents couldn’t afford to send her to college, something she dearly wanted to do. So as not to make them feel bad, she convinced them her heart’s desire was to be a secretary. What’s the most important thing you’ve done in your life? “My kids—my family.” Stelle has four children, nine grandkids, and six great grandkids, with two more on the way. Their house was always full of kids, including a foreign exchange student who became part of the family. Once a friend, or a member of the Stanhill family, that relationship never ends. When she speaks about someone’s brother-in-law or cousin—the family circle is wide. And they celebrate and support each other for everything. How do you continue to contribute now that you’ve left the Senior Peer Counseling Program? You might remember Stelle saying that from early on, people sought her out to tell her their stories when they needed someone to listen. Today Stelle is known around her senior neighborhood as a ‘counselor.’ Friends and neighbors often knock on her door to enjoy some good listening and perhaps even a spot of advice. Although giving advice isn’t her goal, she knows how to give empathy, and ask the right questions to help visitors tap into their own resources and perhaps find a solution. Senior Peer Counselors are taught that one of the greatest gifts we can give someone is to sit and listen. And Stelle keeps giving that gift. Kind magazine focusses on kindness. How do you see kindness expressing itself here on the Central Coast? Stelle believes small towns are more personal. She previously lived in a big city and felt “like a small piece of sand on a large beach.” She loves to go around her community because she always sees people she knows. How does kindness make our community a better place to live? Stelle says she feels safer here, less stressed, because people care. Stelle says people’s eyes are on others, not just staring straight ahead.Out walking her dog,


Issue 7 | 2020

she’s been approached by people considering purchasing in her area and she says, “I sell the kindness factor.” What is the most important thing you want your children to know or remember about you? That I was the proverbial optimist. A friend/neighbor says Stelle is like sunshine. We all know how important it is to get a dose of it each day. Call to Action What advice would you give members of our community who want to make a difference, but aren’t able to get around easily? Stelle suggests they make phone calls to other homebound individuals. Churches can often help make these kinds of connections. The nice part about it is that the people on either end of the phone each have made a warm connection. She also mentioned dog sitting as a way to help neighbors and friends. 

What Do Martha’s Place and The Hearst Land Conservancy Have IN Common?



lthough most people’s first memories date back to the age of two or three, not so for retired SLO County Supervisor, Shirley Bianchi.

Shirley’s description, so vivid I might have been watching it happen, was of a precocious eleven-month-old child toddling through a crowded living room at a preChristmas gathering of relatives. When I suggested her memory might have come from what she’d been told about the incident, rather than what she actually remembered, she disabused me of that notion. Shirley says she has an eidetic memory, one where an individual has the ability to recall most details of a visual or auditory stimulus to which that person had been exposed for a short duration. It’s like watching a movie of the memory.

As the interview proceeded, I served as witness to evidence of an inquisitive woman in search of, perhaps not just bright, shiny things, but of things of value that she could put her mark on to make her world a better place. Shirley is very proud of her first career, the most important thing she’s done—of wife and mother.

So how did you go from wife and mother, a fulfilling career, to your involvement with the environment?

As the discussion progressed, it became clear that Shirley and her husband followed and supported each other’s interests and careers. Both had a sense of responsibility to the environment and to their fellow citizens that reached beyond the time limits of their own lives. This led to Shirley’s own interest in preserving the environment. She recognized the different approach 


Judythe Guarnera

What was your first career?

She and her husband had a son, John, who was profoundly developmentally disabled. A patient since 1964 at the Porterville Developmental Center, he died in 2006. Losing a child was a tragic loss for the Bianchi family.


Back to her first memory: as she toddled, she remembered being in pursuit of bright, shiny objects. Unfortunately, the bright shiny object that caught her eye was the brightness of a gas burner under a water heater. As we talked, Shirley flipped her palms upward to show me her fingertips—she’d burned them off because of her curiosity that day.

“Even when I was faced with four teen-aged daughters at one time.”


(What Do Martha's Place and the Hearst Land Conservancy Have in Common? Shirley Bianchi: continued)

with her philosophy that we need to see each other as human beings first if we’re ever to get beyond ‘otherizing’ people who are different. What Do You Do for Fun?

Being of a similar age, I chuckled when Shirley replied with her own chuckle: “Going to doctor appointments.” She added she loves to read what she calls ‘mind candy’, to surf the web, play the mandolin at church, and listen to classical music. She also enjoys visiting her daughters and sons-in-law and their adopted grandchildren. women have to political situations than men have. “Women make things happen because they are always looking ahead to protect their homes, neighborhoods, and families.” She began attending meetings and conferences concerning land use. An inspiration and companion was Betty Fiscalini, a long-time environmental advocate. You served as County Supervisor for District 2 from 2007-2013. How did you decide you wanted to be a public servant?

As Shirley replied, I came to know and understand the woman behind the public servant, who used her supervisory dais to make positive things happen for the residents of her district and SLO County. During the time you lived in Fresno, where Bill continued his career, in addition to raising your girls, how did that time prepare you for public service. Shirley and her family belonged to the Newman Center, a Catholic community for Fresno State college students and families in the neighborhood. For five years, she chaired their Renaissance Festival, the goal of which was to promote a sense of community, showcasing local crafts and products. This fit perfectly


Issue 7 | 2020

Shirley’s strong sense of seeing others as fellow human beings first, worked well when one of her daughters adopted three children, whose birth mom had abused drugs. Two of the children suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome and mental health issues. Shirley spoke proudly of her oldest granddaughter, who overcame the problems created by her mother’s alcoholism. She successfully put herself through college, even though her family was willing to support her. Sadly, the child who had been most severely impacted by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and mental illness, committed suicide at the age of eleven. The devastation of this loss led Shirley, a Grandmother and problem solver, to look for a way to mitigate the negative impact alcohol has on other babies and children. She was instrumental in the establishment of Martha’s Place, which is under the auspices of SLO Children’s Mental Health Services. (N.B. See details at the end of this article.) Tell us more about the qualities and mindset that drives your thinking and actions.

In her personal and professional life, Shirley says she’s been blessed—or cursed—with an innate ability to see both sides of a situation. A blessing to

understand others and to help f ind a solution and a curse when one must vote for or against an issue. Yet, given her passion as a mother and member of her community, she analyzed data, and armed with information, advocated for change. Your daughters represent your success in your personal life. What about your professional career as a public servant?

Although at first she disapproved, after time and research she supported and was instrumental in the establishment of the Hearst Ranch Conservation in Perpetuity. It is “One of the largest land conservation agreements in California history… and has exceeded expectations in protecting a significant part of the state’s coastline.” What is your greatest treasure and why?

Shirley smiled as she said, “My family and my faith.” She admitted she ‘enjoys things,” such as the clock her newly immigrant grandmother bought in 1890 with her first paycheck, but things are never her top priority. Kind Magazine focuses on kindness. How do you see this kindness expressing itself here on the Central Coast?

With no hesitation, Shirley cites the number of NGOs (Non-governmental) volunteer organizations which express the communit y’s concern for those who need help and offer solutions. She especially likes that many of them also help clients become self-sufficient. How does kindness make our community a better place to live?

“Kindness creates healthier communities in the physical sense—reducing disease, mental health incapacity, and increases individuals’ sense of accomplishment.” What would you want on your tombstone or a memorial card at your funeral?

“I was a light in the midst of darkness.”

In a sentence, who are you?

“Because of extensive life experiences and faith, I’m a woman who is perfectly comfortable in her own skin.” Tidbits that further define this public servant:

When an ambulance went by, Shirly paused and expressed her concern. Just the action of a resident of the small community of Cambria—or perhaps symbol of her deeply held conviction that each individual has inherent worth. We talked a bit about the fact that, despite retirement, she writes commentaries for the local newspaper when she sees an opinion or action that runs a field of her beliefs regarding the common humanity of others. A guiding principle for Shirley is to not pre-judge people based on other’s opinions. She advises, “Get to know them well and then form your own opinion.” What advice would you give to average citizens who want to make a difference in their communities?

