Wiz Kid / Lemonade Stand
EMPLOYMENT | EMPOWERMENT | ENVIRONMENT | YOUTH

Wiz Kid / Lemonade Stand

Mikaila Ulmer was 4 when she had an important epiphany inspired by the pain of a bee sting. A couple of bee stings, to be exact. “I got stung by two bees in one week!” she says about her initial run-in with the winged pollinators. “I was super, really afraid of bees.” But after using extensive research as a way to overcome her mounting fear, Ulmer had a realization: “Honeybees were important, they were dying, and we needed to save them.” Her solution? Making a lemonade brand inspired by her great-granny’s recipe that would taste delicious and help the plight of the honeybee. (more…)

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Former Foster Child <p>Devotes His Life to Helping Kids in Foster Care
COMMUNITY | WELLNESS | YOUTH

Former Foster Child

Devotes His Life to Helping Kids in Foster Care

When Rob Scheer opened his door in 2009 to meet his first-ever foster children, he did not expect to be reminded of an old, painful memory that would propel him into philanthropic action.But the jostled memory was so powerful that it eventually prompted Rob and his husband, Reece, to found a charity that has now helped more than 20,000 foster children.

The Scheers’ charity, Comfort Cases, provides foster children with backpacks filled with comforting supplies to carry with them as they traverse what insiders call “the system.” The hand-packed bags replace the standard-issue foster child suitcase: A plastic trash bag. That is what little Amaya and Makai, then ages 4 and 2, respectively, had with them when they arrived at the Scheers’ rural Maryland front door seven years ago. It also is what jostled Rob’s memory of a deeply painful experience.

“The doorbell rang,” says Rob, recalling the day a social worker arrived at his house with the two children. “There stood a little girl in braids, carrying a little boy. The girl didn’t smile. The boy was almost like a wet noodle. And they were carrying all their belongings in trash bags. ”The sight of the bags took Rob’s breath away.“We put our garbage in trash bags,” Rob tells PEOPLE. “We discard our trash. Why would you treat a child’s meager belongings like trash? A child whose life is crumbling around them? What a horrible thing to do to a child.”Rob should know. He went through the experience himself. (more…)

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Gangs In Berkeley Ca.
COMMUNITY | CRIME AND SAFETY | YOUTH

Gangs In Berkeley Ca.

This week, for the first time ever, Berkeley police officers were given carte blanche to speak without filters at a public meeting about gang activity in town and what can be done to help those who are drawn to it. Monday night, BPD gang experts Sgt. Patty Delaluna and Officer Matt McGee offered insight into the main gangs in Berkeley, the history of local gangs, dynamics that have sparked recent violence, and more. The meeting was organized by the Berkeley Safe Neighborhoods Committee (BSNC), which has monthly sessions at BPD on public safety subjects such as shootings in Berkeley, drinking at Cal, youth violence and more.

About 20 local residents attended the meeting, and pledged to take information back to their neighborhoods after officers answered questions about the topic at hand. Councilwoman Cheryl Davila, who showed up late, remarked that nearly no one in the room had come to her violence prevention meeting a few days earlier, and said that’s where the community’s efforts should be.

“It just kind of saddens me to hear this kind of talk because, in a way, it sounds racist, discriminatory,” she said. “I’m just speaking the truth right now, from what I just heard.” Her comments echoed disagreements that have cropped up repeatedly in online forums like Nextdoor, where residents worried about crime have clashed with those who say such discussions inflame racial tensions and promote stereotypes and profiling.

Others in the room Monday said their hope is to find ways to curtail criminal behavior, not demonize a particular demographic group. Some residents spoke about city programs and summer jobs available to youth, and said they want to increase them. Officers emphasized efforts they have made to build relationships and connect at-risk youth and their families to resources — which Berkeley does have — and said the success stories have stuck with them over the years. The failures have made an impact, too. (more…)

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Student Parent to Graduate

Her Son by Her Side

Graduating senior Dajanaye Adrow-Hubbard always knew she was destined for college. She grew up in Oakland in a low-income family and knew that her ticket to a more comfortable lifestyle was getting an college education. In high school, she joined College Track, an organization that gives students from under served communities the skills they need to succeed in college. With support from the program’s mentors, she applied and was accepted to a handful of universities, including UC Berkeley.

When she found out she was pregnant as a senior in high school, she never considered changing her college plans. “It was like, okay, I guess me and baby are going to college,” she said. “I didn’t count it out. I was like, well, I guess I’m going to have a best friend to take with me the whole time. I’m not going to be alone.”

But before the 17-year-old could tell her family about the pregnancy, her boyfriend and the father of her baby was shot and killed at a party.“When he got killed, I told my parents about the pregnancy,” she says. Adrow-Hubbard was worried her mom was going to be mad, but she and the rest of her family were supportive. “They were like, ‘Oh, it’s a blessing. It’s like God is giving you a gift.’ ” (more…)

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