Category Archives: Community

Riverside Unified School District Partners With Local Women’s Prison To Give Hope To At-Risk Students

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in RUSD News feed on 7/2/2015.)

Photo Credit: RUSD
Photo Credit: RUSD

At-risk Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) students who successfully committed to improving their grades and attendance received bicycles at a special event on Wednesday, July 1 at the Central Registration Center, 5700 Arlington Avenue. The bicycles were refurbished by inmates and donated to RUSD by the California Institution for Women, working with the non-profit Correctional Employees Youth Group, Continuing the Dream.

RUSD Superintendent Dr. David Hansen, California Institution for Women Warden Kimberly Hughes, retired corrections officer Roy Mabry, chief executive officer for Continuing the Dream, Sue Lynn Jones from the Riverside Police Department and RUSD staff joined students and their parents at the bike giveaway. Four bicycles were awarded to members of the Ramirez family, who worked hard to get to school each morning and to improve their grades. The Riverside Police Department provided helmets and locks. The district has six more to give to other successful students throughout the year.

“In the face of varying circumstances, our students work extremely hard to stay on track. It’s great to know that we have community partners who care so much about the student families of Riverside that they would reward our students with a donation like this,” stated Dr. Hansen.

“The women [inmates] love giving back,” added Warden Hughes. “It’s a win-win situation. It allows the children to look forward to something and to have something tangible for their accomplishments of going to school and furthering their education.  We are always looking for innovative ways to give back to the community. “

The idea for the bicycle giveaway grew from School Attendance Review Board (SARB) hearings that Mabry and other corrections officers regularly attend. These hearings are held for chronically truant students – those who have more than 20 unexcused absences. Mabry’s 30 years of experience as a correctional officer told him that these students’ stories would not have happy endings. In fact, he noted, research shows that as much 82 percent of students who don’t graduate end up in prison. He’s hoping that something as simple as a bicycle can help to change this dismal statistic.

Working with the Continuing the Dream organization, Mabry and other volunteers are partnering with the California Institute for Women and other correctional facilities to provide an incentive for students to work hard to improve their grades and attendance.  In addition to helping students, the project also provides an opportunity for inmates to give back to their community. The program is now in Rialto, San Bernardino, Pomona, Chino, in addition to Riverside.

“Bicycles seem to really work for kids,” Mabry said. “It’s good to see them focus…they have a different reason to focus.”

“It’s independence,” added Child, Welfare and Attendance Manager Woodie Rucker-Hughes, who said that in many cases, students have no means to get to school and sometimes their families also do not have transportation.

Rucker-Hughes said she the bicycle program can make a huge difference in a child’s outlook for success. It’s empowering to let students know that if they come to school and work hard, they will have a reward. Students start to think, “I’m going to change my life,” she said.

Although the program is just the beginning of a solution to a larger problem, Mabry said, it’s a good start.

“I see the results,” he said. “I say, we all need to be part of it.”

Organizations such as Continuing the Dream are great examples of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. We are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

For more information about the Continuing the Dream organization, visit www.continuingthedream.com.

Riverside Unified School District is the 15th largest school district in California, serving nearly 42,000 students in 48 schools in Riverside, California. The district serves the majority of the City of Riverside as well as unincorporated areas of Highgrove and Woodcrest in Riverside County and is governed by a publicly elected Board of Education consisting of five members who serve five different trustee areas. The district is led by Superintendent Dr. David Hansen.

Who Says There’s No Such Thing As A FREE LUNCH?

(This information was pulled from the RUSD Nutrition Services webpage on June 25, 2015.)

FEEDS Flyer

 “RUSD F.E.E.D.S. (Food for Every child to Eat During Summer).” Beginning Monday, June 15th through Friday, August 21st lunch will be provided to any child, ages 2-18 for FREE.

This program, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Services, is vital for many low-income children especially in this difficult economy.  Free school meals provide children with up to 75% of the Recommended Dietary Allowances for key nutrients.  When school is not in session, these meals are lost and may not easily be replaced.   As children obviously do not stop growing physically or cognitively because they are not in school, this summer program fills a crucial gap, helping to ensure that students will return to school ready to learn.

The Nutrition Services Department also partners with the City of Riverside Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department to provide meals.

During the summer months it is important to encourage your child to eat healthy food and stay active.  Visit one of the eighteen (18) neighborhood parks or six (6) school sites this summer where a daily outdoor bar-b-cue will be provided at no charge. Parents do not have to complete any applications or provide any money for their children to eat.  Any child 2-18 will be eligible for a FREE meal.

Please bring your kids and their friends and join your neighbors for a hot BBQ lunch in the park.  See their flyer for a complete listing of locations and service times where children can receive free meals during the summer. If you need more information please call (951) 352-6740.  Si tiene alguna pregunta, llame al (951) 352-6740.

RUSD’s  commitment to making one-other’s life a little better is a great example of Riverside acting as a unified city. The actions of all the participating organizations 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.