“Find out what you really like to do, find a place that does that, and volunteer. Everyone has a gift to offer.” Call to Action

Shirley’s advice to those on the North Coast is to contact Susie McDonald at 805-927-4274. Susie is the Chair of the Northwest Advisory Council, which at their monthly meetings advises County Supervisors of needs in their community. Non-Cambrians or those who are looking for another volunteer experience to serve their community can contact Senior Volunteer Services at (805) 544-8740. Their mission is to “promote volunteer opportunities for mature adults and match their experience, knowledge, and expertise to serve local community needs.” N.B. Martha’s Place Children’s Assessment Center under SLO Children’s Mental Health Services, provides multidisciplinary assessment, individual and family therapy to children birth to five years. Youth may receive a mental health assessment and /or a specialized pediatric assessment depending on their specif ic needs. Case management services are provided to connect families with resources and some medication management is provided by the pediatrician. Services are free for Medi-Cal eligible children, ages birth to 5 years, who meet medical necessity for Specialty Mental Health Services. Help can be accessed by calling Martha’s Place: (805) 781-4948. For others, the center will assist in f inding resources to help those who don’t have insurance. 




Issue 7 | 2020



Joe Chavira & Dennis Eamon Young



How one man paying it forward fast-tracked the career of an up and coming talent while reinventing his own.


oe Chavira started his career early on, not really as a career path, so much as a high velocity response to his dad. Joe Sr. was a quarter horse cowboy turned paratrooper. He became part of BootN-Chutes All Airborne Association, the only color guard performing free, full military funerals on the Central Coast. Joe Jr. was given the middle name Stan, after the jazz great, Stan Kenton. This was prescient of his dad, since Joe has spent a lifetime drumming on every available surface. During our interview, he had the waitstaff and customers of Willow Café entertained with his singing and his drumming on our table. Music is part of the man’s core being, even to the rhythm in his speaking, while his obvious sense of love for people comes directly from a loving family background. Absorbing the music of artists such as Trini Lopez and various jazz greats came easy to the youngster and greatly pleased his dad. Joe learned to play and sing all of Trini’s songs, in the hope he would meet the man someday. Trini had become a musical hero to Joe’s family and community. On family trips to Pasadena to visit his grandma, Joe taught himself to play piano. Over the years he has added other instruments to his repertoire, as well as writing his own songs. Joe’s boundless energy came to the fore competing in various school sports. When he became captain of the school track team, his high school football coach nicknamed him “Joey-The-Jet.” Joe also took up the practice of Karate, becoming a 2nd degree

black belt in the art of Kenpo Karate. He continued writing his own songs, but hid them away, feeling shy about sharing them for a long time. When he finally brought his songs out, he discovered a large receptive audience cheering him on to play and sing in public. Using his talents to benefit his community came naturally to him, just as his dad had spent a lifetime doing. In 2009 Joe was asked by the Unity Celebrity TV Telethon to become a Telethon Ambassador, along with such artists as Kenny Loggins, Jeff Bridges, and Brad Paisley, in order to raise money to help feed and clothe low-income families. “I was happy to do my best for a great cause and honored to step up to that level of recognition with these established stars. I still thought maybe someday I would get to meet my hero, Trini Lopez.” Joe knew he had retired, so the chances of that happening were pretty slim. "I always included some of his songs when performing and people responded with enthusiasm.” Making progress in his chosen career, Joe played various venues as well as writing songs for a musical stage show at Universal Studios, Hearst Castle, and a promotional commercial song for BMW. After he compiled a menu of over 800 original songs, he was ready for the next phase to begin. In 2015, he was excited to take a break to attend a Lifetime Achievement award at Indian Wells Resort, for none 



(JoeMania: On Fate's Fast Track: continued)

other than the Grammy winning icon Trini Lopez. Joe seemed on the verge of seeing his life-long dream come true, but there was a surprise in store for him. When introduced to Trini, Joe nervously told the music legend of his dream to meet him. Someone in the party told Trini that Joe was also a singer and songwriter. Trini pointed to the big grand piano and asked Joe to play it and sing one of his songs. When Joe finished the number, Trini broke into a big smile and told Joe, ‘Uno mas.’ Trini said he knew right away Joe was good and that he wanted to work with him. That was the beginning of a special relationship that has been coined by NBC as one of the Song Writing Dream Teams. The two men became fast friends and began to collaborate. Joe was starting that new phase he had awaited, and Trini became so enthusiastic that he came completely out of retirement so he and Joe could work together. In 2016 they played the first concert of their world-wide tour before 20,000 screaming fans in Sri Lanka. Joe was so in his element with Trini that he bounded across the stage playing guitar, then drums, then keyboard during their performances. Sony Orchard Records signed the Dream Team to a world-wide distribution deal for which the duo set a new recording bar, creating forty-six brand new songs and music in nine months. Sony also signed Joe to a contract of his own which he expects will arrive any day now. That deal is being handled through Bob Frank of Bob Frank Entertainment. He is the President of Sony Orchard in New York. They have great ideas for album distribution. Joe feels blessed to have a great team he likes and trusts. When he introduced Trini to his long time friend and


Issue 7 | 2020

local producer, Doug Tomooka, Doug joined the team to record the Dream Team music. Their joint album is Trini’s 72nd album of his career and he is quick to point out that "A TRINI TRILOGY" is the first 3 CD collection of original songs to cover the range of rock-pop-ballad/Christmas songs/Christian songs. The Songwriting Amigos were the first artists to compose a theme song for the Coachella Valley, which is where Trini resides. This high energy partnership has also now produced two books, TRINI LOPEZ -HERE I AM and Joe Chavira’s MEANT TO BE, TRINI LOPEZ and JOE CHAVIR A. “Whenever I’d tell Trini how lucky I felt to write music with him,” Joe laughs, “Trini would always say it was meant to be.” The entertainment media has been exclaiming that Joe-Mania is about to erupt! Trini muses about his own beginnings in music; how his religious faith and strong faith in himself had prepared him for a life of accomplishment. His f irst inf luence came early in life, growing up in Texas with a loving, nurturing family. His father, a musician, singer, actor from Mexico started Trini and his brother, Jesse, on their musical careers. Trini started his f irst band at f ifteen. Buddy Holly and his dad encouraged Trini, then brought him to the attention of their producer, Norman Petty. With backgrounds so alike, it would seem that Trini and Joe were fated to cross paths. By about age twenty-six, Trini had a stable gig singing at P.J.’s where he was discovered by Frank Sinatra who signed him to a recording contract with Reprise Records. Frank became his life-long mentor, not only in vocal preparation

and music, but also in getting him into film roles. Now in his eighties, Trini began to pay it forward by mentoring a younger talent. In the process, Trini underwent a musical rejuvenation, winding up with a musical amigo, singer/songwriter/producer, pushing them both to be even more productive than before. “I am so excited to be working so closely with my musical idol, a legend and a world icon,” Joe tells me. “It’s a dream come true, but most of all it’s an honor and a privilege to be Trini’s amigo. I just hope I don’t wake up from the dream.” When listening to their songs, you can hear and feel the emotional powerhouse of the Singing Amigos on an upbeat mission to make those around them feel happy. They love sharing their intense joy for life and innate kindness by living the positive message they craft together. From “Put A Smile On Your Face”, they proclaim: You’ ll have a better day, People looking for a reason, To laugh every day. From Angel Inside comes their message of hope: Look inside your heart, That’s where you need to start, The passion of your dreams, Is the story yet unseen, The angel shines through. Worldwide concerts, radio and newspaper interviews, TV shows and personal appearances aside, the boy from Santa Maria is still the well-grounded and charismatic do-gooder he was before—happy and passionate to share his music and love of people. He has been granted his

childhood wish to meet the musical legend who helped start his drive towards success. Now every day he lives the dream beyond. These days Joe is in the planning stages of forming a new non-musical group, by combining his talents with other Central Coast activists to reach out a helping hand to those left behind, living on the fringes of a wayward society. Given his record, I think he’ll become a powerful force for change, by setting an example of what can be accomplished by those who care. Joe does not know how to sit still, mentally or physically, so I know we will soon be hearing many more good things from him, both musically and otherwise. To contact Joe Chavira: (805) 363-8733 Motivate200@gmail.com joechaviramusic.com Music: "A TRINI TRILOGY" "TRINI LOPEZ" And "JOE CHAVIRA" Sony Orchard releases Joe’s new album, "JOE CHAVIRANO REASONS," Spring of 2020, World Wide; bobfrankent.com 



(JoeMania: On Fate's Fast Track: continued)


Issue 7 | 2020




Challenge yourself to set your phone to driving mode & use your time to reflect!

