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

A Heart for Service

3 Apr

heart for serviceOne of my favorite things about serving is that it has introduced me to some people with pretty amazing hearts. Some of the people who have inspired me and touched my life the most have been those that I have met while volunteering. These people come from all walks of life with different backgrounds and skill-sets; the only thing they all have in common is their heart for service.

Having a heart for service is something that anyone and everyone is capable of simply by having the right mindset and experiencing meaningful volunteerism.

Here are the characteristics that I think make up a heart for service:

An Open Heart: Volunteer work can introduce you to an incredible variety of people and situations. It is so important to have an open heart and be willing to stretch yourself beyond the norm. The wider you open your heart, the more room there is for it to be filled.

A Humble Heart: Volunteer opportunities allow you to lend a hand to people who could benefit from some extra help. When serving others, it is crucial to remember that although you may be fortunate enough to be in a better situation than them, you are not a better person than them. An important part of service is making people feel valued and loved, and treating people like a charity case will have the opposite effect. Rather than feeling sorry for the people you help, try to feel inspired to help improve their situation.

A Grateful Heart: Volunteering allows for many opportunities for self-reflection. Be grateful that you have the chance to serve, to learn, and to grow. Also, let your service experiences aid in being thankful for your own life. Volunteering has definitely helped me to appreciate my family, my friends, and my life so much more.

A Strong Heart: Sometimes when serving you will be exposed to unfortunate situations and sad stories. Volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club and learning about the struggles some of the kids have to face has definitely sent me home in tears, so having a strong heart is something I am working on. It is all about finding the balance of feeling compassion without becoming disheartened. Strength allows you to be moved but not shaken.

A Joyful Heart: Volunteering has created some of my best and happiest memories. Serving allows you to do so much good that is it hard not to feel joyful and proud. Enjoy service and all of the great warm fuzzy feelings that go with it!

So, now we want to know what you think.  What do you think makes up a heart for service?

-Ambassador Emily

 

 

Support Richter Center Student-Leaders with the Live Discount Card

15 Mar

The Richter Center Ambassadors are currently engaged in a fundraiser to support our ongoing projects and activities. Live Discounts offers “The Live Card” which allows the cardholder to save money at over 500 locations in Fresno (and others throughout California)!  Discounts are offered in areas such as Food & Drink, Home & Auto, Beauty & Spa, Entertainment, and Shopping. Every location offers its own discount and cardholders are able to use it just about every day for an entire year!

There are many benefits to the Live Card!  For instance, there is no coupon book to lug around.  Simply show the Live Card at the participating location to receive the discount.  Also, check livediscounts.com to view current offers as well as new offers that are added all the time!

Live Discounts also offers a mobile app for iPhone and Android users.

The cards are $20 each and they last for an entire year (expiring March 31, 2014). Once you purchase the card, simply use the member number on the back to activate it on the website (livediscounts.com), create a login and start saving money.

Check out this short “How the Card Works” video to learn more!

To purchase your Live Discounts Card supporting the Richter Center Ambassadors, please stop by our office in the Thomas Building Room 107, or contact Ambassador Miguel at miguelvieira209@gmail.com.

Thanks!

-Ambassador Miguel

Kid’s Day: Are You Ready to Serve?

28 Feb
Fresno State students have fun working together to raise money for Children's Hospital Central California at a previous Kid's Day.

Fresno State students have fun working together to raise money for Children’s Hospital Central California at a previous Kid’s Day.

It’s that time of year again; the flowers are in bloom, the birds are chirping, and the sun is driving away the chill of winter. The signs of the changing season are everywhere, including on the streets of Fresno where volunteers will be gathered in mass on Tuesday, March 5th armed with newspapers and friendly smiles in hopes of raising money for Children’s Hospital Central California.

It’s quite an inspiring sight to drive through Fresno on a Tuesday morning and see volunteers gladly giving their time and having a lot of fun in the process!  I highly encourage you to join your peers next Tuesday as they sell special editions of The Fresno Bee. Join the volunteers throughout the valley who will be braving the brisk morning air to stand on street corners and sell copies of the Kid’s Day newspaper.

At Fresno State, Kid’s Day is big deal. Last year, the students, staff, and faculty of the University collectively raised over $36,000 for Children’s Hospital Central California. It is absolutely extraordinary that the Fresno State community is so willing to give of their time for this worthy cause!

Richter Center Ambassadors arrive to campus at dawn to help distribute papers to student clubs and organizations who will be raising money throughout the city.  We love seeing how excited our peers are to get started selling papers and raising money and awareness for Children's Hospital Central California!

Richter Center Ambassadors arrive to campus at dawn to help distribute papers to student clubs and organizations . We love seeing how excited our peers are to get started selling papers in order to raise money and awareness for Children’s Hospital Central California!

As a Richter Center Ambassador, it is my duty to convince my peers to get involved with service and I cannot think of a more fun project than Kid’s Day; trust me, if you are looking to have a lot of fun and want to have the contentment that comes with the knowledge that you are helping kids right here in the Central Valley, this is the event for you. You don’t want to miss out!

If you are interested in volunteering, please follow this link: www.fresnostate.edu/academics/cesl/about/events.html

Sign up today!

 -Ambassador Daniel

Picturing the Change at I Love Me

26 Feb

IMG_4756

Earlier this month, we took Picture the Change to the I Love Me event sponsored by Fresno State’s Suicide Prevention Program and USU Productions.  It was great to see so many students willing to make a pledge to make a positive impact on the community.  Check out the latest pledges here.

And keep an eye out for the Picture the Change booth and your chance to make your pledge!

 

Consider International Community Service

15 Feb

Are you passionate about volunteering your time to community service? Are you interested in traveling out of the country?

Try combining the two, and consider community service abroad! Kofi Annan once said, “If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.” There are many different organizations providing opportunity to travel the world and engage in service. Some of these include:

International Student Volunteers

International Service Learning

Projects Abroad

Global Service Corps

Cross-Cultural Solutions

Ambassador Alexi with fellow volunteers in Costa Rica from International Student Volunteers, Summer 2012.

Ambassador Alexi with fellow volunteers in Costa Rica from International Student Volunteers, Summer 2012.

These all include various projects and sites that you can choose from. If you are interested in learning more about how to get involved in community service abroad or different organizations you can travel with, there will be a meeting on International Community Service on February 22, 2013, at 3:00 pm in USU 308. We will be discussing various organizations that provide opportunity to travel around the world, as well as fundraising tips to get you there. Also, pizza will be provided, so please stop by!

So, what do you think? Who’s interested in taking their passion for service abroad?  Where would you like to go?  Has anyone engaged in international service?  Share with us!

-Ambassador Alexi

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