Contra Costa County Historical Society

Contra Costa is one of the many long-standing counties in the Bay Area, with a wide and varied history worthy of protecting and propagating to the fullest. Charged with the care and keeping of Contra Costa County’s History Center, the Contra Costa County Historical Society takes its mission to heart. Its collection of records and artifacts catalog the rich history of the region. This dedicated organization takes pride in preserving, protecting, and providing public access to the documents and heritage of Contra Costa County. 

 

With various available research, photo, and essay databases, Contra Costa County’s selection of historical materials is vast. It nods to a long and storied history of the county’s beginnings, and the people, events, and historical places and things that make this county unique. You can even buy a variety of gently used books through their bookstore. Many of them have their own unique and personal history. 

 

In addition to its many records and resources, Contra Costa County’s Historical Society also posts the CCCHS Quarterly Newsletter. Its goal is to spread knowledge about the regional history of Contra Costa County and California. In doing this, the newsletter aims to focus not on famous people, places, and events, but to highlight ordinary people within the county and how they went about living their lives.

 

If you or someone you know wants to become a member of this fantastic organization dedicated to preserving Contra Costa’s history, you can do so here. Whether you join as an Individual, Couple, Sponsor, or Patron, your membership is appreciated and welcome. Please share this article with anyone you feel might be interested in learning more about Contra Costa’s history. For more information about the Contra Costa County Historical Society, check out their website: https://cocohistory.org/index.html

What Goes Into an Emergency Preparedness Kit

While you may be at a loss of how to spend your time right now during the COVID-19 crisis, you may as well start prepping for when we can finally go back out and enjoy the summer! Though travel may not be appealing to some due to the current climate, there’s no time like the present to start getting your car ready to road trip. Read on to find out just what you should include in your emergency preparedness kit!

The things you should include in your emergency preparedness kit can be broken down into three categories: car repair items, safety/medical items, and miscellaneous items.

Car Repair Items:
In the case of a vehicle emergency like a flat tire, you’ll want to make sure you have an inflated spare tire, a wheel wrench, and a tripod jack. If you don’t know how to change a tire, never fear! Most car owner manuals include these directions and long with pictures of how to do so. But it’s always a great skill to learn, so practice, practice, practice. You’ll also need jumper cables, a tool kit, reflective triangles, and potentially a reflective vest so other drivers can see you on the road.

Safety/Medical Items:
First and foremost, you’ll want to pack a fully stocked first aid kit that includes any frequently needed medications you or your family take (like insulin or blood thinners). There should also be a supply of non-perishable foods like nuts or protein bars along with drinking water. These should be checked every six months and replaced when expired.

Miscellaneous Items:
As for miscellaneous items, you may wish to include a flashlight with extra batteries, a compass, a car charger for your cell phone, a fire extinguisher, duct tape, and a rain poncho. Depending on the time of year and where you’re going, you may want to include warm clothes, a blanket, a small shovel, and cat litter for traction.

While this is just an essential list to get started, feel free to add anything else you might need!

If you’d like to donate your car to help someone recover from a natural disaster, reach out to cars2ndchance@gmail.com to donate a vehicle that runs, and clunkers4charity@gmail.com to donate a vehicle that does not. Check out their respective websites https://cars2ndchance.org/ and https://www.clunkers4charity.org/.

What’s Happened Since the Paradise Fires

California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire, the Camp Fire, sped through the Sierra Nevada foothills in November of 2018, leaving a path of fiery destruction in its wake. With 153,336 acres burned, 18,804 structures destroyed, and 85 lives lost from start to finish, the world could only watch as the deadly fires ravaged Northern California. To the residents of Paradise, California, though, that loss cannot be quantified. They lost not only homes, stores, schools, and jobs; they lost their entire town. What was once considered one of Northern California’s most beautiful towns surrounded by wildlife and nature, was burned away in a matter of days.
Just about a year and a half has passed since this tragedy occurred, and while Butte County has rallied around the Paradise community, there are still countless reminders of what has been lost. While the Camp Fire has left a deep scar on Paradise that can still be seen in its charred trees and burnt out buildings, residents are working hard to rebuild. Almost all the debris from the fire has been cleared from Paradise, which at one time roughly 26,000 people called home. The combined amount of what has been removed so far is about equivalent to a total of four Golden Gate Bridges.

