Continuums of Service (COS) Experience

20 Apr
The Richter Center Ambassadors just before presenting at COS 2015 in Long Beach.

The Richter Center Ambassadors just before presenting at COS 2015 in Long Beach.

As Richter Center Ambassadors, it is our job to involve students in community engagement and service-learning. We are the resources, facilitators, promoters, and role models for community service, and it is our duty and passion to spread the word about the importance of service in any way that we can. For the past several years, Ambassadors have had the opportunity to share their work on a regional stage at the Annual Continuums of Service conference. our national community of civic engagement in the form of a presentation that we create in the weeks leading up to the conference.

Continuums of Service (COS) is a conference in which people from universities all over the western United States get to share their experiences of service-learning, and we can mindfully engage in the spirit of service. At Fresno State, students play a strong role in community engagement, and being able to share our success with others was an incredible experience. In our presentation, we spoke about the past, present, and future of the Richter Center Ambassadors. In other words, we explained what the Ambassadors consisted of when we were first established in 2008, how we transformed into what we are now, and what former Ambassadors have moved onto.

Many people who attended our presentation shared positive feedback and wanted advice from us on how they could improve their service based programs. All of this positive feedback reaffirmed my commitment to the Ambassador program. In order to create our presentation, we had to reflect on the work we had done during the course of our term in the Ambassador program. It really made me think of how much I have grown during my time with the Richter Center, and why I love what I do so much. Many of the people who attended the conference recognized us for the remainder of it because we did such a good job of portraying how important our individual roles are in engaging other students, faculty, and staff in service-learning.

Ambassador Alex (center) with her fellow Richter Center Student Leaders (Juan and Cora) at the Queen Mary in Long Beach.

Ambassador Alex (center) with her fellow Richter Center Student Leaders (Juan and Cora) at the Queen Mary in Long Beach.

If there is one thing I have learned, it is that the students that make up the Richter Center Ambassadors are passionate about what we do and that was clearly shown when we represented Fresno State at COS. Being able to articulate our service experiences to others is just as important as implementing them, I’m glad that I was able to do so with my fellow Ambassadors. Not only were we able to work as a team to present to others the importance of what we do, but we also got to learn from others at the conference as well and will continue to expand and improve our program. This was my first year attending COS, and I learned so much not only from the other presentations I attended, but also by working alongside my fellow ambassadors. I can’t wait until next year!

We are currently recruiting Ambassadors for the 2015-16 academic year (as well as Reflection Facilitators and SERVE Committee Members).  Applications are due this Friday at 12:00 PM.  Visit the recruitment section of this blog to download an application and learn more about each of the positions.

What do you love about service? How do you share your story?

-Ambassador Alex

Reflecting on Service: Through the Eyes of a Premedical Student

17 Apr

I wanted to reflect on my year of service and how the Ambassador program changed my perception of what service is. Before being a part of the Ambassador program, my service was limited to working in medical or clinical settings. For three years, I have been an active volunteer with the Saint Agnes Volunteer program. Working in a hospital setting allowed me to interact with people from different paths, incomes, and social/economic classes. However as time went on, I worried that I wasn’t making as much of an impact as I knew I could.

st.agnes

This led me to branch out and use service to explore and connect with different people. For the past month, I’ve been alternating working with Every Neighborhood Partnership’s Saturday Sports at Lincoln Elementary, Stellar Science at Fresno State, and passing out sandwiches to homeless people on the East side of Fresno. I was astounded by how eager people are to connect and share their pain, joy, and lives! Connecting with the homeless in east and downtown Fresno has given me so much insight on how other people make do with what they have. Simply taking an hour or two of my time has formed relationships with people I would never have in a hospital setting.

PBJ

Since medicine is my future career, working in other service avenues gives me skills and experiences that will definitely be invaluable to me as I continue on my path. I will have greater knowledge of the needs of different parts of the community as well as an understanding of how to best serve my patients.

If you are interested in working with any of the volunteer services I’ve mentioned, please check these links!

