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The Richter Center Ambassadors

The student group for the Jan & Bud Richter Center at Fresno State

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Service

National Student Day with the Richter Center

This year, we celebrated the 4th Annual National Student Day at Fresno State (hosted by the Kennel Bookstore and Student Involvement). It was invented by college bookstores across North America to recognize students and encourage student volunteerism. This event was held in front of the Kennel Bookstore and consisted of various activities.  Additionally, both of our mascots were present to take pictures with and inject some additional school spirit. Continue reading “National Student Day with the Richter Center”

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To Plant a Tree

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”

Personal Development through Service

Inspiration
Inspiration found here.

Here I am in my fifth year of college, and I still remember my Dog Days. I remember the nerves and the feelings of going from high school to college. Stepping into a lecture hall for the first time and not recognizing any faces, making presentations and speeches when you do not like public speaking, all these things are now memories. Comparing myself back then to now, I can tell you there is a big difference. To me, personal development is the key and I found that through service.

Fishing for Kindess during Random Acts of Kindness Week 2014! From Richter Center Instagram.
Fishing for Kindess during Random Acts of Kindness Week 2014! From Richter Center Instagram.

Getting involved in college and becoming a Richter Center Ambassador was the best decision I ever made. I did not only receive a sense of belonging, but I received the opportunity to work doing something I love, work on my development, and improve and strengthen skills that will be beneficial in a life after college. To some extent, I consider myself a shy girl that loves to volunteer and learn. This may seem like a contradiction, but it is possible. Once you get out of your comfort zone, you open the doors to amazing experiences and the ability to grow.

Facilitating Picture the Change with Ambassador Juan. From Richter Center Instagram.
Facilitating Picture the Change with Ambassador Juan. From Richter Center Instagram.

As Ambassadors, we do different tabling events and presentations, so we are constantly talking to others. Could you imagine someone that is shy and did not like public speaking doing this? It might be difficult to imagine, and maybe possible to say it is a different person. However, it is not, because that person is me. Tabling events give me the opportunity to share with all of you about service, about our organization, but most importantly, it allows me to listen to your stories of service, to your different majors and to your interests. Without realizing it—until I think about it—this strengthens my interpersonal skills and listening skills. This makes it easier to interact with complete strangers in my classes. Now, I am that girl that will sit next to you and start a conversation. Through presentations, I improved my public speaking skills and confidence. So now I can tell you I rock my presentations in the classroom. This does not mean that I love public speaking, but I learned how to become better at it. Even though I still become nervous and may get butterflies in my stomach, I stand before a room of people.

Spreading the word about the Richter Center with Renee and Neal. From Richter Center Instagram
Spreading the word about the Richter Center with Renee and Neal. From Richter Center Instagram.

Let me ask you a question, what kind of service have you done? How have you grown or developed as a person? This is something we do not think about when we do service. We give, but we do not realize that service transforms us. You have to reflect on what you do to see what the meaning behind it was, and how it affected you. Give yourself the opportunity to be transformed by service, and you might realize that you love it as much as I do. 

Presented with fellow Ambassadors at the Continuums of Service Conference 2014 in Hawaii. From Richter Center Instagram
Presented with fellow Ambassadors at the Continuums of Service Conference 2014 in Hawaii. From Richter Center Instagram.

~Ambassador Jazmin

Alternative Spring Break

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.10523991_10153079687871151_1480004060896604643_n

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?

~Ambassador Juan

Interview with Hannah Poore

SERVE Committee Member Hannah Poore
SERVE Committee Member Hannah Poore

This post is different from some of the ones I’ve have done in the past. Today, I’m sharing an interview with one of my peers in the Richter Center Student Leadership (RCSL) team. Hannah Poore has been a part of RCSL group for one year where she has been a member of the SERVE Committee.  Here is a little insight into her sweet journey with us. Thanks, Hannah, for contributing your story to our blog!

What’s your major and career goal? 

My major is Mass Communications and Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations, and I’m minoring in Sociology. My career goal is to do public relations for a socially-minded company whose cause I love and support and want to spread the word of!

Hannah Poore with fellow SERVE Committee members (Sharon Leyva and Cora Cha) help out at the Spring Community Service Opportunities Fair.
Hannah Poore with fellow SERVE Committee members (Sharon Leyva and Cora Cha) help out at the Spring Community Service Opportunities Fair.

What role do you play in RCSL?

For the SERVE Committee, I’m on the Public Relations and Marketing Committee. I create content for social media, help to make flyers advertising our one-day service events, and spread the word about our service events to media sources like the Bulldog Blog and the Collegian in order to make volunteers aware of the opportunity.

