For several Riverside families, Christmas got a little merrier as they spent Wednesday morning shopping for gifts with city firefighters.
“It’s very rewarding and very honorable to be able to give back to people that aren’t as fortunate as others,” firefighter Jennifer McDowell said.
Among the families selected this year was the Fields family. Amelia Fields was picked after writing an essay at school on the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The family shopped and got some comfy boots, toys, books, slippers, a coffee cup for dad, and even something for their puppy.
Amelia thought of everyone.
“She obviously is thinking about the entire family, not just herself, which is probably one of the reasons why she is so special,” McDowell said.
The $300 shopping spree was donated by the Riverside Fire Department. In all, four families were selected to partake in the event.
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 the Riverside Fire Department 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.
Southern California is famous for its beaches, but not many people know it’s home to one of the most unique river ecosystems in the world, the 110-mile Santa Ana River, which is fed by many smaller tributaries. It’s such a special environment that famed biologist E.O. Wilson named it one of the world’s 10 biological hotspots, according to Megan Brousseau, director of the nonprofit organization Inland Empire Waterkeeper. The Riverside, California, group has worked hard to restore these waters and to protect them from pollution.
“People don’t know this river is a riparian forest, with great white egrets and blue heron, and home to an endangered species that lives nowhere else in the world, the Santa Ana suckerfish,” she says. “We are absolutely responsible for this species continuing or disappearing, right here in little old California.”
Director, Inland Empire Waterkeeper Brousseau spends a lot of time educating people about their personal part in pollution, and motivates them to recycle and reuse by getting them down to the river, where they can see the effects with their own eyes. By bringing their attention to the intersection between the natural world and their own consumption, she’s better able to encourage recycling and proper disposal.
“Overall, what we’re working on is creating ownership and pride,” Brousseau says. “If there is no ownership, then there will be no stewardship. What we really want to do is give this river back to the people. We are cleaning it not only to make it safe and to recreate, but by getting [people] down there, they start to feel like it’s theirs.”
Thanks to her organization’s cleanup efforts, the portion of the river that runs through Riverside—creeks and streams once too full of trash and toxins for anyone to swim or play in them—are now host to kids’ educational summer camps and recreational play that teaches personal responsibility.
Brousseau feels that stewardship, which includes teaching the importance of recycling, should be a part of the curriculum at every grade level. “We would never give somebody a car and not teach them how to pump gas, steer, or change a flat tire. Even in the most remedial job, you give them the tools to do it right. We release our kids with no tools on how to care for this earth. The river is an outdoor education space that is free to 10 schools within walking distance that are Title 1 impoverished,” says Brousseau.
With grant funding, Inland Empire Waterkeeper has been able to sponsor a summer river camp for kids. Under the guise of fun experiments like inspecting the water under microscopes, collecting aquatic insects, and testing water quality, the camp teaches them good habits for life, like recycling and reusing. “All of my life I was told: ‘Don’t drop that chip bag, it will end up in the ocean,’” says Brousseau. But today’s kids are not as aware of the connection between trash and our waterways. “Many kids think I’m full of it, until I take them down for these cleanups and show them the huge pipe dumping right into the river and the Mylar Capri Sun packaging floating by.”
Thanks to grants and a partnership with Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water, parts of the Santa Ana River are on their way back to recreational health. At a joint last cleanup at Mill Creek, volunteers pulled more than 4,500 pounds of trash from the urban stream, including such egregiously dumped items as shopping carts, tires, and carpet rolls. The group has since initiated a program that redirects thousands of pounds of housing and landscape development materials by setting up drop-offs for hazardous trash and big, bulky items.
Organizations such as Inland Empire Waterkeeper are great examples 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.
Riverside Water Polo players, parents and coaches achieved a club record when they packed 572 sack lunches for the homeless Thursday, Nov. 19 on the pool deck at the Riverside Aquatic Center at Riverside City College.
Each lunch consisted of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a bag of chips, an orange and water, all of it donated by Riverside Water Polo families.
Charlie Koosed of Riverside Water Polo said in an email the club has been packing sack lunches for the homeless for many years as a way to give back to the community. The number of lunches packed this year exceeded last year’s total by 84.
The group topped off the packing event with a scrimmage pitting coaches and parents against athletes.
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 students and parents 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.
Residents of King Arthurs Mobile Home Estates who were up early Saturday morning, Nov. 21, might have noticed the hum of activity emanating from the area around the clubhouse.
A little before 8 a.m., some 90 volunteers were in the process of gathering to clean, trim, rake and paint – in general, spruce up – 15 residences at the mobile home park which sits just a stone’s throw from the I-60 freeway.
The project was coordinated by Habitat For Humanity, which is no stranger to the neighborhood.
“This is one of the parks we regularly work in,” said Kathy Michalak, executive director of the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. “We have a really good relationship with this park.”
More than half of the volunteers were employees of local Lowe’s stores. Myrna Vega, a Lowe’s store manager, helped coordinate the project and gather the volunteers.
“We love going out into the communities, not only where we work but also where we live,” Vega said. “So we can help people love where they live.”
Other volunteers came from Habitat for Humanity chapters at Ramona High School and UC Riverside. Funding for the project included a $25,000 grant from Lowe’s for Habitat’s Women Build Week program.
Organizations such as Habitat for Humanity are great examples of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified citypillar. We are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.
At Image One Camera and Video, there is more to business than just making money. Owner Shadi Sayes came to the United States from Jordan 14 years ago with drive and passion. After managing a handful of industry leading camera stores, Sayes assembled his dream team of professionals he had met over the years to bring Image One Camera and Video to Riverside.