Saint Agnes Volunteering: http://www.samc.com/volunteering

Saturday Sports: http://everyneighborhood.org/process/#step-1

Passing out sandwiches: I wasn’t involved with an organization persay; I went to Walmart and bought PB&J sandwich supplies, encouraged my sisters to help me make and pack them and we drove around Fresno and passed them out! I highly encourage a buddy system if you would want to do this.

Stellar Science: https://sites.google.com/site/natscicsuf/events/stellar-science

How do you serve? Can you see your impact?

~Ambassador Shola

A SIGnificant Experience

15 Apr
Volunteers build a home for a family in need. Photo Courtesy of:  Fullerton Center Global Builder (http://www.fullercenter.org/global-builders/nicaragua)

Volunteers build a home for a family in need.
Photo Courtesy of: Fullerton Center Global Builder

As Ambassadors of the Richter Center one of our priorities is to ensure we are being role models for other students on campus. We are all passionate about service and as we work to share our experience with other students, some of us have the opportunity to embark on service opportunities. Not only do we want others to volunteer, but we must remind ourselves why we became Ambassadors in the first place. One of those reasons is our passion for serving others.

I am heavily involved with Greek Life at Fresno State. The Greek organization I have had the opportunity to be part of for three years, Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity—in partnership with the Fuller Center Global Builders program—provides an international service and cultural immersion program for its members called the SIG Experience. I will attend this educational experience as I travel to León, Nicaragua with some of my fraternity brothers. For a week we will provide hands-on assistance and build homes for families in need. The program is run in conjunction with the Fuller Center for Housing, a non-profit organization that builds and renovates homes internationally as a helping hand in partnership with those in need, not as a hand-out.

Housing for those in poverty is a major issue in the world today – more than 1 billion people worldwide live in substandard housing and an additional 100 million are homeless. There is a need for decent homes all over the world, and even right in our own communities. That’s why I have decided to try to help out by partaking in this build.

The SIG Experience will last from May 30 to June 5. We will spend the majority of the week working along-side the families and other local community members to build safe, decent, and affordable homes. In addition to building, we will also have the opportunity to take part in some cultural and community activities.

My personal service experience abroad is not the only case in which an Ambassador will take initiative to serve and create an impact at an international level. Ambassadors in the past have taken trips to El Salvador, Fiji, and many other destinations. (In fact, recruitment is currently underway for the Fiji 2016 international service-learning trip for Fresno State students.  Visit http://bit.ly/studytours for more info!)  They have used their service experience abroad and helped it reaffirm their commitment to service in our local communities. While it is important to be a factor of change in local communities, it is a beneficial opportunity to step outside our nation take a look at the bigger issues going on other less privileged areas and use that knowledge to solidify the work we do at a local level.

I have the opportunity to participate in an experience not many can make possible. The Ambassador program consists of student leaders who not only focus their efforts at a local level but also expand their service to the international community.

Have you considered serving abroad? Why serve internationally? What benefits do you think you can bring back and apply at a local level?

~Ambassador Juan Alejandre

Alternative Spring Break

23 Mar

Spring Break will approach soon for Fresno State students, and as you contemplate which beach you would like to visit, please keep in mind you have the ability to have an impact on the community. A week off in the middle of the semester can be the perfect getaway to reduce the stress accumulated throughout the semester. However, for a few days you can choose to focus your energy on a rewarding experience and personal growth.10523991_10153079687871151_1480004060896604643_n

This year will be the 7th consecutive year of the Alternative Spring Break program, and 30 students were selected to serve with two sites. These students will complete 20-25 community service hours, develop leadership skills through team building and communication, network with students and community organizations, and further personal and professional development. The two teams will work at the following sites:

Every Neighborhood Partnership (March 28 – March 31)

Team members will conduct a morning youth camp facilitating activities such as sports, games, and activities for children and families. In addition, they will participate in park beautifications and graffiti cleanup in neighborhoods.