BE KIND TO SELF! centralcoastkind.com



& Should Children Volunteer? Generous giving. Is there any other kind?


Judythe Guarnera | j.guarnera@sbcglobal



ears ago, when I lived in Fresno, California, my family attended mass at a mission here on the Central Coast. A missionary who served people in Uganda, preached the sermon. His church would receive the contents of the collection that day. To my surprise, he suggested that we not give out of guilt—guilt because the natives he served were disadvantaged and we were not. He reminded us that we have no control over where we’re born— he called it the accident of birth. Instead, we should give only from the goodness of our hearts. It’s possible to give from a non-generous motive, if, for example, we feel it is our duty to help others, while we bask in our superiority over people who can’t make it on their own. People’s motives for giving vary, but overall, they give—of their time, their money, their empathy, their understanding—because they want to help others who need a boost—generous giving. Since Kind Magazine entered the scene two years ago, the stories within its pages have celebrated the many people and organizations here on the Central Coast of California, who have recognized needs in their community, and have helped meet those needs. At the same time their goal is to provide resources so that individuals can become selfsufficient and in turn, contribute to their community.

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Can children volunteer? I’m intrigued by school programs which require student community service hours as part of graduation requirements. Research has shown that children from families who volunteer their time, are likely to volunteer themselves. But, what about children who don’t have that model to follow? Pediatrician, Ellen Rome, MD, MPH on the Cleveland Clinic website offers answers to questions parents ask about fostering a sense of community in their children. She emphasizes that when children volunteer, this can help them develop a sense of self. Babies/children begin their lives very self-centered, which is part of the built in mechanism for survival. They take for granted most things that are given them. When they volunteer, they go from a passive role of taking to an active role of giving and making positive things happen. Dr. Rome says, “This can enhance youths’ self-esteem, create a sense of purpose, and help them form their own positive views of their personal future. When they see others benefit from their efforts of caring, this helps them establish core beliefs and to cultivate…“a sense of social justice, honesty, integrity, and responsibility.”

Parents often ask at what age children should begin volunteering. The doctor points out that even toddlers can take part. Imagine a small child engaging with older people in a nursing home or community center. Pets and kids are a welcome distraction in homes away from home, where residents are often separated from friends and family. As children grow up, already recognizing how they can make other people smile by visiting or delivering food, or being a candy striper in a hospital, it adds to their sense of self as they take an active role in their communities.

Like a healthy diet, exercise, and good genes, generosity may increase your life span. The positive effects of generosity include improving one’s mental and physical health and promoting longevity. Another study says: We increase [children’s] feelings of happiness and well-being, reduce bullying, and improve their friendships by teaching them to be givers of kindness. Random acts of kindness don’t just benefit the ones you gift, but also help your own mental health. 

If parents volunteer and can take their children along, showing by example is an effective tool to encourage them to find their own activities where they can contribute. A 2003 research study at the University of Michigan provided data which supports the value of generosity:



Santa Maria Valley YMCA RiseUP-

Caring is Catching!


Sometimes life throws our local families a curveball. t can look like a grandparent suddenly faced with raising their grandchildren because their own children cannot.

It can be a single Mom raising two, or more, children in a single room apartment who is struggling to feed her children and pay the rent, unable to even help with homework because of language and educational barriers. It can be a young child home alone after school for hours on end learning how to be part of a gang because they so desperately want to belong somewhere-anywhere. Or it can be a tragic drowning based solely on the fact that little 8 year olds were hot and wanted to cool off in a local reservoir and never learned how to swim.

What’s even more amazing? Individuals and fellow communities are adopting and implementing these programs to address these same issues. Our own board members and community members are privately sponsoring families in need to specifically address every need from lack of furniture and food in the home to a new bike they could never afford. Paying it forward isn’t just about what the Y can do-it’s about what EVERYONE can do. That’s where the magic is. If you need help giving help? Contact us at the Y. SMVYMCA.org, or call Shannon Seifert @ (805) 937-8521. We’ll help you RiseUP. It will change you completely. 

All of these stories are true. The Y is addressing these enormous gaps in our community by providing childcare, YReaders Literacy, RiseUP, and swim lessons.



The Perfect Team The dedication, loyalty and passion of Central Coast KIND comes from the strength, determination and commitment of these three individuals and their willingness and desire to interview, investigate, listen to, write and then they share with all of the Central Coast..

Dennis Young, this man of Kindness! He is direct, specific, focused and fabulous at who he is and what he does! He is honest and has an unlimited amount of energy and even more heart.. He is educated, humorous and enjoyable to spend any amount of time with.. He is also a professional photographer and owns DEY photography. He is my friend! As you can see, I’m very pleased and blessed with his presence in my life.. he is the director! He is the Energy the world needs!


Kim Iribarren

Lili Sinclaire is another handful of perfect love.. she not only writes but also takes numerous hours out of her life to help deliver the magazine.. she too - is educated, dedicated, a speaker, an author, friend and a very loving soul. She has a spirit of peace that you can feel by just standing close to her. She is the Harmony the world needs!


These three are the perfect team for this magazine and I am thrilled to know and work by their side in this journey we have taken to introduce and share neighbors, locals and the love, right here in the Central Coast.. The other major part of our team is the magnificent designer and friend Miss Macy Haffey. She too has a most incredible part.. She is the creation and sharp eye of every issue.. She is an artist, wife, mother and daughter but in my world, well in my world - she helps

Then I continue my happiness and get my chuckles with the teacher, mother, sister and friend, Judy. Now Judy takes ownership of the issue (which I think they all do),but Judy, well, she will say “Job well done!” But also, she doesn’t hesitate to chew me out, and/or line me up, but with all the love and concern in the world for the magazine, community and the-subjects of stories. She keeps me on my toes and trust me, no one wants this job. Judy is a writer, editor and friend of and for Central Coast Kind. She is the Love the world needs!

me breath, she’s kind, she’s caring, she is a my friend! Macy is the Air the world needs!

Thank you all!! I Thank-my God for this team, for this opportunity and for all of you readers who are targeting, sharing and caring!!! Keep your Mind Kind! 

Kim Iribarren Founder

Issue 7 | 2020

Portraiture • Commercial • Photojournalism • Fashion • Travel & Nature ennis has worked in all areas of photography, specializing in travel and adventure photo journalism as well as product and portraiture photography. Dennis’ unique ability to synthesize passion and technical expertise is evident in his varied portfolio of images. Dennis’ photos have appeared in major publications and newspapers, such as GQ, SLO City News, Cosmopolitan. His travel landscapes have appeared in several galleries, including SLO Museum of Art. Some local clients are SLO Symphony, Opera SLO, Children’s Resource Network, SLO Night Writers, Clever Ducks, Endeavour Institute and many other private clients and businesses.

