Many of you might have gotten your hands on the December holiday edition of Bakersfield Life recently. And if you haven't, then I encourage to stop by one of rack stands to pick up a copy. For a list of rack locations, visit

This issue is especially sweet because the cover is actually a piece of artwork created by local artist Christina Sweet. Our team wanted to our December cover to reflect the Christmas season with a Bakersfield touch. We approached Sweet about our concept, and lo and behold, she created this neat piece of beauty.

Sweet has been painting for the last 23 years. She enjoys painting images as she sees them, rich in color to stimulate the eye of those who view her work. She founded The Foundry Art Gallery and artist club with four friends in 2010. She helps coach and manage a membership of more than 80 artists and curates monthly art exhibits at the gallery.

"I work hard as an insurance agent for Kern Insurance Associates to help support my household. My passion and heart, however, is in my family and arts community," Sweet said. "Having the ability to surround myself with beautiful art and wonderful artists is far more rewarding than I ever dreamed."

If you have not met Sweet, then make the time or better, catch her latest exhibit, "Hooves and Horns," which is at The Padre through the end of the year. It is a collection of eight paintings. Our magazine plans to highlight her in a future edition; however, you can visit her website at

Thank you, Christina, for sharing your passion for art with Bakersfield Life readers.


The Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its annual "Holiday Membership Appreciation Reception" 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12, at The Nile, 1721 19th St. in downtown Bakersfield. The public is invited.

"This event is a way to show our appreciation to our members, as well as our friends who continue to support and volunteer during our annual events," said Jay Tamsi, CEO and President of KCHCC. "We also would like to invite potential members and community members to take advantage of our networking event and holiday festivities."

Tamsi said guest will enjoy holiday cheer, business networking, photographs, door prizes, food catered by Agave Mexican Grill & Cantina, live music and more.

The event will also be collecting toys for the holiday season to benefit the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Organization and the newly formed Kern County Cancer Fund, Tamsi said.

"It's a great way to give back to our community during this holiday season. It is not mandatory, but we will be accepting unwrapped toys and monetary donations," Tamsi said. "No amount is too small or large. Local support for local needs."

For more information or to RSVP, please contact the KCHCC office at 633-5495.

Presidential campaign

Now that the elections are past us, many are focusing on what our elected leaders will be doing during their terms.

One local resident, Maria Machuca, will be remembering her experience working for the Obama for America's Hispanic Press team, which was based out of the campaign's headquarters in Chicago. Machuca who took time off from her job as the communications director for the United Farm Workers spent the last four weeks leading up to Election Day with the Obama Hispanic Press team. She coordinated and secured Spanish-language media coverage in the states of Colorado and Nevada, promoting President Obama's campaign policies and platform.

"As a Latina, I felt very proud to be representing our community there and, as a professional, it was a terrific experience," Machuca said. "I also realized, however, that despite the fact that Latino voters supported the Democratic Party by a large percentage over the Republican Party, there's still a lot of work to do in terms of really communicating to the party leaders who Latinos are and what's important to us."

Machuca added that she especially enjoyed living two houses down from President Obama's house.

"Perhaps my only regret is that I didn't have an opportunity to do this earlier in my career," said Machuca, who has spent years working in the public relations and journalism industries. "I hope that young women or men looking to make a difference in their community and learn some real-life career skills, consider attaching themselves to a campaign. It doesn't have to be a presidential campaign, but hopefully something they truly believe in. Regardless of the outcome, these kind of experiences provide you with the basic tools that you need to succeed in life and career."

Her most memorable campaign moment was when Obama came to speak to the campaign staff after Election Day.

"He got emotional while talking to us," she said. "He also went around giving us a hug and thanking us for our hard work. At that moment, nothing else mattered."

Olivia Garcia is editor of Bakersfield Life and BWell magazines and a columnist of The Bakersfield Californian. These are her opinions, not necessarily those of The Bakersfield Californian. Send her tips at

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