GRID Alternatives Central Valley (March 30 – April 2)

Students on this team will gain hands–on experience and knowledge in renewable energy as this project will feature the installation of solar panels for two Fresno homes.

It’s inspiring to learn about these Fresno State students who will spend their spring break giving back.  Be sure to follow their work through Facebook.

What are you doing for spring break? Will it benefit the community? What other activities will you participate in to engage the community during the spring break?

~Ambassador Juan

Fresno State Blood Drive Competition

18 Mar

April Blood Drive Poster-01

Fresno State is known for its traditions, and one in particular has literally been saving lives: on-campus blood drives. For the last blood drive of the academic year, the school is doing something a little different: hosting a blood drive competition amongst the student clubs and organizations. The interested groups will sign up for a 2-hour shift at the time, day, & location of their choice. During this time frame as well as the 3-day period, the groups will recruit potential donors whether it be other classmates, professors, or even family members. The top 3 clubs/organizations with the most recruited donors win!

The interested groups are asked to email the head coordinator, Bianca Mancilla, at bmancilla@csufresno.edu by Wed, March 25th.

Nominate Now!

13 Mar
Nominate someone for Volunteer of the Year!

Nominate someone for Volunteer of the Year! Photo credit.

Do you know someone that loves to volunteer and should be recognized? Well, you are in luck! The Richter Center is now accepting nominations for the Volunteer of the Year award. This award is given to Fresno State students who have volunteered their time and efforts to better the community. Anyone can be nominated! Whether you are nominating someone else, yourself, or being nominated you can simply fill out this application. The applications are due to the Richter Center by Wednesday, March 25, 2015 before 5 p.m.

This is an awesome way to highlight the students of Fresno State that are committed to service. Moreover, it is a reminder to continue to serve. It is getting towards the end of the year where everyone is busy with midterms and sometimes we get so caught up in our work that we don’t take a break. Don’t get burnt out! Try to get out and volunteer instead. It doesn’t  matter how long, it still makes a difference. Don’t forget that if you are ever looking for a service activity, the Richter Center provides an endless amount of opportunities! Come by and check us out if you have any questions. We’re in the Thomas building room 107, or call us at 559-278-7079.

Who will you nominate and why? Have you ever volunteered recently?  Where is your favorite place to volunteer?

~Ambassador Nicole

Saving Lives, One Paper at a Time

11 Mar
Ambassadors were up  before the sun passing out papers and aprons to excited Bulldogs!

Ambassadors were up before the sun passing out papers and aprons to excited Bulldogs!

Each year, the city of Fresno puts on Kids Day as an effort to raise money for Valley Children’s Hospital. This year was a huge success; volunteers Valley-wide raised over $535,000, a new record! The Jan & Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement & Service-Learning organizes the portion of Kids Day where Fresno State students participate. Nearly 2,000 Fresno State students participated this year and raised over $44,000, which is slightly higher than last year and a substantial portion of the grand total! Numerous clubs and organizations participate in this event each year, and it has even become a competition for many of them—especially the fraternities. This year, out of all of the participating fraternities, Sigma Phi Epsilon raised the most money, over $5,000. The other top selling organization was Trabajadores de La Raza, who raised over $1,200.

Top sellers: Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and Trabajadores de La Raza!

Top sellers: Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and Trabajadores de La Raza!

Kids Day is one of the first community service events I participated in last year, when I was a freshman at Fresno State. Coming from the small town of Hollister, California, I remember thinking how amazing it was that so many people (students and local Fresnans) dedicated so much of their day to raise money for this amazing cause. Some people even start the night before, waiting hours at a corner so that they can hold their spot for the next day. Cora Cha, Fresno State Sophomore and member of the Richter Center SERVE committee, helped organize this event at Fresno State. Cha states,

“Kids Day is much more than raising money for Valley Children’s Hospital. It’s about the unity that brings the community together for the children in the hospital. It reveals the depth of what we can accomplish when we come together and take action.”

