Operation Safe House Director Receives Award

(This article contains excerpts from operationsafehouse.org.)

NAACP of Riverside County and the Golden West Region Soroptimist Club has awarded SafeHouse Anti-Human Trafficking Director Jennifer O’Farrell with the NAACP Community Service Freedom Award.  Soroptimist is a global women’s organization whose members volunteer to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.

Jennifer O'Farrell

Jennifer O’Farrell

O’Farrell spends her time providing intensive case management to victims, and educating, collaborating and creating programs within Operation SafeHouse and the county to treat, prevent, and intervene for victims of labor and sex trafficking.  This award is granted to individuals who have dedicated their lives and legacies to the cause of civil and human rights. The award will be presented Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - 5:00pm -9:30pm at the Riverside Convention Center 3637 Fifth Street Riverside, CA 92501. For more information go to the website Freedom Fund Celebration.

Operation SafeHouse, with Community Support, provides Emergency Shelter, Intervention and Outreach Services to Youth in Crisis.

Operation Safe House is an organization that demonstrates Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar.   People are brought together around common interests and concerns, while the unique character of Riverside’s neighborhoods and diverse communities are celebrated and valued. 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 learn more about Operation Safe House, click here.

 

Riverside Art Market Set For April 26th

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Marylin Jacobsen, published in the Press-Enterprise on April 3, 2014.)

Inland artists and crafts makers will display and sell their wares in front of the Riverside Main Library on April 26 at the new Riverside Art Market.  The free event is set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Children will be able to try their hands at arts and crafts projects during the same hours.

Arts and crafts activities will be offered for children at the Riverside Art Market, set for April 26. Claire Stepien, 6, and her sister Olivia, 4, practice for the event. Photo Credit: Riverside Art Market

Arts and crafts activities will be offered for children at the Riverside Art Market, set for April 26. Claire Stepien, 6, and her sister Olivia, 4, practice for the event. Photo Credit: Riverside Art Market

Riverside Art Market is a new project of the Art Alliance of Riverside Art Museum to provide a venue for artists to show and sell their work and to raise money for the Riverside Art Museum. Watercolor and oil paintings, ceramics, graphic art, photography, weavings, jewelry, wood working and other forms of art will be found among the booths.

Among those who will have booths are Judy Davies Design, Marty Tobias, Helen Bell, Jan Lewis, Robert Collignon, Connie’s Creations, Sketches and Oils by C. Acid, Connie Lynn Pico, Lori Beilby, Joan Coffey, Zaza Faure Los Angeles, Mrs. Miller’s Hand Made Originals  (Annette Miller), Vis a Vis Jewelry, Ann Richmond and Michael Elderman.

Riverside artist Marty Tobias will show his paintings and etchings at a booth at Riverside Art Market on April 26 in front of the Riverside Main Library. Photo Credit: Riverside Art Market

Riverside artist Marty Tobias will show his paintings and etchings at a booth at Riverside Art Market on April 26 in front of the Riverside Main Library. Photo Credit: Riverside Art Market

An Art and Architecture Scavenger Hunt activity for $5 a person will be held three times in the day, with prizes awarded to the top five finishers from each start time. Start times are 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. in front of the Main Library. The walkable hunt will be a fun but challenging trip through downtown Riverside. Children, with adult supervision, are welcome .

A drawing will be held for a two-night stay and spa treatments at the Lavender Inn in Ojai. Tickets are available at the Museum, 3425 Mission Inn Ave., or by contacting Christine Cahraman of the Art Alliance at ramartsale@att.net.

The Riverside Art Market is a shining example of what makes Riverside a location of choice.  Events like this attract creative, entrepreneurial, dynamic and diverse people as residents, workers, business owners and visitors.  Riverside is one of the most inspiring, livable, healthy and adventurous cities to live in or visit. Our community provides an abundance of opportunities to be amazed, inspired and entertained.

Several food vendors will be at the Art Market, including Goodwin’s Organic food truck, Duke’s Wrap Delight, The Sweet Stop and Robert’s Tacos.

Booths for artists are available.

To read the full article, click here.

Eastside Apartments Set For Long-Awaited Overhaul

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Alicia Robinson, published in the Press-Enterprise on March 27, 2014.)

Built in the mid-1960s, the Grand Prix apartments on Seventh Street in Riverside’s Eastside neighborhood have clearly seen better days.

