Interview with Hannah Poore

23 Feb
SERVE Committee Member Hannah Poore

SERVE Committee Member Hannah Poore

This post is different from some of the ones I’ve have done in the past. Today, I’m sharing an interview with one of my peers in the Richter Center Student Leadership (RCSL) team. Hannah Poore has been a part of RCSL group for one year where she has been a member of the SERVE Committee.  Here is a little insight into her sweet journey with us. Thanks, Hannah, for contributing your story to our blog!

What’s your major and career goal? 

My major is Mass Communications and Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations, and I’m minoring in Sociology. My career goal is to do public relations for a socially-minded company whose cause I love and support and want to spread the word of!

Hannah Poore with fellow SERVE Committee members (Sharon Leyva and Cora Cha) help out at the Spring Community Service Opportunities Fair.

Hannah Poore with fellow SERVE Committee members (Sharon Leyva and Cora Cha) help out at the Spring Community Service Opportunities Fair.

What role do you play in RCSL?

For the SERVE Committee, I’m on the Public Relations and Marketing Committee. I create content for social media, help to make flyers advertising our one-day service events, and spread the word about our service events to media sources like the Bulldog Blog and the Collegian in order to make volunteers aware of the opportunity.

How did you hear about this group?

I heard about RCSL in [a class], from [RCSL members].  Specifically, Alexi Kimura encouraged me to attend a Richter Center Ice Cream Social at the end of my freshman year, and when I met the RCSL team there, I knew I wanted to join and work with them on their awesome service events.

What has been your favorite part about being part of this team?

My favorite part about being on this team has been getting to know the girls! I look forward to our weekly meetings, and I’ve made some really special friendships through RCSL. Yay!

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Hannah and her RSCL friends at the annual Richter Center Student Leader Retreat! Photo credit- Hannah

Why RCSL?

I joined this team because I’m passionate about service and making the world a better place, and all of you (SERVE, Richter Center in general) are too!  It’s amazing!  I love being around such positive and helpful people! It is so refreshing, and it’s wonderful to see our team’s work paying off at service events. I also love spreading the joy of service to others, like volunteers who attend our service events or people I talk to at tabling events, because it really is such a source of joy in my life, that I want others to know about it!

Have you considered being a part of the Richter Center Student Leadership group? If you want more information, please contact us fresnostaterca@gmail.com.

-Ambassador Amanda

Register for Kids Day!

23 Feb

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[Image Courtesy of Fresno State Kappa Kappa Gamma]

Each year, Fresno street corners are alive with people selling the “Kids Day” edition of the Fresno Bee for $1 in hopes of raising money for Valley Children’s Hospital. Last year, 1,400 Fresno State students raised more money than any other single entity (school, business, or even small cities) in the Valley with a total of over $43,000!

You too can serve the children and families of Valley Children’s by participating in this year’s Kid’s Day on Tuesday March 3, 2015. You can sell papers, spread the word, and/or buy a paper from students around campus. Hopefully, we will surpass last year and raise even more money! Be a part of this special event, serve your community, and have fun!

It’s not too late! Registration closes February 27th so don’t hesitate! Click to register!

-Ambassador Heather

My Service Story

20 Feb

 

In the past year, I have been volunteering at the Fresno Rescue Mission serving meals to the less fortunate. My experience at the Fresno Rescue Mission has been wholesome, and more recently, it has been an unforgettable one. Not long ago, a member of the organization going through the rehabilitation program asked me, “Why do you volunteer?” My explanation should have been simple, but I struggled to express the answer in the correct words because there were no words to explain the feelings and emotions I felt when I volunteered. I thought to myself, “I enjoy helping others because it is a rewarding experience, to be a part of something beyond simply serving food to one individual.” I am that one small push towards change for the better because “even the smallest person can change the course for the future” (J.R.R. Tolkien). It has been inspirational to see multiple people in the program grow as individuals from when they entered to when they finished. Being a part of that initial change has been a reward in itself.

