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Mohegan Sun Hosts Coaches Convention

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By Earl Heath
It was the gathering place for more than 2100 baseball and softball coaches. The Mohegan Sun Casino tucked away in beautiful picturesque Southeastern Connecticut, was the setting for the World Baseball Coaches' Convention and the Black Voice News takes you there.

The Mohegan Sun is the World's second largest casino and is also a sports haven as it is the home of the WNBA's Connecticut Sun. It's hosted World Championship fights including; Evander Holyfield and John Ruiz. This time it was all about baseball and softball. Coaches and vendors came from around America and Canada.

New York Yankee batting instructor Don Mattingly was one of the hot speakers many came to hear. Mattingly, who played 14 years for the Yankees, was the American League MVP in 1985. "I love sharing what I know," said Mattingly. "It helps the game and if I can help youngsters and their coaches do better, that's what's important."

Former Texas Ranger and New York Met manager Bobby Valentine was on hand to share some of he knowledge he has absorbed as a player and manager for 27 years. Valentine, with a 2005 Japan Series championship, discussed with the Black Voice News the difference between professional baseball in Japan and America. "There is no difference, it‘s the exact same game," said Valentine. "There are 12 teams there and 30 teams here, so that's different. There's more money thrown around here (America). Baseball is baseball wherever you play it."

Kevn Smith - Director of the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission
There were not just professional ballplayers or managers at the Mohegan Sun. Kevin Smith, Director of the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission, was on hand. Smith was impressed with the Hot Seat portion of the convention. This entailed past and present major leaguers such as B.J. Ryan, Valentine and Mattingly to answer questions from host Mark Leinweaver and the audience members themselves.

"We're here to bring sports and tourism back to the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area," said Smith.

The commission hosts about 46 tournaments a year that last from three days to a week. The World Baseball Coaches Convention is one way to recruit coaches and teams for some of its tournaments. Some areas have four separate one week tournaments in the Sunshine State. "Some of our larger tournaments will have 25 different states represented at one time from California, Texas and many from the eastern seaboard." 

Former Detroit Tiger John Valle with signature glove
Beau Blair represented Team Express from San Antonio, Texas. He was there to promote his baseball and softball equipment that is delivered nationwide. "We have a ton of customers that go by us all the time and we make the effort to be here for them," said Blair.

John Valle was in town from Rochester, New York. The former Detroit Tiger made the trip to push his lines of baseball and softball gloves and bats. The company, Valle Baseball, has distribution throughout the east coast.

Retired UCLA Head softball coach Sue Enquist was one of the most sought after speakers at the convention. Enquist led the Bruins to 11 National Championships. Players and coaches hung on every word as she gave illustrated batting instructions to the audience.

"The game {softball} allows no color line, no ethnic background restrictions. It accepts everyone whether you're fast or slow, rich or poor," said Enquist. "If you decide to work hard and be committed to this game, it rewards you with opportunities to go to college." 

"I've learned how to be more efficient in my practices," said Emily Crompton, head softball coach of Northwood Academy of New Hampshire. "I've learned tons of new things and more hitting tips from coach Enquist. It is interesting to see how people have gotten their program to grow and grow as her team."

(R-L) Bobby Valentine, Chairman g'tine'mong - Dr. Ralph Sturges and Don Mattingly share a moment at World Baseball Coaches Convention at the Mohegan Sun
Baseball coaches Sal Coppola and Jeff Rotteck made the trip from Amity High School in Western Connecticut. They have attended the event for several years and information gathered from previous coaches conventions at the Mohegan Sun has helped their coaching ability immensely. "We implement a lot of the stuff we learn here," said Coppola. "We do have to adapt it because a lot of the coaches are dealing with pro and college players. We take what they give us and adjust it to high school kids. We'll incorporate into our drills and our smaller facilities. We make it work for us."

Amity High reached the Connecticut State Finals three of the last four seasons. This year they are the Class S Champions. Coppola was extremely impressed with speaker Rod Delmonico University of Tennessee head coach . "He's tremendous and talks about philosophy and how to approach the game. We use a lot of what he has to say."

Delmonico is a fiery young coach from the University of Tennessee who was the crowd favorite at the convention. He's led the Vols to nine 40-win seasons on the way to becoming the Vols winningest coach in history with 650 wins. He's straight forward and believes in diversity, as his team has players from many races and all walks of life including Brazil and Puerto Rico. While assistant coaching at Florida State he went to three College World Series in six years and coach Deon Sanders. "For me, I like to give a little bit and learn. Also, I like to give back to the game," said Delmonico. "I believe when you stop learning you're done and you should retire."

