Tag Archives: community service

Democrats Work: Yes We Cans!

(Food banks all over the state are feeling the pinch. If you can, please consider helping out online or off. – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

“This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change.”
President-elect Barack Obama

Across the country, food banks are struggling to keep up with increased demand.  And with the holidays approaching, Democrats Work is doing something about it.  We need your help.

Today, we are launching the Yes We Cans Virtual Food Drive to help you donate to the food bank in your community.

In California we are helping the FoodLink for Tulare County, Food Share, Inc., Butte County Gleaners, Inc., Community Resources Council, Inc., FIND, Inc., Second Harvest Food Bank serving Santa Cruz & San Benito Cos., Food Bank for Monterey County, Community Food Bank, Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, San Francisco Food Bank, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Redwood Empire Food Bank, Second Harvest Food Bank serving Santa Clara & San Mateo Cos., Second Harvest Food Bank serving Riverside & San Bernardino Cos., Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, Los Angeles Regional Foodbank, Alameda County Community Food Bank, San Diego Food Bank, San Joaquin Food Bank, and Senior Gleaners, Inc.!

Here’s how it works:

1.    Click here to go to our Yes We Cans Virtual Food Drive website. 

2.    Put food or cash contributions in your shopping cart.

3.    When you check out, you will be able to designate one of over 200 food banks that will receive your donation.

No matter where you live, you can give to a food bank in your area.  Put turkey on the table in Colorado or fill a child’s bowl with mac and cheese in Atlanta.  Together, by making donations through Yes We Cans, we are giving food banks the power to buy in bulk and provide more food than each of us could donate individually. 

This election was about bringing positive change to our country.  We don’t have to wait for others to act: we can make a difference in our communities year-round.  Thanks to you, we are putting our values into action when they are needed the most. 

Yes We Cans!

Also! — If you want to volunteer or deliver goods directly to your local food bank, you can find the location of one near you by visiting Feeding America.  And please send an email to [email protected] so we can keep track of what the Democrats Work community is contributing this holiday season. 

Democrats Work on Saturdays – Mission Cleanup on 7/14

Join Democrats Work, the San Francisco Young Democrats, and community volunteers for a Mission neighborhood cleanup event put together by SF Connect and the San Francisco Clean City Coalition.  The cleanup will be around the Mission Firehouse, Mission & Courtland Streets, and Holly Park on Saturday, July 14th from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.  This is a great community event, so please join your fellow Democrats to plant trees, weed, sweep, paint over graffitti, and generally help improve the neighborhood.

Please meet at the Firehouse at 9:00 a.m. and wear your Democrats Work t-shirt!

Anyone who’s interested is welcome to join SFYDs inDolores Park afterward for food, drinks, and conversation, all on SFYD!

You can sign up here.  See you there! 

Irvine’s Crime Prevention Programs and the Crime Rate

(OK, fixed! : ) – promoted by atdleft)

Today, the FBI confirmed what CA AG Jerry Brown said in May, Irvine is one safe city. In fact, it’s the safest in the nation:

For the third year running, Irvine tops all large cities in the nation with the lowest incidence of violent crime after posting a nearly 17 percent drop in 2006, according to a report by the FBI. Reported violent crimes for the city – which include homicide, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault – fell from a total of 151 in 2005 to 126 in 2006, for a rate of 67 per 100,000 in the preliminary posting of the 2006 FBI Annual Uniform Crime Report. (OC Reg 6/5/07)

Last time, I talked about the importance of parks and recreation.  And of course, economic factors surely weigh into the amount of crime. Given that Irvine has a pretty high per capita income, it’s not surprising to see a low rate of crime. But Irvine actually does better than similarly sized cities with higher per capita income. Take that Sunnyvale! (Ok…Sunnyvale is #2 on the AG safe city list, but that’s one slot below #1).

But something else is also at play here, that is the role of the city’s various crime prevention programs. Irvine has implemented geographic policing, neighborhood watch programs, and Internet reporting.  Follow me over the flip for more..

So for a city of about 200,000 people, how the heck does Irvine stay so safe? Well, how about the Police Department’s various programs. One such program is geographic policing.  This program gets beat officers out from behind desks and in the community, where they are visible. Irvine’s neighborhood alert has also been effective. Knowing your neighbors helps reduce crime and creates a more livable city. Or is it the WatchMail program? Can the internet actually be used as a tool to reduce crime in the community? Whatever they are doing, the Crime Prevention Unit of the Irvine Police Department is proving to be quite effective.

And clearly, it seems like Irvine has enough patrol officers to cover the entire community. And perhaps now that the Irvine Police Department now does “geographic policing”, officers really are connecting more with the community. And maybe, their Crime Analysis Unit is having some effect. Perhaps by finding out what had gone wrong, they can then work with the community to make things right. Whatever is happening, the Irvine Police Department must be doing something right.