(805) 540-1271 // photodennis44@gmail.com // denniseamonyoungphoto.com //

CALM envisions safe communities where every family is supported and every child thrives.

PREVENTS CHILD ABUSE + HEALS CHILDREN & FAMILIES CALM’s vision is a world where child abuse no longer exists. Until then, our prevention & treatment services help children in our community live healthier and happier lives.

WAYS THAT YOU CAN PARTICIPATE: — DONATE NOW — Visit www.calm4kids.org to make a monetary donation

— SHOP AT AmazonSmile — Support CALM and shop using Amazon Smile! Every sale benefits a child in need.

— VOLUNTEER — CALM volunteers make a vital difference in accomplishing our mission. Whether you serve as a child care giver, help out with special events, or provide administrative support, you are the heart and soul of CALM’s mission.

— ADOPT A FAMILY — Hundreds of families have requested help for the holidays. These families have sought support from CALM and are currently receiving counseling services. CALM will match families based on the interests of our generous donors and provide them sizes and a wish list. Last year many gave toys, books and other gifts, but we also were able to provide essentials like blankets and coats for families who are struggling to simply get by.

— ADOPT A ROOM — Donate an item for a therapy room. Adopt an entire room (full set of games, books, and toys). Donate funds towards outfitting a therapy room.

CALM – Santa Maria 210 E. Enos Dr., Suite A Santa Maria, CA 93454 Ph: 805.614.9160 Fax: 805-614-9363 CALM – Lompoc 604 E. Ocean Ave., Suite G Lompoc, CA 93436 Ph: 805.741.7460 Fax: 805.736.6495

CALM – Santa Barbara 1236 Chapala St. Santa Barbara, CA 93101 Ph: 805.965.2376 Fax: 805.963-6707

For more information, please visit us at www.calm4kids.org

THE WAY OF THE ELDER Life’s an Adventure with Suzanne Hughes


met Susie Hughes and her husband, Bob, in 1984 when I rented a home from them on their ten acres at the top of the mesa in Arroyo Grande. When you first meet Susie, what is so apparent and shines right through is her kindness and warm smile. When the Hughes found out I was pregnant with my second child, Bob, who was a retired wood shop teacher from Arroyo Grande High School, added a master bedroom and bath unto the home we were renting from them. My family lived on the Hughes’s property for three years, and they never raised the rent even though we went from a two bedroom to a lovely three bedroom home. Greed was not a part of the Hughes philosophy of life. Susie and I became friends back then, when I was in my twenties and she was in her fifties. She and Bob were like grandparents to my children. My youngest child referred to both of them as Bobsusie when he first began to talk. It’s been a wonderful friendship with Susie for thirty-five years. Susie was born in Ohio in 1937 but came to California when she was two years old. Her family settled in Manhattan Beach. She graduated from high school in 1954, lived, worked, and loved there until 1973. Those were the golden years of the South Bay, she says.


Lili Sinclaire

When I asked Susie where her favorite places to live have been, she responded, “I’m fortunate to have


Issue 7 | 2020

lived in many beautiful places, and never more than a few miles from the Pacific Ocean.” Interestingly, the names of these places had all begun with the letter ‘M’: Manhattan Beach, Malibu, Maple St. in El Segundo, Monterey, Maui, Maple St. in Arroyo Grande, and on the Mesa. “I have no idea what this means, but they are all Paradise. Today, I miss the Mesa most.” In 1958 Susie entered into marriage with her wonderful husband, Bob. They lived in a little beach cottage that Bob was remodeling. Susie told me, “Bob was a beach lifeguard on Los Angeles County beaches, and I was a Stewardess flying for Western Airlines. We married three months after meeting.” Within a short period of time Bob and Susie’s family grew. Susie said, “Our children, Dina, Gary and Mark were born the first three years Bob and I were together.” She related that the house Bob remodeled was built in 1910. It was the first house of many over the years that, in their spare time, they would remodel, sell and then move on to the next house. “From the beginning there was always the dream of moving to the country to build our own house, live off the land, and raise the children in the way of the country.” When I asked Susie about her education she responded, “Living a life of adventure was my education.” I

know for a fact this is true. I recall back in 1993 when Susie and Bob went on an adventure and moved to the island of Maui. While there, they visited my family on the Big Island of Hawaii. Susie snorkeled in the blue water of the Pacific Ocean like she was one of the colorful fish swimming around her. Here’s what Susie had to say about her career life: “A long career as a legal secretary continued my education, then I earned a Legal Assistant Certificate from UCSB. You might say I am a learning junkie because I have also worked as a hair stylist, real estate salesperson, floral designer, Master Gardner, and copywriter. The most important experience I have ever undertaken is as a wife and mother.” As far as a bucket list Susie says she did not have a list of things she wanted to check off before she died. Instead, she told me, “Staying open to new experiences as life goes on and not being afraid to take them on is my bucket list.” That may be the most impressive bucket list I’ve ever heard of.

pleasure of accomplishments, the pain, and sometimes just getting from one day to the next, would become the treasure trove of memories that sustain her today.

Susie’s newest phase of her life has been writing and learning to draw. She wrote a book about her husband, who was on the Olympic water polo team in 1952 and 1956. She has also written and illustrated two children’s books with a third in the works.

"They are the springboards that inspire and give me confidence to always dream, always hope, and always strive to fill this life with as much living as I possibly can. Reliving the memorable small moments that grace my life and remind me to stay humble—these are the brass rings.”

I asked Susie to share what her books are about. “The first two are about how parents and other adults can help young children identify and express their feelings in early childhood with read-along stories. Encouraging children how to understand their feelings and learning to handle their emotions helps them mature in positive ways, while building a Feelings vocabulary.”

Bob built their beautiful home on the Mesa in Arroyo Grande. He put tiles on the roof that came from the old Fox Theater in Redondo Beach. Susie added a beautiful pond, too.

The third book is about cell phone addiction. Marvin the Cell Phone Monster brings attention to the very real problem of cell phone overuse by young children. These books are for ages 5-9.”

When I asked Susie what she thought her purpose was, she said, “It is to always try to be the best person I can no matter what the situation is. Courage, honesty, and loyalty are the values I live by.” She then added, “I live a much simpler life now than when I was young. Pursuing old and new interests keeps life interesting. Engaging in the good things life offers allows me to stay focused and committed to learning new things. I hope I will always feel this way.”

Besides the childrens’ books Susie is currently enjoying working on her memoir. It may be entitled Escape from the City. “It’s about our family’s move from Southern California to Arroyo Grande, with ten acres of nothing but oak trees and poison oak with three children ages twelve, thirteen and fourteen.” To build their dream house and live the country life was their pioneer story. “As a young family many years ago, our love was new and our dreams big. But our efforts were spent on the business of living, raising a family, and following our dream.” Susie says she doesn’t think she ever gave it a thought along the way that the experiences they lived, the laughter, the

I asked Susie what some of the things are she’s learned in life. “I learned new skills, I found new talents, and shared many “firsts” of new activities. My husband and I followed the power of our convictions. We worked hard and created beauty and appreciation for our accomplishments." “I only wish I would have been able to see at the time that the true value in not just the material comforts, but also in the priceless emotional gifts and strength of the love that bound us together for so many years." “I don’t see him anymore. He died seven years ago after 



(The Way of the Elder: continued)

54 years of marriage. I wish I would have said, “I love you” more often, as I touched his arm, or rubbed his back. I cherish old stories retold or newly told, that squeeze my heart and bring tears to my eyes, yearning for a past never to be lived again.” I asked Susie what the most important things in life are. “You can be rich, have a beautiful house, travel the world, and be the most influential person in your chosen career or relationship. Everything you’ve always wanted. But none of this matters if you don’t have your health. I have always been an active person from an early age.” When she owned a horse, she spent many hours caring, riding, and entering horse shows. Later, the beach, swimming, and taking the children there to play were activities their entire family enjoyed. “Today a daily walk does wonders.” I’m always curious what words of wisdom our wise elders would tell young people if they could. When I asked Susie she responded, “Find what you love to do and get very good at it.” She included education, trades, on-the-job training, whatever will prepare them for life’s challenges; opportunities fulfilled that make them proud. Practice desired skills— over and over and over. “Be honest—do what’s right. Be loyal—love gently. Be courageous—always do your best. Include beauty in your life—art, music, and nature. Most of all, love life and this beautiful world.” You can check out Susie’s books on Amazon: Suzanne M. Hughes 


Issue 7 | 2020

JACARANDA LAND You infiltrate any land to bloom -

Like me

To bloom your five-lipped tubular

Like so many - in many lands.

