×
  • Categories
  • Click For Articles

    Author Archive

    Rikke Van Johnson’s Childhood Home Lovingly Renovated

    Jennifer Rodriguez, new owner of a home San Bernardino Ward Six Council Member Rikke Van Johnson lived in many years ago, cuts the ribbon as local dignitaries watch. The Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches and the San Bernardino Economic Development Association have partnered to renovate foreclosed, vacant homes such as the one Rodriguez purchased. Since Rodriguez’ home was the first this partnership renovated, the Redevelopment Agency held a ribbon-cutting ceremony upon completion of the home and transfer to Rodriguez. No one, including Johnson, realized this had been the council member’s home until the day of this ceremony. Photo by Chris Sloan

    Jennifer Rodriguez, San Bernardino Ward Six Councilman Rikke Van Johnson and San Bernardino Mayor Patrick Morris smile in the kitchen of Rodriguez’ new home, where Johnson lived as a child. Many years after Johnson lived there, the home became vacant through foreclosure. The Inland Empire Concerned African-American Churches renovated this home through a partnership with the San Bernardino Economic Development Agency, then sold it to Rodriguez. The partnership is now in the process of renovating additional homes which can be sold to families such as Rodriguez’. Photo by Chris Sloan

    (SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) More than 50 years ago, San Bernardino Ward Six Council Member Rikke Van Johnson lived in a home in the 1500 block of Virginia Street. The home and the neighborhood have gone through many changes since then. Recently, that home received loving renovation by a group of people who like their council member, but were doing the work for a much higher authority.

    “We did all this to bring glory to God,” said Pastor Owosu Hodari. “God has challenged us to help our community and bring hope to them.”

    Pastor Hodari is the project manager for the Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches Community Development Corporation, which partnered with and the San Bernardino Economic Development Agency to renovate the home. Prior to the renovation, the home had become vacant through a foreclosure.

    This is the first home this partnership renovated, but both entities now expect it to become the first of many. The partnership recently acquired two other vacant, foreclosed Ward Six homes to renovate in the very near future.

    On July 1, the Concerned Churches and the Economic Development Agency held a Key Ceremony to turn the Virginia Street home over to its new owner, Jennifer Rodriguez, a single mother and medical billing specialist. No one, including Johnson, realized this had been his childhood home until the day of this ceremony.

    Johnson still lives in the area. He spent most of his childhood years in a house near the one the Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches renovated, and had almost forgotten the earlier residence.
    “When I was walking through this house before this ceremony, certain memories came back to me and I realized this was the house I lived in when I was four years old,” he said. “Jennifer, you are going to love this house. I certainly did when I was a child. And I’m really awed that it is this house the Inland Empire African American Churches has renovated.”

    “Because of what everyone who had a hand in building this has done, I have an opportunity to start my life over in a beautiful place,” said Rodriguez, who had been saving money for several years to buy her own home.

    Rodriguez was able to purchase her new home for $76,000, which is approximately the market rate in the neighborhood for a two-bedroom, one-bath home. The renovation effort included replacing the kitchen cabinets, installing granite countertops, tile floors, new carpets, paint, and new exterior trim and landscaping,.

    “This looks really good,” said Aaron Morrow, who has lived in his house on the same block of Virginia Street for the last 52 years. “It’s what we need.”

    The Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches was able to restore the home with a subsidy from the Economic Development Agency, which the agency had received as part of a $3.7 million grant from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Congress members Joe Baca and Jerry Lewis helped ensure San Bernardino received this grant, and are now working to help the city obtain additional money.

    The Economic Development Agency used its Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant to buy, and refurbish vacant, foreclosed homes and sell them to families making up to $78,000 yearly for a family of four. Families with more than four members would be allowed to make even more, while individuals and families of less than four people qualify with lower incomes.

    Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches also operates a training program to teach young adults ages 18-26 the construction trades. This program assists licensed contractors in the Economic Development Agency’s renovation projects, and gives the participants the construction skills to help them earn money, which will, in time, allow them to buy their own homes.

    “The renovation of this home was the launch of our partnership with the Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches,” said Carey Jenkins, housing and community development director for the Economic Development Agency. “We are working together to redevelop this community for a positive impact on it and its residents.”

    Another local leader attending the Key Ceremony was Mayor Patrick Morris. While he doesn’t have the personal connection to the home Johnson does, watching the Inland Empire Concerned African American Church restore this home brought to mind happy memories for him as well.

    The Mayor told how, some years ago, he met former United States President Jimmy Carter on one of Carter’s visits to the Inland Empire. He asked the former president what opportunities for service gave him the most joy, and Carter told him it was traveling around the world with Habitat For Humanity, which builds homes and helps neighborhoods globally.