And clearly Irvine’s Progressive Mayor and Police Chief know how tough it can be to keep such a big city so safe. Yet for the last three years, they have been remarkably successful in leading the way not just for Orange County, and not just California, but for the entire nation. From The OC Register:

“When you are the safest city in America, you have to work especially hard to maintain that position,” Irvine Mayor Beth Krom said. “This is a source of pride for the entire community.” […]

“Getting to know the people who live and work in these areas helps them to be able to identify the problems in these areas and any impacts on the quality of life,” said Irvine Police Chief David L. Maggard.

And how has Irvine been able to avoid what the other major cities in Orange County are suffering from?

The national crime trends were largely echoed in Orange County, with all eight cities with populations of 100,000 or above recording increases in robberies, and a sharp decline in property crime.

There were 19 more murders in Orange County’s biggest cities in 2006 than the previous year – a jump that can be largely result of a spike in gang violence in Santa Ana, which recorded nine more murders in 2006.

However, car thefts, arsons and other property crimes dipped across the nation for the second straight year, the data show. Huntington Beach – which saw a 12.6 percent drop in violent crime – was the only large Orange County city to see a rise in property crime, recording 365 more property crimes last year compared to 2005.

Huntington Beach must now worry about property crime becoming more prevalent throughout town. Santa Ana is now facing a crisis of escalating gang violence. Up in North Orange County, the cities of Orange and Fullerton are grappling with dramatic increases in violent crisis. Take a look at the major California cities on the FBI’s list, and things aren’t looking very good not just in OC, but throughout the state.

So what is Irvine doing right that other cities in California aren’t? Are Irvine’s police services that much better? Are they doing a better job of preventing crime? Are the parks and community services really making that much of a difference? There’s a secret to Irvine’s success, and more communities should try to learn this secret to figure out how to take a real bite out of crime.

How Does Irvine Stay So Safe?

They’ve done it before, and they’ve done it again this year. Irvine is the safest large city in California. Check out the write-up in today’s OC Register:

Violent crime in Irvine dropped more than 16 percent and overall crime in the city fell 6 percent last year, making Irvine the safest large city in California, according to preliminary statistics released Monday by the state attorney general’s office. It’s the third year in a row Irvine has topped the list.

From January through December 2006, Irvine’s number of reported violent crimes – which includes homicide, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault – dropped from 151 to 126 – at the same time the state saw a 1. 4 percent jump in violent crime. Irvine recorded drops in property and theft, but the number of homicides in the city doubled from two to four in 2006.

Following Irvine on the list of the state’s safest cities are Sunnyvale, Thousand Oaks, Santa Clara and Simi Valley.

Wow, now that’s safe! So how does Irvine do it? How can they stay so safe? Follow me after the flip as I look for answers…

So what’s the secret to Irvine’s success. Well, let’s start with their youth action team. Irvine is actually getting high schoolers involved in not only being productive in the community, but in also planning how they will be getting involved. And these kids really get active. Between concerts, graffiti removal days, and college workshops, these kids just don’t have the time to waste on crime.

Oh but wait, the fun doesn’t stop there! These kids (and adults) also play sports. They have tennis, basketball, soccer, softball, and much more. Again, these kids are too busy working out and learning teamwork to be caught up in any stupid illegal stuff.

And my goodness, look at all those lovely parks in town! Irvine has many safe places for kids to go to play and have fun. No matter where a family may live in Irvine, they know that there’s somewhere in the neighborhood where they can take the kids to play games and perhaps meet new friends in the neighborhood. And as these kids grow up being able to just play, they don’t get stuck in the streets.

OK, so what’s the point I’m trying to make? Well, here it is. Irvine’s smart planning has resulted in less crime and safer neighborhoods. By creating great parks in all the neighborhoods and giving kids great activities to do, Irvine has taken away whatever appeal criminal gangs might have had. And all these kids engaged in the community means kids who don’t feel that they don’t belong, and ultimately kids who don’t fall into gangs as they search for meaning in their lives.

So perhaps more cities should follow Irvine’s lead in reducing crime, and ultimately preventing any future crime. Clean up the neighborhoods, open some parks, and give kids something fun to do. This might actually help keep up the neighborhood. : )

Shouldn’t Volunteering Be Voluntary?

(Go ahead and join the discussion on this topic on The Liberal OC… There are plenty more words of wisdom to be found! : ) – promoted by atdleft)

OK, get ready for this… I AGREE WITH A REPUBLICAN AGAIN! This time, it’s about SB 227. Senator Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach) wants to mandate community service for high school graduation, and GOP consultant Adam Probolsky speaks out against this bill in “The Orange Grove” column in today’s OC Register. And you know what? I agree with him here:

The first thing that struck me about this legislation was its complete ignorance or misunderstanding of the high school student mind. Harman wants teenagers to learn to appreciate community service. So what does he do? He makes it an obligation. I don’t know about you, but my high school classes were monotonous, the homework was annoying, and I worked part time. Community service? Well, I left that up to the kids who felt they needed to supplement their otherwise unremarkable college applications. If I were required to complete community service, like one of my wayward colleagues avoiding Juvenile Hall, I probably would have resented every second of it.