How did you hear about this group?

I heard about RCSL in [a class], from [RCSL members].  Specifically, Alexi Kimura encouraged me to attend a Richter Center Ice Cream Social at the end of my freshman year, and when I met the RCSL team there, I knew I wanted to join and work with them on their awesome service events.

What has been your favorite part about being part of this team?

My favorite part about being on this team has been getting to know the girls! I look forward to our weekly meetings, and I’ve made some really special friendships through RCSL. Yay!

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Hannah and her RSCL friends at the annual Richter Center Student Leader Retreat! Photo credit- Hannah

Why RCSL?

I joined this team because I’m passionate about service and making the world a better place, and all of you (SERVE, Richter Center in general) are too!  It’s amazing!  I love being around such positive and helpful people! It is so refreshing, and it’s wonderful to see our team’s work paying off at service events. I also love spreading the joy of service to others, like volunteers who attend our service events or people I talk to at tabling events, because it really is such a source of joy in my life, that I want others to know about it!

Have you considered being a part of the Richter Center Student Leadership group? If you want more information, please contact us fresnostaterca@gmail.com.

-Ambassador Amanda

Stories from the Island – A Valuable Lesson Taught by Rev. Puanani Burgess

I had the good fortune of being able to present at the 17th Annual Continuums of Service Conference that was held April 2nd through April 5th, 2014 in Honolulu, Hawaii alongside my fellow Richter Center Ambassadors. The Ambassador team, in my humble opinion, did a wonderful job presenting an interactive session on how to best tell your ‘Story of Service’ to a diverse audience to most effectively garner their support and increase their knowledge of your cause. While the goal of the Ambassadors was to help all conference attendees learn how to tell their own story of service, there was one person in attendance who was an absolute expert on the intricacies of story-telling and from whom the Ambassadors learned so much wonderful information.

Puanani
Puanani Burgess, a wise woman who understands how to tell an effective story in order to show truth.

Rev. Puanani Burgess, a “mediator, community developer, facilitator of community-building and conflict transformation…, mother of three, and ordained Zen Buddhist priest” (as described on the API Women, Faith & Action website) gave a truly moving keynote speech to begin the conference. Her skill in story-telling was beyond compare and her thoughts on conflict resolution and mediation were brilliant. While she told many stories to explain her personal philosophy as it pertains to community, one stands especially clearly in my mind. I found a copy of the condensed version here.

One of the processes I use to help people talk to each other I call Building the Beloved Community. There’s an exercise that requires people to tell three stories.

The first is the story of all of your names. The second is the story of your community. The third story I ask them to tell is the story of your gift.

One time, I did this process with a group in our local high school. We went around the circle and we got to this young man, and he told the story of his names well and the story of his community well, but when it came time to tell the story of his gift, he asked, “What, Miss? What kind gift you think I get, eh? I stay in this special ed class and I get a hard time read and I cannot do that math. And why you make me shame for, ask me that kind question? What kind gift you have? If I had gift, you think I be here?”

He just shut down and shut up, and I felt really shamed. In all the time I have ever done that, I have never, never shamed anybody before.

Two weeks later, I am in our local grocery store, and I see him down one of those aisles and I see his back and I’m going down there with my cart and I think “Nope I’m not going there.” So I start to back up as fast as I can and I’m trying to run away from him. And then he turns around and he sees me, and he throws his arms open, and he says, “Aunty! I have been thinking about you, you know. Two weeks I have been thinking: ‘What my gift? What my gift?’ ”

I say “OK bruddah, so what’s your gift?”

He says, “You know, I’ve been thinking, thinking, thinking. I cannot do that math stuff and I cannot read so good, but Aunty, when I stay in the ocean, I can call the fish, and the fish he come, every time. Every time I can put food on my family table. Every time. And sometimes when I stay in the ocean and the Shark he come, and he look at me and I look at him and I tell him, ‘Uncle I not going take plenty fish. I just going to take one, two fish, just for my family. All the rest I leave for you.’ And so the Shark he say, ‘Oh, you cool, brother.’ And I tell the Shark, ‘Uncle, you cool.’ And the Shark, he go his way and I go my way.”

And I look at this boy and I know what a genius he is, and I mean, certifiable. But in our society, the way schools are run, he is rubbish. He is totally destroyed, not appreciated at all. So when I talked to his teacher and the principal of the school, I asked them what would his life have been like if this curriculum were gift-based? If we were able to see the gift in each of our children and taught around that gift? What would happen if our community was gift-based? If we could really understand what the gift of each of our communities were, and really began to support that?

