The Hayward Area Recreation and Park District (HARD) has recently collaborated with the Alameda County Deputy Sheriff’s Activities League (DSAL) and the Hayward Unified School District (HUSD) and have developed a state-of-the-art futsal court facility to address the growing demand for sports fields in the community. Located on an undeveloped, one-acre site owned by HUSD, adjacent to the Sunset Swim Center on Laurel Ave, this project provides an exciting new venue for sports enthusiasts in the district.
The facility boasts four futsal courts, designed primarily for youth play. However, these courts can be easily converted into two futsal courts for adult play, offering a versatile space for players of all ages. In addition to the courts, the project includes essential amenities such as perimeter netting/fencing, lighting, a restroom, a drinking fountain with a bottle filler, a covered entry, and a spectator viewing area. Moreover, the facility has utility connections and accessible parking to ensure convenience and inclusivity for all visitors.
To gather public input and ensure community involvement, a virtual public meeting was organized on Jun. 24, 2020. Numerous attendees passionately voiced their support for the new futsal court facility, emphasizing the benefits it would bring to the district. Taking these opinions into account, the final concept plan was presented to the HARD (Hayward Area Recreation and Park District) Board of Directors at their meeting on Jul. 20, 2020.
After months of planning and construction, the futsal court facility was completed on Feb. 24, 2023, and is now open to the public. This development marks a significant milestone in the district’s ongoing efforts to provide accessible recreational spaces for its residents. The futsal courts offer a unique sports experience, combining elements of soccer and indoor football, creating a fast-paced and dynamic game that attracts players and spectators alike.
The facility’s opening has been met with enthusiasm and excitement from the local community. Hayward resident Luis Delgado expressed his excitement for the courts, “I love playing soccer and it’s been really hard to find a place where I can go with my friends to play but with these new courts it makes it much easier for all of us”.
The partnership between the District, Alameda County Deputy Sheriff’s Activities League, and Hayward Unified School District has proven instrumental in transforming an undeveloped site into a thriving recreational space. This collaboration highlights the value of public-private partnerships in addressing community needs and creating positive spaces for social interaction and physical activity.
On May 4, over 300 students attended Chabot College’s third annual Suicide Prevention Campus Walk and Fundraiser as part of Chabot Colleges Mental Health Week. The campus walk was on the Chabot College football/track field from noon to 3 p.m.
The event was hosted by Counseling Advocacy Resources Education Support, better known as CARES, and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Campus clubs and programs came and showed support, like Restorative Integrated Self Education (RISE) and Revolutionaries Advocating for Greener Ecosystems (RAGE).
Before the event started, there was Land Acknowledgement on the field. Wellness Ambassadors respectfully acknowledge the original peoples of the land on which this campus is built. The land belonged to a Native American tribe called the Muwekma Ohlone tribe thousands of years before Chabot.
After the Land Acknowledgement interim dean of counseling Sadie Ashraf shared some words about the walk and what it meant to her by stating, “To come together as a community says a lot. We don’t know what’s behind someone’s smile or pain, and we don’t know what they are going through. We recognize that mental health needs to be discussed,” she continues talking about how suicide affected her” … I lost a parent to suicide, and I still tear up when I speak on it. We need to support mental wellness. I appreciate everyone coming together as a community, and I thank you.”
The walk itself lasted for only one hour from noon to 1 p.m. During the walk there were booths where participants could color, write poems, or play instruments provided, like congas, bongos, claves, tambourines, and other percussion instruments, to express their feelings.
The Hope memory board, an activity where attendees wrote poetry, words of inspiration, colored, drew pictures, or notes pinned onto a panel to express their passions toward the mental health of suicide.
“You are loved and cared for, you are enough, and I love you. Be yourself, treat others how you want to be treated, and just know that you’re worth it.” was stated in one note.
Another note had a touching poem titled For The Lost Little Boy.
“Here’s a poem for the lost little boy who lost his way home. Lost his way back to shelter, peace, and home. The lost little boy who cries at night lost with no guide to him back home. He’s afraid to reach out and ask for help because he fears those who criticize him for asking for help. I hope he finds his way home where he is loved and remembered.”
Chabot Instructor, counselor, and one of the organizers for the event, Juztino Pannella, explained the significance of instruments present at the event, and “We provided instruments and art supplies because some people can’t deal with all the thoughts and feelings about their mental awareness or don’t know how to, so they make a rhythm out of it. Others draw and write poetry with the Hope and Memory Board upon the board or write a note for their loved ones who were lost to suicide.”
Beads for attendees to wear at the event were provided with a total of 10 different colors, with each color representing a personal connection for individuals. For example, white stands for the loss of a child, red represents the loss of a spouse or partner, gold is the loss of a parent, and rainbow is for honoring the LGBTQ+ community. The colors helped the organizers and attendees identify and connect with those who understand their experiences.
