By Allen Payton
As a Registered Nurse for 35 years, Constance Tolbert knows what it means to serve the needs of others. She got an early start in health care by serving as a candy striper while a school girl in Connecticut.
“She was born to care for people,” said husband and co-owner James.
Her service in the Army Nurse Corps brought her to California in 1982 when she went on active duty. Then, after being in the reserves, her medical unit, the 6253rd, was activated and transferred to the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm in 1990. Constance served in Fort Carson, Colorado, replacing a nurse who had been deployed.
After briefly retiring in 2013 from Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland, she wasn’t done helping others and chose to work as a traveling nurse for a year.
Then in 2015, after being inspired by her mother who had owned a residential care facility for the elderly, Constance and James chose to buy a franchise of Seniors Helping Seniors.
“It was divine intervention,” Constance said. “We liked the mission of the company, which is based on Mother Teresa’s life work of serving others.”
The founder of Seniors Helping Seniors, Karen Yocom had worked with the soon to be Catholic Saint for 14 years in India.
“What also inspired us to go with this company is they have a different marketing model to reach seniors,” James shared. “Based on our previous work at our church, everyone we dealt with there were seniors. So, we liked the idea of hiring seniors to help other seniors.”
Their definition of senior is anyone age 50 or over for both the caregivers and the clients.
Since starting their franchise, which covers a territory of Concord to Discovery Bay, and including all East County communities, they’ve grown to a multi-cultural staff of 40. They include seniors from Puerto Rico, Guam, Fiji and Philippines, as well as others who are Japanese, African American, Hispanic and Caucasian.
“We can provide a caregiver so that people can be cared by those from their same culture,” Constance said.
“We cover the rainbow,” said James, who adds his years of experience and Masters Degree in organizational management. He’s also an Air Force veteran who currently works for the U.S. Department of Labor.
Most of the caregivers work part-time, as they’re either retired or in their second careers. Their clients range in age from as old as 98 and some as young as age 52.
“We try to match clients with senior caregivers with similar life experiences,” said James. “We had one client who was a Gulf War veteran. So, we were able to match her with a caregiver who is a fellow veteran and knows all about the VA in Martinez.”
They have a special program for low-income, military veterans or their spouses, called VetAssist which taps the Aid & Attendance benefits they qualify for.
“We’re able to access those benefits, quicker than if they were left to just go through the VA system,” James shared. “That could take six to eight months. We’re able to get it done in one or two months.”
“It’s critical for us to provide services to veterans, because they’re a forgotten group,” Constance said. “It’s definitely an honor for us to serve our fellow war time veterans who served this country.”
The services Seniors Helping Seniors provide include companionship, meal preparation, transportation for doctor appointments and others, light housekeeping, personal grooming and dressing, medications, showering assistance, and respite care for the main, family caregivers. Some seniors they serve have permanent disabilities, such as those who are blind, have dementia or are amputees, and are not ambulatory. Some younger seniors need help for temporary disabilities due to accidents, surgeries or injury.
“We have a transition program with hospitals, to reduce the readmission rate,” James shared.
“If a Medicare patient is readmitted within a 30-day period for the same diagnosis, they are responsible to pay the costs,” Constance explained. “With in-home care we are able to help them stay at home with the needed care, with such things as medication reminders, and proper nutrition. That’s critical, because so many who forget to take their medicine or don’t eat right, end up getting readmitted to the hospital.”
“Those costs can be as much as $5,000 a day,” she added.
“We’re able to help them avoid spending their savings and borrowing from their retirement account,” James said. “They could pay $30,000 at the hospital or just a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, with us. Plus, they’ll have someone who will provide them one-on-one care.”
The rates for the services of Seniors Helping Seniors are $26 to $28 per hour with a minimum of two hours per day, based on care needs. They also offer overnight stays and 24-hour care, seven days a week.
The Tolberts are also able to reach outside of their franchise territory to serve those who aren’t currently being served by a franchisee, such as in Martinez, and even San Joaquin Valley cities like Tracy, Manteca and Modesto.
