Car Giveaway Changes Lives

(This article contains excerpts from article by Kevin J Keckeisen, published in The Press Enterprise on October 26, 2014.)

Roshard and Michelle Fairman enjoy their restored 2010 Toyota Camry given to them by Ben Clymer's The Body Shop in Moreno Valley, which volunteered more than 200 hours to fix the vehicle and partnered with several organizations. The family also received one year of insurance, had the DMV fees paid, and received a trunk full of groceries. Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise, Kevin J. Keckeisen

Roshard and Michelle Fairman enjoy their restored 2010 Toyota Camry given to them by Ben Clymer’s The Body Shop in Moreno Valley, which volunteered more than 200 hours to fix the vehicle and partnered with several organizations. The family also received one year of insurance, had the DMV fees paid, and received a trunk full of groceries. Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise, Kevin J. Keckeisen

When Roshard and Michelle Fairman’s car broke down in 2011, they couldn’t afford to fix it.

Michelle, who is deaf and blind, walked their three children to school every day. Roshard bought a bike and drove seven miles to work at the Ross Stores Distribution Center in Moreno Valley. At the grocery store, they would load supplies into three backpacks and walk home.

Their lives changed Thursday, when Ben Clymer’s The Body Shop gave them a restored 2010 Toyota Camry with fewer than 60,000 miles, one year of insurance and a trunk full of groceries. The shop also covered the DMV fees.

“I’m not really used to receiving things,” Roshard Fairman said. “I don’t apply for contests or things like that.”

His wife said the car means the family can to go church again.

“We haven’t been to church for four years now,” she said. “It’d be nice to go again as a family.”

Michelle Fairman also is excited about going to family gatherings again, and visiting her 93-year-old grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s.

This is the 11th car in six years that Clymer’s shop has given away to a family in need through its five locations in Moreno Valley, Riverside, Yucaipa, Palm Desert and Pomona. The staff volunteered more than 200 hours to fix the vehicle. Ben Clymer’s shop will be holding another Benevolence Car event in Riverside on November 13th. The Benevolence Car event is an example of the compassionate community in Riverside that joins together as a Unified City to support each other in times of need.

The company partnered with Automobile Club of Southern California, Martin Auto Color, PPG Finishes, P&D Wholesale, Enterprise Rent A Car, Bud’s Tire & Wheel, Precision Auto Glass and Community Connect to make it happen.

Community Connect, a Riverside nonprofit, collected applications and whittled them to about 20, factoring in household income and need. Clymer’s office narrowed it down to five, and the whole crew voted on which family would benefit most from the car….

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Young Professionals Promote Volunteerism

(This article contains excerpts from pickgroup.org)

The Pick Group provides opportunities for career-minded young professionals to connect socially, develop professionally, and engage civically for the betterment of Riverside.  The Pick Group ran a successful social media volunteer drive, for the second year, during the month of January called the Pick and Pledge Challenge where young professionals and others in the Riverside area were called upon to promote volunteerism. The challenge provided a media forum to publicly post hours participants will volunteer in 2014 to local organizations and non profits.

Volunteers from the social media drive.  Photo credit: Pickgroup.org

Volunteers from the social media drive. Photo credit: Pickgroup.org

Together, 85 PICK Group members, board members, friends and community members pledged a total of 16,750 volunteer hours to the community through the group’s official Facebook page. “We had a goal of 10,000 hours this year and we exceeded it by 68%. Last year, we had a total of 63 people pledge 9,600 hours. We are excited to see the increase of people pledging volunteer hours as well an increase in the number of hours,” said Jesse Limon, Civic Involvement Chair of PICK Group.

Pick Group Volunteer. Photo credit: the PICK Group

Pick Group Volunteer. Photo credit: the PICK Group

“According to the Independent Sector, the monetary value of a volunteer hour in California is currently $26.34. The economic impact of those 16,750 hours pledged is $441,195.00,” said Eugene Kim, President of the PICK Group. “With the increase of the value of volunteer hour and hours pledged, in just one year we doubled the value of the economic impact of volunteers to our community.”

The annual Pick and Pledge event seeks to pair eager young professionals with local nonprofit boards and volunteer opportunities by highlighting local organizations on the PICK Group website and social media outlets daily during the month of January. Volunteer opportunities to fulfill the hours pledged will be posted throughout the year on the website and social media outlets.

