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NOVEMBER 2021 • MORROBAYLIFENEWS.COM

S e r v i n g t h e C o m m u n i t i e s o f M o r r o B ay a n d C ay u c o s

INSIDE THIS ISSUE:

CONSTRUCTION OF NEW MOTELS

STARTED ON 8-ROOM BOUTIQUE MOTEL PAGE 6

MIGHTY OAKS WARRIOR

PROGRAM SERVES VETS WITH PTSD PAGE 11

PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID PERMIT NO. 19 PASO ROBLES, CA

URBAN WATER MANAGEMENT PLAN PAGE 4

******ECRWSSEDDM****** POSTAL CUSTOMER MORRO BAY, CA 93442

MORRO BAY APPROVES


2 • November 2021 • Morro Bay Life

Making Communities Better Through Print™

Publishers

Hayley & Nicholas Mattson hayley@13starsmedia.com

ASSISTANT EDITOR Melissa Guerra

LAYOUT DESIGN EDITOR Mike Michaud

Community Writer Camille DeVaul Melissa Guerra

AD DESIGN

Jen Rodman

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched—they must be felt with the heart.

Ad Consultant Dana McGraw Jessica Segal

Administrator

Cami Martin office@13starsmedia.com

CONTRIBUTORS Bonnie Plants James Brescia, Ed.D Neil Farrell Sarah Santana Valentina Petrova Contact Us 805.466.2585

Visit our website! morrobaylifenews.com morro bay life is published monthly. all rights reserved , material may not be reprinted without written consent from the publisher . morro bay life made every effort to maintain the accuracy of information presented in this publication , but assumes no responsibility for errors , changes or omissions . morro bay life is a product of 13 stars media .

~ Hellen Keller

A

s we look back over the last 20 months, as hard as it has been, there is so much to be grateful for. Many lessons may have been missed had it not been for the pandemic stopping us in our tracks and the universe asking us to take a moment and pause. A focus on good health is essential in our lives; daily exercise, organic foods, water, and meditation heal the soul and spirit, allowing us to hear the needs within. Living on the Central Coast, we have no shortage of places we can go to rejuvenate, with long walks on the beach and multiple hiking and biking trails. This time of year, we take time to reflect on all we have to be grateful for. In November, we honor the sacrifice of so many local men and women who have served our country. We extend a deep appreciation to all Veterans for

A reverse mortgage loan could help you live more comfortably. Reverse mortgage loans may not be for everyone, but they are better than ever—with reduced origination costs and restructured principle limits designed to preserve more of your equity for the future. If you’ve considered reverse mortgages in the past, you owe it to yourself to speak to an experienced professional to see if this innovative, updated financial product is now a good fit for your circumstances.

their service and are so grateful for their dedicated commitment to fighting for our freedom. This month Neil Ferrell gives us an update on the new motels that have broken ground. The 30th Annual Cayucos Car Show is set for Nov. 6, and Camille DeVaul tells the heartwarming story of the Mighty Oaks Warrior Program. As 2021 comes to an end, we are deeply grateful for all the local businesses who continue to advertise, as well as all our community members who read and share our publications. Be sure to tell these locally owned businesses that you saw them in Morro Bay Life and thank them for bringing you all the community’s stories. Our company is growing, and for that, we are truly grateful. This month we added a new local publication to our media family, the Central Coast Journal. Tom and Julie Meinhold stew-

arded the iconic magazine for years, and we are honored to carry on the over 25-year-old legacy. We could not do any of this without our incredible team of professionals and are looking forward to what comes next. From all of us here at 13 Stars Media, we wish you a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Please stay safe, share love, and be a good human. We hope you enjoy this month’s issue of Morro Bay Life. Much love, Hayley & N ic

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Morro Bay Life • November 2021 • 3

Making Communities Better Through Print™

congratulations Putting a Spotlight on Businesses The Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce is putting a spotlight on local businesses who are working hard and adapting to the ever-changing environment. Spotlight Businesses are nominated and selected by fellow business owners in Morro Bay as a standout business with exceptional ownership.

If you know of a business or non-profit that deserves a spotlight, please send your nomination to our Ambassador’s Committee for review by emailing Lynsey Hansen at lynsey@morrochamber.org.

Business spotlights recognize Chamber member businesses that provide a consistent, positive customer experience, are actively engaged in the community and demonstrate resilience during challenging times. This month we’re highlighting four businesses that have proven to be good role models for how to keep employees and customers safe during the pandemic, and have gone to extraordinary measures to keep their doors open.

Please help us CONGRATULATE these businesses on their spotlight award by visiting their establishments, purchasing their products or services, and leaving good reviews online.

Shop Local, Shop Small Business Everyday!

happy holiday shopping

With the shopping season fast approaching, the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce has YOU covered. Follow us for the most comprehensive shopping list around. We have ideas for everyone on your list whether it’s the special someone in your life, your wine and art lovers, and everyone in between. Follow us on social media now until the end of December. We are thinking outside the box and finding the best places to shop for all. Don’t forget to shop fresh by shopping local this Thanksgiving. Morro Bay has a plethora of delicious options like Morro Bay Butcher and Deli, Avocado Shack and Sunshine Health Foods. Mash two potatoes with one fork; stop by the Main Street Farmers Market to see local vendors and start your holiday shopping!

Happy ! Thanksgiving

Follow us for the best gift ideas and local shopping lists, October through December. And this year we’ve been thinking outside the box. We have ideas for everyone! Whether it is adventure, antiques, environmentally friendly and everything in between we have you covered. Find your shopping ideas by following us on Facebook, Instagram or our website morrochamber.org/shop-local-everyday. For more information contact Lynsey Hansen, Membership Director at lynsey@morrochamber.org


4 • November 2021 • Morro Bay Life

Making Communities Better Through Print™

CITY

City Approves Urban Water Management Plan Morro Bay remains under severely restricted water supply conditions STAFF REPORT MORRO BAY — The City of Morro Bay City Council approved the 2020 Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP) during their regular meeting on Tuesday, October 12. The UWMP conducts longterm resource planning and establishes water management measures to ensure adequate water supplies are available to meet existing and future demands. The UWMP includes an analysis of a five consecutive dry years event based on

supply/demand modeling and references anticipated recycled water (labeled as IPR in the chart below) from the Water Reclamation Facility, still under construction, as a source of supply. The results indicate the City can meet future water demands in such a scenario. Despite this positive projection, the City reminds residents and businesses of the importance of water conservation as the State enters its third consecutive drought year. Continued water conservation efforts will help to ensure adequate water supply is available should the current drought continue to reduce the State’s collective water supply. The City remains under Severely Restricted Water

