Moments that take our breath away!

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, October 29th and a great day to be a Renegade!

Let me start by having you get instructions from Nick Strobel on how to fill out your ballot.


This was one of those weeks of hard focused work, very little sleep and moments of great joy.  Yes….joy!  Sometimes words don’t seem enough to accurately describe how uplifting and inspiring the campus can be. There are times – daily and even multiple times a day – when in the middle of a busy day I witness spectacular BC students making a difference and sharing their talents with the world around them.

Wednesday afternoon was one of those moments.  I was in my weekly meeting, in my office,  with the Academic Senate President, Steve Holmes and Executive Vice President of Instruction, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg when Tracy Hall opened the door and said “you must see this.”  Through the open door, in the quad enclosure I saw our choir students gathered and two of them with drums, seated on the ground. Dr. Jen Garrett, their music director was having them rehearse by performing in different parts of the campus.  Their song had a haunting  melody with strong, forceful yet sad rhythmic drumming sounds.  The voices of the students were pure and sweet, and floated through the afternoon air of the college. Students and staff gathered around, captivated by the one song that they performed.  Don’t you want to be on this campus filled with moments that take your breath away?

Life Is Not Measured By the Number of Breaths We Take, But By the Moments That Take Our Breath Away

It’s moments like these are the most inspiring and uplifting and they are one reason why… I’m the happiest and luckiest college president in the world.


Did you pay attention to each of those faces standing in an arc facing Jen? Our students are just spectacular… They are complex and diverse in their interests and what drives them. They each strive daily to overcome different and unique challenges, yet they always come together as one communal collegiate spirit that continues to be the heart of our campus. These incredible students are the center of all that we do. They are our future and together, we are BC!

Here is another moment that took my breath away…. Students from our soccer team volunteered for phone banking on Wednesday, October 26th.  I was wondering if these young men would indeed do phone banking and I was hugely surprised and teary-eyed as I wandered around the second floor seeing them sprawled out fully engaged in making phone calls, while having fun, horsing around and finishing the pizza.  We had to order three more pizzas that night 🙂  Nicky Damania did a short video with four of our student soccer players. Coach Vayron Martinez is indeed the man!


Coach Vayron Martinez and Janet Tarjan

Jazz at BC

Kris Tiner Oct 23 2016.jpg

On Sunday, October 23rd, Transylvanian born, NYC-based pianist LUCIAN BAN and American violist and Grammy nominee MAT MANERI performed material from their award winning 2013 ECM release Transylvanian Concert, as well as premiering new compositions, and performing interpretations of Romanian traditional music, and the music of George Enescu in the context of contemporary jazz and improvisation.

Kris Tiner, thank you!


Got this wonderful picture from Corny Rodriguez with Lynn Krausse and Mike Ivey.  They are attending ASCCC meeting on Faculty Qualifications and Equivalency.

Lynn Krauss Mike Ivy Corny Rodriguez Oct 29 2016.jpg

Come join us for Vet Fest 2016 on Wednesday, November 2nd at 9:30 a.m.

Kay Meet Vet Fest 2016

Trustee Kay Meek at last year’s vetfest

Enlisting in the service is a very big decision for anyone to make but for those who do, and many who lose their lives we give thanks. After returning from service, many veterans go back to school to complete their certificates, or access job training. Bakersfield College’s Veteran Resource Center is an approved institution for the training of veterans and veterans’ dependents entitled to educational assistance. Our veterans are given credit for specific service experience and certain educational training completed while in service. The Office of Admissions and Records will make evaluation of such experience and training. All educational opportunities and personnel services offered in the college are available to the veterans. BC makes it one of its goals that the Veterans are included in everything. These are not traditional students; they need to be taken care of holistically not just academically.

There are many initiatives on campus focused towards the veterans, including an education advisor that caters to Veteran’s needs, a veteran development course, veteran orientation and priority registration, as well as the Veteran’s Club. The goal of the veteran’s club is to give available resources for all Bakersfield College student veterans, and provide information, service, and a feeling of belonging. Meetings are held in the veterans lounge on select Tuesdays from 10:00 am to 11:00 am.

