Remy Fortier, host of the Union City Advice Givers Podcast, as a business owner herself, had an interest in meeting other smart business owners, community leaders, and hard working entrepreneurs. We love the Bay Area, specifically the East Bay, and we are based right here in Union City. In the Bay we have a style all our own. When we started to reach out to local people, talking to them and hearing their stories, We realized how much others could benefit from hearing what they have to say. These are experts in their fields, smart and intelligent, and many have discovered unique ways to impact the lives of their customers, clients and their community.
On Union City Advice Givers®, the people featured, are the experts that we believe will have the greatest impact. And be of the greatest service, to East Bay residents. We are committed to helping these folks impact more lives, through spreading their stories. www.UnionCityAdviceGivers.com
Episode 26 Dr. Sheldon Salins
Transforming Lives from the Inside Out
Who is this happy, energetic, Orthodontist in a Bow Tie? I had to find out more about Dr. Salins after seeing the photos of completely transformed smiles he engineered on Instagram. I invited him to be on the show, and he accepted.
Having been in the business of working with kids and their teeth for more than a decade now, Dr. Sheldon Salins takes his work of transformation seriously. What he does in his office is more than just attend to your teeth. Anyone who has been there will tell you that he is an artist of transformations. That was my single, biggest take-away from our interview.
Dr. Salins is eager to share lessons from various stages in his life, ranging from his family, upbringing, education, and relationships to his practice.
He is very proud to show off the work ethic he learned from his parents, who were immigrants from India, that moved from Canada to Florida, for the warm weather. Anyone would be proud if their parents set the example of entrepreneurship he was raised with. If you looked at the orthodontist Dr. Salins is today, words like ‘dedication,’ ‘commitment,’ ‘hard work,’ love,’ and ‘diligence,’ come to mind, all of these from the important life lessons that he picked up from his parents.
Dr. Salins loves to see the world, not to mention the love and positive energy with which he talks about his work. He found a way to put these together by being a participant in a number of educational and philanthropic trips around the world.
On an invitation from a former Surgeon General of the United States, Vivek Murthy, who was a friend of Dr. Salins when they were kids in Florida, he embarked on a sex education trip to Banglor, India. He has shown that anyone can touch the world in more ways than just the field they are professionally trained in. He also took a trip to Uganda to do dental work with the orphans there. Dr. Salins is also a member of Impact Club Union City which donates thousands of dollars to local causes here in the Tri City Area.
From his website: Sheldon Salins D.M.D., M.S.
Dr. Sheldon Salins is a Board Certified Orthodontist with a Doctorate in Dentistry from Harvard University. Dr. Salins earned his Master of Science degree and completed specialty training in orthodontics at the University of California at Los Angeles. His dream was finally fulfilled when he went to UCLA for his orthodontic residency, where he obtained critical specialty training for three additional years to create smiles that look beautiful and last a lifetime.
Dr. Salins remains involved in many dental organizations and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics. He is the Past-President of the Southern Alameda County Dental Society. He is also an active member of the American Association of Orthodontists, the Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists, the American Dental Association, the California Dental Association, and the San Mateo County Dental Society.
He is also part of the clinical faculty at the Craniofacial Anomalies Center in Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.
As I said, Dr. Salins creates transformations. When he sees one of his patients on social media that only smiles with their mouth closed, or hides their smile with their hands. Nothing is more satisfying than to see the big grins in their pictures after he is done transforming that smile. He is great at social media himself. You will have to listen to our interview to hear the story behind his Bow Tie.
If you ever see a kid in Dr. Salin’s office, you might notice how relaxed they are. Sharing an insight into how he gets them to take their minds off the fear of dentist, Dr. Salins replies that he doesn’t “Ask typical questions [such as] Did you brush? Did you floss?”
Instead, he takes a rather conversational approach. In his own words,
Episode 25 R and R Event Rentals
How To Make Your Special Day Perfect?
It’s simple. Give the décor over to R and R Event Rentals.
In this interview, I ask Raman and Raveen to share their best advice for anyone planning a wedding or special event. Raman says to focus on three things: Really look at what you will be getting from each vendor to eliminate confusion. Be organized. And Relax! Take the time to enjoy the event because it will go by so fast.