One of the participants was a student named Mrs. Mack, who wore orange beads “I’m wearing this, and I’m here because I lost my niece to suicide she was 25 years old. Orange represents the loss of a sibling. I am also here to show support to struggling with it.”
Many attendees came to show their supporting Suicide Prevention. One of the attendees was Chabot College Head Men’s Basketball Coach Kennan McMiller. This is his first time coming to the walk. He said, “It’s an important cause of the society that we’re in right now. Some days it doesn’t feel like it’s getting any better. People are feeling discouraged,” Coach McMiller continues talking about how suicide and basketball player he once knew. “ … I had a player that was going to come and play for Chabot, but he came home and saw his sister hung herself. It messed him up mentally he stopped playing.”
The walk provided care, hope, and love for anyone who came. It was a safe place to support and express your feelings about mental health and suicide awareness.
Victor Camarena is part of the RISE program that helps recently incarcerated people get back on their feet with schooling and jobs. This is Camarena’s second year attending the walk, saying, “I’m here because I lost my daughter due to suicide. She was 15, and she meant a lot to me. Coming here greatly helps me because suicide needs to be talked about, and I support mental awareness.”
Pannello spoke on how suicide affected him, “I was affected by suicide when I first came to the college. It was an acquaintance — someone who was in the community and died by suicide. I also had a student here at Chabot who died by suicide. Those were impactful to me.”
The funding goal is to raise $5,000 by June 30th. Christina Cappello, the area director of AFSP in the San Francisco chapter mentioned where the funding goes, “One: Research studies that we fund help develop new and better treatments for mental health and suicide. Two: it goes into the community and school-based prevention education programs, and three: we also fund support programs for survivors of suicide loss and going through mental health.”
They have raised a total of $1,350, so far. The Wellness Ambassador team donated $325. Chabot College Softball donated $100, and CARES donated $50. Donations were also received from other attendees in person at the event or online.
This is a signature fundraising event started by AFSP in 2011, and they added, “The Out of the Darkness Campus Walks designed to engage youth and young adults in the fight to prevent suicide.”
The Chabot Campus Suicide Prevention walk started when COVID still had a chokehold on the world. It began in 2021 thanks to The Wellness Ambassadors and CARES. The first walk was a Zoom virtual walk due to COVID. Where people could communicate over zoom while on a walk of their liking Last year was the first in-person walk, with over 100 who came to show support. This year it doubled.
Student and Wellness Ambassador for CARES, Beatriz Ramirez, said, “Our goal is to raise awareness about suicide, and we want students and the community to come out and support it. We hope to talk about the stigma of suicide.”
According to the AFSP website, suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the U.S. as of 2023. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims, as of 2023, just five months into this year, there have been 47,467 suicides in the U.S.
Bringing awareness to mental health and suicide is essential. Suicide can be a stigmatized, uncomfortable conversation that many don’t want to discuss or are afraid of. On the walk, it did not feel like that. People weren’t afraid to express or to talk about how suicide or let alone how mental health affected them and what can be done to decrease the number of suicides or how to deal with mental health.Life is complicated, and people can have much to deal with. If you know someone dealing with suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is open 24/7 at 800-273-TALK (8255). Also, on campus, CARES counselors are there for you. For more information on suicide prevention, go to https://afsp.org.
On Feb. 21, 2023, the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District (CLPCCD) Board of Trustees made the decision to suspend the COVID-19 vaccine mandate effective Apr. 24, 2023. This decision will apply to both students and employees of the CLPCCD, starting in April to coincide with the beginning of the 2023 summer registration period. The mandate suspension for all visitors was already implemented by previous changes to administrative procedures.
This decision was based on data from the Alameda County Public Health Department and the CLPCCD’s internal tracking of student and employee cases. Changes to Board Policies 7330 & 5210 and Administrative Procedure 5211 were guided by this information, and revisions to these policies will allow for flexibility should public health conditions warrant a return to vaccine mandates.
The decision to suspend the mandate was made after extensive conversations with constituent groups. It aimed to address concerns about equitable access to programs and services while balancing the need to maintain safe learning and work environments.
According to Alameda County, 94% of residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 87% are considered fully vaccinated. However, the district will still prioritize the safety of its students and employees, even after the mandate suspension. The district highly encourages the community to stay updated with their COVID-19 vaccines and get boosters if eligible. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and can prevent severe illness.
Other safety measures will remain in place on campus including access to testing and a flexible face-covering policy that adjusts according to changing risk levels in the county.
The pandemic has forced us to change the way we work, learn, and interact with one another for nearly three years. The CLPCCD recognizes how difficult these changes have been for everyone and thanks its community for their partnership as they navigated uncertainty together. The hope is that this next phase allows the management of pandemic risks in a way that is least disruptive to the community.
In conclusion, the decision to suspend the COVID-19 vaccine mandate at the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District is based on the most current information available to the Board of Trustees. According to CLPCCD Chancellor Ronald P. Gerhard, “The district will continue to prioritize the safety of its students and employees and encourage the community to stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. By doing so, the community can work together to manage pandemic risks in a way that is least disruptive to everyone.”
