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Breast Cancer Risk Drives Lifestyle Changes for Charlotte Maxwell Clinic Volunteer

In my role as a driver for the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic, I feel patients are super excited to have someone who is compassionate and empathetic. Sometimes we talk about recipes and sometimes we talk about their previous experiences not related to cancer and that’s great because it’s like having that driver be your ‘friend’ for the moment to take your mind off having treatments.

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Michelle Meza has been a driver with CMC since 2017. Melbra Watts is the executive director.
Michelle Meza has been a driver with CMC since 2017. Melbra Watts is the executive director.

PART III

By Michelle Meza with Melbra Watts

My son was going to college, and I was seeing my breast doctor and rambling on about my empty nest when she said ‘Why don’t you volunteer? You have time on your hands. Look into something you’re passionate about.’ I’d always volunteered and asked myself ‘what am I passionate about?’ And I realized it was staring me in the face—women’s health. I feel that my journey came full circle when I actually started to look for a place to volunteer.

I looked at multiple places here in the Bay Area, but I really loved the mission of the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic. What touched me was the story of how the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic came together. These women loved their friend so much that they rallied around her and were uplifting her to have the best treatments that they could possibly give her, and she was doing the same thing looking at research of what she could do to have a better quality of life and treatment and healing. That struck as a personal note to me; it touched my heart. Unfortunately, she did pass away but it was such a special story.”

Visiting the clinic, you instantly feel welcomed, loved, accepted. You’re not looked at any different from the color of your skin or your economic situation. Just, ‘we’re here to help.’”

I didn’t choose to become a driver; it was given to me.

In my role as a driver for the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic, I feel patients are super excited to have someone who is compassionate and empathetic. Sometimes we talk about recipes and sometimes we talk about their previous experiences not related to cancer and that’s great because it’s like having that driver be your ‘friend’ for the moment to take your mind off having treatments.

Maybe that person is having a bad day. I try to put myself in their shoes—if somebody were picking me up, what would I like somebody to do for me? ‘Would you like me to put some music on for you or would you like me to put the heated seat or AC on?’ And even if they don’t feel like talking, that’s totally fine. Perhaps they need a moment of silence, and this is for them to have their peace and get ready to have their treatment. I’ve always tried to make the patients feel welcome and as if they were a friend or family member.

I’m super passionate about working in the nonprofit world helping women any way possible. Being underprivileged and a woman of color is hard enough and to have health situations on top of that is even harder.

Charlotte Maxwell is a beacon for women who are going through their cancer journey, and that’s what drove me to volunteering with the clinic and that’s why I’m still there. I believe in the Clinic and think that somehow an endowment needs to come their way. The Clinic is a diamond in the rough; it’s helped so many women.

For the past 30 years, Charlotte Maxwell Clinic (CMC), the Oakland-based nonprofit women’s clinic, has been supplementing Bay Area low-income women’s standard cancer care with complementary therapies free of charge—including acupuncture, herbs, homeopathy, massage, guided imagery, movement, nutrition advice, and self-care education.

These services are made possible by a network of dedicated volunteers that include practitioners of holistic modalities, language interpreters, and drivers who use their own vehicles to transport clients to and from their CMC appointments.

Michelle Meza has been a driver with CMC since 2017. Melbra Watts is the executive director.

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Barbara Lee

Infrastructure Bill Will Expand Internet Access, Boost Transit, Rep. Barbara Lee Says

“For decades, underinvestment in our physical and social infrastructure has widened the economic gap, put communities at risk, and exacerbated racial and economic inequality,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “And it’s not just a lack of investment. Too often, the infrastructure that we built created more inequality. This infrastructure law now advances equality, equity, and environmental justice unlike any law we have ever seen before.”

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Rep. Barbara Lee with Meg-Anne Pryor, apprenticeship coordinator for Operating Engineers Local 3. Photo courtesy of Barbara Lee’s Press office.
Rep. Barbara Lee with Meg-Anne Pryor, apprenticeship coordinator for Operating Engineers Local 3. Photo courtesy of Barbara Lee’s Press office.

By Post Staff

At a joint press conference on Wednesday, Bay Area Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Nancy Pelosi touted the impact the recently passed infrastructure bill will have on the Bay Area.

“For decades, underinvestment in our physical and social infrastructure has widened the economic gap, put communities at risk, and exacerbated racial and economic inequality,” Lee said. “And it’s not just a lack of investment. Too often, the infrastructure that we built created more inequality. This infrastructure law now advances equality, equity, and environmental justice unlike any law we have ever seen before.”

In regard to environmental justice, Lee points out that billions of dollars will be dedicated to building low-to-no emissions buses and expanding access to EV charging network. “These are critical investments for communities in my district that have suffered from higher levels of air pollution and childhood asthma rates,” she said.

The law will also provide internet access to low-income families across the state. “During the pandemic, we have seen that internet access is an equity issue for kids in East Oakland and other parts of my district, and we need to close that gap,” Lee said.

Besides their individual districts, the Congresswomen pointed out how much California as a whole will benefit from billions in investment to improve highways and bridges, public transportation, and water infrastructure.

“Also, it will help to protect communities like Oakland and Berkeley from another devastating wildfire like the one we experienced 30 years ago,” Lee said. “We are now moving full speed ahead to pass the rest of President Biden’s economic agenda through the Senate to significantly cut the costs of childcare, reduce childhood poverty, address the climate crisis, increase affordable housing, and make other meaningful investments in the quality of life of our families.”

