Can I Do It?

20 Oct

Fair warning: If you have time to see this video, then watch it. It is extremely motivating. The next paragraph is a summary, just in case you decide you don’t have time to watch it just yet. J

Jessica Jackley gave an amazing talk about how she was motivated to help those in poverty. She began as a young girl, taught in Sunday school class, that it was her job to “help the least of these.” She wanted to be useful in the world, but she quickly learned that poverty would always exist. She began to fear, and eventually she developed a sense of simply tuning out all of the stories about destruction. She still gave to people during this moment, but her motivation was not to offer help out of generosity, but to help in order to go on with her day. She described it as a type of transaction in which she would exchange money for distance from these people. Though she still had a desire to help, she did not know what to do. Eventually, she came across the work of Muhammad Yunus, a winner of a Nobel Peace prize, known for starting social businesses to aid those in need. She entered a world of micro-financing. She described this as financial services and products of the poor. She realized that the best way for people to change their lives is to gain control of it, so after learning more about micro-lending, she began a social business, Kiva. Kiva connects people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty by having a person-to-person micro-lending website. This business has contributed 217 million dollars in loans to borrowers in 213 countries with a repayment rate of almost 99 percent. Seeing the benefits of micro-lending and how people can move out of the poverty zone has motivated Jessica to keep going in this field.

This entire story shows the power of motivation. From the start, she was motivated to bring change, and after times of frustration, her mind motivated her to move from a situation that was unpleasant, causing her to simply ignore poverty. This was her way of coping from not being able to do what drove her towards accomplishment. Even in her moments of ignoring the world around her, she was extrinsically motivated to help when she was cornered due to the pressures she faced. Finally, after coming into contact with Yunus and seeing the amazing consequences of empowering people through micro-lending, Jackley was once again motivated to start her own social business to aid in the process of eliminating poverty.

It is my hope that you too can also be motivated by this video, empowering you to take action in the world around you. There are countless, creative ways to get involved in the community. Just go for it!

-Ambassador Amanda

How did this video motivate you? What are things that bother in your community that you want to change? How can you be part of a movement that is part of that change

Spring Break at the Ronald McDonald House

17 Oct

Some of my fellow teammates with Alternative Spring Break 2014.

Here we are planting colorful flowers in the serenity garden.

All throughout high school, I had been involved in community service in a multitude of ways. From Key Club, to Interact Club, to class office and ASB, there was always a way I could serve my community through these organizations. Moving to Fresno from Hollister was a huge, yet exciting transformation for me, however, getting involved in my new community was a bit of a challenge because I had no clue where to start. I finally found my niche in this community, unexpectedly, in Spring break ’13. When I accidentally stumbled upon the Alternative Spring Break program, I decided to apply. The application was followed by an interview, and before I knew it I had been assigned to the Ronald McDonald House. The Ronald McDonald is a foundation that provides a  temporary living space for families who have a child(ren) in the  hospital for serious conditions. This program runs mostly through  volunteers. Without volunteers, this organization may not be as  successful as it is today. As a team, each day we prepared meals for  the families staying there, cleaned, planted a garden and conducted  activities that the children could participate in. Something like this was unlike many of the places I have served at, because while we were there, we got to meet many of the families and even got to know some of them on a more personal level.

Families can use the serenity garden as a space for reflection or to relax after a long day of being with their ill child.

The reason this experience made such an impact on me was because on the surface, I was unable to see the struggles of the families that were there. I had not known why their child was in the hospital, what their financial situation was, or how long they were going to be there. I was simply there to make their lives a tiny bit easier, because although it may not seem like it at first, having a meal already prepared for a parent when they come back after a long day at the hospital can lessen one worry out of the millions they may have. For me, it was amazing to see how the children of a sick sibling tried to stay strong for eachother and their parents on the surface; and even more so how strong many of the parents and family members appeared. I was astonished by one of the fathers, who had already been there for a couple of months with his family, was still trying to make memories with his other children despite what they were going through. He took pictures and laughed with each of his children at all our events, including the Easter egg hunt we put on. Someone with that much perseverance reminded me why I love community service so much and how it is so essential to give your time to someone else who might need it.

ronald-mcdonald-house-charitiesVolunteering at the Ronald McDonald House helped me regain my passion for service, and opened many doors for me, including my position as a Richter Center Ambassador, in which I can now help other students find their niche in this large community. For those of you who didn’t know, the Alternative Spring Break program is every spring break and you can start applying Spring Semester!  If you are interested in volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House, contact (559) 261-3660 for available dates. I highly recommend both of these!