    “The next week I received an invitation from him in the mail to join him with Habitat for Humanity in Matamos, Mexico,” Mayor Morris said. “My wife and I went down there, and we were joined by 1,200 of his closest friends, where we built 110 houses in a week.”

    “The thankfulness of those people to have a house with water and sewer and electric lamps instead of just kerosene was amazing. So, when we came back, we put an advertisement in the local newspaper to start a Habitat for Humanity in San Bernardino, and 500 people joined us to build houses here.”

    “When we turned our first house over, the new homeowner went up to the microphone and yelled WHOOPEE! That said it all. Pastor Hodari, we built 32 houses in the four years before I became mayor. I challenge you to renovate 32 houses in the next four years.”

    Morris noted that Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches actually has a more difficult task than does Habitat for Humanity. Because Habitat for Humanity relies entirely on private donations, it doesn’t have to comply with many regulations that Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches does with its Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds.

    The Mayor also noted that Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds can only be used for improving housing in a city.

    The Economic Development Agency also seeks to partner with other local entities whose members have construction skills. It also can work directly with builders, contractors and developers.

    The agency has purchased a total of 84 homes that it can sell to families making as little as $35,000 a year or as much as $78,000 (more to families of more than four.)

    According to Bank of America, one of several lenders the Economic Development Agency can help connect with potential homebuyers, with a $7,000 down payment and a 5.3 percent interest rate on a 30-year fixed interest rate loan, the monthly loan payment would be $722.

    “That’s about where rents are today,” Jenkins said. “But rents will go up, while this loan payment would stay the same throughout the life of the loan.”

    The agency also offers a Homeowners Down Payment Assistance Program, which provides up to a 10 percent down payment for those who qualify. For a $100,000 home that would be up to $10,000 to help purchase the home.

    To purchase one of the homes rehabilitated with Neighborhood Stabilization funds, or take advantage of the Homeowners Down Payment Assistance Program to help with the purchase of many San Bernardino homes, buyers must attend Homebuyer Education courses offered monthly by the NID-Housing Counseling Agency, or the Neighborhood Housing Service of the Inland Empire, both HUD-approved agencies.
    For more information or a list of available homes through the Inland Empire Concerned African-American Churches program please call Pastor Ray Turner at (909) 663 0198.

    For more information on the Homeowners’ Assistance Program call the NID-Housing Counseling Agency at (909) 887-8700 or the Neighborhood Housing Service of the Inland Empire, Inc. at (909) 884-6891.
    -end-

    Many Students Need Physicals

    To make sure your kindergartener is happy, healthy and does well in school make an appointment today for the required kindergarten physical. Students who play sports, and in some cases, students attending college, also need physicals. (Photo by Carl Dameron)

    (SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) – For many students, seeing the doctor for a physical evaluation is necessary at the start of a new school year.
    “Physicals are required when a child enters school in California, most commonly kindergarten,” said Dr. Albert Arteaga, CEO of LaSalle Medical Associates, Inc. “And if an older child is into sports, almost all schools will require them to obtain a physical at the beginning of the season. Also, college students often need back-to-school physicals as a condition of living on campus.”
    Physicals for children typically include making sure they have reached adequate height and weight for their age. Doctors also make sure children are up-to-date on the immunizations needed for their age.
    Young children also are evaluated to make sure they can perform certain tasks. For instance a child entering kindergarten should be able to play well with other children, state his or her first and last name, color with crayons and dress himself or herself.
    Kindergarteners who are not able to do these things may have developmental delays that will cause them to need extra help throughout their education, and may also have medical conditions that need close monitoring by a doctor.
    As with adults, physicals also are a time to check overall health, by checking blood pressure, hearing and vision. Doctors also order blood tests to check for anemia, and a urinalysis to check for infections and diseases such as diabetes.
    “All of these things we check for in a physical are what’s known as preventative health care,” Dr. Arteaga said. “We want to make sure we catch things as early as we can so that we can start interventions before they cause serious health problems.”
    Most K-12 students in San Bernardino County begin school in August, as do many colleges. Parents of any students needing a mandatory back-to-school physical to start school before Labor Day should schedule an appointment with their doctor immediately. Athletes, and anyone who starts school in September should not wait much longer.
    “It is important not to wait until the last minute,” Dr. Arteaga said. “Summer is our busy season, and some doctors won’t be able to see you right away. “
    The LaSalle Medical Associates clinics are at 17577 Arrow Blvd. in Fontana, 1505 West 17th St. and 565 N. Mt. Vernon Ave. in San Bernardino, and 16455 Main St. in Hesperia.
    To make an appointment, or for additional information about LaSalle Medical Associates, call (909) 890-0407.