Paul and Wesley Halloween 2014

Beckworth, Barrientos

The Veterans Lounge is a place that many veterans hold dear to them. The Veterans Resource Center provides a range of counseling, and outreach services to aid in a comfortable post-war readjustment to civilian life. The Center is full of bright natural light and is a quiet space where veterans can study, rest, and use the center’s computer. For more information visit he Vet center located in the Campus center and is open Monday through Thursday 8am-4pm.

On Wednesday November 2, 2016, Bakersfield College will be hosting its 4th annual Vetfest as a celebration to our student veterans as well as all veterans everywhere for Veteran’s Day. The Vetfest will include several community veteran organization and informational booths. We will have a keynote speaker J.R. Browning, who is a graduate of CSUB graduate school of counseling and now a veteran’s counselor at the Bakersfield Vet Center. The festivities start at 9:30am until 1pm located in the grass area between the library and CSS.

Homecoming 2016

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Homecoming 2016 was a week-long celebration, and I can’t believe it’s over already. Last Saturday, the event concluded with the Big Red Dinner, Renegade Parade, and the phenomenal BC Football game! For over 20 years, Renegade alumni and fans have asked for the Big Red Dinner to make a comeback and this year, I’m glad we did as the fan favorite was a hit. Thank you to our Big Red Dinner sponsors, W A Thompson, Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, International Soccer, and Don C. & Diane S Lake Family. Thank you Nicky Damania, Tom Gelder, Marlene Heise, and Mary Jo Pasek for making it happen.

After everyone had their fill of spaghetti dinner, the parade was escorted through campus.  Horns were honking, pompoms shaking, flags flying, and Renegades waved from various vehicles as they made their way to Memorial Stadium. If you missed it, a video has been posted by Nicky Damania on the BCSGA Facebook – check it out at

One of my favorite things about the evening is how BC is true family – our community is a blend of both traditional families who support and attend BC for generations, and families you can choose to be a part of! The BC Women’s Basketball team is a perfect example of this united teamwork and they are a BC family.  Coach Paula Dahl is the best!

And here is a moment I shared with our Women’s Basketball team.


Kimberly Bligh and her mini Renegade granddaughter were out in the stands cheering on the home team with Trustee Romeo Agbalog and Lily Perez. And I spotted another future Renegade, Valerie, with her grandpa, Chris Hine.

Trustee Agbalog did the coin toss at the beginning of the game.  It is always great to have our trustees on our campus!

Trustee Agbalog getting ready for coin toss Oct 22 2016.jpg

Thank you to Trustee Romeo Agbalog, and JP Lake for being on the Vance Palm Show.  Vance Palm is just the very best!



Thank you Keith Wolaridge and Jay Rosenlieb for the Measure J table.

Keith Wolaridge and his daughter Oct 22 2016.jpg

Keith Wolaridge and his beautiful daughter

Enjoyed meeting Chris Cruz one of our awesome students who is a friend of a dear friend of mine Lauro Braganza.


Sonya Christian, Chris Cruz

The Renegades closed out the evening with a win in front of over five thousand fans at the big game. Check out the recap at

Renegade Volleyball

Coach Carl Ferreira led the BC Volleyball team to victory against College of the Canyons on Friday night and broke Canyons’ 33-match conference win streak.  See tweet!


Renegade Volleyball takes over first place in league by sweeping state ranked number 12 College of the Canyons.

Grand Opening of the Wonderful Academy

On Friday, October 28th, the Wonderful Academy opened its doors to their new location.  Lynda and Stewart Resnick have been great partners of Bakersfield College and committed to advancing the educational attainment levels in the Central Valley.  Trustee Romeo Agbalor, Rich McCrow, and Raquel Lopez represented KCCD and BC at this event.  There were many dignitaries to support the great work being done by Wonderful.

Kristen Barnes Philanthropy-Matters

Talking about the Wonderful Academy, there was a great piece by Kristen Barnes in Thursday’s Californian titled Dual-enrollment program jump-starts college education

Check it out

Here is the closing sectionin her article:

In a community with lagging educational attainment rates and a large population of first-generation college students, dual enrollment offers an innovative solution to improving educational outcomes.

Education is the bedrock of any community and it is imperative that we all work together to provide opportunities for improvement and change. KHSD, KCCD and CSUB should be commended for their collaborative efforts in the name of expanding opportunities for local students.