While many had to move away from Paradise immediately after the fires, about 4,000 residents have come back just over a year and a half from when the fires first began. Many of these 4,000 people now live in recreational vehicles like trailers and RV’s, but the spirit of Paradise is slowly coming back. The fire spared around 1,400 homes, and so far, the city has permitted that some new homes that are fit for occupancy. Some businesses on the main street through Paradise, Skyway Road, have even reopened their doors. Large signs loudly proclaim that life still exists in the small but proud Northern California mountain town, and people are starting to trickle back to Paradise little by little.

There are still issues to face, such as potable water concerns for certain businesses and residences. There are also obvious difficulties associated with rebuilding a town from the ground up, but for those who chose to remain or plan to come back, the challenge isn’t insurmountable. While it may not reach its previous 26,000-person population anytime soon, Paradise is slowly coming back, stronger and more resilient than ever. Time heals all wounds, and in just a year and a half since the Camp Fires, Paradise has shown just how strong the soul of the town truly is. While the old Paradise may be lost, a new Paradise is slowly on its way.
If you’d like to donate your car to help someone recover from a natural disaster, reach out to cars2ndchance@gmail.com to donate a vehicle that runs, and cars2ndchance@gmail.com to donate a vehicle that does not. Check out their respective websites https://cars2ndchance.org/.

Preparing for Disaster

With all the wildfires and natural disasters underfoot, now is the time to make a safety plan and share it with your friends and family. It is essential to know what hazards your home and community are susceptible to.

Here is a list to help you and your loved ones prepare before a time of crisis strikes:

Inventory Your Household
Do a walkthrough of every room in your home and write down what items you have. If you have the cloud, perhaps you can scan upload a copy just in case one that is in your notebook, desk, or safe gets lost or destroyed. The last thing you need when coping with the aftermath of a natural disaster is to have your insurance questioning about what you had and need to replace. Another good reason to have an inventory list is to evaluate your insurance policy.

Double-Check Your Insurance Policies
Are you underinsured? Boy, that would be a bummer not to have enough coverage to replace your home and items if disaster strikes. You want to be sure the total you are insured for is enough for that just-in-case.

Create a Disaster Plan
First, you will want to start by having a safe place to meet. Think up a place or home that will serve as your meet-up location, just in case you become separated from your family. Talk to your friends and family. It’s essential that your friends and family know what to do in case of an emergency, and you are unable to return to your home.

Plan Ways To Communicate
Have you thought up ways that you will communicate with each other in an emergency situation? How will you contact each other, or find each other after separating? Talk with your family and about a place to find one another during an emergency.

Evacuation Planning
During a crisis, there is often no time for talking and planning, so you will want to plan. Does each member of your family have copies of your emergency contacts? You want to make a list of contacts and give it to each member of your family.

Practice your Safety Plan
Does everyone in your family know how to turn off the power, water, and gas to your home? How about first-aid and CPR? Now is an excellent time to meet your neighbors, when a natural disaster strikes, your community is who you will be surrounded by. You will want to know who they are. What is up high that can come down and cause injury, it is an excellent time to secure these items to prevent unnecessary injuries. Is your fire extinguisher handy? It is a good idea to check both your fire extinguishers and smoke alarms twice yearly.

Talk With Emergency Services
Knowing what your community plan, evacuation routes, and emergency shelters are located will help keep you, your family and neighbors safe. The authorities are an excellent resource to talk about what types of emergencies to plan for.

If you’d like to donate your car to help someone recover from a natural disaster, reach out to cars2ndchance@gmail.com to donate a vehicle that runs, and cars2ndchance@gmail.com to donate a vehicle that does not. Check out their respective websites https://cars2ndchance.org/.

How Helping Others Improves Your Health

When you take the time to help other people through volunteering or donating money, it not only helps them, it makes the world a better place, but it also improves your overall health and wellbeing. Research has indicated that when you give, it increases your happiness along with your health. 