Mobile Fresh Expands Deliveries Of Fresh Food To 43 Stops

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Patrick O’Neill and published in The Press Enterprise on June 5, 2015.)

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Photo Credit: Terry Pierson, The Press Enterprise

The Mobile Fresh bus, covered in a 7-foot salad bowl mural and dubbed “The Mother Ship” by Family Service Association employees, has been delivering fresh fruits, vegetables, bread and cheese to low-income and senior housing facilities for a little more than a year.

Donated by the Riverside Transit Agency, the refurbished bus is lined with plastic crates and refrigerators. The only remnants of its past are a small row of seats behind the checkout counter.

Riverside resident Joy Williams, left, chats Thursday, June 4, with Mobile Fresh employee LaTonya Ferguson as she carries groceries to her apartment after shopping in a bus converted into a store with fresh fruits and vegetables. Photo Credit: Terry Pierson
Riverside resident Joy Williams, left, chats Thursday, June 4, with Mobile Fresh employee LaTonya Ferguson as she carries groceries to her apartment after shopping in a bus converted into a store with fresh fruits and vegetables. Photo Credit: Terry Pierson

Since its inception last year, Mobile Fresh has expanded from 19 stops in and around Riverside to 43 stops throughout Riverside and San Bernardino counties. By this time next year, Director Joey Romero hopes to have 40 stops in each county.

“We plan on introducing healthy recipes and exercise guides,” Romero said. “We’ll do a cooking demonstration and say: ‘Everything you need is on the bus today.’”

“You wouldn’t think in an area like Riverside there’d be no food deserts, but there’s deserts everywhere,” Romero said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture describes a food desert as an area with a poverty rate of 20 percent or higher where more than one-third of the population lives more than a mile from a grocery store.

At least 1,000 people bought groceries from Mobile Fresh in May – more than twice as many as the same month last year. Romero attributes the program’s success to a unique marketing approach.

Instead of repurposing the bus, stocking it with produce, then trying to find prospective customers, Romero made sure there was an adequate market for each stop.

Fliers stating Mobile Fresh’s purpose were distributed at prospective stops, and apartment complex managers were asked to gather enough signatures to ensure that each stop would be worthwhile, Romero said.

“Instead of going out and hoping we’d be successful, we wanted to make sure those customers were there,” he said.

Mobile Fresh is financed entirely through grant money. Proceeds from the nonprofit are reinvested in the program.

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 all the participating organizations 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.

For a full list of stops and delivery dates and times, visit fsaca.org.

To read the full article, click here.

Ruck March Raises Money And Morale For Veterans Court

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Bo Kovitz and published in the Press Enterprise on May 24, 2015.)

Photo Credit: David Bauman, The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: David Bauman, The Press Enterprise

 

Military veterans on felony probation stood shoulder to shoulder with attorneys, probation officers, sheriff’s deputies and court employees Sunday morning, May 24, as they hoisted 35- to 50-pound rucksacks onto their backs and began a grueling, 10-kilometer march.

The friendly competition, which began and ended at the American Legion post in Riverside’s Fairmount Park, aimed to raise awareness of Riverside County’s Veterans Court. The program offers mental health, job training and housing services to veterans who have pleaded guilty to crimes.

“In courtrooms, the focus is so much on the worst of themselves, when they’re reminded of the worst things they’ve done,” said Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Alberto Recalde, whose office helped plan the event. “We want to remind them of the best of themselves, of a time when people relied on them.”

Emulating the rucks in the military in which soldiers haul well over 50 pounds of equipment, Sunday’s march was also meant to encourage veterans to challenge themselves through a team-building competition that is “good for morale,” according to Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mark Johnson.

It was hosted by the Inland Empire Champions for Collaborative Courts and drew more than 130 participants on four-member teams from all over the justice system.

Teams began gathering early Sunday ahead of the 8:15 a.m. start. Once the parade of competitors disappeared beyond the park’s perimeter to follow the Santa Ana River Trail, the dewy morning air stilled. A few families perched on lawn chairs, waiting for their relatives to return.

Photo Credit: David Bauman. The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: David Bauman. The Press Enterprise

Just under an hour later, the calmness quickly dissolved as the loudspeaker resonated over the park, announcing the return of the first competitor: Riverside County sheriff’s Deputy Jason Newstrom – who was not only bearing a rucksack but was also pushing his 1-year old daughter in a stroller.

The sound of cheers multiplied by the minute as participants slowly, then steadily, returned to the finish line.

Upon finishing, many of them, with beads of sweat streaming down their faces, would throw down their rucksacks and swallow a few gulps of water, then run back down the road to encourage their team members still on the course.

“In the middle, you’re thinking, ‘Why did I do this? Why did I sign up to hurt myself?’” said sheriff’s Deputy Marco Alamillo, who is also a military veteran. “But then your teammates come and boost your motivation.”

