Pleasanton couple's dog a winning wiener

"In the seven years they have been together, Patrick Major has seen Sammy Davis transform from a playful pet to one of the fastest dachshund racers in the state. Even though he stands only about 6 inches tall, Sammy can pump his stubby little legs and leap through the air to catch Frisbees nearly as big as he is. And, this pooch was a doggie pinup in the International Disc Dog calendar three years running." Read More Here

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Saint Mary’s College Alumni: Paying it Forward

When he was at Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward, Christopher Major ’83 accomplished a lot as the football quarterback and a baseball outfielder, along with being the first black class president. But he didn’t think much about where he would go to college. “I had a goal for college, but not much of a plan,” he says.

“I was just in the moment every day. Until the day Saint Mary’s College of California gave me a plan.”  cover-small1

That day came when the Moreau baseball team played De La Salle, and then-SMC coach Miles McAfee was in the stands. The next thing Major knew, he was offered a baseball scholarship at Saint Mary’s. Major’s high school grades weren’t great; he remembers having a 2.6 or 2.7 GPA.

But he was accepted into Saint Mary’s High Potential Program, which offers access and support services to students from historically low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds.

Major did well at Saint Mary’s, and after graduating he spent years working in the corporate world as an insurance risk manager, loan officer and insurance agent. He now looks back at the 1980s as a time when financial success and material values were more important than helping others and giving back to the community.

In the mid-90s, Major realized that he had “hit the wall” in his career, and he decided that he wanted to work with young people. He received a teacher’s credential and taught special education students. Major dreamed of starting a small nonprofit company for disadvantaged youngsters. In 2005, he started the Hayward Youth Academy, where he is the president. The academy provides comprehensive educational, recreational and support services for youths ages 9 to 15. The program focuses on academics, athletics, life coaching and health and nutrition support. It also provides assistance to families and guardians through community resource information and parenting workshops.

Major, who also works with the YMCA Eden Area and the Treeview Little League in Hawyard, says anyone can make a difference through volunteering with young people. “The time you spend with kids tells them that they have value,” Major says. “I deal with a lot of wealthy kids whose parents want to write me a check. I say, ‘Write me a check, but also come down here and help the kids.’ When parents and guardians spend time with children, they start to learn more about their own kids’ fears and aspirations.”

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