Category Archives: Community

Riverside Firefighter Gives His Shoes To Barefoot Homeless Man

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Katie Kindelan and published in Yahoo/ABC News on January 19, 2016.)

Photo Credit: ABC News
Photo Credit: City of Riverside Fire Department/Facebook

A California firefighter and his captain are being praised for pulling their fire truck over to give a pair of shoes to a homeless man walking barefoot on a highway.

The firefighters, from Riverside, California, were driving back to the fire station last week from a physical fitness test when they saw an elderly homeless man walking on the side of the freeway, Bruce Vanderhorst, the battalion’s Chief Public Information Officer, told ABC News.

The firefighters turned their fire truck around to help the man and then noticed he was barefoot.

One of the firefighters aboard the engine, David Gilstrap, donated his own pair of sneakers to the homeless man, while the engine’s captain, Rob Gabler, walked over and helped the homeless man put on his shoes.

The moment was captured on camera and shared on the fire department’s Facebook page last Thursday.

Vanderhorst told ABC News the firefighters also offered the homeless man water and access to the city’s homeless services.

“Services are always offered and we tell them, ‘We can get help to you,’” he said. “We’re very proud of the work we do building our community relations and we’re here to help in any way we can whenever those opportunities present themselves.”

Riversiders commitment to making one-other’s life a little better is a great example of Riverside acting as a unified city. The actions of this Riverside firefighter demonstrates that Riverside is a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

To read the full article, click here.

RUSD Joins Forces With Girls Who Code

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in RUSD News.)

Photo Credit: RUSD
Photo Credit: RUSD

Riverside Unified School District announced today a partnership with Girls Who Code, the national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology. The partnership between the school district and the non-profit will provide computer science education and real-world programing experience to girls through two free programs: the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program and the Girls Who Code Clubs Program. This is Girls Who Code’s first formal partnership with a school district in the country.

With this partnership, Riverside Unified and Girls Who Code will work to inspire, educate, and equip girls in the Riverside community with the skills and resources they need to pursue opportunities in computing. The Summer Immersion Program is a free 7-week introduction to computer science for rising juniors and seniors in high school. The Clubs program is a free after-school or weekend program for middle and high school students. Interested students and parents can find out more about both programs by visiting

Since 2012, Girls Who Code has reached more than 10,000 girls in 42 states. Importantly, 90 percent of Summer Immersion Program graduates have declared or intend to declare a major or minor in computer science.

“Since founding Girls Who Code, it’s been my dream to democratize access to computer science education for girls across the country,” said Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code. “Thanks to the Riverside Unified School District, we are one step close to achieving that dream.”

Dr. Angelov Farooq, Board Trustee at Riverside Unified School District said “as a school district dedicated to equipping students with technical skills they need to get jobs, we are thrilled to pioneer the first­ever Girls Who Code partnership with a school district. Reshma is both a personal friend and a true visionary, and I’m excited to work together to bring the national movement to close the gender gap in technology to the Riverside community.”

By 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs open in the computing related fields, but the United States is only on pace to filling 29% of them with computer science graduates. At current rates, only 3% will be filled by women. Girls Who Code and its partners nationwide are seeking to change that.

This partnership is the latest commitment by Riverside Unified to bring technology education to its students. Sporting the tagline, “Innovation in Education,” Riverside Unified has made technology implementation one of its highest priorities. The District supports the city’s Smart Riverside computer training for low-income families as well as its Code to Careers initiative, which grew out of the success of the city’s computer training and the district’s participation with Google’s CS First initiative, in which 1,700 RUSD students have written more than 12,000 hours of code. The district has also spearheaded a multi-district consortium with

Riverside’s initiative to promote and encourage STEM education is a model of Seizing Our Destiny’s intelligent growth pillar.  STEM education plays a vital role in strengthening our community’s workforce and job growth.

