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.

Click here to see the article.

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.

Riverside Radio Ministry Raises $300,000 For Typhoon Victims

(Excerpts from this post were taken from an article written by David Olson, Staff Writer, and published in the Press Enterprise on November 20, 2013.)

A Riverside-based Christian radio ministry has raised more than $300,000 for victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 5,600 people dead or missing and hundreds of thousands homeless in the Philippines.  This is another example of Riverside as a Unified City – the community rallying together to focus on a shared concern.

Haven Today, broadcast on more than 600 stations in the United States and Canada, has devoted its past six half-hour daily radio programs to the typhoon and its aftermath, with live interviews from the Philippines.

Corum Hughes/CONTRIBUTED IMAGE   Charles Morris in Haven Today''s Riverside studio. The radio ministry raised more than $300,000 for victims of the deadly typhoon in the Philippines.

Corum Hughes/CONTRIBUTED IMAGE
Charles Morris in Haven Today”s Riverside studio. The radio ministry raised more than $300,000 for victims of the deadly typhoon in the Philippines.

Morris said he was able to use his radio program to reach people who have the means to help typhoon victims who are suffering.

As of the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 20, the ministry had received $300,582 in contributions, said David Wollen, Haven’s vice president.

Two-thirds of the money is being spent on clean water, food and medical supplies that are being delivered by churches and church members, said Troy Lamberth, executive producer of the show, which is broadcast in Southern California — including much of the Inland area — on Santa Ana-based KWVE-FM and from San Bernardino on KKDD-AM. The other part of the aid is for emergency radio broadcasts, including the use of portable transmission towers, to inform people where to find aid and to transmit spiritual messages of hope.

Click here for the full article.

Riverside Heroes Awards Recognize Residents Making a Difference

(Excerpts from this article were taken from a Press Release issued by Darlene Elliot on November 13, 2013 and posted on the City of Riverside website.)

Nine Riverside residents who have made significant contributions to the Riverside community were honored by the city’s Human Relations Commission at the 2013 Riverside Heroes Awards ceremony at City Hall on Thursday, Nov. 14.

In addition to recognizing this year’s Heroes, the event featured a keynote address from Carlos Cortes, Professor Emeritus of History at UC Riverside.

“The Riverside Heroes Award recognizes people across the city whose efforts make Riverside a better place in which to live,” Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey said. “I applaud each and every person being honored this week and I thank the Human Relations Commission for hosting this important event.”  This recognition exemplifies Riverside as a Unified City as outlined in Seizing Our Destiny.

This year’s honorees include:

• Diana Ayala – Diana and her sister, Lorinda, teach students Mexican culture through dance and also the history of the community via Grupo Folklorico Maya. Students and parents do not have to pay for lessons or costumes, but the parents are encouraged to volunteer time at rehearsals and performances. The group performed most recently at both the groundbreaking and the unveiling of the Cesar Chavez Memorial in downtown Riverside.

Diana Ayala – Diana and her sister, Lorinda, teach students Mexican culture through dance and also the history of the community via Grupo Folklorico Maya. Students and parents do not have to pay for lessons or costumes, but the parents are encouraged to volunteer time at rehearsals and performances. The group performed most recently at both the groundbreaking and the unveiling of the Cesar Chavez Memorial in downtown Riverside.

Diana Ayala – Diana and her sister, Lorinda, teach students Mexican culture through dance and also the history of the community via Grupo Folklorico Maya. Students and parents do not have to pay for lessons or costumes, but the parents are encouraged to volunteer time at rehearsals and performances. The group performed most recently at both the groundbreaking and the unveiling of the Cesar Chavez Memorial in downtown Riverside. (Photo courtesy of Brenda Flowers)

• Katherine Contreras — Katherine has committed more than 250 hours to The Pink Ribbon Place since 2010 and facilitates their Support Group meetings, inspiring women from all works of life while also fighting her own battle against Stage IV Metastatic/Advanced Breast Cancer for the past nine years. She focuses much of her time on peer-to-peer counseling with other patients and survivors of breast cancer, serving as an inspiration to all.

• Jim Ferguson – Jim is president of the Riverside Museum Associates of the Riverside Metropolitan Museum, presiding over the Executive Board and providing leadership for all the volunteers who support the Museum. His many activities include setting up and taking charge of the DVD projection and sound system at the Museum’s Multicultural Council at the Day of Inclusion. He regularly appears as Father Christmas at Heritage House’s Victorian Christmas Event, helped set up the Ice Cream Social and the Moon Festival, restarted the Museum’s Ways and Means Committee and represented the Museum during Give Big Riverside.

• George Flower – George is completing his 19th year as president (for life) of the non-profit Friends of Mt. Rubidoux. He chairs membership meetings and coordinates mailings to more than 400 members, has sold Friends of Mt. Rubidoux merchandise, co-taught Mt. Rubidoux classes and led tours for local third-graders, scouts working on a Mt. Rubidoux patch, and adult groups such as the Mission Inn docents. In 2013, the organization was a major partner in the Totally Mt. Rubidoux campaign to preserve the park’s historic cross.

• Richard “Rick” Madott –Rick has been a greeter for Kaiser Permanente in Riverside for the past year and has made a huge impact there. He is personable and goes above and beyond to direct members and visitors to their destinations. The volunteer office at the Medical Center has received several letters and phone calls telling of Rick’s excellent service and friendly attitude. Rick was recently named Mr. Congeniality at the Medical Center’s annual staff awards event.

• Lorinda Maya – Lorinda started folklorico dancing at the age of five and continued to dance throughout her school and college years. Later in life, she began dancing again in a professional group. Spurred by interest from her then-four- year old daughter, Lorinda and sister Diana created Grupo Folklorico Maya, which teaches children the art of folklorico dance, free of charge. In 2011, the group placed 2nd in the USA National Folklorico Competition.

• Sherri Power – Sherri has had six children matriculate through the Riverside Unified School District and has been involved as a volunteer since the first child began to attend kindergarten. She continues to volunteer at Frank Augustus Miller Middle School even though she no longer has children there. She arranges luncheons for staff at the school, attends district meetings, is the PTSA president for the school, works with outside agencies such as “Safe Routes to School” to promote student safety, and sits on the RUSD Council PTA Board.

• Pat Silvestri – One of the original members of the Wood Streets Green Team Board of Directors, Pat has been at the heart of the Riverside Community Garden movement for the past four years. He emphasizes the “community” in community gardening, focusing on the educational, social and moral aspects of creating, through voluntary efforts, a communal space that is dedicated to the health, wellness and strength of surrounding residents. He was integral to the creation of the Riverside City College Community Garden and the Tequesquite Community Garden.

• Linda Salinas Thompson – Linda, a community advocate for more than 18 years, has worked to promote and celebrate Latino culture and traditions, including as founder and president of the Riverside County Mexican American Historical Society (RCMAHS). She now is organizing the Celebration of the 90th Birthday of Ysmael Villegas, scheduled to be held at Riverside National Cemetery on March 15, 2014.

For additional information, contact Darlene Elliot at (951) 826-5897.

To see the entire Press Release, click here.