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Riverside NAACP Rejects Request to Cancel its Award to District Attorney Zellerbach

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By Lee Ragin
VOICE Editor

The Riverside Branch of the NAACP announced Wednesday that its executive committee has denied a recent request to rescind its award to Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach.

The request, submitted by an undisclosed outside party, disputed the merit of an award to honor Zellerbach who is currently running for re-election. Zellerbach was recently criticized for his alleged role in a political campaign incident when a campaign sign belonging to his opponent was taken down. The informal request via text message and email was submitted to branch President Waudieur “Woodie” Rucker-Hughes of the Riverside NAACP earlier this month.

Members of the executive committee chose to reject the dispute since the award did not breach any ethical code by the Riverside NAACP, which does not consider political elections in its award decisions. Zellerbach, who is being awarded in the “Law/Justice” category for his community involvement, is among many previous elected officials who have received an award from the NAACP in the local organization’s 72-year history of charter in Riverside.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Riverside NAACP explained, “We, the executive committee of the Riverside Branch of the NAACP, under the outstanding leadership of Waudieur (“Woodie”) Rucker-Hughes do not endorse any candidate for any political office. We do not respond or address any matters related to political campaigns. We, as the executive committee of the Riverside Branch of the NAACP, have deliberated and concluded that there will be no change made to our Freedom Fund Award recipients.”

The annual Freedom Fund Celebration will be held May 14 at the Riverside Convention Center.

Loma Linda University Health Study: Black Vegetarians at Lower Risk for Heart Disease

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LOMA LINDA, CA – April 9, 2014 – Among more than 26,000 black Seventh-day Adventists, those who are vegetarians are at lower risk for heart disease, compared with their meat-eating counterparts, according to results of a new Loma Linda University Health study.

The study, available online now in the journal Public Health Nutrition, compared the cardiovascular risk factors between black vegetarians and non-vegetarians who are part of the ongoing Loma Linda University Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2).

AHS-2, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is a long-running study of members throughout North America of the Seventh-day Adventist Church focusing on nutrition, lifestyle, and health outcomes. The Seventh-day Adventists are a unique study subject because they have a wide variety of dietary habits, but in general have a very low percentage of alcohol consumption or cigarette smoking, non-dietary factors that may otherwise impact the study.

The new results show a hierarchy of protection received by black participants in the study based on their eating habits: Vegans (those who completely abstain from meat and meat products) and lacto-ovo vegetarians (those who consume eggs and dairy) were the least at risk for cardiovascular disease; followed by semi-vegetarians (those who infrequently eat meat); pesco-vegetarians (those who eat fish); and lastly, non-vegetarians.

The study results show that compared with their non-vegetarian counterparts, black vegetarian Adventists were at less risk for hypertension, diabetes, high blood pressure, total cholesterol, and high blood-LDL cholesterol. The study was a cross-sectional analysis of the data, and does not conclusively establish cause. In the future, the study involving black subjects also plans to look directly at heart disease experience rather than risk factors for heart disease.

Patti Herring, PhD, MA, RN, associate professor at Loma Linda University School of Public Health and one of the study’s co-investigators, said “some findings for black Adventists are promising and we are anxious to compare black Adventist health with the general population of blacks. In so doing, we suspect that black Adventists’ health will prove better in many regards, than those in the general population, particularly for the vegetarians.”

“There’s a growing body of evidence that vegetarian diets lower the risk for cardiovascular diseases and other diseases,” she said, noting that AHS-2 is one of the few that has such a large number of black participants, which is important since they generally have some of the worst health outcomes among minority populations.

The abstract of the study is available by going to this link: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9205599&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S1368980014000263

-PRESS RELEASE-

Nominations Being Accepted for the Inaugural Diamond Award, Promoting Justice in Orange County

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Costa Mesa – Vanguard University’s acclaimed Global Center for Women and Justice is now taking nominations for its first-ever Diamond Award. The award will honor individuals or organizations whose activities and commitment promote justice and dignity for women and children in Orange County.

The inaugural Diamond Award will be presented by The Global Center for Women & Justice at Vanguard University, a faith-based organization that exists to advance the global status of women through research, education, advocacy, collaboration and hope. Individuals and organizations (nonprofit and for-profit) are invited to submit entries for individuals, businesses or groups for their efforts to advance justice for women and children through research, education, advocacy, collaboration and hope.

Nominations are encouraged in 3 categories: outstanding corporation or business, outstanding individual, and outstanding youth or youth group.

“Justice issues around human trafficking, violence against women, and child exploitation are complex and require innovative approaches to make a lasting difference in the lives of the most vulnerable,” explains Sandra Morgan, RN, PhD (c), director of the Global Center for Women and Justice. Morgan says, “We chose a diamond for this award because it is the perfect image to represent the many-faceted efforts required to make a difference!”

The selection process will take place in June and July, as a judge’s panel comprised of business and community leaders, philanthropists, law enforcement, and Vanguard University faculty will evaluate the top nominees. The Global Center for Women and Justice will announce the Diamond Award winner at the annual More Priceless Than Diamonds luncheon at the Balboa Bay Club on September 13, 2014.

