Riverside Woman Hopes to Inspire Youth through the Joy of Dance

(As written by Press-Enterprise correspondent, Peter Fischetti, and published on December 27, 2012)  

Danielle Willis is a dancer whose passion for teaching young people has inspired her to take steps you won’t find in any routine.

Sometime early next year, Willis, 27, a Riverside resident, hopes to complete the paperwork to create a nonprofit dance company called Dancing on a Dream that would provide minority children of low-income families with the opportunity to “achieve their dreams” on and off the stage.

Willis, who was raised in Riverside and returned there after attending college in Maryland, teaches dance at the Riverside Arts Council and the Riverside YMCA, and also offers private lessons. Classes in ballet, contemporary, jazz and hip hop are available for children 6 to 17 years of age. The fees for lessons vary, but are kept as low as possible, she said.

Danielle Willis (second from left) with three of her dance students from Fremont Elementary School in Riverside.
Danielle Willis (second from left) with three of her dance students from Fremont Elementary School in Riverside.

The dance company, funded by donations and grants, would allow more young people to learn and perform dance.

After some of her students from Ramona High School performed successfully at the Riverside Arts and Innovation Mayors Ball in October, she thought, “Hmm, this is so cool. I feel so humbled to be a small instrument in their growth. What would happen if people got behind me?”

From that question, the idea for Dancing on a Dream emerged.

She is in the process of forming a board of directors for Dancing on a Dream, and is taking courses on forming a 501(c)(3). To promote the nonprofit, she has developed a Christmas-themed dance show titled “Love is Christmas.” The show was performed last week at the Mission Inn as part of the Festival of Lights, and it prompted “lots of compliments,” Willis said.

A second show at the Mission Inn will be held tonight, Friday, Dec. 28, from 6:30 to 7 p.m. The public is invited to enjoy the skills of 13 young dancers as they perform holiday routines. There is no charge.

Willis’ desire to use dance as a way to increase the quality of life for youth that may not otherwise have the opportunity is yet another example of Riverside’s caring and compassionate nature, and the connected spirit created by sharing an appreciation for the arts and culture that permeate throughout the community.

Click here to read the full article as published on PE.com.

Local Nonprofit Takes Win-Win Approach to Fundraising

As written by Press-Enterprise correspondent, Aleksandr Peterson, and published on December 25, 2012

With the New Year fast approaching, many of us are already turning our minds toward the infamous resolution list — an itemization of all the ways we hope to become better. If physical fitness and charitable giving are on yours, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program offers free professional coaching and training sessions in exchange for participant fundraising.

TeamInTrainingPicGinger Williams, campaign director for the Orange County Inland Empire chapter, describes the exchange this way:

“Essentially, we are providing participants with training to do an event. They turn around and raise x amount of dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.” She said the program supports individuals for four to five months of training, ranging from once-a-week local runs to personalized daily regiments planned by certified coaches.

Recently, Team in Training has helped Inland Southern California participants go out for a marathon, a half-marathon, a triathlon, and a century bike ride. This past season, the Orange County Inland Empire chapter raised $526,000 to go toward cancer research and patient services at LLS.

Dolores Mendoza, Inland Empire Head Coach, got involved with the program in 2007, when she was battling lymphoma and her son decided to run a marathon in her honor. Mendoza said LLS played a huge role in funding research for Rituxan, a drug that proved essential in her own treatment regimen.

“Seeing my son cross that finish line, I thought, you know what? I’m going to get out there and do this,” she said. Mendoza went from participant, to mentor, to coach, and finally, to her current position.

“The most rewarding part of my job is seeing people get to do something they didn’t think they could do,” she said. “Team in Training is truly an amazing organization, and I’m happy to be a part.”

Many of the training sessions are held in local parks across the Inland Empire. Last week, a group met in Washington Park of Riverside at 7 a.m. for a four-mile run.

Williams said the Orange County Inland Empire Chapter will be recruiting participants to go abroad for the first time this spring.

“It’s for a full marathon in Paris,” she said. “Team in Training will support the group for airfare and hotel stay, and in return, they’ll raise money for cancer research.”

“We have participants who have lost loved ones to cancer, others who want to give back to the community, and even some who just want to lose weight,” she said. “We’ll take you from a couch potato to a marathon runner in six months or less.”

By focusing not just on the monetary aspects of nonprofit fundraising, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training approach is helping Riversiders improve their own health and fitness, while increasing the quality of life for others.

Click here to read the full article as published on PE.com.

Click here to go to the Orange County Inland Empire Leukemia and Lymphoma Society website.

