Thumbs up to Dr. Tigon Abalos for being featured in #ShesBadass, a public service announcement that spotlights women veterans who defy stereotypes. The video vignettes are the work of the the veterans empowerment organization Got Your 6.
Abalos, who lives in Fresno, now works as a dentist serving low-income patients in Visalia through the nonprofit Family Healthcare Network. Many of her patients are migrant farmworkers.
A refugee from Vietnam, she was featured in The Bee last year, where she told about her decision to join the Army after 9/11, despite being a student at the University of California, Berkeley. She served in Germany for four years and was deployed to Afghanistan for a year, where she worked as a counter-intelligence agent.
When she left the Army, she enrolled in dental school at UCLA, where she co-founded Operation Bruin Smiles, the first university dental subsidy program in the U.S. that provides free dental care to college veterans and former foster youth.
Thumbs up to Woodlake native Amanda Rentería, 42, for being named chief of operations for state Attorney General Xavier Becerra. She is in charge of about 1,000 state Department of Justice employees who provide support to 3,500 attorneys.
The position not only puts Rentería on Becerra’s executive team, but gives the San Joaquín Valley a bigger profile in Sacramento. Rentería told Juan Esparza Loera of Vida en el Valle that she sees her task today as helping to battle President Donald J. Trump’s executive orders and actions that could hurt California residents.
Thumbs down to walkers and drivers who carelessly use their phones while on the road. U.S. pedestrian deaths are projected to increase by 11 percent in 2016, the Governors Highway Safety Association warned last week. It’s the second consecutive year of the largest annual jump in the death toll since records have been kept. The safety association says that more cars are on the road due to lower gas prices and that more people are walking. But it also says another factor may be that too many drivers and pedestrians are distracted by their smart phones.
Thumbs up to Sequoia Middle School student Matthew Sarim for his big-hearted gift to classmate Robert Gonzalez. Matthew won a mountain bike through a school contest because of his good grades, attendance and behavior. He has happy to win it but Matthew had no intention of keeping the bike. Instead, he gave it to Robert.
Matthew already had a bike, he explained to the staff, but Robert did not. Although Matthew’s request would seem to violate the terms of the contest, which sought to recognize meritorious students, the staff allowed it. Good, sensible move by the adults for keeping their priorities straight. Another 26-inch mountain bike was given out during the contest. Walmart donated both bikes.
The catering business based in the Tower District won the Catie Award for the 2017 signature caterer for best event during the 25th Annual Catersource Convention in New Orleans. The dinner was part of The Painted Table’s supper club that takes diners to a mystery location that’s not revealed until the last minute. This dinner was literally underground, an authentic Sicilian menu with family-style seating, and mandolin music.
Thumbs up to Malee Srisaard, Ba Xiong and their six children, ages 18 months to 19 years, for getting the keys to their new home April 1 from Habitat for Humanity Fresno County. After living four years cramped up in a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment, they finally are able to leave a high-crime area and move into 1,300 square feet, four bedrooms, two baths and a yard.
The family was selected based on need and the ability to purchase the home through a zero-interest loan. The down payment is met by contributing 500 hours of sweat equity. This is the 139th Habitat for Humanity Fresno County home built since 1985. The homes are made possible through donors and volunteers.