DONATION

Friends of Morro Bay Harbor Raise $100k For Patrol Boat The Morro Bay Harbor Department (MBHD) received a donation of $100,000 to assist with retrofitting a recently purchased harbor patrol boat. Contributed Photo

The retrofitted vessel will be used by the Morro Bay Harbor Department to offer a wide variety of services unique to the area STAFF REPORT MORRO BAY — On Oct. 7, the Morro Bay Harbor Department (MBHD) received a donation of $100,000 to assist with retrofitting a recently purchased harbor patrol boat. The funds were raised by the Friends of the Morro Bay Harbor Department, a non-profit community group established to help improve the Harbor services in Morro Bay. In an effort to modernize its fleet, the Harbor Department purchased a lightly used boat from Port San Luis with the help of an $85,000 grant awarded by the California Department of Boating and Waterways. However, more funds were needed to undergo significant rebuilding in order to provide the unique services the Morro Bay Harbor requires. As a result, the Friends of the MBHD launched the fundraising efforts in September of last year. They successfully reached their goal one year later, with 80 percent of the funds raised as individual contributions and 20 percent as a matching grant from Castle Wind. The vessel is expected to be harbor-ready by April 2022. “Working alongside the Harbor Department on this

fundraising effort has been a true privilege. I have tremendous respect for the hard work they do on a daily basis, and being able to support them with a $100,000 donation toward retrofitting a patrol boat is an incredible honor,” said Bill Luffee, President of the non-profit organization. “That said, I’m really just a facilitator. The real credit goes to our friends and community, to those who purchased art through our fundraisers, participated in our wine auction, and donated money specifically for this cause.” The Morro Bay Harbor Department offers a wide variety of services, including watercraft rescue, fire fighting, wildlife rescue, emergency medical aid, pollution cleanup, equipment transport, mooring repair, hazardous material handling, and code enforcement. MBHD’s jurisdiction consists of some of California’s most notoriously rough waters, with 150 days per year of small craft advisory conditions and an average of 30 days per year of hazardous harbor entrance conditions. With an average of 1.1 million visitors each year, Morro Bay sees a high volume of inexperienced recreational users in the bay and ocean. The Friends of Morro Bay Harbor Department’s mission is to help improve the Harbor services in Morro Bay. As a non-profit, the organization relies on donations from people who want to make a difference and preserve the beautiful Morro Bay Harbor. Learn more by visiting friendsofthembhd.org.

Supply Conditions, its third tier of water conservation restrictions since July 8, 2021. The water prohibitions include: • No use of water to clean driveways, patios, parking lots, sidewalks, and streets • No outdoor irrigation between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. • No irrigation on landscaping, turf areas, and gardens except on Wednesdays and Sundays for even-numbered addresses and Tuesdays and Saturdays on odd-numbered addresses • No use of potable water for compaction or dust control purposes in construction activities • No use of freshwater without spring-loaded shutoff nozzles or similar controlling

devices to wash down boats, docks, or other incidental activities Any resident or business with questions about these water conservation restrictions can contact Gregory Kwolek, Public Works Director by email at gkwolek@morrobayca. gov. We appreciate our water customers’ assistance and support of water conservation efforts. The City’s new Water Reclamation Facility (WRF), once fully online, is planned to supplement the City’s main water supplies through Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR) as needed. These supplies include State water and water from the Morro Valley extraction wells. IPR is a water source devel-

oped from injecting purified water into the Morro Creek groundwater for extraction during drought periods in accordance with State regulations to protect public health

and safety. The City plans to have operability of the WRF and IPR infrastructure by late 2023. The UWMP is available at morrobayca.gov/2020UWMP.

NON-PROFIT

19th Annual Women’s Legacy Fund Luncheon Awards $60,000 to Local Non-Profits Over 350 attendees gathered as keynote speakers addressed the catalysts of philanthropy STAFF REPORT SAN LUIS OBISPO — On Tuesday, September 28, The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County’s (CFSLOCO) Women’s Legacy Fund (WLF) hosted their 19th annual luncheon, awarding five local non-profits $60,000 in grants that directly impact women and girls in the county. WLF addresses many issues that this demographic faces and supports non-profits providing essential programs to empower girls across our communities. Bob Wacker, Chairman, and CIO of Wacker Wealth Partners, one of the luncheon sponsors, shared the impact of local organizations that support women and girls. “Honor [the women in your life] by helping the Women’s Legacy Fund create more strong women who can thrive themselves and be the inspiration and guiding light for others in their life,” Wacker urged attendees. “Be a role model and inspiration yourself—be a mentor through your actions and words. We all— women and fellas—have a responsibility to be a part of illuminating the way a bit for those who aren’t as blessed by circumstance as we are.” Over the years, the WLF has granted more than $500,000 to local non-profits that support women and girls. This year, grants have been awarded to the following organizations:

• $20,000 to Jack’s Helping Hand Assistance Program to provide financial assistance and support for single mothers challenged with the responsibility of caring for a child with special needs independently. • $15,000 to Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo’s (CAPSLO) Cultivating Awareness, Living Mindfully (CALM) Teen Wellness project to help young women overcome adversity, heal trauma, and build resilience. • $10,000 to RISE San Luis Obispo County to provide no-cost individual and group therapy in both English and Spanish to women and girls directly and indirectly impacted by intimate partner violence and sexual assault. • $10,000 to People’s Self-Help Housing’s CELEBRE (College Enrollment for Latinas Entering Bright Rewarding Educations) Program to coordinate with students, family, and program staff in support of participants’ academic progress and to match students with mentors who work one-on-one, providing support needed by firstgeneration Latina college enrollees. • $5,000 to Friends of Camp Natoma to provide a rustic, overnight experience for youth to connect with the natural world, engage in intentional communitybuilding activities, and interact with positive adult mentors. The event’s highlight featured an inspiring keynote speech by Jessie Kornberg, President, and CEO of The Skirball Cultural Center. Kornberg is a longtime anti-poverty, prison reform, and civil

EVENT

rights advocate with over two decades of civil rights work for organizations such as the NAACP and NOW, and founder of Ms. JD, an online community dedicated to supporting and advancing the careers of women in the legal profession. Today, leading one of the world’s most dynamic Jewish institutions, the Skirball Cultural Center, Kornberg is able to address several key issues that directly align with the mission of the Women’s Legacy Fund: to be a catalyst for philanthropy that improves the lives of women and girls in San Luis Obispo County. Kornberg encouraged the audience to stand behind what they believe is right, and strive for equality in all aspects of life. Beginning with an opportunity for attendees to engage with this year’s grant recipient organizations during a Grantee Fair, the luncheon program was emceed by WLF Advisory Committee members Betsy Umhofer and Missy Reitner Cameron. In their opening remarks, they noted that the luncheon’s efforts towards sustainability, with all disposable containers being compostable and event flowers repurposed from a recent local wedding. Jeff Buckingham, Chair of the Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County Board of Directors, graciously thanked attendees on behalf of the foundation, and Janet Wallace, WLF Advisory Committee Member touched on the WLF Young 100 program and warmly introduced the keynote speaker. For more information on the above non-profits or about the Women’s Legacy Fund, please contact The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County.