Due to major flooding from February’s storms, many roads in the Bay Area have been closed, including A street in Hayward. The road has been closed since late December last year and is scheduled to reopen sometime in the middle of March 2023 according to the Hayward Police Department and the Public Works Agency of Alameda.
The recent storms in the beginning of this year have had different side effects on the state of California. An increase in potholes on the streets and flooding has caused multiple roads to be closed as well as causing sinkholes to open up across the Bay Area.
One of these sinkholes, which opened near San Lorenzo Creek in Castro Valley, is what caused A St. to collapse after a storm on New Year’s Eve. The soil that stood against the creek was oversaturated with rainwater and eroded away, causing major damage to the street as well as people’s homes and backyards that were adjacent to it.
Michelle Smith, a Castro Valley resident, had this to say when asked by reporters at KRON: “I’m worried about the roads and the properties and the people that live near it. There’s a lot of houses that have their backyards against this creek.”
Smith’s concerns are valid according to meteorologists, who say that residents should remain cautious as most of the soil is still extremely waterlogged and at risk of flooding. “The ground is still saturated. There’s still going to be plenty of chance for runoff and localized flooding,” says Colby Goatley, a National Weather Service meteorologist, who urges people to keep paying attention during this time.
Similar to what happened on A St., a situation occurred on Faircliffe St. in Hayward in mid-January where a large section of the hillside eroded due to the heavy rainfall. While no roads ended up being affected by this, the mudslide caused by this erosion left at least one house on Faircliffe uninhabitable.
More of these incidents have occurred since January as California has continued to experience heavy rainfall and has caused a lot of problems for the city administrators as well as its citizens. Besides A St. being closed, the following roads near Hayward are under construction and will be closed until further notice according to the Public Works Agency of Alameda: Foothill Rd., Lake Chabot Rd., Kilkare Rd. and many others.
Fortunately, as of Mar. 6, many of these roads have been reopened — especially those in Castro Valley — including Crow Canyon Rd., Eden Canyon Rd. and Redwood Rd. which also suffered from a large sinkhole in early January of this year. However, residents on A St. will have to wait a little longer for things to go back to normal in their neighborhoods.
Russell City was once a thriving unincorporated town with homes, churches, jobs, schools, farms, and clubs. Russell City was a town located in Hayward. Before it was an Industrial Park It was the pinnacle for various migrants and immigrant groups like Spaniards, Danes, Germans, Italians, African Americans, and Mexicans.
Due to racial discrimination in Alameda County, there weren’t many areas for minorities to live and call their home. There were only a few neighborhoods: Fillmore (in San Francisco), West Oakland, Palo Alto, and Russell City (Hayward).
Many minorities set up businesses to make a living. Aisha Knowles’ grandfather used to own an automotive shop in Russell City; she stated, “I hear the stories from people who lived there, who had business there, and about what the town meant to them and how special of a place it was,” said Knowles.
On Saturday nights in the 1940’s and 50’s, Russell City was the place to be. People would be dressed in their finest suits and clothes, dancing it up on the dance floor to some of the greatest R&B and Blues musicians, such as; Grammy award-winners Ray Charles, B.B. King, and other artists like Lowell Fulson and Dottie Ivory. People from all over the bay came to hear them perform. There were two clubs in Russell City: the Russell City country club and Miss Alva’s Club.
Dr. Maria Ochoa, Ph. D., is the author of the book Images of America Russell City. She is also a San José State University Professor Emerita of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences. The book is based on the history of and dedicated to the people of Russell City. She mentions how great the well-being of a community in Russell City once was. “I lived in Hayward across the street from Chabot when it was all fields. I remember going to Mass in Russell City as a little girl. I remember it being a place where my parents made friends with Latinos, African Americans, and Whites. The community was together as a whole,” said Dr. Ochoa.
Russell City public school was located just five miles away from downtown Hayward. The book described Russell High School as a valuable three-story high school with iconic Greek architecture and the nation’s most elegant school. The book also described Russell City public school from the 1st grade to the 8th. Before the high school in Russell City was built, students who wanted to continue their education had to go to Oakland High.
The classroom experience sometimes included manual labor, and sometimes teachers would take their classes into the fields. Dr. Ochoa stated, “There were cows and chickens in the streets. People had school gardens which were orchards, and vegetables were growing. It was all agricultural.”
Russell City itself was an agricultural town. Gardens were common in residents’ homes. There were a lot of orchards and vegetable gardens. The town had dairies and a pig farm. The smell of hogs was horrible, as described in the book.
Four stores in Russell City supplied food, cigarettes, aspirin, and other things. There were restaurants in that town that weren’t segregated. The money always went back into Russell City.
