Category Archives: Community

Athletes Get Warm Welcome And Hone Their Skills At Inland Venues

(This Article contains excerpts from the article written by Stephen Wall and published in the Press Enterprise on July 22, 2015.)

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

Dakota bucked a bit, but Milagro was smooth in the saddle.

Changing horses was no big deal to Special Olympian Robert Seignious, who was fine-tuning his equestrian skills Wednesday, July 22, in Norco.

“It’s fun and I like to win medals,” he said with a smile.

The South Carolina resident was among the 10-member Special Olympics USA Equestrian team practicing for the Special Olympics World Summer Games, which begin Saturday, July 25, in Los Angeles.

Nearly 350 athletes with intellectual disabilities from around the country are training for 16 sports at Inland venues through Friday and are staying at the UC Riverside dorms for four days before leaving for Los Angeles..

After the morning workouts, competitors headed to downtown Riverside for an afternoon “Parade of Champions.”

Enthusiastic crowds lined Main Street to cheer on athletes who wore red shirts, waved American flags and chanted “U.S.A,” “U.S.A.” as they walked toward City Hall. About 100 athletes, coaches and trainers from Team Sweden preceded the Americans. The parade included the Martin Luther King High School band and cheerleaders from Poly High School in Riverside.

Riverside residents Holly Fajardo and her daughter Emily, 17, slapped high-fives with athletes as they walked in front of the Mission Inn.

“It’s important that they see the community supports them just like professional athletes,” Holly Fajardo said. “They don’t get the same recognition and they should.“

The care and compassion that Riverside showed towards our guests, truly demonstrated what makes us 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.

Emily Fajardo, who graduated from King High in June, was part of a campus club that works to integrate special needs kids with the rest of the student population.

“You get to know how wonderful and unique they are,” she said. “You are drawn to them.”

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

Grand Marshal Lauren Potter, an actress featured in the TV show “Glee,” was part of the procession. Potter is a Poly High graduate and has Down syndrome.

“I’m so excited to be with all these amazing athletes,” Potter, 25, said before the parade started.

EQUESTRIAN TRAINING

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

Earlier in the day, Seignious, 21, talked about riding horses at the No Drama Ranch Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Norco, which is hosting one of the practices.

The horse named Dakota was challenging to ride because it was the first time the animal had a male rider, said Marissa Brzescinski, the equestrian team’s head coach.

“He was getting a little out of control, so I got a replacement,” explained Seignious.

He returned to the arena and hopped on Milagro, practicing proper form and posture with coach Tom Walmsley.

“I feel like I’m on a jet,” is how he later described the experience.

Horses at the ranch are trained for competitive events and are “as safe as can be,” said Walmsley, who lives in Illinois.

The athletes who were honing their equestrian skills hail from nine states — Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Missouri and Arizona.

Team captain Jeremiah Schedlock looked forward to showcasing his talents in front of big crowds in Los Angeles. He also wants to meet and socialize with people from other countries.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Schedlock, 24, who lives in Prescott, Arizona.

‘SUCH AN HONOR’

After Wednesday afternoon’s parade, athletes mingled in front of City Hall, dancing as they listened to recorded music blaring over loudspeakers.

Basketball players from Minnesota expressed gratitude for the support.

“It feels good to be recognized,” said Joseph Ajayi, 24. “It feels good to be part of something this big and this successful.”

Hearing the cheers was heartwarming, added Abel Mehari, 22.

“It’s a really rewarding experience that I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life,” he said.

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

As a gesture of friendship, Amy Norton, a triathlete from New Jersey, gave her American flag to a Swedish athlete and got a flag from that country in return.

Describing what it’s like to be in the world games, Norton, 27, said, “It’s just incredible.“

Her sentiment was shared by teammate Courtney Dreyfus.

“You‘re surrounded by so many new people,” said Dreyfus, 18, also of New Jersey. “You get to be in one of the biggest competitions in the world. It’s such an honor.”


UNIFIED CITY

Riverside unifies its diverse community to accelerate the common good for the City as a whole.

VISION - Unified CityPeople 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. The long-standing diversity of the City provides a comfortable home for people from all backgrounds, cultures and interests – Riverside is a city for everyone and by everyone. 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…

Riverside Wants To House All Homeless Veterans

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Alicia Robinson and Published in The Press Enterprise on July 19, 2015.)

Photo Credit: Stan Lim, The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: Stan Lim, The Press Enterprise

The Riverside apartment David Oakley shares with his girlfriend and their gray cat, Mittens, is a modest one-bedroom with a cramped kitchen, donated furniture and a few framed prints on its off-white walls.

But it’s home, and Oakley is grateful for it.

Before he moved into the apartment seven months ago, Oakley, a 51-year-old National Guard veteran, was homeless for about two years.

Having his own place is “like it used to be, it’s the way it should be,” he said, then added, “It’s kind of, to be honest, like a dream come true.”

Oakley is one of several military veterans helped by an ambitious Riverside program that aims to house all of the city’s homeless veterans by the end of this year.

So far, the program, backed by Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey, has found homes for 11 veterans. It has 21 more veterans linked with caseworkers to help them apply for benefits and find jobs and apartments.

“It’s inexcusable in my mind to have homeless veterans,” said Bailey, a West Point graduate and Army veteran. “(With) 200,000 veterans in the two-county (Inland) region, we need to lead by example and to take care of our troops.”

The Riverside apartment David Oakley shares with his girlfriend and their gray cat, Mittens, is a modest one-bedroom with a cramped kitchen, donated furniture and a few framed prints on its off-white walls.

But it’s home, and Oakley is grateful for it.

