Category Archives: Unified City

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 www.startrightriverside.com.

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.

Riverside Couple Collaborates To Better The Lives Of Others

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Melanie C. Johnson and published in The Press Enterprise on March 13, 2015.)

Damien and Jenn O'Farrell with one-year-old daughter Marleigh. The couple, dedicated to community service, won a Riverside Heroes Award late last year. Photo Credit: Melanie Johnson, Contributing Photographer
Damien and Jenn O’Farrell with one-year-old daughter Marleigh. The couple, dedicated to community service, won a Riverside Heroes Award late last year. Photo Credit: Melanie Johnson, Contributing Photographer

Riverside residents Damien and Jennifer “Jenn” O’Farrell see their desire to serve their community as just a part of who they are.

For Damien, a former church youth pastor, it’s his calling. Jenn traces it back to her childhood, when she would go with her mom to visit her great grandfather at a senior-living facility. They would cap the day by going to the rooms of other residents to offer greetings.

Besides their jobs and their respective leadership roles for other nonprofits, such as Operation SafeHouse and Today’s Urban Renewal Network, the couple also volunteers for community organizations and initiatives. Jenn serves on the Riverside Community Health Foundation’s board and is a three-term past board president of the YWCA. While involved in Riverside’s leadership program, she and others in her class created an annual bike ride that benefits the Riverside and Alvord Unified school districts. The event, the Riverside Citrus City Classic, is in its fourth year.

Damien serves on the Riverside Neighborhood Partnership and both he and Jenn worked with others to co-found Pick Group, an organization that brings young professionals together to socialize and find ways to impact the community socially.

Damien has been at the helm of Path of Life Ministries in Riverside for seven years. His organization has three shelter programs for homeless individuals and families with children. Most of the 1,500 people the nonprofit serves in its shelters are children under the age of 10, he said.

Other nonprofits Path of Life has launched include Health to Hope Clinics, which offers medical services to people in need, and Path of Life Enterprises, a transitional employment program. The first business opened under that program is Angel Wings Bakery, which sells its goods online, he said.

Jenn has been with the newly formed Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Inland Empire chapter for a year. The program serves at-risk children and youth ages 6 to 18, providing them with a one-on-one mentor. Before this post, she previously co-facilitated a task force on human trafficking.

In working with victims of human trafficking, she said she learned from the teen girls she served that if they had positive role models and mentors earlier in life, their lives might have taken a different path.

“Seventy-five percent of those we serve come from single-family homes and are at risk for homelessness or gang violence, so mentors are needed at the tipping point to point them in another direction,” she said. “All of us have had a mentor at some point. While our mentors happen naturally, it’s not happening for the children we serve.”

Damien said while some may see problems such as homelessness or human trafficking as impenetrable, he feels efforts to make the community better do have an impact.

“It’s important for all of us to do what we can to better the lives of other people,” he said. “There’s a tangible cost to homelessness, and there is also an opportunity cost. Bringing families stability is what opens them up to generations of opportunity and following dreams instead of generations of poverty.”

Damien and Jenn exemplify Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. Riversiders such as Damien and Jenn are working together everyday to not only address local issues, but to also have a positive impact on the region, nation, and the world.

To read the full article, click here.

Film Camp Offers Hope For Pediatric Cancer Patients

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Bettye Miller and published in UCR Today on March 12, 2015.)

Cassie Nguyen, a senior public policy major and brain cancer survivor, will introduce her Spotlight On Hope Film Camp to the community on April 2. Photo Credit: UCR Today
Cassie Nguyen, a senior public policy major and brain cancer survivor, will introduce her Spotlight On Hope Film Camp to the community on April 2. Photo Credit: UCR Today

Brain cancer. Not the diagnosis Cassie Nguyen was expecting as a sophomore at Riverside’s Martin Luther King High School. Neither was the debilitating surgery that saved her life.

Today, Nguyen is an honor student and School of Public Policy ambassador at the University of California, Riverside, where she will graduate in June. She is a 10-year cancer survivor, American Cancer Society advocate, and the creator of Spotlight On Hope Film Camp, a free film making program for pediatric cancer patients that until now has been held only in Los Angeles.

Nguyen hopes to bring the film camp to UC Riverside and the Inland Empire, and is screening short films written and produced by pediatric cancer patients in the program on Thursday, April 2, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. in Highlander Union Building 367. The event is free and open to the public. Parking is free in Lot 1; pick up parking permits at the Kiosk on West Campus Drive at the University Avenue entrance to the campus. Reservations are requested as seating is limited and may be made online. The screening is co-sponsored by University Honors and the Women’s Resource Center.