Alameda County never provided services like water, electricity, and sanitation. “It was a difficult situation. They had no roads, no indoor plumbing, and they had no utilities like electricity. People living in Russell City had to get Car Batteries to bring electricity into their homes, schools, and businesses.” Says Dr. Ochoa.
So, what happened to Russell City? What happened to this thriving minority town? For one: it was an unincorporated town. Two: the residents were still interested in bettering their town. It was that they were denied the opportunity by the government, the county, and by Hayward. Both the county and the city devised a plan to turn Russell City into the industrial park you see today. Residents were forced to move, and businesses were forced to close.
By the late 1950s, the town was in turmoil. Residents were forced to move, and arsonists burned properties to the ground. When the town was expanded to Hayward, the city used eminent domain to remove the last of the residents in 1966 for the industrial park.
“Many who lived in Russell City are in their 70’s and 80s. talking about it can be painful because they remember what they lost when it was destroyed,” said Knowles. Russell City now is a question of “What it could have become” since 1964.
The residents of the once-forgotten community weren’t willing to let Russell City fade in their memories and let it be unknown. Ruby Tolefree-Echols and Henry “Billy” Garron, two former Russell City residents, founded an annual reunion picnic. Echols died in 2002; unfortunately, Mr. Billy Garron passed away some years ago.
“The reunion picnic was held in 2022 after being suspended during the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. It is unclear if the picnic will continue as the people who lived and worked in Russell City are few in number now, largely due to the passing of so many. The people who now come to the picnic have not necessarily lived or worked in Russell City. They have heard stories from their elders and want to learn more,” said Dr. Ochoa.
There are tributes to Russell City in Hayward. Russell City is commemorated in the downtown Mural where Hayward had officially apologized. On Nov. 16, 2021, the Hayward City Council voted unanimously to issue a formal apology for the City’s historical role in and the perpetuation of racial discrimination and racially disparate impacts of its past actions and inactions. The property of Russell City today is worth millions.
“One of the things that happened with Institutionalized poverty is that people try to survive, and to face some of the challenges requires having a strong sense of community, and I think people there developed that.” Says Dr. Ochoa.
In the wake of Tyre Nichol’s death on Jan. 10 at the hands of Memphis police officers, the violence caught on video hit home in the Hayward community with residents.
The Bay Area is a culturally rich place to live, and Hayward is no exception. With such a diverse population, it is no surprise that such a violent public death for yet another person of color is beyond disturbing and evokes strong emotions in the community. This type of sentiment motivates the need for change, and the best place for this to start is by listening directly to the voices of the communities affected by the policies that govern the police.
Discussion and engagement can bring people together, which is precisely what transpired within an organization known as People of Change (POC). On Feb. 1, a vigil was held outside the Hayward City Hall at 5 p.m. in response to police violence and the killing of Tyre Nichols. The night was cold, but that didn’t stop some residents from coming out to convene and express how upset they were to see yet another person of color killed by police in the news.
The vigil was hosted by Amelia Bonilla, Jordan Leopold, and Leonardo Nicolas Huerta. Jordan opened the night and gave a heartfelt speech on race relations and policing in our local Bay Area communities, particularly Hayward. Although some of the members had impassioned speeches to provide, the event was purposed to be an open mic night, and it was indeed.
“No justice, no peace,” the crowd chanted, a familiar rallying cry for social justice warriors as they listened to Jordan speak about the tragedy of the loss of Tyre Nichols. “This is a national problem,” he proclaimed and noticed how many others have experienced this execution style of force used most often on people of color. Some of the more known recent names are Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. The feelings of anger and sadness come to the surface yet again as it is expressed with deep emotion, wondering, “when will the discrimination and killings at the hands of police end?” Said Jordan.
Jordan also mentioned a lack of training and de-escalation practices; in its place, police are just shooting people of color who are viewed as a threat or physically beating them to death. The data for this misconduct should be public. Still, the organization believes, along with many other community members, that the facts and numbers behind this data are withheld from the public view. The consequences for police officers involved in misconduct are disciplined and retrained in-house with unreleased data; that is a fact. This procedure is standard within a department to investigate internally but keep what happens as a result off the public record.
How can there be accountability and trust in a community if there is no feedback after people in the community report police misconduct? These people who are victimized in one way or another by private citizens or police officers treat people like the enemy or criminals depending on which neighborhood they live in and their socioeconomic standing. Why do people of color face roadblocks to obtaining equality in the justice system?
The sentiment was that of frustration, stating openly within the crowd’s feedback to Jordan “that they were tired of hearing about people of color being killed like this.”
A Black mother from the Hayward community took the stage after Jordan and gave a very emotional speech about the danger she and her children were facing every day. How worried she was about the future lives of her children, ages six and seven. She was very upset about needing to have “the conversation” with them about the dangers of police and why we deserve to live. The fact that simply wearing a hoodie could mean death for them as Black children living in the Bay Area brought this mother to tears on stage. “We must demand change for our kids, or they will pay the price. Our babies don’t feel seen or heard; how can we make people care about Black lives and be seen as human beings,” She proclaimed.
