Category Archives: Community

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 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

Outstanding Riverside Mother Wins Mom Of The Year

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Kathryn Hawkins on April 28, 2010. This article also contains excerpts from the article written by Marina Khidekel and published in Parents Magazine on May 2010.)

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

Congratulations to Riversider Jaci Hasemeyer for being selected as MOM OF THE YEAR on the Steve Harvey TV show last week!

About Jaci and Eric Hasemeyer:

In 1996, Jaci and Eric Hasemeyer already had three children, and had believed their family was complete. But when Jaci, a P.E. teacher at a Riverside, California elementary school, handed out coupons for a local skating rink one day, the response she received from a 5th grade boy made her think twice.

The boy, who was a foster child living in a group house, told Jaci that he didn’t need the coupon because he didn’t have anyone to take him skating.

“My heart just broke,” Jaci told Parents Magazine. “I couldn’t stop thinking that we had to do something to help kids like him.”

So Jaci and her family began to look into options, and discovered that there were hundreds of local children in need of a supportive family home. They applied to become a foster family, and in the years since, they’ve opened their home to more than 30 foster children—and have adopted nine of them.

“Our philosophy has always been that if a child is not returned to her parents or relatives or moved elsewhere by the court, then our home would be their final stop, their ‘forever home,’” said Jaci.

But the drive to provide a home to children in need didn’t stop in the Hasemeyer household. When the family’s friends and neighbors became aware of what the Hasemeyers were doing, they, too, were inspired to foster and adopt. Now, 20 families in the Hasemeyers’ neighborhood have adopted 50 children.

The Hasemeyers are committed to helping other families learn about fostering and adoption possibilities, and have dedicated their lives to the movement. Several years ago, Eric quit his job as a stockbroker and went back to school for a master’s in counseling. He now runs a center that serves as an adoption resource for both prospective parents and women who must give up their children.

And in 2006, the Hasemeyers’ oldest daughter, Krista, organized the Walk Your Talk Walk, a fundraising event to raise awareness of foster children. In the first year, the walk raised $1,500, but last year, it collected more than $30,000, and churches throughout Southern California modeled their own fundraisers after the event.

Now that the Hasemeyers have 12 children, it’s a pretty full house. But even though they’re not planning on any more adoptions, they are passionate about helping other families connect with children who need homes.

“Each evening when we look around the dinner table, we come face-to-face with the good that comes of adoption,” Jaci said. “Our kids have added so much to our family, and the simplest message is that everyone can make a difference in the life of a child.”

Interested in learning more about fostering or adopting a child? Check out or the National Foster Parent Association.

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 Jaci and Eric Hasemeyer demonstrate 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.

Feeding The Needy, One Swipe At A Time

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Mojgan Sherkat and published in UCR Today on May 1, 2015.)

Co-founder Rafid Sikder and Senior Director of Dining Services David Henry (Photo Credit: UCR Today)

It started out as an idea, and now they’re seeing the impact of the fruits of their labor. Students at UC Riverside worked with Dining Services to launch a campus chapter of Swipes for the Homeless, and after two years of working toward that goal, they finally kicked things off during the 2014 winter quarter. And on April 30, the chapter donated about $5,000 worth of food and products to charity. How did they make that happen? Here’s a little background…

From left to right: Rafid Sikder, Lanette Dickerson (Executive Chef for Residential Dining), and David Henry. Photo Credit: UCR Today

Students who live in the residential halls have meal plans and dining cards. At the end of every quarter, the remaining meals on those dining cards “disappear.” That’s where Swipes for Homeless comes in. During the 10th week of every quarter the chapter asks fellow students to donate the meals they have left on their dining cards, and those meals are turned into cash by Dining Services. That cash is then used in two ways – it’s used to purchase food that’s donated to Feeding America, and it’s used to buy products for R’Garden, which are planted and grown, and then donated to community homeless shelters.

“It’s a huge sustainability and socially responsible project,” said Dave Henry, senior director for dining services. “So many people hear and see the problems our communities face, but don’t act on it. These students decided to do something about it, and that’s inspiring.”

UCR students are allowed to donate up to three meals at this time. During the 2014 winter quarter, Swipes for the Homeless collected nearly 2,000 meals from more than 600 students.