Disability Awareness Day

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The Fireside Room was packed and almost every seat taken when a constant stream of students filled the back wall. There was standing-room-only during the student panel that kicked off the three-part program of Disability Awareness Day on Thursday afternoon.

Outside the Campus Center, 26 booths, tables, and tents lined up along the walkways. Groups like Guide Dogs of America, League of Dreams, and Bakersfield Parks and Rec were present to share the information about what they can offer and how they can help people with various disabilities.

Back inside, Ian Kennedy, Viridiana Alvarez, Maria Medina, Abel Carlon, and Edward Davila shared personal stories and experiences about being a college student at BC with disabilities. These challenges present themselves in many forms… from reading comprehension to motor skills, to anxiety and depression to blindness, deafness, and mobility difficulties. These students shared inspiring messages that show dedication, extreme strength, a drive to overcome any challenges, but possibly most of all… their stories shared their ability.


The ability to do what they love, pursue an education, and give back to their communities and make a difference in the world through their talents and gifts.

First DSPS Awards

A number of those willing, helpful people were recognized during the awards presentation that followed the student panel. The award recipients were:

Outstanding Department: Maintenance and Operations – For always being on call, day or night. The M&O staff support student success by ensuring that accessible furniture and equipment such as CC TV’s are in class locations across campus.


Outstanding Faculty: Tom Greenwood – Reaching out to deaf students on campus, Tom’s support of student success has included taking American Sign Language courses that allow him to communicate directly with students. His sabbatical leave took him on a journey to explore how deaf faculty teach mathematics to deaf students and to share what he has learned both at BC and to his colleagues in the state.


Outstanding Faculty: Bernie Scanlon – Students describe him as caring, understanding, and funny. Students look for his Math 60 and 70 courses to assist them in gaining the skills to succeed in mathematics. DSP&S counselors and students are aware that his style of teaching connects with people and incorporates diverse learning styles.


Outstanding Staff: Kristin Rabe – Kristin has been a driving force in establishing the Accessibility Task Force on campus. Her advocacy for captioned media and knowledge of all things related to media services has been instrumental in ensuring live streamed events on campus are captioned. Her knowledge of cccconfer is being used to explore potential ways to support veterans on campus.


Outstanding Staff: Bob Shimmin – Bob is the “Go-To Guy” when it comes to assistive technology. He has been involved in specialized training at the High Tech Center Training Unit and works closely with DSPS staff and students to ensure equal access and student success.


Outstanding Student: Maria Medina – Maria will be competing her AA-T is sociology degree in spring. Her goal is to transfer to a University of California to pursue a degree in political science. Her career goal is to utilize her education and experience to become a disability advocate.  Maria has demonstrated the core values behind the Habits of Mind as she incorporates self-advocacy and persistence to strive for excellence.


Outstanding Student: Douglas Bolds – Doug is a proactive student. While working for Public Safety Department driving cart he uses his connections and knowledge to help his peers achieve success. He educates students about DSPS services that are available and has been known to personally deliver students looking for work to the Workability Program office. His great attitude, reliability, and willingness to go out of his way to assist others goes above and beyond.


After the awards presentation, a handful of various faculty and staff took their seats on the panel.

Thank you to Jonathan Schultz, Jackie Brouillette, Moya Arthur, Helen Acosta, Alexandra Dallara, Jennifer Garrett, Barbara Mathis and our student panel for publicly disclosing your disabilities, challenges, and successes with everyone on Thursday. Your stories continue to inspire classmates and colleagues. Together we can improve services, better our tools, create greater awareness, and ultimately make the world a better place.

People with disabilities are, first and foremost, people…. They are our neighbors, our friends, our colleagues, our classmates, you, and me. BC Professor, Helen Acosta said on the panel, “All of our diversity makes us stronger.” Our dreams are not any different, and together we are BC.

Thank you to channels 17, 23, and 29 who all covered this important and special event. Check out two of the articles online at



Extra pictures taken by Manny De Los Santos are available at

CSEA Halloween Potluck Party

On Monday afternoon the Fireside Room was filled with tricks and treats for the first annual CSEA Halloween Potluck Party. All classified staff was invited to bring their favorite dish and arrive in costume for a small lunchtime gathering. The staff at BC are at the core of making everything happen and I sincerely appreciate each and every one of them. Tina Johnson, BC’s CSEA President, said in an email that everyone seemed to love the food, since only a tiny bit was leftover!