Have you been wanting to get involved in community service (on campus or off) but don’t know where to start? Come check out the Richter Center in the Thomas Building and we can help you!

What is your favorite thing about community service?

What sparks that passion for you?

-Ambassador Alex

Photos courtesy of Fresno State Alternative Spring Break Facebook

My Service at St. Agnes Medical Center

9 Oct
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“On a mission to heal mind, body, and spirit” – St. Agnes Medical Center

I have always  been fascinated about the idea of volunteering in a hospital, and this summer I decided to do something about it! One of our former Ambassadors, Daniel, submitted a blog post about the wonders of a long-term service project and really inspired me to commit to this one. I chose to apply to the volunteer program at St. Agnes Medical Center here in Fresno. Because three of my younger brothers were born there, St. Agnes has always been a magical place to me, reminding me of warm sisterly memories and new life! I have a few close friends who volunteer there or have volunteered there in the past. Also, as a Speech-Language Pathology major, I may choose to work in the hospital setting someday, so gaining experience would be beneficial.

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Excellent service is a must at St. Agnes!

I applied and was promptly contacted by the service coordinator who informed me of an upcoming orientation. A group of wise, energetic ladies trained me, and I was inspired by their stories of life-long service.
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What’s on the menu today?

After receiving my fancy badge,  I chose the section of the hospital where I would like to volunteer. I began in Nutrition Services, where I use a tablet to collect menu orders from patients.The fabulous diet clerks Wanda and Debbie direct me to the section of the hospital that needs to be addressed, and I cheerily go room-to-room taking orders. I have found that I absolutely LOVE the patient contact. I get the whole range of patients, from the older gentlemen discussing the healing powers of apple pie, to awesome women who have just popped out babies and need to renew their energy! Countless times, I have long talks with  patients, giving them a chance to visit (or vent), and gaining invaluable advice.

Because I loved volunteering so much, I decided to take on another role in another part of the hospital: the patient escort service! St. Agnes Hospital is a maze. Patients really appreciate being led to important destinations like waiting rooms for surgical procedures, testing services, MRI’s, and more. I can reassure them before their procedure, whether with interesting hospital info or kind small-talk, or even just lend them a smile. The people who work at patient admissions have adopted me, and I feel very supported and helpful in this position as well.

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Hello! May I escort you? At the very least, take a smile; they’re free!

Perhaps you feel called to volunteer in a hospital? Let me share some benefits: first of all, the super cute and comfortable outfit, official name badge with hospital codes and more (so you’re in the know), you get the ability to pick your time and station that you’d like to serve at, and most importantly, you are an integral part of the patients’ experience. I absolutely love volunteering at St. Agnes, and look forward to a long term of service!
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The chapel at St. Agnes is a perfect place for quiet reflection on service done well.

Consider volunteering with me! Check out the volunteer website for more information, or contact Cathy Mayer, the volunteer coordinator, at cathy.mayer@samc.com with more specific questions.
How do you think volunteers can help make hospital stays more cheerful experiences?
Where would you be willing to commit to a long-term service project? What gets you excited to serve?
~Ambassador Lilliana

Just a Thought…

3 Oct

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” -William James

Stress

It’s that time of year again: midterms are upon us. Personally, I have been swamped with tests and quizzes, all falling within the same week or even on the same day. Talking with my friends and seeing the look on students’ faces around campus, I can see that I am not alone. Everyone is battling with stress in one form or another. With all the thoughts of studying, papers, and projects, I felt myself becoming overwhelmed with all my commitments and responsibilities. My mind was racing, consumed with anxiety. But, what if instead of wasting my thoughts on worrying, I focused on how I can help others cope with their stressors? Stress is everywhere, from worrying about where your next meal is coming from to your physics test on Thursday. However, you can be the person who helps someone deal with that stress, whether it be volunteering to serve a meal or sending an encouraging text. What if we quit worrying about ourselves and chose to think about others? We could stop complaining about our stress and respond to the hardship of another instead. We could support each other through challenging times and celebrate when we’ve done well. Don’t you think that would make your day better if you chose one thought over another? How will you direct your thoughts this week?