New La Sierra University Athletic Advisory Board Chair Views Sports as a Way to Connect Campus with Community

A well-known university athletics director and basketball coach who led four teams to national tournaments is bringing his leadership skills to a fledgling athletics board at La Sierra University.

Stan Morrison, who retired August 2011 from 12 years as athletics director for the University of California, Riverside took up chairmanship this fall of La Sierra University’s Golden Eagles Athletics Advisory Board. In his first meeting earlier this fall, board members were given a game plan by their leader: they are to bring one person unaffiliated with La Sierra University to one game per month, and to come to the next board meeting with the names of two alumni with whom they can share the vision of La Sierra’s athletics department.

Morrison_LSU article
Photo source: www.lasierra.edu

“Athletics can be the front window of an institution,” said Morrison. Sports scores and stories in the media serve as “a great way of introducing a university to a community.”

Morrison’s arrival at La Sierra has been met with enthusiasm.

“He is the best person we could have brought on board,” said Derek Robbins, head coach for the Golden Eagles men’s basketball team. “He’s been a successful player, a successful coach, and he’s done a great job as an athletics director. It’s a benefit to us that we can grow and follow his lead into the future.”

“It is an honor for our athletics department to have someone like Stan Morrison as the chair,” said Yami Bazan, La Sierra’s vice-president for Student Life division that oversees the athletics program. “His lifework on and off the court is an inspiration not just for our athletes, but for our coaches, our athletics director, and those of us who are in leadership positions today. We are grateful and consider his leading of our athletics advisory board a God-gift.”

Morrison’s love of Riverside is infectious. Beyond his new role at La Sierra University, Stan is an active and engaged champion for youth, health, athletics and community programs that grow strong leaders and increase community spirit, including Seizing Our Destiny.  Morrison lives by his belief that “Leadership must go to extraordinary lengths to get extraordinary results.”

To read the full article as published on the La Sierra University website, click here.

Riverside Agencies Partner to Promote Healthy Eating Habits

Good nutrition and healthy diets are both core contributing factors to the overall quality of life of an individual, as well as a community.  In an effort to help educate and promote better eating options for lower-income working families, Riverside agencies have partnered up in developing a new series of cooking videos that show how to prepare nutritious meals on a tight budget.

Riverside Unified School District recorded the videos for the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services in cooperation with the county Department of Public Health, FIND Food Bank and the University of California Cooperative Extension. Some of the production was even done by students who volunteered during a portion of their summer break.

Turkey Skillet Cooking LessonThe cooking videos are part of a pilot project funded with a grant from the California Department of Public Social Services and will be shown at DPSS offices across Riverside County and are part of a larger effort to help residents enrolled in the CalFresh food stamp program to use their CalFresh dollars to make nutritious and delicious foods for their families.

Click here to see an episode showing viewers how to make a Turkey Skillet Dinner; more can be found at the www.rusdvideo.org, search term: CalFresh Cooking Show.

Riverside Celebrates the Official Unveiling of the UC Riverside School of Medicine Education Building

Source: Kris Lovekin, UCR Today

Community supporters, elected officials and administrators gathered Thursday, Dec. 13 to celebrate the second building affiliated with the UCR School of Medicine.

Visitors toured the School of Medicine Education Building that has been renovated and transformed with a medical simulation laboratory, a 100-seat lecture hall, 10 patient examination rooms and small group discussion rooms. It includes a wall in the entryway that has been dedicated to Dr. Thomas and Mrs. Salma Haider for their ongoing support for the School of Medicine.

UCR Chancellor Timothy P. White talks with community members, including Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey and LaSierra University President Randal Wisby, about the classroom facilities of the School of Medicine. Photo by Peter Phun; source UCR Today.
UCR Chancellor Timothy P. White talks with community members, including Seizing Our Destiny Education Roundtable members Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey and La Sierra University President Randal Wisby, about the classroom facilities of the School of Medicine. Photo by Peter Phun; source UCR Today.

“This facility is not merely a building, or a node in the network of campus research, it is the builder of dreams, a vehicle to serve the urgent needs of our community,” said Chancellor Timothy P. White in what is one of his last official appearances at UC Riverside before he goes to lead the California State University system. “From this building will emerge dozens of physicians trained on the ground in this area – many of them local residents, who understand the experiences and the cultures of their patients.”

Founding School of Medicine Dean, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Seizing Our Destiny Champion G. Richard Olds described the simulation lab, where students, much like airline pilots, will learn and practice their skills on patient simulators created to mimic medical conditions and scenarios they are likely to encounter in the practice of medicine.