Special thanks to the team who brought all of this together, Heather Barajas, Theresa Rodriquez, Stephanie Vega, Mary Webb, Bernadette Gutierrez, and Yadira Guerrero. Thank you to everyone from food services to helped warm food and set up tables and Manuel De Los Santos for taking pictures! Check out all the photos at


Congratulations to Dr. Josh Ottum

Josh Ottum and Omar March 10 2016Earlier this month, I mentioned a moment when Prof. Josh Ottum stopped by my office to pick up the signed approval to apply for a grant. I’m proud to announce, he has been selected for funding! Dr. Josh Ottum is a creative artist and scholar who is completely committed to our community and his students.

In his application, he mentioned “developing seven essential courses to prepare students for success in fields of music and audio technology. The state has approved our certificate and I am thrilled to give students the opportunity to learn about the exciting facets of commercial music, including live sound, composition, sound design, and so forth.”

Thank you, Dr. Ottum, for applying for this mini grant under the “Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy” – it’s going to make a difference for many of BC’s talented music students.

An Out-of-this-World Encounter


Photo by Cara Jackson

On Wednesday, October 26, author Andy Weir gave an extremely witty and comical speech at BC. He also answered questions from the audience regarding his book, “The Martian.”

He made the audience feel connected to the plot of the book, but at the same time was completely honest about new ideas of  our understanding of Mars. He was very happy he had “established a trust with the readers… and they accepted what I had to say.”

It took him three years to write his book, and get in touch with publishers. He previously worked as a computer software programmer, but in his spare time he worked on the book. The book turned into a movie and in October of 2015, The Martian was in theaters.  It follows a story of Mark, the main character who is left on Mars alone and thinks of every way possible to survive until his crew can come back.

Many students in the audience had a chance to ask Andy what inspired him to write the book. A brief question and answer session followed:

How do you feel as the writer watching the movie?

Andy: I liked how Matt captured the personality of the character very well and I was able to work with all involved.

What is your favorite movie?

Andy: The Martian… No I believe, Match Stick Men, since I love con men and crime scene movies.

When did you start the book?

Andy: In 2009, and it took me 3 years to write it.


Photo by Cara Jackson

What was the most interesting research topic?

Andy: I liked the orbital dynamics and I wrote software to calculate the simulations.

Are you working on any other books?

Andy: Yes, right now I am working on “The Woman on the Moon.” The main character is super intelligent, and has a strong moral code, and attractive side.

What new discovered aspects about Mars doesn’t show up in your book?

Andy: When I wrote the Martian we had a certain view of Mars and now since a probe landed we know that there is a huge amount of water on Mars. Every cubic meter has 35 liters in it from the ice crystals.

Also, the dust storms on Mars would not have any force behind it, because even though Mars does get 150 k/h winds, the atmosphere is so thin it would have a difficult time knocking over a piece of paper.

What helps you write?

Andy: I like to listen to instrumental music and the sound tracks to movies and drink lots of diet coke. Also, I use the morning to write and keep motivated.

nick-strobel-returning-from-precinct-oct-29-2016Thanking Nick Strobel

I often say that I’m the luckiest college president in the world and it’s true. A large part of that is because I get to work with the best staff, faculty, and administration. Anna Agenjo, our incredible Librarian, sent this beautiful email praising Nick Strobel that I just have to share.

“Everyone already knows what a huge asset Nick Strobel is to the BC community, not just in the classroom but also through his work on committees and in the community. We are very lucky to have him on campus.  Although it is not needed, I want to add my voice to the many by telling you about Nick’s contribution to the Cerro Author program this year. I approached Nick this past summer to ask if he could present a show about Mars in the planetarium to complement this year’s author, Andy Weir.

