A dear friend sent this to me with the words, “Blog post?”  Absolutely, and thank you!
The woman in this real-life story, Danika O’Leary, shows wonderful respect and humanity every time she sets up shop in the park.  She also understands how much appearance affects an individual’s self-respect.
Frank Somerville KTVU's photo.
Frank Somerville KTVU's photo.
Frank Somerville KTVU's photo.
Frank Somerville KTVU added 3 new photos — with Zafar Iqbal.

I got up early this morning because I was looking forward to posting this story.

It’s about Danika O’Leary.
At least once a month she gives free haircuts to the homeless in Sonoma County.

Danika says a haircut may not seem like a big deal.
But it is.

“It’s amazing the transformation of someone who looks like they’ve been homeless for years and years and all of a sudden they look like a 25-year-old kid.”

Danika cuts hair at the Phoenix Salon in Petaluma.
But whenever she scan save about $200 dollars, she rents a generator and buys food to give away.
She then sets up shop in a local park and goes to work.

I was looking on her Facebook page.

One person wrote:
“You’re such a great person.”

I liked Danika’s response:
“I dunno about great, but I definitely know if I were ever having that hard of a time, I’d want someone to be nice and to treat me like a human.”

It’s interesting how Danika came up with the idea to give out free haircuts.
A couple of years ago, she was going to a concert in San Francisco.
She saw a woman asking for money.

Danika says:
“She looked like she was maybe 30 years old and just broke.
She had a two-year-old sitting with her.
She just looked like she didn’t feel good about herself.
I didn’t want her to be offended but I also have this set of skills.
It just hit me.
I had my shears in the trunk of my car.
I had two hours before the concert.
I asked, ‘Would you like a haircut?’ ”

Danika then pulled out her shears.
The woman sat down on a crate.
And Danika cut her hair.

Danika says:
“She just wanted the knots and stuff out.
I sprayed on a little conditioner and ran a comb through and trimmed her up and she felt great.”

This week KTVU reporter Amber Lee did a really nice piece on Danika.

On the day that Amber interviewed her, Danika was set up in Julliard Park in Santa Rosa.
The second picture shows her cutting Lea Glynn’s hair.
And the third picture shows Lea’s smile afterword.

Lea says:
“Changes your whole personality.
You feel good about yourself.
You feel pretty.”

Seeing Danika in action inspires me.
And I really like this quote from one of her friends:

“People just don’t do stuff like that nowadays.
They’re more concerned with themselves.
Danika puts others before herself.
I just find it completely amazing that people like her still exist.”

Keep doing what you’re doing Danika.
It’s all about changing lives one person at a time.

Some quotes courtesy of Meg McConahey/Press Democrat



There was an incident partially captured on video between an Oregon Ducks fan and the police at the 2014 Pac Twelve Championship Football Game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, recently. The person who had recorded the incident said that the main subject was attending the game with his son and was going down the wrong aisle, at which time the police became involved. The video was removed from the internet shortly after I viewed it, but as I remember it the man was not cooperating with the police but also was not violent or apparently threatening to the police, who were pushing him, hitting him with some kind of club or night stick until it broke, attempting to use a choke hold on him, and finally getting him to the ground and into some kind of restraining jacket. The small crowd surrounding the altercation was clearly on the man’s side, ultimately chanting something like, “He’s not resisting! He’s not resisting!” What was not captured by the video was how the whole incident had begun, or where.

In light of recent events in the news, grand juries handing down no indictments in the killings of two young black men by white police officers, and the killing by a white policeman of a black 12-year-old brandishing a fake gun, this incident raises further questions about police use of force when dealing with the public. What is different about this situation is that none of those involved was black. The Ducks fan was white, several of the police officers were also white, one may have been Asian and one HIspanic, I couldn’t be sure as I could not see them all clearly.

I don’t know if the Ducks fan had acted threateningly or dangerously when the incident began or had mouthed off to the police.  I don’t know if the police were justified in what appeared to be an unnecessarily rough handling of the situation or not.  I do know that the incident needs to be thoroughly and fairly investigated.

I also do know that the comments that were posted in reaction to viewing the recording of the incident were appalling! There were very clearly 2 camps of viewers: those who can’t stand the police and think that a police state is just around the corner with police brutality in store for us all, and those who think that anyone who doesn’t immediately acquiesce  to the police without asking why they’re being asked to do whatever is a drunken thug. The conversation, if one is willing to call it that, was laced with obscenities on both sides and devolved into heated name-calling and character assassination back and forth among the “conversationalists.”

It was clear to me that without seeing what had initiated the interaction on the video, without seeing what the Ducks fan had initially done, how he had responded to the police, and whether he had appeared menacing or threatening, it was impossible to determine whether the police had justifiably been concerned for their safety and the safety of others at the event, or whether they had truly overreacted and been overly aggressive in their treatment of the Ducks fan. But those commenting on the video didn’t seem to need to know any of that. They already had a strong point of view, applied that point of view to the situation, and then went on to castigate anyone who didn’t agree with them.  They showed an utter lack of respect for the truth of the situation, as well as a lack of respect for anyone who might dare to disagree with them.

This lack of respect for the truth of a situation is as disturbing as it is prevalent, especially on the internet.  It may be due to the anonymity the internet can provide, it may be due to the gaping philosophical and political divide that exists today.  It’s probably due to both. But it’s intellectually lazy. It’s self-absorbed, evidencing no empathy for or interest in further information or any other point of view. And it’s dangerous, because a citizenry that doesn’t seek for and demand the truth can be easily duped by those that would mislead it.


I thoroughly enjoy Joan Morris’s “Animal Life” column in the San Jose Mercury News and her blog at She answers questions and addresses issues about pets and neighborhood wildlife with good humor, good advice, and lots of respect for the many varied critters that make our lives so interesting.

In the November 28, 2014, column, Joan included this wonderful letter from a reader:

DEAR JOAN: I had an eye-opening experience a couple of years ago. I was an employee at a high school in what might be considered a tough part of town.

One day, shortly after school was dismissed, I walked into the quad to see three boys coming out of a science classroom. These boys were probably about 17 years old, but they looked much older. One had a goatee and mustache, and all  had slicked back hair and baggy jeans. The middle boy had his hands cupped in front of him. I thought, “Oh my God, they have something alive.” In a second or two, the boy opened his hands, and a little bird flew away.

I looked at them questioningly, and the middle boy said, “Yeah, this little dude, like, flew into the classroom, and, ya know, he was going to hurt himself, so we had to get him outta there.”

What a lesson this taught me.