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Fire department employee enjoys Gold Rush history, playing piano

Familiar Faces
By: Menka Belgal, Telegraph Correspondent
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Sandy Sanders can often be found doing whatever needs to be done at the El Dorado Hills Fire Department, where she’s been for seven years as an administrative assistant. Sanders is one of the familiar faces of El Dorado Hills. What do you love most about your job? I’m very proud to be able to serve this caring community. I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to work with outstanding Paramedics/Firefighters, Captains and Chiefs. The Fire Department’s motto, “Your Safety, Our Commitment” is demonstrated in everything they do and they do it with excellence, respect and compassion. Do you have another job? I always wanted to learn to play piano and met a teacher about 10 years ago that showed me how to play the piano with chords. There are no boring scales or beginning songs like “Three Blind Mice” or “Take me out to the Ballgame.” With her instruction, I was playing songs that I loved in a matter of hours. It was like night and day as to how most traditional piano teachers teach. So I have enjoyed “playing it forward” and have taught people from ages 8 to 80. I call my lessons “E-Z Play Today.” It is instant gratification and I’ve enjoyed teaching others this method because like me, they’ve been able to realize a lifelong dream of playing piano with ease. What hobbies do you enjoy? I enjoy listening to live musicians and playing music. In the last year, I bought a vintage alto saxophone and two guitars. Next will be a soprano saxophone and maybe a flute. Do you have a favorite movie and song? My favorite movie is “The Wizard of Oz” and my favorite song is “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Do you give back to the community? One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve been a part of is our annual Fire Department’s Santa Run. Santa, Mrs. Claus and their Elves ride on fire engines throughout the town for six nights in a row collecting toys for Toys for Tots and canned food for the Food Bank. It’s a magical night as the engines parade through the neighborhoods blasting Christmas carols while the elves run alongside the engines handing out candy canes to the young and young at heart. Dogs are never forgotten and get a dog biscuit. Hundreds of toys and cans of food are collected each year and distributed to those needing an extra bit of cheer. What is the most interesting experience you have had? One of the most interesting experiences of my life was traveling to Istanbul, Turkey, in 1989, where I was able to locate the mast of a former US Naval Hospital ship, the USS Solace. This ship was moored at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 and my father was a pharmacist mate onboard that was called to duty that morning. He took a motor launch from the USS Solace to the burning USS Arizona where he helped the wounded. My father is my greatest hero and I’m so proud of what he and other young men and women did that infamous day without hesitation to aide their fellow Americans. The USS Solace was decommissioned and sold to a Turkish cruise line and converted into a cruise ship that sailed the Mediterranean Sea before. It became old and was scrapped for its metal. One of the shipmates on the Solace asked the Turkish Navy to save the mast from the ship for historical purposes and it is now displayed in a Turkish Naval Shipyard. I went on a mission to find that mast, photograph it, and bring home the photo to those that served onboard the Solace. It was a mission that was accomplished and one of the most rewarding opportunities of my life. By the way, my father is currently 90 years old, in good health and I still enjoy listening to the many stories he tells about his Navy days. Where are your favorite places to travel? I love the Gold Rush history and beauty of El Dorado, Amador and Calaveras counties. I also love New Zealand, where my mother and father met. My mother was a war bride. Of what are you most proud? My son who has taught his mother way more than I have taught him. What causes are you passionate about? I’m passionate about America and proud to be an American.