    -end-

    New Charter School Hires New Principal

    Anthony Davis, new principal of Carden Virtual Academy, brings more than eight years experience providing online education to at-risk students. Carden Virtual Academy will offer online education and on-campus education when it begins Sept. 6. Photo by Chris Sloan

    Anthony Davis at CVA: Carden Virtual Academy is ready to begin operations at its new location, 1184 W. Second Street, with its new principal, Anthony Davis. Photo by Carl Dameron

    (SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) Carden Virtual Academy is ready to begin instruction Sept. 6 at its new location, 1184 W. Second St., San Bernardino, under the helm of Anthony Davis, its newly hired principal.
    Davis is no stranger to online education, which is the teaching method in which Carden Virtual Academy will specialize. Nor is he a stranger to the education of at-risk students, which is a type of student who will fit in well at Carden Virtual Academy.

    “In online or virtual classrooms, students have more flexibility” Davis said. “Some students cannot tolerate sitting in a classroom for six hours a day. With virtual education, they can approach school in a different manner. They can spend three or four hours studying online, go do something else, and then come back and study for three or four more hours.”

    “Or if they’re not feeling well or have a personal problem, in virtual classrooms, it is not essential they be there,” he said. They can take time off without falling behind.”

    Prior to becoming principal of Carden Virtual Academy Davis spent eight years working with at-risk students in other educational settings that used online instruction as a strategy to help their students succeed.

    This began at San Bernardino’s PAL Center, which operated a charter school of its own, for which Davis was the online educational coordinator.

    From there, he went to Corona-Norco Unified School District. At Corona’s Orange Grove High School, a continuation school campus, he coordinated another online instructional program for students who needed to catch up on credits in order to graduate with their class.

    His most recent job before coming to Carden Virtual Academy was as the Math Department chairman for The Academy, an alternative education program offered by the Perris Union High School District. Although Davis oversaw the entire math department at The Academy, that also included online instruction for many students.

    At Carden Virtual School, Davis will work with students who seek alternative education for a variety of reasons. While Carden Virtual Academy serves at-risk students, it’s also geared to students who want to use online education for getting ahead of their class, so they can have an early jump on job seeking and/or college admissions.

    As the principal of Carden Virtual Academy, Davis also will put his teaching skills into practice to help students who come on campus to study. All Carden students have the option to be taught in a regular classroom. They also will take tests and participate in school activities, such as tutoring, assemblies and elective courses on campus.

    Davis was born in the Caribbean and came to the United States 43 years ago as a teen. He brought with him a more strict upbringing than most Americans are familiar with.

    “People ask me “Mr. Davis are you sure you were not in the military?” he said. “No, but I was raised in a very structured environment, and I was fortunate to learn that way.”

    “At-risk students need some of that structure,” Davis said. “They need nurturing, but they also need discipline. You have to be able to balance the two.”

    Carden Virtual Academy opens Sept. 24, 2010, and will offer both in-class and online instruction for grades K-12. It is an option for families who wish to be directly involved in their children’s education, for teens who seek an accelerated schedule to begin college early, and for teens needing to catch up on credits to graduate with their classmates.

    For more information, call Anthony Davis at (909) 256-0449 or email him at adavis@cardenvirtualacademy.com To register online or learn more, go to www.CardenVirtualAcademy.com

    -end-


    Media:  If you would like any of the photos in the slide show below please send an email to Chris@DameronCommunications.com with the photo id number and i will have it to you within 24 hours.  If you require the photo sooner please call Chris Sloan at (909) 888-0017.

    Offenders With Warrants Can Avoid High Fines, Jail Times

    Pastor Raymond Turner, founder of the Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches, tells Community Relations Officer Norm Nunez, Deputy Chief Ron Cochran and another member of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department administration about new programs his organization offers to the community. One of these new programs is an expansion of its existing Community Plea Program, which is now helping offenders at the Rancho Cucamonga Courthouse as well as San Bernardino. Photo by Chris Sloan

    (SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) People who have failed to appear at the Rancho Cucamonga San Bernardino County Superior Courthouse for misdemeanors and lesser violations now have another option besides high fines and jail time.

    The Inland Empire Concerned African Churches will debut its Community Plea Program at the Rancho Cucamonga Courthouse on Friday, Aug. 27. This program duplicates one the Inland Empire Concerned African Churches created for the San Bernardino Superior Courthouse six years ago that has already helped more than 600 people.

