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.

 

Bohnett Foundation Grant Allows UCR LGBT Resource Center To Upgrade Computer Center

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Ross French, published in in UCR Today on April 10th, 2014.)

CyberCenter provides LGBT students a safe, nonjudgmental space

A grant from the David Bohnett Foundation will allow the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center at the University of California, Riverside to continue to offer LGBT students a safe place to do research and academic work, student group projects, job searches and social networking.

Toi Thibodeaux, program coordinator in the LGBT Resource Center, looks at the new signage on the David Bohnett Foundation Cyber Center at UC Riverside. Photo Credit: LGBT Resource Center

Toi Thibodeaux, program coordinator in the LGBT Resource Center, looks at the new signage on the David Bohnett Foundation Cyber Center at UC Riverside. Photo Credit: LGBT Resource Center

A grand re-opening celebration for the David Bohnett CyberCenter, located within the LGBT Resource Center in Costo Hall, was held on Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Paul Moore, program officer for the David Bohnett Foundation, was in attendance to present the grant, which includes six new iMac computers, a printer and a scanner. The machines feature the Microsoft Office Suite of programs, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and feature Adobe Desktop Publishing software.

“Since the UCR CyberCenter opened in 2006, it has become more than a resource. It is really an integral part of UC Riverside’s LGBT community spaces,” said LGBT Resource Center Director Nancy Tubbs. “Many students, including those who are not out to their families or fellow students, are very careful about people seeing their internet history. They can be uncomfortable writing papers on LGBT issues or doing research on the subject. The CyberCenter provides a safe place for students to access the internet and it is great outreach for students who take advantage of printer access and other resources.”

LGBT Resource Center Director Nancy Tubbs (left) and Program Coordinator Toi Thibodeaux (right) chat with David Bohnett Foundation representative Paul Moore (center). Photo Credit: LGBT Resource Center

LGBT Resource Center Director Nancy Tubbs (left) and Program Coordinator Toi Thibodeaux (right) chat with David Bohnett Foundation representative Paul Moore (center). Photo Credit: LGBT Resource Center

There are currently a total of 60 active CyberCenters funded nationwide, including locations in Tulsa, Orlando, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Tucson, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City. Each is equipped with five to ten computer stations loaded with a broad range of updated programs and software for business and personal computing. Computer access is always free and training on job searching, best internet practices and online security is readily available.

The Bohnett Foundation is a great representation 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. 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.

 

King High Students Hear Veterans’ Experiences

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Dayna Straehley, published in the Press-Enterprise on March 21, 2014.)

U.S. veterans participate at King High Remembers. High school juniors interviewed 298 veterans and learned history from them Friday March 21. The crowd overflowed from the school gym into the multipurpose room and some classrooms.

U.S. Army Korean War veteran Charles Geitner, 85, an Illinois native now living in Fullerton, shares his experiences with Riverside King High School juniors Darrel Artiaga and Nicole Item. The school's 11th graders interviewed 298 veterans during King High Remembers on Friday March 21.  Photo Credit: Milka Soko

U.S. Army Korean War veteran Charles Geitner, 85, an Illinois native now living in Fullerton, shares his experiences with Riverside King High School juniors Darrel Artiaga and Nicole Item. The school’s 11th graders interviewed 298 veterans during King High Remembers on Friday March 21. Photo Credit: Milka Soko

The veterans were interviewed across tables in the school gym, multipurpose room and in classrooms by groups of two or three 11th graders, who asked about their war experiences, military life, homecoming, their opinion of their time in the service and current conflicts.

_D3C7454

When Sgt. Bert Frank got home from World War II after three years in the Army, he took off his uniform and threw it on the floor.  He didn’t put it back on until Friday, March 21, when he wore it to King High School in Riverside.  Frank, a 90-year-old Los Angeles resident, was among 298 veterans interviewed by high school juniors in the 14th annual King High Remembers. One of those students was his grandson Joel Frank.

Like many veterans, Frank, brought a scrapbook that included some mementos of happy experiences. He was in the Army from 1942 to 1945.

_D3C7246

Frank told students about the dances they had almost every week while he was stationed in the Philippines and USO shows with Bob Hope, King Kaiser and others. The Army showed movies, but almost all of them were interrupted by bombers that sent soldiers running for their fox holes.

The King High Remembers event that took place on Friday that allowed students to interview veterans represented the seizing our destiny pillars intelligent growth, and unified city.  By interviewing the veterans directly in small groups like this gave the high school students a very valuable opportunity to learn about not only our country’s history, but also the heritage and background of local heroes.  Speaking to veterans from different branches of military from numerous wars, the knowledge instilled from the veterans certainly exemplified intelligent growth, by equipping the students with information and knowledge that can’t be taught in textbooks.

The experiences shared and interaction between two different generations was a great example of Riverside being a unified city.  The students were able to have intimate conversations with a melting pot of veterans.  Veterans from numerous military branches in attendance ranged in war involvement, age, ethnicity, and background.  The diversity of attendees enabled the students to hear a broad perspective of experiences, and to understand the commonality among all of the veterans.   They were given the opportunity to respect and value the cultural heritage, distinct needs and varied input of each of the veterans, while proactively engaging with them across generational gaps.

_D3C7185

WAR TALLY

Some veterans served in two or more wars or did not list a war. Not all of the 361 who were expected showed up. Others arrived without advance notice, making for a total of 298, social studies teachers said.

WWII: 59

KOREAN WAR: 57

VIETNAM WAR: 149

COLD WAR: 48

GULF WAR: 21

IRAQ/AFGHANISTAN WARS: 17

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.

/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.

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.

/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.

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.