A large percentage of families in Fresno live in poverty, and Fresno is known to hold one of the largest populations of homeless people. Although Fresno is ranked among the top cities to be the most impoverished in the nation, many people are unaware of the growing problems or disregard the existence of poverty and homelessness. Unfortunately, it is difficult to help families move above the poverty line; however, I believe that we can try and improve the current conditions that we are faced with. People who have never witnessed homelessness often have difficulties comprehending the reality and the struggles homeless people face. I cannot say that I have experienced a similar situation, but being exposed to it has helped me become more thankful and more willing to extend a helping hand to the community.

So, why do I volunteer? When I volunteer I feel selfless and it takes me away from my busy schedule. Although I always seem to be stressed-out with school, volunteering has been a stress-reliever. By volunteering at the Fresno Rescue Mission, I learned more about the Fresno community, gained communication skills, and met amazing people. It makes me so joyful knowing that a simple gesture such as serving a meal can make an impact, more than I realized. It is the small things in life that make all of the difference. I guess what I am trying to say is that I volunteer because I believe at some point everyone is in need of help, and if I am capable of being a part of the help, I will do what I can to be of assistance.

Consider serving-a-meal with me, it is a simple application and orientation. Think about what you can do to help others and what impact you can make in the community. What will you do today to make your community a better place? How has service impacted your life? How has service been rewarding for you? But, most of all: WHY DO YOU VOLUNTEER?

~Ambassador Nicole

Have You Found Your Music?

5 Feb

Sometimes during the crazy life of being a college student (or whatever is making your life crazy) you need to take time and read a children’s book. Trust me, your day could turn out to be better just because you got to escape into a quick, cute story with lots of pictures! I read a children’s book last year that I have since added to my favorite children’s book list. I like this book so much that whenever I give presents to people who are in their earlier years, I give them this book. Why do I love this book? There are two main reasons.  First, the artwork in the book just makes me happy.  When I look at it, I just go “WOW.”  The second reason is because the message of the story still sticks with me, motivating me to keep going, keep trying, and keep serving.

The book is called Giraffes Can’t Dance. The story follows a Giraffe named Gerald whose legs bend in a different way, causing him to have some troubles walking. Each year, all the animals in the jungle come together for a dance party. Gerald always feels so awkward because he tries and tries and he just can’t get the hang of dancing, and all the other jungle animals laugh at him. One night after being completely embarrassed at the dance party, Gerald goes into a clearing in the jungle and looks up to the moon. That’s when his new friend the cricket comes up to him and asks him what is wrong. Gerald says to the cricket with a very sad face that all the other animals say he just can’t dance. That’s when the cricket suggests that maybe Gerald hasn’t found the right music yet. The cricket then plays his violin and suddenly Gerald is the best dancer in the whole jungle. All of his jungle friends come and look in awe over what Gerald can do. Gerald found music that he loved, helping him to become a great dancer.

I think that Gerald’s story of finding his music correlates to me and my service story. When I first came to Fresno State I couldn’t find anywhere to serve that felt right. I kept feeling this way until I found Alternative Spring Break and Saturday Sports! Both these programs had me working with children, playing sports, making art projects, and creating a safe place for kids in the Fresno community to play. I found service work that I could actually do and do a good job at it! I truly felt that not only was I giving back, my service work was giving back to me. I found service work that made my heart smile.

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Alternative Spring Break 2013

Sometimes you try and try and you just don’t feel like you have found where you need to serve, you feel out of place, you might even begin to think that you can’t even give back at all.  But, my friend, that is so not the case – you just haven’t found your music yet! Just like how Gerald found his music, you will find a place to serve and you will thrive. Don’t worry if you haven’t found yours yet, KEEP TRYING!  You might be wondering where to start.  There is a fabulous resource on campus that can act as your cricket and give you service opportunities that you would have never thought of!  Stop by the Richter Center in the Thomas Building, Room 107. I also encourage you to sign up for the by-weekly service newsletter The Epicenter, this resource is filled with all kinds a different opportunities. Try different things out. These two resources can surely get you on your track of finding your service.