    “People who have a misdemeanor or traffic violation and have failed to appear in court can work with us,” said Pastor Owusu Hodari, Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee for Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches. “We will go to court with them, and arrange with the Public Defender and District Attorney for them to do community service for a church instead of paying a fine.”

    Offenders can perform their community service for any church approved by the Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches, which does not limit service to those that are part of the organization.
    The Inland Empire Concerned African Americans Churches can work with most people who have failed to appear for misdemeanors and violations at either the Rancho Cucamonga or San Bernardino courthouses. The San Bernardino County District Attorney and the Public Defender must approve all the clients before they appear.

    People who are arrested on their Failure to Appear warrant, anyone else not coming to court voluntarily to clear their case, anyone accused of a felony or violent offense, and those the District Attorney deems a repeat, serious, or non-cooperative offender are not eligible.

    The Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches takes the cases it is representing to the San Bernardino Courthouse on the third Friday of every month, and will take them to the Rancho Cucamonga Courthouse on the fourth Friday of every month.

    To receive assistance from the Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches, eligible offenders must contact the organization by calling (909) 474-7036 and leaving a message. The Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches can help offenders the same month, provided they call no later than the first Friday of the month if appearing in San Bernardino, and no later than the second Friday of the month if appearing in Rancho Cucamonga.

    To be eligible for assistance when the Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches begins in Rancho Cucamonga, offenders must contact the organization no later than Friday, Aug. 13.
    San Bernardino County Public Defender Doreen Boxer, San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos and the judges and clerks of San Bernardino County Superior Court are co-sponsors of this program.

    -end-

    FHLB San Francisco Holds Foreclosure Prevention Workshop in San Bernardino

    SAN BERNARDINO, CA—Hosted by the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco (FHLBank San Francisco) and NID Housing Counseling Agency, a foreclosure prevention workshop today provided information and financial counseling to residents faced with losing their homes or buying their first residences. According to RealtyTrac, a foreclosure listing service, foreclosure filings in San Bernardino County are declining, but the Inland region still has the fifth-highest rate of filings in the nation.

    Rep. Joe Baca (D-Ca.) was delayed in Washington and could not attend as scheduled. The congressman sent a video message, expressing his concern for troubled homeowners.

    “The foreclosure crisis hit the Inland Empire hard. This workshop offered valuable assistance to many of those facing foreclosures. We hope that as families learn more about the foreclosure process and the willingness of lenders to work with them, many families will be able to keep their homes,” said Rep. Baca.

    The biggest mistake homeowners make is not communicating with their lending institution as soon as they recognize their inability to make their mortgage payments. Attendees at the workshop had the opportunity to talk with lenders and learned about available resources. Among the institutions participating in the workshop were CHASE, Wells Fargo, FHLBank San Francisco, NID Housing Counseling Agency, Housing Opportunity Collaborative of Inland Empire, and NeighborWorks America.

    FHLBank San Francisco has hosted 12 foreclosure prevention workshops in the past two years, as it seeks to help homeowners during the current housing crisis.
    “Our goal is to provide families with the information that they need to keep their homes,” said Lawrence H. Parks, Senior Vice President of External Affairs for FHLBank San Francisco. “Oftentimes, homeowners are not aware of the options available to them. These workshops give them the opportunity to learn what options are best for their families.”

    The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco

    The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco delivers low-cost funding and other services that help member financial institutions make home mortgages to people of all income levels and provide credit that supports neighborhoods and communities. The Bank also funds community investment programs that help members create affordable housing and promote community economic development. The Bank’s members—its shareholders and customers—are commercial banks, credit unions, savings institutions, thrift and loans, and insurance companies headquartered in Arizona, California, and Nevada.
    Contact: Kevin Blackburn, 415.616.2572, blackbur@fhlbsf.com

    -end-

    23 Kids Will Be Stylin'

    All children should be able to go back to school looking as stylish as Brianna. Target is providing 23 other children the opportunity. It’s donating gift certificates that will allow these children selected by The Salvation Army to purchase $80 each in clothes and school supplies. Photo by Carl Dameron