Sysco handing off the donated food to Feeding America. Photo Credit: UCR Today

Rafid Sikder is the co-founder of the UCR chapter of Swipes for the Homeless. He said he wanted to start the organization after noticing the poverty issues facing the community. “I feel fortunate that I got to start it, get it done and work with passionate people – I’m incredibly happy to see what we’ve accomplished in this one quarter,” he said.

The chapter raised about $5,000 during winter quarter alone. They used $3,700 of it to buy food for Feeding America, and used $1,300 toward R’Garden.

Swipes for the Homeless’ 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 more information on Swipes for the Homeless, visit the UCR chapter page.

Arbor Day Celebration Set For May 9th

Photo Credit: Keep Riverside Clean & Beautiful
Photo Credit: Keep Riverside Clean & Beautiful

Adopt a Tree in honor or in memory of a loved one.

If you would like to participate and plant the tree with Keep Riverside Clean and Beautiful (KRCB) volunteers, please contact Ronald Liu at or (951) 683-7100 x212.

KRCB will present you with a certificate listing the type of tree and its location so you may visit the tree for years to come. Please click this link for more details.

This tree planting event is a partnership project between the City of Riverside Public Works Department and Keep Riverside Clean and Beautiful.

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.

Have you signed up for the Great American Cleanup?

KRCB is recruiting volunteers for the Great American Cleanup (GAC) – a citywide cleanup throughout all 7 Council Wards.

 Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015

Time and Place: From 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. volunteers work at their designated cleanup site.

From 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. volunteers return supplies and reports to City Hall and enjoy a celebration lunch!

Be a Team Leader: KRCB is seeking individuals to lead GAC volunteers in a community cleanup! View page 2 of the flyer or contact Ronald for more details.

Contact: Ronald Liu at or 951.682.7100 x 212 to confirm your participation in the:

  • Tuesday, May 5th – Team Leader Luncheon
    • 11:30am – 1:00pSaturday, May 9th – Great American Cleanup
    • 9:00am – 11:30am

 Click here to sign up for The Great American Cleanup

 Click here to sign up as a photographer at The Great American Cleanup

Click here to Adopt-A-Tree as part of our Arbor Day Celebration

Mayor Leads Health Initiative For Riverside

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Iona Brannon and published in The Banner on March 29, 2015.)

Photo Credit: Iona Brannon, The Banner
Photo Credit: Iona Brannon, The Banner

Mayor William R. “Rusty” Bailey III of Riverside led a group of residents for the Walk with the Mayor event March 14 from Ryan Bonaminio Park up Mt. Rubidoux in Riverside.

The walk began the kickoff of the Start R.I.G.H.T. Challenge of 2015.

Start R.I.G.H.T. stands for Riverside Is Getting Healthy Together and is a three-month challenge for Riverside residents to have an opportunity to get fit and live a healthy, more fulfilling lifestyle.

“Fifty-six percent of our population of Riverside is either overweight or obese. That is just unacceptable,” Bailey said. “We can’t continue to allow obesity to invade our city and invade ourselves.”

The kickoff gave residents resources such as weight measurement, exercise demonstrations and information on healthy living.

Bailey has used the bimonthly event to help inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle.

“My philosophy is leading by example,” Bailey said. “As the mayor, I’m trying to lead by example (with) my family and my city by healthy eating and active living. We’re inspiring Riverside to get out and move, and the walk is one way to do that.”

Bailey’s predecessor, Ron O. Loveridge, started Walk with the Mayor as a way to get people to be more active, as well as present parts of Riverside that might be less known.

“The intent was to connect the dots between healthy living and quality of life and to show off all the cool things we have going in Riverside,” Bailey said. Bailey walked neighborhoods during his campaign in 2012 and said he wanted to keep the philosophy of getting out into neighborhoods.

He started Bike with the Mayor after coming into office, alternating every month with Walk with the Mayor.

He said it has been a good way to connect with the residents of Riverside, as well as show them the city’s assets.

“I want to spend 50 percent of my time in city hall and 50 percent of my time outside of city hall so I am accessible to the public,” Bailey said.

Stephanie Vaz Ferreira, sophomore architecture major, aid she enjoyed talking with the mayor during the event and would go again because she felt more involved with the city.

“I liked hearing him speak about the Start R.I.G.H.T. event and how it is all about Riverside working together to reach healthy goals,” Ferreira said. “I also liked that he said as a believer he really supports CBU’s global-mindedness and how we can use that to think locally.”

Riversiders are working together everyday to address local issues and consistently demonstrates what makes Riverside a unified city.