“Yes, this building has lecture halls, but our lecture halls will be used to a lesser degree than traditional medical schools,” Olds said. “Instead, we devoted a larger amount of square feet to small rooms, we call them Problem-Based Learning rooms, where students will actively solve problems, gaining and applying medical knowledge as they will need to when they become practicing physicians.”

It is because of this inventive, multi-disciplinary approach that the UC Riverside School of Medicine is a  “Catalyst for Innovation“, serving as both a training ground for skilled medical professionals and as an economic engine for Riverside.

To read the full article published on UCR Today, click here.

Recently Published Book Shares the History and Personal Experiences of Riverside’s Sherman Institute (Sherman Indian High School)

While it is well known that Riverside’s history is rich with social and cultural diversity, the stories and national significance of the Sherman Institute, the flagship among 25 federal off-reservation American Indian boarding schools, might be among the most captivating chronicles of this community from the past century.  Now, a new book co-authored by historians connected to UC Riverside tells the story of the school through images and voices of its students.

As reported by Bettye Miller and published on UCR Today,

photo credit: Sherman Indian Museum

“Sherman Institute enrolled its first students on Sept. 9, 1902, a decade after its predecessor, the Perris Indian School, was founded in an agricultural region south of Riverside. Harwood Hall, Sherman’s first superintendent, lobbied to move the school from rural Perris to the larger community of Riverside, where entrepreneur Frank Miller wanted Indian students to work at his Glenwood Inn, later renamed the Mission Inn.‘The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue: Voices and Images from Sherman Institute,’ recalls those experiences through the voices of Sherman students and photographs from the school’s extensive archives. Published this month by Oregon State University Press, the book is the first collection of writings and images about an off-reservation Indian boarding school.

For much of its history Sherman enrolled children as young as 10, until 1970 when it became a fully accredited high school. Today, Sherman Indian High School is controlled by Native Americans with a curriculum that includes American Indian history, languages and cultures”

The Indian School on Magnolia AvenueClifford E. Trafzer, co-editor of the book and the Rupert Costo Chair in American Indian Affairs at UC Riverside, explained that the book’s approach differs from that of much scholarship about Native Americans in that it embraces oral histories of the students who attended Sherman instead of relying only on written documents,

“It reflects a belief that American Indians have something of value to tell you about their history, that there is value in listening and learning from Indians. That is not a common approach.”

Trafzer added, “We want people to understand about the attempted assimilation of American Indian children by taking them out of their homes and putting them in boarding schools. In spite of that, many children used their education and experiences — sometimes positive, sometimes bitter — to help their tribes understand U.S. government, business and culture.”

The book was produced as part of The First Peoples initiative – a collaboration of four university presses with grant support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The initiative aims to demonstrate the ways Indigenous traditional and lived experiences contribute to and reframe discourses on the history, culture, identity and rights of Indigenous peoples worldwide.

To read the full article as published on UCR Today, click here.

Copies of the book can be ordered from Amazon or Oregon State University Press;  all proceeds go to the Sherman Indian Museum.

Riverside Says “Thank You” to Longtime Leader & Visionary

Ronald O. Loveridge has been Riverside’s mayor since 1994 and served on the City Council from 1979-1994.  As the community welcomes its new mayor, William “Rusty” Bailey, into office, it is with fondness, respect and gratitude that we say good-bye to the Honorable Ron Loveridge.

Mayor Ron Loveridge

Over the past several weeks, much has been written about the political science professor’s time leading Riverside and the many, many accomplishments for which he deserves accolades and praise, but one effort stands out that has enabled Riverside to forge ahead out of a economic recession with a momentum of positive, lasting change that impacts all Riversiders.

In early 2009, the Public Policy Institute of California presented findings to a 2008 study that projected Riverside’s (and all of Inland Southern California’s) demographic and economic composition 15 years out; the findings were far from ideal. Rather than accepting the data as Riverside’s inherent future, Mayor Loveridge called upon then Dean of the UC Riverside A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management, David Stewart, to guide civic and community leaders through the development of an aspirational 20-year strategic vision that mobilizes the skills and resources of a broad cross-section of Riversiders toward one common goal – a better community for us all.

After six months of intensive engagement by a steering community, fueled with input and feedback through community focus groups and an on-line survey, a plan entitled “Seizing Our Destiny: The Agenda for Riverside’s Innovative Future” was presented to and adopted by the City Council on December 15, 2009.  Mayor Loveridge presented this plan during his State of the City address in January 2010 and expressed the following in a letter included in the original publication:

“I believe this vision is so powerful because it is larger than any one individual or institution. It is therefore capable of transcending traditional political alliances, enduring through changes in elected officials, and unifying people of all walks of life through engagement in our community. It is an Agenda that at its roots depends on partnerships across economic sectors, across industries and concerns, and across personal interests in the pursuit of something greater for our City.

