For eight years and counting Fresno State has offered its students a fun and priceless learning experience through Alternative Spring Break (ASB). Through this program, students at California State University, Fresno devote their spring break to the Fresno community by working towards a chosen organization’s goals and objectives and working on meaningful service projects. This year Alternative Spring Break teamed up with three organizations: the Ronald McDonald House, Scout Island, and Stone Soup. Continue reading “#ASBethechange”
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.
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?
Sometimes during the crazy life of being a college student (or whatever is making your life crazy) you need to take time and read a children’s book. Trust me, your day could turn out to be better just because you got to escape into a quick, cute story with lots of pictures! I read a children’s book last year that I have since added to my favorite children’s book list. I like this book so much that whenever I give presents to people who are in their earlier years, I give them this book. Why do I love this book? There are two main reasons. First, the artwork in the book just makes me happy. When I look at it, I just go “WOW.” The second reason is because the message of the story still sticks with me, motivating me to keep going, keep trying, and keep serving.
The book is called Giraffes Can’t Dance. The story follows a Giraffe named Gerald whose legs bend in a different way, causing him to have some troubles walking. Each year, all the animals in the jungle come together for a dance party. Gerald always feels so awkward because he tries and tries and he just can’t get the hang of dancing, and all the other jungle animals laugh at him. One night after being completely embarrassed at the dance party, Gerald goes into a clearing in the jungle and looks up to the moon. That’s when his new friend the cricket comes up to him and asks him what is wrong. Gerald says to the cricket with a very sad face that all the other animals say he just can’t dance. That’s when the cricket suggests that maybe Gerald hasn’t found the right music yet. The cricket then plays his violin and suddenly Gerald is the best dancer in the whole jungle. All of his jungle friends come and look in awe over what Gerald can do. Gerald found music that he loved, helping him to become a great dancer.
I think that Gerald’s story of finding his music correlates to me and my service story. When I first came to Fresno State I couldn’t find anywhere to serve that felt right. I kept feeling this way until I found Alternative Spring Break and Saturday Sports! Both these programs had me working with children, playing sports, making art projects, and creating a safe place for kids in the Fresno community to play. I found service work that I could actually do and do a good job at it! I truly felt that not only was I giving back, my service work was giving back to me. I found service work that made my heart smile.
Sometimes you try and try and you just don’t feel like you have found where you need to serve, you feel out of place, you might even begin to think that you can’t even give back at all. But, my friend, that is so not the case – you just haven’t found your music yet! Just like how Gerald found his music, you will find a place to serve and you will thrive. Don’t worry if you haven’t found yours yet, KEEP TRYING! You might be wondering where to start. There is a fabulous resource on campus that can act as your cricket and give you service opportunities that you would have never thought of! Stop by the Richter Center in the Thomas Building, Room 107. I also encourage you to sign up for the by-weekly service newsletter The Epicenter, this resource is filled with all kinds a different opportunities. Try different things out. These two resources can surely get you on your track of finding your service.
Have you found your music that YOU love? Have you ever volunteered or served somewhere that you didn’t expect that you would like, but did? Are you currently serving the community? Have you ever been into the Richter Center?
– Ambassador Ludie Olenchalk
All throughout high school, I had been involved in community service in a multitude of ways. From Key Club, to Interact Club, to class office and ASB, there was always a way I could serve my community through these organizations. Moving to Fresno from Hollister was a huge, yet exciting transformation for me, however, getting involved in my new community was a bit of a challenge because I had no clue where to start. I finally found my niche in this community, unexpectedly, in Spring break ’13. When I accidentally stumbled upon the Alternative Spring Break program, I decided to apply. The application was followed by an interview, and before I knew it I had been assigned to the Ronald McDonald House. The Ronald McDonald is a foundation that provides a temporary living space for families who have a child(ren) in the hospital for serious conditions. This program runs mostly through volunteers. Without volunteers, this organization may not be as successful as it is today. As a team, each day we prepared meals for the families staying there, cleaned, planted a garden and conducted activities that the children could participate in. Something like this was unlike many of the places I have served at, because while we were there, we got to meet many of the families and even got to know some of them on a more personal level.
The reason this experience made such an impact on me was because on the surface, I was unable to see the struggles of the families that were there. I had not known why their child was in the hospital, what their financial situation was, or how long they were going to be there. I was simply there to make their lives a tiny bit easier, because although it may not seem like it at first, having a meal already prepared for a parent when they come back after a long day at the hospital can lessen one worry out of the millions they may have. For me, it was amazing to see how the children of a sick sibling tried to stay strong for eachother and their parents on the surface; and even more so how strong many of the parents and family members appeared. I was astonished by one of the fathers, who had already been there for a couple of months with his family, was still trying to make memories with his other children despite what they were going through. He took pictures and laughed with each of his children at all our events, including the Easter egg hunt we put on. Someone with that much perseverance reminded me why I love community service so much and how it is so essential to give your time to someone else who might need it.
Volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House helped me regain my passion for service, and opened many doors for me, including my position as a Richter Center Ambassador, in which I can now help other students find their niche in this large community. For those of you who didn’t know, the Alternative Spring Break program is every spring break and you can start applying Spring Semester! If you are interested in volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House, contact (559) 261-3660 for available dates. I highly recommend both of these!
Have you been wanting to get involved in community service (on campus or off) but don’t know where to start? Come check out the Richter Center in the Thomas Building and we can help you!
What is your favorite thing about community service?
What sparks that passion for you?
You all know that quote that says, “Hard work pays off?” Well its true!!! About two years ago in the spring, seven other Fresno State students and I were busy shoveling compost, picking out weeds, using electrical drills to build plantar boxes, shoveling trenches, and installing an irrigation system. Yes, it was hard work that kept us busy for four days during our spring break, but it was for Fresno State’s annual Alternative Spring Break. Essentially the Alternative Spring Break program does what its name says. It provides students with an opportunity to do something different, or an alternative to what they regularly do for Spring Break. In the spring of 2011 there were two different groups working and providing service at two different sites: one at Sierra Foothills Conservancy building trails and the other at Alluvial Community Garden working around their property and building their first seven plantar boxes.
As team leader of the Alluvial Community Garden project for ASB 2011 with the help of staff at Alluvial Community Garden and staff from Fresno State, I had the opportunity to lead a group of seven Fresno State students and help the garden with the building of their first seven plantar boxes. At the end of the four days the whole group accomplished a lot. We completed all the assignments of the project on time like professionals. The outcomes of that year’s ASB were great! By providing community service for the four days, we helped the garden get started and lay its foundation to work on it’s mission to “provide access to an organic community garden space which facilitate growing food, offering education opportunity promoting therapeutic recreation and building community for residents of the Fresno/Clovis area.”
Now almost two years later it makes me so happy to see those plantar boxes being used by people in the community. As I look at the pictures of the plots overfilled with fresh fruits and vegetables, I think back and reflect on those four days filled with tasks of drilling frames of cedar wood together, shoveling sand, and pulling weeds, and I say to myself, “Paulina it was all worth it!”
I hope you can see that hard work does pay off!
For more info, check out the garden’s website here