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‘Don’t Tap Your Neighbor:’ Black Faith Leaders Respond to Coronavirus Crisis

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Many faith-based organizations are encouraging their members to follow public health guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

As COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus disease, sweeps the nation, many institutions that rely on groups meeting in large numbers have been forced to consider alternatives.

In his executive order issued last week, Gov. Newsom issued guidance that prohibits more than 250 people from gathering in a common space.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also issued an executive order on March 16 that closed establishments such as bars, restaurants and entertainment venues in the “City of Angels.”

However, the order did not specify worship centers.

Leaders of some faith-based communities remain confident that they will continue servicing the needs of their parishioners during this current crisis.

“The doors to the church are always open — even in light of the coronavirus disease. Therefore, the doors of our church will remain open,” Pastor Mary S. Minor stated in a letter to the members of Brookins-Kirkland Community AME Church. “We will practice every recommended precaution offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,”

Presiding Bishop and Chief Apostle Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. of the Church of God in Christ, Inc. stated that along with prayer, the Church of God in Christ will comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines as well, but will not suspend services.

“Additionally, when assembled for church services or group gatherings, please refrain from asking congregants to shake hands with or hug their neighbor,” Blake said. “We are asking each of our more than 10,000 congregations to aggressively monitor the epidemic as it develops and take all necessary and recommended measures provided by the CDC.”

Rev. Shane Harris, founder of the People’s Alliance for Justice, announced that his organization launched a “task force” consisting of “a network of a hundred clergy of mid-range congregations from across the United States to address the virus and its spread and to provide a faith-based network to address the concerns among public health agencies.”

With 3,000 positive Coronavirus cases nationwide and 335 positive cases in California, these precautions have steadily become more commonplace.

Bay Area

Unanswered Questions Over Costs of Proposed Howard Terminal Ballpark

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There is growing public scrutiny of the deal the Oakland A’s are offering to the city in a proposal, released the end of April, to “privately fund” the building of a $1 billion ballpark and a massive $12 billon real estate development, almost a city within a city, on the waterfront at Howard Terminal and Jack London Square in downtown Oakland. 

 

     The Oakland A’s “term sheet,” released on April 23 and available at www.mlb.com/athletics/oakland-ballpark/community-report, proposes a construction project that, in addition to a 35,000-seat waterfront ballpark, would feature 3,000 units of mostly market rate housing, a hotel, an indoor performance center and 1.5 million square feet of offices and 270,000 square feet of retail space, as well as a gondola to transport fans over the I-880 freeway.

 

     Many of the details of the proposal are vague,  and there are many unanswered questions about how much this project will cost Oakland taxpayers and what benefits the city would ultimately see. 

 

     Among those who raised questions was Mike Jacob, vice president and general counsel of Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, an opponent of moving the A’s to Howard Terminal.

 

     “I think it’s hard to say what’s going on. They haven’t made it plain what they’re asking for and what they’re proposing,” Jacob said in an interview with the Oakland Post. 

 

    The A’s term sheet proposes a cost of $955 million for infrastructure and $450 million that will be utilized for community benefits, but that funding would be paid by taxpayers, presumably with a bond, he said. 

 

    “It is unclear whether (the funding) is underwritten by the bond, whether it is backed by general fund money and pretty unclear what the scope for the infrastructure really is,” said Jacob. 

 

   Do infrastructure costs include toxic waste cleanup at the site, which would be considerable, the cost of the gondola, multiple safe railway crossings for pedestrians and cars and any required construction if the Port of Oakland shipping is impacted? He asked.

 

    In addition, not only would taxpayers pay the millions of dollars in community benefits they would supposedly receive for various types of services and other projects, the money would be spread over a 45-year period. 

 

    To help fund the project, the A’s propose the city create a tax district for property owners along 1.5 miles near downtown Oakland to help pay for city services and infrastructure to serve the development. 

 

    The A’s also have said in their literature that the project would generate 6,000 jobs but are short of details about what that promise means. According to a letter to a state agency in August 2019, many of the estimated 6,667 would be jobs at offices in the development, in effect counting as new jobs any existing Oakland businesses that lease space in one of the new office buildings. 

 

    For their part, the A’s are pushing the City Council to approve their deal before the council recesses for its July break. 

 

    “We are really excited to get that (the term sheet) out there, and we are even more excited to get this to the City Council to vote this summer,” Dave Kaval, A’s president, told the San Francisco Chronicle. 

 

    While Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has thrown the weight of her office behind the deal, she is expressing some reservations after the term sheet was released and community opposition to the Howard Terminal project has continued to grow. 