Shonda Herold, housing project coordinator with the city of Riverside, inspects a hole in the ceiling of one of three city-owned apartment buildings on Seventh Street on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. The city plans to replace the old buildings with new affordable housing units. Photo Credit: David Bauman

Shonda Herold, housing project coordinator with the city of Riverside, inspects a hole in the ceiling of one of three city-owned apartment buildings on Seventh Street on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. The city plans to replace the old buildings with new affordable housing units. Photo Credit: David Bauman

The seafoam-green paint is peeling from the wood trim on the boxy, flat-roofed building, and the kidney-shaped pool was long ago filled with dirt that has sprouted weeds. Now vacant and boarded up, the complex is weeks from being demolished, the first big step in a city plan to improve the neighborhood officials call Chicago/Linden because it’s near that intersection.

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Photo Credit: David Bauman

Within two years, the Grand Prix and two other apartment buildings on the block will be replaced by an affordable housing complex that will have something for the community – a public garden, children’s play area or a child care facility. It’s part of an estimated $16.8 million strategy to make the area safer and more attractive for those who live there.

Fixing up the area, which lies between Chicago and Dwight avenues and West Linden and Seventh streets, has been a priority for city officials since 2006, housing project coordinator Shonda Herold said.

The overall strategy, created by a consultant with community input, includes installing new landscaping and more streetlights, improving driveways and alleys, reopening two cul-de-sacs that have become places for loitering, and building a community center at Patterson Park that could offer library programs, a commercial kitchen for public use, and activities for youths and seniors.

Photo Credit: David Bauman

Photo Credit: David Bauman

Officials expect the process of building community support and involvement to take time, just as finding money and fixing buildings will. Councilman Andy Melendrez, who represents the area, said he’s heard mostly positive feedback and excitement about plans for the neighborhood. He said he knows making the plans a reality is “not anything that’s going to happen from one year to the next.”

Transforming old spaces into new places throughout the city is what makes Riverside a location of choice.  With the mission to improve quality of life in Riverside, our community takes pride on maintaining it’s well defined, welcoming neighborhoods.

To read the full article, click here.

 

Council Votes To Add Sister City In Vietnam

(This article contains excerpts from article by Alicia Robinson, published in the Press-Enterprise on March 18, 2014.)

INTERNATIONAL SISTERS

Riverside will add Can Tho, Vietnam, to its already large collection of sister cities.  Riverside has sister city relationships with Sendai, Japan; Ensenada and Cuautla, Mexico; Obuasi, Ghana; Hyderabad, India; Gangnam, South Korea; Jiangmen, China; and Erlangen, Germany.

The ideas of “people to people” relationships and healing after war won out Tuesday, March 18, when the Riverside City Council narrowly voted to add Can Tho, Vietnam, as its ninth sister city.  The decision came after lengthy and impassioned public comments on the goals of the sister city program and whether having such a relationship in Vietnam would disrespect American veterans.

“The purpose is to promote peace and common understanding,” said Bill Gavitt, a Vietnam veteran. “It’s time to start helping others if we want to change their behavior.”

Vien Doan, a Vietnamese American physician who lives in Riverside, has spearheaded efforts to add Can Tho, Vietnam, to Riverside's sister city program.  Photo Credit:  Alicia Robinson

Vien Doan, a Vietnamese American physician who lives in Riverside, has spearheaded efforts to add Can Tho, Vietnam, to Riverside’s sister city program. Photo Credit: Alicia Robinson

The vote was 4-3. Councilmen Chris Mac Arthur, Steve Adams and Mike Soubirous dissented.

Riverside was among the earliest participants in the sister city program, which was created in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to foster cultural, educational and economic exchange between countries. Riverside formed ties with Sendai, Japan, in 1957 and has since added sister cities in South Korea, China, India, Ghana and Germany, and two in Mexico.

Vien Doan, a Vietnamese American physician who lives in Riverside, helped revive the idea of a sister city in his native country in 2012. He personally met with veterans’ groups in the past year and a half to build support for the plan.  “We have every reason to hate communism,” he said, describing how his family was rescued by American soldiers during the war. “I will never forget the past, but the past will not determine my future.”

Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey has said his office spends about $10,000 on the sister city program annually, but most other costs are borne by the International Relations Council, a private nonprofit group that oversees the friendships and raises money for related events and travel.

Like Riverside, Can Tho is home to a university and a medical college, and it’s an agricultural center producing fruit and rice.

