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Aug 01st
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Santa Cruz Area News

News - Local News

Insuring the Future

Insuring the Future

Local health program strives to insure county children

Katy Boriack was on maternity leave when she learned that she could not afford to add her newborn son, Ayden, to her health insurance plan. Doing so would increase her monthly payments by more than 400 percent—an impossible cost to absorb—yet her income level exceeded the cut-off for the state’s need-based health plans.

“It is so stressful when you’re working full-time, doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing, and you still can’t provide for the health and well-being of your child,” says Boriack.

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News - Local News

Get Back to Work

Get Back to Work

A federally funded program aims to help employers make new hires

By Kimberly Wein The State of California currently has an unemployment rate of 12.5 percent. According to the United States Department of Labor, this is, by far, the highest unemployment rate California has seen since 1976. With similarly sorry states across the country, the federal government has decided to step in and create more jobs that will get people back to work.

Shoreline Workforce Development Services (Shoreline) in conjunction with Goodwill Industries of Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties is pairing employers with those in need of work through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s (ARRA) federally funded stimulus program and Subsidized Employment Training (SET). The federal government is offering approximately $2.3 million to employers that are interested in creating new jobs and hiring new employees that are subject to specific requirements or keeping employees that would otherwise be laid off.

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News - Local News

Sugar Shock

Sugar Shock

Santa Cruz County has high rates of obesity, diabetes among children and adults

Several years ago, a close friend of mine discovered that she had diabetes. In the weeks leading up to her diagnosis, it became increasingly clear that something was very wrong: she was achy, thirsty, and so bone-tired that she slept for most of every day and still felt fatigued. The day she was diagnosed, she came home lugging a huge garbage bag filled with medical supplies and pamphlets the doctor had given her to help figure out her new lifestyle. It was, to put it mildly, a daunting task. It took her years to fully learn the intricacies of managing her insulin levels and her nutritional needs.

This is a scenario that Raquel Ramirez Ruiz knows all too well. Ruiz is the Director of the Diabetes Health Center (DHC), an outpatient program in Watsonville that teaches prevention and self-management for people who are either living with diabetes or are at high risk for the disease. She herself is one of the latter.“Obesity runs in my family,” she explains. “My dad has type-2 diabetes and has struggled to manage it.” She encouraged him to make an appointment with Martha Quintana, one of the registered nurses and certified diabetes educators at the DHC. “He left motivated to manage his diabetes,” she says. “This is the first time since he was diagnosed that I have witnessed him make better food choices.”

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News - Local News

Rising Stats

Rising Stats

Recent college graduates are the largest group of uninsured Americans

“One moment was all it took,” says Rose Sniatowski.

On Oct. 26, Sniatowski and her boyfriend were returning to Santa Cruz after visiting relatives in Humbolt County. In that one, crucial moment another car veered into their lane, hitting them head on at about 55 miles per hour. The car, an Acura RSX, was completely totaled.

Sniatowski graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2007 and has not had a job that offers health insurance since nor has she been able to afford the high monthly premiums of individual insurance policies. “We don’t know if the other driver even has car insurance,” Sniatowski says. “I’m applying for MediCal, but in order to qualify I have to be disabled for a year.” With a fractured vertebrae and a laundry list of other injuries and broken bones, Sniatowski will most likely be healing for over a year. However, the accident could cost her well over a half million dollars if she does not receive financial assistance.

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News - Local News

Santa Cruz Cash?

Santa Cruz Cash?

One group pushes for a local currency plan

Imagine opening your wallet, shuffling past your Washingtons and Lincolns, and pulling out a crisp Santa Cruz dollar. The idea for a local currency is gaining momentum, and, although alternative currencies are increasing in popularity throughout the country, a Santa Cruz version promises to be unique.

An enthusiastic crew of health care providers, wellness educators, and local food activists are drawing up plans for a mutual discount network that is tentatively being called the Santa Cruz Wellness Exchange Cooperative. The group wants to infuse the county economy with an alternative currency (a “Santa Cruz Wellness Buck,” perhaps), designed to bolster business for local health care providers and food producers. The currency network would incorporate the mission of New Earth Exchange, a membership network for local businesses committed to environmental sustainability and mutual-aid, but would have an expanded focus and a greater reach.