30th Annual Cayucos Car Show Accepting Sign-Ups November 6th, come rain or shine, the show will go on STAFF REPORT CAYUCOS — The Cayucos annual car show will be held on Saturday, November 6, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Check-in time is at 7:30 a.m. The participant entry fee of $ 100.00 includes, Dash plaque, 2021 Car Show tee-shirt, BBQ Lunch for Two, and Friday

night check-in reception. Only the first 290 cars will be accepted, so sign up early. For more information, call (805) 995-3809 Download the application online at cayucoschamber.com/s/30th-Annual-CayucosCar-Show-Application.doc A panel of local automotive technicians will judge the Top Trophies. Supporters that honor and appreciate your participation donate merchant Awards. The show is subject to state and local requirements.


Morro Bay Life • November 2021 • 5

Making Communities Better Through Print™

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6 • November 2021 • Morro Bay Life

Making Communities Better Through Print™

RELIEF

CONSTRUCTION

Construction of New Motels Underway Earth moving and grading work was started several weeks ago on an 8-room boutique motel By NEIL FARRELL for Morro Bay Life MORRO BAY — Work recently began on two new motels in Morro Bay, one that will be among the largest and the other among the smallest in town. Earth moving and grading work was started several weeks ago on an 8-room boutique motel at 2790 Main St., at the corner of San Joaquin Street. That site, next door to the El Viejon Mexican Restaurant, used to have a small commercial building built in the early 1960s that was for many years a hair salon. Most recently, it was the brief home to The Avocado Shack produce stand, which moved last year to a much larger building several blocks south on North Main, after the motel project was approved by the City. The owners are Tim and Allyson Cleath, with Chris Parker of CP Parker Architecture designing the project. The contractor is DC Edwards Const., of San Luis Obispo. After some weeks doing the necessary grading and compaction work on the 9,103 ft2 property, footings have been dug for the foundation expected to be poured soon (depending on the weather). The project involves an “L” shaped, 2-story, 4,996 square foot building. The entrance is slated to be on Alder Street, a block up from Main. The front of the motel will be on San Joaquin. The building as designed is below the 25-foot height limit in Morro Bay’s codes and will have 2,612 ft2 on the bottom floor and 2,384 ft2 on the second floor. The project calls for nine parking spaces and one handicapped space to go with a proposed handicapped accessible first-floor room. And in what is becoming a normal feature, two spaces are slated to have electric vehicle charging stations. Though not a requirement, the trend of late is to include them for the guests driving an electric vehicle. The project will make frontage improvements to include sidewalk replacement along Main Street and San Joaquin to meet the requirements for curb ramps, new sidewalks along Alder Avenue, as well as a new curb cut and driveway. They will also plant some street trees.

The project pretty much sailed through the planning/building process, as there wasn’t much to be concerned about with regards to needing exceptions and variances, which local residents often protest. The project was approved in April 2020. The project even proposed fewer rooms than would be allowed, given the overall size of the lot. In City ordinances, motel rooms require 750 ft2 of land area per room, in this case for a total of 6,000 ft2 So the City’s own laws would have allowed for 12 rooms, but in order to meet the City’s development standards, provide adequate parking, and landscaped outdoor amenities, the number of rooms was reduced. At eight rooms, it would be one of the smallest motels in town and the smallest on North Main Street. However, its size is comparable to other small lodging properties— Gray’s Inn and The Anderson Inn on the Embarcadero, for example. With so few rooms, the plans are to make it special. In the initial plans, the City approved, rooms would range from a small of 325 ft2 to a 750 ft2 suite complete with a kitchen. Renderings of the finished project show a stylish façade along Main Street with decks facing the sunset. The second motel project now underway is a large, upscale motel being built on a vacant parcel at 233 Atascadero Rd., sandwiched between the high school’s east entrance and the Atascadero Road Hwy 1 off-ramp. That property was for many years a hayfield where ag students grew feed for their livestock at the school farm but has sat unused for many years. The property is some 2.2 acres (88,000 ft2). The project entails a 3-story building with 18 rooms on the first floor, 30 on the second, and 35 on the third floor. It would include an indoor pool, fitness center, a breakfast room, and a meeting room on the ground floor. At 83 rooms, it would be the second-largest motel in town behind the Inn at Morro Bay’s 99 rooms and ahead of the third-largest, Motel 6’s 71 rooms. Motel 6 is located across Atascadero Road from the site. The project requires considerable earthwork, as the code required excavation of a larger “hole” that would be refilled and compacted before foundation footings are dug. The digging has prompted the requirement for archaeological monitoring, as the surrounding area is a known Native American site. However, historically the parcel was part of a small lake

OS Cla BA Begins iM crou b siness 9 1 CVOD-I eR il ef rG n a t Prrgo ma Application period is open from October 11 - November 19

Rendering shows the Main Street facade of a new 8-room motel under construction now at Main and San Joaquin Streets. Contributed photos

Left, a worker with DC Edwards Construction of San Luis Obispo sets form stakes for the foundation of an 8-room motel in North Morro Bay. Right, a view of earthwork being done at Main and San Joaquin Streets, from what will be the main entrance on Alder Ave.

