Home Away From Home:
The Inland Empire Ronald McDonald House Honors 10 Locals as ‘A Few Good Men and Women’

The family of Thermal resident Valerie Espinoza has stayed at the Ronald McDonald House multiple times. “My grandmother always said, ‘You’ve got to keep going. You can succeed; you’re still young and have a lot of energy. Be strong and have faith,’” Valerie said.

The Inland Empire Ronald McDonald House will present its annual “A Few Good Men and Women Awards” to 10 philanthropic locals at a gala on Friday, Sept. 29, at the Agua Caliente Casino Spa Resort in Rancho Mirage.

Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, more than 50 miles away from the Coachella Valley, is the closest place for many critically ill local children to get treatment. The Ronald McDonald House, within walking distance of the hospital, provides support, meals, a place to stay and more for the families of patients. It’s one of 377 Ronald McDonald House programs operating in 45 countries and regions around the world.


Behind Closed Doors? The Drag-Queen ‘Culture Wars’ Come to a La Quinta Neighborhood—and Bring up Questions About Transparency

This April 10 event invite was rescinded two days later after Trilogy residents voiced unspecified “concerns.”

On April 10, the Trilogy at La Quinta homeowners’ association announced a bingo evening, scheduled for May 18, to be hosted by local drag queen Rusty Waters.

Two days later, the HOA took it back.

In the April 12 message to residents, the Trilogy at La Quinta Maintenance Association board said unspecified “concerns” had been “voiced by some members of our community regarding Mr. Waters,” causing the event to be “modified.”


Reciprocal Rescue:
The Coachella Valley Horse Rescue Helps Horses—and Those Horses Help People in Need

Sean Harrington, the veteran mentor program director, and a horse show each other some love.

Even when someone is at rock bottom, there may still be hope.

Daryn LaVoie came back from Iraq suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I was haunted by what I saw and fell into a depression and started drinking,” he said. “Then when my father died, it got much worse.”

He realized he missed the camaraderie he had in the military. “Veterans need to find other people like them (who know) what they’ve been through,” he said. “I really missed the kinship I had with my fellow soldiers.”

One night after drinking too much, he went to bed with a loaded .38 handgun—which went off. The bullet passed through his temple, hitting his optic nerves; surgeons had to remove both eyes. Four months in an induced coma were followed by two years of rehabilitation at Loma Linda University Medical Center.

The camaraderie was still missing—but LaVoie found it at the Coachella Valley Horse Rescue, a nonprofit that rescues horses which have been abused or neglected, or were destined for slaughter.


Advocates Needed:
The Roost Lounge Is Offering Drag and Comedy Events to Benefit Voices for Children

Comedian and Palm Springs resident Jason Stuart is one of the performers at the Comedy Night Dinner Show and Live Auction. “I love doing benefits with people in the audience who are there to support another human,” he says.

The Roost Foundation is celebrating Easter Sunday with two special events—both of which will benefit Voices for Children.

At 10 a.m., Sunday, April 9, the Roost Lounge will host the Easter Bonnet Brunch, with a drag show starring Deja Skye; an Easter bonnet contest and parade; and an Easter-basket auction. Then at 5 p.m., the Roost will be the site of the Comedy Night Dinner Show and Live Auction, featuring comedians Laurie Kilmartin, Jason Stuart, Mina Hartong and Nicky Paris.

Voices for Children is a nonprofit organization that provides volunteer court appointed special advocates (CASAs) to children in foster care in San Diego and Riverside counties. Comedian, actor and Palm Springs resident Jason Stuart said he’s thrilled to be taking part in the Comedy Night Dinner Show.


Coffee and Community: Yes Please Café and Dessert Shop Is Quickly Winning Fans in Old Town La Quinta

In the mornings, the aroma of fresh roasted coffee hangs over Old Town La Quinta—thanks to the Yes Please café and dessert shop, which is a labor of love for its owner, Gina Mallano.

She opened the café in Old Town La Quinta in the summer of 2022. Outside, there are tables, heaters and umbrellas, with views of the Santa Rosa Mountains; inside, there are small tables, neatly placed.


Make a Feline Friend: After Numerous Delays, the Frisky Business Cat Café Is Finally Open in Palm Springs

Claire Rogers (left) with Sanatra the cat and Melody, the woman who adopted him. Credit: Sonny Von Cleveland

Feeling stressed? Fancy a coffee or scone while a cat curls up on your lap? Then the Frisky Business Palm Springs Cat Café is the purr-fect place for you.

The first cat café in the Coachella Valley opened in December, allowing customers to read, catch up on some work or simply relax—while enjoying the company of friendly felines.

In the “cat lounge,” you can chill out on colorful comfy couches, or use tables and chairs in the company of cats roaming freely—walking, playing, making friends or sleeping. But mind your feet, because there are cats on the floor, along with cat toys, cat beds, scratching posts and more.


DeAnn Lubell lost her beloved rescue terrier, Amy, to a coyote attack in Yucca Valley three years ago.

From tragedy comes purpose: Benefit concert aims to address valley vet shortage

A non-profit dedicated to educating the public about the danger pets face from predators is getting help from some local icons to solve a daunting issue.

The sudden loss of a beloved animal companion three years ago spurred one desert resident into action, hoping to spare others from the grief she experienced. Now she’s getting help from a Coachella Valley icon.

DeAnn Lubell lost her beloved rescue terrier, Amy, to a coyote attack in Yucca Valley three years ago. She says the experience had a lasting impact.

“I went outside with my two dogs and left just for a couple of minutes to go inside to get a cup of tea,” she says. “When I came back, I saw three coyotes tearing Amy up. It was the most traumatic thing I ever experienced in my life.”


Japan Installs Caution Signal for Sex Traffic

Japan has revised its criminal law to stipulate human trafficking as a crime and punish those involved. Activists, however, remain alarmed by foreign-staffed sex parlors that have made the country a haven for traffickers.

TOKYO (WOMENSENEWS)–There are about 10,000 parlors in Japan that offer sex to patrons.

Many advertise that they have foreign women by using such names as Filipina Pub, Russian Bar or Thai Delight. The patrons pay $60 to $100 for drinks and then an additional $150 to $300 to take women out of the bar to have sex with them.

Most of these women come to Japan on falsified passports or with entertainer or short-term visas, says Hidenori Sakanaka, who until a year ago was the director of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau. They are told that they have to pay off fake debts and their passports often are taken away upon arrival in Japan. The women are beaten and controlled by threats to family members in their home countries.

“Most women are moved from place to place and are too scared to complain,” Sakanaka says.

Sakanaka, who now directs the Japan Aid Association for North Korean Returnees, is credited with pushing through revisions to the law to combat trafficking while in his former post. Passed by the National Diet last month, it has helped abate international concerns about a country that has long been criticized for a too-tolerant an approach to trafficking.

On Saturday, the National Police Agency said police had uncovered 29 cases of human trafficking of foreign women from January to the end of June, up by five from the same period last year.


Pet-Care Crisis: A Shortage of Workers, an Increase in Adoptions and Systemic Problems Have Led to Long Waits for Appointments at Local Animal Hospitals

Ann Woods is the founder and president of Kittyland, a nonprofit shelter and sanctuary for cats in Desert Hot Springs. She regularly receives phone calls from distraught owners seeking veterinary attention for their beloved pets—including a recent call from one person who said she could not get a vet appointment for her cat until July.

“The cat could be dead by then,” Woods said.

Through her work with Kittyland, Woods has seen firsthand how the pandemic has placed unprecedented strain on the veterinary industry, with the Coachella Valley having too few vets and staffers for the number of pets needing help.