Making a Big Difference
By Linda Childers
A grieving father, a former stay-at-home mother of three and a kindhearted nurse—these are three of the selfless individuals who work tirelessly on behalf of the community.
This year, Oakland Magazine is recognizing five unsung heroes for their hard work and dedication, citizens who continuously prove that one person truly can make a difference in the lives
SAVOY, or Stop All Violence on Youth
It was a beautiful summer day when Jay Logan dropped off his 14-year-old son Jaee in West Oakland on July 2, 2006, to attend a barbecue with friends. Three hours later, he received a call that Jaee had been shot and killed.
A star football player at Carter Middle School, Jaee was an honor roll student who lived with his father, 7-year-old sister, Jaelena, and grandmother, Dorothy, in North Oakland. His dad remembers Jaee as a talented singer, an athlete who overcame asthma to become a starting running back on the Berkeley Cougars football team and a loving, intelligent teen who worried about his friends. “My son wanted to help everyone. He thought he was Superman,” Logan, 43, says.
Jaee’s death was one of 148 homicides in Oakland in 2006, the highest total in more than a decade. Nearly three-quarters of the city’s homicides that year were street shootings, and about half were the result of undetermined motives.
Police believe that Jaee was the victim of mistaken identity. Recalling the manner in which his son died, Logan becomes tearful.
“Jaee was shot in the back numerous times and ran for a half a block before collapsing.” Logan says. “There were people home at the time, but no one opened their doors to help Jaee, called the police or admitted seeing anything.”
Reeling from the senselessness of his son’s death and the tragic killings of others that have become all too commonplace in his hometown, Logan decided to start an anti-violence organization. Naming it SAVOY for Stop All Violence on Youth, Logan hopes to change the street mantra “snitches get stitches,” and provide local kids with activities and opportunities where they can feel safe and prosper.
The son of legendary jazz musician, Giuseppi Logan, Jay Logan was born and raised in New York before moving with his family to Oakland in the 1970s. He says the Oakland of his youth was a different city where people knew their neighbors and looked out for one another.
A product of what he calls “the Marcus Foster experiment,” Logan attended a gifted program at Mosswood Park Elementary School and went on to graduate from Renaissance High School and Laney College. He followed in his father’s
footsteps, becoming a talented musician and producer working with artists including the Timex Social Club, Bobby Brown and MC Hammer and earning seven platinum albums.
Music is one of the ways that Logan is hoping to engage children. He has taken many of the 100 local children who participate in SAVOY into a recording studio to see firsthand how to become artists and producers. SAVOY volunteers also worked on the 2006 USA Weekend’s Make A Difference Day and hold monthly events, such as cleaning up trash-strewn neighborhoods, taking kids to Oakland A’s games and feeding more than 200 children from Berkeley and Oakland in San Pablo Park on International Peace Day.
As Logan looks to the future, he hopes to secure corporate funding to continue SAVOY. To date, he has paid for programs on his own or through donations.
“I know kids who are scared they won’t live to see their 18th birthday,” Logan says. “I want to do whatever I can do to stop the violence and to bring a sense of community back to Oakland, to have people embrace their neighbors.”
For more information on SAVOY, visit www.jaeelogan.com.
Kathy Nicholson Hull
George Mark House
Kathy Nicholson Hull knows how devastating it is for a family to lose a child. The deaths of her brothers, Mark, who died in an auto accident in 1962 at the age of 16, and George, who died of cancer in 1969 at 30, inspired Hull to create George Mark Children’s House, the first freestanding pediatric hospice and respite facility in the United States.The 15,000-square-foot, eight-bedroom home, situated on five acres of land in the foothills of San Leandro, gives terminally ill children a place where they can die with dignity, surrounded by their parents, siblings and loved ones. Each year
the home serves more than 200 families who are referred to the facility by
“Until we opened in April of 2004, parents of critically ill children have had to choose between staying at the hospital or taking the child home to die,” says Hull, a resident of Piedmont. “In a home environment, the demands of care can seem daunting to grieving families. Here at George Mark House, we have a staff of health-care professionals who provide both medical and psychosocial support to our patients and their families.”
The children of George Mark live in rooms decorated with murals in jungle, cowboy or princess themes. Their families live in apartments on the grounds, and there are even enclosures for visits by beloved family pets.
Hull admits that her own life experiences led her to a career where she could help other grieving families. After earning a doctorate in clinical psychology, with an emphasis on health-related issues, she began working at Children’s Hospital in Oakland where she met Dr. Barbara Beach, a pediatric oncologist.
Hull, 64, calls George Mark House, “the defining project in my life.”