About Girls Who Code

Girls Who Code is a national non­profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology. Through its Summer Immersion Program and Girls Who Code Clubs, the organization is leading the movement to inspire, educate, and equip young women with the computing skills to pursue 21st ​century opportunities. Additional information is available at w​​

To read the full article, click here.

Riverside Art Museum Awarded $800,000 from the James Irvine Foundation

Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise

The Riverside Art Museum (RAM) has been awarded a three-year $800,000 grant from The James Irvine Foundation to advance sustainable organization transformation that leads to expanded arts engagement. RAM is one of six California arts organizations – and the only one from the Inland Valley region – who received a New California Arts Fund grant.

The purpose of the New California Arts Fund is to help nonprofits move arts engagement to the core of who they are and what they do. The James Irvine Foundation provides a combination of support for organization capacity building and for arts engagement programming that encourages and expands participation in the arts among California’s growing and diverse communities. New California Arts Fund grantee-partners are selected through an invitation-only process.

Specifically, the funds will support the museum‘s engagement work over a three-year period. This includes incorporating lessons learned from the popular Riverside Art Make engagement project into “core” programs such as art education classes, art exhibitions, and collections stewardship. The Art Make, which brought hands-on art making projects to a variety of Riverside neighborhoods, provided lessons on which type of art practices can facilitate collaboration, participation, and break down the misconception of “I am not an artist.” During the Riverside Art Make, the museum served 9,533 individuals. Nearly one-half had never been to the museum, yet 92.5% said they would attend future RAM events. Survey data also indicated that the top most enjoyable aspect of the Riverside Art Make was “participating in creating something.”

This grant is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s Intelligent Growth Pillar.  Riverside embraces economic growth and directs it so it maintains and improves our already outstanding quality of life. This includes growing the economy, raising the standard of living and managing a growing population. Our community uses land and repurposes historic structures to provide excellent jobs, support to businesses and steward our heritage and natural beauty.

EXCEED: Creating Choices And Opportunities For Adults With Disabilities

(This blogs contains information pulled from on December 28, 2015.)

Photo Credit: EXCEED
Photo Credit: EXCEED


On May 4, 1981, Valley Resource Center opened in Hemet, California with 17 clients and by year end was serving 29 persons. In 1983, Valley Resource Center received a grant that helped to establish a facility in San Jacinto. In 1985, a second facility in Perris was opened. At present, EXCEED is serving over 480 clients in its Perris, Hemet, Riverside and La Quinta locations; and over 150 others in individual or enclave community placements throughout Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

What  they do:

Life Skills Training- EXCEED’s Adult Developmental Centers (ADC) provide basic living skills training, which assists clients in reaching their maximum level of independence and access into the community. Their curriculum includes self-advocacy, mobility training, money management, functional reading and writing, pre-vocational and daily living skills training.

Senior Component- Their Senior Program is designed for clients who are older and wish to focus on retirement and leisure skills. The program includes hobbies, recreational activities, and other appropriate activities and living skills geared to older adults.

Healthy Living- Their Casa del Valle Residential Program provides long-term housing, care and training to 14 adults with developmental disabilities in a 4,400 square foot, 8-bedroom facility on approximately 0.9 acres.

Vocational Training and Job Placement- EXCEED’s Supported Employment program offers job matching and individual placements within the community. When an individual enters the program, a match of the client’s skills to the appropriate work environment is made. Initially, a Job Coach is assigned to the individual to provide training. Clients receive on-going support as needed in order to maintain or enhance employment. Clients usually work 20 or more hours per week and earn competitive wages.

Supervised Work Teams (enclaves) are an extension of the Supported Employment program. Clients are placed in industry, in small groups with an on-site supervisor. These clients learn and perform various jobs within Industry in a competitive employment environment. Clients enhance work and social skills to go on to Individual Placement or competitive employment. Clients are referred to enclaves from other EXCEED programs, or from outside referral sources.

