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PRESS ROOM: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County presents April’s First Fridays: Drought

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — his season’s First Fridays is not for the faint of heart. We’ve picked the theme, Forces of Nature, so we can explore with you — and several experts on the topic — California’s natural disasters.

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By Sentinel News Service

This season’s First Fridays is not for the faint of heart. We’ve picked the theme, Forces of Nature, so we can explore with you — and several experts on the topic — California’s natural disasters. Join us for enlightening and entertaining discussions about fires, floods, droughts, and earthquakes, moderated by award-winning Los Angeles Times writer Patt Morrison.

After pondering how to prevent and manage calamity and what to pack in an emergency kit, you can sip cocktails in our DJ Lounge, explore the Museum at night, and hear bands perform in our diorama halls.

This year, we’ve also added a new First Fridays experience — Secrets from the Vaults. Science correspondent and Ologies podcast host, Alie Ward, will take your questions to our curators, who will divulge what mysterious oddities can be found behind the scenes at NHM.

This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Sentinel.

Health

Legislature Passes Sen. Skinner’s SB 65, the California Momnibus Act

SB 65 is sponsored by Black Women for Wellness Action Project, Western Center on Law and Poverty, California Nurse Midwives Association, NARAL Pro-Choice California, and National Health Law Program and supported by a coalition of over 50 organizations

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Godmother & Goddaughter Celebrating At A Party, Photo courtesy of Andrae Ricketts via Unsplash

The California state Senate approved Sen. Nancy Skinner’s SB 65, the California Momnibus Act, on a 31-5 vote on SB 65, which is designed to improve maternal and infant outcomes, particularly in families of color. SB 65 won unanimous approval from the state Assembly on September 9 on a vote of 77-0.

SB 65, which will improve research and data collection on racial and socio-economic factors that contribute to higher rates of maternal and infant mortality, now goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom for consideration.

Earlier this year, key elements of SB 65 were included in the state budget, including reduced work requirements for pregnant mothers on CalWORKs and new doula services for Medi-Cal recipients. SB 65 will also establish an implementation workgroup to maximize the reach of these new benefits into communities where they are needed most.

“California is failing birthing moms and babies – particularly those of color. Infant and maternal mortality is higher in the U.S. than in all other high-income countries. These are preventable deaths and we can and must do better,” said Skinner, who is vice chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus. “SB 65 will take a comprehensive approach to improving outcomes for birthing parents and babies and close racial disparities in maternal and infant deaths and health outcomes.”

Each year, an estimated two-thirds of the pregnancy-related deaths in the United States are considered preventable, according to a recent reportResearch points to structural racism and other socio-economic factors as playing key roles in causing racial and geographic disparities in birthing outcomes.

Although California’s infant mortality rate is lower than the national average, Black babies die at a rate more than double the state average. Mortality rates for Native American infants are also higher than the state norm. Death rates for Black pregnant and postpartum Californians are more than three times the state average.

SB 65 is part of a national effort to eliminate our country’s high maternal and infant mortality rates and complements two federal bills, the Black Maternal Momnibus Act of 2021 and The Kira Johnson Act, introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA). SB 65:

  • Codifies and expands California’s Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review Committee to investigate maternal mortality and morbidity and make recommendations on best practices to reduce maternal and infant deaths.
  • Updates data collection and protocols for counties participating in the Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Process and requires counties meeting specified criteria to participate.
  • Clarifies that pregnant people are exempt from CalWORKs welfare-to-work requirements.
  • Builds the midwifery workforce by establishing a fund for midwife training programs that prioritize admitting underrepresented groups and those from underserved communities.
  • Establishes a stakeholder workgroup to aid in the implementation of the new Medi-Cal doula benefit set to start next year.

SB 65 is sponsored by Black Women for Wellness Action Project, Western Center on Law and Poverty, California Nurse Midwives Association, NARAL Pro-Choice California, and National Health Law Program and supported by a coalition of over 50 organizations.

