UC Riverside Student Saves Life of Iowa Man

A KABC reporter, Leticia Juarez, reported on March 27, 2013 that a UC Riverside student, Alex Fishburn, saved the life of an Iowa basketball coach when he signed up to be a bone marrow donor in 2008 during a LifeStream Blood Drive.

According to Juarez, “Vietor, a 46-year-old Iowa high school basketball coach, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010. It was a battle he almost lost, had it not been for Fishburn’s life-saving bone marrow donation. As it turned out, the 22-year-old University of California at Riverside student was a perfect match.”

“’You sign up for it, might as well. When it actually happens, it’s surreal,’ the student said.”

Although modest about his reasons, the selflessness shown of Alex Fishburn by registering to be a donor and going through the bone marrow transplant procedure, demonstrates the care and compassion that Riversiders have for others in and outside of their community.

Click here to read the article as posted on KABC.

Riversiders Take Home the Cake on Food Network’s ‘Cupcake Wars’

Innovative‘ doesn’t always refer to technology or science. In the case of Desiree Massei and her cousin Alicia, their cupcakes define the term – original and creative: polenta cheddar maple cupcake with mashed potato frosting and topped with bratwurst; pumpkin espresso; and goat cheese cherry and lemon raspberry habanero, to be precise.

Design Cupcakes

Desiree Massei, Design Cupcakes

The interesting out-of-the-box creations inspired by their Italian culinary heritage won the pair of Riverside bakers the title of ‘Cupcake Wars’ champions and $10,000. Timothy Guy, Press-Enterprise, reported that this was the second time the cousins were on the Food Network reality competition, but it was their ability to go beyond their comfort zone in this second round that enabled them to walk away victors.

To read the full PE.com article, click here. For more information on Desiree and Alicia’s cupcake business, click here.

‘Splash’ Launches with High National Ratings, Showcases Riverside’s World-Class Diving Facility

According to Entertainment Weekly, last week’s debut of the latest TV reality show, ABC’s Splash, was the top unscripted series debut on broadcast TV since Fox’s The X Factor first premiered in 2011, beating out Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen and second only to CBS’ NCIS in the 8 p.m. time slot. What most of the country didn’t realize, however, was that the world-class diving facility that was the backdrop for the show was right here in Riverside.

RCC Aquatics Complex

(photo source: rccd.edu)

In a February 22, 2013 Riverside City College press release, it was reported that it was a little bit of showbiz luck–and efforts by RCC, the Riverside SPORTS Commission, Riverside Convention and Visitors Bureau and the City of Riverside–that factored into the college becoming the shooting location for “Splash.” Back in January, a production crew visited the Riverside Aquatics Complex to film a promotional spot for the show. A stellar experience that day, and some key production elements, prompted ABC and producers to consider RAC as the main production location. In less than a week–unusual in the industry–a deal was struck.

Executive Producer and Eyeworks USA CEO JD Roth, said, “The stars were aligned in more ways than one in forging the show’s relationship with the Riverside Aquatics Complex, with the entire team stepping up as great partners. Riverside City College has a beautiful aquatics facility, absolutely world class, and we know our audience will find that it matches the show in visual allure and excitement, while also serving as a perfect backdrop for an authentic diving competition.”


The show will continue its filming through mid-April, showcasing one of Riverside’s incredible training centers and proving why the community is increasingly a
location of choice for residents, business, visitors and athletes.

To watch the ‘Splash’ ABC promo here.

For more info on the Riverside Aquatics Complex and to read the full 2/22/13 press release, click here.

Riverside’s Air Quality a Southern California “Win”

According to a recent blog posted by David Danelski on PE.com, fine-particle pollution — tiny pieces of soot, dust, chemical compounds and other microscopic airborne “gunk” — has declined to healthful levels in Riverside as measured at the South Coast Air Quality Management District official air quality monitoring station.  The station, ironically, is a stone’s throw away from the plaque that marks the first plantings of the Washington navel orange tree at Magnolia and Arlington avenues.