The Riverside resident said she hopes the screening will generate support to expand the program to the Inland Empire. She hopes eventually to establish a nonprofit foundation and offer film camps across the country.

Approximately 13,500 children are diagnosed with cancer each year in the U.S., and about 25 percent of them die, Nguyen said. Although Spotlight On Hope Film Camp does not reduce the death rate, it does provide a therapeutic outlet for pediatric cancer patients, she explained.

“I know how boring the hospital scene is,” Nguyen said, recalling the surgery to remove the tumor from her brain, a year of radiation and chemotherapy, and physical therapy to learn to write with her left hand and regain mobility to address on-going balance and difficult vision issues. “I wanted to do something to help kids take their minds off what was happening to them and give them something to look forward to.”

Nguyen suggested the film camp for young cancer patients while working as an intern for Think Ten Media Group, a production company based in Castaic that aims to use the power of media to create change and spread awareness of key issues.

She raised $700 to cover production costs of the first camp, held in September 2013, by selling plastic cancer bracelets to UCR faculty and students, family and friends in her junior year. She dedicated the first film camp to a younger cousin who died of sarcoma cancer at age 14.

Think Ten Media Group co-founders and filmmakers Ramon Hamilton and Jennifer Fischer helped Nguyen develop the Spotlight On Hope Film Camp for pediatric cancer patients at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles as part of their company’s arts education program. The UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television hosts the camp in Los Angeles.

When the film camp proved to be successful, Nguyen applied for and won a $10,000 scholarship from the Donald A. Strauss Public Service Scholarship Foundation in 2014, which funded 10 more film camps at UCLA. The foundation awards $10,000 scholarships to as many as 15 California college juniors annually to support public-service projects that the students carry out during their senior year.

Spotlight On Hope Film Camp allows patients to explore the art of green screen and special effects film-making while working in groups to create a short, green screen and special effects film. The participants, who range in age from 8 to 22, also learn about story/character development, camera technique, video and FX editing during three days of weekend classes.

“Being a pediatric patient myself, I understand how valuable a creative therapeutic outlet can be in the midst of your long, dreadful and difficult journey battling cancer,” Nguyen explained. “Spotlight On Hope Film Camp can help children live in a fantasy world that allows them to get away from all their troubles and create lasting memories.”

Nguyen efforts to put smiles on pediatric cancer patients faces is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar, she demonstrates 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.

For the full article, click here.

Homeless Families To Benefit From 3rd Annual Fundraiser

(This article contains excerpts from www.thepathoflife.com and retrieved on March 2, 2015.)

Photo Credit: Path of Life Ministries
Photo Credit: Path of Life Ministries

Sheltering Hearts benefiting Path of Life Ministries will be holding it’s 3rd annual fundraising event on March 21, 2015.

Path of Life Ministries is a dynamic group of community-minded individuals serving our city since 1998. They’ve become a premier non-profit service agency committed to serving the greater Riverside homeless, challenged youth and family population with the goal to rescue, restore and rebuild lives in our community. One of their core guiding principles is grounded in partnering with the community. They accomplish this by extending their services with their local collaborative partners, other providers and support agencies. This contributes to a holistic, community based solution that improves the social, economic and spiritual health and vitality of the poor, homeless, at risk youth and families.

Path of Life Ministries addresses significant barriers of dysfunction with people in crisis including children and families. Families are met first at their place of largest need with food, shelter and stabilization services; the rescue point. Next, the process of restoring and rebuilding begins through compassionate case management, housing, health care services, community resources and wrap around services that are provided to promote self-sufficiency and family restoration.

Path of Life Ministries’ current capacity is 373 beds per night and serves the community in the areas of:

  • Homelessness – two Emergency Shelters and one Transitional Housing Program with supportive services through a comprehensive case management plan that sets goals to attain an independent life and prevent the cycle of homelessness
  • Recovery Services –  of people with alcohol/substance abuse or other dysfunctional behaviors that prevent self sufficiency in three Christian-based congregate living homes
  • Youth Services  – for challenged,  at-risk children and youth population
  • Health Care Services – ‘Health in Motion’, offered through our partner organization Health to Hope, provides mobile medical vehicle and two fixed sites that deliver primary care healthcare services to the homeless.

Path of Life Ministries is an outstanding example of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar- people coming together for common goals and interests for the betterment of all.

To purchase your tickets or find out more information about the Sheltering Hearts event, click here.

For more information on Path of Life Ministries, contact their main office at (951) 275-8755 or visit their website.