Bells of purple haze,

But no-one stops you moving

Leaves like ferns,

Where you will

A canopy enshrined to

So your grey-white trunk

Give me peace

With thin woody stems

As I stand underneath

May stand still And call each country Home.

Sarah is a member of Gayle Cuddy’s writing class. Š Sarah Newfeld Green | 15 July 2019 centralcoastkind.com

Justin Gardner | justinwandering.com

You are an immigrant


Jacaranda from South America




Sasin Tipchai

Make a commitment to self to surround your soul with the innocence of a child!


Issue 7 | 2020


MAKE THAT MEMORY! centralcoastkind.com



A prof ile of Mike Campa , Founder of Earth Shine


ike Campa sure knows how to draw a crowd! Sometimes, as many as thirty come out, donning reusable plastic gloves, wielding their “grabbers” and reciting Earth Shine’s theme song, “Pick It Up.” A poet and songwriter at heart, Mike composed the peppy song that sets the tone for an optimistic volunteer workforce. Every clean-up starts with the volunteers singing,” We don’t know how it got there, we don’t know where it’s been, we know it shouldn’t be there, and that’s where we fit in!”


Patricia Gimer

“Leaders can’t help but lead.” Mike says, referring to himself and others who helped him along this path. His “baby,” Earth Shine, was born out of a marriage between Mike’s leadership instincts and his love of clean spaces. As a child growing up in San Miguel, he recalls spending a whole summer cleaning up the vacant lot next door “ just because it felt good to make it look nice.” One of three boys, Mike was the middle child who strived to distinguish himself as someone “of use to others.” Who knew that, at the age of forty, he would be heading up an all-volunteer 501C3 nonprofit that literally devotes its time to shining up our planet?


The idea for Earth Shine began when Mike saw a news article about a Memorial Day Weekend-littered beach. He had already been picking up trash on a Paso Robles trail called the River Walk and knew that more effort was needed in other areas.

At first, people said they would come to help but, on many occasions, he found himself alone. He states he kept remembering the phrase, “Be the Change,” and stuck with his solo clean-up excursions. Afterwards, he posted Facebook photos of the trash bags he had filled and the clean areas he’d left behind. Eventually, people noticed and were inspired to join him. A core group of volunteers evolved. With Earth Shine’s mascot, “Earth Shine Terry,” (Terry is short for terrain) cheering Mike and his team on two hours at a time, Central Coast communities are benefiting from a “many hands make light work” approach. In the early days Mike posted invitations on Craigslist or Facebook. Today, there is a website and calendar, a list of regular volunteers, and new ones joining up all the time. The volunteers show up at various, mostly inland, locations for two hour shifts. They pick up more bits of trash than one can imagine. For example, cigarette butts. Mike says that there are sometimes as many as five hundred cigarette butts at a given location. “Having been a smoker between the ages of seventeen and thirty,” he states, “every cigarette butt I pick up is penance for all the ones I smoked.” At times, he has faced negative reactions to what he’s doing. People ask him why he would want to, why they should want to, what difference does it really make?

During that period, Mike’s involvement in supporting a political campaign was winding down and he was looking for another place to put some positive energy. His first thought was to take trash bags to public events and help prevent litter from occurring in the first place. Then, he thought, “I’ve got some grabbers, I’ve got some bags, all I need now is a few other people to join me.”

“There are some people who will be negative about even the most positive of things,” Mike says, and for this reason he hasn’t been eager to “run it up the flagpole” and seek a lot of attention. But Mike believes that, like most things worth doing, “You have to give it all your effort. It’s like trying to drive up the grade in a clunker—you might have to make a run for it— get some speed up in order to get to the top.”

The name “Earth Shine” came to him one day and Mike started putting out notices seeking volunteers.

I asked him about the top, the most positive aspect of Earth Shine. He didn’t hesitate in his answer.

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“When people leave a clean-up there is a sense of community activation. We worked hard for two hours or less, and it made a huge difference.” Mike appreciates his volunteers and always keeps their well-being in mind. Considering the summer temperatures in the north county, clean-ups in that area are mostly scheduled during the cooler weather of fall and winter. At every event he puts up a canopy, sets up a table with fresh fruit, and provides plenty of water for the volunteers. Most volunteers are repeats and there is now a ‘good friend group’ that turns out for almost every clean-up. School groups and service fraternities also show up, usually only once, but when they do, they provide a lot of good energy for the cause. The Earth Shine Board consists of five members, aged twenty-five to thirty-five. Volunteers are mostly women of retirement age with a few millennials sprinkled in. Of course, everyone is a volunteer, even Mike. “Nobody gets paid,” he says. Earth Shine’s mission statement is “To conduct community clean-up events throughout the central coast to help remove litter from streets, creeks, waterways, and habitats.” On the second Saturday of the month Earth Shine serves areas between Santa Maria and San Miguel. On the third Saturday, they now have a partnership with the City of Paso Robles to maintain the River Walk. This is a win-win arrangement that helps Earth Shine meet basic expenses while benefiting the city budget. Most of the litter Mike finds is passive, (i.e., papers and other debris flying out of the back of open bed trucks), and he says that people aren’t really trying to do any damage. But he also acknowledges ‘active’ littering—cigarette butts, coffee cups, drunk drivers getting rid of evidence, diapers and feminine products in homeless camps where basic services are unavailable. He finds it distressing that there are people needing to live under these conditions and has never taken pictures of any of the more controversial refuse he finds because he doesn’t want to identify a piece of trash with any particular group.

Earth Shine is non-judgmental and apolitical. “We’re not about demonizing anyone, just about cleaning up.” Mike says this work is soul-cleansing, and for him, that is everything. “I think it’s pretty cool that I like picking up trash. As a child, I used to clean the school cafeteria, right in front of the janitors. I liked to wipe down the tables and mop the floor.” Today, wherever he goes, Mike says he is always “scanning for beauty.” He feels “distracted by the trash he sees and is happy that there are other people who feel the same way.” “I’d like to do this full-time one day and take it to other areas.” When Mike Campa is not busy shining up the world for the rest of us, he’s working at his paying job at a furniture rental store in Paso Robles or indulging in his other passion−writing songs, performing music, and enjoying the company of his musically-talented friends. But, get him talking about Earth Shine, and you can’t miss how his eyes light up. 





he North Coast area of San Luis Obispo County is a national treasure for all to enjoy. Greenspace – The Cambria Land Trust’s mission is to protect these wonderful spaces. Ernest Hemingway said, “The Earth is a fine place and worth fighting for.”


Lili Sinclaire

Besides f ighting for and protecting the area, Greenspace’s goal is to enhance the ecological systems, cultural resources and marine habitats that exist here through land acquisition, management, public education, and advocacy.