Ferreira expressed her encouragement for students to get involved and participate in walking with the mayor.

“It would allow us to be more involved locally and it’s an easy way to (give) a hand in decreasing high rates in Riverside like obesity, whether it’s participating or encouraging others,” Ferreira said.

The Start R.I.G.H.T. challenge ends June 13. The participant who loses the most weight will win a prize of $500 and two participants will be randomly selected for two additional $300 prizes.

“I liked the idea that Riverside is trying to get in shape and it’s a good opportunity to socialize, get a good workout and trim down at the same time,” said Rich Gardner, a participant in the event.

Lancers who are Riverside residents are able to register for the challenge at

For the complete article, click here.


Mobile Medical Clinic About To Hit The Streets Of Riverside

(This article contains excerpts take from the Health to Hope Clinics website on April 9, 2015.)

Photo Credit: Health to Hope Clinics
Photo Credit: Health to Hope Clinics

The Grove Community Church received their mobile medical clinic last Tuesday, April 7. The mobile clinic has two exams rooms and wheelchair ramp which will be ready to serve the community sometime this weekend.  The mobile clinic is part of a larger effort known to Riversiders as Health to Hope Clinics, which is the only federally funded primary care medical outreach organization dedicated to serving homeless individuals and families in Riverside County.

The Grove Community Church is an outstanding example of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. They demonstrate that we’re a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

About Health to Hope:

Urban Community Action Projects (UCAP) dba Health to Hope Clinics (established in 2010) was born of Path of Life Ministries (POLM) Health in Motion (HIM), a response to Riverside County’s public health crises that arose from the economic downturn.

In 2009, POLM, in partnership with Riverside Community Health Foundation, implemented HIM staffed by volunteer providers to serve urban homeless residing in the City of Riverside. The model was so successful that POLM subsequently sponsored UCAP’s 501 (c) start-up which now includes the provision of health services from three fixed sites, the expansion of mobile medical services to now include Jurupa Valley in addition to the city of Riverside, and on-site partnerships with homeless service providers across Riverside County.

​ At Health to Hope, Homeless Health Care, patients receive care from providers experienced in meeting their with their medical complexity, aware of potential behavioral health issues and respectful of their struggles. Through the intake, assessment and treatment process, the behavioral health needs and dental needs of each patient are identified. The clinicians recognize the opportunity that primary care provides-an opportunity to heal the present issue and address the other issues through a model of care that integrates primary care, behavioral health care, dental care and case management services.

The Grove Community Church is currently seeking medical professionals to volunteer for the clinic. If you wish to volunteer, click here to get more information.

Changing The World One Cup Of Coffee At A Time

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Mojgan Sherkat and published in UCR Today on April 6, 2015.)

Guatemalan farmer filling water jugs to take back to village. Photo Credit: UCR Today
Guatemalan farmer filling water jugs to take back to village. Photo Credit: UCR Today

When you buy a cup of UC Riverside’s Highlander Blend Coffee, you’re making a difference in a developing country. Known for its struggle with deep poverty, child hunger, and social issues – Guatemala is also one of the largest coffee producers in the world. And some of the coffee that comes in that much needed cup of joe on campus, comes from Jumaytepeque, Guatemala – a rural community with very limited access to water during the dry season.

UCR Dining Services continually strives to improve on its sustainability efforts and meet the University of California, Office of the President’s (UCOP) sustainability guidelines, and in terms of coffee that means – Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, Shade Grown or Organic certified. At the same time the campus has desires to inspire its population to purchase a more sustainable coffee option, and make a difference in the communities growing those coffee beans. So, after final negotiations on a coffee contract UCR Dining Services and Java City decided they could do more. Dining Services agreed to allocate 15 cents per pound of coffee and Java City committed to matching funds toward a project of UCR’s choosing. It was decided that there was nothing more important than clean drinking water, and hearing about the issue around clean drinking water in Guatemala sealed the decision.  Thanks to this collaboration, folks in Jumaytepeque now have better access to this precious resource. How? The money raised is going toward building water pumps and infrastructure. Farmers, who have traveled long distances in the past to access water, can now obtain clean water at home, eliminating the tiring and tedious trip for clean water.

“It was very compelling and touching,” said Cheryl Garner,executive director of Dining Services, “these farmers relied on one hose that was turned on for four hours a day, and had to carry water back to their homes, sometimes many miles. Now they can access and store clean water much easier.”