Danelski came across this information while analyzing data recently for an in-depth reporting project on air quality and health, and noted this finding in Riverside a small victory in Southern California’s war against smog. Fine particle pollution in particular has been linked to an array of afflictions, including aggravated asthma, stunted lung development, heart disease, cancer and early death.

In 2010, and again in 2011, the air quality district’s nearby station measured fine particles — called PM 2.5 — at levels just below the federal health standard. Until 2010, the PM 2.5 had been at unhealthful levels since the air district began monitoring the pollutant in 1999,” noted Danelski.

Unfortunately, Riverside is only one of several monitoring stations in Southern California – 10 of which are still reporting levels that exceed the standard as of the most current available reading (2011).

While ozone, the other factor in the battle for clean air, is not measured at the Riverside station, Danelski cites the PM reading as “noteworthy that Riverside, a city long beset with bad air quality, now can say it no longer has unhealthful levels of fine-particle pollution.”

Riverside’s sustainability efforts – championed by both the public and private sector – are to be applauded as they continue to find creative, collaborative ways to ensure Riverside is an international magnet and model for sustainable business, environmental innovation and green living with a synergistic partnership of industry, City leadership and residents. 

To read Danelski’s full blog post, “Air Quality: A Navel Victory in Riverside”, as published on PE.com, click here.

Riverside’s Community Quality of Life Survey Now Underway

Over the next couple of weeks, those who work and/or live in Riverside will have the opportunity to provide opinions and feedback regarding the quality of life in our community. The purpose of this effort is to measure and set benchmarks aligned with the Seizing Our Destiny vision and spark community-wide engagement that promotes and continues to improve our quality of life.

Between now and March 24, 2013 some residents will receive calls to their home and/or mobile phone asking them to participate in a short random phone survey about their quality of life in Riverside. Participation in the survey will help to provide community groups and decision makers with important information concerning what residents think about living in our city. The caller ID for these calls will read CSUSB, as researchers from our regional California State University will be conducting the survey on Riverside’s behalf.

If you receive a phone call, don’t hang up! The researchers will NOT ask for your name, your social security number or your immigration status – just your opinions! Your identity and survey responses will remain confidential. Please share your thoughts to make Riverside a better place to live and work.

If you don’t receive a call, anyone who lives or works in Riverside is encouraged to share their thoughts through an online version of the survey which will be available at www.RiversideSurvey.com from April 1-30, 2013.

Phone, online and hard copy surveys will be available in English or Spanish.

All who live, work or both are encouraged to take the opportunity to participate in this process as it is all of us, and what we hope Riverside to be, that makes our city so unique and special.

For any questions or to request *paper versions of the online survey* email info@seizingourdestiny.com.

Student Volunteers Help Keep Free Clinic Open

(Includes excerpts from the PE article written by Mark Muckenfuss)

At the UC Riverside Student-Run Health Clinic – a free clinic held every other Wednesday at the First Congregational Church in downtown Riverside - residents not able to afford traditional healthcare services are offered check-ups and chronic disease management. The undergraduate volunteers observe or perform administrative tasks. Local physician volunteers serve as advisers, either approving or modifying the treatments proposed by the students.

Students receive a briefing at the UC Student-Run Health Clinic. Photo by Stan Lim, PE staff.

Students receive a briefing at the UCR Student-Run Health Clinic. Photo by Stan Lim, PE staff.

Most medical schools are connected with student-run clinics, but UCR’s, which started in 2004, is larger and provides more types of care than most, according to the doctors who oversee it.  Currently, the student volunteers are first and second year undergraduates enrolled in UCR’s Haider Program, a cooperative venture with UCLA in which spend their final two years of study at UCLA.

When UCR’s new medical school opens this fall, it will increase the potential pool of student volunteers and those involved expect it to expand.