Greenspace began in 1988 with two men in the building trade who believed in connecting with nature. They wanted to keep the natural beauty of the small community on the North Coast of San Luis Obispo County. Rick Hawley, a carpenter and John Colgan, a contractor had a dream to create a conservation corridor around the beautiful town of Cambria. The organization, with a conservation ethic, has lasted three decades. Within the organization people keep properties and have personal stewardship which creates a greater opportunity to sustain the community. Being in close proximity to green space raises property values. The land trust concept has been part of American conservation efforts since 1891. Land trusts today protect 56 million acres of open space from threats of commercial or residential over-development. Land

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trusts work with landowners to create conservation easements, or receive parcels outright through gifts, bequests and purchases. Conservation easements and land donations provide tax benefits for landowners. In 2018, Greenspace celebrated its 30th anniversary. What began as a local committee in 1988 has grown into an organization with 1,000 active members and scores of environmental achievements. They have acquired and maintained over $2,000,000 in forested areas and land by creeks in the Cambria area, including 17 preserves, pocket parks and natural areas. Greenspace has assisted in many other conservation purchase and easement agreements on SLO County’s North Coast, including the establishment of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve and the Agricultural Land Trust and State of California’s conservation easement on the Hearst Ranch at San Simeon. Over the decades, Greenspace has expanded its conservation goals to include the protection of cultural resources. Greenspace is the protector of the history of the area and joins in strategic partnerships with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and The Archeological Conservancy. A fundamental function of Greenspace is to acquire, restore and protect environmentally important properties that are threatened by overdevelopment or neglect. The scenic Creekside Reserve is located at the heart of Cambria and is home to a Chinese Temple. Because

the temple is part of the cultural history of Cambrian, Greenspace restored the temple for Chinese immigrants who harvested seaweed and abalone for export to China or worked in the mercury mines in the Santa Lucia foothills. The temple now serves as a meeting house. Greenspace owns the land so houses won’t be built on the site. Greenspace has also been instrumental in developing both the Santa Rosa Creek Watershed Management Plan and the Cambria Forest Management Plan. Greenspace actively advocated for the historic California Marine Life Protection Act to establish an ecosystem based network of Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) along the coast of California. The top goal of the act was to protect the natural diversity and abundance of marine life, and the structure, function, and integrity of marine ecosystems. In addition to land acquisition and maintenance, in 2015, Greenspace launched a new environmental education initiative with Santa Lucia Middle School in Cambria, funded by a generous grant from the Harold J. Miossi Charitable Trust. Educational programs are geared toward middle school and high school students to teach them about their world. The program is an effective way parents learn about the areas surroundings because their children are excited about helping to make their world healthy.

from San Luis Obispo County beaches! Globally, more than half a million people cleaned 18,399,900 pounds of trash from 14,997 miles of beaches. Coastal Cleanup is a great way to act locally while thinking globally. Since 2003, Greenspace staff and volunteers have been actively monitoring the water quality and condition of our local creeks. With funding from the Morrissey Family Foundation, they purchased state-of-the-art YSI water monitoring equipment with probes for salinity, oxygenation, ORP, pH, and other factors in order to take basic monthly readings from sites on Santa Rosa and San Simeon Creeks. These readings enable them to determine the basic condition of the creeks and whether conditions are hospitable to steelhead fish and their young fry. Last winter’s rains increased water in the creeks, so that fish could swim in and out. In 2015 the drought dried up entrances to the creek leaving steelhead unable to engage in their reproductive cycle. The female drops the eggs in clean pebbled areas of the creek bed, then the male fertilizes them. The young hatch there and then migrate to the sea.

This field learning program was designed to bring students into our local watershed ecosystems—agriculture, creek, forest or beach—to learn about the way in which vital interconnections support healthy organisms in nature.

Another job of Greenspace is to protect the forests. Sterling Forest is another property in the trust. Maintaining its forest reduces invasive weeds and keeps the area healthy helping it to be more resistant to fire. Another property Greenspace has acquired is Strawberry Canyon. Greenspace worked with 70 neighbors and donors to fund the purchase of the pine and oak wooded area which includes a great hiking loop and is open to the public daily.

Each September, Greenspace volunteers join ECOSLO and groups worldwide to clean up beaches. Last year, they helped clear 6,444 pounds of trash

The town of Cambria sits within a Monterey Pine forest. According to Andrea Wogsland, Executive director of Greenspace, the loss of forested 



(Greenspace - The Cambria Land Trust: continued)

for lots of creatures, ranging from woodpecker and monarch butterflies to a variety of mammals. It’s important to keep the trees and forest healthy for the plants and animals which rely on its ecosystem. Greenspace is about developing a culture where people who live here, on their own land, can help to protect it. They can also donate that land to a land trust. The land is donated by individuals, but greenspace also raises money from both federal and state agencies. Greenspace depends on private donations and memberships, for most of its work. Invited speakers during the year attract donations. Grants fund special projects, such as the Environmental Education Field Program. The organization’s major fundraiser is the annual Art & Adventure Auction each July. These events not only raise money, but also connect people to the natural world with artistic objects that are donated by local artists. Among some of the auctioned items were: paintings, jewelry, gift certificates to restaurants, and overnight stays, even cruises have been auctioned in the past. The public was invited to share a lovely dinner and have fun at the auction, and maybe take home a wonderful treasure. Some of the art pieces auctioned reflect the land that Greenspace preserves. John Muir said, “Keep close to nature . . . and wash your spirit clean.” Greenspace has a nature club that meets once a month on the third Sunday so people can do just that. Sue Davis has a degree in early childhood education, and she guides individuals as well as families to numerous sites. This is a fun family event or something that adults would enjoy who like to get out in nature. Some of the places Sue has taken people in the past are Moonstone Beach, Creekside Reserve, and San Simeon pier.

areas is due to development and to the California draught. Andrea says one of the goals of Greenspace is to help maintain our forest areas by planting trees. She said, “Our coast is only one of five places that grow Monterey Pine. People come here to see the pines and the beauty of the area.” As part of Greenspace’s 3,000 Tree Initiative, families in the community of Cambria are raising nearly 4,000 Monterey Pine trees from seed, which will be planted in November at state park land north of San Simeon Creek Campground and other places in order to extend the forest. Restoring these sites with Monterey Pine plantings creates neo-native stands. The forest is habitat


Issue 7 | 2020

Christine Heinrichs is the vice president of the board. She says the board consists of thirteen members, and each volunteers their time because they are passionate about keeping the beauty of Cambria alive. Many years ago, Leo Tolstoy said, “One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be broken.” Thankfully, the kind workers at Greenspace are maintaining that link, so we can all connect with and enjoy the beauty of this wonderful area. For more information on the Nature Club, contact natureclub@greenspacecambria.org or go to www.greenspacecambria.org to learn more about Greenspace. 

Help us build strong. operationwebs.org

welcome home women veterans



Issue 7 | 2020

Years ago; I survived being electrocuted with 12,000 volts. The voltage went through me 3 times for 30 seconds each time. Then I was burned alive while dangling from a power pole until rescued.