I also believe this Agenda is compelling because it rests on the understanding that Riverside is poised for greatness. For many years, we have reinvigorated our institutions, renewed our infrastructure and recaptured the excitement of our people. Now we are ready to take the next steps toward our shared future.”

Much has been accomplished in the nearly three years since Seizing Our Destiny was adopted as Riverside’s strategic vision. And, thanks to the leadership of Mayor Loveridge and his natural tendency for setting the bar high and believing in the potential of this community, the Seizing Our Destiny movement continues to build on the city’s existing strengths to improve quality of life, attract diverse and dynamic people, encourage innovation and work together for the common good.

Thank you Ron.

Other related articles:

Riverside Magazine: Exit Interview with Mayor Loveridge (pg. 20)

Press-Enterprise: City bids Mayor Ron Loveridge emotional farewell

City of Riverside: Riverside Mayor recognized for clean air contributions

How Can You Make a Difference in Riverside’s Future?

Riversiders often ask how they can help further the Seizing Our Destiny movement. The answer is simply to get involved – nonprofit, neighborhood, faith-based or civic organizations all have opportunities to help improve quality of life, attract diverse and dynamic people, encourage innovation and work together for the common good.

City Boards and Commissions are a prime example of this as they are the underpinnings of our community – they are how the community navigates the daily and weekly decisions that help make Riverside run smoothly to become the kind of community we all want.

Diversity and inclusion is key to ensuring a collective voice that represents the Riverside community and now the City Charter requires each board or commission to have at least one member from each Council Ward.

These are voluntary positions and to be eligible a citizen must reside in Riverside and be a registered voter. The terms of office are four years and members may serve as many as two consecutive terms.

Application deadline is Friday, December 14th.

Click here to view all of the open positions. Applications may be picked up at the City Clerk’s Office, 7th floor of City Hall, 3900 Main Street or by calling 826-5557.  You may also download the application by selecting:

Riverside Woman Dedicates Life to Helping Others

In the November 27, 2012 Press-Enterprise, correspondent Jerry Soifer profiled Riverside resident Etta Brown.  Brown, 80, is active in civic groups and helped form the Riverside chapter of the National Society of Military Widows, an organization for which she is now the president at the national level.

Although Etta has experienced loss throughout her life, she has never let it change her faith, strength or positive disposition and used giving back to the community and others as a way to heal.

Johnnie Miller, president of the Martin Luther King Senior Citizens Group, said Brown is “a true Christian lady. This is what she lives for…She never says, ‘No’, she’s a beautiful lady, a kind, generous lady.”

Etta Brown is an example of the caring community within Riverside; having compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

To read the full profile as published in the Press-Enterprise, click here.



New Youth Music Arts School To Open In Riverside

As written by Alicia Robinson and published in the 11/29/2012 Press-Enterprise:

Riverside officials are preparing to launch a variety of classes for youth in music, dance and other arts in a first-time endeavor for the city’s Eastside neighborhood.

Councilman Andy Melendrez and parks Director Ralph Nunez helped put together the program that will be offered at the Cesar Chavez Community Center and will formally open in mid-December.

Dancers perform in the Ballet Folklorico program at Riverside's Reid Park in 2008. The program will be expanded to Cesar Chavez Community Center as part of a new music and arts school on the city's Eastside. Photo via Press-Enterprise
Dancers perform in the Ballet Folklorico program at Riverside’s Reid Park in 2008. The program will be expanded to Cesar Chavez Community Center as part of a new music and arts school on the city’s Eastside.
photo via Press-Enterprise

A guitar teacher already has begun lessons, the parks department’s nonprofit foundation will buy a piano and an instructor is being sought to teach brass instruments. Drama also is expected to be among the offerings.

The school was set up with a budget cobbled together from parks funds and private donations. Scholarships will be offered to reduce the cost of classes for students who can’t afford them. Officials hope the school eventually will become an independent, nonprofit endeavor.

“Our goal is to try to keep it as affordable as we can for the children that are looking to participate,” Nunez said.

For information about signing up for classes, or to donate or volunteer to help with the school, call Randy Solis or Noemi Lopez at the Cesar Chavez Community Center at 951-826-5746. To view the original article, click here.

As the City of Arts & Innovation, providing new opportunities for artistic and cultural enrichment for the youth in the community furthers Riverside’s efforts to being a center of creativity with news ways to learn, experience, celebrate and enjoy the arts.