“To empower children and families to achieve productive, self-reliant lives” is the mission of Reading and Beyond. This organization is focused on helping children gain skills and abilities that are necessary for a successful life. Research has found that helping families as a whole is just as important. Reading and Beyond is dedicated to building long-term relationships with families in order to keep children as distant as possible from any unhealthy behaviors.
Reading and Beyond’s target population is low-income families, children ages 0-18, and parents. The organization is able to serve them through a number of different programs:
- Literacy intervention for children
- Early childhood education
- Health education
- College preparation for children and parents
- Parent involvement
- Workforce development
Reading and Beyond does not only focus on schools to reach their desired population, but they also work within apartment complexes, shopping centers, and community organizations. They also conduct educational home visits.
If you are interested in working with children, then Reading and Beyond is a great place to start gaining experience. There are many sites around the Fresno area, and they offer flexible volunteering hours. For more information, visit readingandbeyond.org.
- Ambassador Val
Many of you have probably participated in a Jog-A-Thon during your elementary school years, but have you ever heard of a Serve-A-Thon?
This past weekend, the Richter Center Ambassadors completed the first part of our Serve-A-Thon to raise money for the Richter Center. Donors will pledge funds for every hour of service we complete.
Last weekend’s service was distributing fliers in local neighborhoods for the “Spring Cleaning,” or canned food and household goods drive, benefitting the Bulldog Pantry. The Bulldog Pantry is a student-run food pantry for low-income families and students. The Pantry distributes groceries to over 175 families in need every week and that number is constantly rising. The fliers we distributed called for canned or dry foods, gently used clothes and shoes, or any other household items that can be given to people at the Pantry.
Students volunteer at the Bulldog Pantry, a student-run food pantry that benefits the Fresno community.
This weekend, the Ambassadors are going back to the neighborhoods to pick up these donations. I am excited to see what donations we receive and how this will help the Bulldog Pantry. It is amazing what great things can be done when the community comes together!
- Ambassador Jillian
The 15th annual Continuums of Service conference was held in Seattle. The Ambassadors presented a poster on one of the projects they worked on this year, and also used the opportunity to get new ideas from other presenters.
Last week several of the ambassadors attended 15th annual Continuums of Service Conference. We all walked away with new ideas and resources that we hope to use in order to better serve the campus and its students. For me though, the most valuable point I took away from this gathering came from the wise words of Eric Liu, an author and one of the keynote speakers.
He said, “Society becomes how we behave.” As I began to think about this, I realized how fundamental an idea it is. We all know this quote to be true instinctively and can see evidence of this repeated throughout the history of mankind and in our everyday lives.
In the Fresno community, we have a great opportunity. As more people are getting involved there are an increasing number of ways to put our time and talents to use in order to make a positive impact. These words will be a source of encouragement for me in the last few weeks of the semester and the months of summer to follow. I hope that some of you will also find this quote inspiring and keep it in mind as we conclude this academic year and move into the next!
- Ambassador Kayla
For the last 39 years, Poverello House, a nonprofit organization in the San Joaquin Valley, has been helping those in need. When people don’t have a place to sleep, Poverello House is there for them with shelter. When people do not have a bite to eat, Poverello House is there for them with a warm meal. The services offered there are for all people from different walks in life. On a daily basis, the organization touches the lives of the homeless in the Valley, women and children in need, the elderly, and also migrant farmworkers. Before I spoke to them at last semester’s volunteer fair, I didn’t know that this organization, located at 412 F Street, is more than just a soup home.
Other than providing warm meals, they provide people with shelter at all of their three facilities: Naomi’s House, a facility proving overnight shelter for single childless women, and the Michael McGarvin Jr. Village of Hope and Community of Hope, which provide people with an opportunity to better themselves by allowing them longer stays, not just overnight shelter. Other services they provide to people are substance abuse rehabilitation programs, as well as both individual and group counseling. They also have a clinic on site that provides free medical and dental services. As I was looking at their website I thought it was really cool how they even have a Homeless Court. This Homeless Court is for those individuals who are in a rehabilitation programs and want to fix any problems they may have had with the authorities.
As is with all nonprofit organizations, most of the work done at the Poverello House is by volunteers. So if you are ever looking for a place to volunteer or make a change in someone’s life, Poverello House welcomes anyone with a giving heart.
- Ambassador Paulina
I came across this quote the other day, and since it made me think, I figured I’d share it with you and make you think as well! Schweitzer accurately labels most people with his statement about being a “good person” and doing one’s work well. I’ve been that person numerous times. There really is more to life than that, though. Life is so much more fulfilling when you willingly help people out. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. In fact, it can be as small as holding the door open for someone who has their hands full, or talking with a friend about how their day went. The goal is simply to move yourself out of the spotlight and focus on someone else for a change.