Have you found your music that YOU love? Have you ever volunteered or served somewhere that you didn’t expect that you would like, but did? Are you currently serving the community? Have you ever been into the Richter Center?

- Ambassador Ludie Olenchalk

Fiji is a Life

3 Feb

Eyes flutter open. You see a cloud of white mesh all around. You feel thoroughly sticky and quite katakata (hot), but these are sensations you’ve come to embrace. You close your eyes once more, reflecting on your last memories before falling asleep: Fijian lullabies from the nearby community hall with the ocean gently singing along. Your stomach tells you that you drank too much grog last night, but you don’t care. Rays of light beckon you through the cracks in the door and wooden window shades, as the sun whispers, “come look.” So, snatching your sulu (wraparound skirt) and journal, you hop over sleeping girls and exit the little house to sparkling waves, white sand, sea breeze, and a glorious sunrise. You know in just a little while the village will wake up and you’ll hear friendly voices saying Yadra sia, good morning. What will the day hold?

Chris and Maika are hard at work. Photo credit: Jes Therkelsen.

Chris and Maika are hard at work. Photo credit: Jes Therkelsen.

Perhaps horseback riding, crafting with joyful children, dancing, sawing wood, nailing cabinets,  going to the sea, jumping off a rope swing, painting the community center, snorkeling, finding spidery starfish, whistling to hermit crabs, weaving mats, cracking open a coconut by means of machete, singing with a famous band, reflecting with a teammate, showering in a waterfall, napping in a hammock on the beach, hauling rocks from a river to make an irrigation trough, frying up some ro-ro (my favorite Fijian food) or delicious fresh fish, starting a spontaneous limbo game, eating the most succulent pineapple of your life from Balei’s garden, singing and praying in church, drinking round after round of grog (water strained through ground yaqona root which provides a tongue-numbing sensation and a deep calm), and gazing at a sky full of stars before climbing under your net to sleep.

Kylie and Maddie enjoy pineapple from Balei's garden. Photo credit: Jes Therkelsen

Kylie and Maddie enjoy pineapple from Balei’s garden. Photo credit: Jes Therkelsen

“Fiji is a life.”

This brief song lyric, written by my friend Inoke from the band, embodies our experience on the Fiji Service-Learning Adventure 2015 all too well. Beyond the exciting activities that fellow Fresno State students, a few faculty, and I experienced in Naboutini, Fiji was an exhilarating embrace from the villagers and an immersion in their beautiful culture of patience, overwhelming love of neighbor, and kindheartedness. There was an absence of the anxieties of our materialistic, time-obsessed world, replaced by a genuine concern for the well-being of the community. I will never forget the new “life” and perspective these Fijians gave me during my time in the village.

Singing "Fiji" with the band, Drodrolagi kei nautosolo. Photo credit: Chris Fiorentino

Singing “Fiji” with the band, Drodrolagi kei nautosolo. Photo credit: Chris Fiorentino

The trip did require, admittedly, quite a bit of endurance and perseverance against the heat, humidity, unfriendly insects and adjustments to a new way of life (diet, etc.). But I quickly found unfaltering joy amidst any slight discomfort, and proceeded to create incredible bonds with teammates and villagers alike.

The dream team! Photo credit: Chris Fiorentino

The dream team! Photo credit: Chris Fiorentino

It was incredible to discover that the most beautiful things on earth to one person can be commonplace to another. My breath was stolen at the wonders we saw while snorkeling, but our friend Jim just nonchalantly handed me sea cucumbers and bright blue starfish and couldn’t begin to fathom my wonder at his backyard coral reef. Also, Mere, our Fijian mother, must have thought we were overly dramatic during our cool, refreshing waterfall showers. The once-in-a-lifetime experience for us was her washing machine. She looked so beautiful, perched on a rock, scrubbing and rinsing her many sulus.

The lesson I took from my experience that I am bringing to Fresno is this: kindness must be a culture rather than a series of acts. The vastly different culture of Fiji stole my heart and broadened my perspective. From here forward in all aspects of my life and especially when serving others, I plan to be more intentional with my words and deeds and willing to make new connections.