Once Upon a Time…. Raman and Raveen got married. When they decided to plan their own wedding they found themselves frustrated with the choices they had. Neither of them wanted to pay the high rental fees for everything they needed to design their wedding celebrations perfectly. Many of the vendors they met with didn’t have what they wanted. So instead they bought everything they needed, thinking they could just sell it later on. That plan backfired wonderfully and the result was that Raman, a former accountant, and Raveen, a loss prevention specialist, discovered their hidden talents for design and execution of stunning, beautiful event décor.
Raman and Raveen have built R and R Event Rentals into the successful business it is today by putting the same care, attention to detail, and love for each event, that they would at their own wedding, birthday, baby shower or special event.
Over and over again their clients say “Out of all the vendors we worked with, R & R were our favorite.” Reviews like theirs don’t happen by accident.
Raman and Raveen both grew up locally, both attended James Logan High School here in Union City, though not at the same time. They met each other while both attending Cal State East Bay. Several months after their own wedding, two of their friends were also getting married.
Since Raman and Raveen still had all of the décor left over from their own wedding they thought to ask “Hey, we still have all this stuff? Do you want us to come and help with your wedding?” The rest, as they say, is history. Now years later Raman and Raveen have become one of the top Indian inspired event décor specialists in the Bay Area.
Raman and Raveen share with our listeners about their most significant challenges such as striving for work-life balance.
In our conversation, I also asked them to educate me a bit on some of the traditions involved with a Punjabi Wedding Ceremony. Raveen explained to me that my question was tough because there are so many different aspects of Indian cultures, different religions, and dialects. They are part of the Sikh community and walked me through the events of a Sikh wedding.
First, there is the Mehndi, the Henna night, then the bride had her hands decorated with Henna.
Then the Sangeet, which is the ladies party, where the women gather and sing folk songs that are hundreds of years old.
And also Churra, when bangles are applied to the bride the night before the wedding.
Then there is the ceremony itself held at a temple. And of course the reception, which is the grand finale to a week of celebrations.
R and R usually will decorate either the bride or groom’s home for the celebrations leading up to the reception, and then, of course, they go all out with the reception décor.
After our initial interview, I was chatting with Raveen, and he shared a couple of great stories with me. They were too good to leave out of the interview, so we had a bonus interview!
Raveen has an alter ego. A character known as Raider Singh a well known regular at Raider Games and professional tailgater. As far as we know the only NFL logo turban to be seen anywhere. Check out his pics with Derek Carr and Steve Mariucci on the link to his Raider Singh Instagram below.
Since college, Raveen has also been “Dholi Veen” the Dholi of Bhangra Empire,
Episode 24 Ascend Rehab Founder Swati Shah
Do you or someone you know have a special needs child?
Listen to our talk as Swati Shah shares her best advice for families.
She would know.
Swati Shah has the heart for serving special needs kids and their families. Her passion for making a difference in the lives of children and their family members is apparent in all that she does. She believes every special needs family deserves the ultimate care and the best advice. In her words,
“This is not just a job. It is changing lives… I feel like we’re impacting the community as a whole.”
Swati is the founder of Ascend Rehab, which she started in 2004. She has been an occupational therapist for 20 years. As a mother of a special needs child herself, she is deeply connected in the special needs community.
Ascend started in 2004 with one employee. Now, they have around 50—and that first employee is still with her! Her staff retention is incredible for the industry because she works hard to make sure her employees are heard and happy. Another unique thing about Ascend is its all-female staff, which is intentional. Also, nearly all the staff have a special needs kid or relative in additional to being trained professionals in the field. This gives them the ability to connect deeply with special needs children and caregivers. You can tell when staff loves a company as their own. And I could see that Swati’s team was truly involved and excited to work there.
Ascend’s staff is spread out across three main areas: schools, homes, and Ascend’s own Union City center. At the Union City site, they provide multiple therapies including occupational speech therapy, and they just opened a brand-new special needs preschool for 2-3-year-olds, run exclusively by therapists.
One incredible thing about Ascend is that its diverse range of therapists offers communication in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, Tagalog, and more. As one of the most diverse cities in the Bay Area, Union City has a need for therapists who speak different languages and who can connect with different cultures. Ascend definitely fills these requirements!
