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Joel Hockman
Owner and COO , Pucci ’ s Pharmacy
Synthia Smith
Founder and Executive Director , Sisters of Nia
Pucci ’ s Pharmacy has served the Sacramento area with “ individualized and personal care ” since its founding in 1930 . Owners Joel Hockman and Clint Hopkins have continued that mission since buying the business in 2016 .
After searching the country for two years for a business that “ provided services to underserved communities when it comes to overall health care and who are marginalized when it comes to pharmacy care ,” Hockman says he and pharmacist husband Hopkins fell in love with Pucci ’ s because previous owners Linda and Tom Nelson “ served anybody and everybody no matter their situation .”
Under the Nelsons , Pucci ’ s was one of the only pharmacies in the region to fill prescriptions for HIV medications when they first became available in the early 1990s . Under Hockman and Hopkins , Pucci ’ s has continued to be a safe space for people in the LGBTQ , Black and Hispanic communities .
They offer delivery services , 24 / 7 refills , compounding , immunizations , vitamins and supplements and more with compassionate care . After more than 30 years on J Street , Pucci ’ s recently moved to a larger location on Folsom Boulevard to serve even more patients .
“ We have open arms for everyone and want them to feel like equal members of society ,” says Hockman , who recently joined the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce to reach even more patients . “ We want people to understand that they can trust us … and feel comfortable enough to come in and have conversations that might be difficult to have elsewhere . It ’ s our responsibility to take care of other human beings .”
Synthia Smith admits that she could have used a program like Sisters of Nia when she was growing up . “ As an adolescent , I had a lot of issues ,” she says . “ I didn ’ t make good choices , didn ’ t have a positive outlook and didn ’ t have much of a support network other than my mother and my church . I carried everything inside until my 20s .”
Smith has made it her mission to make sure other young women don ’ t have to struggle like she did . When the longtime teacher and high-school counselor came across a curriculum for “ Sisters of Nia : A Cultural Enrichment Program to Empower African American Girls ” by educator Dr . Faye Z . Belgrave and others , she knew she ’ d found something special . She formed her own Sisters of Nia program that supports local girls in 6th , 7th and 8th grades with Afrocentric lessons based on eight Kiswahili principles .
Nia participants attend weekly meetings to “ strengthen ( their ) knowledge and appreciation for African American culture , ethnic pride and identity ,” as well as annual events like the overnight retreat , Historical Black Colleges and Universities / Black History Tour and program-culminating rites of passage ceremony . Sisters of Nia also offers summer camps , talent shows and a yearly youth leadership conference that are open to the community , as well as workshops for Nia parents to help them better understand and connect with their daughters .
“ Our ultimate goal is to become a nationwide program similar to the Girl Scouts specifically for girls of color ,” says Smith , who joined the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce in July . “ We want to support girls through middle school and into high school so they can enter feeling confident .”
22 comstocksmag . com | November 2021