Teaching Marketable Work Skills- EXCEED’s Work Activity Centers (WAC) provide vocational training for persons that wish to acquire marketable work skills. Clients have the opportunity to work on a variety of contracts including packaging, assembly, labeling, light manufacturing, and mailers. A Maintenance Training Program provides instruction in janitorial and lawn maintenance.

Our crews work at various residences and businesses in the community, and State Highway Rest Areas. In addition to specific work skills, the Work Activity Center program stresses the development of appropriate work habits and attitudes. Some of our contract companies include: Cal Trans, California Highway Patrol, Riverside County municipalities, nationwide and worldwide retailers and distributors. Clients in this program spend their time in paid work and vocational skills training. Over the past year, more than 25 clients have transitioned from WAC to community placement.

EXCEED can also provide a well-trained crew to perform janitorial and grounds keeping work. A contract agreement is made and services are billed monthly.

Organizations such as EXCEED are great examples of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. Riversiders are working together everyday to not only to address local issues, but to also have a positive impact on the region, nation, and world.

To find out more about EXCEED, click here.

RPD Is Giving Back This Holiday Season

(This article contains excerpts from the Riverside Police Department’s Facebook page posted on December 22, 2015.)

Photo Credit: Riverside Police Department
Photo Credit: Riverside Police Department

About a week ago the Riverside Police Department was contacted by a family on Facebook looking for information on car seats for their two daughters. The mother explained that her daughters had outgrown her old car seats but she did not have the money for new ones. After contacting the family and discussing their needs the Riverside Police Department decided to pay a visit to the family on Tuesday, December 22nd. In addition to installing two brand new car seats, officers presented Christmas gifts for the family.

Riversiders commitment to making one-other’s life a little better is a great example of Riverside acting as a unified city. The actions of the Riverside Police Department demonstrates that Riverside is a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

To follow RPD, click here.

School Raises $3,000 In A Week For Foster Children

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Anne Marie Walker and published in The Press Enterprise on December 14, 2015.)

Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise

On Dec. 4, Terrace Elementary School presented a check for $3,000 to Together We Rise, a charity dedicated to aiding foster children. The elementary school students raised the money by bringing in coins to class and met their goal within a week.

The elementary school is part of No Excuses University, a national network of schools that prepares students for college. During its annual No Excuses National Convention they announce the Charity of the Year. At this year’s convention, Together We Rise was chosen as the charity.

Together We Rise, which is based in Brea, is a nationwide charity that promotes welfare of foster children – even after they have aged out of the adoption system. Children who move to a new home are typically given trash bags to put their belongings in, but this charity provides what are called Sweet Cases, which are bags with a blanket, a book, and a teddy bear. Together We Rise also provides clothing for back-to-school season, bicycles and care packages for college students.

Last year, the students of Terrace Elementary raised $2,500 for the Friends of Jacqueline Foundation, a charity that supports children with brain tumors. This year, Principal Emily M. Devor wanted to meet the goal of $3,000. They met that goal within a week.

The school began a Coin Drive to raise the funds. On Monday, the students brought in pennies, Tuesdays they brought in nickels, Wednesday were dimes, Thursday for quarters, and finally on Friday they brought in dollar bills.

Although donations had been made before and after the Coin Drive, the students raised the majority of the funds.

“We try to teach them that we all have challenges, we all have variables, but there’s always someone who has it worse than we do,” Devor said. “We need to help others even when it seems like we’re struggling ourselves.”

According to Devor, the students were excited to be able to contribute and gleefully brought in bags of coins. Together We Rise’s mascot is a teddy bear and paper cut outs of the mascot were distributed for children to color in and later hang in the administrative office. At the school’s Gateway to College Pep Rally, where students learn college words, have an adopted school, and celebrate the year they will potentially graduate from college, the youth leadership group, PAW PALS, presented the check for $3,000 to Together We Rise.

Gianna Dahlia, executive director of Together We Rise is thankful for the school’s efforts in promoting the cause. The money raised will directly fund the Sweet Cases program and care packages for college students.