Cha’s words represent much of how I feel about Kids Day, and I’m sure many others feel the same. That is why this is such a successful annual event. This year, my role in Kids Day was behind the scenes as I distributed newspapers with my fellow Richter Center Student Leaders to other students. Being a part of this event on both sides of the spectrum was compelling because I got to see how important every role is in order to make an event successful. Seeing both students and the Fresno community come together to raise money for the Valley Children’s Hospital further ignited my passion for volunteerism and community service. I could not be more proud to be an advocate and student leader for community service; I can only hope that even more students were influenced by Kids Day!

Ambassadors celebrate a job well done!

Richter Center Student Leaders celebrate a job well done!

What is your favorite annual event? What organization would you want to promote city-wide?

~Ambassador Alex

A Fortunate Meeting

5 Mar Levine Inspiration
Philip Levine Photo credit: Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Philip Levine. Photo credit: Jim Wilson/ New York Times

It’s curious sometimes just how quickly interesting people can come and go in one’s life, and even more compelling how service can provide a framework for these exchanges. This is how I felt upon meeting Mr. Philip Levine.

It was early and gray the morning of January 23, 2015. I was fresh off my Fiji trip with that new joy for service in my soul. I was determined to share some of it as I went from room to room taking meal orders in my classy volunteer garb. Every time I volunteer at St. Agnes I meet at least one person who likes to stop and share advice or stories between meal-planning, and this day, it was Philip Levine. He seemed to be just an average patient, but he intrigued me somehow.

After we’d planned his simple meal, we somehow got on the subject of travel, or perhaps culture first, I can’t remember. I told him a bit about serving in Fiji, and he nonchalantly mentioned all the places he’s been (which were so many I can hardly recall them now). I’m 100% Portuguese, and so he told me tales of the beauty of Portugal, and highly recommended that I travel there. He collaborated with a Portuguese man on a book of poetry once. “You’re a POET?!” I exclaimed, a little too excitedly, “where can I buy some of your works?” (His heart would begin to beat too hard at intervals, and he’d have to stop, breathe, and rest for a few minutes, the pulsing in his neck was visible and very rapid, but I was patient. I felt that I brought a bit too much energy.) He said no need, and he gave me one of his books on the spot! It was titled “News of the World.” He continued his story, but throughout, casually mentioned prizes, professorships, etc., as I marveled at his achievements and humility. He was a Pulitzer Prize winner and a professor emeritus at Fresno State, to name a few contributions. I was so inspired. I cracked open the book, and found a voice for the average soul, and in some particular ones, the Fresno soul. I asked him to sign it, and he did, although it was a visible struggle. I thanked him, and we chatted a bit more, but soon I could see he needed rest and I needed to curb my curiosity. I bid him good bye and get well.

Levine Inspiration

Sometimes, you walk out of a hospital room subconsciously accepting that you will probably never see a person again, whether by healing and return to the daily grind or by the final departure. Other times, it hits you.

It wasn’t until after he passed a few weeks ago that I learned just how influential Mr. Levine really was to Fresno State and the realm of poetry. How fortunate I was to chance to meet the man! He used his gift to turn our Fresno experience into art–a service indeed. He enjoyed jazz music, and collaborated with Dr. Benjamin Boone, a professor with a wonderful commitment to service-learning, in setting some of his works to music. The project is just about done, you can listen to some tracks here.  Dr. Boone described him as “spontaneous,” and said Levine “had a confidence in his work–in art–in our project that was refreshing.” I would have loved to have Levine as a professor here at Fresno State.

Service has brought me to bizarre places, introduced me to incredible people, and filled my life with so much meaning. This is just one instance of amazing learning and a fun connection I was given through first my excitement surrounding service abroad, and my actual presence as a St. Agnes volunteer. I won’t soon forget my fortunately-timed meeting with Philip Levine and his quiet, confident love of poetry that is such a beautiful contribution to our community.

Have you ever made an unforgettable connection at a service opportunity? Who has inspired you?

~Ambassador Lilliana

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

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