Stories of Resilience

Contra Costa Crisis Center


Every year, volunteers of all ages who provide vital services to people in need are nominated by their peers for the prestigious Diablo magazine Threads of Hope recognition.

This year, Urooj Kazmi, a longtime volunteer with Contra Costa Crisis Center, was among the five local heroes chosen for the honor. Through her selfless acts of volunteerism, she is changing our community for the better in creative and generous ways, notes Diablo magazine.

Watch Urooj tell her story about the importance of listening and the joy of being in service to others here.


Walnut Creek ACE Hardware

Walnut Creek ACE Hardware proves that for them, surviving the pandemic has been about staying the course:

The nearly instantaneous shut down of businesses triggered by Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on businesses large and small. Having endured nearly six months of changing mandates and regulations, many businesses have come to assume that everything may change forever. For most, this has meant pivoting to a new business model for survival.

Not so for our local Walnut Creek ACE Hardware store independently owned and operated by Kevin and Debbie Fisher Walnut Creek residents and long-time Chamber members. Kevin is also a Chamber Leadership Contra Costa graduate. Walnut Creek Hardware opened its doors in 2008 and quickly positioned itself as the “go-to” hardware store in our community. Their hardworking staff also live locally. Ranging in age from 16 to 78, the staff differentiates itself with their expertise, breadth of knowledge, and attentive and personal service.“That’s why we say a visit to Ace is like a visit to your neighbor.” Throughout the past six months, their loyal staff has remained on the front lines serving the community and striving to excel during the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Urged by their contemporaries to take advantage of funding options and forgivable loans being offered to small businesses, Walnut Creek Hardware made a conscious decision to opt out. Instead, they will stay the course, providing what has always exemplified what makes ACE great. The one exception, giving their employees a boost in pay in recognition that “We are all in this together.” Looking for some family fun?

Check out the Ace Trains. Walnut Creek Hardware features extensive model trains which run around the store on an elevated track. The track also showcases various handcrafted model replicas of famous bridges in the area, including the Golden Gate Bridge, New Bay Bridge, the Tower Bridge in Sacramento, and a rail trestle bridge in Benicia. No entrance fee or reservation required, but please do wear a mask. Check out what makes them the Coolest Store, click here

White Pony Express 

White Pony Express Rises to Meet Challenges of Delivering Food to Those in Need during the Pandemic:
In 2013, Dr. Carol Weyland Conner established White Pony Express (WPE), whose mission is to help eliminate hunger and poverty by delivering the abundance all around us to those in need – with love. When the pandemic hit, we quickly put together a COVID-19 Rapid Response Plan to meet the challenges of this crisis. Because of the skyrocketing demand for our food, we went from delivering an average of 7,000 lbs./day (pre-COVID-19) to 15,000-37,000 lbs./day to meet the spike in community need! To handle our expanded services, we are now sharing a warehouse space in Concord with the Food Bank and other non-profit agencies. This has enabled WPE to partner with major food distributers like Vesta Food Service and CDS Distributing, two companies who deliver USDA Farmers to Families Food Boxes to WPE, which, in turn, are distributed to our community members who need this food. To read their story in its entirety, click here. Their videos are a must-see, click here. A pre-Covid event, click here


Lemonade From Lemons!
At the beginning of 2020 our business was on track to have its most successful year since opening in 2014. Then came the pandemic, and by the second week of March, most of our spring events had been cancelled due to mandated regulations. Since the core of Paleoventures Outdoor Teambuilding is to take teams into nature to learn survival and team building skills – our business was effectively shut down. For a while, it felt tempting to suspend business completely and wait until life returned to normal. It was a confusing and difficult time. Ultimately, we opted to test our resiliency and ability to adapt.

We began by making a list identifying the program elements we could accomplish virtually. We knew participants could still meet and get to know colleagues, learn the basics of outdoor survival, practice team building behaviors, and work in groups to complete virtual survival challenges. Our list continued to grow! Next, we crafted a template for virtual learning events and invited CASA of Contra Costa to test the effectiveness our new design. Happily, they said it was as much fun as the in-person event they did with us last year!

So, for the future, we will offer both online teambuilding as well as outdoor events, when circumstances allow. Even post-COVID 19, the online option could save time and money for teams working from home or spread out geographically. Possibly lemonade from lemons!



These past few months have been monumentally challenging for everyone as we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the many challenges, Lindsay Wildlife Experience is “here to stay,” says LWE Executive Director Carlos de la Rosa. “We’re not interested in surviving the pandemic. We’re keen to adapt, grow, and thrive through it to continue our life-long mission: To connect people with wildlife to inspire responsibility and respect for the world we share.”

Learn about our efforts to sustain Lindsay through the pandemic, and our vision for the future. Click here. Here is a video expressing our gratitude for your support and sharing where we plan to go from here.


CAN’T STOP THE MUSIC! Here’s how we keep the music playing throughout the pandemic.

California Symphony is known for doing things differently, and if ever there was a moment to lean into this side of who we are and what we do, it’s now. We continue to create and to innovate in partnership with our California Symphony community. During our spring fundraiser, supporters joined us in donating hundreds of cloth masks to essential workers, and our musicians performed for local healthcare heroes. In May, we presented our first-ever online concert for donors and patrons, and in June, we presented an unconventional UnGala: Symphony in Slippers.

In July, ground-breaking four-part low-cost adult education class Fresh Look—The Symphony Exposed went online for the first time, attracting more than three times the number of households compared with last year and making the symphony accessible to classically-curious adults across the Bay Area, state, and beyond. Looking ahead, one thing that remains certain is our mutual need for connection through music, and California Symphony is committed to following through on our promise to deliver that to you. The 20/21 season has been reimagined so together we may continue sharing music and community with you.

To enjoy the Mozart for Medics performance for healthcare heroes that took place at John Muir Health, Click here.


In the Face of This Crisis Come Action and Growth

On Monday, March 16, we received the order to shelter in place. By that night, we had built secure online spaces for all of our support groups and individual counseling sessions. The staff at Cancer Support Community worked hard to create new ways to deliver our support services, workshops, and movement classes. Our community—members, therapists and instructors, and administrators alike—have come together to support each other more than ever. Our Community is stronger than cancer, and now, stronger than the restrictions we are each experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more of their story, click here.