Should you, a loved one or other senior you know have a need for in-home care, contact Seniors Helping Seniors 24-hours a day at (925) 698-6145 or email@example.com for a free RN consultation and assessment. They are bonded, insured and licensed with the State of California, and are in compliance with the new regulations that went into effect as of January, this year. For more information visit their website at www.seniorcarebrentwoodca.com.Read More
By Allen Payton
While attending Antioch High School, Anthony C. Ferrante took a film course at Los Medanos College. The movie director, who gained fame with his four Sharknado films, has been back in Antioch, over the past two weeks, filming a TV thriller entitled Forgotten Evil.
“My very first film I shot at the El Campanil Theatre but the lights went out,” Ferrante said in an interview this week. “I shot a whole other horror film in the basement and at the Riverview Lodge.”
“I filmed a lot of different things in Antioch,” he added.
Besides his course at LMC, Ferrante earned his liberal arts degree in film studies from San Francisco State. He also used to be the entertainment critic for the former Antioch Ledger-Dispatch newspaper, for years.
He shared how the idea of returning to his hometown came about.
“I actually had been trying to find something I could do in Antioch for awhile,” Ferranted stated. “We shot for a day in San Francisco for Sharknado 4. Then after I said ‘Let’s drive back through Antioch on our way back to L.A.’”
“I forgot how cool downtown was,” he offered.
That was earlier this year. Then he was asked to direct his latest film.
“When this project happened, they asked me where I wanted to shoot. I said ‘why don’t we look at Antioch,’” Ferrante said. “I got to revisit the place I did my first short films.”
“I wrote the script four weeks ago, and I kept thinking about Antioch and it was perfect,” he continued.
So, he and his crew arrived a few weeks ago and began recruiting family, friends and other local residents to be extras in the film
“We shot a few days at the high school. We changed the script to fit where we were shooting,” Ferrante explained. “We decided to call Antioch, Antioch in the script. But we’re also shooting in a coastal city.”
They also shot at the site of his first film, the El Campanil.
“One of our producers back in L.A. said they were stunned at how good the theater looked,” he stated. “It’s such a beautiful downtown. Film companies are always looking for places that are easy to do it without a lot of hassle.”
Ferrante said he is “hoping by setting the movie in downtown that other movies will be made here.”
“It still has a small town feel and attitude,” he added.
Ferrante offered his appreciation and thoughts about Antioch.
“Everything you’re trying to do to revitalize it, like the concerts,” he offered. “It looks like you’re looking at a town out of time. It’s just gorgeous.”
He wanted people to know how supportive and how positive that everyone has been.
“It’s been really cool,” Ferrante stated. “A lot of friends have been coming out and hanging out. Every time we’ve turned around there’s been generosity.”
He was grateful for the support of the Antioch Police, the Chief, the Antioch High School, the principal.
“We also used Martin Gonsalves’ law offices,” he explained. “Rick Carraher of the El Campanil has been amazing. City hall has been great getting us the permits and allowing us to shoot here. Lynn [Kutsal, owner] of Nature’s Bounty has been catering for us and making great food. The carrot cake with cream cheese on top has been the best thing ever. The enchilada chicken salad everyone just loved.”
They also shot some of the film at the Antioch Police Facility and the marina, this week.
“This all kind of worked out,” Ferrante continued. “We used the locals for extras. We’ve been low maintenance for the most part.”
On Monday, August 22nd they filmed inside and outside of the El Campanil Theatre, including in the basement in one of the “creepy rooms” in the front of the building, as described by a member of the film crew. That was also when they needed the most extras, to play members of the audience inside the auditorium. About 100 residents were there. A few were asked to remain for the shooting of the outside scenes. The extras were paid $10 per hour for their participation.
They also shot some of the footage at the Antioch Police Facility and the marina, this week.
Today and Friday will be their last days of filming, in Antioch.
“Then we’re done and start working on editing,” Ferrante said.
The main actors of Forgotten Evil include Masiela Lusha, who was in Sharknado 4 but gained her fame as the daughter of George Lopez in the TV series of the same name.
Ferrante shared more about the made for TV movie.
“I started the script in mid-June,” he explained. “The company came to me with a bunch of thrillers. I picked out the one I was most interested in and gave it some treatment.”
“Sharknado 4 we started in February and delivered it to the network in July,” Ferranted shared. “It was a very short time period for making a movie.”
Asked about when we can see Antioch in his new movie, he replied “I have to have it finished by the end of the year. It probably will air early next year.”