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News - Local News

The Pitfalls of Being Treatable

The Pitfalls of Being Treatable

Santa Cruzans gather for a candlelit vigil on World AIDS Day to remember the victims of America's forgotten pandemic

Dozens of candles flickered in the cold wind, held solemnly by those assembled at the end of Pacific Avenue on Tuesday, Dec. 1, to pay their respects to loved ones taken away by or suffering from AIDS. Under the near full moon, words of togetherness and respect were voiced. There was music and singing, praying and laughter, sadness and hope. But this year there was another emotion bandied just as passionately—one of anger at a country’s, and a community's, neglect.

After a rendition of "Lean On Me," Merle Smith, executive director of the Santa Cruz AIDS Project (SCAP), stepped forward to address the circle: "My own brother passed from AIDS in 2006, [and] two weeks ago I had a niece who was diagnosed positive. The disease is still active, it is still touching our friends and our families," she said.

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News - Local News

The Giving Keeps Going

The Giving Keeps Going

Second Harvest Food Bank, CAP Report, show that giving is strong, despite down economy

Sarah Owens, marketing director for New Leaf Community Markets, is getting ready to head to Watsonville. She and a handful of other New Leaf staff are taking turkeys to the United Farm Workers, just one of the groups that are receiving such a donation from the local natural food grocer this holiday season.

“I’m excited to go,” she says. “It’s definitely not in my job description, but giving to the United Farm Workers is really great because they are the ones working in our fields. It’s nice to give back to them.”

So far, New Leaf has donated more than 500 pounds of turkey breast to the Homeless Services Center and 150 turkeys to other organizations, including the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center. The store gives back in several other ways, including their Envirotokens program, community days (when 5 percent of the day’s sales go to a local organization), and their school program, which has given $150,000 to local schools. Although New Leaf has, like most businesses, seen some affects from the economic downturn, and has also seen two major competitors open this year, Owens says they “have remained strong and…are still able to give back to the community.”

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News - Local News

Gleaning Stories

Gleaning Stories

A local project collects and shares the tales of Central Coast gleaners

The roots of gleaning run deep in the story of humankind. The tradition of collecting crops leftover after a harvest is mentioned throughout the Bible, early cultures promoted gleaning as a form of welfare (the peasants could visit fields after the harvest to take what would otherwise go to waste or be ploughed over), and it was a legal right for cottagers in England as recently as the 19th century.

Today, gleaning has come to include dumpster diving, collecting food from grocery stores and restaurants, taking fruit from abandoned trees, and even non-food related activities, like gathering discarded materials to make art, or the collecting of stories.

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News - Local News

Still Surviving

Still Surviving

Community programs recoup after budget cuts

Various community programs in Santa Cruz have been on the chopping block since January of this year when the city, in attempt to close a $9 million budget deficit, charged Parks and Recreation, museums and community centers with finding their own funding. Nearly one year later, all of these programs have been able to keep their heads above water through the hard work and efforts of community members.

The Santa Cruz Teen Center is perhaps facing the most unsure future due to budget cuts. The city stopped paying rent for the Teen Center last fall, but property owner George Ow Jr. agreed to temporarily waive the rent until the city could make a decision on the future of the center.

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News - Local News

Fresh Approach to Foster Care

Fresh Approach to Foster Care

How a Santa Cruz County non-profit continues to change lives

There are more than 62,000 children in foster care in California, according to the California Department of Social Services. That number may seem overwhelming, but New Families, a local non-profit private foster care agency, is up for the challenge.

New Families is a Felton-based organization that has been taking a different approach to the foster care system for over 11 years. They micromanage cases for 40 children in 30 homes throughout Santa Cruz, Monterey, Santa Clara, San Benito and Sacramento counties.

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Santa Cruz just received a high ranking among California counties. But it may be hiding some of the biggest health dangers facing our area

 

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Final Cut

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Film, Times & Events: Week of August 1

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Foodie File: Maharaja

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Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Muns Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir

This vivacious cherry-pink Rosé is a simply beautiful summer wine.