Aspects of the California Momnibus Budget Act in the 2021-22 budget included:

  • Expanding eligibility for CalWORKs grants to pregnant people regardless of the requirement that they report which trimester their pregnancy is in.
  • Increasing the pregnancy basic needs payment for pregnant CalWORKs recipients to $100 per month (it was $47).
  • Adding Doula Care to eligible Medi-Cal Services.
  • Extending full scope of Medi-Cal to a birthing parent for 12 months postpartum.
  • Including pregnant people as a priority for the state’s Guaranteed Income Pilot funded in the budget.

Robert Gammon is the communications director/policy adviser in the Office of State Senator Nancy Skinner, District 9.

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Business

A Store for ‘The People’ in East Oakland

The People’s Store is open Tuesdays through Saturdays between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.; Sundays and Mondays 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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The People's Storefront, Photo courtesy of realtor.com

The People’s Store, located in East Oakland, is a boutique that sells small batch African clothing, jewelry, crystals, and sage along with natural personal care products.

Customers rave about the natural shea butter, black soap and oils that are found in the store. The owner sells products wholesale and retail.

Located at 2366 High St, Oakland, CA 94601, they can be reached at  (510) 698-4371. The owner supports the local community, supporting small, local entrepreneurs by stocking the shelves of The People’s Store with their products. Check out their IG for giveaways, events and discounts.

The People’s Store is open Tuesdays through Saturdays between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.; Sundays and Mondays 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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African American News & Issues

CalHOPE Project Meets Critical Needs of Families During COVID-19 Crisis

Through this effort to meet the critical needs of this often under-resourced but high-risk population, 16 part-time African American crisis counselors and three administrators with diverse living experiences and a deep commitment to their community are readily available to respond to calls and chats.

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Shown are two Pictured are two of their CCP Crisis Counselors: Alfonzo Edwards (right) and Kenneth Robinson. Photo by Gigi Crowder, executive director NAMI Contra Costa.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness Contra Costa (NAMI CC) has provided critical non-clinical supports to individuals and their families since its establishment over 30 years ago.

However, in the last seven months the work has been more intense as the agency became a subcontractor for the FEMA-funded CalHOPE Project administered by the California Department of Health Care Services and the California Mental Health Services Authority.

NAMI CC is on board to provide culturally specific resources and emotional support to African Americans experiencing challenges due to COVID-19.

Through this effort to meet the critical needs of this often under-resourced but high-risk population, 16 part-time African American crisis counselors and three administrators with diverse living experiences and a deep commitment to their community are readily available to respond to calls and chats.

The challenges that African Americans have faced during this pandemic have been multifaceted and exacerbated by the social unrest due to senseless killings of unarmed Black people at the hands of those in place to protect and serve.

Executive Director Gigi R. Crowder has over the last 20 years demonstrated her passion for improving mental health outcomes for African Americans, and she embraces this project as a labor of love.

She and the team have focused the bulk of their attention on outreach and offering lifesaving resources, prayer, and encouragement to equip the African American community across the state with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions. We share accurate information about the importance of COVID-19 testing, getting vaccinated, taking advantage of resources and rejecting foolish misinformation.

Through already established relationships, the NAMI CC CCP Project partnered with key African American faith leaders, influencers and other cultural brokers from across California and hosted educational trainings to replace inaccurate information with truths about the pandemic and how African Americans in California should protect themselves.

Our goal was to positively influence as much as possible the devastating impact of COVID, considering the history of this country, on this under-resourced and too-often neglected population.

Gigi Crowder and her team of highly skilled and committed staff host tables at vaccination clinics. They work with county staff public health leaders to overcome vaccination hesitation without judgment by hosting town hall sessions.

The primary daily focus is playing an essential role in assisting individuals from their community to take advantage of local and staff incentives, and resources such as rental and housing assistance, funeral service expenses reimbursements, childcare and other financial incentives.

The African American CCP Program is working hard to lift up the word “hope” while adding a few others such as “faith”, “promise”, “trust” and “resilience” to ensure African Americans get through this with an improved sense of belonging.

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