and underwater. The project was proposed by Escape Hospitality, LLC, a company founded by Hemant and Pradeep Patel, and brother Deep Patel. The Patel Family owns several other motels in town. The contractor is J.W. Design & Construction, Inc., of SLO. The architect, Arris Studio Architects of San Luis Obispo, designed a structure that was pretty boxy, breaking up the walls with different textures and finishes similar in appearance to projects recently completed in SLO, in particular on Foothill Boulevard at Chorro Street. It’s considered a modern style. But the Planning Commission wanted changes to further break up the look of the building, which were incorporated before final approval. In a somewhat unusual move, the owners brought the conceptual plans to the Planning Commission early in 2020 for their input before formally submitting an application. This allowed them to head off potential issues before going for approval instead of being sent back to the drawing board to make changes. The project needed some variances from the code requirements, including a slight reduction in required parking spaces to 90 as opposed to 92. It also needed a waiver for going over the height limitations, as the 3-story building was proposed at a little over 35 feet. This was necessary to raise the building out of the Morro Creek flood plain. The height was not much of an issue. The City is supposed to protect views from Highway 1, but the entrance to the high school is lined by 50-foot tall cypress trees that rise higher than the motel. The project proposed installing

nine electric car charging stations, including three Level 3 stations, so-called “quick charge” stations. Those stations can charge a car in 20-30 minutes versus the usual 16 hours for Level-2 chargers. They would be the first Level-3 chargers on the North Coast. Concerns were raised about potential traffic and conflicts with the high school’s daily traffic load. But the project underwent an extensive traffic study that included input from Caltrans. The project will also settle a minor boundary dispute, as a portion of a dedicated bike path that runs between the project and high school entrance was actually sitting on the adjacent lot. The issue was settled with a lot of line adjustments. The lot coverage on what looks like a big building in renderings, actually came in under what the City codes would allow. Codes allow 60 percent coverage for a building(s) and a total of 80 percent, including parking. The proposed building would cover 22 percent of the lot, with the parking an additional 51 percent for a total of 73 percent. There are also several other “motels” in various planning and building stages, including a 6-unit vacation rental-style project at the corner of Market Avenue and Harbor Street, which has been approved by the City and was under review by the Coastal Commission. A 34-unit motel located at 2130 Main St. has already been approved by the City but has yet to break ground. And at the Off, the Hook waterfront lease site on the Embarcadero, an 11-unit 2-story motel/ restaurant/retail project, has been approved but has not yet broken ground.

STAFF REPORT SACRAMENTO — California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA), part of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), announced that it is now accepting applications from California county governments to administer the California Microbusiness COVID-19 Relief Grant Program (MBCRG). CalOSBA will conduct no more than two rounds for grant administrators, with this first round open only to county governments. The application period is open from October 11, until November 18. “California has led the nation in small business COVID-19 relief, and we continue to lead this recovery by ensuring our smallest and most vulnerable businesses, many of which are street vendors, earning less than $50k annually have an opportunity to get help through this program”, said Tara Lynn Gray. The MBCRG Program provides approximately fifty million dollars ($50,000,000) in one-time grant funding to California’s microbusiness to be administered at the county level. The first round Request for Proposal (RFP) to designate eligible grantmaking entities is open to all 58 California county governments. The intent of the funding is to provide relief to the hardest to reach microbusinesses and entrepreneurs. The grantmaking entities will develop and implement an outreach and marketing plan to identify and engage eligible microbusinesses that face systemic barriers to access capital, including but not limited to businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, individuals without documentation, individuals with limited English proficiency, and business owners located in low-wealth and rural, communities. The Program will award funds to eligible grantmaking entities to distribute grants of $2,500 to eligible micro businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 and the associated health and safety restrictions. CalOSBA is available to provide technical application assistance via e-mail at osba@ gobiz.ca.gov. The deadline to submit an application is November 18 at 5:00 p.m. PST. Applications must be submitted by e-mail to osba@gobiz. ca.gov. For full application instructions, funding allocation by County, eligibility criteria, and additional information, please see the Request for Proposal Announcement at calosba.ca.gov/grant-and-funding-opportunities/ and grants.ca.gov.

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Morro Bay Life • November 2021 • 7

Making Communities Better Through Print™

BUSINESS

Estate and Giving Charitably with QCDs

Y

SARAH SANTANA COLUMNIST

our required IRA distributions can benefit a worthy cause—while you benefit from a reduced tax liability. Helping others when you’re gone is a noble and rewarding aspiration. But think how much more rewarding it could be, both personally and charitably, to help others while you’re still here. Giving during your lifetime can take many forms, one of which is using qualified charitable distributions (QCDs). It’s an option that can also reduce your tax liability, as it involves donating pre-tax dollars before they become taxable income as a required minimum distribution (RMD). Here’s how it works.

DONATION

Transform RMDs into QCDs

Doing good is often reward enough, but charity and tax deductions seemingly go hand in hand. As the standard deduction has risen to $12,550 for individuals in 2021 (double for married filing jointly), you may want to consider giving strategies that could help reduce your tax liability in other ways. If you are age 72 or older and own an IRA, you are required to take minimum distributions whether or not you need the money. Generally, these distributions are treated as taxable income. The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 allows an IRA owner – who’s subject to RMDs – to make a QCD up to $100,000 directly from their IRA to a charity without getting taxed on the distribution. Basically, you can satisfy your RMD amount without reporting additional income. There is, however, another important benefit: When the RMD payment is applied to the QCD, that amount is also excluded from tax formulas that could impact multiple categories such as Social Security taxation, Medicare Part B and D premiums, and the Medicare tax on investment income.

Rules to Follow

You must be eligible. You must be age 70 1/2 or older at the time of the required distribution. SEPs and SIMPLE IRAs are generally excluded. There is an annual limit. Your RMD taken as a QCD cannot exceed $100,000 per tax year (even if your RMD is greater than $100,000). Only qualified organizations count. The IRA trustee or custodian must make the distribution directly to a qualifying charity (private foundations and donor-advised funds are not eligible). For instance, you cannot take the distribution yourself then write a check to the charity.

RMDs: A Real-Time Legacy

By donating the RMD to a qualified charity, you can enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you are helping a worthy cause while simultaneously reducing your taxable income. This strategy also helps you live out your values in real-time, effectively living your legacy in the here and now. To learn more, seek guidance from your financial and tax advisors. They’re a good source of information when it comes to living and giving generously. Raymond James does not provide tax or legal services. Please discuss these matters with the appropriate professional.

Sarah Santana is an independent columnist for Morro Bay Life. She is the president of Santana Wealth Management and you can contact her at sarah.santana@raymondjames.com.