 

    In a comment to the Chronicle, Schaaf spokesperson Justin Berton said: 

 

    “Our goals for the project are unchanged: We want to keep the A’s in Oakland – forever. We need a deal that’s good not just for the A’s, but for the City, one that provides specific, tangible, and equitable benefits to our residents and doesn’t leave Oakland’s taxpayers on the hook.”

 

    “The A’s contend that the growth in tax revenues attributed to their project will be sufficient to fully fund those investments and that they will benefit the entire community, (and) the city is critically examining these claims,” said Berton in the East Bay Times. 

 

    The impact of the decision on the A’s proposal could be huge for Oakland, noted Berton. “The commitments requested by the A’s would pre-determine the use of a substantial portion of tax revenue from this part of the city for years to come,” he told the East Bay Times.  

 

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Bay Area

Women’s Cancer Resource Center Celebrates 35th Anniversary

Founded in 1986, WCRC’s mission has been to improve the quality of life for women with cancer and advance equity in cancer support, especially for low-income persons, people of color, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Nearly 80% of WCRC’s clients live below the federal poverty level, and 70% of them identify as people of color.

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The Bay Area is full of “best-kept secrets.” The Women’s Cancer Resource Center is one of them. Tucked away in an unassuming building in a residential neighborhood in Berkeley, the Center serves more than 2,000 people with cancer and their loved ones every year.

They’ve been doing this for three and a half decades.

The Women’s Cancer Resource Center is celebrating its 35thanniversary at an online event on May 13. Visit www.wcrc.org/unite for more information and to register. If you or a loved one is facing cancer, please reach out to WCRC for assistance. 510-601-4040, www.wcrc.org or info@wcrc.org.

Founded in 1986, WCRC’s mission has been to improve the quality of life for women with cancer and advance equity in cancer support, especially for low-income persons, people of color, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Nearly 80% of WCRC’s clients live below the federal poverty level, and 70% of them identify as people of color.

WCRC staff have long observed that cancer often is not the greatest concern for the low-income and marginalized individuals in its client population. Limited access to primary health care, inadequate health services and financial resources, language and cultural barriers, racism, low literacy, fear, and mistrust of medical systems contribute to late diagnosis and earlier death, especially for African American, Latinx, and all other groups of low-income women diagnosed with cancer.

WCRC provides a set of comprehensive, coordinated services to mitigate these problems for people with limited access to essential, life-giving care. Free services include psychotherapy, support groups, art and wellness classes, community-based cancer patient navigation, and information and referral to community resources. These services increase adherence to cancer treatment and advance self-empowerment and care, improving quality of life and treatment outcomes.

But most of all, WCRC provides a place of refuge. Anyone who comes through the Center’s doors will feel safe, connected, and seen. The Center was able to extend this feeling of community even during the pandemic, transitioning its direct services to phone and Zoom.

One client for whom WCRC has made a huge difference is Ms. Arenoso.

She couldn’t trust anyone. Ms. Arenoso has been on her own since the age of sixteen. The trauma of her early life and experience of homelessness made it hard to trust others and feel safe.

She learned that self-reliance isn’t always the answer. In 2019, Ms. Arenoso was diagnosed with cancer. A few months into her treatment, which affected her ability to think clearly, she realized that she needed to be around other people who had cancer, andshe was referred to WCRC.

She was able to start to relax and receive support. Ms. Arenoso felt an instant connection with WCRC staff, who took the time to get to know her and tailor WCRC’s services to her needs. Her navigator helped her fill out housing and financial support paperwork and apply for emergency funding, which granted her enough money to cover three months of rent. WCRC also provides her with practical and emotional support, which she especially appreciates during the pandemic.

She found a home away from home, where she could truly be herself. Describing a visit to WCRC last year, Ms. Arenoso observed, “Your center was welcoming and beautiful. Everyone was so kind, and no one was rude. I felt that they loved me for me.”

As her heart healed, she was inspired to practice generosity. Ms. Arenoso wants to give back. “I used to be very angry,” she said. “WCRC helped me become more kind and compassionate.” She now collects toiletries to provide to people who are homeless and shares cancer resources with her neighbors to ensure that people understand the importance of cancer screenings. “I don’t know what I would have done without WCRC,” she said.

If you or a loved one is facing cancer, please reach out to the Women’s Cancer Resource Center for assistance. 510-601-4040, www.wcrc.org or info@wcrc.org.

 

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Bay Area

Good Day Cafe

Good Day Cafe is a black-owned business located in Vallejo,Ca

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 Good Day Cafe is a Black-owned cafe  located at 304 Georgia St. in Vallejo. Their hours are from 7:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Good Day Cafe serves Southern-style breakfast and lunch meals. They offer online orders, dine in, and delivery. Visit their website to learn more information https://gooddaycafevallejo.com/ and follow their instagram @gooddaycafevallejo

 

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