Snorkeling! Photo credit: Cassie Niino

Snorkeling! Photo credit: Cassie Niino

The villagers showered me with love and incredible generosity and changed my life, but the question remains: how did I impact them? I brought guitar strings, water colors, crayons, and construction paper with some donations I was given beforehand, and they were received with gratitude. Many beautiful memories came from using these supplies. However, I feel like our team’s presence and willingness to serve meant the most. I loved the villagers back to my best ability. I loved their home, culture, music, lighthearted personalities, and traditions, and I carry that love in my heart still.

My Fiji experience has developed my heart for international service and broadened my worldview in the best way. I look forward to giving more love and employing the lessons I learned in future service endeavors.

Little Timoce was always watching and learning with those beautiful dark eyes. He'd get so joyful when I'd acknowledge him! Photo credit: Jordan Nicholson

Little Timoce was always watching and learning with those beautiful dark eyes. He’d get so joyful whenever I acknowledged him! Photo credit: Jordan Nicholson

Interested in international service? Check out Madventurer–we had smooth sailing with this incredible, inspiring organization. Also, for students, keep an eye on the Division of Continuing and Global Education for upcoming opportunities, or contact the Richter Center to answer any questions regarding volunteering, community engagement, and service-learning.

Life is short; the world is a vast place. How will you step outside your comfort zone to share your time and talents? What need do you see here at home that you can fill? Would you consider international service?

~Ambassador Lilliana

Recipe for Giving

26 Nov
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Time to give thanks and share what we have! Photo credit: Cyrano Blog Lemonde

The United States sets aside a day for giving thanks annually, and this Thursday families from all across the nation will be sitting around the dinner table to a turkey dinner in the spirit of giving thanks. Before you sit around the dinner table with family and friends this year, take the time to consider those who do not have the privilege of a home-cooked meal. You have the ability to provide them with a reason to be grateful. A simple gesture may brighten someone’s day. Perhaps you are unable to provide them a turkey dinner around the dinner table, but here is a recipe you can give:

Ingredients:

  • Prepare/purchase a meal for a homeless person (1 cup)
  • Volunteer at a local church (1 teaspoon)
  • Clean out your closet and donate unused items (4 oz)
  • Write a thank you letter (1 gallon)
  • Make blankets for the homeless (1 tablespoon)
  • Donate food to local food banks (the more lbs the better)
  • Dash of giving
  • Pinch of thanks

*Add the ingredients to your own preference. The recipe above may not be entirely edible but is guaranteed to feed your soul.

For more ingredients please visit the Richter Center. Or read this post by Ambassador Shola with more ideas on giving back during the holidays. The opportunities for giving are endless!

What are you thankful for?  How do you give back?  What is your recipe?  What other ingredients can we add to our recipe?

-Ambassador Juan

FINALS ARE COMING!

24 Nov

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It is that time of year, when decorations are everywhere, holiday music is playing, and food becomes the greatest gift of all. However, I am not talking about the holidays. I am talking about finals week. With finals around the corner and with so many distractions around, it is difficult to stay focused. Here are a few tips to remember while studying for finals:

  1. Snack while you study.
    It is important to eat healthy snacks while you study, not only for your own health but it will also improve your ability to focus.
  1. Sleep.
    Although many people pull all-nighters before exams, it is very important to be well rested before a final to better maintain all the information.
  1. Take Breaks.
    It is important to study at your own pace. But to better maintain the information you are learning, study in intervals.

That being said, what study habits will you use to study for finals? What’s your favorite study snack? Are you ready?

Good Luck!

~Ambassador Nicole

[Image Courtesy of SodaHead]

Raising Awareness for Hunger and Homelessness

17 Nov

Fresno State students volunteer to raise awareness about hunger and homelessness. Photo Courtesy of: Food Recovery Network

As the holidays approach, individuals take the time to reflect about what they are thankful for and are often more willing to donate food, some of their time, and attention to those less fortunate. Because people are filled with the spirit of thankfulness and giving back, the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign against Hunger and Homelessness sets aside the week prior to Thanksgiving every year to sponsor the National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. During this week, more than 750 high schools, universities and community groups all across the nation unite to raise awareness about hunger and homelessness. This year, NHHAW will take place November 17th-22nd on our campus.  Fresno State will be participating in NHHAW through the engagement of service learning classes, clubs and organizations in different events and activities to bring awareness to these social issues in the nation, California and the San Joaquin Valley.

