By Richard Beene
If you missed Steven Mayer's story in Tuesday's Californian about the spat between two nonprofits that support wounded veterans, it is worth a read. The story provides rare insight into the workings of nonprofits, in this case revealing a nasty dispute between Jeremy Staat (he has a nonprofit that bears his name) and the Wounded Heroes Fund, which kicked him off its board. Kern County is well known for its generosity and support of veterans, but with that comes a responsibility by groups like the Jeremy Staat Foundation and the Wounded Heroes Fund to be transparent about where the money goes. No one is alleging any impropriety here, but the public dispute does put the spotlight on where the money goes. One interesting note: Staat and fellow veteran Wesley Leon-Barrientos raised some $140,000 on their bicycle ride across the country, and spent virtually all of it on the ride. And the Wounded Heroes Fund is sitting on some $300,000 in donations that have yet to be spent. Keep an eye on this story.
I learned of yet another local connection to the 1945 crash of a B-25 Mitchell into the Empire State Building, this one compliments of Connie Adams: "My father, Louis Triand, was an aerial photographer for the Army Air Corps (that later became the Air Force). He was across the street at the time and dashed out of the building when he heard the crash. The impact shook the ground like an earthquake. He had a camera with him and proceeded to take as many pictures of the crash as he could. One engine dropped down through the building, crashing through a wall to the outside and continuing on down, plummeting through a sculptor's roof. Another engine and the landing gear fell through an elevator shaft into a sub-basement. My dad did not take the photo that later became famous but has other similar ones of the crash. The Army Air Corps had the rights to the photos that he took but he was able to keep several for himself. For several days afterward, he was flown over the site by the Air Corps to take pictures of the crash site. The pilot was on a course for Newark airport, not La Guardia."
The annual rite of taking college-bound freshmen to dorms across the country has begun, and that means there are lot of parents showing up to work red-eyed after emotional drives back home. It's a stressful time for both parent and child, and it forms memories that last a lifetime. My advice for all you parents: Somehow your kids will make it through and you indeed will hear from them -- when they run out of money.
It was nice to see the Jim Burke Education Foundation shed some light on some of our outstanding high school seniors. This year's Ford Dimension kids are Ryan Holmes, Stockdale; Brock Burger, Garces; Ashly Mohankumar, Highland; Abigail Mejia, Independence; Brianna Wright, Highland; Anne Shambaugh, Garces; Connor Kingsbury, Bakersfield Christian; Derek Frost, Liberty; Theimus Roberson, Ridgeview; and Erica McCall, Ridgeview.
If you think you need a lot of money to make a big impact for our needy schools, think again. The Bakersfield Californian Foundation has joined forces with a group called DonorsChoose.org to help teachers in this time of fiscal stress. It works like this: Teachers work through the DonorsChoose website to post what they need, and average folks like you and me can choose what classroom to help. And, the Californian Foundation is helping by offering matching funds for the projects that fit its criteria of early childhood literacy. If you go to DonorsChoose.org you can search by state, city, county and individual school. It's a fulfilling way to help teachers and our kids, and make an impact.