The movie will be sold, once it’s finished. Ferrante isn’t sure yet to which company that will be nor on which channel it will air. But, he hopes to let Antioch residents see it, first.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to do some kind of screening or something,” Ferrante added. “Possibly at the El Campanil Theatre. That’s where we’d love to have it.”
Ferrante is married. They have one daughter and live in Los Angeles. One of his sisters still lives in Antioch and the other lives in Napa.
So, expect to see him back in town, not only for the screening, but hopefully more movie making in the future.Read More
Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark A. Peterson announced a major expansion of Contra Costa County’s ongoing efforts to combat school truancy. The Thomas J. Long Foundation has awarded a $625,000 grant to the Lincoln Child Center to allow the Center to collaborate with the county in the effort to reduce chronic absenteeism. The county’s Behavioral Health Services will provide in-kind matching funds toward that effort. Thus, the total value of the increased effort to fight chronic absenteeism is $1.25 million.
Chronic absenteeism has been identified as one of the most serious, and life long, threats to our nation’s youth. Long term studies have repeatedly shown its devastating impact on our children, and on our society.
We know that 80% of prisoners in the United States are high school dropouts, and that chronic truancy is one of the best indicators of who will later drop out. We also know that if a child does not read at grade level by the end of the third grade, the chances he/she will later drop out are four times higher than their peers. This often dooms some of our most vulnerable kids to a lifetime of poverty, or crime. District Attorney Peterson stated “It is far better to keep a child in class today, than in a jail cell in the future.”
To address this issue, in 2015 Contra Costa County’s leaders developed a system-wide plan involving schools, the Office of Education, law enforcement, the courts, and the private sector. The Contra Costa Superior Court established a Parent Truancy Program to combat absenteeism in elementary and middle-schools by requiring parents of truants to appear in court.
Contra Costa County Superior Court Judges Rebecca Hardie and John Laettner have spent countless hours coaching parents on the need to get their kids to school. Often, truancy is a symptom of a much deeper problem, and many of the families are in desperate need of social services they cannot afford.
This grant will allow us to provide personalized assistance to the truants or their families to ensure the children get to school. This fund can be used for transportation services, therapy and coaching for the kids and their families, other services, or referrals to other providers.
The Lincoln Center’s mission statement exemplifies our county’s goal “To disrupt the cycle of poverty and trauma, empowering children and families to build strong futures.”
“We are truly grateful to the Foundation and Lincoln Child Center for joining us in this cause,” Peterson added.Read More
Washington, D.C – Today, Wednesday, August 31, 2016, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) announced that $750,000 in federal funds will be awarded to the California Department of Transportation under the Federal Highway Administration’s Surface Transportation System Funding Alternative Program (STSFA). These funds were awarded to further build upon the Mileage-Based Fee Pilot Program (SB 1077) that DeSaulnier established during his time in the California State Senate. This pilot program will explore alternative funding mechanisms necessary to advance the construction and maintenance of California’s roads, bridges and transit systems. This funding was authorized in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on December 4, 2015.
“Given the inability of the Highway Trust Fund to sustain needed roadway and bridge repair across the country, states are leading the way in identifying innovative funding alternatives. I am pleased California was well positioned to take advantage of this federal funding opportunity as a result of SB 1077. Our state will be at the forefront of finding innovative ways to improve safety and reduce congestion for Bay Area commuters,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier.
The FAST Act established the Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives Program to provide grants to states or groups of states to demonstrate user-based alternative revenue mechanisms that utilize a user fee structure to maintain the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund.
Earlier this year, Congressman DeSaulnier was a keynote speaker at the Mileage-Based User Fee Alliance’s Annual Conference, where he encouraged transportation leaders to adopt similar state policies to replace the losses in gas tax revenue.Read More
Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) and Ted Lieu (CA-33) called on House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) to initiate an immediate investigation into the egregious overprescribing of opioid prescription painkillers and the inaction of Purdue Pharma and other pharmaceutical companies that may be aware of inappropriate opioid distribution by bad actors.
Recent reports by the Los Angeles Times exposed that Purdue Pharma, the maker of the highly addictive painkiller OxyCotin, collected extensive evidence on the overprescribing and illegal trafficking of the substance for more than a decade, yet the company failed to notify the appropriate federal and state authorities. During the course of their inaction, sales of OxyCotin at some pharmacies increased by over 1400 percent. Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, and simultaneously so have sales of these prescription drugs.
