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Community Activist Supports "One of Our Own"

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By BVN Staff –

Community activist Jennifer Vaughn-Blakely is excited about the candidacy of Jose Medina for Assembly District 64. “I’ve known Jose for years and I am proud of him,” says Vaughn-Blakely.

“He has prepared himself well and I know he will represent all of the people of our area. He’s done his homework and I think it’s time.”

Blakely will join a host of community members at Medina’s Campaign Kickoff on Saturday, November 7th from 6:00-8:00pm at Zacatecas Café, 2472 University Avenue, Riverside, CA.

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” she says. “I will put all my energy into helping this good man get elected to represent our area. He’s one of our own!”

"Economic Recovery: Where Do We Go From Here?" Subject Of Town Hall, Resource Fair

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The Inland Empire’s road to economic recovery will be the focus of a resource fair and panel discussions in San Bernardino Thursday, Oct. 29 for residents and community members of the 62nd District, which includes Colton, San Bernardino, Muscoy, Fontana, Rialto and Bloomington.

State Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter (D-Rialto) is sponsoring the Town Hall event from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., which is called, “Economic Recovery: Where Do We Go From Here?” The event will offer exhibits and information on workforce training and foreclosure prevention as well as two panel discussions on the issues.

California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) is the keynote speaker. She will discuss what is happening at the state level to help the Inland Empire weather today’s rough economic times and for residents to secure their financial future.

“Assemblymember Carter’s Town Hall is a great venue for discussing how we can continue to pull ourselves out of this economic crisis,” Speaker Bass said. “With both high unemployment and foreclosures rates still plaguing our state, it’s wonderful to see residents of the 62nd Assembly District coming together and addressing these issues, as well as looking at ways to help workers retool and succeed in new information and green job markets.”

Assemblymember Carter said that she is looking forward to meeting with her constituents to “explore innovative solutions to job and housing market problems that my District and the entire state are facing.”

The event is at National Orange Show, Valencia Room, 689 S. “E” Street in San Bernardino. The resource fair is from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. The panel discussions are at 5:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. and will address “Avoiding Foreclosure” and “Career Horizons.”

The speakers are representing the Inland Empire Economic Recovery Corporation; Springboard; Workforce Investment Board; San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office; San Bernardino Valley Community College. Other legislators and public officials will be attending.

To register or get more information, call (909) 820-5008 or visit www.assembly.ca.gov/carter.

Holly Mitchell Announces Candidacy for State Assembly

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Community and political leaders from across the Inland Empire gathered at the home of longtime Riverside residents and event hosts Al and Ola Faye Stephens to support the candidacy of Holly Mitchell for State Assembly. Holly, a native Angeleno thanked those who gathered for their longtime support of she and her family.

“You all have always been very good to me...as a student leader at Poly High and UCR in the 80’s through today...” Mitchell noted.

Mitchell is running for the 47th AD, the seat currently held by Speaker of the Assembly Karen Bass, who has enthusiastically endorsed Mitchell’s candidacy.

Community leaders Lois Carson, Dr. Carolyn Murray, Dell Roberts and Barbara Smith co-hosted the event that aimed to raise necessary funds to help guarantee Mitchell’s success in the 2010 election.

Assemblywoman Wilmer Carter, who joins many of her legislative colleagues in endorsing Mitchell, stated that she is hopeful that more candidates with Mitchell’s background would consider running for public office.

With over 50 people in attendance, Mitchell spoke eloquently about her concerns about the future state budget, the economy, public education and how all of our communities will fair. “Our elected leaders have got to make the needs of working families and our children a legislative priority,” she stated, “and those are issues that are critical to us all.”

Renowned Exhibit Comes to Riverside and Brings Transformative Awareness to AIDS Pandemic

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By Derek K. Galloway –

The subject of HIV/AIDS is no longer an unknown phenomenon.

Yet in still, the silence and stigmatism that surrounds this disease continues to heighten the spread of this our deadliest of silent killers. The World Vision Experience: AIDS-Step into Africa exhibit comes to Riverside, California, October 22th through the 25th. This renowned presentation is a multimedia and interactive presentation that brings awareness concerning the plight of children living in Sub Sahara Africa with the AIDS virus.

Alarmingly, it is estimated about 25 million people are infected with HIV (two-thirds of the worlds total).

It is not as much as chance that World Vision is visiting Riverside County as it is necessity.

“Riverside and San Bernardino counties are amongst the highest of HIV and AIDS cases in the nation,” states Fadzai Chihwai. She is an AIDS counselor at Riverside Neighborhood Community Clinic. As an AIDS counselor, Chihwai is a glowing example of the dedication and concern of a generation that hopes to make an impact on this issue.

She has too often seen the shock, fear, and ignorance associated with this illness. Upon taking up an internship with the Riverside Department of Public Health she became compassionate about making a difference. “I find it rewarding if I can inspire one or two people to help someone else,” Chihwai says.

In her quest to tackle this issue through education and awareness, Chihwai would like to dispel misconceptions about this disease as it affects Africa. She continues, “It is unfortunate that many Africans don’t have the resources and education readily available as in the United States. The people there don’t have access to the healthcare, technology, and facilities. For example, in regions of Africa simply getting one condom can cost up to five dollars.”