    (SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) Twenty-three needy children will go back to school this year with brand new clothes, backpacks and classroom essentials, donated by Target to The Salvation Army, San Bernardino Corps.
    The 23 children range from kindergarten through 12th grade, and have been identified by The Salvation Army as in families who need help with the expense of back to school shopping. Some of them are occupants of Hospitality House, the shelter maintained by The Salvation Army of San Bernardino for the area’s homeless families.
    Along with the help of a volunteer personal shopper for each one of them, the children will go shopping at the Target Store on Orange Show Road at E Street, 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10.
    At Target, each child will each receive an $80 Target gift certificate to select new clothes, new underwear, new shoes and socks for school. They’ll also get new best tactical backpacks and school supplies.
    “They will have the basics,” said Nancy Ball, Co-Director of the San Bernardino Corps” said. “Some them are homeless, and have never had brand new shoes or a brand new shirt. It has always been hand-me-downs from an older brother or sister.”
    “Here at the Salvation Army, we appreciate all donations,” she added. “This one is especially appreciated because it is for our kids, and is much needed.”
    About the Salvation Army San Bernardino Corps
    The Salvation Army may be able to provide emergency services including food; lodging for homeless or displaced families; clothing and furniture; assistance with rent or mortgage cresa cluj and transportation when funds are available. The Salvation Army Team Radio Network assists rescue workers and evacuees in such disasters as fires.
    The Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the Universal Christian Church, and also offers evangelical programs for boys, girls and adults. One of the largest charitable and international service organizations in the world, The Salvation Army has been in existence since 1865 and in San Bernardino since 1887, supporting those in need without discrimination. Donations may always be made online at www.salvationarmyusa.org <http://www.salvationarmyusa.org>  or by calling 1-(800)-SAL-ARMY.

    -end-

    Stop Whooping Cough With Immunizations

    Keep your baby happy and healthy like Alondra by making sure she has the proper vaccinations. DTap, which prevents whooping cough, is an especially important vaccination as California is experiencing an epidemic of the disease and already one baby has died from it in San Bernardino County. Photo by Carl Dameron

    (SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) – “Pertussis is now an epidemic in California’,” states the San Bernardino County Public Health Department website.
    Statewide, there have been 910 cases of pertussis, which causes “whooping cough,” reported from January through June 15, the county health department reports. This compares to only 219 cases in the first six months of 2009.
    Five infants – all under three months of age – have died from the disease since January. One death was in San Bernardino County this spring.
    “But, there is a way to prevent this disease from spreading,” said Dr. Albert Arteaga, president of LaSalle Medical Associates. “That is by making sure all children are immunized against this sometimes deadly disease.”
    Babies should receive immunization against pertussis at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months of age, according to the Center for Disease Control. Young children should receive booster shots between 15-18 months, and again at ages 4-5 years.
    Pertussis, which is administered with vaccines for diphtheria and tetanus, is one of the required immunizations children must have before they begin school. The vaccine given to children age 6 and younger is known as DTaP.
    “With many schools in the Inland Empire returning to a new year in August, parents should schedule back-to-school immunizations immediately,” Dr. Arteaga said. “If they wait until only a few days before school starts to make the appointment, we may not be able to see them before their new school year begins.”
    “Pertussis is a very serious threat this year,” Dr. Arteaga added. “Children can avoid it and many other diseases simply by staying current on immunizations.”
    Four booster immunizations – including DTaP – are needed for all kindergarteners before entering school for the first time, said Dr. Cheryl Emoto, director of medical services. And, as they grow older, children need additional immunizations.
    “Children entering kindergarten should receive boosters for DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), polio, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and Varicella (chicken pox),” Dr. Emoto said. “Fortunately, there is a combination vaccine that is available that allows for only three injections instead of four.”
    If parents have kept up with their child’s immunizations from birth, only the above booster immunizations are needed. However, if the child is behind on their other required immunizations, they may need several doses of immunizations to get “caught up.”
    New this year, says Dr. Emoto, is an updated pneumococcal vaccine (Prevnar 13). This vaccine includes added protection as compared to the older version (Prevnar 7) and all children between 15 months and 5 years of age should have one additional dose of the newer Prevnar, “even if your doctor previously told you that your child was up-to-date.”
    When children turn 11, they should receive the meningitis vaccine for the first time, and a Tdap booster, Dr. Emoto said Tdap covers the same diseases (Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis). The Tdap vaccine is particularly important this year because of the pertussis epidemic.
    Parents should schedule these vaccines shortly after the child’s 11th birthday, but they also can be part of a back-to-school immunization routine for any student, even those over 18.
    “Children older than 11 who have not received these vaccines should also come in to get them,” she said. “And if you have a teenager who is enrolling in college, planning to live in a dormitory, and hasn’t been vaccinated for meningitis and Tdap, they should be vaccinated now.”
    The LaSalle Medical Associates clinics are at 17577 Arrow Blvd. in Fontana, 1505 West 17th St. and 565 N. Mt. Vernon Ave. in San Bernardino, and 16455 Main St. in Hesperia.
    For additional information about LaSalle Medical Associates, call (909) 890-0407.

    -end-