Several more community members took the stage and, in one form or another, expressed the same distrust, frustration, and anger toward the police. Latino members of the community joined with Black residents and together shared the problems that face Black and Brown people. “Staying silent is not an option,” one community member exclaimed and mentioned in particular “the stereotypes used to discriminate against Latinos such as viewing them as lowriders and cholo gang members.”
This discrimination is universal as there are many cases over the decades of discrimination in the Latino community at the hands of police dating back much further than the 1930s. Still, it was these years that led up to a famous event. During the 1930s, dance halls were trendy, swing dancing and releasing some of the economic stress felt during the Great Depression.
In a New York neighborhood of Harlem famous for the Harlem Renaissance. The violent clashes of the Zoot Suit Riots, where mobs of U.S. servicemen, off-duty police officers, and civilians brawled with young Latinos and African Americans in Los Angeles. The June 1943 riots got their name from the baggy suits worn by minority youths during that era. Still, the violence was more about racial discrimination and not about conflict over fashion.
The vigil lasted about an hour or so, and afterward, residents came together and embraced each other, although some were meeting for the first time. The feeling of caring and concern about the death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis was felt all the way over here in Hayward, 2,069 miles away. These killings happen far too often to people of color across the United States.
Hayward police are not exclusive, sharing in the disenfranchisement of people of color and sometimes providing unequal justice. It was on this night that residents of Hayward felt they could keep their silence about Tyre’s death no more and vowed to bring change, starting with their local police department.
To the right of the stage, there was an elegant memorial display of remembrance set up for Tyre Nichols, along with food items and informative handouts for the community members in attendance. Although the night was cold and attendance was not as good as it could have been, improving the weather will bring out more community members looking to get involved and create change. These residents didn’t take notice because they were there to break their silence. The passion that drove this event is a response to police violence, and unfortunately, this violence will most likely continue well into the future.
How did POC begin, and what is it all about?
In May 2020, in response to the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, a group of people came together to discuss social media. A discussion was born from participating in protests with the Hayward Community Coalition (HAYCOCOA). A discussion group on Instagram was started for this purpose, to have engagement about the topic of police brutality.
“We drew inspiration and thought we’d do better as a collective. We didn’t know what would happen, just that we wanted to bring people together to form a discussion. To help unite and inspire the black and brown community for social and economic prosperity. We felt that we needed to take a stance on police accountability,” said Jordan Leopold, POC Organizer.
The discussion went well, and they moved forward with a history post about the City of Yanga, which was founded after a group of enslaved Africans, led by Gaspar Yanga, rebelled against colonial rule in 1570. Veracruz, enslaved Africans lived under strict laws in New Spain’s royal system. Africans who were able to liberate themselves could expect the following:
“…the Negro or Negro woman absent from the service of his or her master for four days shall suffer fifty lashes of the whip… and if they should be away more than eight days, for a distance exceeding one league, each of them shall suffer a hundred lashes, iron fetters weighing twelve pounds shall be tied to their feet with a rope, which they shall carry for two months and shall not take off under pain of two hundred lashes for the first offense; and for the second, each shall take two hundred lashes and shall not take the weights off for four months,” William H. Dusenbarry Historian.
Yanga would be one of many enslaved Africans to rebel against the slave system. Yanga’s rebellion was a combination of several hundred enslaved Africans who fled to seek shelter near the Veracruz mountains—going from Cofre de Perote to the Sierra de Zongolica mountains. The rebels established a small town where they could live on their own. For 30 years, the Yanguícos harvested their foods (sweet potatoes, sugar cane, tobacco, corn, and many others). They used machetes and sticks for the raiding of supplies from passing Spanish caravans.
Locals would transport goods in caravans that traveled from the Veracruz port to Mexico City, MX. But as African and Indigenous people fled slavery and sought refuge in the surrounding mountains, they took to raiding caravans regularly. These Yanguicos were a threat to the colonial order. In 1609, when a rumor started circulating that the Yanguícos were planning to overthrow local Spanish authorities in the neighboring towns and appoint Yanga as the king, the Spanish Crown’s Viceroy Luis de Velasco sent a battalion of a few hundred troops to kill them. The Yanguícos and the Spanish suffered numerous casualties during their battles, but Yanga would not be defeated. Yanga ultimately negotiated a ceasefire: the Spanish Crown consented to a treaty that, in 1618, allowed the Yanguícos to establish their government and live in peace.
Yanga serves as an inspiration for the Afro-Mexican movement. As the rebellion’s leader, Yanga negotiated a peace settlement with the Catholic priest Alonso de Benavides and Captain Manuel Carrillo, which granted the Yanguícos freedom as long as they did not allow any other self-liberated enslaved people to join them. Although the Spanish Monarchy tried to back out of this peace treaty, it remained in effect until Mexico gained independence in 1821. Since 1976, Yanga has held “Festival of Negritude” and “Primer Pueblo Libre de las Américas” (Festival of the First Free Pueblo in America) celebrations honoring the town’s creation.
