Share the Spirit 2017 stories of help and hope.

Take a look back at some of the highlights from 2017 here.

After 25 years of institutional care, East Bay woman finds a new life

Terri Wilson celebrated her 54th birthday earlier this year, though her 86-year-old father, Ed Wilson, still feels he needs to make sure she’s in a place where she’s being fed, dressed, and kept healthy and safe. That’s because Terri was ...
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Low-income job seekers dress the part thanks to Oakland nonprofit

OAKLAND — For six years, Vernon Robinson wore the same clothes: a prison outfit. These days, the ex-con is using the slick style that made him a successful hustler to inspire and stylize clients who are one business suit away ...
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Address error cost an ailing Oakland man his health insurance; nonprofit helped him get it back

OAKLAND — All his son did was fill out a change-of-address form. But it could have killed Michael Titus. The 69-year-old Oakland resident has end-stage renal disease and needs kidney dialysis three times a week to stay alive. For years, ...
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Service dog flunkies find a new role saving lives in East Bay

CONCORD — They flunked out of other schools that train service dogs. One disliked walking through puddles, another lost all focus whenever he spotted a cat. But the animals Carol Edwards calls “career change dogs” are still fulfilling a far ...
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He ‘gave up,’ but then St. Vincent de Paul put him back on track with a job

PITTSBURG — James Neitte clearly isn’t the shy, retiring type, but he looked down at the floor as he said — voice trailing off — he was “in a bad spot” last spring. Then a friend handed him a flier ...
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From trafficking victim to college dean’s list: Woman’s life transformed by charter school

OAKLAND — Withelma “T” Ortiz Walker Pettigrew spent her childhood bouncing from one foster home to another — 14 of them by the time she was 18. From age 10 to 17, she was sexually exploited by human traffickers in ...
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From theater groups to dance troupes, artists find refuge in Oakland’s Flight Deck

OAKLAND — For more than 30 years, the storefront at 1540 Broadway in downtown Oakland sat vacant, its roof open to the elements and windows boarded shut, until an upstart theater ensemble saw its potential. Now just over 3 years ...
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To East Bay senior, compassion sounds a lot like Eric Clapton, Adele

Kathleen Forsythe is the resident music expert at Greenridge Senior Care center in El Sobrante. “I listen to Eric Clapton, Boz Scaggs and a little bit of Maroon 5,” she says with a smile that lights up the room. “I ...
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Molested as toddler, woman starts to heal after call to Tri-Valley Haven

When an older male relative started molesting her, Kaycie was too young to understand she was being exploited. She was maybe 2 or 3 years old. When she was 9, Kaycie and her dad were watching a movie with a ...
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Richmond woman escapes homelessness, overcomes addiction with help of nonprofit

Melodie Smith was walking down the side of the road in Georgia toward a friend’s house, with no money, and not much to her name besides the clothes on her back and the clear plastic bag with minor possessions slung ...
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Share the Spirit 2016 stories of help and hope.

Take a look back at some of the highlights from 2016 here.

Sharing the Spirit: How you make a difference in lives of East Bay residents during the holidays

Throughout the holiday season, the East Bay Times has been publishing stories about local nonprofits and the work they’re doing to improve the lives of residents in need through our annual Share the Spirit campaign. Thanks to the generous support ...
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Oakland church serves up food and fellowship

A hot meal is waiting for anyone hungry each Wednesday at Downs Memorial United Methodist Church. There’s also conversation, companionship and a little encouragement for those knocked around by life. “It means the world to me,” Jerome Hatcher, 76, said ...
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Berkeley Food Pantry feeds hungry, helps environment

If, to paraphrase Scripture, to save a life is to save the world, the Berkeley Food Pantry tries to live that lesson literally. Here they measure success not only in the number of people they feed but also by how ...
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Woman overcomes disability, cancer with help of Bay Area Rescue Mission

In fall of 2012, Maria L. Fortez had all but run out of options. After a foot injury resulted in her not being able to work, the then 54-year-old quickly found herself behind on rent. She applied for disability, but ...
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Alamo man continues to change lives through nonprofit work

Jim Noe routinely deflects praise, but the results of a lifetime of volunteerism in Contra Costa County speak for him far more effectively. Noe’s spirit has completely transformed at least one life — the Vietnamese refugee who flourished in America ...
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Brentwood mom trades dead-end jobs for career with nonprofit’s help

Shaunette Buchanan used to dream of becoming a real estate agent when she grew up, enamored with the idea of showing off all the features that she imagined her own home would have to prospective buyers. Fast forward a couple ...
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Hayward family finds shelter, hope after loss of father

After Roxanne Stanton’s children saw their father pass away from a heart attack in their home in September, they couldn’t feel safe there anymore. Her youngest, Darwin, who is named after his father, was in the room watching his mother ...
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Once abused, Tri-Valley Haven volunteer now helps to end the cycle

Cindy Gavello  knew about the fears and anxiety of domestic abuse long before she became a volunteer to help victims. Twenty-five years ago, her husband hit her, yelled at her and limited her contact with neighbors and friends out of ...
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Oakland girl with cerebral palsy finds a team of her own

April Cookston remembers the days she sat watching in her wheelchair as her brothers played soccer, longing to scamper in the grass with them. But she was confined to the sidelines. Those days are over. April, a 10-year-old with cerebral ...
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Homeless vet slept under Oakland overpass, now in his own studio

Instead of living in Army barracks, Robert Bruce would pitch a tent in the nearby woods. He preferred the isolation. While not a troublemaker, the infantryman was repeatedly disciplined for letting his hair grow too long. Going to the barber meant being around ...
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Share the Spirit 2015 stories of help and hope.

Take a look back at some of the highlights from 2015 here.

Creek Kids Care fosters one-on-one relationships with homeless during the holidays

After bouncing from place to place, without a home to call his own for the past several years, Zach D’Angelo is not one to ask for big-ticket or lavish items on his holiday wish list. So when youngsters from the ...
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Contra Costa nonprofit’s gift of music ‘awakens’ the minds of dementia patients

Jerome Bassinger was lying in bed watching a movie on his tablet when a nursing home employee stopped by the room with an iPod Nano. Scrolling through one of the playlists that comprised the 692 songs stored on the device, ...
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Meals on Wheels helps East Bay seniors stay healthy, social

Earnestine Hayes was a young bride in 1943 when she moved north from Louisiana, searching for job opportunities and a better life. She and her husband, Morris, found that in West Oakland, where they worked factory and domestic jobs during ...
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Single mom finds lifeline through Concord Child Care Center

Every night after work, Deniz Saenz would start the same routine: Call the neighborhood babysitters and see who was available to watch her infant son, Sebastian, the next day while she prepped food at her restaurant job. “I would be ...
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Salvation Army aids in woman’s recovery

For Gloria Padilla, Salvation Army’s youth camp was the break she needed, allowing her to keep her job during school’s summer recess. “I couldn’t afford child care,” she said. Padilla and her husband had a series of setbacks that started ...
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Richmond organization lends helping hand through ‘wraparound’ services

It’s her day off, but Ronneysha Patton is already up by 7 a.m. and at the laundry by 8. There’s a lot to do. After washing clothes, she heads home to do more chores: sweeping, yard work and folding piles ...
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