Drinking Responsibly

Today is my 21st birthday, a day I have been looking forward to for quite some time now. Due to an event that happened about six months ago I will not be taking birthday shots and getting wasted tonight. Instead I plan on having dinner and maybe a glass of wine with my closest friends and family. I am writing this because I didn’t realize the importance of drinking responsibly until I was waking up from a coma, and I don’t want anyone to go through what my family and I went through. I ask that you share this with your friends, family or anyone who may benefit from reading this. If I can help just one person by sharing my experience, then I will be absolutely ecstatic.

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Reno, Nevada- July 26, 2015: A photo from the emergency room an hour after I arrived at Renown hospital. At this point I was not responding to verbal or painful stimuli and the ventilator was breathing for me. I was completely unresponsive.

July 27, 2015: The first thing I remember is my mom holding my hand, telling me I was going to be okay. I felt like I was dreaming. Everything seemed foggy. I drifted in and out of consciousness for the next few hours. I was coming out of a 24 hour coma.

On the morning of July 25, 2015, I thought I was going to have a fun day with friends at the Night in the Country music festival in Yerington, Nevada. I woke up, had breakfast and started what would end up being the worst 48 hours of my life. The first part of the day was a lot of fun. We met new people, played human foosball and had a really good time. After dinner we went to the Joe Nichols and Jake Owen concert. At the concert I had two beers. Many of the people I was with had been drinking throughout the day and were already feeling good. I hadn’t started drinking until a little after dinner and I felt a little behind. My problems started after the concert. I was beginning to feel a little bit of a buzz and drifted off from the people I went to the concert with. I ended up at a campsite where I found some of my other friends. I am a competitive person by nature and this group was mostly guys who (for some reason) I promised I could outdrink. Around 11:30pm, one of my guy friends and I were seeing who could take the longest chug from a bottle of “Black Velvet Whiskey.”

July 26, 2015: Everything that happened from midnight on is information I gathered from friends because I have zero memory of anything after that. Apparently after I chugged from the bottle, I chugged a solo cup full of “Black Velvet Whiskey.” Immediately after this I told my friends I felt fine, and about five minutes later I collapsed. I wasn’t breathing. My friends picked me up and started carrying me to the medical tent. From there I was intubated and taken to Renown hospital in Reno, Nevada via care flight. Meanwhile, the police showed up at my house to tell my parents to meet me at the hospital.

I was in critical condition, suffering from acute respiratory failure and acute alcohol intoxication. My blood alcohol concentration was .41 when I arrived at the hospital, five times over the legal limit. The doctors thought I was brain dead because I was completely unresponsive. My pupils were sluggishly reactive, I had no corneal reflex and I wasn’t responding to verbal or painful stimuli. I finally woke up about 24 hours after I arrived at the hospital. I had a tube down my throat and my hands were restrained so I couldn’t pull it out. I was unable to talk with the tube down my throat, making it hard to tell my parents and the nurses that it was extremely uncomfortable. I had to pass a respiratory test to prove I could breathe on my own before they removed it. I failed the first respiratory test I took, and I had to wait several hours to take another test. When I passed the second test and the tube was taken out, the doctors and nurses told me how lucky I was to be alive. They told me that they didn’t think I would make it through the night. They asked me if I was trying to kill myself by drinking so much. This question hit me the hardest. From my hospital bed in the Intensive Care Unit, my eyes were opened to the seriousness of being irresponsible with alcohol. The next day when I was discharged from the hospital, I realized that the way I looked at alcohol would be changed forever.

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Reno, Nevada – August 5, 2015: Bruises from blood tests during my hospital stay. This picture was taken several days after I was discharged from the hospital.

