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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

Summer of Service

7 Mar

EmNic1It’s never too early to start thinking about what you will do with your summer break.  Last summer I had an incredible opportunity to go on a mission trip to Nicaragua. I will truly never forget the incredible relationships and special memories that I made. This trip has shaped the way I see global service, international politics, poverty, community, gratitude, happiness, and so much more. Serving in Nicaragua has certainly been one of the highlights of my life, and I would encourage everyone to go serve abroad.  Traveling to serve is one of the most rewarding and affordable ways to see the world. Don’t ever let money hold you back from going on a trip like this, because if it is something you are passionate about, you will be able to find people who will be passionate about helping you make it happen. My trip was made possible by grants that I received from the Friends for Civic Engagement and from the Division of Continuing and Global Education.

emNic2The organization that I went through, Students International, really does global service work the right way. They work closely with people of the country to understand what their needs are and how to best meet them. Each of the service teams are all led by Nicaraguans who helped us connect to and understand those that we were serving. The service teams included education, social work, water filters, microfinance, and medical. I had the pleasure of serving on the Social Work Team. The team was led by Maria Jose and Miriam, two compassionate, inspiring, strong, and selfless Nicaraguan women. Our main focus was on empowering women as there is not much respect or gender equality in Nicaragua. Through home visits and community groups we would form relationships with the girls, teens, and women in the small communities surrounding Masaya in order to understand and improve their current situation.

EmNic3Interacting with these women and girls was my absolute favorite part of the trip. Although we were there to help and support them, I always left feeling so inspired and empowered by them.  In the two short weeks we were there we conducted over a dozen home visits, had dinner in the home of a family, threw parties for Mother’s Day and Child’s Day, played countless games, connected with about 50 women and children, taught skills such as pottery painting, jewelry making, and bag making, visited four communities, and made lasting memories. Being able to spend two weeks encouraging these ladies by reminding them of their beauty, capabilities, and worth was so inspiring. I was completely humbled by this experience and felt so honored to be apart of their lives.

EmNic4

I could spend hours sharing pictures, memories, and stories from Nicaragua; but what I really want to share is this experience. Please go. Go serve, love, learn, play, grow, give, and experience another country. Your life and your perspective will never be the same.

What global issues are you passionate about?  What is your dream location for an international service project?

-Ambassador Emily

Talk About Kindness

13 Nov

What random acts of kindness have you witnessed or done in your life? Random Acts of Kindness Week is coming to a close, but what kinds of things can you continue to do on a daily basis to bring kindness to others? How does doing random acts of kindness towards others affect your own life?

Dr. Robert Levine

Dr. Robert Levine

Dr. Honora Chapman

Dr. Honora Chapman

On Friday, November 15, at 12:00 pm Dr. Robert Levine and Dr. Honora Chapman will be featured on our Random Acts of Kindness Week panel in North Gym 160. Dr. Levine is a Professor of Psychology and Dr. Chapman is a Professor of Classics and Humanities. Both will speak about how kindness can impact your life and those around you, and how kindness can come about from service.

 
Barbara de Angelis once said, “Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.” Doing simple acts of kindness each day will have a positive impact on you as well as the receiver of the act. Join us at in North Gym 160 on Friday to listen about how significant kindness can be and how easy it is to adopt into our daily lives. Let us know your random act of kindness ideas by using #FresnoStateServes and #RAKWeek13 or posting to our Facebook (www.facebook.com/richtercenter).  Also, stop by our other events happening during Random Acts of Kindness Week.
 
Spread the word to spread the love!
-Ambassador Alexi

 

Small Acts, Big Impact

12 Nov
As part of a project, I am doing research on several community benefit organizations around Fresno. I am amazed by the variety of causes people devote to, and many times, I want to join them in their efforts.  By the end of an hour of researching, I have a huge list of organizations with a title, “Must Contact for Further Information.” The truth, though, is that I can’t join every worthy cause. There just is not enough time in the day! I have also noticed that this lack of time is a problem for a lot of people who want 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.
Download this image and make it your profile pic to spread the love!

Download this image and make it your profile pic to spread the love!

