CVIndependent

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Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

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20 Nov 2020
Horses are magic. Riders know that a horse and a human together can become another, greater, being. Chase Berke is truly a magician. After being a volunteer with the organization for more than 25 years, Chase is currently the vice president and COO of the Pegasus Therapeutic Riding Academy in Palm Desert. She also serves as the program director and lead instructor—and she is an expert at harnessing both the magic of the horses and the energy of some 140 other volunteers to change the lives of special-needs children and adults. “We don’t put people on a horse to teach them to ride,” Berke says. “This program helps these individuals in so many facets of their lives—their mental, physical and emotional needs. Due to their many disabilities, these individuals will never be cured, but there are so many worthwhile benefits to our program. For example, we have experienced at Pegasus…
05 Nov 2020
According to estimates provided by the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014-2018 American Community Survey, there were 269,737 people with disabilities residing in Riverside County in 2018—representing 11.4 percent of the county’s total population. More recently, the 2019 HARC Coachella Valley Community Health Survey reported that 74,389 people, or 21.8 percent of local adults, are limited in some way in their daily activities because of a physical, mental or emotional problem. These Riverside County residents are the focus of the newly launched Palms to Pines Parasports (PPP) nonprofit organization. Driven by the indefatigable determination of board president and co-founder Michael Rosenkrantz, PPP announced its arrival with launch events in late October—one in Palm Desert, and the other in the city of Riverside. PPP’s goal is to serve the needs of adaptive athletes—physically disabled individuals who participate in organized athletics. “The idea is that we use sports as an entry point to leading…
28 Oct 2020
After growing up in Washington State, Marcia Flagler lived in numerous interesting locales, including Bangkok, Thailand, before settling in Northern California, where she enjoyed a career as a high school home economics and foods teacher. When Marcia and her husband decided to retire about eight years ago, they moved to the Palm Springs area. Full of energy, Flagler knew she wanted to do some volunteer work, but wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do. She looked up the local branch of her Chi Omega Sorority—which annually supports Olive Crest, a leader in the prevention and treatment of child abuse. Since 1973, Olive Crest has transformed the lives of more than 130,000 abused, neglected and at-risk children and their families. Olive Crest today serves more than 3,500 children and families each day throughout California, Nevada and the Pacific Northwest. Flagler contacted Olive Crest, Desert Communities, and talked to Angela Allen,…
26 Oct 2020
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In November 2016, Mike Thompson, the CEO of the LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert, joined his staff and the organization’s board of directors to officially welcome the public to the Center’s new home—the McDonald/Wright Building, located at 1301 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. “The Center has a big vision to truly be a community center for LGBT people living in the Coachella Valley,” Thompson told the Independent in 2015, when the purchase of the building on behalf of the Center, by John McDonald and Rob Wright, was announced. “We’ve already outgrown the space we’re in.” In the years that followed, the Center and its supporters spent millions of dollars turning the building into a true community hub for the Coachella Valley’s LGBTQ residents—so much so that the Center needed to recently embark on more construction, to expand the usable spaces within the building. Then came COVID-19. Four…
05 Oct 2020
More than 40 years ago, Coachella resident Lee Espinoza started training local youngsters in the art of boxing—while also teaching the character traits required to form the foundation of a successful career, like discipline, determination, good health practices and mental focus. For more than 20 years, the Coachella Valley Boxing Club building, on the north edge of the park on Douma Street, has served as Espinoza’s headquarters and schoolhouse. It’s where he has supervised or hosted the training of pugilistic luminaries including former pro world champions Pancho Segura, Julio Diaz, Sandra Yard and Randy Caballero. But this past spring, as the COVID-19 pandemic swept into the Coachella Valley, Espinoza—who is slated to be inducted into the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame—reluctantly shuttered his boxing refuge. “The governor told us that we had to close it, and so we did close it for a while,” Espinoza said during a recent…
15 Sep 2020
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On the weekend of Nov. 6-8, there will be no festival in downtown Palm Springs. There will be no parade. However, Greater Palm Springs Pride will go on—mostly online, like almost everything else has since COVID-19 reared its unbelievably ugly head in March. However, there will be a few events with an in-person aspect … sort of. The Front Runners’ 5k run, a fundraiser for the LGBT Center of the Desert, will take place—but instead of everyone running together, the participants will pick their own time and route. Pride-themed movies will be screened at the Palm Springs Cultural Center—outside, on the newish drive-in screen, with attendees in their cars or socially distanced. And then there’s the possible car caravan—which, when it was first announced, caused Palm Springs Pride president and CEO Ron deHarte no small amount of grief after certain locals, perhaps not understanding the concept, freaked out on social…
31 Jul 2020
Ginny Rowlette introduced her dear friend Sharon Mottern to Mama’s House. Ginny Rowlette has served on the Mama’s House board of directors for three years and is very passionate about the organization’s critical mission. Mama’s House is the only residential home in the Coachella Valley providing shelter for women in crisis pregnancies. The nonprofit opened its doors seven years ago and has since served more than 230 mothers and babies, offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these mothers to conquer fears, face challenges and get back on track for success. The young women who come to Mama’s House are in crisis pregnancies—with nowhere else to go, and no means of support. After Sharon began learning more about the nonprofit’s good work, she began to think about how she could help these young mothers. She felt her career as a certified K-12 teacher with 10 years of classroom experience would definitely make…
24 Jul 2020
A little more than a year ago, in June 2019, then-incoming La Quinta High School senior Lizbeth Luevano beat out hundreds of other students to travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in the 2019 R2L NextGen week-long program, organized by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) and sponsored by State Farm. The Independent covered the story of her experience. This summer, Luevano has earned another honor: She’s one of four Inland Empire students participating in a prestigious, paid internship with Bank of America’s Student Leaders Program. According to a press release, the students will engage in an “experience of leadership, civic engagement and workforce skills-building with local nonprofit OneFuture Coachella Valley. In light of the health concerns that remain in local communities, the program has been adapted to a virtual format. … As part of their Student Leader program, each student will receive a $5,000 stipend.” The Independent recently spoke…
04 Jun 2020
There was no Palm Springs Power baseball on Friday, May 29—what was supposed to be team’s opening day. Rather than an umpire calling out “Play ball!” and cheers from the crowd wafting on hot evening breezes, Palm Springs Stadium—like virtually all baseball stadiums around the country—was empty, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re hopeful that we’re going to be able to play some sort of season later in the summer,” said Power vice president of baseball operations Justin Reschke during a recent phone interview. “Kind of the silver lining in this is that the college players who would come out to play for the team are (uncertain) if they’re going back to school, and they are very eager to play. We have local players, and even from other parts of Southern California, who are close enough to commute back and forth for Power games. So we’re not looking at…
27 May 2020
On May 8, the Desert Ice Castle announced it was closing for good, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason. “It is with great sadness and regret that—due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and despite our best efforts to remain in business—Desert Ice Castle has no choice but to cease operations, effective immediately,” read the notice at deserticecastle.com, where various equipment from the facility is now on sale. While the pandemic has caused many valley businesses to close—and will sadly claim many more before it’s all over—COVID-19 may have simply been the final nail in the figurative coffin of the Cathedral City rink. On April 13, 2018, the Desert Ice Castle filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with the United States Bankruptcy Court’s Central District of California in Riverside. The rink apparently settled with its creditors, staying open—but on Dec. 13, 2019, Desert Ice Castle, LLP, owned…

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