-Ambassador Heather

[Image courtesy of Dr. Tim Lind]

One More Way to Make a Difference

1 Oct

In a previous blog post, I wrote about an opportunity to get involved on this campus by joining Camp Kesem Fresno State. Because this is our first year, we are learning and growing, so I wanted to give you all an update about it.

As a recap, Camp Kesem Fresno State is one of many chapters across the United States that is geared towards helping kids ages 6 through 16 who have or had a parent that was affected by cancer. The chapter has various responsibilities, and we break up into committees in order to achieve our goal of sending these kids to camp in the summer of 2015.

You have an opportunity to be a part of this chapter and help these kids too! You can either be involved by heading a committee as a coordinator or by choosing to be a member of one of the following committees:

OPERATIONS

  • Create and manage a budget
  • Manage the plan for all camp programming
  • Search for a camp facility and communicate needs to the campsite for the week of camp

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

  • Recruit campers and maintain communication with families
  • Maintain community partnerships for camper and professional staff recruitment

DEVELOPMENT

  • Initiate and maintain relationships with foundations/corporations/organizations
  • Develop and execute on-campus and off-campus fundraising strategy
  • Manage private donor solicitation, donation processing, and relations

VOLUNTEER

  • Develop and implement student volunteer recruitment strategy and manage any volunteer events throughout the year
  • Recruit counselor applicants and manage the selection process
  • Develop and implement counselor training program, including all logistics, planning of sessions, guest facilitators, completion of online assignments, etc.
  • Develop and implement Counselor Debriefing Program

MARKETING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS

  • Manage development and maintenance of Camp Kesem website and social media presence
  • Assist other coordinator positions with event publicity
  • Manage efforts to obtain media coverage for the camp project

Please consider becoming involved with Camp Kesem Fresno State even if it’s just by spreading the word. Sadly, almost everyone can relate to cancer by either having gone through it, seen someone close suffer from it, or know someone who is affected by it. Camp Kesem can be a way to make this horrible disease seem less daunting by improving the lives of those who are affected by it.

For more information on how to get involved with Camp Kesem, please contact, fresnostate@campkesem.org.

-Ambassador Amanda

Mission Possible: Fresno State’s Food Recovery Network

29 Sep
Volunteers are ready to serve delicious recovered food! Photo credit: Fresno State FRN Facebook page

Volunteers are ready to serve delicious recovered food! Photo credit: Fresno State FRN Facebook page

Every Friday, a group of Fresno State students  from our new chapter of the Food Recovery Network is given an incredible, not-so-secret mission: help combat hunger in Fresno! They split up and strategically collect food that, under normal conditions, would have been thrown away. This is yummy cuisine that has been prepared, but never served, from restaurants and vendors around Fresno. There is a time frame in which the students may recover the food from various locations (including, but not limited to produce from a local farmer’s market, DiCicco’s, Dusty Buns, and Fresno State’s University Dining Hall). Once all the food has been collected, they then reconvene at St. Paul’s Catholic Newman Center, and are charged with the next portion of their mission: to prepare a meal from the delicious victuals they’ve recovered. A team of committed volunteers from the Newman Center and the Fresno State students creates a menu and cooks up a storm! In the end, anyone is welcome to a free hot meal, at 6:30 pm Friday night, in the cafeteria at the Newman Center.