Before he moved into the apartment seven months ago, Oakley, a 51-year-old National Guard veteran, was homeless for about two years.

Having his own place is “like it used to be, it’s the way it should be,” he said, then added, “It’s kind of, to be honest, like a dream come true.”

Oakley is one of several military veterans helped by an ambitious Riverside program that aims to house all of the city’s homeless veterans by the end of this year.

So far, the program, backed by Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey, has found homes for 11 veterans. It has 21 more veterans linked with caseworkers to help them apply for benefits and find jobs and apartments.

“It’s inexcusable in my mind to have homeless veterans,” said Bailey, a West Point graduate and Army veteran. “(With) 200,000 veterans in the two-county (Inland) region, we need to lead by example and to take care of our troops.”

House Veterans
Riverside is taking part in a federal program that challenges cities to find housing for all homeless military veterans by the end of 2015.

Participants: A total of 709 city, county and state officials have accepted the challenge. Other California cities involved include San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento and Fresno.

Progress: In Riverside, housing has been found for 11 veterans, but 44 more still need homes.

Resources: Veterans and their advocates can call the Access Center, 951-715-3434, or visit endhomeless.info. Lighthouse, 951-571-3533, and the Department of Veterans Affairs in Loma Linda, 909-825-7084, also assist homeless veterans.

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.

To read the full article, click here.

Postcard Project Designed to Unite Residents With All Neighborhoods

Photo Credit: Riverside Neighborhood Partnership
Photo Credit: Riverside Neighborhood Partnership

“I love the Wood Streets because of the traditional design and landscape.”  These are the kinds of comments received on postcards written by City residents for the Neighborhood Postcard Project – a global participatory art project that fosters community connection through storytelling exchange.  Residents share personal positive stories about their neighborhood on a postcard and those postcards are delivered to random people in different neighborhoods within the same city.

The Unified City pillar group of Seizing Our Destiny has been collecting these postcards since the NeighborFest event held on May 16th.  The City of Riverside has 26 neighborhoods.  They are being collected two ways:  via a handwritten postcard with a blank space on the back for creativity and through the Seizing our Destiny website.  The ones collected on the website are being shared via social media.

Photo Credit: Riverside Neighborhood Partnership
Photo Credit: Riverside Neighborhood Partnership

The goal of the project is to build community connections, awareness and pride in our local treasures – our neighborhoods.

Postcards are available at various community events throughout the City and on-line at www.SeizingOurDestiny.com/postcard-project/.  For more information about the national project, go to www.neighborhoodpostcardproject.com.

Special Olympics USA Pre-Games Camp Coming to UC Riverside

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Mojgan Sherkat and published in UCR Today on July 8, 2015.)

Photo Credit: Special Olympics USA
Photo Credit: Special Olympics USA

Special Olympics USA will hold Pre-Games camp activities at the University of California, Riverside. The team will represent the United States at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, California, Saturday, July 25 to Sunday Aug. 2.

Special Olympics USA consists of 344 athletes and 137 coaches and management staff. Athletes will compete in 17 sports at the World Games, in traditional and Unified Sports competition (where people with and without intellectual disabilities compete on the same team), including: aquatics, athletics, bocce, bowling, cycling, equestrian, golf, gymnastics, kayaking, powerlifting, sailing, tennis, triathlon, basketball, soccer, softball, volleyball.

“We are honored to host Special Olympics USA,” said Andy Plumley, UCR’s Assistant Vice Chancellor, Housing, Dining & Residential Services. “Along with the UCR Student Recreation Center, UCR Athletics and our City of Riverside partners, we will be hosting the team members as they make their final preparations for the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.”

Head of Delegation Chris Hahn said. “The athletes of Special Olympics USA have been training for years for this moment — for the opportunity to showcase their abilities on the biggest competitive stage they’ll ever experience,” said “We are very grateful to UCR for giving our athletes the training facilities they need to prepare, the hospitality to make them feel welcome and comfortable, and the community support that will give them the confidence to go for the gold!”

The delegation will arrive on campus on Tuesday, July 21 to participate in four days of training sessions and social activities in Southern California designed to allow athletes to further bond as a team. The public is invited to come cheer on the “home team” from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 22. The City of Riverside will host the Parade of Champions starting on Fifth Street near the Riverside Convention Center. The parade will end at Riverside City Hall, 3900 Main St.

On Friday, July 24, the team departs for UCLA and USC, where they will be housed during the World Games.

Riverside has increasingly become the ‘location of choice’ for people and organizations from all over the world. With our unmatched landscape, year-round outdoor activities, ample recreational options, and attention to healthy living make Riverside one of the most inspiring, livable, healthy and adventurous cities to live in or visit.

MEDIA:. Athletes, coaches and Special Olympics USA leadership are available for interviews. Please contact Leigh Cheatham, Special Olympics USA Communications, for assistance: (803) 414-3300 or lcheatham@so-sc.org.

About the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015 (LA2015)

With 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games — being staged in Los Angeles July 25–August 2, 2015 — will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games. The 2015 Special Olympics World Games, with the unparalleled spirit, enthusiasm, teamwork, joy and displays of courage and skill that are hallmarks of all Special Olympics events, will feature 25 Olympic-style sports in venues throughout the Los Angeles region. The Opening Ceremony, to be held July 25, 2015 in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, is expected to attract 80,000 spectators. On April 30, 2014, LA2015 and ESPN announced a global programming deal that will see ESPN bring coverage of World Games to millions of fans around the world. Honorary Chairs of the Games are President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Governor Jerry Brown serving as Honorary Hosts. For more information on the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit LA2015.org and on social with #ReachUpLA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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.