Thumbs up, thumbs down

Kaiser Permanente Fresno nurses Helena Opoku, RN, and Annie Keshishyan, RN, assemble personal hygiene kits that will be distributed to homeless Valley veterans.
Kaiser Permanente Fresno nurses Helena Opoku, RN, and Annie Keshishyan, RN, assemble personal hygiene kits that will be distributed to homeless Valley veterans. Kaiser Permanente Fresno

Thumbs up to Trapdoor Social, a band out of Los Angeles that performed Thursday night at the monthly Tacos, Brews & Jams event at Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co. in downtown Fresno. The band travels with its own solar trailer, which it then uses to power the show.

Earlier this year, Trapdoor Social’s trailer provided the entire electrical supply for a Southern California music festival. It’s refreshing to see entertainers who walk the walk instead of merely talking the talk. If you haven’t heard of Tacos, Brews & Jams, let us educate. As the name implies, it caters to folks who love taco trucks, craft beer and music. Best of all, there’s no cover charge.

Thumbs up to University of California, Merced, for offering a 3:1 match of all donations on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29. The goal is to raise $500,000 in a single day. The university created a “Sixty-TUE” second video to learn more about the event at vimeo.com/189282734.

Thumbs up to Kaiser Permanente volunteers for spending two hours on Veterans Day assembling 400 personal hygiene kits for homeless veterans in the Valley. The employees placed toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, washcloths, socks and other toiletry items into bags. Each gift included a personalized note thanking the veteran for his or her service to our community. The 400 completed hygiene kits were donated to the Central Valley Veterans organization, which will distribute them to the needy veterans in our community.

Thumbs up to Fresno State alum Alex Lawrence for winning “The Turkey Day Heroes” episode of the Food Network program “Chopped,” competing against three other soup kitchen representatives. He won a $10,000 prize.

“The entire experience of being on Chopped was so exciting,” Lawrence told Lisa Boyles of Fresno State’s Arts and Humanities division. “As far as the competition part of the show goes, it is as real as it looks. They truly don’t tell you what is in the baskets, and the clock is really running down. There is no cheating, and no messing around.” He has been an administrator for Trinity’s Services and Food for the Homeless in the East Village for several years. “I loved being able to flex my creative muscle and come up with something out of nothing,” he said. “As an artist, that’s what you’re doing all the time. And food is really cool in that the creativity part just happens to be a really awesome art that you can literally consume!”

Lawrence met his husband, Cody Andrus, while they both attended Fresno State. They moved to New York together after finishing college. In addition to acting, Lawrence took a job as a choir director at a church, which ultimately led to a role as administrative director for the emergency feeding program.

Lawrence will be entertaining his college friends over the holidays. “Some Fresno State alum will be coming to my apartment in Harlem for ‘friendsgiving.’ ” Lawrence said. “I really found supportive faculty and an even more amazing group of students at Fresno State.”

The “Turkey Day Heroes” episode of “Chopped” will air again Saturday at 11 p.m. and Sunday at 2 a.m.

Thumbs up to the annual Fresno’s Leading Young Professionals Awards winners. They are Fresno City Councilman Oliver Baines; Cary Catalano, CEO of Catalano Fenske and Associates; Keith Bergthold of the Fresno Metro Ministry and the Better Blackstone Project; OLAM company; and Megan Souza of Pana-Pacific Corp. The honorees will be celebrated at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 at The Grand, 1401 Fulton. Guest speaker will be Irma Olguin Jr. of Bitwise Industries. Reservations, $55-$75 a person, can be made by emailing jguzman@flypinfo.com by Nov. 26.