Recovered produce from the farmer's market will go to hungry Fresno residents! Photo credit: Fresno State FRN Facebook page

Recovered produce from the farmer’s market will go to hungry Fresno residents! Photo credit: Fresno State FRN Facebook page

I have been volunteering at the Friday night dinners since they began this past summer. They require a lot of work; we have anywhere from 50-80 dinner guests per week! As I’ve volunteered, I have gained a lot of experience with food preparation, as well as learned more and more about the issue of food insecurity in our valley, and in the Fresno area. On an even smaller scale, I learned that 1 in every 3 Fresno State Students is “food insecure”. That is too many hungry students! Luckily, I can assure you that those in positions of leadership on our campus have been meeting and developing ideas for a brighter future for our hungry students, and students are encouraged to keep ears open for news of new programs and supports.
The Food Recovery Network at Fresno State has already begun making waves; we’ve even made it in the media!
Many guests enjoy a fun Friday night meal. Photo credit: Fresno State FRN Facebook page

Many guests enjoy a fun Friday night meal. Photo credit: Fresno State FRN Facebook page

Bright ideas and inspiration are always encouraged, and student volunteers are welcome! You can see the steps to becoming an active volunteer here, and contact directors Dr. Janine Nkosi and Dr. Sarah Whitley, or President Rose Cardoso for more information. At the very least, please join us for dinner one Friday night. We don’t want any food to go to waste!
How can you complete the mission to solve Fresno’s hunger problem?
~Ambassador Lilliana

Fresno State’s Food Recovery Network

25 Sep

“Fresno County reported above the national average on hunger at 22% of families struggling with hunger. Geographically we live in the hub of agriculture that grows enough food to feed the nation.” - Fresno State Food Recovery Network

With such a great issue, many wonder: is there anyone doing anything about it? Well, great news! Our very own Fresno State Students have jumped on board and have become a chapter for the Food Recovery Network (FRN). Now partnering with Fresno State’s University Dinning Hall, local restaurants, and farmer’s markets, the FRN is helping people who are food insecure in the Fresno Community.  Fresno State’s Food Recovery Network is proud to say we have recovered over 38,674 pounds of food to date. Amazing! Well, now it is your turn to jump on board. The Fresno State’s FRN will be tabling this Saturday, September 27, 2014 at the Health and Wellness fair on the Fresno State campus.  Come to the event to learn more about FRN and several other heath and wellness initiatives.

Watch this short clip on Fresno State’s food recovery efforts.

Do you know any community restaurants that will be willing to partner with the food recovery network? Contact the Food Recovery Network at frnfresnostate@gmail.com!

– Ambassador/FRN Event Coordinator Evelyn

Food For Thought…

6 May

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

-Winston Churchill

 

Winston Churchill’s quote reflects exactly a lesson that the Ambassadors try to promote: we, as volunteers, not only help others through community service, but we grow as individuals as well. Community service shouldn’t be something that we do to fluff up a resume or are required to complete in order to pass a class. Service can help everyone explore their interests in life, find a future in a career, or learn leadership skills that can’t be taught anywhere else. Finding service experiences that overlap with your personal interests can make that experience all the more meaningful for you and the community partner.

 

My own service experiences have helped me develop and narrow my career path while teaching me valuable life lessons that I can take with me wherever I go. What have been your favorite service experiences? What lessons has service taught you about life in general? If you are looking for a service opportunity, but are having trouble finding one suited to your interests, come by the Richter Center in Thomas Building room 107.

 

This video has been posted through multiple social media sites, but if you haven’t seen it, it is quite the inspirational watch. We can all take a lesson from Churchill and this video that the things we learn and receive in life are the result of what we give.

So, what about you?  How have you grown through service?  What have you gained by giving to others?

-Ambassador Alexi

Walking the Walk

1 May

As a Richter Center Ambassador, I am charged with the honorable duty of sharing the value and importance of service to the community among my peers at Fresno State.  With this responsibility comes a certain degree of freedom to spread my passion for service work and the avenue which I most often find myself taking is one in which my actions speak louder than my words.  I was raised to believe that, at the end of the day, it is that which a man or woman has accomplished in the pursuit of some higher purpose  that speaks for itself, not the explanations, excuses, or promises to do better next time that should do the talking.