Sure, it seems high-minded to require high schoolers to get out and learn some valuable lessons about community service… But does this really accomplish that goal? I doubt it, and I’ll let a good friend of mine tell you why after the flip…

People that support high school slavery programs like SB227 believe that service learning gives students a chance to realize the need of their community and helps the students appreciate the reward of charitable work. In truth, the forced servitude erodes the spirit of charitable work, and generates a disdain for community service in the hearts of young people.

I work as the Staff Development Manager for a non-profit in Garden Grove, and we team up with local universities and high schools to bring in “service learning” or “field study” students. Free labor for us, and college or high school credits for them.

When we get unmotivated students that are simply trying to fill a requirement, it usually turns out to be more taxing for our organization than it is worth.

We don’t have time to spend hours training and motivating someone who doesn’t believe in our mission. It would be cheaper for us to hire one (motivated) employee and pay them an hourly wage than sit around and convince an apathetic volunteer to care about our cause.

That’s Mike Lawson writing at The Liberal OC. Since he sees this all the time at his job in Garden Grove, I think he knows what he’s talking about. So if this doesn’t help the non-profits doing the community service, then why should we burden them with uncaring high schoolers who are doing doing this to check a box that needs to be checked in order to get a high school diploma?

And once again, why should we be forcing students to do something that they should want to do? This is simply preposterous. When I was in high school, I volunteered for my library because I wanted to. Sure, the “credits” I earned from my school for community service were a nice incentive… But ultimately, I volunteered at the library because I love books and I love learning. Now would it make sense for the state to force kids to “volunteer” (read BE SLAVES) at the library when they really hate being inside a huge building with a bunch of old books? Would they really put their hearts into their work? Would they really do the best job possible? And would they really learn the valuable lessons of community service?

I noticed that SB 227 was amended. Now, it offers elective credits for community service instead of a state mandate for it. That sounds better. I just hope that we remember that volunteering ultimately has to be voluntary.

Reminder: Democrats Work on Saturdays!

( – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

Just a quick reminder to those of you in the Bay Area who want to get your hands dirty with fellow Democrats on Saturday.  Democrats Work is teaming up with the San Francisco Young Democrats and the Peninsula Young Democrats for two great events.  Details are here (Santa Clara) and here (San Francisco).  You can also check all of it out on democratswork.org.

Hope to see you out there!

Democrats Work in the Bay Area This Saturday

Cross-posted on MyDD and Daily Kos

Join Democrats Work and volunteers from local Young Democrats chapters for one of two community service events in the San Francisco Bay Area on Saturday, March 24th.  We will be getting dirty in San Francisco and helping teachers on the Peninsula.  As always, make sure you wear you Democrats Work t-shirt, which we will sell for a special price of $10 at the events.  All are welcome, so bring a friend!  The details are below, on the Calitics events page, and on our website.

Democrats Work in San Francisco from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

Join the San Francisco Young Democrats and Democrats Work for some weeding and bark replenishing at Juri Commons (a neighborhood park in the Mission) and also participate in a planting of the median of Guerrero Street (between 29th and 30th Streets) with the San Jose-Guerrero Coalition.

We’ll gather at Juri Commons, and some of the Work Crew will head a few of blocks down the road for the Guerrero planting.

Juri Commons can be reached by taking BART (or Muni) to 24th Street/Mission and walking down Mission to 25th Street.  Turn right on 25th Street and walk to San Jose Avenue.  Turn left on San Jose Avenue and walk to the middle of the block.  You will be at Juri Commons.

Democrats Work in Santa Clara from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

Join the Peninsula Young Democrats and Democrats Work to assemble classroom kits for public school teachers.  We will be working with RAFT, a local organization that takes donated materials and repackages them for classroom use in area public schools.

We will meet at the RAFT Processing Facility, 1035 Walsh Avenue (Building C Manufacturing) in Santa Clara. Click here for a map.

About Democrats Work: Democrats Work mobilizes grassroots Democrats to perform community service . . . as Democrats.  We partner with Democratic organizations to help connect Democratic volunteers with visible, tangible service projects in their communities – such as cleaning up parks and neighborhoods, working at food banks, building houses, sponsoring basketball tournaments, and helping at church bake sales.  Through this service-based approach, we aim to promote the Democratic brand at the local level, showing our neighbors that Democrats work hard to improve their communities every day, not just at election time.  You can learn more about us at www.democratswork.org.

Democrats Work Event in San Francisco on Saturday . . . Good Stuff

(Because it is good stuff. – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

Democrats Work and the San Francisco Young Democrats joined forces to provide strong work crew that spruced up the Gilman Playground in the Bayview.

Check out Sarah Carter’s on Daily Kos about our great work event this morning in San Francisco.  I wrote about it on the Democrats Work blog.  Good times!

Great events tomorrow! (2/24)

I wanted to highlight this event for those of you in the Bay Area.  It’s a group of Dems putting all of our good progressive values in action.  Tomorrow, the project is restoration of a playground in the Bayview. Details here.

If you’re in Santa Cruz, check out this event,a John Edwards community service program.

San Diego? There are several events:
Black History Month Presentation with Asm. Karen Bass
Target Iran presentation
ACLU Workshop

Dr. Alicia Portnoy presentation.
Seal Beach: Senior Patriots Against the War