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8 • November 2021 • Morro Bay Life

Making Communities Better Through Print™

EDUCATION

Sucess Stories in the Age of COVID JAMES BRESCIA, Ed.D County Superintendent of Schools

O

ver the past 20 pressure-filled months, I reviewed multiple articles, plans, and reports about the impact of COVID-19 on instruction. I have personally observed education employees across San Luis Obispo County skillfully managing responsibilities under extraordinary circumstances. The positive attitude and actions of students, teachers, support staff, families, and the community reminded me again of our many blessings. Here are a few stories highlighting those blessings in the form of takeaways about distance learning improving in-person practices. “We found it difficult to maintain our train of thought with so many student interruptions online.” Adapting to distance learning was an adjustment, and some students were not comfortable turning on their

cameras. Initially, some did not turn on their microphones either. With teacher and support staff encouragement, the students activated their mics and cameras. Slowly, more students joined in and began to show their personalities. In a very short time, the instructional team experienced chaos with students talking simultaneously. The answer to the dilemma came in the form of a chat room or organized routine. The teacher explained the concept to the classes and set up procedures to follow (similar to an in-person classroom). By applying the chat room concept, the students could pose questions for the whole class or submit a question privately for the teacher. The chat room option meant that lessons could flow more smoothly. The use of chat rooms reminded the team about the importance of classroom management procedures for in-person instruction. When in-person services began this fall, the team used the initial days to practice procedures and intentionally reviewed these as new students joined their classes. This middle school team in this example revealed that one of their favorite influences was 7 Tips for Breakout Room Success, by Stephanie Rothstein.

“Finding a personal and professional balance in presenting yourself to your students.” This classroom quote describes the realization that educators must maintain a certain professional distance while at the same time personally relating to their students. Checking on students via Zoom or Google Meets provided a visual cue and opened up the personal lives of those connecting from homes. The cute dog in the background is charming to some and distracting to others. Should we have our laundry that needs attention visible while teaching online? Over the years, I have observed many types of classrooms and learning environments, some tidy, others cluttered. It is vital to remember that school should remain a professional environment with a personal feeling tone. Most child and adolescent development courses stress the importance relationships play in successful classrooms. The teacher, in this instance, reflected on the lesson learned during her pre-teaching days: “It’s all about relationships!” We need to interact with our students in a personal way, sharing information and asking questions about interests while at the same time maintaining a professional frame.

Over time comfort levels will improve, and student interactions will grow. This educator stressed the importance of social-emotional learning by starting lessons with a positive message. “Virtual teaching reminded me of the power a positive tone and attitude hold in shaping a lesson.” Learning environments that are personal and professional directly benefit students. This classroom continues the virtual practice of having students recite “Optimistic Closures” (a method of sharing something they learned) now that they are back in person. “I felt so relieved when I realized that I wasn’t the only one who felt like I did.” When we commit to a meaningful conversation about our challenges and opportunities with our peers, we can better serve our students. To that end, we must continue to support each other and join together as one community. It is easy to allow negative thoughts and feelings to creep into our heads. Mental health experts remind us that focusing on the positive in our lives can help filter out the constant barrages of discouraging news. Promoting a positive mindset will assist in providing an effective support system. Support systems are more than

simple “do-it-yourself ” projects. Our family, friends, community, and colleagues all represent pieces of a support network. Winston Churchill was quoted during World War II as saying, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” When we look for opportunities during difficulty, we can improve our situation and that of others. As illustrated in the stories above, the challenges and confusion that surrounded distance learning were overwhelming to some and celebrated by others. I reviewed reports of loneliness, discouragement, and anxiety alongside requests for additional virtual learning. When educators and school leaders begin sharing these challenges and opportunities, we will address the new normal. The daily, weekly, and monthly professional collaboration thrust upon us by COVID-19 is a practice that will benefit a post-pandemic workplace. When we share “truth-telling” with colleagues, we allow others to assist and support our challenges. These are just a few of the success stories we can learn from as we move forward. I am very proud of our schools and consider it an honor to serve as your county superintendent of schools.

HEALTH

Life Intelligence: How Your Attachment Style Affects Your Relationships

VALENTINA PETROVA COLUMNIST

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ou’ve heard it. Attachment causes suffering. Cultivating non-attachment towards your belongings or thoughts as the ultimate authority on how things are in the world might be a humbling and refining maturation process. Your attachment style in relationships though – from the kitchen table to the bedroom and the boardroom, has a lot to do with how people perceive you and experience you. It also has to do with what you gravitate toward and what your life ends up being. Your attachment style develops during childhood and reflects your experience with your primary caretaker(s). Things like early childhood trauma and neglect on one end of the spectrum, and love and connection on the other, play a big role in what attachment style you develop. According to Attachment Theory, there are four characteristics of attachment. • Proximity Maintenance – the desire to be close to people. • Safe Haven – how comfortable you feel returning to the attachment figure for

comfort and reassurance when afraid and uncomfortable. • Secure Base – having a base from which to explore and always come back for security and support. • Separation Distress – anxiety experienced when the primary caretaker is not there. You start by trying to negotiate these four dimensions as early as infancy. If you are raised with confidence, love, care, and encouraged to explore while provided safety, consistency, and support from infancy to early adulthood, you are less likely to be fearful, anxious, insecure. Your expectation of others to be there for you and how they will relate to you depends on how your primary caretakers responded to you and how available they were to you. Future experiences through adulthood will evolve your style, either affirming it or transforming it to some degree, but not too much. If you want to change your attachment style, you will have to work hard, very mindfully, consistently, and methodically to reprogram your instincts. There are 4 attachment styles. The Secure Attachment Style The person feels comfortable forming and maintaining relationships, expressing feelings and needs, and trusting their partners. They are reliable and feel comfortable asking for help. They are dependable and depend on others as needed. Usually, emotionally intelligent, honest, and with healthy self-esteem. They allow others space. Not clingy, but there when you need them. While they thrive in their relationships and do not fear being alone.

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They don’t require approval and tend to have a generally positive view of others. Bond well and maintain healthy boundaries. They have a high need for achievement and low fear of failure. As children, they felt secure and supported in exploring then returning to their safe haven and secure base. Their primary caretakers were there when needed, loving, encouraging, forgiving, and responsive. Securely attached individuals have a high concern for others. By adulthood, they’ve built a high level of self-efficacy. They feel comfortable removing problematic, bad-influence people from their lives and do not fear challenging situations. In a romantic relationship, they show problem-solving skills, communicate well, are mentally flexible, self-reflective, mindful, and emotionally intelligent, and avoid manipulation and drama. They are comfortable with closeness, intimacy, sharing, and easily forgive. They care about their partners, want to be fair, but when they come across someone who does not meet their needs, manipulates, or is the cause of unnecessary emotional turbulence, they will quickly lose interest. The other three attachment styles (Avoidant-Dismissive, Anxious-Preoccupied, and Fear-

ful-Avoidant) are all insecure and problematic in different ways. Read about them AND what you need to do to develop a more secure attachment style on my blog at vpetrova.com. Thank you for reading.