Dr. Paul Lyons, senior associate dean of education for UCR’s School of Medicine, is one of the physicians overseeing the clinic.

“We take care of a variety of acute complaints such as sinus infection, or a cold or if they have belly pain,” Lyons said. “We do not have access to any radiology but we do have access to labs. The second big category (is) the management of chronic disease such as diabetes and high blood pressure. At least half of our visits are for management of chronic disease.”

The clinic grew out of a food assistance program that has been operating at First Congregational Church for nearly 30 years. Richard Wing, a former UCR chemistry professor, said many of that program’s volunteers were medical students. He and his wife, Donna, a registered nurse, thought it would be a good idea if the students could volunteer at something more in line with what they were studying.

They started on a shoestring with a couple of volunteer physicians overseeing the clinic. Now, about 50 medical students and an equal number of undergrads staff the clinic, along with 10 volunteer doctors. Only a portion of those staff the clinic on any given night, seeing between 50 and 60 patients. A modest annual budget of $15,000 to $20,000 covers equipment and supplies, Wing said. Most of that money comes from grants from local and national health foundations.

In the past few years the clinic has added a pharmacy, operated mostly by volunteer students from Loma Linda University Medical School, and dental care, provided by volunteer dental students from Pomona’s Western University.

UCR’s Lyons, who established a student-run clinic during the time he was at Temple University, said the Riverside clinic is more extensive than most.

“This is a pretty large and ambitious program,” he said. “This is not just health screening. It’s not just a health fair. It’s run through the summer and over most breaks. Really, it only takes a week off over the winter holiday break.”

With the opening of UCR’s School of Medicine this fall, Lyons and others expect the clinic may grow. There is even discussion about finding larger, more quarters in or near the downtown area.

Exemplifying Riverside’s innovative approach to improving the common good of the community, the UC Riverside Student-Run health clinic creates opportunities for its undergraduate students and local doctors to connect with and improve the lives of Riversiders that may not otherwise have these healthcare choices.

To read the full article written by Mark Muckenfuss and published on PE.com, click here.

Riverside Parks & Recreation Receives Two Awards of Excellence

The City of Riverside, Parks Recreation & Community Services Department (PRCSD) received two Awards of Excellence from the California Park & Recreation Society (CPRS) this week at the 2013 California and Pacific Southwest Recreation and Park Training Conference in San Jose, CA.

DalesSrCenterRiverside is recognized for the Facility Design of Dales Senior Center Renovation Project in the category of Community Centers/Mixed Use Facilities and for the 2012 Mariachi Festival in the category of Marketing and Communications – Marketing Campaign.

According to Ralph Nunez, Riverside PRCSD Director, “The CPRS awards program is the highest recognition our agency can receive and our award is a credit to the Council, staff, TR Design Group and volunteers that made this happen. We are honored to receive this award on behalf of our residents.”

The City of Riverside, Dales Senior Center Expansion Project embodies the CPRS “Parks Make Life Better!” campaign.  The new 10,500 SF space is a place for the community to gather, exercise, interact with nature, learn new skills and make new connections.

Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey said, “The new Dales Senior Center space and programs should inspire seniors to take advantage of our state of the art facilities and become more ‘Fit Fresh & Fun‘.”

The marketing campaign award recognized Riverside’s promotion of the Riverside Mariachi Festival — noting Riverside’s promotional materials and the partnerships with community groups, other agencies and businesses.

CPRS Executive Director Jane H. Adams states, “These agencies represent the finest in recreation programming and community wide initiatives, park planning, facility design, and marketing and communications in California. Park and recreation agencies throughout the state provide families, individuals, and groups access to the serenity and inspiration of nature; spaces and places for play and exercise; opportunities for directed and self-directed recreation; positive alternatives for youth to reduce crime and mischief; and activities that facilitate social connections, human development, therapy, the arts, and lifelong learning. CPRS and the award sponsors, Rain Bird, Little Tikes Commercial Play Systems, and RJM Design Group, Inc., are proud to recognize the excellent parks, recreation programs, services and facilities provided to Californians.”