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Art

Poet Laureates Provides Poetry That Heals the Soul

The City of Richmond’s 2021– 2023 Poet Laureate, David Flores was joined by fellow poet laureates including Eevelyn Mitchell of El Cerrito, Jeremy Snyder of Vallejo, Ayodele Nzinga of Oakland and Tongo Eisen-Martin of San Francisco to celebrate Flores’ installation. Each poet shared some of their work with the audience. A laureate is a person who has been honored for achieving distinction in a particular field.

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The poet laureates are not connected as a group but are part of a community that supports each other with our craft.
The poet laureates are not connected as a group but are part of a community that supports each other with our craft.

By Clifford L. Williams

Poetry is a universal language…it’s the song of the heart that feeds the soul.

That was the message shared by five poet laureates from the Bay Area last week at a gathering to introduce the City of Richmond’s 2021– 2023 Poet Laureate, David Flores, during an Open Mic event at CoBiz Richmond, in collaboration with Richmond’s Arts and Cultural Commission.

Flores was joined by fellow poet laureates including Eevelyn Mitchell of El Cerrito, Jeremy Snyder of Vallejo, Ayodele Nzinga of Oakland and Tongo Eisen-Martin of San Francisco to celebrate Flores’ installation. Each poet shared some of their work with the audience. A laureate is a person who has been honored for achieving distinction in a particular field.

Flores, an 11-year former schoolteacher for the Richmond Unified School District, submitted a few poems and some of his writings to a panel of commissioners last May, who reviewed his work and eventually selected him as the city’s newest poet laureate.

“To me, this is an opportunity to really highlight poetry as an art form accessible to everyone in our city,” said Flores. “I will use this appointment to actively engage young people and adults to allow them the opportunity to not only hear art but to also inspire them to share their work.”

Flores said that since COVID 19, people have been disconnected and now need community bonding to express themselves through art and poetry. “As a poet laureate, I want to grow as an artist and share my work,” said Flores. “It’s fulfilling as a shared humanity to connect and inspire people and a way to spark communication with one another. Once you have that experience, you feel confidence and there’s no going back.”

The poet laureates are not connected as a group but are part of a community that supports each other with our craft. Laureates help to bring awareness of poetry and literacy through the arts to their respective communities during their two-year appointments. Each laureate goes through a process involving several steps, outlined by a panel of commissioners, who make the final selections.

“One of the main things we do as poet laureates is to encourage unity within our community through the arts,” said Mitchell. “Our specific responsibilities are to highlight poetry as an outlet to allow people to express themselves.

“As poet laureate, we put on events to encourage our community to become more involved and aware, and to be more unified in bringing awareness, unity, respect and love within the community. Because of the pandemic, we are all trying to figure out our new norm.

“With everything that has been going on for the past two years, I firmly believe it’s important that we as a community, and I as a poet laureate, need to bring harmony back into our lives,” she said. “It is my quest and priority to promote that. We are neighbors, we are friends, we are a community, and we need each other to survive.”

The general public can learn more about their city’s poet laureate events and activities by contacting their Arts and Cultural Commission.

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Bay Area

COMMENTARY: Abuse Is Not Love

Domestic violence is the No. 1 violent crime in Marin. Women account for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence, and men for 15%. Half of the men who assault their wives also assault their children. Adults in same-sex relationships suffer abuse at the same rate as heterosexual couples.

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photo from www.itv.com.
photo from www.itv.com.

By Godfrey Lee

The Mental Health Advocacy Team of First Missionary Baptist Church (FMBC), along with the Marin City Mental Health Services, and the Center for Domestic Peace, conducted a training called “Working Together to End Domestic Violence” on October 25.

Rev. Ronald Leggett, FMBC’s pastor, hosted the Zoom program.

Cynthia Williams, a domestic violence advocate for peace, and a friend of FMBC, introduced the presenter and facilitator, Meghan Kehoe, from the Center for Domestic Peace.

photo from left: Rev. Ronald Leggett, Meghan Kehoe

photo from left: Rev. Ronald Leggett, Meghan Kehoe

Kehoe says that domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior used to exert power and control over an intimate partner. The abuser may use a variety of types of abuse to make sure that they have and maintain control over their partner. These types of domestic violence include physical, emotional, economic, sexual, spiritual abuse as well as stalking and strangulation.

Domestic violence can be physical, but the greatest impact is through verbal and emotional abuse. How victims have been abused and how they feel about themselves will always be present in their mind.

Domestic violence is the No. 1 violent crime in Marin. Women account for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence, and men for 15%. Half of the men who assault their wives also assault their children. Adults in same-sex relationships suffer abuse at the same rate as heterosexual couples.

Survivors need unconditional support from their friends. Many of those who stay in an abusive relationships have probably lost a lot of friends who love and support the victim but don’t understand the pattern of abuse, and do not understand why the survivor leaves, then returns to the abuser.

Children witness and experience the domestic violence and fear it just as much as the survivor does, if not more, and 60% of them are also victims of the physical violence as well.

The children, youth, and young adults are also being traumatized and affected by the violence. They may not know how to articulate what is happening to their family, or how to feel when their parents are hurting each another. So, talk to them and see if they want to talk to their parents or a safe person in their life.

Even if children know that they are not the cause of the violence, they still feel it in their hearts. Tell them that it is not their fault, and nothing they did caused the violence.

Young people who survive need good information, programs and services to help them find and maintain healthy relationships.

There is never a wrong time to reach out to someone who is being abused in a relationship. And you should also go with them to get help. Connect them to professionals, or a domestic violence agency. Offer them unconditional support a friend who will look out for them no matter what happens to them, what choices they make, whether or not they go back to their abuser, and be there for them in a non-judgmental way, Kehoe said.

For more information, go to centerfordomesticpeace.org. If you are in need of emergency assistance or wish to make an appointment with Center for Domestic Peace, please contact their 24-hour hotline: (English/ Spanish) 415-924-6616.

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