Valentina Petrova has helped people with life, health, relationships, financial, and professional goals and challenges since 2015. She has a Master’s in Psychology and is a certified life coach and a certified mediator. You can reach her at valentinapetrovaconsulting.com.


Morro Bay Life • November 2021 • 9

Making Communities Better Through Print™

HOLIDAY

SLO Food Bank Combines Virtual and In-Person Turkey Trot The in-person option of the event will feature a 2-mile walk along the Bob Jones trail in Avila Beach STAFF REPORT SAN LUIS OBISPO — After a successful virtual event last year, the SLO Food Bank is happy to announce that, this year, the Turkey Trot will combine the traditional gathering in Avila Beach with the virtual elements from 2021. Historically, the SLO Food Bank has hosted 2-mile walks, and 5-mile runs in Avila Beach and Pismo Beach. As many as 1,500 people gathered to inspire one another to be grateful for the meal they would enjoy later in the day and raise money for those not as fortunate. Anyone interested in participating in the Turkey Trot taking place at 8:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning can register online at slofoodbank.org/turkey-trot-2021. The in-person option of the event will feature a 2-mile walk along the Bob Jones trail in Avila Beach. Participants who don’t attend the traditional gathering are encouraged to complete a walk, run or hike on their own or with family and closest friends at a location of their choice or participate in spirit. Everyone who registers will receive one event t-shirt and one pair of DryMax socks. The SLO Food Bank will host t-shirt and sock pick up prior to the event, in addition to making them available at the in-person event on the big day. To ensure that participants receive their preferred t-shirt size, they are encouraged to register by October 29; however, registration for the event will be open until Thanksgiving morning. This annual event creates awareness about food insecurity in our community and raises vital funds to provide nourishment and hope to individuals and families during the holidays. Participants are

encouraged to create a fundraising team or an individual page to share with their family, friends, and colleagues. Fundraisers can earn SLO Food Bank swag as they reach certain fundraising milestones but can also forfeit the incentive prize to have their entire fundraising effort go towards holiday meals. This year’s participants and fundraisers can expect some other great prizes. Everyone who registers and posts a selfie on social media with the hashtag #sloturkeytrot2021 will enter into a random raffle for a chance to win one of five $50 Running Warehouse gift cards. The top fundraising individual will earn a $100 Running Warehouse gift card, and the team captain of the top fundraising team will earn a $250 Lube N Go gift card. All proceeds raised will provide holiday meals to families, individuals, children, and seniors throughout San Luis Obispo County. With one dollar, the SLO Food Bank provides seven nutritious meals to those grappling with hunger or access to food. The goal is to help fill 280,000 plates during the holidays. For more information about this year’s Turkey Trot, visit slofoodbank.org or contact Claire Levine at clevine@slofoodbank.org or call 805-238-4664. About The SLO Food Bank is a non-prof it, tax-exempt organization serving all of San Luis Obispo County through its direct food programs and network of agency partners. The SLO Food Bank’s mission is to alleviate hunger in San Luis Obispo County and build a healthier community. In 2020, the SLO Food Bank distributed over 5 million pounds of food to help our neighbors struggling with hunger. Prior to the pandemic, one in six SLO County residents was food insecure. Since the pandemic, hunger in SLO County has more than doubled, and the SLO Food Bank remains in front of this accelerating and tragic reality. To learn more about the work done by the SLO Food Bank throughout San Luis Obispo County, please visit slofoodbank.org.

GARDENING

Fall In Love With Cool-Weather Gardening For A Healthy, Hefty Homegrown Harvest

BONNIE PLANTS GUEST COLUMNIST

S

horter days and cooler temperatures mean gardeners everywhere can flex their green thumb much longer to squeeze every last moment out of the growing season. Cooler temperatures make it a delight to spend time outside in the garden. In addition, you’ll spend less time caring for crops because of the favorable cool-weather growing conditions. Plants will grow rapidly at first and gradually slow as the days become shorter and colder. Destructive insects won’t be as numerous, and weeds germinate less frequently and grow slower than they do during the warmer weather. Compared to hot and dry summers, fall usually brings an increase in precipitation, reducing another time-consuming chore—watering. Here’s how to get growing. Use transplants: For the timeliest results, buy quality transplants that are already started, so the germination process is complete. You’ll harvest six weeks sooner than growing from seed, with time to spare before the cold weather sets in. Make friends with frost. Cole crops (German for cabbage, as in coleslaw), such as cauliflower, cabbage, and kale grow well in cooler temperatures; and they taste even better when nipped by Jack Frost since frost encourages cole crops to produce sugar, which in turn, makes them sweeter. Unlike cole crops, while tomatoes can still grow plentifully in fall, they are vulnerable to frost. Location, location, location! Plan your fall garden with enough sunlight (six to eight hours per day) to grow and thrive, while allowing for some afternoon shade. Spend time noting the sunniest spots and plant accordingly. Prep the perfect soil. Just like humans, plants need their own brand of

nutrition to thrive. Working in some compost can be beneficial, as well as removing spent plants and weeds. Freshen garden soil by removing any mulch, then replace it. Straw makes an excellent cover; it’s easily scattered and is also a favorite home for spiders that control pests naturally. Consider containers. Container gardening is a quick, easy, and cost-effective way to grow your own food at home, plus it’s great for small spaces or urban dwellers who may not have greenspace. Pick your plants. From showy lettuces to hearty cole crops, fall provides a cornucopia of choices. Some good, cool weather choices are: Georgia collards: These greens are prized for their sweet, cabbage-like flavor and are rich in vitamins and minerals. Spinach. A cool-weather favorite is fast-growing, yielding many leaves in a short time span. Artwork Broccoli: This variety is unique; instead of producing one large broccoli head, it yields tender, dark green side shoots with bite-size heads and long, edible stems—perfect for stir fry and sautéing. Hybrid cabbage: Cabbage is especially high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, K, and fiber. Water wisely. It’s best to water in the morning at the base of the plant (soil level), keeping the foliage dry— water when the top 2 inches of the soil becomes dry to the touch. To test, stick your finger or a pencil about 2 inches down into the soil. If the soil is dry, 2 inches down, it’s time to water; if wet, wait until the soil is dry. Fertilize faithfully. Plants need an extra boost of nutrition for proper growth in the form of high-quality fertilizer. Always follow manufacturer label directions for rates and intervals since too much fertilizer can be detrimental to plants. Prepare for harvesting. Once your plants start yielding results, have a plan in place for either eating fresh or preserving. Who knows, this may be the perfect time to try your hand at canning or freezing to maximize freshness and time. All it takes is proper prep and planning, and soon your garden will yield a delicious garden-to-table feast before the first frost hits the ground. For more information on fall gardening and varieties, visit bonnieplants.com.