This year, the hospice celebrates its second year in the community and is serving as a model for other communities and health-care professionals across
“The concept of end-of-life care outside of a hospital is relatively new in the medical community,” Hull says. Part of the hospice’s mission is to promote awareness of the home’s services. In addition to hospice care, George Mark also provides respite care for seriously ill children who need round-the-clock care while their parent or caregiver is away on business or needs a well-deserved break from caring for their loved ones on a 24/7 basis.
Hull, who is married with eight children and three grandchildren, also sees herself as an advocate for legislation that will benefit gravely ill children. As a member of the California Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition, Hull worked to champion AB 1745, state legislation that was signed by the governor in September 2006. The law enables individuals under the age of 21 to qualify for Medicaid hospice care regardless of how long they may have to live. Previously, such individuals had to go without medical treatment in lieu of hospice care.
“Young beneficiaries also will now be allowed to receive curative, as well as palliative, care,” Hull explains. “In the past, a lot of insurance companies would only cover hospice services if a family chose to forgo care, but what parent is going to deny their child chemotherapy if it can allow them more time?”
Through a series of fundraising events, George Mark House raises money to support the facility’s activities and programs. The organization also welcomes monetary and in-kind donations from individuals and companies.
“It’s very humbling work,” Hull says of her involvement with George Mark House, where she serves as president of the home’s board of directors and also as a child psychologist. “My job pulls at my heartstrings and definitely puts life in
For more information on George Mark Children’s House, visit www.georgemark.org.
Rose Padilla Johnson
Davis Street Family Resource Center
Rose Padilla Johnson could have coined the term multitasking. The 48-year-old executive director of the Davis Street Family Resource Center oversees a $9 million budget and programs that provide childcare, food and health care to more than 10,000 low-income residents in East Oakland, San Leandro and
Davis Street was originally founded as a ministry of the First Christian Church in 1970. Johnson joined the nonprofit in 1991, and over the past 16 years she has helped Davis Street grow into a multiservice family support agency.
When she first accepted the job in 1991, Johnson, an Oakland native, was a stay-at-home mom of three who was intrigued by Davis Street’s commitment to helping local families. Her original office was located in an old Sunday school classroom within
“I had volunteered for years in my children’s schools and at my church,” she says. “Davis Street offered me the chance to help more people in the community.”
By applying for federal grants, Johnson was able to increase the scope of Davis Street’s childcare program, which initially provided affordable childcare to 60 children each day. The center now serves more than 1,200 children.
Johnson’s longtime personal goal was to secure office space and move the nonprofit’s services under one roof. In 2002, Davis Street secured a 22,500-square-foot office on Teagarden Street in San Leandro that houses the organization’s administrative offices, dress for success closet, food services and other family support services.
“I thought it was important to centralize our services and eliminate transportation obstacles for our families,” she says.
When Johnson first joined Davis Street, the center offered only subsidized childcare, a pantry and a small thrift shop. Today, Davis Street boasts a wide array of family support, including childcare, emergency food and clothing, free medical and dental care, counseling and mental health services, employment training, parent education, early literacy classes and income tax assistance.
Johnson is particularly proud of the center’s free medical clinic that debuted 12 years ago in collaboration with the San Leandro Rotary Club.
“We provide acute medical care and preventative services to more than 1,000 people each year,” Johnson says. “Approximately 60 percent of the patients we see are children, and the clinic is staffed entirely by volunteer doctors and other health professionals.”
While her programs have won national and state recognition and honors, Johnson credits her staff and the community for the ongoing success of
“What we do can be replicated anywhere,” Johnson says. “I feel as though I’m the conductor of the symphony, but it’s the community that makes the beautiful music in terms of providing these wonderful support services.”
For more information on the Davis Street Family Resource Center, visit www.davisstreet.org.
Alameda County Community Food Bank
Suzan Bateson remembers how her mother, one of 10 children growing up poor in Missouri, felt fortunate if she received an orange in her Christmas stocking.
The story left a lasting impression on Bateson, who has devoted much of her life to ensuring that Bay Area families have food on their tables. For the past 15 years, she has worked with local food banks, first in Contra Costa County and for the last six years as executive director of the Alameda County Community Food Bank.
As a mother of four, Bateson, 56, is dedicated to ending hunger in Alameda County, especially childhood hunger, and her work focuses on ensuring that low-income children and adults receive healthy and nutritious food. She oversees operation of the food bank, a nonprofit that distributes more than 12 million pounds of food annually and serves 240,000 low-income people each year.