This historical post on Gasper Yanga went viral and was picked up by mitú on Instagram and went on to pick up 35,000 likes and started a discussion that went overseas. It was after all of this engagement and interest that they decided to make POC official. “We knew the policy was needed to have an impact and to equip people with talking points so they could apply pressure,” Said Leonardo Nicolas Huerta, POC Organizer.
The group addressed the people in power for their education, the school board, and the city council. Eventually, it was able to have school resource officers removed from some schools and brought half a million dollars back to the school district. The organizing members all have higher education, including Jordan Leopold, having been a student body president at one time. Although currently, there is no POC club or official affiliation with any schools.
“It is crucial to what we do; education on historical figures is intersectional for black and brown folks to come together as a people and overcome the oppressor. Even though we’re showing historical figures, we are highlighting issues today like the Bay Area’s sea level rise, climate crisis, and the Bay Areas’ impact on that and highlighting the impacts in the east bay, given that there are many waste sites where Black and Brown people are living in those zones. We feel it’s our duty to help with education by doing something about it,” said Leonardo.
There are nine prominent organizing leaders in the organization currently. Their official “People of Change” website and mission statement state that “People of Change is on a mission to advance the social, political, and economic well-being of underserved communities of color through direct service and research. We aim to mobilize community members and organizations through social engagement, historical education & political empowerment.” peopleofchange.org
Who does the organization help and represent?
“We’re building a plan to help students while expanding our reach, having been in student government. I know all too well that students need resources and living assistance. Currently, we are growing in numbers and want more student involvement. Student leaders behind movements to expand beyond the community to be a movement. We are Bay Area residents, most of the team is in Hayward and some in Oakland, east bay, but we aim to reach the entire Bay Area. We recognize that although there are a lot of non-profit groups that help communities in the Bay Area. We also see that a good number of the people who work within these organizations don’t live in the neighborhoods of the communities they serve,” said Jordan.
The movement is said to involve all people and is open to all cultural backgrounds, but the group’s primary focus is empowering Black and Brown communities.
What kind of events does POC organize?
POC looks to provide community circles, speaking engagements, and a space for folks to talk about what’s happening to them. Currently, there is a plan in development to facilitate more conversation. Getting in front of people basically with a “soapbox.” Getting ideas and solutions to people who need them.
Additionally, POC would like to start a (Black & Brown) b&b market to highlight other Black & Brown small businesses, farmers markets, and block parties to check out other people’s arts. This collaboration could bring much-needed income to local community members, a new “Black Wallstreet.”
“We need to start small and keep our ears to the community, we can’t assume the value, but we want the actual impact to provide immediate value to people in need. Entertainment as culture, music, and art is of great interest to us; we’re looking to partner with the city of Hayward and local record stores, connecting with the Hayward Chamber of Commerce, blocking off a street, or a southland mall parking lot. Requirements, paperwork, and money are always a concern. We realized if we wanted to do something big, we needed to be more massive without diving too deep into our own pockets. Starting small allowed us to go further with our dollars by getting help within the community. Through coordination and challenge, we ultimately became a lot closer, which was good for the future of the organization,” said Jordan.
POC experienced growing pains and challenges in organizing events with obtaining permits, perishable food they could give out, sanitization, and a wide range of issues around “red tape.” Handing out water on the street to community members in 101-degree heat to people outside wandering around the lake. Hotdogs fed families, and they started connecting with people on a universal level, exchanging pamphlets with religious groups such as Christians and Muslims.
“It never comes down to funding; it comes down to creativity and low-cost, high impact. Getting in front of people, asking what they are looking for, what would benefit and improve their quality of life. Live physical community engagement, we see a lot of value in these, food, water, shelter, clothing, and economic opportunity. Basic level and ensure folks are taken care of and using those engagements. We are hearing the community’s experiences and using that to figure out what else can be done—trying to figure out who can do what and trying to close that gap. We see what works and what doesn’t work to improve our impact.
Coming in and listening based on what we hear, figuring out how we can help, we don’t assume ahead of time. Startups and business circles use this framework, trying to think strategically and not just momentarily.
Having more conversations with folks to see what we can learn and collaborate with other organizations,” said Jordan. POC’s first event was in Oakland at Lake Merritt. The second was with Pamoja Magazine, giving out free water snacks and showcasing art in Palo Alto. “It was a great catalyst culturally for people to see where we were coming from,” said Leonardo.
The third event for POC was attending “First Fridays” in Oakland, handing out pamphlets and water to people coming out of bars or musicians leaving gigs. This event is a regular occurrence, and POC continues to attend, handing out water and information regarding services for people in need.