Increase your lifespan: When you help others, it’s been shown that it increases life expectancy. How? Studies have shown that when you volunteer at a therapeutic horseback riding facility for at-risk youth or serve food at a homeless shelter, it increases your ability to manage stress, decrease depression, and increase your overall satisfaction with life. Volunteerism helps alleviate loneliness. All of those factors increase lifespan. 

Paying it forward: When you do something kind, it makes other people want to do something kind. This can then ripple through your community making it a better place to live. Just think of how it makes you feel when someone has performed a random act of kindness that affected you. 

3. Helping others adds to our own happiness:  

Scientists have discovered that when we give back, we receive a neurochemical sense of reward. Sociologists conducted research following more than 2,000 people over 5 years. They concluded that when a person volunteered at least 5.8 hours a month, they were far more likely to report themselves as being very happy. 

  1. Reduction in chronic pain: 

When someone with chronic pain volunteers to help others with chronic pain, they often experience a reduction in their own symptoms. 

  1. Lowers blood pressure:

A study showed that when participants volunteered for at least 200 hours a year, their risk of hypertension decreased by 40%! It is believed that this is due to the decreasing of loneliness and the stress that comes with being lonely. 

  1. Has a positive impact on teens:

When teens volunteer, not only do they get better grades, but they feel better about themselves. Regardless of age, when we help others it makes us feel good. 

  1. Increases life satisfaction:

When we volunteer, it gives us a sense of purpose. When we have a sense of purpose, we feel better about ourselves. We see a decrease in depression and a reduction in stress. 

There are so many reasons to get involved in our communities that it can be difficult to see how it might positively affect our own wellbeing. What are you passionate about? At-risk youth? Veterans? The elderly? Animals? There is always a place to volunteer your time, money, and energy. Look for something that you connect with and feels good. You can’t go wrong when you help others!

Paradise Survivors: A 6-Month Update

The California wildfires were devastating and affected the lives of thousands. It’s been six months since the fires started in Plumas National Forest and spread across 20,000 acres of land. Residents had to evacuate and were in a state of emergency. Besides all the emotional pain each resident had to go to they also lost their homes, more than 6,700 homes were burned and destroyed. This fire set the record for California’s most destructive fire. How are the survivors doing? It’s still a huge struggle.

Thousands of residents were displaced, homes burned down, and left with nothing. Many survivors remain in rentals until they figure out their next steps and options. Others are still in emergency housing and government trailers. Residents are waiting for insurance money, trying to rebuild, or looking for a new place to live. These things take lots of time, money and energy. There are also many residents living in homeless camps in the southern city limits of Santa Rosa.

The only option is to start over completely. Furniture, vehicles, precious memories are gone forever. Some homes can’t even be rebuilt because the damage is so bad. Living in a rental is not the same as home. Trying to buy a new home is expensive, paperwork and applications take time, and there is no guarantee they will get the home they want. Only a handful of residents have been able to rise from the ashes and start a new life moving forward.

There have been less than 100 building permits issued since the fires when thousands of buildings were burned down. They are struggling to find time, money, and workers to rebuild what was lost. More than 40% of the homes that burned were not insured either. Those who lived paycheck to paycheck had to move somewhere else that had cheap rent so they could get by. The average local-area rent price has gone up 30% since the fires making it less affordable to more people. Those who couldn’t find a new place or family to stay with ended up in temporary housing from FEMA. The biggest colony of survivors is in the Sonoma County Fairgrounds RV park where 100 new trailers were brought in and filled up completely. These trailers are part of the disaster recovery effort and provided 400 residents with housing up to 18 months.

There has been a resilient permit center opened separately for the fire survivors who are trying to rebuild their homes. Officials have lowered fees for this center with promises to issue building permits a week after application so survivors can start building a new life. In the fire-prone areas, it’s now required to have fire sprinklers installed.

It’s going to take time to rebuild what was lost and the mourning over the lives lost will forever continue. A majority of survivors are still fighting the battle and trying to figure out how to start over. If you can help in any way, please do. Survivors continue to need our support.

How Do Charitable Acts Help Your Taxes? Giving Matters to You, Too!

It feels good to give!

