Eastmont

I was lucky enough to be invited to the National Night Out at St. Benedict's Catholic Church recently, and the love, community, and passion were overwhelming. There were people there who were born, raised, and still live in the shadow of the church and there were Oaklanders who come all the way across town to be a part of it. For 76 years, St. Benedict's been at the heart of the Eastmont neighborhood. Father Landeza (above), an Oakland native with a long history of commitment to our community, may be a relatively new addition to the church, but his warmth and energy have quickly made him a fixture in the neighborhood.

Embarcadero

For more than 20 years, Hopalong & Second Chance Animal Rescue has been saving the lives of dogs and cats from throughout the Bay Area. By focusing on their goal of eliminating euthanasia of adoptable animals throughout Northern California, the staff and hundreds of volunteers at Hopalong have rescued, spayed and neutered, and adopted out more than 24,000 animals. That's a lot of animals to save! I was lucky to spend some time with this group recently, and a more dedicated and energetic group of animal welfare advocates you are not likely to find.

Santa Fe

I photographed Mia, Nino and their kids in the backyard of their home in Oakland's Santa Fe neighborhood. Dedicated to community not just with their words, but with their actions and their lives, this family was an inspiration to be around. I'll share this with you about this charming and fun family, after even a brief visit with them, you walk away believing that by working together we really can transform stereotypes and build communities.