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Holding Up The Pillars Of Our Country

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By Derek K. Galloway –

It has been said, “You can judge the quality of a country by the number of people trying to enter its borders.” Despite the many hurdles that exist in our nation, without question the U.S. offers freedom, and opportunities found no where else in the world. Such privileges did not come without a price to pay.

Of course, this cost was paid in large part by a core group of Americans, the service men, and women of the armed forces.

Last month, the armed forced came from all branches of the military to be honored at the 40th Annual Veterans Luncheon held at the Stratton Center at Bordwell Park .

These veterans served in campaigns dating from World War II until present day tours in Afghanistan. The gala which was hosted by the NAACP chapter of Riverside gave the community an opportunity to show their appreciation for the sacrifices made.

The Veterans, young and old, donned various military decor with medal of distinction.

Their uniforms were wonderfully adorned ranging from fatigue to marine, and navy blue. “I believe if people had the opportunity to experience what we went through back, then, there would be more of an appreciation,” says Navy Veteran Bill Bufkin. His service in the military over 50 years ago came at a time when this country openly engaged in segregation. This is a sobering reminder that great acts of sacrifice are often met with reproach.

Bufkins quiet, unassuming demeanor that exudes the countenance of something that all the honorees appear to have in common. It was a humble, yet powerful spirit that is exemplified in great men, and women of faith. It is those same qualities that has lent this same Bill Bufkin to soar as a member of The Gospel Music Hall of Fame’s Pilgrim Travelers. Bufkin reflects, “While driving my sister to the Living Gospel Choir in Detroit, I was attracted to the music, and girls there. And the rest is history.”

The contribution of African Americans is at the cornerstone to our nation’s military success.

William Collier is a member of the 1402 Combat Engineers. They were one of the last regiments to serve in the Korean War. “Our participation went a long way in the cause for integration in the military. There were so many casualties amongst both black and white soldiers it got to the point where it didn’t matter what color the troops were, as long as they were able to help, “says Collier.”

His military roots run even deeper. Both his father William Collier, Sr. , and uncle Ernest Collier served as members of the elite all Black regiment, the Buffalo Soldiers. At the close of the Civil War, the U.S. army formed regiments of Black men. Their calvary units were the 9th and 10th Calvary, along with the 24th and 25th Infantry Units.

These men served their country with integrity, and distinction during the Indian Wars in the South West, as well as the Pershing Mission. It was here the last independent Horse Calvary in 1916, went into action against an enemy (most notably Pancho Villa). Their participation went on into World War I. Collier points out, “The name Buffalo Soldiers was not given as an insult. Moreover, it described the bravery, and courage of the revered buffalo often resembled the course hair characteristic of many African-American men.”

Our country is better because of the brave efforts of our women veterans, including women like Lieutenant Colonel Laraine Hall who served valiantly in Desert Storm. She offers these thoughts for others who are pressing towards a goal, “Remain focused on whatever your dreams are, and be determined.” This strong women of stature with ladylike grace continues, “I credit my mother who is the real general, and the Lord for my success!”

For soldiers who are no longer with us, the legacy they left of giving back continues on in their children. Dr. Rita Ramirez-Dean is the daughter of Joe Acevedo Ramirez, a Technical Sargent in the Army. He served with General MacArthur in 1944. In addition, her uncle Corporal Rudy Hernandez was also a hero who fought in Korea. In 1969, he received a Congressional Medal of Honor. “My dad instilled that you don’t have to ask, stand up for your home, God, and country. Home gives us our values, God who gives us faith, and country which gives us equal opportunity,” Dr. Ramirez-Dean states.

Dr. Ramirez has 38 years of educational and leadership experience with credentials that would rival and humble any elected official. This year she plans to run for San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools. She would be the first woman of color to hold such a position in over 100 years in this county. “My love is education. My priority is quality education for all students, my goal is for all teachers to teach and students to learn. My satisfaction will be to know I have done my best with the help of parents, educators, and students,” Dr. Ramirez-Dean says.

As we celebrate on veterans we also reflect on the faith, sacrifice, and cost connected with service. In many regards, they demonstrated the impact individuals can accomplish when committed to a common good. A notion not unfamiliar to Wadieur Hughes, as the President of NAACP Chapter of Riverside she reminds us, “A lifetime of service requires staying power.” She challenges others to uphold the baton that many have passed before. She warns that burn out can be common. “If your drive is to receive constant praise and awards you will be quite discouraged,” Hugh says. In this country we have witnessed how far our nation has come when it elected our first African-American Commander In Chief, President Barack Obama. A victory that was that many of our veterans thought they would never live to see.