“We are proud of our communication with communities, and the thinking of this brings to mind my time growing up. I was always discriminated against where I grew up in Palo Alto; my neighbors were treated very badly, which always bothered me. My parents moved from Mexico City to Palo Alto and have been there since the 60s. Myself and my family have not just been discriminated against by police officers but by the fire department and EMTs as well. I have been forced to remove my cultural clothing, including my sandals and stripped down in the middle of the street, and treated as less than human. I communicate about this with friends and family in So-Cal, some of them police officers and I tell them my experience, and even they ask why someone would do that,” said Leonardo.
You can find People of Change at upcoming “First Fridays” in Oakland, the next being this Friday, 2/10. Their website and mission statement can be found at @peopleofchange.org and [email protected]
Food Network TV show ‘The Big Bake’ winner Max Soto opened his bakery named Max Cakes and began selling out of his great baked desserts daily in downtown Hayward. In addition to making pastries, he makes custom-made-to-order cakes, cookies, and more.
Mr. Soto, now 22, was the youngest participant in the adult baking contest on the Food Network show ‘Big Time Bake’ at the age of 19. “The producers were hesitant about my age. To get on the show, you must be 21 or older (especially in adult competition shows). I went through an interview to show that I was qualified for baking. The producers saw my potential, which is how I got on the show as the youngest.” says Mr. Soto.
Mr. Soto was born and raised in Hayward, CA. He never took any cooking classes nor went to any culinary schools. He is a self-taught baker who started baking at the age of nine. While watching the TLC show ‘Cake Boss,’ he was so captivated by it that one day he had to make a cake like those on the show. His Goal was to turn anything edible into artwork.
Max Cakes is a family-oriented bakery. The business is co-owned by his parents, along with help from sisters with baking, assisting the customers, and more. Mr. Soto’s family pays a huge contribution to his success. “I give my family credit for a lot of my success. Without my family’s support, I wouldn’t be able to do any of this. My family takes the cake when it comes to support,” says Mr. Soto.
Regarding taking care of the customers, Mr. Soto gets an A grade. He is never too busy to meet and greet his customers. “He (Soto) is always nice when I come in, friendly, greeting me, and so are the employees.” says customer Rubin Rochester. Max Cakes is customer friendly.
Mr. Soto says, “I try to greet my customers as much as possible. I wouldn’t be where I’m at without my clientele. I love talking to my customers.”
Max cakes get rave reviews from his customers, and his Yelp reviews are five stars. “I love the Carrot and Champagne Toast Cake. His food doesn’t taste like all the other bakeries I’ve been to,” says customer Robin McCullough.
I Give my family credit for a lot of my success. Without my family’s support, I wouldn’t be able to do any of this. My family takes the cake when it comes to support”
Max Cakes appeared prominently on The East Bay List of Best New Bakeries.His bakery was ranked seventh out of the 10 bakeries in the Bay Area. “I go mostly to the city (San Francisco) when I want good Peach Cobbler or Cakes, but a couple of weeks ago, I came here and ordered the Peach Cobbler, and I loved it.” Says Hayward resident and customer Shaimar Hawkins.
Max Cakes is a friendly bakery that will satisfy that sweet tooth craving with very reasonable prices. Max Cakes is at 1007 B St. Hayward, Ca. Max is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
A new food drive location has opened up at Chabot College to address food insecurity in Hayward. The new site will serve as a drive-thru, no contact food distribution.
Chabot’s student-led organization, FRESH -Food, Resources, and Education to Stop Hunger- Food and Life Pantry, has partnered with the City of Hayward to battle hunger in the community. The food drive is hosted every Thursday from 11 a.m to 1 p.m.
Food insecurity in the Bay Area has risen dramatically in recent months due to widespread layoffs related to COVID-19’s impact. Millions of people have had to limit themselves to pay for basic necessities.
Roughly, 4.6 million California residents are facing food insecurity, according to CalFresh, which helps millions of families afford food each month. On average, 1 out of 8 people don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
The food drive at Chabot offers fresh produce, canned and dry goods, and dairy products. All resources and free to anyone in the community. Each distribution is based on the number of people in your household.
FRESH first began to serve the community in May 2017. Previously, FRESH had hosted a farmers market-style food distribution twice a month, with food provisions from the City of Hayward and the Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB). By the end of July, the City of Hayward had reached out to Chabot’s FRESH to make a plan for a food drive distribution.
Besides ACCFB, Sewa International, Columbus Meats, and Hope 4 the Heart have all reached out to Chabot to help with food donations.
FRESH serves, on average, 3,700 individuals and 800 families a week. Of those, about 163 of them are students at Chabot. Sofia Sanchez Pillot Saavedra, a former student at Chabot, was one of the student organizers for FRESH. She started officially as a FRESH staff last year after graduating from UC Berkeley.
Sofia would often ask herself, “Why are our students hungry?”
She noticed that when she was a student at Chabot that there was a demand for students needing food. “Food is such a basic thing. If they’re not eating how do we expect them to learn?”