I’ve heard a lot of rumors about what happened to me. I heard a rumor that I overdosed on drugs (blood tests found ZERO drugs in my system). Someone even told a friend of mine that I died. I received texts from people asking me what happened without asking if I was okay. This event taught me a lot about who is there because they actually care, and who is there because they are curious about what happened. Despite the handful of people who didn’t really care, there were so many people who genuinely cared about my health and safety. I appreciate every one of these people and can’t thank them enough.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks on one occasion for men, and four or more drinks on one occasion for women. Heavy drinking is defined as 15 or more drinks per week for men, and eight or more drinks per week for women. The CDC also says, “Very high levels of alcohol in the body can shutdown critical areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate, and body temperature, resulting in death.” About six people die from alcohol poisoning each day in the US. I’m not asking that everyone avoid alcohol altogether because that is unreasonable, but please try to avoid binge drinking and heavy drinking because the consequences are not worth it.

This situation could have been so much worse. Fortunately for me, I had good people around when all of this took place. I could have easily been taken advantage of when I passed out. I could’ve been left alone to “sleep it off.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “Let them sleep it off, they’ll be fine in the morning,” but I’m alive today because my friends got me help. Don’t take a chance if you see a friend passed out from drinking too much. Get them help as soon as possible. I’m very lucky to have made a full recovery, but I know there are others who won’t be as lucky. So please drink responsibly and make sure your friends do too. Watch out for friends, family, even strangers, and take care of them when you suspect they might be suffering from alcohol poisoning. Know the symptoms and be safe.

RENO, NV - James and Janet Doyle pose for a picture.

Taking a Break from Retirement

The sound of slot machines resonates through the casino. The smell of smoke is in the air and creates a haze that pervades the building. Commotion and loud voices fill the ears of James Doyle, 70, as he sits on a leather casino chair in front of one of the slots at Western Village Inn and Casino in Sparks, Nevada. He comes here or the Peppermill almost every day to pass the time before he picks up his granddaughter from her high school at 2:30. Picking her up has been the highlight of his day ever since he retired five years ago.

Doyle was born in Cleveland, Oklahoma, July 2, 1944. His mom and dad moved to California when he was very young. Doyle’s mom, Dorothy Graham, divorced his father, Warner Doyle, when he was about three years old. Graham had full custody of Doyle, and received child support from Warner Doyle. A few years later, Graham married Junior Allen Capps and took his last name. Doyle and his step-dad did not get along whatsoever. He said his step-dad was often physically abusive towards him, and his mom didn’t do anything about it.

During his adolescence Doyle started working on a farm and made money picking fruit. Doyle was very active in high school. He ran for his school’s cross-country team. Doyle also loved to take pictures, especially of his high school’s athletic teams. Many of the photos he took at games were used in the local newspaper. Despite his interest in photography, Doyle didn’t want to do this as a career. Instead he went to trade school and became a boiler engineer.

Doyle started out with a job working on machinery in a paper mill in Humboldt County. He worked for this paper mill for twenty years.

Doyle married a woman named Diane, and they had three kids, Michael, Leslie and Timothy. Doyle started to tear up as he talked about his children. When Michael Doyle was two years old he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Doyle’s stepdad, Capps, adored Michael. Doyle said his stepdad shaved his head when Michael lost his hair due to chemotherapy. Doyle made trips to San Francisco so Michael could receive the best treatment. Despite all of the chemotherapy and medical treatments, Michael Doyle died when he was just five years old.

“The day Michael was born was the best day of my life,” Doyle said.

Doyle and his wife Diane divorced in 1976, about two years after their youngest son Timothy was born. He later met Janet Caldwell in Eureka, California, and they were married in 1980. Janet Doyle had a young daughter named Lisa Porter, and James Doyle treated her as if she was his own child. They all moved to Reno, Nevada in 1989.

“I moved to Reno because I wanted to get away from all of the gloomy weather on the coast,” Doyle said.

After moving to Reno, Doyle got a job working on machinery in a power plant. He stayed at the power plant for one year and then got a job working on machinery in the Circus Circus casino. He worked there for nineteen years and nine months up until his retirement.

Doyle is fairly healthy for his age. He suffers from diabetes but eats what he is supposed to, takes the medicine he is supposed to and regularly visits the doctor so the illness does not affect his life.

“It can be somewhat of a burden but I have to do it to stay healthy,” Doyle said.