The California Park & Recreation Society presented awards in 5 categories:

  • Creating Community Award of Excellence
  • Excellence in Design – Park Planning
  • Excellence in Design – Facility Design
  • Marketing & Communications Award of Excellence
  • Professional & Service 

The two recognitions further demonstrate Riverside’s commitment to increasing the quality of life for all residents through recreation, gathering, health and fitness facilities and programs.

La Sierra University Lands Nation’s Top Service Award

(by Darla Martin Tucker, La Sierra University)

On March 4, 2013, during a ceremony in Washington D.C., La Sierra University, along with four other educational institutions, was named a Presidential Awardee in the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This distinction is the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement, and is another example of the Riverside community coming together for the common good of others.

La Sierra University President Randal Wisbey, center, photographed earlier today with Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Wendy Spencer and Jonathan Greenblatt, special assistant to President Barack Obama. (photo source: La Sierra University)

La Sierra University President Randal Wisbey received the 2013 Presidential Award from the Corporation for National and Community Service during the annual meeting of the American Council on Education. Jonathan Greenblatt, special assistant to President Barack Obama, and Wendy Spencer, chief executive officer of CNCS presented the awards. Greenblatt is also director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation in the Domestic Policy Council.

The recognition commends La Sierra’s achievements in a special focus area, Promise Neighborhoods, which also aligns with President Obama’s education and innovation priorities. La Sierra was cited for its efforts during the 2011-12 school year to aid the region’s residents through various outreach programs including Service-Learning classes, Enactus team activities in economic empowerment, and other civic involvement. Total service hours, including these categories as well as campus service experiences and student missions activities culminated in 1,888 students fulfilling 84,771 hours. For academic Service-Learning classes alone, 899 La Sierra students provided 14,106 hours of service.

“Our university family was delighted to learn we had received this award. Service to others is a key part of La Sierra’s mission and indicative of the Christian ethos that drives our work as a learning community,” said Wisbey. “I am humbled by the way in which students, faculty, and staff daily live out this value through formal and informal outreach efforts to help people in local and global communities. It is wonderful to be recognized for this work, even as we are encouraged to continue to give our very best.”

Read more…

To view photos from the event, click here.

To watch videos of the winning schools, click here.

Local Author Memorializes Moving History of North High School Basketball, Coaches

Riverside resident and famed author, KCET’s Susan Straight, beautifully details the success, history and people that have made North High School basketball an integral piece of Riverside’s big city recreation and hometown feel.

Coach Bartee. | Photo: Douglas MuCulloh

On February 28, 2013, Straight published ‘People Who Stay: A Basketball Coach, a Golden Voice Chanting ‘Three-Ball’, and Players who Hang on Every Word‘ about North’s Varsity Basketball Coach Mike Bartee and the impact he has had on the court, his players and the community:

Mike Bartee gathered his players around him — he had something to say about defense, and sharing the ball, and in the faces shining with sweat, in the circle so close to his words, every eye was trained on his hands and his mouth. They want to do what he asks — every single trip up and down the basketball court — because he would never spend his entire life here if it didn’t mean the world to all of them. (Read more…)

Photograph by Douglas McCulloh

Nearly a year earlier, Straight featured the North girl’s basketball program and the legendary gymnasium in her story ‘J-Dub: The Gym of American Dreams‘:

In Riverside, every day I see people I’ve known since kindergarten, and every time I go to a North High game, it’s like a family reunion. Even if we see each other twice a week during basketball season, we hail, wave, hug, and get ready to scream. John W. North High, named for an early founder of Riverside, has that kind of great sports legacy like many high schools in different parts of America. (Read more…)

To read more about the author, Susan Straight, visit her page here.