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At age 16, Elizabeth Quiroz sold drugs on the street while being watched and menaced by a man who controlled her like he owned her.

Elizabeth is 33 now and doing vastly better. Intent on earning a college degree and becoming a parole office, she was among nearly three dozen former foster-care wards presented scholarships Monday by the Valley of the Moon Children’s Foundation.

All the recipients have weathered tough times, some of them unspeakable abuse. They’re all remaking their lives.

Elizabeth, who attends SRJC and serves on the county Human Trafficking Task Force, told the scholarship awards luncheon at Wild Oak Saddle Club she aims to help others forced into prostitution, drug sales or other criminal activity.

And she wants to do it now.

Thursday, she’ll host in Santa Rosa her first session of a human trafficking support group. She invites victims and survivors of trafficking to call her at 707-843-8390 for details.

She’s certain that right now children and adults are being forced to do abominable things at motels and on the streets.

“I know exactly what they’re thinking,” she said. They think they’re stuck and have no one in the world to turn to.

Elizabeth yearns to change their thinking, then their lives.

...

REASONS TO PARTY have been scarce for Gloria and Johann Heinzl since the home they built 15 years ago in the hills northeast of Santa Rosa burned last October.

They’ve moved at least four times, and at present it appears to them they can’t afford what it would cost to rebuild.

Even so, Gloria and Johann plan a family celebration Wednesday. It won’t be any big thing, but they’ll whip up a treat to include “some kind of cooked fish” finished with a dollop of whipped cream.

The Heinzl’s cat, Hamachi, has been through an awful lot and on Wednesday she turns 21.

The cat is in remarkably good shape but she’s endured the escape from the flames and the succession of moves.

Gloria recalls that Hamachi was conspicuously feisty the memorable day in 1997 that the two of them met.

Gloria was working at a branch library in San Jose when “the tiniest of kittens,” maybe five weeks old, walked in through the doors.

Twenty-one years later, Hamachi remains feisty. Says Gloria, “I think that’s what keeps her going.”

...

ANGEL AT THE FAIR: Another fire survivor, one sporting the most magnificent set of horns this side of Lubbock, will surely draw throngs of admirers at the Sonoma County Fair.

She is Angel, the mellow Texas Longhorn that prior to the Tubbs fire enchanted passersby from her corral alongside Highway 101 just north of Santa Rosa, near Coffey Park.

As the flames bore down and Glyn and Valerie Evans prepared to escape with their kin and animals, Valerie ran back into the house for her aged dog, Scooter. Both perished.

Valerie’s family, and Angel, have lived since then in Penngrove. A crowdfunding appeal, gofundme.com/7wmphq-bring-angel-home, seeks to help Glyn move back onto the ranch across the fence from 101.

A heap of caring and concern has flowed to Angel. She’ll soak it through all 11 days of the county fair.

Watch for her at Sweet Lil’s Farm, in and around the new Saralee and Richard’s Barn.

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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