One morning in 1995, Doyle woke up and didn’t feel good. He went to the doctor where they did some tests and discovered he had diabetes. While at the hospital he called his stepdaughter because he was about to be admitted with a blood sugar over 700. A blood pressure this high can cause life-threatening dehydration or coma if untreated. Doctors eventually let him go home and his stepdaughter helped him until he got used to doing his blood sugar and everything else he needed to do to manage his illness.

Doyle is a friendly guy who loves to talk and tell stories. Those close to him call him Jim instead of James. He has the ability to make new friends everywhere he goes and he very often does.

“We can’t go anywhere without him striking up a conversation with somebody,” Janet Doyle said. “He doesn’t have a problem approaching people, he’ll talk to anybody.”

Doyle is a regular at Western Village and the Peppermill, and is fairly close with most of the staff. He brings treats to the waitresses and busboys at the casino restaurants, and they take very good care of him in return.

“Almost every time he comes in to eat, he’ll bring cookies, chocolate or some other kind of treat to the people working in the restaurant,” said Amanda Miller, the general manager of Cafe Milano inside the Peppermill. “Everybody loves him here.”

Doyle’s wife is still working as a supervisor in the IT Department at the Grand Sierra Resort, so he doesn’t really have anybody to enjoy retirement with yet.

“I usually get at least two phone calls from him a day while I’m at work,” Janet Doyle said. “He also calls my daughter and granddaughters during the day. He gets lonely and just wants to talk to someone.”

Two years after Doyle retired, he applied to work at a few places like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Costco and Cabela’s. Doyle said he wanted a part-time job to keep him busy during the day.

“As much as I don’t want to admit it, I’m one of the old people now and they don’t want to hire old people,” Doyle said.

Doyle was interviewed for a few of the jobs. The employers were nice but he thinks they didn’t offer him the job because of his age.

“At first I thought retirement was going to be a blast, but then I learned pretty quickly that going golfing all the time gets old,” Doyle said.

Doyle wants to apply for a job again but is a little hesitant because of what happened last time. Doyle was made aware of the Retired Senior and Volunteer Program (RSVP) at the Sanford Center for Aging located on the University of Nevada, Reno campus, and plans to enroll in January.

“I don’t want a job for the money,” Doyle said. “I’m just bored, and want to do something productive.”

This program allows retired seniors to volunteer for a variety of organizations in the Reno area including the VA Medical Center, Washoe County School District and many others. Volunteers can also participate in UNR Research Studies related to brain injuries, strokes and Parkinson’s disease.

The Retired Senior and Volunteer Program at the Sanford Center for Aging not only offers volunteer opportunities, they can also get seniors involved in the Workforce Development and Continuing Education Division at Silver College or the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). OLLI offers a variety of classes including photography and bird watching.

RSVP has something for everyone. Volunteers get to choose where and how often they want to work based on their skills, experience and schedules.

Suellen Bacigalupi is the coordinator for the Retired Senior and Volunteer Program. She said RVSP currently has 529 enrolled in the program, and the average age of these volunteers is about 72.

“Studies show that older adults are healthier the more active they are,” Bacigalupi said.

Being involved is not only important for an older adult’s physical health, but also their emotional health. Having ties to the community reduces the chance of depression and suicide.

“8,618 Americans over the age of 60, committed suicide in 2010,” according to the National Council on Aging. “Suicide rates are highest among white males over the age of 85, their suicide rate is four times higher than the nation’s overall suicide rate.”

“RSVP gives volunteers a sense of well-being,” Bacigalupi said. “They are getting up in the morning and getting involved in the community, not just sitting around their house.”

The mission of the Sanford Center is to improve the quality of life of elderly people in the community through research, education and community outreach. The Retired Senior and Volunteer Program is just one of four programs offered by the center. There is also the Senior Outreach Services Program, the Medication Therapy Management Program, and the Chronic Disease Self Management Program.

“Nevada has the second fastest aging population in the nation, so it is really important that we have ways to support older people living in the community,” said Peter Reed the director of the Sanford Center for Aging.

Once Doyle is enrolled in the Retired Senior and Volunteer Program he will spend his time helping out at local organizations or start taking pictures again in a photography class at OLLI, instead of passing time in a casino.