Community Briefs

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RPU Officials Refute Water Report Finding

Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) officials announced today that a recent Internet blog report placing Riverside’s drinking water among the worst in the nation is just plain wrong.

“Bottom line: Riverside’s water is safe to drink and meets or surpasses state and federal water quality requirements,” said Kevin Milligan, RPU assistant general manager/ water.

The Environmental Working Group, a watchdog nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. , released the report on Saturday. It placed Riverside as No. 2 on a list of cities with the worst water in the nation.

However, Milligan said, what the report does not indicate is that samples used in the survey were from groundwater sources taken before treatment as required by California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

RPU General Manager David Wright said the people of Riverside can see annual water testing statistics going back to 2001 at the RPU Web site: http://www.riversideca.gov/utilities/water-wqr.asp.


“Big View” Meeting On Developing Your Personal Financial Plan To Be Held In Moreno Valley Community Action Partnership of Riverside County (CAP Riverside) and United Way of the Inland Valleys are offering a free presentation on “The Power of your Paycheck” to be held on Saturday, January 9, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. This “Big View” meeting will be located at the Moreno Valley Community Education Center, 23910 Alessandro Boulevard in Moreno Valley. It is being sponsored by the Guiding Coalition, a community advisory committee that is a part of Project B.L.I.S.S. , a CAP Riverside initiative to help families move out of poverty.

Topics to be discussed include:

How to Develop a Financial Plan, Living Within Your Means and What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You.

The meeting is open to all, and reservations are requested. For reservations or information, contact Lanita Tademy at (951) 955-4900 or info@capriverside.org


Help A Neighbor – Volunteer To Ring A Silver Bell

The Salvation Army has started its Christmas tradition of ringing silver bells by shiny red kettles, so that passersby have a trustworthy opportunity to help those less fortunate.

“The Red Kettle fund raiser is our biggest fund raiser of the year,” said Capt. Nancy Ball, co-director of The Salvation Army San Bernardino Corps. “We use the funds received to support our programs year-round to provide food, shelter and youth programs to our community.

The Salvation Army will continue ringing bells, Monday through Saturday until Christmas Eve. It seeks volunteer bell-ringers so that it can staff even more locations, more of the time.

For the past several years, Salvation Army of San Bernardino board member, and Dameron Communications founder and creative director, Carl Dameron volunteered with his wife Malaika and two daughters, Shaila and Shiane. The entire Salvation Army of San Bernardino board also volunteered their time to ring silver bells and ask the community for help.

“We receive great satisfaction knowing we had made a difference in our community,” Carl Dameron said. “We also enjoyed spending the time together as a family and teaching our children about the responsibility we have to care for those in our community who are less fortunate.”

55 and Better Line Dance Class

The City of Riverside Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department will be hosting a Line Dancing class from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm each Wednesday beginning February 3, 2010. The class will be held at the new La Sierra Senior Center, located at 5215 La Sierra Avenue.

Come to the La Sierra Senior Center and learn the Cotton Eyed Joe, Olé and Slappin’ Leatherhearts. Line dancing can be doubly rewarding, offering a chance for social interaction and gentle exercise.

Come into the La Sierra Senior Center Monday through Friday to sign up for a fun and exciting lesson of Beginning Line Dance. The cost is $20.00 for residents and $32.00 for non-residents.

For additional information regarding Beginning Line Dancing class at the La Sierra Senior Center, please contact Michael Mitchell at 951-351-6435 or email mpmitchell@riversideca.gov.

Pechanga Hosts So Cal’s Largest New Year’s Eve Party

More than 75,000 people are expected to descend upon Pechanga Resort & Casino on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, possibly breaking last year’s record of the biggest NYE ever. Southern California’s greatest party will feature a cirque-themed gala in the Ballroom; American Idol winner, David Cook, in the Showroom; LMFAO in Silk; a flashback party in Eagle’s Nest; not to mention free live bands in The Cabaret.

Pechanga will be the place to celebrate the countdown to 2010 as thousands gather in the Round Bar to count off 2009’s final seconds.

Tickets available at the Pechanga Showroom Box Office, or call 877-711-2946, or visit www.pechanga.com.

Santa Brings Cheer To Pediatric Patients In S.B.

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This year, young medically fragile patients who have long-term, clinically complex conditions at Community Hospital of San Bernardino were granted a special wish never imagined: a visit from Santa Claus! Christmas came early at Community Hospital of San Bernardino as Santa came straight from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, bringing gifts and holiday cheer.

After his appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Santa hit the road for a national holiday 25-city bus tour as part of the Macy’s Believe campaign. Through this campaign, people of all ages can visit a local Macy’s, fill out a postcard addressed to Santa, and drop it in the special “Believe” mailbox.

