Many ways to make a difference | October 26, 2012 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Cover Story - October 26, 2012

Many ways to make a difference

Festival will highlight how to help in Pleasanton -- and beyond

by Jerri Pantages Long

Can one person make a positive difference in the world?

Find out how many ways that is possible on National Make A Difference Day tomorrow, Oct. 27, at the Make A Difference for Pleasanton Festival being held from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Senior Center, 5353 Sunol Blvd.

This free event will include exhibits representing more than 40 organizations focused on three topics:

* Community Safety - Be prepared before emergencies occur;

* Community Service - Get connected and stay connected with meaningful volunteer opportunities; and

* Community Wellness - Change 1 Thing for a healthier lifestyle.

Also included in the festival is a barbecue lunch served by the Pleasanton Community of Character Collaborative to raise funds for the Juanita Haugen Memorial Scholarship. Lunches will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (so those attending the Foothill Band Review can stop by after the parade).

For $7.50, you can purchase a hamburger (veggie burgers available on request), chips, fruit, bottled water and a cookie. Cost of the meal with a hot dog is $5. Another option is just the burger for $5 or just the hot dog for $3, and popcorn will also be for sale. Proceeds will go toward scholarships awarded to graduates of Amador Valley, Foothill and Village high schools.

"We are pleased to be presenting sponsors of this event because the festival represents all six of the Community of Character traits that we promote," said Kelly Dulka, president of the board of directors for Pleasanton Community of Character Collaborative. "Those traits are compassion, responsibility, respect, honesty, self-discipline and integrity."

Co-sponsors of the festival include ACCUSPLIT, the city of Pleasanton, the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, the Pleasanton Unified School District, and the Pleasanton Weekly.

At 11:15, ACCUSPLIT will present a donation of $15,000 to Axis Community Health.

"We are pleased that ACCUSPLIT can help Axis Community Health continue to expand the excellent services they provide for people in the Tri-Valley area - particularly for those underserved in our healthcare system," said W. Ron Sutton, ACCUSPLIT CEO. "Our nation is shifting from treatment of illness to its prevention.

Then, to give participants a great warm-up, Louise Williamson of ClubSport will provide a Zumba Kick-Off at 11:30. Visitors and exhibitors all will be invited to join in the clapping, stretching and bending movements to music for a brief interval.

In a way, the Community Service Expo is like trick-or-treat in reverse: Families can bring items to donate, and, before Halloween, children can discover the joy of helping others. Here are examples:

* Donate a costume. Bring a new or gently used Halloween costume to brighten the life of a child in a local shelter. For many years, Bob and DebCilk of Re/Max Accord have sponsored the drive, called "Wouldn't It Be Scary NOT to Have a Halloween Costume?" Coats and blankets also are being collected for neighbors in need.

* Bring canned food. Hunger doesn't wait for the holidays, which is why Interfaith Sharing Inc. is hoping to provide local food pantries with canned fruits and vegetables, canned meats, peanut butter, pasta, and other non-perishable items.

* Pass on glasses. Out-of-date prescription glasses can bring the gift of clearer vision to someone in a developing country. Pleasanton Lions Club makes that happen.

* Cheer up a soldier. Pause at the Pleasanton Military Families table to write a thank you note to someone serving our country far from home. The notes will be included in care packages being shipped overseas. To find out what you can contribute, go to

Many of the charitable organizations will be seeking cash donations. However, in addition to gifts of money, many organizations are seeking gifts of time. Youths and adults will find many opportunities for ongoing volunteer service. For example, Museum on Main seeks volunteers to greet visitors and to help with special programs and events. Open Heart Kitchen needs people to prepare and serve the free meals that are increasingly in demand in the Tri-Valley, particularly for our "underemployed" neighbors whose families are struggling to make it paycheck to paycheck. Reach out to youths in foster care through Alameda County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates).

"This festival combines two previous, successful community events," said Sutton, event founder and corporate sponsor. "For several years, the local school district sponsored a Make A Difference Festival, and the public library sponsored a Health and Wellness Festival. We are bringing those good ideas together in a larger venue and adding a community safety component.

"Through the Community Service Expo, we hope to match up school-age and adult volunteers with organizations that could use their help," Sutton continued. "The idea of 'Get connected, Stay Connected' is to encourage ongoing community service, more than just a single-day event."