“I’m ready to be involved again,” Doyle said.

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Bring It On

Jenna Kass, 16, takes a deep breath and slowly exhales.  The bass from the speakers shakes the floor and the tension builds in her chest.  Reno Elite is on deck.

Kass has been a member of Reno Elite’s competition team for four years.  In April 2014, Reno Elite’s Teal team traveled to Orlando, Florida as a small senior co-ed level five team at the worlds competition. Competitions generally have teams compete in levels one through five, in the tiny, mini, youth, junior or senior age group.

Reno Elite Teal won a bid to worlds at the PacWest competition.  This team had never been to worlds before, and they were ready to prove they could compete at this level.

The previous team’s music stopped and the crowd roared.  Kass’s team huddled together backstage waiting for their name to be called.  Her hands started to shake, and a shiver ran from the top of her neck down her spine and through her shoulders.  She was ready.

Before the competition started all of the teams attending went to DisneyWorld.  Kass loved being in an environment where everyone respected cheer.  It was very different from Reno.

“People not involved in cheer have a very hard time taking us seriously,” Kass said.

Kass is not only on a competition cheer team, she is a junior on the varsity cheer team at McQueen High School.

“People at my school have very little respect for competition cheer, but they have zero respect for sideline cheer,” Kass said.  “They think it’s a joke.”

RENO, NEVADA – October 20, 2014: Jenna Kass, 16, (bottom right) and the rest of her stunt pod perform an impressive stunt during Reno Elite Black practice.

It’s a cold Friday night at McQueen High School and the home football team is beating the Spanish Springs Cougars 35-24 in the third quarter.  The McQueen cheerleaders throw candy to their fans during a timeout then return to their boxes.  Kass feels something hit her shoulder so she looks down and sees one of the Snickers candy bars the team had just thrown.  She turns around to see the student section throwing the candy back at her team.

Kass could not believe that her peers had so little respect for her and her team. The cheer team kept their composure and waited as the last few candy bars were thrown. They knew getting angry would fuel the fire of the students throwing candy.

The coach informed administration of the incident who said they would take care of it, but the situation wasn’t brought up again.

“If someone threw something at the football or basketball team they would be ejected, maybe even suspended, but since it is the cheer team nobody cares,” Kass said.

In Orlando, Florida during the 2014 worlds competition Kass was surrounded by people who respected her passion. Not only other cheerleaders, but random people in the DisneyWorld park who would wish her and her teammates luck when they walked past in their Reno Elite garb.

Kass said other teams from across the country competing in this competition have not experienced the same disrespect as the girls from Reno. Competition cheer and even sideline cheer is a lot more popular in east coast states, southern states and California.

Even with the current lack of respect for cheerleaders in Reno, it is nowhere near what it was four years ago before Reno Elite was established.

Randy and JoAnn Bryant are the owners of the Reno Elite gym. They previously owned a gym in Orange County where competition cheer is very popular. They moved to Reno in 2010 because they wanted to raise their three kids in a better environment, and thought Reno was a great choice.

“When we first got here Reno was clearly not established in competitive cheer,” JoAnn Bryant said. “There were a couple of teams but they were not offering the same level or opportunity of experience that other teams across the country had, and Randy and I were able to provide that to the Reno area.”

The first year Reno Elite joined the competitive cheer scene, the gym had three competitive teams: Mini level one Reno Elite Sapphires, junior level one Reno Elite Diamonds and junior level two Reno Elite Emeralds. There were 23 athletes, all girls, divided among these three teams, and some athletes were on more than one team. This year there are eight teams with 140 athletes including some boys. One of the eight teams is a special needs team.

As the gym grew in numbers and popularity, the Bryants offered even more opportunities to the community which included more than just cheer, Randy Bryant not only had a background in cheer, he was very familiar with pole-vaulting, so he added Raise the Bar Pole Vault Club to his gym, and had five athletes compete in the National Junior Olympics in 2013. One of the five, Makayla Linebarger, won her age group at this competition and broke the former record. The gym also has tumbling classes for those that want to learn how to tumble but do not want to be on a team that competes, open gym and birthday parties where children can play on trampolines and bounce houses.

