Category Archives: Unified City

Riverside’s Little Choir That Could

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Diane A. Rhodes and published in The Press Enterprise on January 18, 2015.)

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

Tenacity. Grit. Determination. Fortitude. The meaning of the words are clear, but how often are these traits demonstrated in real-life situations?

The Hillcrest Show Choir, at Riverside’s Hillcrest High School, is a group of about 100 singers that have sacrificed a lot – collectively and individually – to bring entertainment to others.

When the school opened in the fall of 2012, it did not have a choir. A group of students started a petition to create one. Twenty student signatures were required to have the class considered — all 20 are still part of the choir in its third year.

Getting a choir class approved was just the beginning. Another obstacle in bringing this fine arts course to the school was logistical. With a full slate of academic classes during the day and sports programs after that, there was no time it could be scheduled when interested, but active students could participate. They requested to have it held during “zero” period, from 6:28 to 7:25 a.m. Their persistence paid off and choir members continue to rise to the challenge each morning.

“We are not a show choir by industry standards where we go to competitions and festivals and such,” choir director Beth Schwandt said. “We have a bunch of kids who want to have music in their lives and go out into their community to put on shows.”

Schwandt said one of the Alvord School District’s core values is inclusiveness and she is proud to accomplish this with a choir that does not require an audition to join. As a result, she has attracted an eclectic melting pot of students that grows steadily with each school year. The choir’s inclusiveness is a great 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. The long-standing diversity of the City provides a comfortable home for people from all backgrounds, cultures, and interests.

“They are a tribute to starting from nothing and fighting to create a culture of well-rounded musicians, athletes, thespians, scholars, volunteers, student leaders and friends,” Schwandt said. “My greatest joy is watching them walk up the stairs to class when it’s still pitch black and freezing cold outside and enjoying that hour together.

To read the full article, click here.

Fighting A “Food Desert”

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Alicia Robinson and published in The Press Enterprise on December 31, 2014.)

Joey Romero, program director of Mobile Fresh, stands in the doorway of an old RTA bus that has been converted to a mini market with fresh vegetables and other healthy food. Photo Credit: David Bauman, The Press Enterprise
Joey Romero, program director of Mobile Fresh, stands in the doorway of an old RTA bus that has been converted to a mini market with fresh vegetables and other healthy food. Photo Credit: David Bauman, The Press Enterprise

More than a dozen communities around the state are part of Kaiser’s HEAL Zone effort. On the Eastside, an estimated 57.77 percent of adults are overweight or obese, and the area is considered a “food desert” – meaning it has plenty of fast food and convenience stores but few places offering fresh, healthy options.

Spearheaded by the nonprofit Riverside Community Health Foundation, those working on the HEAL Zone project are attacking the healthy eating component on several fronts.

Organizers are publicizing classes on eating right and diabetes education at community centers. The Riverside Spanish Seventh Day Adventist church is offering a monthly healthy cooking class. Riverside city staff want to create a community-supported agriculture program that would deliver Eastside residents monthly boxes of locally-grown produce.

To compete with the large number of unhealthy offerings – 36 fast food restaurants within a half-mile of North High School – officials are working with two neighborhood markets to get newer, more energy-efficient chilled cases to hold fresh produce and to create signs, murals and other advertising to let people know they sell fruit and vegetables.

Riverside County public health officials, who are coordinating the market project, also want to help the store owners buy produce at lower prices so they can charge customers less to compete with cheaper fast food, said Lorie Brendecke, a nutritionist with the county public health department.

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

Another choice for those who can’t get to a full-fledged grocery store is the Mobile Fresh bus. The produce-filled bus is a project of the nonprofit Family Service Association that linked up with the HEAL Zone because of their shared goals, said Joey Romero, an operations specialist with the association.

The bus, donated by the Riverside Transit Agency, regularly visits more than 40 spots around the county to offer low prices on bags of Brussels sprouts and green beans, bunches of asparagus, mangoes, apples and other fresh foods.

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.

La Sierra Service-Learning Class Fulfills After School Program Pledge

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Darla Martin Tucker and published in La Sierra News/Events on December 23, 2014.)

Photo Credit: La Sierra
Photo Credit: La Sierra

With ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ like it was Christmas morning, dozens of students at Stokoe Elementary School in Riverside stretched to view the colorful stacks of games, art supplies, school supplies and sporting goods filling their school’s stage.

The bounty, intended for the after school programs at Stokoe and at Wells Middle School, included paint sets, marker sets, painting canvases, packs of paper and pencils, educational games, soccer and volley balls, tennis balls, volleyball, badminton, and soccer goal nets and a 32-inch Toshiba LED television.