Submissions may be received by mail or online at: http://gcwj.vanguard.edu/diamondaward

To learn more about the Diamond Award and The Global Center for Women and Justice at Vanguard University, visit http://gcwj.vanguard.edu

-PRESS RELEASE-

LA Voice Leaders Aim to Obtain Health Care for All on the Four-Year Anniversary of the ACA

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Faith community mobilizes over 100 people to attend an enrollment and empowerment event in LA On March 23, LA Voice and St. Agatha Church are hosting an enrollment and education event as a part of a National Day of Action in celebration of the four-year signing anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). LA Voice and nine other PICO California federations will partner with the congregations we serve and health coalition allies to provide opportunities for attendees to learn more about eligibility requirements, financial assistance options, and to complete healthcare applications on site. On Sunday, participating PICO California member congregations of multiple faiths will reach more than 27,500 members in communities across the state.

In Los Angeles, LA Voice has 26 member congregations, and together we are seeking to help all uninsured members of our community obtain access to affordable health care, including those currently ineligible for ACA. LA Voice has helped to enroll over 650 individuals so far—many of whom will share success stories—yet in every community there are people who remain uninsured and excluded from access to the health care they deserve. Certified Enrollment Counselors from Covered California, QueensCare Clinics and California Association of Health Underwriters will be on-site to answer questions and assist with enrollment in Medi-Cal, Covered California and Healthy Way LA’s Unmatched Program. The event is free and open to the public.

PICO federations mobilized thousands of religious leaders across the country to pressure Congress to pass the healthcare law, and now we’re marshalling the same commitment to ensure that it works for every American regardless of economic status, race or place of residence. PICO California’s faith-based federations have already reached out to nearly 83,000 people to provide education and enrollment assistance since the marketplace opened in October. We are committed to seeing the process through until the promise of the Affordable Care Act is fulfilled.

A substantial portion of the remaining uninsured include 2.6 million aspiring Americans in the state of California who are not eligible for health insurance under ACA. According to the 2014 Public Policy Institute Statewide Survey, 58 percent of residents support the state government making its own policies—separate from the federal government—to address the needs of aspiring Americans. PICO California federations support SB 1005 (Lara) which would allow all Californians to get the same levels of access to and afford care, regardless of immigration status. We believe our health system is stronger when all Californians are included.

-PRESS RELEASE-

Obamacare Sign-ups Among Blacks Still Low in California; Increased Efforts Made to Engage and Enroll African-Americans

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By California Black Media

Concerned about the low number of African-Americans taking advantage of low-cost health insurance plans or free Medi-Cal coverage, Covered California is pumping new resources into an eleventh-hour drive to get more black Californians to seize the opportunities available through Obamacare.

The Affordable Care Act enrollment deadline is March 31. Beyond that date, Californians without health care coverage — either through an employer, the Covered California insurance exchange or Medi-Cal — will face financial penalties.

Only about half of the blacks in California eligible for a dramatic improvement in their health care coverage have enrolled thus far. Of particular interest to advocates are the opportunities in Medi-Cal: it is now available, free of charge, to all single men and women earning less than $14,431 per year; families of four are eligible for Medi-Cal with an income less than $29,367.

In a recent press briefing, Covered California executive director Peter V. Lee acknowledged the challenge of getting more African-Americans engaged in the enrollment process.

“With African-Americans it’s about 2.6 percent of folks that have enrolled, and the percentage who are eligible is about 4 percent — so we are not doing as well as we want,” he said in response to a question from California Black Media. “So, one of our targets in the last month has been to redouble our efforts. We’ve made additional ad buys in African-American papers and are doing more outreach. We’re optimistic, because our aspirations are that we want to enroll everybody that is eligible.”

However, Betty Williams, of 1 Solution — a statewide certified Covered California enroller and educator, serving a predominantly African-American population — believes the turnout could have been better. “I’ve been saying that for a long time,” she said. “The coverage in print, radio and social media just wasn’t there from the beginning. I’ve had to step up and hire more staff. In addition, the 800 [information] number closes at 5 [p.m.], and I’ve partnered with some churches to enroll people from 5:30 onward. I’ve even used my own money to cover the expense.”

These challenges don’t exist in every community. At a recent public event in downtown Los Angeles, Lee, along with Toby Douglas, director of the California Department of Health Services (DHCS), announced that more than 3 million Californians have signed up through Covered California or Medi-Cal since Oct. 1.

According to Lee, the number of consumers selecting a Covered California health insurance plan reached 880,082 by the end of February — including 762,174 consumers who are eligible for subsidies. He added that the five-month enrollment figure exceeds by more than 200,000 the base projection for Covered California for the entire six-month enrollment period, which ends March 31.

Still, in the African-American community, advocates are pushing forward with culturally-specific methods of outreach. One of those avenues: getting people enrolled in houses of worship. Several faith-based organizations in California have been enlisted to spread the word about the importance of securing health care coverage.

“Churches are considered an important engine in funneling information to the African American community, because historically the church, family and the school have been the major institutions responsible for the viability of the African-American community,” said Tara Lynn Gray of the California Black Health Network. “In addition, the church is many times the center for social interaction in African- American communities — and therefore influences ideas, thoughts and cultural dynamics of the entire community.”

With the deadline drawing nearer, civil rights organizations are also stepping up efforts to boost enrollment. Frederick B. Young Jr., president of the Tri-City NAACP in Solano County, said his organization has hosted forums aimed at disseminating accurate information and encouraging peopleto enroll.

Most forum attendees have questions about cost and the process of changing coverage. Among the proudest successes for Young’s organization: helping secure coverage for both a cancer patient and a developmentally disabled young adult.

“Our primary objective,” Young said, “is to educate folks.”

CBM correspondent Kenzie Jackson contributed to this report.

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