Thumbs up to Christine Earley of Visalia for winning a vacation spa trip to St. George, Utah, worth about $7,500 on the TV show, “Live with Kelly and Michael” on ABC 30. The show staff called her at 5:11 a.m. to tell her she would be on the show, so she had a chance to review a recording. (She records it every day.) The question was where did actor David Duchovny recently take a vacation? The answer was Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean. She will get three spa treatments per person while there and opportunities for hiking, biking health and fitness. What a way to start the year off. Earley is a sharp-shooter at this game, having won three previous trips for a total of more than $120,000.
Thumbs up to Evangel Home, a Christian crisis shelter near downtown Fresno, for celebrating its 60th anniversary. Now under the direction of Gerre Brenneman, the organization has bought and remodeled old homes and apartments on Yosemite Avenue to expand the mission of help women and children in need. It’s turning around an entire block. One home, formerly the neighborhood crack house according to the director, now is a center where licensed professional counselors provide services. The shelter is at 137 N. Yosemite Ave. Congratulations to the organization and its many successful graduates.
Thumbs up to Fresno for leading the application team that was successful in getting the region accepted into the Brookings Global Cities Initiative Exchange. The program’s purpose is to help metro-area leaders strengthen their regional economies by becoming more competitive in the global marketplace. Long term, the goal is to create a nationwide network of communities that can exchange ideas and best practices as they develop strategies for increasing exports and foreign investment. That can mean a terrific thing for the Valley — more jobs.
Thumbs up to the Fresno Elks Lodge and Girl Scouts Troop 889 for hosting a drug-awareness field trip for 36 students attending Westside Elementary School in Five Points. Vicki Tarvin, vice principal, expressed her appreciation because the students don’t often get treated to out-of-town bus trips on a Saturday.
The interactive activities, held at the Clovis Elks Lodge, included a drug-awareness quiz children completed as they walked around the room seeking answers and playing games. The students also heard messages from the Huron and Fresno police departments, and saw a canine demonstration from the Parlier Police Department. Each student was treated to lunch and gift certificates. The event was made possible through a $2,000 grant from the Elks National Foundation, an award the Fresno Elks has won several times before.
Thumbs up to Granville Homes for donating $100,000 to the “Talking is Teaching: Talk Read Sing” campaign, which encourages parents and caregivers to boost brain development and early language skills in children from birth to age 5.
Thumbs up to the 28th Annual Central California Women’s Conference for signing actor Viola Davis to keynote its Sept. 22 event. Davis is star of the hit TV Show “How to Get Away With Murder.” She is a two-time Oscar nominee, and was nominated for a Golden Globe for her work on the new show. She received Screen Actors Guild and People’s choice honors this year for the show. She plans to speak on her fight against hunger, an appropriate topic for a region that has the nation’s highest poverty rate and numbers of hungry poor, and also is the most productive agricultural region in the nation.
Thumbs up to the city of Chowchilla for naming a park in honor of Ed Ray, the bus driver hailed as a hero when he helped free 26 kidnapped students in 1976. The city and Ray’s family are planning a ceremony near where Sonoma Avenue meets the 625 North 15th Street park at 4 p.m. Feb. 26, which would have been Ray’s 94th birthday. He died in 2012. Ray helped free 26 students kidnapped by brothers Richard and James Schoenfeld and Frederick Woods. The men buried the students alive in a rock quarry in Livermore.