Now I use that recovery to help others across America after disaster and tragedy.

daniel@goldenmissionsofamerica.com | www.goldenmissionsofamerica.wordpress.com |

golden missions of america



ng Services Non-Profit 501 C-3 Providi urological

ve Ne The mission of Alternati lp provide lifehe to is ) NS Solutions (A urology treatment for changing functional ne y not afford the care the those patients who can . SD PT h wit s vet wounded need, particularly our

donate dollars that make good sense!

our local vets w/ neurological disorders suffer w/o treatment What are some examples of neurological disorders? Examples include seizures, memory issues and other dementias, cerebrovascular disease including stroke, migraine and other headaches, tremors, anxiety, anger issues and other disorders of the nervous system due to trauma.

every donation helps! Mail checks to: 2441 Professional Parkway | Santa Maria, CA 93455 Pay with credit card at: www.alternativeneurologicalsolutions.com * Cash donations accepted in person at office *

2441 Professional Parkway | Santa Maria • (805) 934-5703 • wayne@weadju.com


A Veteran's Gratitude, "I Can Live My Life Again!" Where do I began? How do I begin? How can I even put into words the gratitude that I feel for how you have helped me? I feel as if I owe you an explanation of how I became a recipient of your gift! I am a Former United States Marine and I served in the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines “Americas Battalion” from 2009 thru 2013 during which I was forward deployed throughout the southern border of Afghanistan known as Helmand province. During these deployments I served as a light machine gunner and Squad Leader in 2nd platoon 2nd squad Kilo Company While patrolling on foot to one of our other outposts I triggered a small explosive in the road which led to me being injured. Although the physical injuries healed quickly, I was less prepared for what lay ahead. I wasn’t ready for a longer lasting neurological disorder that accompanied my physical injuries. These issues included PTSD, Headaches, Dizziness, Vertigo, Anxiety and Depression! When I first separated from the military there was a lot of distrust with the VA health care system and it caused Vets like myself to avoid the system at all cost. For years my issues went untreated

and the pain most days became unbearable, until I met Dr. Wayne Miller! I‘ll be completely honest, at first, I was skeptical. I had never heard of this treatment but the more research I did and the more people I consulted with, the more I started trusting Dr. Miller. I have been working with Dr. Miller now for a few months and I cannot begin to tell you how much better my life is. How much less pain I have throughout the weeks after seeing Dr. Miller. I can live my life again. If words alone could ever express the gratitude that I feel for the generosity that you have shown, I hope I have shown them thru this letter. Thank you for giving me a better quality of life! As a Marine, we live by a set of ethics, the lifeblood of the corps, every Marine knows them as Honor, Courage, and Commitment! Thank you for honoring veterans with this gift! Thank you for having the courage to give back such generosity! Thank you for your Commitment to Veterans in your community! From the bottom of my heart, I thank you!  centralcoastkind.com



The Fork in the Path, Nine Mindful Choices to Well-Being, is different than any other book on wellbeing. Not only is The Fork in the Path beautifully designed, it’s also condensed into easy to understand steps about being mindful of your choices. “Lili has done a wonderful job with this beautiful book. She explains clearly how to become aware of the choices we make in order to change our lives.” Frank Ricceri, Division Director Transitions-Mental Health Association

The Fork Trail Guide, is a follow-up book to The Fork in the Path, Nine Mindful Choices to Well-Being. This workbook goes into greater detail about how to take control of your life so you can create the life you want to live. Each chapter has charts and exercises to bring clarity, motivation and change.

The Bridge, is a coming of age story. On New Year’s Eve 1960 Acacia and her friend Dwight want to find out why a light is shining in the deserted migrant camp where a girl’s body was found three years before. The teens cross the bridge that night. Soon they discover someone is spying on them. The Bridge deals with social, political, and religious themes related to injustice, intolerance, and acceptance.

Lili Sinclaire, a local author, has published three books. For over 20 years, Lili’s researched well-being; she’s also studied communication and conflict resolution with three non-profits. She’s attended and presented workshops, as well as facilitated support groups. She’s worked as a parent coach for SLO Parent Connection, and as a crisis phone counselor for Stand Strong, previously The Women’s Shelter of SLO. “Lili’s natural approach to healing is a lovely path that allows one to navigate their trials and tribulations through introspection, bringing them to a place of truth.” – Shannon Aguirre, Marriage and Family Therapist To order books go to: www.LiliSinclaire.com

Meet the Author Program at Grover Beach Community Library


he only thing better than a good book is discovering the story behind the book. This thinking inspired the new Meet the Author Program at Grover Beach Community Library, an independent, all-volunteer library.

Each month, a local Central Coast Author visits the library to read from her/his works, sign books, and answer questions from community members. While enjoying wine and refreshments, readers and authors have a chance to interact and celebrate the craft of writing. Library board member and the program’s founder Megan Barnhard say, “We’re a small library, and we wanted to take advantage of that—to create an intimate experience where people could really connect. We’re thrilled about the response so far—both from the attendees and from the authors themselves.”

Anderson related that she enjoyed the event as much as her audience did. “Writing is a solitary process… it’s fun to make the art more social!” The library hosted fantasy author, Jenna Elizabeth Johnson on July 24th, nonfiction author and novelist Lili Sinclaire on August 28, and mystery author Tony Piazza on October 16th.

Grover Beach Community Library is located at 240 N. Ninth St. in Grover Beach, next to Ramona Park. For more information about Meet the Author events, visit our website at groverbeachlibrary.org and follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/GroverBeachLibrary. 


Judythe Guarnera

All events take place from 5 to 7 pm at the library. Are you a Central Coast author, or do you know one who would be a good fit for this event? Please contact T Wilson at info@groverbeachlibrary.org for more information about being a featured local author.


In June, local suspense author, Rolynn Anderson, captivated attendees with her rich travel stories and her adventures in writing. She was inspired to craft an entire mystery after glimpsing the face of a stranger on a train.



Issue 7 | 2020


Choose your words carefully! You don't have to give an opinion on everything, and you don't have to agree with everyone. You can accept and admire anyone just as they are! Unconditionally, respectfully and peacefully!

BE BRIGHT! centralcoastkind.com



(for Lauren and Grant)

Be generous, be kind, Mama says

Today, while cleaning

When big brother holds the bag of cookies out of reach. Be generous, be kind, Mama says

under the refrigerator, reaping only a few dust bunnies,

When they pass the church collection plate.

runaway pieces of popcorn,

Be generous, be kind, Mama says

When I refuse to forgive my best friend’s lies. Be generous, be kind, Mama says When a man pushes in front of us in line.

and a dog treat,

I remembered more fruitful times

of Cheerios, pacifiers,

Matchbox cars, tiny plastic soldiers,

and pink barrettes Be generous, be kind, Mama says Even when it’s hard.

and wept−

not because I was sad

But, Mama, why should I be generous?

but because of gladness−

When someone hurts me

that in my pulsating,

Or disappoints me?

tilt-a-whirl ride on this planet,

Be generous, be kind, Mama says, Because it takes nothing from you, While giving something to someone else. Be generous, be kind, Mama says, Because it’s the right thing to do And you’ll feel it in your heart. POEM SUBMITTED BY

Judythe Guarnera j.guarnera@sbcglobal.net

of all the choices

I made, or might have before it was too late, I chose you−

chose to embrace

these messes! these blessings! these lessons!

in what it means to be human− swept up in the residue

love leaves



Patricia Gimer


Issue 7 | 2020

A SECRET TO LIVING There is a secret to living;


it found me by grace.

try to be kind

I yearn to throw open

play like a child,

the doors and sing to all this key piece of sacred lucidity. Aspire to act solely from love; let kindness and compassion be the arrow lanced out into the world. Then living becomes a harmonious rhapsody, joy and happiness follow, the secret path to serenity. POEM SUBMITTED BY

Carolyn Chilton Casas ceccasas@aol.com

and open, smile and laugh a lot, contemplate the forest, breathe in the scent of the sea, be aware of love in its many forms, welcome suggestions from beyond, gently release your fears and the desire to control the ebb and f low, feel life in its totality, accept all paths travelled, forgive hurts held onto, allow your energy to uplift, be thankful for blessings received,

A GROWING UNDERSTANDING A growing understanding of the impossibility of permanence urges me to give at any chance.

remember the remarkable being and body of light that you are. POEM SUBMITTED BY

Carolyn Chilton Casas ceccasas@aol.com


Carolyn Chilton Casas ceccasas@aol.com



SHANTI (peace)

It’s the silence between the notes

GENEROSITY Make generosity a daily practice; commit to be of service, a habit tenderly sculpted with time. There are many ways to contribute;

The gaps in the conversation

Waiting for us all to be equal and free.

The soft swish of the owl’s wings across the night

The choice is made in this precious moment

The tenderness of a mother rocking her child to sleep

The responsibility lies within you and I…

find the ones that call to you, life conditions that pull on your heart.