The goods were unveiled during a special assembly on Dec. 9, and were purchased with $3,909.49 raised during the fall academic quarter by 14 La Sierra University Senior Project business students led by Jere Fox, an associate law and management professor at the Zapara School of Business. The effort capped a pledge Fox made two-and-a-half years ago to Carmen Phillips, After School Programs coordinator for the Alvord Unified School District, that his Senior Project classes would raise funds to benefit all 16 Alvord After School programs. Donations to Stokoe and Wells schools this month fulfilled the promise. All told, Fox’s six classes since spring 2012 have delivered to Alvord’s 16 after school programs a total of $22,556.53 in products paid for with student fundraising efforts.

The donation from Fox’s class also helps the district reach matching fund goals for state grants that pay for after school programming, she said.

“The After School Programs in Alvord are funded by an After School Education and Safety grant from the State of California. We are required yearly to provide documentation of matching funds to be considered in good standing with the state,” said Phillips. “In the 2013-2014 school year, we were required to have in-kind matching funds of $1,073,112.19.”

As part of an academic service-learning program, the business students in Fox’s class visited Stokoe and Wells early in the quarter to determine the needs of the After School programs and then created a fundraising business plan to help meet those needs.  The university requires undergraduate students to perform 14 hours per student per quarter of community service. This quarter the student’s in Fox’s class contributed a total of 291 service-learning hours outside of the classroom, with more than 95 of those hours voluntarily contributed above the required minimum hours. The business students in Fox’s six Senior Project classes over the past two-and-a-half years voluntarily contributed to the after school program project an additional 884 hours above the minimum required hours, for a combined total of 3,474 hours of service-learning outside of the classroom.

The generosity and care shown by all of the La Sierra University students is a model of Riverside acting as a unified city.  Riversiders collaborate and work together to build our community and accelerate the common good for all.  We are a caring community that has great compassion and engages with one another for a better life for all.

To read the full article, click here.

Grant Aims to Increase Faculty Diversity

(This article contains excerpts from the article by Bettye Miller and published in UCR Today on December 15, 2014.)

Photo Credit: UCR Today
Photo Credit: UCR Today

The University of California, Riverside has been awarded a $500,000 grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a research and mentoring program for undergraduates aimed at increasing diversity among faculty in American universities.

The program, The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF), to which institutions are invited by the foundation to apply, is the centerpiece of Mellon Foundation initiatives to increase faculty diversity.

“We are excited about this opportunity, which will help us build on our commitment to diversity and to preparing underrepresented students for positions of leadership in California and the nation,” UCR Chancellor Kim Wilcox said. “We share The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s commitment to improving the diversity of graduate students and faculty, and are also pleased that these fellowships will give even more of our undergraduates the chance to engage in research projects where they will work closely with faculty mentors.”

The four-year grant will fund research fellowships each academic year and for each of two summers for five juniors and five seniors. Students who enroll in selected Ph.D. programs within three years of completing a bachelor’s degree are eligible for some student loan repayment. Eligible fields of study are primarily in the humanities and selected sciences and social sciences.

The first five students, selected from this year’s sophomore class at UCR, will begin the program this summer. The online application is available here.

UCR is a testament to the diversity of our city and exemplifies Seizing’s 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. The long-standing diversity of the City provides a comfortable home for people from all backgrounds, cultures and interests.

To read the full article, click here.

Running Club Gets New Sneakers

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Brian Rokos and published in The Press Enterprise on December 17, 2014.)

Photo Credit: Brian Rokos , The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: Brian Rokos , The Press Enterprise

Wells Middle School seventh-grader Brandon Ceja admired his new black-red-and-white New Balance Fantom sneakers and looked forward to wearing them as he participated in the before-school running club.

The running, said Brandon, 12, “gets me pumped so I can chill for class.”

Brandon was one of 100 Wells students who received free shoes Wednesday from the Riverside Police Officers’ Association and the Running Center. Principal David Ferguson said the students were selected by their times in the mile and their participation in the 100-mile running club.

“This was an honor for us to receive these,” Brandon said.

Riverside City Councilman Jim Perry, who said he runs six times a week, participates in the school’s Spirit Run three times a year. He noticed that many Wells students, some who are from low-income families, didn’t have proper running shoes. He wondered whether the police union could help supply 15 pairs of shoes.

Union Vice President Aurelio Melendrez thought bigger. He contacted the Running Center, a shop with Inland locations in Temecula and Redlands that supplies gear for the Police Department’s team in the annual Baker-to-Vegas relay footrace.

Running Center owner Nancy Comer agreed to split the cost of 100 pairs of shoes with the police union and negotiated discounted prices from vendors.