Taxes and giving: what do these two things have to do with one another? Well, indeed there are many ways taxes and giving relate to one another, especially when it comes down to the individual. There are many reasons people give to charitable organizations, and though it shouldn’t be the main reason, receiving tax incentives is a wonderful benefit for the individual taxpayer.

In 2016, 36.95 million tax returns claimed charitable contributions. What does this mean for those taxpayers? Well, it means that throughout the year, when folks have planned or spontaneous desires to give cash or non-cash items, they receive a receipt. The importance of that receipt is, as with anything with our taxes, to be able to provide proof of the gift and its value.

Breaking it down:

Noncash donations —

  • Donations up to $250 in value, all that’s needed is the receipt for the charitable donation deduction.
  • Contributions over $250 but no more than $500 requires a detailed, written acknowledgment from the organization; it must include: name and address, the date and location of contribution, description of the donation, and an estimate of the item’s value,
  • Donations over $500 but no more than $5,000 require the above information ($250-$500) as well as the records of how you acquired the noncash item, such as how much you paid for it.

Car donations —

Some steps need to be considered when donating a car because it depends on the vehicles selling price from the organization, or if it’s not sold, by the fair market value:

  • Step 1: Determine how much the car was sold for by the charity, but if it’s sold significantly below market value, you can use the fair market value.
  • Step 2: Determine the car’s fair market value, and it’s important to use a reputable used-car price guide so you can calculate if you need to use the fair market value.
  • Step 3: Claim the deduction on line 17 of Schedule A.
  • Step 4: additional forms that are needed include:

Form 8283 Section A for car donations $501 to $5,000

Form 8283 Section B for car donations over $5,000 and this section requires a written appraisal as documentation.

How do these cash and noncash donations help charitable organizations? Nonprofits have three primary funding sources: fees charged, government grants, and charitable giving. So, the giving, especially of unrestricted cash donations, is extraordinarily important, thus fulfilling for the giver.

How exactly do these deductions help you, the taxpayer? The IRS allows the deduction for taxpayers that are filing their return with an itemized deduction schedule, and a deduction lowers the amount of taxable income before taking into account your tax liability.

Some websites and organizations exist to help you responsibly learn about, make, and track your charitable donation deductions throughout the year:

Charity Navigator: A charity navigator that provides information to guide responsible giving with details on the Financial Health, Accountability, and Transparency of over 9,000 charities, as well as basic information on the other 1.8 million U.S. nonprofits. Charity Navigator is itself a 501 C 3.

Better Business Bureau Give.Org: An organization that evaluates charities based on governance and oversight, measuring effectiveness, finances, and solicitations and informational materials. This also helps to provide reports so donors can make informed decisions with the donations.

IRS and Charitable Contributions: The IRS has information surrounding utilizing charitable deductions, from the most basic to more detailed information.

When taking into account your decision to make charitable donations, don’t forget to check the boxes to make sure that your charitable donation deductions will be able to be utilized. Always do your research, and feel good knowing where your gifts are going and how they can also benefit you!

If you’d like to donate your car to help someone recover from the Paradise fire or another valued non-profit, reach out to cars2ndchance@gmail.com to donate a car that runs and Cars2ndChance@gmail.com to donate a vehicle that does not. Check out their respective websites https://cars2ndchance.org/. The organization has received 30 cars for the Paradise survivors, but they need more, as you can well imagine.

Why should you donate your Car?

What does hope look like? Sometimes hope looks just like a donated car: a candle in the dark.

There are so many reasons to donate a car to charity. From tax breaks to finding a way to get that junker finally out of your driveway, the list could never end. While this can absolutely serve as your driving force for making the call, it’s good to know WHY it matters to the folks on the receiving end. From programs that help single parents to get to the point of self-sufficiency to ones that continue to support the victims of the Paradise fire, it all matters.

YOU can make a huge difference in the lives of a family struggling to get by, or someone who lost their vehicle in the deadliest wildfire in over a century, not to mention the overarching organizations that devote their existence to making the world a better place. Every donated car contributes to bettering lives.