“We are really humbled that people are getting involved with foster kids,” she said. “I think we’re showing that anyone can help and it’s humbling that people are starting to get that concept.”

Damen Lopez, founder of No Excuses University, praised the students of Terrace Elementary.

“We have so many kids who live in poverty, [and] those kids have such great hearts. They know that there are other people who need them,” he said.

Efforts like this truly demonstrate why Riverside is such a unified city. Riverside is a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants and beyond.

To volunteer or donate to Together We Rise, visit

For more information on No Excuses University, go to

To read the full article, click here.

Riverside Families Go On Shopping Spree With Firefighters

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Rob McMillan and published in ABC7 on December 16, 2015.)

For several Riverside families, Christmas got a little merrier as they spent Wednesday morning shopping for gifts with city firefighters.

“It’s very rewarding and very honorable to be able to give back to people that aren’t as fortunate as others,” firefighter Jennifer McDowell said.

Among the families selected this year was the Fields family. Amelia Fields was picked after writing an essay at school on the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The family shopped and got some comfy boots, toys, books, slippers, a coffee cup for dad, and even something for their puppy.

Amelia thought of everyone.

“She obviously is thinking about the entire family, not just herself, which is probably one of the reasons why she is so special,” McDowell said.

The $300 shopping spree was donated by the Riverside Fire Department. In all, four families were selected to partake in the event.

Riversiders commitment to making one-other’s life a little better is a great example of Riverside acting as a unified city. The actions of the Riverside Fire Department demonstrates that Riverside is a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

To read the original article, click here.

Hundreds Gathered AT UCR To Honor Victims Of The San Bernardino Shooting

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Kris Lovekin and published in UCR Today on December 9, 2015.)

Photo Credit: UCR Today
Photo Credit: UCR Today

About 400 people attended a candlelight vigil near the Highlander Union Building Dec. 4  to honor the victims of the mass shooting in San Bernardino Dec 2, that killed 14 and injured 21, including four UCR alumni.

Among the dead were Sierra Clayborn, 27, who graduated from UCR  in 2010 in biochemistry, and 58-year-old Damian Meins, who graduated in Economics in 1978. Meins spent his career in environmental safety. His two daughters are also UCR graduates.

Jennifer Stevens, 22, who graduated this past June in environmental science, was hospitalized, as was Denise Peraza, 27, who earned her master’s degree in Environmental Science at UCR in 2013.

Wilcox reminded the crowd that “we are becoming more closely connected as human beings, more tightly knit. When we talk about changing the world, when we talk about making the world a better place, we are empowered in ways that humans have never been to do that, through our connectedness.” Coming together in these times of sorrow is a true demonstration of what makes us a unified city.  We are a caring community that has compassion for all people and we stand with San Bernardino in their time of need.

A lone bagpipe played by Mike Terry, head of UCR’s Pipe Band, closed the somber event as the attendees quietly held their electric candles.

To read the full article, click here.

“Autumn Arbor Day” Event Highlights Stewardship Efforts At CBU

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in cbu News & Events on December 7, 2015.)

Photo Credt: CBU News & Events
Photo Credt: CBU News & Events

About 40 students, faculty and staff of California Baptist University helped make the CBU campus a little greener at an Autumn Arbor Day service project on Dec. 5.

Five teams were assigned to planting trees in parking lots and cultivating and laying down new mulch for a big eucalyptus tree in the Colony residential area.

Ed Schmachtenberger, manager of grounds and landscaping, said there are plans to plant as many as 50 additional trees around campus.

Dr. Jacob Lanphere, assistant professor of environmental science, attended the event with his family. He said it was a wonderful opportunity for students to connect with nature.

“We talk about a lot of these things in the classroom, but when students get an opportunity to come out, be involved, get a little bit of exercise and be a part of it, they will always remember being involved in the community and making it look better, but also making the Earth look better,” he said.