“Randy and I spend anywhere between 60 and 80 hours a week at the gym,” JoAnn Bryant said.

Many people argue that cheer is not a sport, and some even say cheerleaders should not be considered athletes.

Not everyone knows the difference between sideline and competition cheer. Competition cheerleaders do not cheer for a football or basketball team, they focus their entire season on perfecting a single two minute and 30 second routine they perform in their own competitions. Competition cheerleaders do not actually cheer, their routines consist of stunting, tumbling, jumps and dance.

Kass agrees that sideline cheer should not be considered a sport, but strongly believes competition cheer should be.

Kim Anastassatos is the cheer coach at the Uninversity of Nevada Reno. Anastassatos thinks neither sideline nor competition cheer should be considered a sport.

“Both are different from other sports as there is never one winner and one loser,” Anastassatos said. “Judging in competition cheer is based on opinion and style, likes and dislikes.”

She thinks if cheer were to become a sport it would alter athletic departments across the country since they have a hard time funding cheer teams already. If cheer was recognized as a sport athletic departments would need to provide even more funding to cheer teams.

RENO, NEVADA - October 20, 2014: The entire Reno Elite Black team performs a stunt sequence together.  This team is coached by Reno Elite's owner JoAnn Bryant.
RENO, NEVADA – October 20, 2014: The entire Reno Elite Black team performs a stunt sequence together. This team is coached by Reno Elite’s owner JoAnn Bryant.

Last year Reno Elite Teal was competing at the highest level in the oldest age group. The competitors in this division had a lot more experience, but Teal had worked their tails off and were prepared to hold their own.

Kass and the other athletes of Teal practiced three days a week, two hours each night. She went to school during the day and wouldn’t get home from practice until around 10 pm. During water breaks the athletes usually flip open their textbooks and find a quiet spot in the gym to study and complete homework assignments before practice started again.

“I try to get as much homework done as I can at school and during breaks at cheer, and if I can’t finish, then I stay up pretty late to get it done,” said Kass.

Some people say Kass is crazy for doing both high school and competition cheer. There are many high schoolers who can’t manage their time well enough to be on just one team.

Kass not only sacrifices much of her time for cheer, she also sacrifices her body. According to the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, cheer accounts for about 65% of all catastrophic injuries among high school girls and about 70.8% in college girls. While Kass has not experienced a catastrophic injury, she has pulled her hip flexor, sprained her ankle over ten times and once while she was basing, her flier’s chin split open the skin above her eye which required six stitches. These injuries occurred during competition cheer.

This circle graph shows what type of sports injuries occur most often.

When Kass first started cheerleading she wanted to continue cheer at her dream school San Diego State University, but now she is unsure because the stunting and tumbling required in cheer is so hard on her body.

“My passion is cheer,” Kass said. “I don’t know where I would be without it, it keeps me busy and out of trouble.”

Kass does high school cheer for the experience. She loves being on the sideline for the McQueen High School football games. While competition cheer provides her with the intensity and adrenaline her competitive spirit craves.

During the 2014 season Reno Elite Teal was a co-ed team made of 14 girls and two boys, John Herrera and Nick Hansen.  Only about 4% of cheerleaders at the high school and college level are male.  Nick Hansen, 16, has been involved in competitive cheer for three years.

“My favorite part of cheer is being able to flip during my tumbling passes,” Hansen said.  “I also like the sense of community I feel with my team.”

Hansen spends a minimum of seven hours a week at the Reno Elite gym, but that can easily turn into ten or twelve hours.  This does not include when Hansen practices his tumbling on his own which he said is all the time.

Some people make gay jokes, but Hansen doesn’t take these seriously or get angry.  He feels it’s just an easy joke to make because of the male cheerleader stereotype.

The 2014 season was Hansen’s first year at Reno Elite.  Competition cheer has been a fun experience for him.

“Reno Elite, you may now take the floor,” the announcer said.

Reno Elite Teal runs onto the 42 by 54-foot mat. Kass takes her spot, fixes her shorts and tightens her bow. She clenches her fists and takes one more deep breath. The cameras from ESPN focus in on the team, and the noise from the crowd rings in her ears.