Your participation in the National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week will not only help raise awareness for the community, but can help build your leadership skills as you collaborate with your friends, classmates and other student leaders.  Collectively, we can work to eliminate the myth that hunger and homelessness are inevitable in our society and instead realize that ending hunger and homelessness is attainable.

I encourage you or your organization to participate in the National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. You might know someone who is affected by hunger or homelessness. You might know someone who knows someone who is affected by these issues. Regardless, think about why this week is important and the impact your service can have on our community.

What ideas do you have that can help raise awareness about hunger and homelessness?

If you cannot donate your time, what else can you do to end hunger and homelessness?

~Ambassador Juan

Kindness: Spread the Word & Spread the Love

12 Nov

What does it mean to be kind? What are some ways to show kindness? Well, let me tell you what I know about kindness. An act of kindness does not have to be big to be considered great or significant because the smallest acts and gestures could make the biggest difference. I think we could all agree on this. However, how can you do acts of kindness when we do not have time because we work, go to school, and have all these activities going on? I understand that the lack of time is a problem for many people who would like to participate in service efforts. This is one of the reasons why I love the idea of contributing to all kinds of service efforts in a variety of ways in a campaign effort that starts today: Random Acts of Kindness Week (RAK Week).

Random Acts of Kindness Week is taking place November 10 through November 15. Aside from promoting a culture of kindness on our campus, RAK week gives us the opportunity to serve others in a small but impactful way. The acts may be holding the door open to people, paying a compliment to a stranger, or just writing a note to a loved one, etc. There is a million things one can do, but if you need some ideas, you can always visit the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website.

Last year was my first year experiencing the effects that a small act of kindness could have on others. I saw people making an interaction with others that were complete strangers instead of being on their phone while waiting in line. Students let the staff and professors know they were appreciated. There were people buying Starbucks or a meal for the person that was behind them in line; kind notes were written and spread; people looked happy and cheerful.

This is just a great and huge service campaign that Fresno State gets to participate in, and we are part of it. We just have to take the initiative to spread kindness.

We have to let fear of the unknown go because “when we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”- The 14th Dalai Lama (1935)

So, with this said, what do you plan to do for your act of kindness? What act of kindness do you do on a daily basis? How could you help spread kindness?

-Ambassador Jazmin De La Torre

Service gave me a Purpose

10 Nov

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Ever since I was a little girl, I always dreamed of changing the world. However, I never understood how hard it would be to change the world by myself and that no matter how hard I tried to do something, changing the world would be something unrealistic. I started getting involved in community service in middle school and I enjoyed making a difference; the more I served the more I loved it.  I was serving at Poverello House—a community benefit organization that serves meals to those that are homeless and hungry—when I realized the reason why I loved doing service.

During this service experience, I spent two hours cutting tomatoes.  If you think about it, it does not sound like something fun to be doing or something that someone would love. The reason why this helped me realize why I loved doing community service was because I was contributing with a team to make someone’s day better. Someone was going to be able to have a meal for the day. This was the moment when I realized that the little girl’s dream was possible because I did not have to do something big to change the world since by doing small acts I was changing.  Doing community service does not mean you have to do something extravagant to make it great and worth it because the power of volunteering has to do with making a difference. The difference is not only for the place or person you are doing your service for, the difference is also for you. Through community service you grow as a person, and perhaps service could give you a purpose like it did for me. Remember sometimes the smallest acts, to us, mean life changing experience to others.

Now that you know my story and why I love service, what does service mean to you? How has community service impacted your life or someone’s life?

- Ambassador Jazmin De La Torre

Photo Credit: http://grownuptruth.com/everybody-can-be-great-because-anybody-can-serve/

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