Random Acts of Kindness Week is taking place November 12 through November 15, and aside from promoting a culture of kindness on our campus, it gives us an opportunity to serve others in a minimal, impactful way. These acts range from writing notes of appreciation to loved ones, paying a compliment to a stranger, holding the door open for people, etc. You name it! The possibilities are endless, and the impact however small, is amazing.

 

Last year was the first year this occurred at Fresno State, and I saw the effects of it on multiple people. Staff that knew about it went out of their way to let others know how they were appreciated; students in line at Starbucks paid for the person’s drinks behind them; kind notes were written; and teachers were thanked. These kind acts are all part of a huge service campaign in which Fresno State gets to participate.

So, I propose a new way of thinking. Let’s not talk about all of the things we wish we could do if we had more time, but instead, let’s agree that we CAN make a big difference…even if through small acts.

“Though my work may be menial, though my contribution may be small, I can perform it with dignity and offer it with unselfishness. My talents may not be great, but I can use them to bless the lives of others…. The goodness of the world in which we live is the accumulated goodness of many small and seemingly inconsequential acts.” -Gordon B. Hinckley

So…what are some creative acts of kindness you can do?  What kind acts do you do on a daily basis? How does that impact others?  If you had more time, what would be one service activity you’d like to participate in? How can you make that happen through random acts of kindness?

–Ambassador Amanda

Schedule of Festivities Celebrating Fresno State’s Random Acts of Kindness Week!

Brought to you by the Richter Center Ambassadors
with the Recreation Association
 
Kindness Kick-Off
Tuesday, Nov. 12 from 12 – 1 in the Free Speech Area
Spin the Wheel of Kindness, learn & share kindness ideas, and participate in the Picture the Change pledge booth!
 
Give Blood
Tuesday, Nov. 12 from 4:30 – 7:30 in the Residence Dining Hall (East Room)
Wednesday & Thursday, Nov. 13 – 14 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm throughout campus
Be kind by saving 1 – 3 lives with a donation to the Central California Blood Center.  The organization will be on campus with four blood mobiles located at the Student Union, Education Building, Maple Mall, and Engineering East Building.  Visit http://www.donateblood.org for more information.
 
TV Night, featuring Derek – A little kindness never gets old.
Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 7:00 pm in McLane Hall, Room 121
Celebrate World Kindness Day with a screening of the critically acclaimed BBC series, Derek starring Ricky Gervais as Derek Noakes, a loyal English nursing home caretaker who sees only the good in everyone. Derek’s sunny outlook comes in handy with his quirky coworkers and friends as they struggle against prejudice, government bureaucracy, and constantly shrinking budgets to care for the elderly residents who depend on them. Refreshments and opportunities for reflection will be provided.
 
Share Your Kindness Stories
Thursday, Nov. 14 from 12 – 1 in the Free Speech Area
Visit the Ambassador Random Acts of Kindness table to share your story of kindness and get a treat!
 
Kindness Panel
Friday, Nov. 15 from 12 – 1 in North Gym, Room 160
Guest speakers Dr. Levine and Dr. Chapman will offer their thoughts wisdom about kindness. 
 
Serving Fresno Day
Saturday, Nov. 16 from 8:00 am – 12:30 pm
Register by November 13th at http://www.frenostate.edu/cesl to help revitalize Woodward Park or build trails with the Sierra Foothill Conservancy. This will be a great community-effort Act of Kindness!
 
 
All week we encourage you to participate in Random Acts of Kindness to help perpetuate a culture of kindness.  Share your stories of kindness with us on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/richtercenter or tweet @richtercenter using #RAKweek13 and #fresnostateserves

Making a Difference

30 Oct

This past Saturday was Make a Difference Day, a national day of community service in which millions of volunteers around the country unite in order to improve the lives of others. Here at Fresno State, students, faculty, and staff came together to build trails at Sierra Foothill Conservancy and to revitalize Holman Park in partnership with Fresno PARCs.

A group of us start spreading the "wood" chips made from recycled tires.

A group of us start spreading the “wood” chips made from recycled tires.

