Threads of Hope

Kristi Yamaguchi, Olympic Gold Metalist and Literacy Champion, Diablo Magazine

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Okay, this was fun.  Kristi Yamaguchi, Olympic gold medalist in figure skating (1992), dazzled audiences for Stars on Ice, won the Mirrorball trophy on Dancing with the Stars and founder of the Always Dream Foundation - dedicated to promoting childhood literacy.  The latter was the occasion for which this session arose.  Each December, Diablo Magazine features a number of local heroes (of the East Bay) who have changed the community in all manner of special ways.  Yamaguchi's foundation provides reading tools to kids at a young age and gets families engaged in reading at home.  Yamaguchi is also an author of several children's books, including the New York Times best-seller: Dream Big, Little Pig.  See below a few additional Threads of Hope recipients who were also honored in the feature.  / Creative Director:  David Bergeron  /  Story by:  Pete Crooks

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Lee Stimmel is the founder of the Blue Water Foundation, providing hope to teenagers who are currently incarcerated in various youth detention centers in the Bay Area - by teaching them to sail.  "These kids are so misjudged by all of us, including me," says Stimmel.  "Once they're in an environment where they're not in constant danger, they become children again."  Stimmel started the foundation with the goal of sharing the joys of sailing with at-risk youths and providing them with an "alternative to drugs, alcohol, and gangs."  "For many of them, this is the one positive thing they have in their lives.  They just melt when you praise them because no one tells them they're good at anything - ever.  And they are.  These are really good sailors."  There.  Lee Stimmel, another deserving Threads of Hope award recipient.  / Creative Director:  David Bergeron  /  Story by:  Casey Cantrell

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Ruth McCahan, founder of Lamorinda Village.  Perhaps you've heard of the idea of a "Village" as it relates to senior living.  It's not a "place", but an idea - and now there's a growing national network of nonprofit organizations aiming to help older adults age at in their own homes by providing the assistance they need to do so.  The Lamorinda Village is the community of elderly folks that McCahan is enabling to stay in their homes as long as possible.  Efforts / services include volunteers providing Village members with essential services like shopping, transportation, and home maintenance.  For more specialized tasks, the Village has a list of "preferred providers" - experienced professionals who have been thoroughly vetted.  Way to go Ruth!  Thanks for letting us litter your backyard with C-Stands and gaffers tape (which I think I left hanging on the branch of one of your maple trees. . . ). / Creative Director:  David Bergeron  /  Story by:  Morgan Mitchell

Visit the official Mitch Tobias Photographer website at:  http://www.mitchtobias.com

Diablo Magazine > Threads of Hope

Each holiday season, Diablo Magazine (Walnut Creek, California) recognizes a few East Bay residents who gave selflessly. These do-gooders are honored for changing the community for the better—whether it’s collecting clothes for the needy, feeding the hungry, or volunteering tirelessly.  (The article, "Threads of Hope", was written/edited by Peter Crooks, who will be heavily paraphrased and hacked up in this post.  Love ya, Pete!)  I was honored to be asked by Art Director, Roger Gurbani to shoot this.

Carol Weyland Conner:  White Pony Express

Carol Weyland Conner:  White Pony Express

Conner's "White Pony Express" distributes food to the needy that supermarkets would otherwise be throwing away.  To distribute the food, White Pony Express has created an impressive and intricately organized system. Goods are separated by each shelter’s needs. Some facilities don’t have a kitchen, so they prefer premade sandwiches and food that doesn’t require on-site prep. Other locations need fresh produce and dairy products, so White Pony Express makes sure those items are delivered in refrigerated trucks.  Conner is a former psychologist and leader of Sufism Reoriented, a spiritual order headquartered in Walnut Creek. She created White Pony Express in 2013, as her city was planning its centennial anniversary for the following year.  ::::  Carol's calm, quiet demeanor on set was such a contrast to her ambitiously aggressive mission.

David Smith:  Rossmoor Fund

David Smith:  Rossmoor Fund

After moving into Walnut Creek’s Rossmoor retirement community, Smith was dismayed to learn that some of the residents occasionally found themselves in dire financial straits. So five years ago, he launched the Rossmoor Fund to help his neighbors deal with unexpected emergencies. The fund also provides legal seminars to help seniors with a range of issues, including learning about elder abuse.  ::::  David was ever so humble - shrugging off all his accomplishments, including rounding up support and opening up the first library in San Ramon.  I was flattered to learn later that this was the best shot of himself he'd ever seen.  :-)

Elaine Taylor:  The Taylor Family Foundation (Recipient of "The Visionary Award")

Elaine Taylor:  The Taylor Family Foundation (Recipient of "The Visionary Award")

Thousands of families have benefited from the efforts of The Taylor Family Foundation, which Taylor and her late husband, Barry, cofounded to help families affected by pediatric AIDS. Beginning with a Day in the Park fundraiser held in their Lafayette backyard in 1990, the foundation has raised more money and helped more kids each year. In 2001, the foundation helped implement the creation of Camp Arroyo, a state-of-the-art facility in Livermore that offers free summer camp programs to children with a wide range of serious illnesses and disabilities.  She even has a sleep-away Celiac Camp program - catering to the kid's sensitive dietary needs.  ::::  As with the other award recipients, Elaine was only interested in the attention the award brought to her programs, not so much herself.  But she was a delight to behold.  Kind, kind, soul.

Visit the official Mitch Tobias Photographer website:  http://www.mitchtobias.com