Pick group volunteer. Photo Credit: The PICK Group

Pick group volunteer. Photo Credit: The PICK Group

The Pick Group is a great representation of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation, unified city, and location of choice pillars.  Finding new opportunities to promote volunteerism and community outreach is an admirable cause that the Pick Group has dedicated a lot of energy to.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.  Riversiders are committed to improving the quality of life within the community, making Riverside a location of choice for people and organizations from all over the world.  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 read more about the Pick Group, 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.

Students With Signs Aim To Brighten Day

(Excerpts from this post came from an article written by Dayna Straehley, Staff Writer, and published in the Press Enterprise on January 24, 2014.)

About 100 students and staff from the Arlington Regional Learning Center will take turns Tuesday, Jan. 28, showing motivational signs to commuters and pedestrians at Adams Street and Arlington Avenue near campus.

Some students and staff from Arlington Regional Learning Center in Riverside will hold signs with messages such as "You Are Loved" and "It's Going to be Okay" during a Sprinkling Happiness Project on Adams Street and Arlington Avenue near the school Tuesday.

Some students and staff from Arlington Regional Learning Center in Riverside will hold signs with messages such as “You Are Loved” and “It’s Going to be Okay” during a Sprinkling Happiness Project on Adams Street and Arlington Avenue near the school Tuesday.

They will participate from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Sprinkling Happiness, wearing bright yellow shirts as they hold signs with messages such as “It’s Going To Be All Right” and “You Are Loved.” The signs are part of a project that has traveled from Washington state to more than 20 U.S. and Canadian cities. The sign holders hope to brighten passersby’s day.

Principal Joelle Hood had planned the activity for months, said Riverside County Office of Education spokesman Craig Petinak. It took on new importance after a student was murdered early New Year’s Day. Students responded by recognizing the importance of telling others how much they care about each other, Hood said.  These students are learning that our community is a Unified City – getting together to address issues that are important.

Information: http://happinesssprinklingproject.org online.

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Prayer Breakfast, Speeches and Walk Honor King’s Legacy

(Excerpts from this post were taken from an article by Alicia Robinson, Gail Wesson and Erin Waldner, Staff Writers for the Press Enterprise, on January 20, 2014.)

Riverside shined as a Unified City on January 20, 2014  when the community came out for a variety of events honoring the late Martin Luther King, Jr.  It was a great demonstration of Seizing Our Destiny with a community that comes together around common interests.

Students from a dozen clubs at Riverside’s Martin Luther King High School were among the hundreds that took part Monday, Jan. 20, in a 5K walk commemorating the work of the slain civil rights leader.

“It’s part of our legacy and our tradition (at King High) to represent what he stands for,” Associated Student Body President David Reynolds, 18, said.

Odessa Bragg, center, and daughter Geneva Williams sing the Black National Anthem during The Inland Empire Concerned African-American Churches' 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast Monday, Jan. 20, at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino. (Photo Credit: KURT MILLER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Odessa Bragg, center, and daughter Geneva Williams sing the Black National Anthem during The Inland Empire Concerned African-American Churches’ 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast Monday, Jan. 20, at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino. (Photo Credit: KURT MILLER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Beginning at Bordwell Park, an estimated 800 walkers proceeded down Martin Luther King Boulevard, wound their way through downtown, and past the King statue on the Main Street mall before finishing at Riverside City College’s digital library.Elsewhere in the Inland area, the life and work of King were honored in other ways. Some attended a prayer breakfast held by the Inland Empire Concerned African-American Churches in San Bernardino. Others stopped by Mt. San Jacinto College, where speakers recalled the 1963 March on Washington and women in the civil rights movement.

WALKING IN RIVERSIDE

At the Riverside event, several students said King’s message that all people should be treated equally still resonates.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Walk-A-Thon begins at the Stratton Community Center in Riverside on Monday, Jan. 20. (Photo Credit: KURT MILLER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

The Martin Luther King Jr. Walk-A-Thon begins at the Stratton Community Center in Riverside on Monday, Jan. 20. (Photo Credit: KURT MILLER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Amanda Gomez, 17, whose parents were born in Mexico, said people who hold outdated stereotypes of Hispanics sometimes question what she’s doing in honors classes.

“I feel like the world is changing,” she said. “It shouldn’t be, ‘Oh, you’re Hispanic – you probably won’t even graduate high school.’”

Neil Shah, 17, said that after coming to the U.S. from Cambodia as a child, he was teased and bullied because of his skin color and for not speaking English.