In addition to matching the 15 cents per pound, Java City convinced its importing and exporting partners to generate a total of 60 cents per pound to fund the project. They dug the first wells in August 2014. Between the commitments of UCR, Java City and its partners, more than $120,000 has been raised to help this community.

Leftover Food, Doesn’t go to Waste

UCR is making a making a difference abroad, but the campus is also making a difference at home. The leftover food at the end of each day goes to Inland Harvest, a non-profit organization committed to transporting surplus food to established charitable feeding programs in the Inland Empire. Gustavo Plascencia, General Manager of Sustainability for Dining Services, says they’ve been doing this since before his time, and if you’re wondering how long Plascencia has been with UCR Dining – it’s been 22 years.  One example of how the food is used can be seen locally at St. George’s Episcopal Church near UCR, which has a college student feeding night every Thursday at 6 p.m. And guess who primarily goes to those dinners? UCR students! Talk about full circle.

“We always knew that we would indirectly impact our students and community,” says Plascencia. It’s not mandated by Dining Services that the food donated somehow make its way back to our campus community, it just happened to work out that way.

And finally, the UCR Chapter of Swipes for the Homeless has decided that a portion of the proceeds from their first ever campaign that occurred this quarter will go towards Feeding America – a group dedicated to feeding the homeless in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.  Proceeds will also go to UCR’s R’Garden, a space for students, faculty, and staff to grow fresh produce while learning about social, environmental, and economical sustainability. UCR Dining also happens to buy produce from the R’Garden, and uses it in meals served on campus, putting money directly back into our university. Our student group will be growing some of the produce that they will be donating moving forward.

UCR’s effort to make a difference in our community and the world 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.

75 Prom Gowns Donated To The Princess Treatment Dresses Campaign

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Laurie Williams and published in The Press Enterprise on March 25, 2015.)

Martin Luther King High School student Caitlyn Kent holds two of some 75 donated prom dresses she has collected for girls who cant afford to buy new ones. Photo Credit: Laurie Williams
Martin Luther King High School student Caitlyn Kent holds two of some 75 donated prom dresses she has collected for girls who cant afford to buy new ones. Photo Credit: Laurie Williams

Becoming an orthodontist is Caitlyn Kent’s ultimate goal, but at 16 she has another plan for making people smile – with elegant couture rather than metal bands.

An 11th-grader at Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, Kent said she has been hearing for months about how expensive it is to go to the prom. Some of her friends are saying they might not even go because they can’t afford dresses, which can cost hundreds of dollars.

“With the dress, shoes, accessories and dinner it can add up to nearly $1,000,” she said. “That’s just not possible for a lot of girls.”

So she launched Princess Treatment Dresses, a campaign to find gowns for girls who otherwise would not be able to afford them. She posted online through sites like Craigslist and put up fliers at stores and restaurants in the neighborhood of the school.

She asked people to think about donating gowns they have hanging in their closets and might not ever wear again.

She has had a generous response, she said – about 75 dresses in a wide range of styles and sizes – and she will be accepting donations through the beginning of April. Some people drop off dresses at the school, and sometimes Kent and her mother pick them up.

The original idea was to distribute the gowns among Martin Luther King High students, she said, but there have been inquiries from other schools and now Kent hopes to make prom dresses available regardless of school boundaries. She said she is looking for a place off campus where girls can try the dresses on.

“These are all pretty dresses, and a lot of them are new, with all their tags still on them,” she said.

Kent said she loves dresses with sparkles, and her favorite color is blue. Several in her collection fit that profile, but she won’t be wearing one. These dresses are for other girls. She feels lucky that her family has resources to send her to a prom.

Assistant Principal Gerard Reller said he admires the generous spirit that prompts many Martin Luther King High students to reach out to help others.

“This project is just like Caitlyn,” he said. “She takes care of people.”

When she isn’t adding to her gown collection, Kent enjoys her academic pursuits, especially in the sciences. She played volleyball last year but decided to concentrate on her studies this year.

“It really hit me that I needed to keep my academics up,” she said. “I’m going to be applying to colleges next year.”

She still plays club volleyball, she said.

Born and raised in Riverside, Kent is the daughter of Don and Lena Kent.

“I’m so grateful for all I have,” she said. “And everyone deserves a chance to feel like a princess.”

The generosity and kindness shown by Kent is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. Caitlyn Kent demonstrates that 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 the complete article, click here.