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?
My name is Shola and I am a first-time Ambassador. I’m very excited to do my first blog post!
After Halloween, all the holidays seem to rush and overlap one after another. During that time, while we are celebrating our families and what we are thankful for, we should keep in mind that there are individuals and families that are less fortunate than us.
There are so many volunteer organizations in Fresno that aim to assist the best they can. The Poverello House is a well-known and its great place to begin your community service journey. Fresno Rescue Mission is another great place to inquire about volunteering.
For the past few years, I’ve started to become more aware of the issue of being homeless for the holiday. It worries me that over the next few years, we will be seeing more and more families and people on the streets, with no one to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other family or religious traditions.
You might be thinking, “it’s so far away, I can worry about it later”. That, however, causes the issue to become less important. Thinking about the issue and how getting involved now will be worth it to see those that need your help feeling happy and thankful for their 2014 year.
Join us for Spring into Service on March 22, 2014 from 8:00 AM – 12:30 PM!
Fresno State volunteers help revitalize Woodward Park during last semester’s Serving Fresno Day.
With triumphant Make a Difference Day and Serving Fresno Day behind us, we at the Richter Center joyfully look forward to the next one-day service opportunity, Spring into Service Day!
Volunteers can choose from one of these awesome locations/ projects:
- Planting and beautification of the group activity area at Woodward Park with Fresno PARCS
- Planting trees and shrubs on our Fresno State campus.
Fresno has a lot of critics, but with some positive attitudes and a little teamwork we can change that negativity! We of this under-appreciated Central Valley city are blessed with splendid sunshine, vibrant urban developments, rich and abundant fields of agriculture, and so much more. Everything we could ever need is right here. Most of us don’t have to worry about our next meal or finding shelter from day to day. We have a successful university full of bright minds just waiting to change the world. Fresno is home to amazing, dedicated, down-to-earth people, and we shouldn’t doubt its potential for a second. All it takes to recognize its beauty is a little optimism. I can assure you that community service is one of the best ways to guarantee this much-needed positive outlook.
Granted, there’s always room for improvement, and that’s just what Spring into Service is all about! The general consensus from our previous one-day service events was that although it was early on a Saturday morning, each and every one of us left our service project with feelings of accomplishment and camaraderie. We each became excited to watch our web of outreach unfold! Our goal at the Richter Center is to regenerate these positive vibes on March 22nd.
Let’s work together to spread an awesome message about our community! Let’s revitalize Fresno! Spring into Service Day will be a springboard for the Spring into Service Lifestyle: where we’ll work every day to make our home even better!
Join us! You are officially invited!
Visit the Richter Center website to register by March 19th; space is limited.
Which Spring into Service site are you most interested in and why? What do you hope to gain by participating in Spring into Service?
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.
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….and after all of our hard work resurfacing the area.
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
During my freshman year in high school, I knew I wanted to serve the community somehow, but I did not exactly know what steps to take. There were so many questions that I always thought about that made me nervous about serving.
Two of the major questions were:
1. How do I find the perfect place to serve?
2. If I find a place I want to serve, whom do I contact?
I am here to help you answer these questions!
In order to find the perfect place to serve, you must think about some things you like to do! Do you like playing with your younger siblings or interacting with your grandparents? Do you enjoy working in the yard or cleaning up around your house? Do you like a certain subject in school? Do you know what you would like to do as a profession? Write a list of three to five things that you enjoy doing.
Once you have completed your list, it is time to find an organization that deals with some of the things you enjoy. There are hundreds of different ways to serve the Fresno community! Click on the below to see a few of them and to find one or maybe even two that deal with the things you wrote down on your list.
When you think you have found a community service opportunity that best suits you, send the Richter Center Ambassadors an email firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (559) 278-7079. We will be more than happy to help you contact an community service organization that you think you will enjoy J If you still have questions about a certain volunteer opportunity or still do not know the perfect place to serve, we will definitely answer all your questions and help you find the right place!
I hope that these 3 steps make it easy for you to find a way to serve the Fresno community!
“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
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