For each postcard received, Macy’s will make a $1 donation to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million, helping make dreams come true for young children with life threatening illnesses. Seventy five percent of the funds raised through this campaign stay local. Children can drop their letters in any of Macy’s stores in the Inland Empire.

Riverside’s Fox Theater: An Intimate Portrait

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Photographer Michael J. Elderman, who has been called “the eyes of Riverside,” has been photographing Riverside’s Historic Fox Theater since March 2005. Now, more than 10,000 photos later, Elderman displays his work in the exhibition Riverside’s Fox Theater: An Intimate Portrait at Riverside Art Museum, with a reception and book signing December 17, from 6 to 8PM.

Elderman’s recent body of work is comprised of documentary photography showing the theater’s restoration as part of the City of Riverside’s Renaissance program. However, rather than concentrating on wide views showing large sections of the building, Elderman has focused on revealing intimate sub-sections of the Fox. Recently, Elderman exhibited photos from his Fox studies at La Sierra University’s Brandstater Gallery.

Where the work at the Brandstater emphasized the transformation and recreation of the grand but deteriorated theater, the exhibition at RAM focuses on artistic composition for its own sake. Textured abstraction, geometric grids, and cast shadows revel in texture, light, line and pattern. Some of the photos depict recognizable objects, but many others are abstracted segments – a gold-leaf footprint, a segment of a fallen exterior wall, or a geometric light shape on an unfinished interior wall.

“The power of Elderman’s work lies in his compositions filled with often-overlooked details that invite you to look closer,” says RAM Curator Lee Tusman. “The subjects of Elderman’s portraiture are the forgotten places of quiet beauty: the pitch black rooms, the patchwork of thick paint on a decrepit wall, and the seemingly-improvisatory nature of cracks and oxidation in the ceiling.”

In fact, this attention to detail accounts for the power of the work to represent the literal and figurative parts of the process of restoring any building, not just the Fox Theater.

Elderman’s accompanying book, Riverside’s Fox Theater:

An Intimate Portrait is a coffee-table-style book that has already garnered impressive reviews.

Included in Elderman’s book are essays on Preservation by Knox Mellon, California State Preservation Officer, Emeritus; a brief history of the uses of the theater by historian Joan Hall; and a critique of Elderman’s photography by UCR ARTSblock Director Jonathan Green. The exhibition remains on view until March 6, 2010. A reception and book signing will be held at RAM on Thursday, December 17, 2009, from 6 – 8PM.

RAM relies on the generosity of members and donors to support its exhibitions, education programs and special events. As a 50-year-old, private, non-profit cultural arts institution, housed in a National Historic 1929 building designed by Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan, the museum welcomes over 50,000 visitors a year. The museum is open M-S, 10:00 – 4:00 P.M. For more information on exhibitions and events, please visit www.riversideartmuseum.org.

African Children’s Choir In Concert Sunday, December 13th

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Chief Pastor Lacy K. Sykes, Jr. and Cross Word Christian Church is pleased to host a CONCERT with THE AFRICAN CHILDREN’S CHOIR this coming Sunday, December 13th at 4:00 p.m.

This event is open to the public – everyone is welcome.

ABOUT THE CHOIR. The African Children’s Choir has been working with the most vulnerable children in  Africa for 25 years, raising awareness of the plight of Africa’s orphaned and abandoned, but also showing the beauty, dignity and potential of each African child. They are a voice for the millions of children suffering in Africa.

What Is Their Concert Like? The children melt the hearts of audiences with their charming smiles, beautiful voices and lively African songs and dances. The concert will feature well-loved children’s songs, traditional spirituals and contemporary tunes. Nearly every performance is concluded with a thunderous standing ovation.

In spite of the tragedy that has marred their young lives, the children are radiant with hope, musically gifted and wonderfully entertaining.

You will see the hope, dignity and beauty of Africa!

What Is The Purpose Of The Tour? The primary goal of the Choir is to raise awareness of the need of destitute and orphaned children in Africa and to raise funds for continued development and support of the African Children’s Choir Programs.

The Choir’s international educational endeavor provides unique training for the children. Once Choir members have completed a concert tour, they will return to their homelands with the tools  necessary for bettering their future. For more information on the choir, visit www.africanchildrenschoir.com

A free-will offering will be taken to help provide education, care and emergency relief for over 7,000 children in Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, Ghana, Southern Sudan, Kenya and South Africa.

Cross Word Christian Church is located at 14950 Riverside Drive, Riverside, California 92518 (just east of March Air Reserve Base at Riverside & Meyer Drive).

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BVN National News Wire