Traffic control, along with food distribution, were some difficulties FRESH had to workaround during this year with the addition to COVID-19. Many people would show up early in the morning, that it would trickle down closer to the main road. FRESH would then need to decide as to whether or not to open early to alleviate traffic congestion, according to Sofia.
It’s been a work in progress, but now “we’re pretty good at being able to estimate how much to distribute to each car, to make it stretch throughout the day,” Sofia said. “If people come around 11, they’re guaranteed, whereas if they show up after 12:30, we might or might not have enough food.”
The food drive has been very beneficial to the community and its students, according to Sofia. “If the students’ families are struggling, so will the students. I think Chabot partnering with the City of Hayward is a great thing because we are serving very similar populations. Our students are not separate from the community, they are a part of it as well.”
For potential volunteers at Chabot, you can help out during the Thanksgiving week distribution on Tuesday, November 24th, and during the Christmas week distribution on Tuesday, December 22nd.
Please contact Zach Ebadi from the City of Hayward if you have any questions, or are interested in volunteering.
On Sept. 25, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law more than a dozen bills aiming to expand mental health coverage in California.
California’s new bills aim to increase mental health treatments, covering far more conditions than the state’s previous mental health laws, the biggest one being addiction. The bills also clarify new guidelines for insurance denials.
These bills are some of the strictest mental health bills in the nation. Federal and state law already mandates that insurance companies cover mental health treatments. But many patient advocates claim that they still allow insurance companies to pay for care only after the mental illness has reached a late-stage crisis, or even allow companies to outright deny coverage, reported by NPR.
Assembly Bill 2112, introduced by Assemblymember James Ramos (D-Highland), establishes an Office of Suicide Prevention within the State Department of Health. This office would help providers share their best practices in helping treat youths contemplating suicide.
The office would focus and help groups most at risk such as youth, Native American youth, older adults, veterans, and LGBTQ+ people. This bill has determined that suicide is a public health crisis that has warranted a response from the state.
Over the last three years, suicide rates have gone up 34% between the ages of 15 and 19. And is the second leading cause of death among young people, reported by the CDC. The added stress related to the coronavirus pandemic has increased mental health issues as well. Hotlines have seen a dramatic increase in calls, according to the San Jose Spotlight. Yet, many people don’t have mental health coverage under their insurance plans.
The new laws signed on Sept. 25 defines the term “medical necessity”, a measure obligating private health insurance companies to pay more for substance abuse and mental health programs. Current state laws call for health plans to cover treatment for just nine serious mental illnesses.
Senate Bill 855, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would provide coverage for medically necessary care of mental health and substance abuse disorders based on the same standards of physical treatments. Coverage for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, eating disorders, and opioid and alcohol use disorders are those not covered by the state’s previous mental health parity law, according to Wiener.
Mental health treatment would now be equal to physical health conditions in terms of providing the same coverage.
“Mental health care is essential to a person’s overall health, and today, we reaffirmed that people must have access to care for mental health and addiction challenges,” Weiner said about the new bill passing.
Weiner also claims that California’s mental health parity law has huge loopholes, which has allowed the insurance industry to deny important care.
Senate Bill 854, introduced by Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), would help offer treatment to those who suffer from substance abuse. The bill would cover all medically necessary prescription drugs, approved by the FDA, for treating substance use disorders. It would also place all outpatient prescription drugs on the lowest copayment tier maintained by the health care service plan.
Many health insurance companies opposed the new bills, claiming that increased mental health and substance use services could lead to higher costs and premiums.
The California Association of Health Plans, one of the state’s insurance regulators, claims that the “mental health parity laws are well-established both in state and federal law.” In their press release about the new bills, they argued that the defined term “medical necessity” will restrict the “ability of the provider to determine what is clinically appropriate for the individual – ultimately putting vulnerable patients at risk.”
The small business community has been hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic. Local barbershop ShortCutz on A Street in Hayward is just one of the many businesses that have been temporarily closed and deemed non-essential.
Owner and operator of ShortCutz, Trevoi “Big Tree the Barber” Fortson has been cutting hair for 20 years. ShortCutz, however,has only been around for 13 years and this is the first time Fortson has ever seen anything like this.
Several barbers alongside Fortson have been out of work for two months and counting due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), resulting in the shop’s employees looking for work elsewhere. “I have a barber who is now working at 9-5 just to make ends meet,” says Fortson.
Fortson and other barbers in ShortCutz “have been taking classes and test on sanitation and safety prior to the pandemic outbreak,” states Fortson. “Now to be forced to close is horrific.”
When allowed to reopen, ShortCutz wants clients to feel safe and not be afraid to be in its establishment.
“I will be implementing new routines,” says Fortson. “Wiping chairs prior to service, partitions between each stylist, mask, gloves, and if you’re not being serviced you can stay in your car until we are ready to service them.”
Those are just a few things Fortson plans on instituting to ensure to safety of his customers when ShortCutz is allowed to reopen its doors. As of now, barbershops are still deemed non-essential, however, a source of income is essential.