Adding Can Tho to Riverside’s collection of international sister cities is a model of the seizing our destiny pillar, 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.

Riversiders respect and value the cultural heritage, distinct needs and varied input of each of our neighbors, while proactively engaging them across historical dividing lines.  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.

Artist Spotlight: Stacee Tweedlie

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Patrick Brien published in the Press Enterprise on March 10, 2014)

                                                                                                                                                                                            /CONTRIBUTED IMAGE Stacee Tweedlie, seen here in December 2013, teaches musical theatre classes through the City of Riverside Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department at the Orange Terrace Community Center.

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Stacee Tweedlie, seen here in December 2013, teaches musical theatre classes through the City of Riverside Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department at the Orange Terrace Community Center.

Stacee Tweedlie remembers the specific moment when a teacher’s love for musical theatre opened her eyes to a whole new set of possibilities. That is the moment she decided to become a teacher. “I knew right then I wanted to be that person for someone,” she says with a smile. “I wanted to share my love of theatre with kids and help them see that it’s more than just singing, dancing and acting. Theatre is teamwork, social skills, life lessons and, most importantly, fun.”

While still pursuing her BA in Theatre Education at Cal State Fullerton, Tweedlie began teaching private singing lessons and working at various children’s theatres in Orange County. After graduating and moving back to Riverside, where she had grown up, Tweedlie established her own studio, the Tweedlie Center for the Arts. She also began teaching musical theatre classes through the City of Riverside Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department at the Orange Terrace Community Center.

 /CONTRIBUTED IMAGE   This April 2013 production of "Aristocats" was held at the Orange Terrace Community Center in Riverside where Stacee Tweedlie teaches musical theatre classes.

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This April 2013 production of “Aristocats” was held at the Orange Terrace Community Center in Riverside where Stacee Tweedlie teaches musical theatre classes.

Tweedlie talks about how her dream is not for her students to end up on Broadway. She says “I just want theatre and the arts to make a positive impact in their lives,” she says. “Whether they do one show with me or every single one until they leave for college, I hope that each student’s time spent in my classroom helps them become a better, more well-rounded and well-spoken, independent individual. Anything beyond that is a bonus.” Tweedlie, is also a performer with an extensive list of credits that includes such companies as Candlelight Pavilion, Downey Civic Light Opera and Huntington Beach Playhouse, believes that it is important to continue performing in order to remain relevant for her students. Shows in which she has appeared include “Seussical” (Gertrude), “The Full Monty” (Susan) and “Company” (Marta). She is also currently stage managing the Gestalt Theatre Project production of Neil LaBute’s “The Shape of Things,” which opens in April at The Box in downtown Riverside.I love working with kids, but there is something amazing about watching experienced actors in their element, especially in such a cool place as The Box,” says Tweedlie. “Not to mention I am quite a fan of Neil LaBute and the play, itself.”

It is individuals like Tweedlie who are demonstrating their love of theatre and arts, which reflects in her passion for community involvement. She says, “I’d also like to become more involved with the city of Riverside”. “I am falling in love all over again with this town. Our downtown area is becoming even more magical with the new convention center, The Box and all the great new restaurants, plus the Mission Inn. I want to help make sure that continues.” For more information on Stacee Tweedlie or the Tweedlie Center for the Arts, visit www.TCARiverside.com. To read the full article click here.

Wells Fargo UrbanLIFT Community Grant Program Awards $486,000 to Strengthen Neighborhoods

(This article contains excerpts from a Wells Fargo News Release dated March 7, 2014)

On March 7, 2014 Wells Fargo, announced its award for $458,600 to Habitat for Humanity Riverside (HFHR) and the Neighborhood Partnership Housing Services (NPHS) as part of the UrbanLIFT Community Grant Program with each organization receiving $229,300. Wells Fargo Grant

With the grant funds received, HFHR and NPHS will support neighborhood revitalization efforts that will include: NHFR’s Neighborhood Revitalizations Initiative helping to engage the community, creating holistic improvements and neighborhood cohesiveness, and further filling its mutual goal of creating safe, decent affordable housing.

NPHS will use grant dollars awarded to install solar panels on homes in Riverside County and to remove several dilapidated properties paving way for the construction of seven new affordable homes. These revitalization efforts fall under NPHS’ Sustainable Communities Catalyst Project, a multi-pronged redevelopment strategy which guides and prioritizes resources to targeted neighborhood clusters throughout the Inland Valley.