Emily Borden, a creative writing sophomore, helped replace the mulch.

“I’m happy anytime trees are planted and I’m happy that I could help this tree flourish,” she said.

CBU is one of nine higher education institutions in California designated as a Tree Campus USA college by a program implemented by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Events like this not only help Riverside stay clean, but also creates a beautiful city for people to visit and live in. With our already outstanding landscape, year-round activities, and ample recreational options, Riverside has another reason for it to be a location of choice for people seeking a clean and beautiful place to live.

To read the full article, click here.

Riverside Non-Profit Is Keeping The Santa Ana River Clean And Beautiful

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Jordan E. Rosenfeld and published in on December 1, 2015.)

Inland Empire Waterkeepers clean up Mill Creek. Photo Credit:
Inland Empire Waterkeepers clean up Mill Creek. Photo Credit:

Southern California is famous for its beaches, but not many people know it’s home to one of the most unique river ecosystems in the world, the 110-mile Santa Ana River, which is fed by many smaller tributaries. It’s such a special environment that famed biologist E.O. Wilson named it one of the world’s 10 biological hotspots, according to Megan Brousseau, director of the nonprofit organization Inland Empire Waterkeeper. The Riverside, California, group has worked hard to restore these waters and to protect them from pollution.

People don’t know this river is a riparian forest, with great white egrets and blue heron, and home to an endangered species that lives nowhere else in the world, the Santa Ana suckerfish,” she says. “We are absolutely responsible for this species continuing or disappearing, right here in little old California.”

Director, Inland Empire Waterkeeper Brousseau spends a lot of time educating people about their personal part in pollution, and motivates them to recycle and reuse by getting them down to the river, where they can see the effects with their own eyes. By bringing their attention to the intersection between the natural world and their own consumption, she’s better able to encourage recycling and proper disposal.

Overall, what we’re working on is creating ownership and pride,” Brousseau says. “If there is no ownership, then there will be no stewardship. What we really want to do is give this river back to the people. We are cleaning it not only to make it safe and to recreate, but by getting [people] down there, they start to feel like it’s theirs.”

Thanks to her organization’s cleanup efforts, the portion of the river that runs through Riverside—creeks and streams once too full of trash and toxins for anyone to swim or play in them—are now host to kids’ educational summer camps and recreational play that teaches personal responsibility.

Brousseau feels that stewardship, which includes teaching the importance of recycling, should be a part of the curriculum at every grade level. “We would never give somebody a car and not teach them how to pump gas, steer, or change a flat tire. Even in the most remedial job, you give them the tools to do it right. We release our kids with no tools on how to care for this earth. The river is an outdoor education space that is free to 10 schools within walking distance that are Title 1 impoverished,” says Brousseau.

With grant funding, Inland Empire Waterkeeper has been able to sponsor a summer river camp for kids. Under the guise of fun experiments like inspecting the water under microscopes, collecting aquatic insects, and testing water quality, the camp teaches them good habits for life, like recycling and reusing. “All of my life I was told: ‘Don’t drop that chip bag, it will end up in the ocean,’” says Brousseau. But today’s kids are not as aware of the connection between trash and our waterways. “Many kids think I’m full of it, until I take them down for these cleanups and show them the huge pipe dumping right into the river and the Mylar Capri Sun packaging floating by.”

Thanks to grants and a partnership with Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water, parts of the Santa Ana River are on their way back to recreational health. At a joint last cleanup at Mill Creek, volunteers pulled more than 4,500 pounds of trash from the urban stream, including such egregiously dumped items as shopping carts, tires, and carpet rolls. The group has since initiated a program that redirects thousands of pounds of housing and landscape development materials by setting up drop-offs for hazardous trash and big, bulky items.

Organizations such as Inland Empire Waterkeeper are great examples of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. Riversiders are working together everyday to not only address local issues, but to also have a positive impact on the region, nation, and world.

To read the full article, click here.