Describing the ruck marches as “uniquely military,” participant and National Guard officer candidate Scott Johnson said a soldier carries a ruck with a 50 to 100 pound load at any point from basic training to deployment.

Ruck marches are a necessary part of basic training, he said, that helps “build unit cohesion.”

The Riverside Police Officers Association’s two teams took home the Grand Overall Championship and the Best Women’s titles, while a team from the Larson Justice Center in Indio took home the title for Best Co-ed.

The march raised more than $10,000, about $1,000 of which was used to pay for the event itself — permit fees, insurance and the medals that later hung around competitors’ necks. The remaining funds, Recalde said, will return to the Veterans Court program to help participants access specialized community programs for rehabilitation.

Events like this truly demonstrates what makes Riverside such a unified city. We are 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 complete article, click here.

Riverside Real Estate Team Teaches ‘Sidewalk CPR’ To Hundreds

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Debra Gruszecki and published in The Press Enterprise on May 18, 2015.)

Photo Credit: Debra Gruszecki, The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: Debra Gruszecki, The Press Enterprise

Keller Williams Realty professionals from Riverside had a RED-letter day Thursday, as they performed good deeds in the name of good health.

Sixty agents and associates joined the American Heart Association to promote hands-only CPR at six locations in Riverside.

The approach, known as sidewalk CPR, takes two steps to help save a life: First, dial 911. Second, place the palm of your hand in the center of the chest, and push hard and fast to the beat of the classic disco song, “Stayin’ Alive.” (I’m not making that part up.)

Sam Othman, a Realtor since 1985 who was part of the Keller Williams team, said the brother of his manager at the Market Center office at 7898 Mission Grove Parkway credits sidewalk CPR with saving his life.

He is alive today because a bystander performed hands-only CPR, Othman said.

Hearing that story was enough to make believers out of the team.

noej2n-b88409509z.120150515102309000gir9oti0.10Keller Williams agents and associates have participated in an annual day of “Renewing, Energizing and Donating” to local communities across the U.S. since 2009. The event varies from office to office, and year to year.

“It’s been great serving the community,” Alice Bechtel said, as she and two other colleagues, Paula Moisio and Banesha Baker, gave a CPR demonstration to Sam Luke at LA Fitness, one of 239 people trained Thursday.

Booths also were set up at Anytime Fitness, Albertsons, the Riverside County Administration Center and two other LA Fitness locations.

“Hopefully now, someone will use this to help save a life,” Realtor Brent Bechtel said.

Keller Williams’ effort to make a difference in our community is a great example 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.

For the full article, click here.

Volunteer Action For Aging Helps Seniors Create Art And Stimulate Minds

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Anne Marie Walker and published in The Press Enterprise on May 18, 2015.)

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

Seniors and students gathered this month at the Magnolia Grand Senior Living Center in Riverside for an afternoon of collage-making and trading stories.

The event was organized by Volunteer Action for Aging, a nonprofit group focused on improving the lives of senior citizens across Southern California. UC Riverside’s chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity, sent students to the May 1 event to help the seniors create art.

The class consisted of seven ladies and two tables full of magazines, utensils and cardboard paper. Veora Erwin, a retired artist whose work has been showcased at the Riverside Art Museum, was in attendance to present her work to the other seniors, some of whom had never made a collage before. Erwin displayed three pieces – all abstract pieces predominantly in tan and green. Erwin said she makes collages because she strives to be original and believes that “a true artist never copies.”

Another resident artist was Laura White, who created a collage titled “Bad Trip,” featuring a car and a picture of two people standing in front of an explosion. Plastered all over the walls of the workroom were her drawings of owls. She became fascinated with them after taking a class called Brain Strains, also operated at the center, where she learned about the animal.

“They like to keep you stimulated here,” she said.

Also present were students from Alpha Phi Omega. Christine Billones, a second-year psychology major, said the fraternity teamed up with Volunteer Action for Aging to help their community.

“I’ve never (had)] a chance to do this, and when I joined Alpha Phi Omega I had the opportunity to help and meet new people,” she said.

The students helped residents cut out paper and create designs while sharing stories.

Jan Derny, a retired schoolteacher, had said it was her first time making a collage, but had decided that it “wasn’t (her) forte.”

“I need a focal point to make something,” Derny said. “I like quilting better.” Derny, however, was very appreciative of the students’ charity work. “It’s nice of them to volunteer their time and it’s nice to meet young people.”

Giselle Cruz, the volunteer coordinator for Volunteer Action for Aging, was excited by the turnout.

“We work to keep seniors out of the nursing home and very happy and independent.” Cruz, said adding that the organization recruits mostly through volunteermatch.org and hopes to have more volunteers for future events.

Events like this truly demonstrates what makes Riverside such a unified city. We are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

For more information about volunteering, contact Cruz at 562-637-7110 or visit independenceathome.org.