“We’re happy to help. It’s the best thing we can do to keep kids running,” Comer said.

Running Center employees had come out to the school a couple of weeks ago to measure the students’ feet. Then on Wednesday, Comer, Perry and police union officials handed out the boxes of shoes.

“This is truly a community partnership,” Perry said.

The generosity and care shown by all of the donating parties is a model of Riverside acting as a unified city.  Riversiders collaborate and work together to build our community and accelerate the common good for all.  We are a caring community that has great compassion and engages with one another for a better life for all.

To read the full article,  click here.

CBU Listed On 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Honor Roll

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in CBU News & Events on December 8, 2014.)

Photo Credit: CBU
Photo Credit: CBU

California Baptist University has been listed on the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Honor Roll for exemplary community service. Approximately 700 institutions qualified for the list nationwide.

“The President’s Honor Roll recognizes higher education institutions whose community service efforts achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities,” said Ted Miller, chief of external affairs for the Corporation for National and Community Service. “This distinction is the highest federal recognition colleges and universities can receive for community service, service-learning and civic engagement. This recognition is part of our strategic commitment to engage millions of college students in service and celebrate the critical role of higher education in strengthening communities.”

To qualify, CBU submitted a lengthy application outlining the university’s community service and service learning participation. Students, faculty and staff contributed more than 600,000 service hours in 2013, with a value of more than $16 million to the community.

Riverside as a unified city is demonstrated by CBU’s staff, students and faculty in their compassion for and engagement with one another. They are working together to build our community and accelerate the common good for all.

To read the full article, click here.

Riverside Youth Judo Club Competes At The Largest Judo Tournament

Riverside Youth Judo Club is lined up in the middle. (Largest group of competitors)
Riverside Youth Judo Club is lined up in the middle. (Largest group of competitors)

The Riverside Youth Judo Club, a project of the Police Activities League, competed at the largest National Judo Tournament in the U.S. Saturday, December 6, 2014.  There were 709 competitors from all over the country (as far as New York, South Carolina, Florida, and Hawaii), along with a total of 100 veteran, long-standing judo clubs.

The two-year old “fledgling” judo club brought the largest group of fighters to the event.  The club had 50 competitors, many of which had never previously competed.  They are a charitable, non-profit club and have many students (about 50%) who are economically disadvantaged and sponsored by the City and Police Activities League.  They had several generous contributions from members of the Riverside Police Department and the judo club who helped sponsor many of the competitors, covering their $50 entrance fee.  They were able to fundraise the rest with Candy and Apple sales.

Riverside Youth Judo Club finished the day ranked as the #3 Top-Winning club of the tournament (again, out of 100 judo clubs attending).  They were only outdone by the 2nd largest judo club in the Country (Goltz Club) and the historical and aggressive Hayastan club.  The club outperformed 96 Judo clubs represented at the National Tournament!

It’s great that youth involved in the Judo Club have an opportunity to compete and do well because of the generosity of a community that cares.  Sponsorships and hard work from the City and Police Activities League continually model Riverside as a unified city.

To read more about the Riverside Youth Judo Club, click here.

CBU Program Helps International Students Feel Connected

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in CBU News & Events on December 4, 2014)

Photo Credit: CBU
Photo Credit: CBU

Going to college is a big adjustment for anyone. Going to college in a foreign country makes the adjustment even bigger. California Baptist University has a program in place to help international students feel at home and connected.

The American Family Program, operated by the International Center, gives international students a family here in Riverside to serve as a support system far from home, said Marie King, a graduate assistant at the International Center. Students from Rwanda and students enrolled in the Intensive English Program are required to be in the family program, but all international students are welcome to be part of it, King said.

She finds families from the staff at CBU and local churches. Each student and family fills out a profile and then are matched. The commitment for families and students is for at least the academic year, with the potential of being longer, King said. Families have the students over for the holidays and often get together throughout the school year for other activities. Both sides are expected to communicate weekly.

Ken Sanford, student teacher supervisor, and his wife, Denise, started as a host family last year for two Chinese students and are continuing this year with those students. Sanford has been to China through participation in International Service Projects for five years in a row, and he has gotten to know international students at CBU. Sanford and his wife have had the students over for meals, gone out for dinner and visited an amusement park. They touch base with each other almost every day.

It’s essential for international students to feel supported while far away from home, King said. The International Center also offers the Intensive English Program, helps run International Chapel and holds events for international students, such as a Disneyland trip and International Celebration Week, in hopes that they will connect with other students.

The American Family Program is a great representation 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. 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.

To read the full article, click here.