Senior Support Program of the Tri-Valley needs volunteers to drive people to their medical appointments, assist with shopping and other errands, help with yard work, visit seniors in their homes, and "most of all, just be a friend," according to executive director Marlene Peterson. If your family lives far from grandparents, this may be a great way to connect your children with an older adult.

A major disaster, such as the next enormous earthquake, could mean that families would need to fend for themselves for up to 72 hours before expecting help from police or firefighters.

"Festival participants will get practical tips on ways to ensure their family's survival in an emergency," Sutton said. "Most of us know we need to do more to be prepared, but it's something we might put off, not wanting to think about it."

In the Community Safety Expo, one of the eye-catching displays will show what each of us should have packed for such an emergency. Safe water storage -- essential for survival -- is the topic of another display, from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints community.

Many of us would like to be healthier, but where to start? "Change 1 Thing" is the theme of the Community Wellness Expo. Wallet-size cards with that theme and six steps to achieving it will be given out to all festival visitors.

"Most of us have never been taught how to change our behavior," Sutton noted. "It's not easy: Researchers tell us it usually takes 12-13 weeks to change our habits. We encourage people to choose to 'Change 1 Thing' and follow through to be successful before they decide to try another change for a healthier lifestyle."

For example, you can try out a pedometer to see if you are taking the 10,000 steps per day recommended to achieve and/or sustain wellness. Sign up for the e-newsletter for World Walks to Wellness, which offers free Saturday morning walks in local public parks. In fact, you can try out the hour to "walk 'n' talk together" just before the festival opens. Meet Ward Belding, aka Uncle Sam on the Fourth of July, at 9 a.m. in front of the Senior Center for a walk in Centennial Park.

Have your blood pressure checked by Dr. Mary Tran of Forest Chiropractic. Visit Dan Taylor of TriValleyTrainer to find out how to "Give 45 to Feel Alive." That is, 5 minutes each of cardio, strength and core exercises three times each week.

For those who sign up for TVT's new small group training program in October or November, Taylor will donate $50 to either Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation or to the Pleasanton Unified School District school of your choice.

Representatives of Kaiser Permanente, ValleyCare Health System and Safeway Pharmacy will be part of the festival, as will sliding-fee-based Axis Community Health. Amador Valley High School Challenge Success and Wellness Committee will share ideas about student stress reduction, alternative paths and family education. Rideshare 511 will explain how you can decrease stress by improving your commute.

You won't walk away from the festival empty-handed: Bags will be provided to help you carry away a wealth of good information, along with diverse give-aways, such as trail mix (Pleasanton Community of Character Collaborative), seed packets (SEED of Love), and magnetic calendars (Exercitement Fitness). Also Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department will give away free batteries for people's smoke detectors, while encouraging them to change the batteries as daylight-saving time ends and begins. Best of all, you will leave with many choices about how you CAN Make A Difference.

Festival facts

What: Make A Difference for Pleasanton Festival

When: 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27

Where: Pleasanton Senior Center, 5353 Sunol Blvd., one block south of Bernal Avenue

Who: Community Safety Expo

* Interfaith Sharing Inc.

* Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department

* Pleasanton Police Department

* Self-Reliance/Emergency Preparedness

* Water Storage

Community Service Expo

* Agape Villages

* Alameda County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)

* American Red Cross

* Blankets for Kids

* Boy Scouts

* City of Pleasanton -- Community Services Department

* Community of Character Collaborative

* Eden I & R Inc.

* 1st United Services Credit Union

* Hope Hospice

* Interfaith Sharing Inc.

* Just Serve


* Museum on Main

* Open Heart Kitchen

* Pleasanton Lions Club

* Pleasanton Military Families

* Pleasanton North Rotary

* Pleasanton PTA Council

* Pleasanton Weekly


* Re/Max Accord

* SEED of Love

* Senior Support Program of the Tri-Valley

* Special Olympics

Community Wellness Expo

* ACCUSPLIT/Mr. Pedometer

* AVHS Challenge Success and Wellness Committee

* Axis Community Health

* Community of Wellness/Change 1 Thing

* Exercitement Fitness

* Forest Chiropractic

* Isagenix

* Kaiser Permanente

* Make a Difference for Your Family

* Pleasanton Nursing & Rehabilitation Center

* Rideshare 511

* Safeway Pharmacy

* TriValley Trainer

* ValleyCare Health System

* World Walk to Wellness


Before the Festival


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