The UrbanLIFT community grant program is funded by Wells Fargo and operated by NeighborWorks America. The program is designed to provide support to local nonprofits for neighborhood revitalization projects in 25 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) with diverse populations that are impacted by foreclosures. Since its launch in February 2012, LIFT initiatives which is the parent for programs such as UrbanLIFT including the NeighborhoodLIFT and CityLIFT have helped create more than 5,000 homeowners with the support of down payment assistance and homebuyer education in collaboration with NeighborWorks America, members of the national nonprofit’s network and local city officials.

This is an example of a unified city and of people being brought together around common interests and concerns. Riverside is a caring community that has compassion for all its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all. To read the full news release by Wells Fargo click here, or visit their blog at blog.wellsfargo.com for more information.

Six To Be Recognized At Sixth Annual Women Students Celebration Event

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Ross French, published in UCR Today on February 21st, 2014.)

Six University of California, Riverside students received awards for efforts in leadership and civic engagement, social justice and overcoming adversity at the fourth annual Celebration for A Day of Appreciation and Recognition of Women Students on Thursday, March 6, 2014.

Six UC Riverside students will be honored at the Celebration for a Day of Appreciation and Recognition of Women Students on Thursday, March 6, 2014. Front row, from left - Remi Rehman, Vickie Vertiz, and Divya Sain. Back row from left - Gabriela Bobadilla, Katherine Tsai, and Jacklyn Kozich. Photo Credit: Richard Zapp

Six UC Riverside students were honored at the Celebration for a Day of Appreciation and Recognition of Women Students on Thursday, March 6, 2014. Front row, from left – Remi Rehman, Vickie Vertiz, and Divya Sain. Back row from left – Gabriela Bobadilla, Katherine Tsai, and Jacklyn Kozich. Photo Credit: Richard Zapp

 

The event, which was free and open to the public, was organized by the UCR Women’s Resource Center and sponsored by campus and community partners and was part of the campus’ annual celebration of Women’s History Month.  “This annual celebration forwards the university’s strategic plan for diversity and former Chancellor Tim White’s Proclamation for A Day of Appreciation and Recognition of Women Students,” said Women’s Resource Center Director Adrienne Sims.

All six of the award recipients are shining examples of intelligent growth in our community.  Their strong dedication to education and commitment to making their community a better place is remarkable.  Not only have these successful women represented intelligent growth, they also embody the unified city pillar of seizing our destiny.  They contribute to a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engage with one another for a better life for all.

The keynote speaker was Eloise Gomez Reyes, a long-time Inland Empire resident who is running for the congressional seat in the 31st district.  A native of Colton, she worked in the onion fields at the age of 12 with mother and five siblings to earn money for school clothes. She attended San Bernardino Valley College, then graduated from USC. She later earned her J.D. from Loyola Law School and began her legal career representing injured workers and unions in workers comp cases. She later moved back to Colton and started her own law office, which she has run for more than two decades. She is a founding Board member of the Inland Empire Community Health Center in Bloomington, is on the Executive Board for the Children’s Spine Foundation, and served on the Dean’s Medical School Mission Committee here at UC Riverside.

Leadership and Civic Engagement Award

Katherine Tsai

Katherine Tsai

Undergraduate Student Honoree:  Katherine Tsai, Biology

Katherine is an exemplary academic who is majoring in biology.  In addition to forwarding academic excellence, she devotes countless hours to helping others.  Her drive to improve humankind pushes her to optimize leadership roles in which she can make positive impacts on fellow students and other communities.

Social Justice Award

Gabriela Bobadilla

Gabriela Bobadilla

Undergraduate Student Honoree:  Gabriela Bobadilla, Spanish

Gabriela’s work with the anti-human trafficking task force and her commitment to social justice issues in Riverside’s local community are unparalleled. Her work with Operation SafeHouse and the Child Leaders Project in Riverside show her hard work and dedication to key causes.

Overcoming Adversity Award

Divya Sain

Divya Sain

 Graduate Student Honoree:  Divya Sain, Genetics, Genomics, and Bioinformatics

Despite medical challenges, including limited mobility, Divya is an outstanding student who recently receivied the Guru Gobind Singh Graduate Fellowship, which is only awarded to one UC student per year. She will complete her Ph.D. in December.

For the full article, click here.