Book of Dreams

Sacramento Bee readers' generosity makes dreams come true for many this holiday

Mario Villa, 10, proudly plays a new bass drum at a gift distribution of 20 drums with carriers, sticks, mallets and cymbals that were given out Tuesday to the South Sacramento Visual and Performing Arts Academy Drum Line at Parkway Elementary School, thanks to donations from the Book of Dreams.
Mario Villa, 10, proudly plays a new bass drum at a gift distribution of 20 drums with carriers, sticks, mallets and cymbals that were given out Tuesday to the South Sacramento Visual and Performing Arts Academy Drum Line at Parkway Elementary School, thanks to donations from the Book of Dreams. lsterling@sacbee.com

Editor’s note: For nearly 30 years, The Sacramento Bee's Book of Dreams has helped people and organizations in our community realize their dreams.

The buckets are no longer needed.

Drummers of the South Sacramento Visual and Performing Arts Center are beaming because they don’t have to use the plastic containers to keep the beat during performances. Every week, the boys and girls practice for 90 minutes. They are only one of four such groups practicing at different times and venues, 10 to 25 students at a time. Thanks to the generosity of Book of Dreams readers, the young musicians were outfitted with a variety of drums with carriers, sticks, mallets and cymbals.

The contributions of readers also enriched the lives of participants in the Senior Impact Program at the Society for the Blind in Sacramento, who received Sony recorders. The new devices will help visually impaired people with grocery shopping, trips to the doctor, and keeping track of when to take medicines, class assignments and other daily activities.

From Nov. 23 to Dec. 20, The Bee has shared with you 13 stories of good people in need. Your response to the annual holiday charity drive was again inspiring. To date, the Book of Dreams raised more than $140,000 and generated hundreds of donations. Readers can continue to donate using this form.

Contributions will be accepted until Jan. 13. All money raised will be used to fund the 13 dreams. Any remaining funds are used to support charitable nonprofit organizations with a 501(c)(3) designation. None of the money will be spent on administrative costs.

Drums for students

The Phoenix Park Drum Line now has some skin in the game.

Drum skins, that is.

Thanks to the generosity of Sacramento Bee readers, the drummers of the South Sacramento Visual and Performing Arts Center now have real drums.

“Better than a bucket,” said Darrol Westbrook, 11, his eyes shining as brightly as the chrome tension rods on the side of the new bass drum that was fitted just for him. Three other young drummers, the largest ones in the group of 10, were similarly outfitted.

The smaller classmates desperately wanted a bass drum, too, but when Willie Wysinger, 6, protested, leader Brian Jackson Jr. had him pick up a drum. “Hold it higher … higher. … Now do you think you can carry it for 2 miles at a stretch? Because that’s what you’re going to have to do to play it in a drum line.”

Willie, relieved of the burden of bass drum, happily went back to his cymbals. Emma Flynn, 7, showed Willie, Calvin Vue and Shaunna Stewart what she just learned – how to hold the cymbals for parade rest.

Also delivered to the Phoenix Park group were five quads, which feature a set of four drums on a single harness; and five snares, one of which high-school volunteer Aaron Balbuena used to show the kids his practiced technique. Still to come are some tenor drums, smaller and easier for the younger kids to hoist while marching, said Anne-Marie Flores, administrative assistant.

Oh, but the sound when they began to play in unison. The beat, practiced to perfection using empty plastic Home Depot buckets, now resonated so deeply spectators could feel it in their core.

At the end of their practice, 10-year-old Mario Villa said, “I need a massage.” Too heavy? “No. I’ll get used to it. I like it!”

New recorders aid vision impaired

At the Society for the Blind, a couple of participants in the Senior Impact Program were trying out their new Sony recorders. The Book of Dreams donations brought a batch of the tiny marvels to the building at 13th and S streets. Because Mark Lymas, 56, and Jean Nichols, 66, had completed the eight-day program, they knew some of the advantages having a recorder of their own would make in their life. Now it was time to learn to use it, and instructor Liz Campos, 30, was there to help.

“Were you able to hear the beep?” she asked, as she explained what each of the bump dots on the machine did: stop, play, back and forward. The erase button is prominent on one side, but it’s a multistep process to erase on the machine. You play back what was recorded to make sure it’s what you want to erase, go back, then erase.

Lymas was impressed with the smallness and convenience of the recorder.

“You can feel those dots really good,” he said, remarking that Braille has been hard for him to learn since he lost his sight for good about five or six years ago. “I still have trouble with contractions,” noting that Braille has more than a hundred of them. Still, “it’s amazing what they can do with just six dots.” Gesturing to the recorder, he said, “but this … this will be life-changing.”

Nichols, a stylish single lady, has low vision, but “I’m losing my sight,” she said, through a combination of heredity and diabetes. She ticked off all the ways she was planning to use the recorder: grocery shopping, trips to the doctor, keeping track of when to take her medicines, class assignments. “I could even write a book!” The recorder does have a wire that can plug into a computer to download the recordings.

“When you get up in age,” Nichols said, “you feel like you’re losing a part of you, your ‘self.’ To have something like this recorder, you don’t need to master a new technology to stay connected with the world.”

Treated like a king

Ruben Molina, who credits the Sacramento Kings with developing his devotion to basketball and who has followed them loyally since they arrived in 1985, finally got to see them play live Dec. 9. Molina, a dishwasher and maintenance man at area restaurants whose right foot was amputated in 2011, enjoyed his experience at Golden 1 Center. It was a competitive contest, with the New York Knicks edging the Kings 103-100.

“It was a good game, close, back and forth – I enjoyed every bit of it. The people there were really helpful. They pushed me from the lobby to our seats in a wheelchair. Patty (his sister) really had a great time, too.”

And thanks to an outpouring of support from the community and the Kings’ front office once the story was published, there may be another game or two in his future.

All Book of Dreams donations are tax deductible and none of the money received will be used for administrative costs.

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Book of Dreams has been helping people in our community for nearly 30 years. Each year during the holidays, the Sacramento Bee publishes stories of people and nonprofits in need. The dreams can be simple, such as cribs for children, a bike for a

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