Poway City Council: All Boys Club In A Town Of Women

This story was reported for KPBS News on Jan. 27, 2015.

The last woman to serve on the Poway City Council was Merrilee Boyack, who sat on the board from 2004 to 2012. Boyack said there were instances when she felt her approach was different because of her gender.

“I felt very drawn to and connected to the people,” Boyack said. “That reaction wasn’t quite the same with the other council members. It was just a different perspective.”

Women make up more than half of Poway’s population of 49,417 people. According to the census, 400 more women than men live in the city. But, at least for the next two years, Poway will have an all-male council leading the city. It joins Santee in being one of two cities in San Diego County without any female council members.

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‘Life Storms’: Encinitas woman pens Hurricane Katrina memoir

_Life_Storms_Encinitas_woman_pens_Hurricane_Katrina_memoir_-_Seaside_Courier_News_-_2016-01-08_21.23.50This story was reported for Seaside Courier on Aug. 19, 2015.

There’s a new story on the shelves of American bookstores meant to help others overcome life’s challenges.

But the author of the book, “Life Storms: Hurricane Katrina,” isn’t just offering advice. Jennifer Gremillion, a 45-year-old Encinitas resident, wrote from experience.

Gremillion, a native of New Orleans, escaped Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago before it made landfall in the beloved southern city. She and her family spent five weeks living in 13 different areas before finding refuge in Encinitas.

“We were displaced after Hurricane Katrina,” Gremillion said. “There were postings on our church website for rooms, housing and jobs in various states. A family in San Diego posted three available apartments for a year in Encinitas. We took one apartment and my mother-in-law took the other apartment.”

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Friendship flourishes into beloved foundation

Friendship_flourishes_into_beloved_foundation_-_Seaside_Courier_News_-_2016-01-08_21.19.53This story was reported for Seaside Courier on Dec. 6, 2014.

A 15-year-old friendship between two men has been the premise of an impactful Encinitas nonprofit organization.

Mark Patterson and Bob Nichols, who met at the local YMCA in 1999, are the founders of the Surfing Madonna Foundation. The beloved charity—which was formed in 2011 after the two covertly installed a large mosaic of the same name on Highway 101—now fundraises an estimated $175,000 a year.

The proceeds, most of which are raised during the marquee Surfing Madonna 5K/10K race in October, benefit a number of organizations that focus on “saving the ocean.”

“We’re trying to touch on everything with the money we’ve raised,” said Nichols, who quit his job as a commercial pilot to become the foundation’s executive director. “I feel like we’re really doing that. We’re so new to this so it’s a learning curve for us but if people are smiling and thanking us, I think we’re doing something right.”

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Discount store closure is sign of North Park’s changing demographics

Discount_store_closure_is_sign_of_North_Park’s_changing_demographics_-_San_Diego_Uptown_News_-_2014-12-05_08.41.36This story was reported for Uptown News on Dec. 5, 2014.

A local real estate expert said the closure of a long-time North Park discount store is a sign of the neighborhood’s growing affluence.

Discount International Fashion Company, located at 3002 University Ave., announced it will close its doors in December after more than 25 years in North Park.

“The area has changed,” said owner Rafee Zakir, who also previously owned two restaurants in the area. “Our customers have moved because they can no longer afford to live here and the new customers are not spending here.”

Zakir said when he first purchased the business in the heart of North Park, he paid $1,200 for rent. He now pays $3,500 for the 2,344-square-foot space, which includes a 400-square-foot storage area and a 550-square-foot mezzanine.

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Street Angels ask public for help in serving homeless

Street_Angels_ask_public_for_help_in_serving_homeless_-_San_Diego_Uptown_News_-_2014-12-05_08.38.26This story was reported for Uptown News on Dec. 5, 2014.

The holidays have encouraged a North Park nonprofit to ramp up its efforts of serving the homeless.

Urban Street Angels (USA), an all-volunteer nonprofit that serves an estimated 3,000 homeless young people in San Diego each month, will host its third annual North Park Christmas on Saturday, Dec. 13.

The free event, which is sponsored by Thrivent Financial, will include music, food, drinks and raffle prizes with proceeds benefiting the charity. The nonprofit is also collecting sleeping bags to distribute to the homeless in San Diego.

USA began as a program out of Mission Gathering Christian Church in 2008 and was refashioned into its own nonprofit just this year. The agenda of the nonprofit is simple: bring hot meals and goods like shoes and blankets to homeless youth six to eight times a month. And, when the recipients are ready to receive additional help getting off the street, USA will provide them with resources and a guide on how to do that.

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