“I hate losing more than anything,” Kass said.  “If I drop a stunt or mess up during a competition I leave the floor in tears.”

“Reno Elite, your music is on,” the announcer said.

RENO, NEVADA – October 20, 2014: Reno Elite Black practices the dance portion of their competition routine. Dance is just one portion of a cheer routine, there is also stunt, tumble, jumps and pyramid.

Kass loves to perform. The adrenaline she gets during routines is addicting. Even when she starts getting tired and feels as if her lungs might collapse she finds just a little more energy to lift her flier or complete her tumbling pass.  For two minutes and 30 seconds nothing else matters but cheer.

The routine finished and Kass was not happy. Teal bobbled one of their stunts which was an automatic deduction. She was concerned where the team would place. Teal was not expecting to win their division because the other teams had a lot more experience, but they did want to show they were contenders at this level and that they could hang with the best.

When it was time for the results to be announced Reno Elite Teal sat huddled together in a tight circle on the cheer mat. The other 66 teams they had just competed against did the same. Kass squeezed the hands of her teammates tight and they exchanged comforting glances as they waited. The tension she felt backstage before the performance returned and her heartbeat accelerated.

Despite the bobbled stunt, Reno Elite Teal placed 19th in the small senior co-ed level five division. This was a great accomplishment since it was their first time at worlds. Kass was not happy with the way the team performed but she was very proud of how the team placed. They did not get to go on to compete days two and three but still enjoyed the rest of their time in Orlando watching the top placing teams compete for the world championship.

Hansen is on the level five team again this upcoming season, and said they are looking really strong.

“We have cool stunts, tumbling, and dancing,” Hansen said.  “I’m way more optimistic going into this season than last, and I was pretty happy with how we looked last year so that’s saying plenty I think.”

This year Kass is on Reno Elite Black which is a senior all-girl level four team. A new rule at the Reno Elite gym prevented her from being on the level five team and a high school cheer team at the same time.

RENO, NEVADA - October 20, 2014: Reno Elite Black poses for a picture after a long night of practice.
RENO, NEVADA – October 20, 2014: Reno Elite Black poses for a picture after a long night of practice.

“Being on a level five team and a high school team is way too stressful,” Kass said. “I’m looking forward to less stress this year.”

Although Kass will not be competing at the highest level this year she wants to challenge herself and improve her skills to become even better.

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Jour 208 Mini-Assignment #1

RENO, NV - August 31, 2014: A grill-man for Porky ‘N Beans BBQ grills several slabs of ribs at the 26th annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off.  Porky ’N Beans BBQ won “Best Sauce” at the event this year.
RENO, NV – August 31, 2014: A grill-man for Porky ‘N Beans BBQ grills several slabs of ribs at the 26th annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off. Porky ’N Beans BBQ won “Best Sauce” at this year’s event.
RENO, NV - August 31, 2014: People attending the 26th annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off enjoy unlimited ribs and drinks in the VIP Rib Village across from John Ascuaga’s Nugget.
RENO, NV – August 31, 2014: People attending the 26th annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off enjoy unlimited ribs and drinks in the VIP Rib Village across from John Ascuaga’s Nugget.
RENO, NV - September 1, 2014: Five-year old Alyssa Dow enjoys a messy chocolate-covered strawberry on the last day of the 26th annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off.
RENO, NV – September 1, 2014: Five-year old Alyssa Dow enjoys a messy chocolate-covered strawberry on the last day of the 26th annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off.

Kids to Seniors Korner

Motel living in downtown Reno presents challenges like lack of healthcare and other necessities. The program Kids to Seniors Korner provides help for those living in low-income housing.

Kids to Seniors Korner (KSK) is an outreach program with seven community partners that include Washoe County Health District, Washoe County Adult Social Services, Washoe County Senior Services, Washoe County Child Protective Services, Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and the Reno Police Department.

“Projects like Kids to Seniors Korner come to certain areas of town and offer services to people in need of help,” J.C. Lopez, an officer for the Reno Police Department, says. “They then refer and connect them to the programs that fit each person’s specific needs.”