“Despite receiving evidence from pharmacists and its own employees regarding suspected criminal trafficking of opioids, Purdue Pharma reportedly refused to take action and continued to engage in irresponsible practices that may have violated the law. In California, I was a leader in the fight to improve the state prescription drug monitoring program to prevent overprescribing by physicians and doctor shopping. Congress has a responsibility to investigate pharmaceutical companies that work around these reporting systems, ignore reports of illegal activity, disregard patient safety for the sake of profits, and endanger the public health,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier.
“I am troubled to learn of Purdue Pharma’s inappropriate opioid distribution practices. Reports indicating Purdue Pharma knowingly disregarded evidence of criminal drug trafficking of its drug reveals the company’s clear negligence for patient safety, medical ethics, and legal responsibilities all for the sake of profit. The fact that the United States is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic is cause for serious concern and we must hold those responsible accountable. As a member of the House Oversight Committee, I urge the Committee to initiate an investigation into this matter,” said Congressman Ted Lieu.
Click here to read a full copy of the letter sent to Chairman Jason Chaffetz.
To read complete coverage of Purdue Pharma by the Los Angeles Times click here.Read More
Thank you to the Herald for its recent coverage of the Frazier-Beall transportation plan, a smart, sensible bill that addresses our state’s transportation issues and provides a fair approach to funding provisions that will fix our roads and strengthen California’s economy. It is inarguable that our transportation infrastructure is rapidly deteriorating under the pressure of population growth that puts more vehicles on the road than the system was designed to manage safely.
The transportation funding plan put forth by Assemblyman Jim Frazier and Sen. Jim Beall offers a practical solution. It calls for an equitable distribution of funding responsibility among multiple sources, including gas and diesel tax increases and an annual fee for zero-emission vehicles. The bill encourages the use of public transit and other transportation alternatives. Frazier and Beall exhibit a commendable vision by balancing modes, understanding their net positive impact on relieving congestion and carbon emissions while off setting their impact on a corresponding net loss of gas tax receipts under the current program.
California’s transportation network serves as the lifeline for our personal mobility as well as an economic engine that makes the state the preferred originating point to move goods throughout the U.S. We must fund consistent, long-term maintenance and expansion now to keep our lifeline open and ensure a safe, reliable transportation system that we can count on.
President, West Division at HNTB Corporation
San FranciscoRead More
Following an investigation, members of the CASE (Contra Costa County Anti-Violence Support Effort) Team executed a search warrant on Wednesday, August 25, 2016 in the 3600 block of Olympia Circle in Pittsburg. Inside the residence, CASE found nearly a pound of methamphetamine (worth approximately $10,000), four firearms, approximately 150 rounds of various calibers of ammunition, digital scales, hundreds of small plastic bags used in the sales of controlled substances, and over $5,000 in U.S. currency.
The CASE Team arrested 41-year-old Leopoldo Fernandez and 41-year-old Jeanna Gomez, both of Pittsburg. They were booked into county jail on numerous drug and firearms related violations, including felon in possession of a firearm. Fernandez is being held in lieu of $615,000 bail: Gomez’s bail is set at $165,000.
The CASE Team is a joint effort by the Office of the Sheriff, California Department of Justice, California Highway Patrol, Pittsburg Police Department, and Walnut Creek Police Department. CASE was created in November 2011 as a collaborative effort to reduce violent crimes in Contra Costa, especially those related to illegal firearms.
Lafayette police are requesting the public’s assistance in trying to identify the suspect who robbed a branch of U.S. Bank on the 3400 block of Mt. Diablo Boulevard on Tuesday, August 23, 2016 at about 3:35 PM.
The suspect entered the bank, announced that a robbery was taking place, and demanded money from one of the tellers. After receiving some money, the suspect fled. Police quickly set up a perimeter and searched for the suspect, who is believed to have fled in a vehicle. He was not located. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, 5’8″ tall, medium build, and “salt and pepper” goatee. He was wearing a cap with the “Fox” logo on it.
Detectives from the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff have recovered most items that were taken during two burglaries that occurred at a home on Alhambra Valley Road in unincorporated Martinez, last month.
Following the burglaries, the Investigation Division received several anonymous email tips and voice messages on the tip line indicating the location of the stolen property. Detectives went to the location finding numerous bronze statues, whiskey decanters, and other items that were stolen from the residence. Several photos of the recovered items are attached.