If she could go back and give her younger self advice, Swati says,
“be the change you want to see in others” and “be brave, be bold, sit at the table. Do things that make you uncomfortable.”
As for advice for parents of special needs children, Swati suggests the following: Caregivers need to take care of themselves… a lot of self-care is #1. You need a lot of support around yourself. Knowledge is powerful. Don’t rely on outside teachers and therapists—become the best therapist yourself. And give yourself time. There is no quick, short-term solution to a child with special needs. We’re in this together long term. She goes on to give even more great, targeted advice.
Swati’s favorite success story involves a boy with cerebral palsy. CP affects everything—the way you move, talk, walk, etc. When Swati met him, he was in a wheelchair, he couldn’t feed himself, he couldn’t connect with people. Now he’s a teenager, and it is Swati’s motivator to see that he can walk, talk, communicate! What Swati has done has paid off and changed this boy’s life. He goes on to touch countless lives through the skills he has learned. He inspires Swati to work harder and to be a better therapist so that she can impact more lives the way she has influenced his.
To connect with Ascend Rehab or get involved, visit the center’s website at
You can also find their Instagram at @ascend_kids
Ascend Rehab Inc on Facebook
They are located at 29516 Kohoutek Way, Union City, Ca 94587
Phone (510) 441-8240
Episode 23 Chili Pepper Challenge
At the start of this interview, I noticed a gallon size bag of chiles sitting on the table in front of us. My first thought was, I hope they won’t expect me to eat a chili and then give an interview!
Of course, they didn’t. They are representatives from all the Rotary Clubs in the Tri-City Area. Perhaps some readers are like me. Though I’ve heard of Rotary, I didn’t really know exactly what a Rotary Club does. So it was fun to get to know the people of our local Tri-City Clubs. They are givers, people who get involved and take actions to help out those in need. Locally and all over the world. Some of the projects we discuss in this episode are very impressive. To think a club here in Newark, or Union City, or Fremont has been responsible for bringing water to a community in Africa, for instance, blows me away.
This interview explains the currently running Hot HOT Chili Pepper Challenge. Proceeds go to benefit several charities listed below. For everyone accepting the challenge Rotary will match their donations 2-1. Last year they raised $40,000! So what is the challenge? To eat a chili of course! There are multiple ways to participate – not all of them involve eating the hottest chili you can find. Listen for more info and learn a little bit more about our local community. The challenge runs from now through the end of October.
I speak with Daren Young, the Chili Pepper Challenge Chair, and CEO of Dryco Construction. Helen Kennedy provides “how to” details on how to find the CPC and support a charity. We talked with leaders from every Rotary Club in the area: Laurence Hansen (Newark), Angus Cochran (Niles), Mike Wirjadisastra (Mission San Jose), Jim Bell (Fremont), Glenn Nate and Helen Kennedy (Fremont, Union City, Newark), Jeboy Koshy (Fremont Morning).
We also talked with the local charities who will benefit from the proceeds of the Chili Pepper Challenge. Each donation is submitted with a hashtag so it gets credited to the correct program for matching funds. We heard from Alan Nagy, Mayor of Newark and Kelsey Camello (Washington Township Museum of Local History, #spicymusem), Glenn Nate (New Haven Schools Foundation, #spicyschools), Patricia Osage (Life Eldercare, #spicyeldercare), and Jim Bell (Salvation Army, #spicyarmy.) We heard about two Rotary charities, too. Jeboy Koshy talked about the Tri-City Rotary Clinic (#spicyrotaryclinic), and Helen Kennedy told us about the Area 3 World Community Service Committee (#spicywcsc).
Show Notes and Links:
Chili Pepper Challenge Website – Donations
Become a Sponsor
Episode 22 Paddy Iyer Founder Daily Bowl
Have you wondered happens to the tons of edible produce going to waste in our communities?
Like many of you reading this and listening to our interview are already aware of, Paddy Iyer is a man who is known for his contribution of coffee and community to Union City more than anything. However, in speaking with him, I found that he is so much more than that. Paddy Iyer, is one of the two pioneering members, together with Lance Nishihira, of the Daily Bowl – a service which deals with the obtainment and distribution of food to the less fortunate.
From humble beginnings in the garage (isn’t that how Apple started?) some two years ago, the Daily Bowl is now a program that brings pride to our East Bay community.