Breaking apart the dark night

money, knowledge and wisdom. Mentor, volunteer, encourage, compliment, show up, inspire. Walk through your day aware of other’s needs; what can you do to lessen their pain and angst? A seldom-understood secret – if you are generous you will receive much more

It’s the first cry of a newborn refugee baby

Each time we turn away from the harsh word Or turn off the hate rhetoric Or hold back our anger Finding compassion instead.

Crying out to humanity for understanding.

How will we live? Make this moment count… Choose peace.

It’s the single rainbow tear Running down the cheek of Kwan Yin Goddess of compassion and mercy


As she grieves for us all.

Mary Silberstein


(A prayer for loving kindness)

than you give away.

Give me that Metta energy


I’ll lay some on you, Dear One.

Carolyn Chilton Casas ceccasas@aol.com

I might not give it to you before coffee

Even if you don’t feel it

Or when I am crabby or discouraged

But sometimes…

When I’m sitting in a quiet place Of balance

My head clear, my heart open… I send you Metta

Issue 7 | 2020

The choice to NOT engage.

Born into this world without a country…

Or when I’m sick.


For change

It’s the bright red berry of hope buried in the frozen snow

The stillness of dawn casting its pink hues across a violet sky

Offer freely your time, possessions,

It’s the empty cup of my heart waiting…waiting

I send it to all of this earth, its’ people and animals

And I send special good wishes to you, my Beloved Friend May you be well

May you be happy

May you be at peace This is my unceasing prayer for you. POEM SUBMITTED BY

Mary Silberstein

FORGIVENESS Forgiveness for us can say a lot We can choose to do it or choose to not We can look at others and say what we feel Or we can say the words that will truly heal.

Kindness may follow forgiveness in our book All you need to do is take a look

When forgiveness is the words that we can say

Kindness and forgiveness go hand and hand

Makes many of our problems go away

All you need to do is to make a plan.

It turns one’s world all around Maybe a little happiness is what we found.

An Act of Kindness follows below What you see that’s written, you should know…

Forgiveness toward others should be our goal Gives peace and tranquility to the heart and soul


Forgiveness can turn tears to a wonderful smile

Chris Strasser

Can bring a different outlook and a brand new style.

ACT OF KINDNESS An Act of Kindness is such a good deed

An Act of Kindness shows so us so much

We start with ourselves by planting the seed

It’s a way for us to keep in touch

It doesn’t have to be big but something small

Sometimes we let our lives go by

Can be done in the spring, summer or fall.

Without a kind word or a simple hi.

An Act of Kindness shows others we care

An Act of Kindness shows you and me

And may lighten one’s burdens that they may bare

How truly wonderful people can be

It may be a call that is long overdue

So do that gesture or take the lead

Or a great conversation made for two.

By planting in other the kindness seed. POEM SUBMITTED BY

Chris Strasser



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The San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden Presents:

Wildflower and Botanical Adventure with botany professors, Matt Ritter and Jenn Yost

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA – California is home to more than 5,000 native plant species, and more than one-third of which occur nowhere else in the world! Take a botanical adventure to visit beautiful and endemic plants with two of California’s most celebrated botany professors on Saturday March 28 from 8AM to 5PM. Join Cal Poly’s Matt Ritter and Jenn Yost in the height of wildf lower season for a wildf lower tour on a private ranch in eastern San Luis Obispo County. Matt and Jenn will pick you up in San Luis Obispo at 8AM, provide all the transportation, botanical wit, and a delicious picnic lunch. This amazing opportunity is a fundraiser for the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden is open to only 8 lucky people. The cost is $200 for Garden members. This adventure is limited to 8 participants, register now to reserve your spot! To register online visit slobg.org, or call 805.541.1400x304.

Matt Ritter, Ph.D. is a professor in the Biology Department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. As a scientific author, his publications foster a sense of appreciation for California’s unique flora. A Californian’s Guide to the Trees Among Us and California Plants: A Guide to our Iconic Flora, are two such examples. As a college professor, he helps young people cultivate their curiosity and learn more about the organisms in our world. Jenn Yost, Ph.D. is the Director of the Robert F. Hoover Herbarium and Associate Biology Professor at Cal Poly. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Cal Poly, and her Ph.D. at UC Santa Cruz. Jenn co-teaches field botany and her research interests include plant evolution and adaptation. Her teaching style emphasizes the cultivation of curiosity and is filled with fun botanical wit. She is the second Vice President of the California Botany Society.

About San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden

San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden is celebrating its 30th year of sowing seeds and growing together. The Garden is located at 3450 Dairy Creek Rd. It is spread out on 150 acres in El Chorro Regional Park off Highway 1 between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo. When the master plan is complete, the Garden will be the only garden of its kind in the United States exclusively devoted to the ecosystems and plants of the five Mediterranean climate regions of the world. Through its programs and facilities, the Garden fosters an appreciation and understanding of the relationship between people and nature and encourages a sense of stewardship for the natural environment. To learn more visit slobg.org, or the SLO Botanical Garden Facebook page. 




good deed For what do we really know about how luck and misfortune are distributed? — KA R L OV E K N AU S G AA R D



Joe Amaral

orking the ambulance, we don’t have much sympathy for transients. We are jaded by alcoholics and tweakers at the height of their drunken-high stupors. But they all have stories about how they got here. It could be disease (which addiction is), abuse, PTSD, mental issues or good old-fashioned bad luck and life hardship. Who are we to judge? Unknowing of the gory details that put a person into this fated place.


My partner and I were called on a man named Ralph. Ralph had an infected foot, dully red, crusty, and not an emergency whatsoever. Ralph needed more antibiotic cream and bandaging. It was such a basic first aid call that I immediately snapped on him as he limped up to the ambulance with very mild pain and discomfort. He was older for a homeless man, not a drunk. Kind-faced even, despite the grizzle. He immediately apologized, and said he tried to hail a taxi but the gas station clerk said one would not pick him up so they dialed 9-1-1.

Issue 7 | 2020

I can be blunt, direct and harsh with patients in these situations. I’m especially mean in the middle of the night when they treat paramedics like underlings and demand things with their trite complaints. Ralph was not like this. He was contrite. He told me his story. I softened and tapped away at my paperwork tablet while we basically gave him a free ride to the hospital. Ralph collects his social security the first of the month, eats at soup kitchens and stays at Motel 6 or shelters. The f inal week he sleeps behind a restaurant dumpster when his cash runs out. Let’s just say he’s had a hard life. We take him straight to the triage lobby. Spoiler Alert: calling 9-1-1 does not mean you get to waltz right into a bed in the ER for evaluation. There is no cutting ahead in line if your complaint is valid. Ralph checks his pockets and panics. He cannot find his ID. It probably fell out his loose sweat pants. He thinks it’s at his dumpster spot behind Garland’s Burgers. He collapses, starts bawling about how he cannot collect his monthly money at the Social Security Office without it. I tell him to use the phone and call the restaurant to see if they can find it. The dude is a hot mess now. I shrug and pass my report

to the nurse and walk out the door. We get into the ambulance and I look at my partner. All right, I sigh, like this is a big effort. Let’s not clear this call real quick and go look for this guy’s license. We drive to the burger joint, put on gloves, and search around the back lot. There are stains best left to the imagination. Bits of trash, crumpled dollars and water bottles filled with f luid both clear and yellow. My partner scrunches her face and two-f inger pinches a stinky sleeping bag, shakes it, and out falls Ralph’s billfold with the missing, magical ID. We found it! I didn’t feel like a hero, just someone who had the opportunity to do the right thing and help someone in need. In fact, it was probably the nicest thing I have ever done for a homeless person in seventeen years on the job. But improving every year counts right? We took it back to the ER. The nurses clapped. Seeing Ralph go from doomsday to deliriously happy to have his ID felt like a pretty good deed. It was one way to give thanks—no matter the day. 

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