Such challenges have inspired her to help form a non profit organization called Med Africa. The purpose is to meet the need by sending medical supplies such as Tylenol, IV’s, and Band Aids to her native country of Zimbabwe.

For those who believe the conclusion to Africa’s story has been written off as something unsalvageable, Ange St. Hilaire’s goal is to offer hope as well as participation in fighting this pandemic disease in Africa. Ange St. Hilaire, who is the Tour Communications Manager at World Vision AIDS states, “Our goal is to educate people, as well as getting kids sponsored.”

In advocating on behalf of those that are viewed voiceless and powerless, St. Hilaire sees this mission as her calling. In demeanor, she is very knowledgeable and disarming for someone who has worked in some of Africa’s hardest hit areas. “What attracted me to Africa was my love for the people.

The people are what make Africa beautiful,” she says.

World Vision is a Christian Relief and Development Organization dedicated to helping children in communities worldwide.

Beyond just meeting the financial needs, World Vision is invested in committing their time long term in the villages themselves.

As much as twenty-five years has been invested in the lives of the people in those communities they serve. St. Hilaire says, “Through your sponsorship you can not only assist a child, but help foster a village through educating children and families, building drinking wells, and facilities.

All this can be accomplished through sponsoring a single child.”

Visitors at the World Vision experience: AIDS-Step Into Africa walk through a twenty-five hundred square foot replica and vignette of an African village. In addition, participants are able to experience the effects of the pandemic in a real way through audio tracks and stories. One of the highlights of this event include the lives of four children who have been affected by AIDs. Their names are: Kombo, Babirye, Emmanuel, and Mathabo.

St. Hilaire points out, “While such experiences may be unique to us they are very common in the lives of these children.” In essence, putting the viewer in the lives of these children helps build empathy in those that hold the notion that this dilemma is solely that of the African nation.

The exhibit launched in Fall of 2005, where hundreds and thousands of visitors have gone through the exhibit all across the United States. The prototype experience was featured in the 2006, Global AIDS Conference in Toronto, and was displayed in New York’s Grand Central Terminal in 2006. The exhibited visited an additional seventy-five cities nationwide in 2007 and 2008 and is scheduled to visit forty more in 2009.

This transformative event has received overwhelming response, and continues to enlighten and empower. The event is free and open to the public from Thursday, October 22th through Sunday, October 25th.

The hours of operation are as follows: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily except Sunday and October 18th will be open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The presentation will take place at Grove Community Church, 19900 Grove Community Drive in Riverside, California 92508.

Far too often, this disease has disillusioned the conversation that we are somehow immune from the AIDs virus, or that we are not connected to it globally.

The benefit that this exhibit brings is that we are not powerless in this fight. St. Hilaire reminds us of the hope that exists, “The country of Uganda, which was one of the very first countries to be devastated by the AIDS virus, has now successfully fought back by helping the greater majority of citizens to remain negative in the contraction of the AIDs virus.”

AAHI Celebrates Seven Years Of Progress

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The African American Health Institute of San Bernardino County (AAHI-SBC) will celebrate its last seven years of progress in efforts to reduce health and healthcare disparities in Black communities of the Inland Empire.

The celebration of “Our Past, Present & Future,” takes place in the Henderson Auditorium of San Bernardino Community Hospital, 1800 Western Ave. , from 5:30 to 7:30pm. , Thursday, October 22. For details call (909) 880-2600 or visit www.AAHI-SBC.org . All are welcomed to attend.

Black churches have had outreach health ministries in the Inland Empire for more than 50 years. Dr. Temetry Lindsey founded the Inland Behavioral Health more than 30 years ago, Dr. V.Diane Woods pointed out. And Gwen Knotts founded Knotts Family Agency shortly after that.

The local branch of the California Black Health Network, in conjunction with the Black newspapers, radio talk shows, and civic organizations, as well as the Inland Empire Black Nurses Association and ethnic physicians of the J W Vines Medical Society have always worked on health issues in the Inland Empire.

More African Americans die from the leading causes of death such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS and other preventable conditions than any other group. Even African American babies die two to three times more often than other babies.

“Simply put African American males die at an average age of 56, and African American females die at an average age of 62,” said Dr. Woods.

Community leaders who were concerned about this disparity organized the African American Health Initiative in 1998, working with the San Bernardino County Medical Society. In 2003, the Medical Society hired Dr.

Woods to head a major countywide planning project for the African American Health Initiative (AAHI).

In 2004, the organization held public forums, conducted surveys, town hall meetings, and one-on-one interviews throughout San Bernardino County; gathering data from more than 1,000 local Black residents investigating why people of African ancestry continue to die much earlier than other ethnic groups; and, to identify what will work to reverse this trend.

“Much has been accomplished since we started the health planning project in 2003,” said Dr. Woods, founding president and CEO of AAHI-SBC. “We are celebrating successful positive milestones in Black community collaboration.”

As a result of the AAHI Planning Project, a comprehensive report was developed in 2004 called Voices of the People: An Afrocentric Plan for Better Health. Nine major recommendations were proposed.

Recommendation #3 was to create a credible collaborative to focus on African American health issues. Afterwards, the African American Health Institute of San Bernardino County (AAHI-SBC) was created and incorporated as a collaborative of concerned stakeholders in January 2006 to combat these issues.

Since then, AAHI-SBC has strongly promoted change in the healthcare system through advocacy, public education, community capacity building, and research.

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