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10 • November 2021 • Morro Bay Life

Making Communities Better Through Print™

GOVERNMENT

Supervisors Allow Arroyo Grande Oilfield to Add 31 Wells SLO Regional Rideshare offers the community resources to ride safely By MELISSA GUERRA of Morro Bay Life SAN LUIS OBISPO — The San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors met for a regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 9 a.m. Items 20 and 21 were pulled from the consent agenda for a separate vote. The remaining items were approved with a 5-0 vote. Item 20 and 21 were both passed with separate votes 5-0. Item 27 was a presentation

from SLO Regional Rideshare. Peter Williamson from the San Luis Obispo Council of Government talked about the programs such as safe routes for schools. SLOCOG has a confidence quiz to test your knowledge of biking, and winners are entered to win a ziplining ticket. You can find the quiz at rideshare.org/confidence. Item 29 was an update on state legislative activities. The highlight of the update was the significant funding brought to broadband to build out the network to provide high-speed internet across California; a need that has been present but was highlighted due to the

pandemic. Currently, there is about $6 billion in funds available across California. Public health was one sector that did not receive any funding, but a promise of funds in 2022-23 was made. Item 30 was a hearing to consider an appeal by the Center for Biological Diversity of the Planning Commission’s approval of a request by Sentinel Peak Resources California LLC to install the final 31 oil wells of the 95 approved wells. Both sides discussed their views and discussed the procedure of implementing the wells, how they run, and the functions that they provide, as well as the

HEALTH

potential health hazards and public noise nuisance created. One large topic focused on was the water usage and the water being returned back into streams. It was discussed that the water in this field was not usable on its own but rather through the process of removing the oil and treating the water with reverse osmosis this water can at least be used in the streams and sustain the wildlife there. Supervisor Dawn OrtizLegg summarized the topic, stating that on the Board, she is the most active in fighting for clean energy, but that until we as consumers stop using the petro-

leum being created, the solution cannot be to immediately stop and remove the production. She commented that the regulations that California faces are some of the highest and as such there are institutions in place to monitor and regulate the emissions. “For me to uphold the appeal would be disingenuous because what’s happened here is we’re demonstrating regulatory process and monitoring to reduce emissions, which is what’s supposed to happen… they are part of our institutional knowledge.” Ortiz-Legg implored everyone to listen to the knowledge of these institutions, whether they are from the left or the right, and

Health Officer Issues Criteria for Lifting Masking in Indoor Vaccinations and continued masking indoors remain key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 STAFF REPORT SAN LUIS OBISPO — The County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department issued criteria for lifting the current Health Officer Order to wear face masks in all indoor public places. According to the public health officer, vaccinations and wearing face coverings indoors has dropped the number of COVID19 cases and hospitalizations across San Luis Obispo County. “The COVID-19 case rate in SLO County is moving in the right direction, and for that, I thank the many residents and business owners who are actively complying with the indoor mask requirement and those who are

making the decision to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, County Health Officer. “As this current surge begins to recede, now is the time to establish criteria we can collectively work toward to lift indoor masking requirements for many people in many settings.” According to the County, the criteria was developed with a focus on protecting local hospital capacity going into winter while keeping the community safe and open. The County of San Luis Obispo Health Department will lift the indoor masking requirement in public spaces—not subject to state and federal masking rules—when the following criteria are met: San Luis Obispo County reaches the moderate (yellow) COVID-19 transmission tier, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and remains there for

at least one incubation period of 10 days; and COVID-19 hospitalizations in the County are low and stable, and total hospital capacity is sufficient to meet the needs of all patients, in the judgment of the County Health Officer. These criteria are similar to those adopted by other California counties. SLO County is currently in the substantial (orange) tier as defined by the CDC. The County’s current masking requirements went into effect on Sept. 1 in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Since Jun. 15, those who were not fully vaccinated have represented 78 percent of new COVID-19 cases, 84 percent of hospitalizations, and 79 percent of deaths in SLO County. “Lifting the indoor mask mandate prematurely, while there is still substantial COVID-19 transmission and as we head into the winter months when hospitals

typically see a surge from other respiratory conditions, will only land us right back where we were before the mask order was put in place,” said Dr. Borenstein. “It is important to note the criteria also provide safety for elementary school-aged children, who as yet cannot be vaccinated. High numbers of community cases lead to infections in children, which has the unfortunate impact of students missing in-person school instruction. Our path forward is very clear, and getting vaccinated is ultimately the safest and most effective way to end the COVID19 pandemic.” For updates on COVID-19 in SLO County, visit ReadySLO.org or call the recorded Public Health Information Line at (805)7882903. In addition, phone assistance is available at (805)781-5500 Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on COVID-19 vaccine, visit RecoverSLO.org/Vaccine.

to ask questions when needed to keep the processes transparent. She then went on to express thanks for the appeal since it brought forward and dismissed the discussion of the wasted water. The motion to accept staff ’s decision to deny the appeal was made by Supervisor Ortiz-Legg and seconded by Chairperson Lynn Compton. The motion passed 4-1, with Supervisor Bruce Gibson in opposition. The Board went to closed session with nothing to report. The next meeting of the Supervisors will be available on the website when it becomes available.

SMART CASE UPDATE

Flores Hearing Set to Begin Apr. 25, 2022 Flores' again plead not-guilty By CAMILLE DeVAUL of Morro Bay Life SAN LUIS OBISPO — On Oct. 20, a hearing was held in the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court to set a trial date for Paul (44) and Ruben (80) Flores. The father and son again plead not guilty to the 1996 disappearance and murder of 19-year-old Cal Poly student Kristin Smart. Their trial is set to begin on Apr. 25, 2022. Several status hearings are set until the trial start date to ensure all parties are on schedule. It was not discussed where the trial will be held or if it will be televised. Paul Flores will continue to be held in the San Luis Obispo County Jail with no bail and his father remains released on bail with monitoring. The two were arrested in April and plead not guilty to the charges on Apr. 19. A preliminary hearing in August, where more than two dozen witnesses testified. In September, Judge Craig van Rooyen ruled that enough evidence was presented during the preliminary hearing to move the case forward to trial. This is a developing story and more information will be added when it becomes available.