KSK provides services to at-risk populations that include many motels downtown. These services include vaccinations, in home assessments by social workers and police officers, help accessing healthcare as well as other necessities and follow-up visits to make sure progress has been made.

“People decide to live in motels when they can’t pay a deposit and the first month’s rent for an apartment,” Sandra Carrillo, the director of Kids to Seniors Korner, says. “The ones getting by on Social Security or disability are only getting a check once a month, and that’s who we are usually in contact with the most for this program.”

The people living in motels do not have to pay utilities. They often assume because they don’t pay utilities, it’s cheaper to live in a motel than it would be to live in an apartment, but sometimes it can be even more expensive.

Living in a motel is often transitory. For various reasons, families don’t usually stay in the same motel very long.

“Motels are not really set up for full-time living,” Jason Stallcop, an officer for the Reno Police Department, says. “Sometimes there are families being raised inside the motels, and the children grow up with the parking lot in front of the motel as their playground.”

Kids to Seniors Korner have had some funding donated and have been able to help some families move out of a motel and into an apartment for more permanent housing. KSK would like to do this for even more families in the Reno area, but the funding comes and goes making it difficult.

Besides lack of healthcare, other common problems that occur when living in motels include lack of cleanliness, lack of transportation, and usually a bad surrounding environment.

“People living in motels are usually on disability or welfare,” Lopez says. “What we’ve found is when you deal with people living from motel to motel, they’ve either made some bad choices in their life, and they can’t get good jobs; they’re ex-felons or they’re injured and can’t work.”

Kids to Seniors Korner runs an activity called “Knock and Talk.”

“The team goes door-to-door ‘knocking and talking’ to residents,” according to the Community and Clinical Health Services section of the Washoe County website “‘Knock and Talk’ sessions provide information about community resources, safety and health assessments, and suggests referrals to other community services. Health and social services are provided free of charge in the neighborhood where the Kids to Seniors Korner team is ‘knocking and talkin.'”

April 15, KSK did one of their “Knock and Talk” events at the MacGregor Inn on Sixth Street.

“When motels are shutdown for whatever reason, Kids To Seniors Korner helps the families being evicted transition to a new place,” Kathy Dickens says. Dickens is a nurse giving vaccinations in the van KSK uses to visit and provide services to different motels in the Reno area.

The Jet Annex at 75 High St. is being shut down due to uninhabitable living spaces. Kids to Seniors Korner, the Mobile Outreach Safety Team and other officers from the Reno Police Department knocked on every door at this motel to make sure everyone would be able to make a smooth transition to a new living space. If people were having any difficulties, the members of KSK made a note and referred them to a program that could help.

KSK puts on numerous events to help the community.

“We do an Easter event, where we have a pancake breakfast for the families, games for the kids and then we’ll give them an Easter basket,” Carrillo says. “We also have a ‘stocking stuffer’ event for Christmas and back to school events where we go to The Outlets at Legends or the Summit to give vaccinations.

KSK has an event coming up called “The Baby Shower” where they will help pregnant moms who don’t really know where to get a crib, car seat or other information. KSK also helps coordinate The Project Homeless Connect Event. They have different agencies attend including housing and employment. At this event, KSK offers haircuts, vision vouchers, clothing or whatever resources are needed.

“It’s just a really good program,” Carrillo says. “I think a lot of people don’t know exactly what we do, and it is a great way to help families that wouldn’t otherwise have the money, knowledge or other resources to access the programs that are offered to them.”

“We love being able to help the people we come in contact with,” she says.

Kids to Seniors Korner accepts volunteers and donations from those wanting to make a difference in their community.

“We have families with young kids who aren’t receiving services,” Lopez says. “What Kids to Seniors Korner does is amazing and very helpful.”

Club Drugs

The rave scene and events like EDC, Foam n Glow and Life in Color are gaining popularity. Also gaining popularity are “club drugs” like molly, ecstasy and rohypnol or “roofies.” “Club drugs tend to be used by teenagers and young adults at bars, nightclubs, concerts and parties,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. […]