Being Greek in the United States can present a few problems. Now, I am not referring to individuals whose grandparents, parents or themselves were born in the country of Greece. I am referring to individuals who have chosen to be part of a social fraternity or sorority. There is an extensive list of multicultural fraternities and sororities, honor societies, and major related organizations that also identify themselves through the use of Greek letters, but for the purpose of this discussion, I will focus on social fraternities and sororities. Continue reading “GR∑∑KS IN SERVICE”→
Every year in the United States, children are diagnosed with a life-threatening condition they must endure. This is often a difficult sight for loved ones and friends to witness as the victim battles the illness. However, the Make-A-Wish Foundation was established to grant desires for children who are suffering from a prolonged illness. Continue reading “Make-A-Wish Golf Event”→
On Saturday, October 24th, I volunteered at Make a Difference Day, which was planned and hosted by the SERVE committee, another Richter’s Center Student Leader group in charge of organizing the many different one-day service events through Fresno State. I woke up early, walked down to the school, and checked-in to the location with all the other volunteers that were set to serve that day – all before 8AM. Continue reading “To Plant a Tree”→
I entered the small classroom at the Mosqueda Center to this cheer twice a week. Momentarily I was back in Fiji, hearing the excited voices of those children and the love and cultural exchange we’d shared. Instead I found myself at Reading and Beyond, an after-school literacy-and-more program for elementary students of Fresno. I volunteered with this community benefit organization for my Child and Family Studies service-learning class. My job as a volunteer was to support a hired tutor as she taught a small group of students. Little did I know a simple requirement for a service-learning course would turn into a semester plus a summer of fun!
“Do the fish!” they’d say, remembering my first day’s focus on a book about undersea life. I started making fish faces, and my group was super impressed, so we all perfected our fish look. (I make a pretty accurate fish face, and also a shockingly accurate duck sound, but that’s a story for another day). I had fun like a big kid; the little ones followed what I did. Together, learning to read was fun and exciting! I modeled respect to the tutor and enthusiasm for the tasks at hand, so they did too.
In my literacy group were children who had fallen far behind in their reading levels, and others who were excelling students. Some spoke hardly any English. Others were fluently bilingual. It was incredible to see the group members assisting each other and growing together, despite such diversity. All of them were equally squirrely and excited after a long day at school, and I loved each one. During summer, the students would be served free lunch, then complete a rotation of literacy, fitness, and enrichment (essentially arts and crafts). I was amazed at the gains they made, even in a short time.
I learned so much from my Reading and Beyond experience, and I do hope that the children I worked with learned as well. I gained a lot of knowledge about working with children in particular, and about myself:
Kids can’t handle too many instructions at once. Perfecting effective teaching and classroom management strategies are now on my to-do list and will prepare me for my future as a Speech-Language Pathologist.
Praise means the world to children. You can see them glowing after you give them a compliment or commend them on a job well done. Even something as simple as remembering their name can excite them!
Likewise, children have hearts of gold. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “Teacher, you’re pretty!” or “You’re fun!” Grown-ups don’t uplift one another as much as they should.
Competition excites some, but it can shut other kids down. Children lose motivation and interest in activities in which they feel they can’t succeed. So, I made a point to rub in the teamwork aspect. I learned to be the collaboration-promoter and enthusiastic cheerleader, especially at sports time.
Helping children overcome unfavorable behavior is pretty rewarding. For one child who refused to participate, I hand-over-hand led him in doing the task at hand: a simple art project. I just wanted him to follow directions. Afterwards, I expected him to hate me for all eternity. But instead we became friends and he respected me. That was very eye-opening.
As a volunteer, I felt valued. My fellow volunteers and I saw the children thriving with more one-on-one attention than a staff-only environment could provide. Also, kids will teach you a thing or two!
In summary, thanks for reading,
now go volunteer with kids and really make a difference!
Have you served children before? Has a child ever taught you an important lesson? How will you serve the next generation?
I wanted to reflect on my year of service and how the Ambassador program changed my perception of what service is. Before being a part of the Ambassador program, my service was limited to working in medical or clinical settings. For three years, I have been an active volunteer with the Saint Agnes Volunteer program. Working in a hospital setting allowed me to interact with people from different paths, incomes, and social/economic classes. However as time went on, I worried that I wasn’t making as much of an impact as I knew I could.
This led me to branch out and use service to explore and connect with different people. For the past month, I’ve been alternating working with Every Neighborhood Partnership’s Saturday Sports at Lincoln Elementary, Stellar Science at Fresno State, and passing out sandwiches to homeless people on the East side of Fresno. I was astounded by how eager people are to connect and share their pain, joy, and lives! Connecting with the homeless in east and downtown Fresno has given me so much insight on how other people make do with what they have. Simply taking an hour or two of my time has formed relationships with people I would never have in a hospital setting.
Since medicine is my future career, working in other service avenues gives me skills and experiences that will definitely be invaluable to me as I continue on my path. I will have greater knowledge of the needs of different parts of the community as well as an understanding of how to best serve my patients.
If you are interested in working with any of the volunteer services I’ve mentioned, please check these links!
Passing out sandwiches: I wasn’t involved with an organization persay; I went to Walmart and bought PB&J sandwich supplies, encouraged my sisters to help me make and pack them and we drove around Fresno and passed them out! I highly encourage a buddy system if you would want to do this.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.