So what do you think? What can you do today to help out the people around you?
- Ambassador Ryan
Dennis Padilla, an EOP counselor, helping a student during academic advising week.
Whether we like it or not, class registration is around the corner and trying to figure out our class schedule is always a hard task to accomplish. If you are in need of help, there is a place to get it.
Other than being a Richter Center Ambassador, I also work as a peer mentor for the Educational Opportunity Program in the Student Success Services office. In this office you can find help in academic advising, tutorial services, learning skill workshops, counseling, career planning, financial aid follow-up and social activities. You don’t have to be an EOP student to have these services available to you. The services are opened to all Fresno State students. All the EOP counselors block a week in each semester close to registration week and they can all be found in the library. They, along with peer mentors, are there all week for at least two hours a day to help students with academic advising. For this service students don’t even have to make an appointment – simply call the office for a schedule, or go into the office in the Joyal Building 224 or call 559-278-1787.
You can find more information about the EOP and its services at http://www.csufresno.edu/eop/.
- Ambassador Val
A student makes her pledge after attending Camp Darfur on March 5th.
Picture the Change photos from Camp Darfur have been posted! To view them, click on “Picture the Change” and select Camp Darfur, or just click here.
To learn more about Picture the Change, click here.
My personal form of advocacy is supporting people with intellectual disabilities by taking part in national events, like Spread the Word to End the Word, which was on March 7, 2012.
When most people think of service, they think of going out and doing things for organizations. They think of serving food to the homeless, or handing out newspapers for Kids Day, or helping revitalize a park, or doing something that benefits people directly. Doing all these things is great, and provides wonderful benefits to the community, but there is another very important form of service out there that many don’t think of: advocacy.
Being an advocate means supporting a cause. Support can mean doing big things, like handing out flyers, putting up posters, and giving speeches. But supporting a cause doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to do big things to make a difference. Doing small things can make you an advocate as well.
For example, I am an advocate for people with intellectual disabilities. I know I can’t do anything huge like petition the government for more rights for intellectually disabled people, and I don’t have time to hand out flyers on campus or organize awareness events. But I can talk about the disabled population with people who have questions, helping to break down the stereotypes and misinformation that many have about what intellectual disability is and how it affects people. And I can help by participating in national awareness days, like Spread the Word to End the Word, an event aimed at stopping the use of the word “retarded” in slang vocabulary. Every little thing I do to help support people with intellectual disabilities is considered advocacy because I am helping raise awareness about the issue.
A lot of you might already be advocates without realizing it. If you support a cause, or feel strongly about an issue, you are being an advocate. It is a form of service because you’re donating your time to support a cause, no matter how big or small.
What issues do you advocate for? In what ways are you an advocate?
- Ambassador Becky
When the word “genocide” is uttered, most people, including myself, automatically think of brutal crimes from years past that we only read about in history books. Shockingly, this act continues to take place even today in various locations around the globe, such as Darfur, Sudan.
Learn more about the tragedy of genocide at Camp Darfur.
Do you find this devastating? Would you like to get more information and help put a stop to this destruction? In an effort to raise awareness about the Darfur Genocide, USU Productions is hosting Camp Darfur, a traveling display of tents representing six different genocides, on campus Monday, March 5. The event starts at 10 a.m. and lasts until 4 p.m. Survivors and relatives of survivors of past genocides will speak between noon and 1 p.m. Come by the Memorial Court, south of the Kennel Bookstore, and check it out. Make sure to stop by the Richter Center Ambassadors’ Advocacy table and learn what you can do to help stop this destruction.
This is your chance to make an impact!
- Ambassador Kayla
“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
- Woodrow Wilson
President Woodrow Wilson at a baseball game.
Service doesn’t have to be something you just do because you are required to. It can be something you volunteer to do on weekends, something you do because it makes you happy. I know what you’re thinking. Why would you do service on weekends when you have so many better things you could do with your time, right? Why would it ever make you happy to do service? What’s in it for you?
Now, this is where I think President Wilson’s words come into play. When we do service, we’re not just completing a task; we’re doing something that directly impacts people, something that helps them in their everyday lives and spreads the spirit of sharing what we have with others. And who doesn’t like to see other people happy? They say smiles are contagious. Making someone smile by giving a few hours of your time really will make you smile, too. Here at the Richter Center, we call it the “warm fuzzies,” the feeling of happiness you get by making a difference.
In the words of President Wilson, “You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” So go out and volunteer. If you don’t know where to volunteer, you can always come on into the Richter Center and we’ll help you find an organization that suits your needs. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make the world a little brighter.
- Ambassador Becky