Nick did not hesitate, and last Thursday he gave a well-attended and well-received presentation on Mars at the planetarium. He was able to bring Mars and the cosmos to life for his audience, and it was the perfect prelude to today’s Andrew Weir events. We all learned so much, and his enthusiasm in sharing his knowledge with the community made me very proud to be associated with Bakersfield College. Because of Nick’s extraordinary efforts, BC’s star shone brightly last Thursday night at the planetarium. I wanted you to know how much we in the Library appreciate Nick for going above and beyond.”

Soccer Staff & Antelope Valley Student

Going above and beyond is something our BC staff and faculty do regularly for all students. At a recent soccer match on campus an Antelope Valley student was injured and had to be taken to Kern Medical Center (KMC). Our coach, as well as Chief Chris Counts, were at KMC with the student, and a group text message keeping all informed. This is what BC does – a culture of care and support. We Are BC!

Measure J:

Walked into the Campaign HQ this morning and saw Chris Glaser and Lesley Bonds role modeling anticipated conversations when volunteers precinct walk.  It was so fun watching them.

Chris Glaser Lesley Bonds Oct 29 2016.jpg

And a quick thank you to Micahel O’Doherty who has put in hours volunteering his time to Measure J. Even is his Halloween gallivanting pirate costume.


Michael O’Doherty

Let me start my update of Measure J with the community voices piece in The Bakersfield Californian by Prof. Debbie Rosenthal.  Check it out at

I love how Debbie described Bakersfield:

No, Bakersfield is not a tourist destination. And yes, Bakersfield is too hot in the summer. But Bakersfield is what I call an easy city to live in.

The city is large enough to have everything I need and small enough to have little traffic congestion. People are considerate to one another to make it feel like a small town. I call this “The South of California.” There is one major difference. I am accepted here and not treated as an outsider.

and Bakersfield College:

Bakersfield College is amazing. It has provided me with numerous opportunities for growth in my profession. The choice of conferences, meetings, presentations, training, and committees allows me to focus my unleashed energy into positive channels. The students are ambitious to be challenged for the reassurance that I believe they are capable of achieving their dreams. Their expectations from me demand I deliver the best I can at all times.

The administration, staff and colleagues have quickly accepted me and respect my extensive experience, training, and research in chemical education. They trust my judgment and allow me to try new ideas in the classroom.

and Debbie concludes with:

One of the top priorities for Measure J is to renovate and expand the science building. The series of short bonds, with more return on investment than one long bond, are strictly to improve the aging facilities. I ask you to support Measure J. It will not be used to increase my salary. It is for the future of students and Kern County.

Debbie Rosenthal Oct 27 2016.png

We are BC! and as Karen Goh said in her remarks to the college during Opening Day ….BC is so integrated within the Bakersfield Community that we should, in addition to We are BC!, chant We are Bakersfield!

Measure J endorsements:

j_dbacathy-butlerThe endorsements keep coming in.  This week we were delighted when Cathy Butler stopped by and handed the endorsement of the Downtown Business Association.  Thank you Cathy Butler and Bob Bell.

Here are few of the over 2000 endorsements that we have received so far: #MeasureJ


Joe Aguirre, Former Delano Mayor
Kevin Burton, President, SJCH Foundation
Kyle Carter, Bakersfield Mayoral Candidate
Ricardo Chavez, Delano Mayor
Stephanie Cortez, Porterville Chamber of Commerce CEO/President
David Couch, Kern County Supervisor
Robert de la Rosa, Ola Raza Director
Jose Flores, Arvin Mayor
Mick Gleason, Kern County Supervisor
Karen Goh, Bakersfield Mayoral Candidate
Doug Greener, Bakersfield Fire Chief
Shannon Grove, California State Assembly Member
Virginia Gurrola, Porterville Councilwoman
Harvey Hall, Bakersfield Mayor
Cam Hamilton, Porterville Vice Mayor
Harold Hanson, Bakersfield Vice Mayor
Mike Maggard, Kern County Supervisor
Terry Maxwell, Bakersfield City Council Member
Kay Meek, KCCD Trustee
Arnold Morrison, DJUHS Board Member
Chris Parlier, Bakersfield City Council Member
Leticia Perez, Kern County Supervisor
Leticia Prado, Lamont Water District Member
Janet Rabanal, Delano Chamber of Commerce Director
Rosalina Rivera, Delano Union Elementary School District Superintendent
Willie Rivera, Bakersfield City Council Member
Rudy Salas, California State Assembly Member
Mary K. Shell, Former Bakersfield Mayor
Bob Smith, Bakersfield City Council Member
Milt Stowe, Porterville Mayor
Jay Tamsi, Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President
Rob Taylor, Owner, Stafford’s Chocolates
Bill Thomas, Retired U.S. Congressman
Grace Vallejo, Delano City Council
Greg Williamson, Bakersfield Police Department Chief
Donny Youngblood, Kern County Sheriff