bdogpantryWhen I speak with students , clubs and organizations on campus, or faculty/staff/administration about the need for active volunteerism in and around the Fresno community I always stress that while it is a good start to think about ways in which you can serve and “try on” (so to speak) a few service sites, some of the most rewarding service work comes from a sustained commitment to one or two organizations.  I find that many of my favorite, most enriching experiences as a volunteer have come from my on-going commitment to the Bulldog Food Pantry.  The Pantry provides food for more than 200 families every week and every weekend volunteers from the Fresno State community gather to pack bags of food and distribute them to our many clients.   I get a sense of satisfaction every Friday afternoon, when I join the truck convoy that picks up the food from the Community Food Bank and delivers to the Pantry because I realize that my efforts, insignificant as they are in the grand scheme of the benevolent machine that is the Pantry, are appreciated by many.  My available time to volunteer at the Pantry has decreased as the years go by, but I still make it a point to lend a hand whenever and wherever possible because I believe in the work of the Pantry and I want the world to become as passionate as I am about their mission.  I choose to ‘walk the walk’ and find it to be very satisfying.

Now, as a word of encouragement: Let your actions sing your praises as a leader in service!  Take pride in the fact that you are a leader in community engagement!  Know that your generosity and selflessness are directly benefitting and improving the lives’ of your fellow Fresnans (and beyond)!  As Jan and Bud Richter, whose philanthropy and desire to instill positive change in the Fresno community by providing a means for students at Fresno State to learn firsthand the importance of being a champion of service, said during the dedication ceremony of the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning in November of 2007, “We believe that this Center will help foster a set of values and habits in Fresno State students that are similar to the motto that we have tried to live by, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.”  What is implied here, of course, is that action must be taken to ‘do unto others’.  So what are you waiting for?  Find that special place to serve that enriches your life and brings you satisfaction, then keep up the good work!

For more information about the Bulldog Pantry, feel free to email us at thebulldogpantry@gmail.com.

What is your service passion?  Where do you like to regularly volunteer your time in order to make an impact?

-Ambassador Daniel

A Service-Learning Adventure

25 Apr

When I got the opportunity to participate in the Fiji 2014 Service-Learning Adventure last January, I was impacted in ways I never thought possible. I began my journey expecting to give to the people of Naboutini and improve their lives, but in reality, by the end of the week, I felt like they had given more to me than I could return.

Being a culture that is centered on relationships, mutual aid, and togetherness, the people of the village expressed a need for a place to meet, socialize, eat, give medicine, and house visitors. We were able to meet that need by funding and helping them finish a beautiful hall in the center of the village. However, the giving did not stop there. Coming into the village, we too expressed a desire to live amongst the people of Naboutini and learn from them, and they exceeded our every expectation, giving us more and teaching us more then I could have ever predicted.

Children of Naboutini embrace Heather.

Children of Naboutini embrace Heather.

The people of Naboutini that I met and built relationships with mostly taught me about how to treat others. Despite their lack of material things, they exhibited the most hospitality I had ever experienced. They gave us a place to live, more food than we could eat, and someone to guide us through the area, everyday activities, and Fijian customs. The people of Naboutini were also some of the most welcoming and kind people that I had ever met who embraced us into their community. They constantly taught us about their home and culture. Many invited us on adventures in fishing, snorkeling, hiking to waterfalls, dancing, fan weaving, horseback riding, grogging, and many more. The embracing and loving attitudes of the Fijians made me feel at home in a matter of days and showed me how important it is to treat people with such compassion.

In addition to learning about others, through this adventure, I learned a great deal about myself. I recognized my ability to handle rough circumstances and different living situations as long as I maintain a positive attitude. This experience of immersion in the Fijian village taught me that I could thrive in new places and situations despite them being so much different than to what I am accustomed to.

This service-learning adventure in Fiji gave me new perspectives in the areas of service, community, self-awareness, and international travel. I was able to give a little something to a village in need and gain new friends, thoughts, and viewpoints. International service is a truly rewarding way to travel where you can really learn about the place and the people.

I had such a life-changing experience in Fiji and you can too! Apply for the Fiji 2015: Intergenerational Service-Learning Adventure! The deadline is this TODAY, April 25th at 3pm. For more information, contact Chris Florentino, chrisf@csufresno.edu559.278.7079 or Continuing and Global Education, 559.278.0333.

You can also check out this post, this postthis post, and this post, by my fellow Ambassadors on information about other international service opportunities.

-Ambassador Heather

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