In the space of just two years, Paddy has nurtured relationships with many donating partners from small farms to larger companies where he gleans the food they would otherwise throw away. Considering that he is a family man and a business man, one cannot help but wonder where he finds the time to do everything he does.
Paddy is on a mission to change the way people see and perceive food. How do we as consumers choose a perfect piece of produce? If it is the wrong shape or color, we overlook it. If you’ve ever wondered what happens to all of the visually imperfect produce in our community, you might want to listen to what Paddy has to say.
We talked a lot about this brainchild of Paddy’s, The Daily Bowl. But we also spoke about the man himself. Coming from humble beginnings in India, he narrates his journey of moving to the Bay Area and opening Paddy’s Coffee.
For those who are looking for business advice, Paddy has got you covered. Afterall, he has been able to keep a business going for more than a decade and enjoyed serving three generations of customers. Paddy’s Coffee was not only a hub of creativity and inspired entrepreneurs, but it was also the first business in Union City to earn a Green Badge for their efforts to stop food waste.
This business intelligence, coupled with a big heart, is shown in the piece of advice he would have given to his younger self. In his own words,
“Be the change that you want to be. Be the change that you OUGHT to be… That change has to be positive.”
Looking at the life, he’s leading now; I can say he did take that piece of advice to heart.
In what seems like an ironic statement to what he stands for, Paddy advises against just walking up to someone you feel needs food and offering them food or money. He encourages our listeners a better practice of connecting them with agencies that are equipped to handle all types of needs.
Referred to as the ‘broker of imperfect produce’ by many, supporting the green community, ‘gleaning’ food from all around to feed those who do not have enough. Paddy still spends plenty of time to mentor youths into greatness. Paddy finds many ways to give back to his community.
Daily Bowl on Facebook
Daily Bowl on Instagram
Paddy Iyer on Facebook
Fundraiser to replace stolen van
Episode 21 Chief Darryl McAllister
Getting to Know Our Union City Chief of Police
I have interviewed a number of people in the past, and a few of them have suggested that I interview the Union City Chief of Police, Darryl McAllister.
Chief Darry McAllister sure had a lot to say, right from when he was growing up till now. He was not shy to speak about his family, how they impacted him and the kind of relationship they had. Looking back over a career that has spanned more than three decades now, the story of why he opted for this line of work touched me.
When he was asked to rewind time and look back on his younger self, he had something sensational to say. In his own words,
“If I would do it all over again, I would do this. If somebody came along, and pushed my rewind button, and took me back to the beginning of the tape… I would push play again.”
Darryl McAllister is a man that has seen a lot of challenges. However, his main challenge still stems on one that would see the development of the community at large. Speaking at length with Police Chief McAllister led me to the conclusion that this was a man who has been able to impact many lives, and is not stopping anytime soon.
He is a wonderful storyteller. I truly enjoyed hearing about his trip to the White House, and his retelling of meeting President Obama.
The importance of keeping quality friends is clear to the police chief. After forming some credible relationships and alliances – most of which have helped shape him into the man he is today – he is surely one to know how important these things are.
One cannot miss the enthusiasm in his voice when he begins to talk about his father. Not neglecting the teachings and lessons he had when growing up has resulted into the embodiment of a desirable work rate that is second to none. Listen to our talk to hear a truly remarkable story behind the picture below of his father’s role in a historic moment while serving in the US Navy.
Of all the achievements he has recorded in close to forty years of service, his choice of greatest achievement ever was humbling. I shouldn’t have been surprised though.
Here was a man who believes that
“It’s not the years in your life that counts. It’s the life in your years.”
When Police Chief Darryl McAllister is not on duty, he finds passion in two other things – cooking and sharing his knowledge with the younger generation. What I understood from this small chat with the Union City police chief was that if there were two things he cherished the most, they would be “values” and “family.”
On behalf of the entire Union City Police Department, he left us all with the words
“We are here, not just when things are wrong, but when they are right.”
Chief Darryl McAllister on Facebook
Union City Police Department Website
UCPD on Facebook
Chief McAllister on YouTube
Union City Police Department
34009 Alvarado Niles RdUnion City Police Department
Union City, California
Phone: (510) 471-1365