Milt Younger, Attorney

And here are some of the organizations who have endorsed Measure J

The Bakersfield Californian
Bakersfield College Alumni Association
Bakersfield Downtown Business Association
Building4SUCCESS Inc
California City Chamber of Commerce
Delano Camber of Commerce
Democratic Women of Kern
Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce
Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council
KCCD California School Employees Association
KCCD Community College Association
KCCD Management Association
Kern Agriculture Foundation
Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce
Kern County Democratic Party
Kern County Farm Bureau
Kern County Firefighters Union
Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Kern County Young Republicans (PAC)
Kern Economic Development Corporation
Kern County Taxpayers Association
Latina Leaders of Kern County
Murray Family Farms
Porterville Democratic Club
RA Johnsfam
Renegade Helmet Club
Sikh Women’s Association
Veterans of Foreign Wars District #6
Veterans of Foreign Wars #97
Wendale Davis Foundation

Thank you Measure J volunteers


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Sunday, Oct. 23 – Ivan Valadez, Tom Gelder, Dana Gelder, Carla Gard, Jeffrey Bender, Hannah Bender, Karl Bender, Rachell Morehouse, Isaac Vannasome, Tarina Perry, Nicky Damania, Brent Berton, Chris Glaser


I will post the list of volunteers as soon as I get the list.  So please come back!

Karen Schuett’s regional CTA director volunteering her time at the Measure J Head Quarters.  Thank you CTA for endorsing Measure J!


Janet Fulks, Karen Schuette

Thank you Liz Rozell for bringing your engineer’s mind to organize the volunteers for November 8th.

Liz Rozell organizing the work for Nov 8 2016.jpg

Two little somethings:

A friend shared with me a historical vignette about Trojan football while we were discussing Reggie Bush.  He described in an engaging fashion the intense rivalry between Notre Dame and USC and a famous game in Indiana on a typical fall evening in 1965 when the air and grass were full of moisture.  John McKay who was as good with words as he was with coaching his athletes was there in Notre Dame with “Touchdown Jesus” overlooking the stadium.  The rivalry could be felt by each and every person in the packed stadium as the game began.  Mike Hunter, the Trojan returner of the opening kickoff sprinted to the eight-yard line but then slipped on the moist grass, when USC coach John McKay, fearing the worst, shouted “Oh, my God, they have shot him!!”  This story had me laughing the rest of the week and again just now as I was blogging.  So I checked it out on yes Wikipedia and verified that my friend was not pulling a fast one.  Such a great story, and so funny.  Enjoy these pictures of John McKay and the Notre Dame Stadium, from the web.

And here is a fascinating story from this morning’s LA Times about fabric that generates energy.  Here is the opening paragraph:

In the future, your clothes will work for you. A team of scientists led out of the Georgia Institute of Technology has created a fabric that can gather energy from both sunlight and motion, then store it in embedded fibers.

Check out the whole story at

And I love this picture of Bruce



That’s all for now.  

Until next week.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya — the luckiest and happiest college president ever


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3 thoughts on “Moments that take our breath away!

  1. Nick Strobel October 29, 2016 at 11:08 pm Reply

    Anna’s note to you about me was an especially kind note. But that’s to be expected from Anna—she’s an especially kind person. I’m glad that I could put together the Mars Travel Guide show and she got to see it! 🙂
    I love reading about all the different ways that we reach out to the community and all the ways that the community supports BC. We at BC (students and employees) are not the only ones who say, “We are BC!”

  2. […] in to encourage his athletes to contribute to the greater good through community involvement.  Check out this post on the BC Soccer Team volunteering for Measure […]

  3. […] See my blog about last year’s Disability Awareness Day here. […]

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