New Location for McKay’s Family Mortuary

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McKay's Family Mortuary Chapel of Palms would like to announce the opening of their second location, McKay's Family Aftercare, Burial and Cremation Service located at 2001 3rd Street, Riverside, CA 95207.  McKay's Family Mortuary C.O.P. has serviced a large number of clients in the Riverside area over the past year and with that in mind they were motivated to expand their professional services and goodwill to Riverside.  It is their mission to provide continuity to the families that they have served and to meet any present or future aftercare needs for the community at large.  This new location includes an Aftercare library, hospice information and funeral prearrangements or preneed information centers.  McKay says, "Why not put your funeral on Lay-A-Way.  We have five, ten, twenty year plans available and the insurance companies that specialize in these services are reputable and in good standing". 

The McKay family
Since their grand opening on January 24, 2005 at 16918 Baseline Blvd., Fontana they have served and touched many minds and hearts in the San Bernardino and Fontana communities with their humanitarian efforts and goodwill.  "With a sincere heart we established an open door policy under the auspices of hope to honor the community with dignity and respect as their public servant," stated Mark McKay.  Lists of past public services include a Prayer Vigil in honor of the Hurricane Katrina Victims, Health Self Awareness Workshops.  Passing out flowers, flags and flyers on the 4th of July and Veterans Day to those who drive by, inviting them to share in the service that's taking place inside the chapel.  In a joint effort, McKay's interacting with fellow humanitarians in the community such as: Pastor Raymond Turner of Temple Baptist, San Bernardino, Pastor Gantt of Second Baptist, Riverside, CA, that took the initiative and opportunity to sponsor and co-sponsor services honoring Father's, Memorial and Veterans Day celebrations. 

In October 2006, Mr. McKay received the Achievement Award for Community Service in Riverside from U.S. Senate Chaplin Barry Black of Washington, D.C.  Among other awards received were those from, Josie Gonzales, County Supervisor of San Bernardino, CA, Joe Baca, Jr., former Assemblymember and the City of Fontana.  Not to mention numerous recognitions by local entertainment celebrities for the professional services rendered to their family members and the untiring humanitarian efforts exercised by McKay and his staff.

McKay says, "It is our goal to encourage the general public to regain faith and trust in the funeral industry again.  It begins by educating people about death through the administration of an entirely new concept and approach; visuals.  The process of providing information to the consumer about this industry is vital and has been seriously inspired by a continuous flow of litigation".   Mr. McKay's concern, humanitarian efforts and respect for the communities he serve is spreading throughout the entire Inland Valley and neighboring counties. As one bereaved family member stated, "Mr. McKay is just what the doctor ordered to get the job done".    

Ladies Fashion Goes Online

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By Anna Wenger

Formerly Lady's Fashion in the Rialto Discount Mall for over 3 years, Velma Davis has taken her designer suit business online. Men and Ladies Fashion feature top designer suits and accessories from designers such as Donnavinci, Fifth Sunday, Falcone, Lisa Rene, Ben Marc, and Stacy Adams.

Image Also a nurse for 18 years, Velma Davis is not new to the fashion world.  She has tailored women and men's clothing for approximately 15 years.  She currently lives in San Bernardino with her husband and she is the mother of 6 and the grandmother of many.

In response to why her customers should order from her online Velma said, "I have been sewing since I was a kid, I have a tailoring background and I only offer the best available quality merchandise to my customers.  I enjoy what I do and I believe everyone should dress their best."

Ms. Davis is also not a stranger to the church community which is where some of her customers come from. Her husband, Birtes Davis is the pastor of Good Faith Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Velma is available for church fashion shows and events. For more information regarding Men and Ladies Fashion or to place your online order, go to www.menandladiesfashion.citymax.com or call Velma at 909 889.8792.

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS-Alzheimer Patient Reunited with Brother and Sister 16 Months after Katrina

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By Chris Levister

Eighty-eight year-old Ella Ray has done some serious thinking about life since Hurricane Katrina nearly robbed her of life on the morning of August 29, 2005, but don't ask her to talk about it. Ella Ray suffers from Alzheimer's disease. She is blind in one eye, can't walk and is only able to speak a few words. Hers is a story steeped in loss, courage, hope, earth angels and prayers answered.

Ella Ray (left) who suffers from Alzheimer’s is reunited with her sister Evelyn and brother Sylvester in Beaumont 16 months after Hurricane Katrina separated them.
Ella Ray was all smiles seated in a black overstuffed chair next to a blazing fireplace, and a brightly lit Christmas tree.  She isn't sure how she ended up in the Beaumont home of Jim and Sally Abrahms nearly 2,000 miles from her home in New Orleans' Ninth Ward, but she couldn't be happier.

