Friends of Downtown, a women's organization that unites leaders committed to enhancing Downtown San Diego through community service, education and fellowship, personally granted scholarships of $450 each to 47 City College students on Nov. 14. Over $21,000 was raised in 2007 for the scholarship program. An annual breakfast will be held on March 15, 2008 as a major fund-raising effort for continuing the scholarship program. During the month of December, members of Friends of Downtown will be putting together senior holiday gift bags of food, soap, toiletries, magazines and other non-perishable items. Most of the recipients are shut-ins and living on limited incomes. For more information on Friends of Downtown visit www.friendsofdowntownsd.com.
Malls beef up security for holiday shopping
The San Diego Police Department will ramp up enforcement at various malls and shopping centers throughout the city, including Downtown's Horton Plaza, 324 Horton Plaza, in anticipation of the holiday shopping season.
In addition to uniformed officers, undercover officers will be out looking for criminal activity at local malls.
The department also recommends the following tips:
Park in well-lighted areas
Shop in pairs or with a group; do not walk to and/or from your car alone
Do not hesitate to ask mall or store security to escort you to your car
Pay close attention to your surroundings
Keep your cell phone with you but don't talk on your phone while walking to and from your car; have it available in case you need to call for assistance
Do not leave valuables in your car, as this is an enticement for thieves who may see the items or may see you store the items in your trunk
Report people you believe to be casing the parking lots or stores
Make a police report if you have been a victim of a crime
Be a good witness; collect information on suspect and vehicle descriptions to aid police and security in capturing criminals
Uniformed and undercover officers will be working adjusted shifts to address the peak shopping hours.
Giant panda cub gets name
The San Diego Zoo announced on Monday, Nov. 26 that the now 18-week-old giant panda cub has been named Zhen Zhen.
After sorting through more than 2,400 names submitted by San Diego Zoo visitors, the zoo's giant panda team narrowed the names down to four and gave people all over the world the opportunity to vote for their favorite. The Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association approved the four finalist names.
Zhen Zhen, which means precious, garnered more than 50,000 votes at 36 percent.
This is the first time the zoo has given the public an opportunity to be heavily involved in the naming of the giant panda cub.
Zhen Zhen has not yet made her public debut. As of Nov. 28 she had taken her first steps and received the last in a series of vaccinations to protect her from disease.
Zhen Zhen and her mother Bai Yun can be viewed 24 hours a day through the zoo's Panda Cam at www.sandiegozoo.org.
The date of Zhen Zhen's public debut is still unknown. Bai Yun will decide when the cub is ready to venture out of the den.
CPI honors city workers
The Center on Policy Initiatives, at its 10th anniversary gala in October, honored all city workers for their high-quality, dependable services under pressure. Eight city workers, from four unions and various departments, represented their 11,000 colleagues in accepting the award.
CPI gave wall plaques to each of the unions representing city workers: the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Municipal Employees Association, the San Diego Police Officers Association and the San Diego City Firefighters.
CPI is a San Diego-based research and advocacy center dedicated to economic issues facing working people. Satisfaction polls of San Diego residents consistently exceed 90 percent for city services and 99 percent for firefighters, despite serious understaffing of the department.
CPI also noted that city workers have earned a number of statewide, national and international awards for outstanding service, innovations and cost savings. San Diego sanitation drivers received the first-place Sanitation Driver of the Year award from Environmental Industry Associates four times in the past seven years, more than any other city in North America.
The Water Department won the 2007 statewide Flex Your Power award for outstanding energy efficiency. With the pioneering Bid-to-Goal program, Metropolitan Wastewater workers saved taxpayers more than $90 million in five years and won Harvard University's JFK School of Government Innovations in Government Award.
For more information on the CPI visit www.onlinecpi.org.
Local leader recognized by TCWF
The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF) honored community leaders with its 15th annual California Peace Prize at a ceremony in San Francisco on Nov. 14. In recognition of their efforts to prevent violence and promote peace, the honorees each received a cash award of $25,000.
Among the recipients was Casey Gwinn, who has worked to prevent domestic violence and child abuse for over 20 years. He is currently the chief executive officer of the YWCA of San Diego County and volunteer chief executive officer of the San Diego Family Justice Center Foundation.
Previously, Gwinn served as the San Diego city attorney, at which time he founded the San Diego Family Justice Center, a "one-stop shop" for domestic violence victims who need help navigating more than 30 city and county departments. The U.S. Department of Justice has recognized the center as a national model. Gwinn assists communities nationwide and internationally in developing co-located service centers for victims and their children. For more information about Gwinn and other recipients visit www.tcwf.org.