Although I heard that both of the projects were a success, I personally volunteered at Holman Park. While a group painted new lines in the parking lot, I helped many others to lay down new wood chips made from recycled rubber on the playground. Despite the early Saturday morning, this service to the community was truly the highlight of my week. Nonetheless, this project was a daunting task. Our team had to first level out the sand and lay down weed-barrier fabric before we could even start the laborious shoveling and raking necessary to spread the wood chips. Once we finally finished most of the prep work, we watched in wonder as a giant crane slowly dropped hundreds of pounds worth of wood chips on the play area. Then, as a team, we sprung on the massive pile, tearing it down and distributing it out.

A before photo of the playground in the early morning light.

A before photo of the playground in the early morning light….and after all of our hard work resurfacing the area....and after all of our hard work of resurfacing the playground!

After hours of moving and spreading, we were finally finished. It was amazing the difference we made in the park with just a few hours of working together. I felt extremely accomplished and excited that area children were now going to be able to enjoy all our hard work. We were all beaming with pride. Afterward, we discussed what had happened and recognized that the work we did had really bonded us together and made us want to do more. We realized how important it was for us to give back to our community and positively affect the lives of others. I went home that afternoon sore, but feeling gratified and eager for the next opportunity to make a difference.

How did you participate in Make a Difference Day on Saturday?

And…check out this great coverage produced by Fresno State’s The Collegian:

The next one-day service event sponsored by the Richter Center is Serving Fresno Day and it is scheduled for November 16, 2013.  Check back with this blog (or subscribe!) to be updated when registration for Serving Fresno Day is open.

- Ambassador Heather

The Great Sierra River Cleanup!

3 Oct
Our brave team wades across the river to begin the cleanup. (All photos courtesy of River Tree Fresno.)

Our brave team wades across the river to begin the cleanup. (All photos courtesy of River Tree Fresno.)

I love a service project that entails manual labor and contact with nature and last month’s Great Sierra River Cleanup provided just that! The Cleanup volunteers bravely fought the wild terrain of the San Joaquin River for a good cause and we climbed up steep banks and through prickly bushes to reach trash, risked contracting tetanus from rusty barrels and cans, hauled water-logged tires out of a rushing river onto tippy canoes, and performed many more daring feats, all for the sake of having a beautifully clean river. Now that’s what I call a service day!

The River Tree Volunteers of Fresno organized the portion of the 5th annual Great Sierra River Cleanup for our area on September 21, 2013. A diverse group of 126 volunteers met at the San Joaquin River near Skaggs Bridge early on that cool, glorious Saturday morning. We broke into small groups: some would tackle trash and debris on the shore, while others took the canoes to search the river bottom.  I was chosen for the bank excursion first, and set off immediately with my crew to begin.

We gaze in awe at the untamed cottonwood forest.

We gaze in awe at the untamed cottonwood forest.

Along the way and throughout the day, I learned about so many of the river environment’s plants and critters. From the towering cottonwoods that blanketed the surroundings with an eerie fuzz to the sharp nettles that would nip my legs, the plant life was wild to say the least.  The little clams in the river and the hordes of ants and other creepy-crawlies were amazing to behold as well. The San Joaquin River is an amazing habitat of biodiversity and we would do well to preserve its natural splendor.

Here I am, ready to roll this tire across the river and into a big truck.  Making our river sparkling and clean again, one tire at a time!

Here I am, ready to roll this tire across the river and into a big truck. Making our river sparkling and clean again, one tire at a time!

I initially thought we were going to pick up trash alongside the river. I was correct, but what I didn’t know was that we had to wade across the river, which was about waist deep, to reach our destination. We got off to a refreshingly good start, and immediately got to work. We were keen trash detectives, and discovered an old car, half of a truck, basically an entire kitchen set (microwave, dishwasher, etc.), hundreds of oddly-shaped bottles from decades ago, tires GALORE, and trash everywhere that careless people had dumped. Nature had begun to take its course, with trees growing out of tires and weeds covering garbage. The work was difficult but gratifying, and teams functioned together exceptionally well so that a work day turned into a day of fun!

72 tires later...What a productive and rewarding day!

72 tires later…What a productive and rewarding day!

All over the state, groups like ours were doing the same service for California’s clean and healthy water sources.   Volunteers collectively scoured 86 miles of river. Sponsored by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, the Great Sierra River Cleanup is the largest single day service event in California. In one morning, our Fresno group alone removed over 70 tires and 2 tons of trash and unwanted debris from the San Joaquin River and its banks. This was a rewarding community service opportunity because when we finally finished our work and wiped the sweat off our brows, we could really see the difference we had made.