Detectives subsequently executed three search warrants at locations in the El Sobrante area finding more stolen items.
Detectives arrested 49-year-old Charles Somers of San Pablo for possession of stolen property in connection with the burglaries. In addition, Somers, a parolee, is being held on a parole violation. Somers is currently in custody at the county jail without bail.
The investigation into the burglaries is continuing. Anyone with any information on this case is asked to contact the Investigation Division at (925) 313-2661.
For any tips, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.Read More
On Thursday, August 25, 2016, Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D – Oakley) and Senator Jim Beall (D – San Jose) introduced companion bills – ABX1 26 and SBX1 1 – in the 1st Extraordinary Session to address California’s transportation funding crisis. As mentioned in a recent article, the plan includes increases to the tax on gas by 17 cents per gallon and on diesel by 30 cents per gallon, as well as a $165 annual fee on electric vehicles.
“Over the past year, I’ve worked with my colleagues, local communities and industry experts to develop an all-inclusive plan that makes necessary improvements to our transportation system. These conversations resulted in ABX1 26,” stated Frazier. “The package that Senator Jim Beall and I put forth provides vital tools to ensure California remains economically competitive. By strengthening our trade corridors and accelerating the movement of goods, this proposal keeps business in California while simultaneously creating jobs through the advancement of crucial road maintenance and enhancement projects.”
The joint proposal provides an additional $7.4 billion annually across California’s transportation system: highways, local streets, transit, bikes and pedestrians. The plan utilizes a portfolio approach in addressing a multitude of funding needs, ensuring that everyone benefitting from California’s transportation infrastructure contributes to its continual maintenance and improvement. Additionally, important systemic reforms are included to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of funds.
“Assemblymember Jim Frazier and I have met with scores of legislators and stakeholders to craft an equitable solution that calls for everyone who drives to pay their fair share toward repairing California’s crumbling roads, bridges and trade corridors,” said Senator Jim Beall, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. “Our plan includes bipartisan recommendations to increase efficiency and accountability to taxpayers. By choosing to repair our transportation system now, we will have smoother and safer roads, generate jobs, and also save billions of dollars in future maintenance and construction costs.’’
The breakdown of new annual funding includes $2.9 billion for state highway maintenance, $2.5 billion for the upkeep of local streets and roads, $534 million to help regions restore cuts to the State Transportation Improvement Program, $516 million for transit capital projects and operations, $900 million to enhance goods movement, $80 million for active transportation projects and up to $150 million possible through Caltrans efficiencies for bicycle and pedestrian projects.
“This new proposal demonstrates real progress in the fight to secure needed transportation funding,” stated Bob Alvarado, Executive Officer of the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council. “Many in the labor community are already supportive of these efforts and look forward to helping secure the success of a funding package so we can put people to work.”
Asked if he and Beall had considered reallocating current spending to pay for their plan instead of the tax increases, Frazier responded with the following:
“In most circumstances, transportation funding has always come from a user-pay system. The General Fund is an unsteady and unpredictable source of revenue with regular fluctuations, resulting in constant funding and defunding of state-run programs. Therefore, this is not an ideal candidate for transportation projects, which can take years to plan and complete. Imagine the disappointment of developing a project only to have it cancelled last minute and without warning because state revenues are down and other programs were considered more important.”
“The proposal I laid out in ABX1-26 fixes the current transportation funding structure while still following the guiding principle of a user-pay system. This new plan utilizes a portfolio approach to diversify the collection of funds, ensuring that everyone benefitting from California’s transportation system is contributing to its maintenance and overall improvement. Additionally, the plan fixes the gas tax’s current structure, ending the instability and uncertainty of available revenues. It does this by resetting the revenue source to where it was before being altered in 2010. It then indexes it to keep pace with inflation so we can be confident that its buying power will remain strong into the future.”
The 1st Extraordinary Session was called by the Governor in June of 2015. The bills have until November 30th to be taken up for a vote before the session expires. To see the complete text of the bill, please click here.
Assemblymember Frazier represents the 11th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Antioch, Bethel Island, Birds Landing, Brentwood, Byron, Collinsville, Discovery Bay, Fairfield, Isleton, Knightsen, Locke, Oakley, Pittsburg (partial), Rio Vista, Suisun City, Travis AFB, Vacaville and Walnut Grove.Read More