KING CROSSWORD


Morro Bay Life • November 2021 • 11

Making Communities Better Through Print™

VETERANS DAY

Mighty Oaks Warrior Program is a faith based and privately funded program for veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD. Contributed photo

Mighty Oaks Warrior Program Serves U.S. Veterans Suffering From PTSD Sky Rose Ranch has hosted the Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs since 2012 By CAMILLE DeVAUL of Morro Bay Life

O

n Nov. 11, 1918, at 11 a.m., the world celebrated the end of World War I, which would be later known as Armi-

stice Day. The day the world thought would be the end of the war to end all wars would become a national holiday in 1938. Later in 1954, Nov. 11 was proclaimed Veteran's Day to honor all Veterans. We know now that WWI was not the war to end all wars. And even when soldiers do come home, their war isn't always over. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was first used as a diagnostic term in 1980. Prior to that, symptoms of PTSD were known as "shell shock." Since then, PTSD has been prevalent among 13.8 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran affairs: Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF): About 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans (or between 11-20 percent) who served in OIF or OEF have PTSD in a given year. Gulf War (Desert Storm): About 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans (or 12 percent) have PTSD in a given year. Vietnam War: About 15 out of every 100 Vietnam Veterans (or 15 percent) were currently diagnosed with PTSD at the time of the most recent study in the late 1980s, the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS). It is estimated that about 30 out of every 100 (or 30 percent) of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime. The average number of Veteran suicides per day was 17.6 in 2018. After Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Chad Robichaux served eight tours of duty as a United States Marine Corps Force Recon, he was diagnosed with PTSD. His diagnosis led him on a journey to create the Mighty Oaks Foundation, a non-profit committed to serving veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD. The Mighty Oaks Foundation is committed to serving the brokenhearted by providing intensive peer-based discipleship through a series of programs, outpost meetings, and speaking events. Mighty Oaks started in Colorado in 2011 and has grown into four locations—including

The Mighty Oaks Foundation is committed to serving the brokenhearted by providing intensive peer-based discipleship through a series of programs, outpost meetings, and speaking events. Contributed photos

one at the Sky Rose Ranch in Paso Robles. Jamie Warner, the foundations West Coast Regional Facilitator and former USMC Naval Aviator, said, "Our mission is to serve our nation's warriors and their families who have endured hardships in their service to America whether they are a veteran, active duty or a first responder and help them find new life purpose through hope and Christ through the different programs we offer." He adds, "We are unashamedly a faith-based program." There are five programs developed for veterans: • Legacy Program for Men • Legacy Program for Women • Military Resiliency Programs • Marriage Advance • Aftercare Sky Rose Ranch has hosted the Mighty Oaks since 2012 and handles mainly the Legacy Program for men and women. According to Warner, the foundation has served over 4,000 veterans since its inception. The Veterans, or Warriors as they are called here, who attend are fully sponsored for training, meals, and lodging needs to ensure that upon arrival to the ranch, each Warrior is focused solely on his or her recovery and identifying purpose moving forward. The Mighty Oaks Warrior programs are privately funded. No one coming to the program will ever have to pay for travel to and from the program or anything while they are there. Warner says, "We try to keep those excuses away. It is completely paid for by donations from Americans who are appreciative of their service—we do what it takes to get them there."

A typical day at the Legacy Program begins with colors, raising and saluting our nation’s flag, and breakfast. Each day is filled with a variety of classes, or presentations, on a wide range of topics. One of the activities Warriors participate in is a horseback ride at the Work-Family Ranch in San Miguel. The Work-family has been a proud supporter of the Mighty Oaks since it first came to Paso Robles. "We are faith-based, but we don't force anything on anyone—this is what works for us," explained Warner. He continued saying, "We use the Bible as our foundation and walk them through 'this is why a man needs to fight for the most important things in life, this is what a man of character looks like, a man who has discipline this is what brotherhood should look like." All the instructors and counselors at Mighty Oaks have gone through the program themselves and are also veterans. "They are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders—when they arrive, you can see it on their face," said Warner. He explains how Mighty Oaks is often a last resort for many of the veterans they meet, and there is always an impactful moment to witness. "Oftentimes, you'll hear guys say, 'I have a stronger brotherhood now than I ever had in the military, and I didn't think that was possible.' I see miraculous changes every single week, and it never ceases to amaze me." The Mighty Oaks Foundation explains how their programs work the best. "Our five-day intensive peer-to-peer program serves as the catalyst to help Warriors discover the answers to the big questions in life. Chal-

lenges related to the struggles of daily military life, combat deployments, and the symptoms of post-traumatic stress (PTS) surface during these five days. Utilizing peer leadership, participants find common ground through shared experiences and understanding, allowing greater potential for growth and recovery within the men. By discovering the truth about discipline, brotherhood, legacy, courage, honor, faith, and family, men develop authentic character and learn to live a life of leadership. We equip our Warriors to fight through life’s challenges and discover the very purpose for their lives moving forward." Warner says as instructors; they witness lives being saved. He says, "My two favorite moments of the week is Monday dinner because it's quiet. People are forcing conversations. You can tell people are uncomfortable. Then Friday at breakfast, there's laughter, hugging, there's talking." Warner often sees a common misconception coming from civilians and veterans: a veteran experiencing PTSD is broken and damaged. One thing Warner says they try to make clear to veterans is Post Traumatic Stress is not a disorder. Instead, they try to retrain people to understand that post-traumatic stress is a normal reaction to the abnormal and horrific situations that veterans and first responders often find themselves in. To learn more on the Mighty Oaks Foundation or to donate or apply for the program, visit mightyoaksprograms.org. To all Veterans, we thank you for your courage, dedication, and hard work to preserve the American freedoms we hold dear. And thank you to the military families for their support, resilience, and sacrifice.


12 • November 2021 • Morro Bay Life

Making Communities Better Through Print™

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings... william arthur ward...

Linda Dron Photography

I am very grateful for this community and all the people in it.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

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