Her prayers to be reunited with her beloved ‘Sil' and Lil' Bit were answered.

On December 23 just in time for Christmas, Ella Ray was reunited with her sister Evelyn (Lil' Bit) and brother Sylvester (Sil) 16 months after Katrina blew in and separated them.

Ella Ray was in a nursing home that was crippled by the storm. The facility wasn't flooded, but there was no power and a skeleton crew was struggling to survive with dwindling food and supplies.

Sylvester, a retired New Orleans police officer, visited the nursing home several times after the storm and finally persuaded medical authorities to bring ambulances and move the frail patients to the New Orleans airport. Ella Ray was one of a dozen  elderly people evacuated to San Antonio. If any identification or records came with her, they were misplaced by the time she reached San Antonio.

"We were distraught," said Evelyn. "No one knew who took Ella Ray or where she was. Just like that she disappeared into the masses." But Evelyn and Sylvester never gave up hope. "We prayed that God would take her quickly or put her in good hands," said Sylvester who spent 21 days in a Houston shelter before moving to an assisted living facility in Baton Rouge.

"We found Ella Ray wondering around a San Antonio shelter wearing a yellowing wristband with no medical records or history," said Sally an elementary school teacher and Red Cross volunteer who lived in San Antonio. She was badly dehydrated and suffering from bladder and eye infections. That ID bracelet, it turns out misspelled her last name Reyes. 

"It was so heartbreaking to see so many people in dire straits," said Jim "I looked at Ella Ray and I thought what if that was my mother? She desperately needed a safe haven. That evening we went home and talked it over with our family." The next day Ella Ray became the Abrahms' unofficial adoptee.  "She looked so pretty. We couldn't resist." 

"Is that you Sil? Is that you Lil'Bit'? Ella Ray whispered in a halting voice, a chorus she repeats over and over.

The Abrahms' are genealogy buffs who "just had to do something to help" used their computer to track down the family of Ray.

"We did it as good Samaritans with hopes that God will bless us," said Sally, who has been researching family trees for 35 years. The Abrahams moved to Beaumont in June to be near their aging parents.

"It was natural - to bring Ella with us. It didn't matter that she is Black and we are white. She is a beautiful human who deserves to be safe and happy," said Sally.

"Ella couldn't speak of the deep hurt," said Jim "but we could see it in her eyes."

For months the Abrahms did their online detective work. We were hampered by mounds of the red tape and unreliable data on person's missing or displaced by the hurricane. Many hours of searching led to Ray's maiden name Corey. That led them to Ray's nephew, David E. Suggs in St. Rose, La., about 20 miles west of New Orleans. It took the Abrahms another seven months to find a phone number for Suggs.

Evelyn said when Suggs called with the news Ella Ray had seen located ironically she was doing a crossword puzzle Ella Ray's favorite pastime.  Forgive me, I almost wet my pants," said Evelyn, who lives with a daughter in Hampton, Virginia. "It was a divine moment."

Ella's journey is about to take another turn. Thanks to a private donor, next month she will join Evelyn and Sylvester in a new assisted living facility near New Orleans. The facility was rebuilt after it was destroyed in the storm. Moving expenses, medical supplies and 24-hour home health care is also being donated.    

Medical officials have cautioned Ella Ray's family that the elderly particularly Alzheimer's patients often have trouble adjusting when moved from familiar surroundings. Still Evelyn and Sylvester and Ella Ray are vowing to stick together.

"Hurricane Katrina stole our innocence and ruined our lives. All we have now is  faith and the greatest holiday gift of all - each other.

As for the Abrahms, "We'll miss Ella. She'll always be a member of our family," said Sally. "Life is given to us, we earn it by giving it back." 

Redlands-Yucaipa Medical Group Joins SCAN Health Plan Physician Network

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SCAN Health Plan announced recently that Redlands-Yucaipa Medical Group, Inc. (RYMG) will join the health plan's physician network, effective January 1, 2007. As a result, SCAN members will have access to RYMG's outstanding primary care physicians and specialists. 

RYMG was formed three years ago by local physicians who have practiced in the area for many years. RYMG physicians have received high scores for patient satisfaction, and their goal is to provide the best possible service. Beginning in 2007, SCAN members can choose from 12 RYMG primary care physicians conveniently located in Redlands, Yucaipa and Banning. The participating hospital is Redlands Community Hospital.

"We are pleased to have Redlands-Yucaipa Medical Group join our provider network," said Tim Schwab, M.D., chief medical officer at SCAN. "The physicians at RYMG have an excellent, long-standing reputation within the community."

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BVN National News Wire