A true photo service camera store, Image One Camera and Video offers everything one would need for photography, videography and cinematography. With a state of the art facility, including the first 4K editing station by GoPro in the country, there are a lot of things that set Image One Camera and Video apart from other photography dealers. Sayes’ dedication and commitment to philanthropy in the Riverside community is inspirational. Through event sponsorships, giveaway contests, discounts, training courses, and one-on-one advising, Sayes works tirelessly to capture the heart of photography in the community; especially with students. Image One Camera and Video holds student photo contests with local Universities and Riverside students to catalyze creativity and spark passion. Starting as young as elementary school, Shadi encourages the youth in our community to follow their passion, while helping them learn.
Shadi’s kindness and passion to make a difference in his community is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. Shadi 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.
More than 5,000 military personnel and their families were recently treated to a special day of recognition and fun at the 43rd Annual Military Appreciation Picnic held at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif. Altura Credit Union was a major event sponsor, and a team of 21 employees volunteered for various duties, including assisting in the Kid Zone.
The picnic is coordinated and hosted by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce and the Moreno Valley Chambers of Commerce to support personnel assigned to the local air base.
Hundreds of local volunteers give their time to honor and thank military men and women for their service and recognize the sacrificestheir families make. Numerous local and military-related businesses underwrite the cost of the event, which is free to military personnel and their families.
Held at LeMay Park on the air base, the picnic featured a grilled feast of hamburgers and hot dogs, a water zone, popsicle station, live music, and Kid Zone featuring a miniature amusement park, inflatable play structures, face painting and more.
Altura’s 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.
Operated under the Office of Foster Youth Support Services, the Guardian Scholars Program provides a network of resources to students who are transitioning from the foster care system to adulthood in order to facilitate their pursuit of higher education. Established in 2008, the program is staffed by a small group of volunteers and a full-time University-funded director.
“The program offers each scholar a network of material and emotional support, including access to year-round housing, mentoring, mental health resources, financial assistance, and monthly social and team-building activities, which otherwise may be inaccessible for the student,” said Jan Forrester, the UCR Director of Student, Parent and Faculty Initiatives.
Minchin, a musician, comedian, writer and director from Australia is best known for his musical comedy. His support for UCR is a direct result of the personal tie his agent Max Burgos has to the university – Burgos went to school at UCR.
“Tim does these types of charity shows for the fans, and decides to give the money away to do good. I thought the Guardian Scholars Program was a good choice to donate to,” Burgos explained.
The June 8th show led to a donation that will provide academic support services such as tutoring, dental needs, books and school supplies for UCR Guardian Scholar students who do not have the kinds of traditional support so many families provide. Forrester said they are thankful for the donation.
The generosity and kindness show by Tim Minchin is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. Minchin 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.
“Sometimes they say that’s the first full meal they’ve had in a couple of days,” said assistant director Inez Fraijo.
Little Caesars filled many bellies Thursday night, June 4. A local franchise donated 40 large cheese and pepperoni pizzas to Path of Life for dinner at its two shelters. One shelter houses single adults and the other is for families. The pizzas could feed up to 160 people.
The pizzas came out of the Love Kitchen, a 58-foot long truck that driver and operator Rick Moreno parked out front on the street. Little Caesars franchisee Seraj Haque donated all of the ingredients and provided three employees who prepared and baked the pizzas in the truck, which is basically a kitchen on wheels.
Little Caesars sends the Love Kitchen all over the country and into Canada, mainly in response to disasters, including 2012’s Superstorm Sandy on the East Coast and the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11. When not otherwise occupied, the kitchen visits places such as homeless shelters that serve people in need. It was at a food pantry in Hemet in May and at Path of Life two years ago.
The Love Kitchen has grown to two trucks – one for the East Coast and one for the West Coast – since Little Caesars launched the operation in 1985. More than three million people have been fed, according to the company.
Toni Adkins, director of Path of Life, said as a nonprofit, the ministry depends on donations and volunteer labor.
Around 12 volunteers from The Grove Community Church served the Little Caesars pizza. Members of the Riverside church are at the shelter six days a month. Typically, they provide the food, cook it and serve it.
The generosity and kindness shown by Seraj Haque is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. Haque 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.
Keller Williams Realty professionals from Riverside had a RED-letter day Thursday, as they performed good deeds in the name of good health.
Sixty agents and associates joined the American Heart Association to promote hands-only CPR at six locations in Riverside.
The approach, known as sidewalk CPR, takes two steps to help save a life: First, dial 911. Second, place the palm of your hand in the center of the chest, and push hard and fast to the beat of the classic disco song, “Stayin’ Alive.” (I’m not making that part up.)
Sam Othman, a Realtor since 1985 who was part of the Keller Williams team, said the brother of his manager at the Market Center office at 7898 Mission Grove Parkway credits sidewalk CPR with saving his life.
He is alive today because a bystander performed hands-only CPR, Othman said.
Hearing that story was enough to make believers out of the team.
Keller Williams agents and associates have participated in an annual day of “Renewing, Energizing and Donating” to local communities across the U.S. since 2009. The event varies from office to office, and year to year.
“It’s been great serving the community,” Alice Bechtel said, as she and two other colleagues, Paula Moisio and Banesha Baker, gave a CPR demonstration to Sam Luke at LA Fitness, one of 239 people trained Thursday.
Booths also were set up at Anytime Fitness, Albertsons, the Riverside County Administration Center and two other LA Fitness locations.
“Hopefully now, someone will use this to help save a life,” Realtor Brent Bechtel said.
Keller Williams’ 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.
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 volunteermatch.org 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.