Imagine barely escaping with your life as a wildfire tore through your community. You and your family were able to load up your truck with all your pets, some of your favorite clothes, and a few prized possessions. You thought you’d be able to get back in later because this had to be just another close call like the ones that had come before. You left your husband’s and daughter’s cars behind because you wanted to keep the family together, just in case.

As you were driving away, you started to see how close the fire was coming to your neighborhood. The smoke was getting darker and closer. You were sure you could feel the heat as the fire was racing towards you.

You started worrying about your neighbors who weren’t yet leaving. You started worrying about the things you left behind. You asked your husband if you should go back for more. He told you to focus on the road ahead. “Things are just things.” He said.

You held onto the belief that the fire would miss your home and you’d be able to return. Once you made it to your friend’s house in the town far enough away, you started listening to the radio. You kept waiting to hear it was okay to go back. In fact, you’d heard that the winds had shifted, and your specific street had even been mentioned as being safe for now. “Whew.” You released a huge sigh of relief and drifted into a restless sleep.

Morning came, and at the first ray of sun, you sat up bolt right. You felt uneasy. You were exhausted. You quickly turned on the tv and kept it low as not to wake anyone else. Then you saw it. Your neighborhood. Barely distinguishable but for the surrounding area behind your home. The winds had shifted. No words would come, but tears streamed freely down your cheeks. Everything. Everything was gone. Only gratitude for the entire family getting out alive was left.

To help with anonymity, this is a fictionalized story, based on what actual survivors shared about their experiences. So many stories similar to this one came from the Paradise fire. So many losses that included innumerable vehicles.

How will families all get around now with only one car to share if any? Many are now living out of the area, but they still have to commute to work. If you donate a car to the cause, one more family will be positively impacted by your generosity in a way that hopefully, you will never have to comprehend fully. Stories like this one are the number one reason to donate a car to charity.

While some donated cars are great for restoration with the capacity to pass along to a person who could greatly benefit from having a working vehicle, other vehicles need to be sold for parts, and that’s how those donated vehicles can help many different charities too. When you make the decision to donate your car to charity, it can have a significant impact! Never diminish the effect of what donating your vehicle can give to another human being. It’s not even the most obvious or tangible. What you are offering is hope.

If you’d like to donate your car to help someone recover from the Paradise fire or another valued non-profit, reach out to cars2ndchance@gmail.com to donate a car that runs and Cars2ndChance@gmail.com to donate a vehicle that does not. Check out their respective websites https://cars2ndchance.org/. The organization has received 30 cars for the Paradise survivors, but they need more, as you can well imagine.

Automotive Service Council’s Educational Foundation – New 50/50 Partner

Cars2ndChance, a vehicle donation program operated through the Concord / Clayton Valley Sunrise Rotary chapter is pleased to welcome the Automotive Service Council’s Educational Foundation (ASCEF) as a new 50/50 Partner. Every time a vehicle is donated and ASCEF is selected on our donation form, 50% of the proceeds will go to this local Bay Area non-profit.

The Automotive Service Council’s Educational Foundation is an organization that provides educational and training opportunities, scholarships and endowments in the field of automotive repair and maintenance.

Through the incredible generosity of our donors, ASCEF has been changing the lives of hundreds of students wanting to pursue a career in the automotive field. The funds raised provide scholarships and support sustainable training programs throughout California.

Visit their website to learn more.

Oakland RiteCare Childhood Language Center – New 50/50 Partner

Cars2ndChance, a vehicle donation program operated through the Concord / Clayton Valley Sunrise Rotary chapter is pleased to welcome the Oakland RiteCare Childhood Language Center as a new 50/50 Partner. Every time a vehicle is donated and Oakland RiteCare Childhood Language Center is selected on our donation form, 50% of the proceeds will go to this local Bay Area non-profit.

The Oakland RiteCare Childhood Language Center is a non-profit language and learning center that provides both neuroplasticity-based reading interventions and traditional speech and language therapy.

Their educational and speech-language therapists have provided free services to preschool through high school aged children and adolescents since 1984.

The Center is a philanthropy of the Scottish Rite, a concordant body of the Freemasons, one of 170 Rite Care Centers across the U.S. We are located at Lake Merritt near downtown Oakland.

Visit their website to learn more.