So that for me is a very native approach—being able to see the giftedness in every aspect of life.

 

Hearing Puanani Burgess speak about what it means to find the gifts in others—and yourself—was one of the brightest moments of a truly wonderful weekend learning about best practices in community engagement and service-learning, one of my passions. Now that the conference is over and life at Fresno State picks up where it left off, I find myself wondering how I can continue to incorporate the teachings of Rev. Burgess into my daily life. How can I ‘see the giftedness in others’? How can you do the same? Do you have any tips or tricks that allow you to see a person’s (more than superficial, trite, or banal) worth? Share your thoughts below and, as you go about your day, make a conscious effort to appreciate the gifts of those whom you meet. I promise that the reward of doing so and appreciating the sundry talents of our community is many and truly gratifying!

-Ambassador Daniel

Spring Into Service Reflection

In the early morning hours of Saturday, March 22nd, 2014 a group of faculty, staff,  students, and community volunteers gathered on San Ramon avenue in front of the Science II Building at Fresno State to begin work beautifying the grounds and creating a water-wise garden, showcasing the university’s commitment to being a leader in responsible, sustainable practices in the San Joaquin Valley. The Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning hosts multiple one-day service events in the fall semester and one such event in the spring. The 2014 iteration of the Richter Center’s spring service day was called ‘Spring Into Service’ and featured new and exciting partnerships with different groups and individuals, including Associated Students Inc., Fresno State EES professor Dr. Mara Brady, and Associate Vice President for Facilities Management, Bob Boyd.

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Volunteers stand in front of some of their handiwork in lot P5 on Spring into Service Day 2014! Photo Credit: Richter Center S.E.R.V.E. committee

With more than 30 individuals, the work was completed rapidly and before lunchtime, more than 800 new trees, shrubs, and ground cover plants were successfully transplanted into many of the parking lots on the east side of campus. Three other sites also featured ‘Spring Into Service’ events: Woodward Park (Fresno P.A.R.C.S.), the McKenzie Preserve (Sierra Foothill Conservancy), and the Boys and Girls Club in the El Dorado Park neighborhood west of Fresno State enjoyed the work of over a hundred volunteers in completing meaningful projects.

 

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Volunteers dig holes for water-wise garden plants to be placed in. Photo Credit: Richter Center S.E.R.V.E. committee

What was especially exciting about the work done at Fresno State was that the project was held on the same day as the 2014 Preview Day, in which thousands of incoming Fresno State students and their families visited campus to learn more about the academic prowess of our school. However, as many walked past the volunteers planting trees in parking lots adjacent to the Smittcamp Alumni House, these people were also able to witness first-hand the culture of service that exists at Fresno State. Hopefully they are now able to realize that the more than one million hours of community service work that we as an institution completed in each of the last four academic years are not just numbers on a page; indeed, it is the work of the students, faculty, staff and administration who give so freely of their time and energies for the betterment of the greater Fresno State community, like those who labored early on a Saturday morning, that sums up to a tremendous impact in our city.

Working hard at the water-wise garden in front of the Science II building! Photo Credit: Richter Center S.E.R.V.E. committee
Working hard at the water-wise garden in front of the Science II building! Photo Credit: Richter Center S.E.R.V.E. committee

After a delicious lunch, courtesy of Subway Restaurant, volunteers were asked to reflect on their experiences that day. For many, this was a new experience, but having the opportunity to talk about the work that was done and why it was important was meaningful to all of the volunteers as many expressed when it was their respective turn to talk. Even more exciting than hearing what the volunteers thought of the day was hearing what they planned on doing as a result of Spring Into Service.   Many said that this was one of their first service projects, but that they did not plan on making it their last and were eager to learn about ways to get involved with the Richter Center.

As related to these students on ‘Spring Into Service’ day, the Richter Center student leadership groups are currently accepting applications for the 2014-2015 teams! Students are encouraged to apply for the Richter Center Ambassador program, the S.E.R.V.E. (service experiences through Richter volunteer events) committee, and the ReFs (Reflection Facilitators) program. Visit our Recruitment webpage for more details and to download an application.  Applications are due on Friday, April 25th at 12:00 PM.  Stop by the Richter Center in Thomas Building Room 107, call 559.278.7079, email fresnostaterca@gmail.com, or speak with a current member of the RCSL team for more information!

What are your spring service plans?  Did you participate in Spring into Service?  What about the experience sticks with you?

-Ambassador Daniel

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