During her tenure with the food bank, Bateson has seen many changes. One of her proudest accomplishments is helping the food bank move toward owning a permanent facility at 7900 Edgewater Drive in Oakland. She has also been able to increase the number of fresh fruits and vegetables the food bank distributes
“Last year we collected 5.6 million pounds of produce,” Bateson says. “Our mission isn’t just distributing food but also ensuring the food is nutritious and offers health benefits to families.”
One aspect that hasn’t changed is the sheer number of food requests. In fact, Bateson says calls have increased with each passing year. In July, the food bank received more than 1,600 helpline calls, an 80 percent increase over 2006.
“This past summer the food bank’s food helpline experienced a record level of emergency food requests, and we anticipate a very busy fall and winter,” Bateson says. “We appreciate all of the individuals who hold food drives and donate food to us throughout the year. It shows how the power of community can come together to help meet the nutrition needs of the low-income families we serve each week.”
Bateson has also worked to increase awareness of food stamps among local residents by launching a food stamp outreach program and hiring three outreach workers who speak Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese and Vietnamese to conduct food stamp screening and application assistance in local neighborhoods where participation in the food stamp program is low.
“Less than half of Alameda County low-income residents who are eligible are enrolled in the program, either because they don’t realize they may be eligible or because the barriers are too great,” Bateson says.
Bateson also works diligently to raise awareness of hunger as a year-round problem. Her network of 300 community-based organizations, including food pantries and soup kitchens, feed 40,000 people each week, and more than 3,100 volunteers help with tasks from stocking the warehouse to answering
the food helpline.
Now Bateson hopes to ensure the food bank purchases outright the facility on Edgewater Drive and has launched a capital campaign toward raising the remaining $5 million necessary to buy the property.
“I have a great staff and a wonderful group of volunteers who work with me,” Bateson says. “With their help, I truly believe we can accomplish anything.”
For more information on the Alameda County Community Food Bank, visit www.accfb.org.
Shirley Manly Lampkin
Community Health Advocate
Shirley Manly Lampkin has seen the toll breast cancer has taken on her friends and family. She knows how every three seconds a woman in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer and that African-American women are more likely to die from the disease.
“My aunt had breast cancer, and my cousin died of the disease in her early 30s,” Lampkin says. “Younger black women who get breast cancer are far more likely to have an aggressive and lethal form of the disease.”
A former nurse and Oakland resident, Lampkin, 51, became concerned after seeing many African-American women being diagnosed with breast cancer when they were only in their 20s and 30s.
“These women had found a lump in their breast and were being told by their doctors not to worry because they were too young to have breast cancer,” she says.
Wanting to make a difference, Lampkin left her job as a hospital nurse and accepted a job in 1999 with the Northern California Cancer Center, where she helped design outreach programs to educate African-American women about the importance of mammograms, self-exams, risk factors, breast cancer treatment options and available resources. Part of her job involved spreading the word at local beauty shops and churches and encouraging women to be proactive about their health.
Lampkin also opened Imani’s Breast Care, an Oakland shop that specializes in post-mastectomy services including a boutique and in-home fitting services for forms and bras. Lampkin began her own outreach efforts, offering a breast cancer support group for African-American women, and hosting Healing Day in the Park, an annual event for cancer survivors and their families; the event is now celebrating its eighth year. Lampkin also co-founded a program entitled Sisters 3, with two of her colleagues. The group works with several support groups throughout the Bay Area, providing them with education and training around breast health issues and teaching them how to be effective group facilitators. The group also raises funds and provides emergency assistance for women affected by breast cancer and offers emotional support for their families.
Despite working full-time as the director of community health programs for the California Pacific Medical Center, Lampkin has logged countless hours as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society and the Northern California Cancer Center. Four years ago, she helped to create the African-American Breast Cancer Conference held each May in Oakland.
Lampkin says having a Ph.D. in nursing has helped her to address the fears and misconceptions that still surround a diagnosis of breast cancer.
“If a woman doesn’t feel comfortable coming in to Imani’s, I’ll go to their home and help to fit them for a breast form,” Lampkin says. “If they can’t afford one, I often pay for them with my own money. I’ve probably given out far more than I’ve sold.”
Until a cure is found for breast cancer, Lampkin plans to continue advocating for better screening and looking at ways to reduce the disparities in health care among minorities and the underserved.
“Despite all the gains that have been made in the area of breast cancer research, African-American women still suffer disproportionately from the effects of the disease,” Lampkin says. “Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among African-American women. There’s still a lot of work to do.”
For more information on Imani’s, visit the shop at 546 Ninth St. in Oakland or call (510) 465-7333.