-Ambassador Lilliana

Help a Student Excel in Stellar Science

1 Oct

Hey everyone!  Today, I want to share a great volunteer opportunity that is available right on campus.  This project presents a chance to have a positive impact in the life of a young student.  Stellar Science is designed for middle school students to have the opportunity to explore and investigate the natural world using science. The program allows science and math experts to spark interest in students through activities, demonstrations, and experiments. Stellar Science will take place on Friday, October 11, 2013 and Friday, October 18, 2013.

Stellar Science is sponsored by Fresno State’s Natural Science Club.

Volunteer applications are currently being accepted for Stellar Science and can be found at https://sites.google.com/site/natscicsuf/events/stellar-science or by visiting Science I room 101.  Applications are due Tuesday, October 1st.

-Ambassador Jazmin

Presenting in Portland

29 Apr
It's official!  The Richter Center Ambassadors' presentation as listed in the conference handbook.

It’s official! The Richter Center Ambassadors’ presentation as listed in the conference handbook.

The Richter Center Ambassador team traveled to Portland, Oregon last week to present at the 16th Annual Continuums of Service Conference.  Six of us made the trip and delivered a student-led discussion of ways to increase the impact of student volunteers at institutions of higher education.  My fellow Ambassadors Alexi Kimura, Song Vang, Paulina Flores, Emily Hentschke, Amanda de Lima and I presented The Richter Center Ambassadors: A Framework for Recruiting and Retaining Student Leaders to a packed conference room.  Two of our peers from the Richter Center S.E.R.V.E. Committee – Oshea Carter and Bianca Mancilla supported us from the audience.

We all found the conference to be very beneficial as we were able to learn about all the other awesome things going on in the world of community service in higher education.

We are already making plans for presenting at the 17th Annual Continuums of Service Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii in April of 2014.

Visit the Washington Campus Compact website to see conference highlights and a list of the presentations.

All hands in!  The team is ready to present.

All hands in! The team is ready to present.

If you are interested in what the Ambassadors work to achieve at Fresno State and wish to further your leadership skills and commitment to service, please consider applying for one of the Richter Center student leadership positions.  The S.E.R.V.E. committee plans and coordinates service events for Fresno State.  The Reflection Facilitators lead a meaningful reflection of the days’ work at the various one-day service events held throughout the academic year.  And the Ambassadors, of course, promote service work to the Fresno State community and serve as liaisons between students and the Richter Center.  Applications can be obtained at fresnostaterca.com/recruitment/ and must be turned in by Wednesday, May 1st.

-Ambassador Daniel

Portland OR Bust!

15 Apr
Richter Center Ambassadors present a poster at the Annual Continuums of Service  conference in Seattle, WA.  This year they will present a workshop at the conference in Portland, OR and two members of the SERVE Committee will be there to support them.

Here we are presenting a poster at last year’s Annual Continuums of Service conference in Seattle, WA. This year we will present a workshop at the conference in Portland, OR

The Richter Center Ambassadors are at it again! In a few short weeks a group of six Ambassadors will travel to the 16th annual Continuums of Service Conference in Portland. In February, we received the good news that we would have the opportunity to present at the conference, the theme of which is ‘The Engaged Campus: Higher Education for the Public Good’. The COS conference is the largest higher-education community service-learning conference in the United States and the we are very excited to present a 75-minute interactive talk entitled The Richter Center Ambassadors: A Framework for Recruiting and Retaining Student Leaders.

The Ambassador team is also very excited to learn about the new trends and best-practices in community engagement and service learning so that we can bring these ideas back to campus and become even more effective leaders and champions of service. Please wish us luck and, if you happen to be in the Portland area, consider stopping by the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront hotel, Salon B, at 3:45 on Thursday, April 25th to see us in action.

If you are a Fresno State student and you are particularly interested in the work we are doing as Ambassadors (including our travel opportunities) then be sure to stop by the Recruitment Mixer this Friday, April 19th at 3:00 PM in Library, room 3212.  Learn more about recruitment here.

-Ambassador Daniel

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