Because of that experience, he said, “I know better than to be making fun of other people.”

One lesson from King’s work that stuck with Nigel Item, 17, was the need for grassroots activism and the realization that it can change society.

“People need to understand that they have power,” Item said. “By joining together, by protesting, it actually works.”

For the full article, please click here.

Soroptimists Mark 65 Years In Town

(This article includes excerpts from the article written by MARYLIN JACOBSEN, Columnist, and published in PE.com on December 06, 2013.)

Soroptimist International of Riverside is celebrating their 65th anniversary year, and looking at 2014 to make their 66th year another full of success in contributions to the community.

Soroptimist International of Riverside members participated in recent groundbreaking for Habitat for Humanity Riverside for which the club contributed. From left are Linda Robertson, Tillie Soliz, Jeanie Holmes, Lynn Scecina, Glenda Richards, Chris Deviny, Sally Cernie, Karen Roberts and Carolyn Kegarice. /Contributed Image

Soroptimist International of Riverside members participated in recent groundbreaking for Habitat for Humanity Riverside for which the club contributed. From left are Linda Robertson, Tillie Soliz, Jeanie Holmes, Lynn Scecina, Glenda Richards, Chris Deviny, Sally Cernie, Karen Roberts and Carolyn Kegarice. /Contributed Image

With SIR as its acronym, the 14-member group was chartered as a nonprofit women’s organization in the city of Riverside on April 10, 1948. Now it is one of more than 3,000 sister clubs around the world.

The purpose of Soroptimist is to promote the advancement of women through volunteer service in the community, serve as a global voice on issues of importance to women, and engage in activities that further express their purpose. The name Soroptimist is derived from the Latin ‘soror,’ meaning sister, and ‘optima,’ for best. Soroptimist is interpreted as “best for women”.

Signature event for SIR is “For the Love of Giving: Valentine Dessert Auction”, which will be held on Feb. 12 at Riverside Auditorium and Events Center. Registration and silent auction begin at 11 a.m., with lunch and live auction at 12 p.m. This will be the 12th Annual Battle of the Bakers and the 18th Dessert Auction, with bakeries, restaurants and caterers competing for honors in extravagant desserts. The incredible cakes are auctioned at the luncheon, raising funds for Soroptimist projects.

Richards has worked on a variety of projects through the years.  “I’ve grown to love the club, and members have become lifelong friends,” she said. “Building a strong club and doing our community service projects, that’s what we’re all about.”

“Being part of a group of professional women, all working together on common goals for the betterment of women and girls in our community — that’s been the greatest empowering and rewarding experience in my life,” said SIR President Michelle Rainer.

The club has joined with other nonprofits in supporting many philanthropic activities, as well as having its own projects. In the last five years, SIR has given more than $72,000 to organizations including Operation SafeHouse, Habitat for Humanity Arlington Temporary Assistance and Inland Agency.  This club is a great reflection of Riverside as a Unified City with more than 65 years gathering to promote the common good.

For the full article, click here.

Poly High Teen Is Published Author

(Excerpts from this post were taken from a biography on Smashwords.com.)

Zoe Rose Harness is one busy teen; she is Public Relations Vice President of Poly High School’s Associated Student Body, she runs track, and has done hundreds of hours of community service through faith-based organizations and National Charity League.

Teen Wisdom

Oh, and she writes a bit. Teen Wisdom and Other Oxymorons is Zoe’s third book, but it is the first to be widely published. One, A History of Abigail Adams, she wrote as a 5th grade project, and a second, Santa Can’t Swim, was co-written with another student for an AP Environmental Science class just last year. Both of those were children’s books, but now Zoe is moving on to the Young Adult genre.

Zoe Rose Harness (Photo credit - Smashwords.com)

Zoe Rose Harness (Photo credit – Smashwords.com)

All proceeds from the sale of the book go to support Operation Safehouse - a worthy Riverside charity that serves kids in crisis.

Zoe lives with her mom and dad, 15-year-old brother Brody, and two border terriers, Hunter and Radar, in her hometown of Riverside, California. She is a committed Christian who has spent considerable time studying major world religions and cults. Her room is a wreck, she texts thousands of times each month, and she is a truly terrible test taker. In April of 2013 she visited her 49th and 50th of all 50 states.

Riverside cultivates arts and culture and is a great environment for a young writer like Zoe.  To put it oxymoronically, she is a uniquely typical teen.

Buy Zoe’s book here.

Find Zoe’s biography here.