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.

 

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.

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.

Mayor Pledges Progress On Economic Front

(Excerpts from this post came from an article by Alicia Robinson, Staff Writer, and published in the Press Enterprise on January 23, 2014.) 

Riverside is a globally competitive, big city that is poised for economic success with assets like the UC Riverside medical school, the soon-to-open renovated convention center, and a public utility that helps fund city services, Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey told a crowd of more than 800 people at his “State of the City” address Thursday, Jan. 23.

Riverside Mayor William "Rusty" Bailey gives his second State of the City speech on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium. (Photo Credit: STAN LIM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Riverside Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey gives his second State of the City speech on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium. (Photo Credit: STAN LIM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Bailey’s second such speech since winning office in November 2012, the annual talk covered highlights of his first year as chief representative of California’s 12th largest city and set some goals for 2014.

When he’s asked about Riverside’s advantage over other communities, Bailey said, “My answer is consistent: our educational institutions, our public utility, our historic downtown and our community spirit.”

In the past year, Riverside saw loss, with the on-duty death of one police officer and the wounding of another, Bailey said.

But the city also fulfilled the goal of fully funding and opening the new medical school at UC Riverside, and the community came together to preserve the iconic Mount Rubidoux cross, Bailey said, with both mentions winning applause.

In early 2014, Bailey pledged, city leaders will meet to discuss their policy goals and set Riverside’s future direction. March will bring the reopening of the renovated convention center downtown and a conference on revitalizing agriculture in the city’s greenbelt.

Guest listen as Riverside Mayor William "Rusty" Bailey gives his second State of the City speech on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium. (Photo credit:  STAN LIM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Guest listen as Riverside Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey gives his second State of the City speech on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium. (Photo credit: STAN LIM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

The year will bring “major progress” on the railroad “quiet zone,” which improves rail crossings so trains don’t have to blow their horns, Bailey said. The city also will begin using “smart codes” to streamline the urban planning process, he said.

As a closing challenge, Bailey urged support for the historic Harada House fundraising efforts and creation of an “innovation corridor” for arts and technology along University Avenue.

“I am so proud to lead a city that is not afraid to take some risk, and to celebrate the rewards with everyone,” he said.

“Riverside continues to prove that even as it grows and competes with cities across the globe, we remain a city that honors and builds on its past, while pursuing a future that raises the quality of life for everyone.”  This is a reference to the Vision of Seizing Our Destiny. The Mayor connected all four pillars – Intelligent Growth, Catalyst for Innovation, Location of Choice and Unified City - to his presentation in order to show how important this movement has become.

Two residents said after the speech that they liked what they heard.

“I really enjoyed hearing him talk about the increase in jobs that they’ve brought to Riverside – very impressive,” said attorney Amy Osborne, referring to Bailey’s comment that city economic development efforts have helped create 4,500 jobs in the past two years.

Osborne, who recently moved to the city to work at downtown law firm Gresham Savage, said she also appreciates the city’s environmental efforts and Bailey’s focus on education.

Janaar Barnes, co-owner of Gram’s Mission BBQ restaurant, said hearing about new buildings, businesses and entertainment gives him a response to critics who say there’s nothing going on here.

“A lot of people talk down on Riverside,” he said. Now “I have more things that I can kind of tell people.”

Barnes said he was glad to hear about UCR’s new medical school, which will be “very, very big” for the city.

For the full article, click here.

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.

Harada House Fundraising Close to Goal

(Excerpts from this post came from an article written by Alicia Robinson  and published on PE.com on January 20, 2014.)

Riverside officials are raising money to turn the Harada House, shown here, into a museum and buy the house next door to use as an interpretive center.

Harada-House-300x200

After several months of drumming up donations and with a deadline about a week away, Riverside Metropolitan Museum Director Sarah Mundy said she has almost enough money to buy the home next door to the historic Harada House.

The museum is preparing to close escrow on the Robinson house. It would serve as an interpretive center with information and artifacts from the Harada family, who won a lawsuit that challenged the right of Japanese-born Jukichi Harada to buy property in the names of his American-born children.

The Harada House, as the subject of a civil rights test case that helped establish Asian immigrants’ right to own property, is already a national historic landmark. Museum officials wanted property nearby to add parking and allow more space for displays and information, so the Robinson house was a natural fit.

Museum Director Sarah Mundy said the city needs $155,000 to buy the Robinson house, with a Jan. 31 deadline to close escrow. As of Friday, Jan. 17, she said, she was a little less than $19,000 short of the goal, though some people have pledged money but not yet written checks.

A handful of donors, including the Old Riverside Foundation and the Japanese American Citizens League, gave more than the $10,000 minimum to become founding members, Mundy said, and other contributions have run the gamut in size, with some as small as $5.

Up to and even after the escrow deadline, people can still give to support the Harada House mission. Mundy anticipates it will cost millions to fix storm damage and structural problems with the Harada House and renovate it as a museum, and to make similar changes to the Robinson house.

“There has been an overwhelming show of support. The checks keep coming in. I feel very confident that we will get there,” Mundy said, but added, “Just because we close escrow, it isn’t the end of the story. It’s really just the beginning.” There’s no doubt Riversiders will come together as a true Unified City in supporting this great project.

Donations to buy the Robinson house or renovate the Harada House should be made payable to the City of Riverside, Harada House Trust, account number 0000721225468. They can be mailed to the Riverside Metropolitan Museum, 3580 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside CA 92501.

For a direct link to the article, click here.

Program Wraps 1,700 Gifts For Seniors

(This article contains excerpts from a contributed article published in the Press Enterprise on December 24, 2013.)

The Be a Santa to a Senior holiday gift wrapping event was held Monday, Dec. 16, 2013 at the Galleria at Tyler in Riverside. (Both images contributed)

The Be a Santa to a Senior holiday gift wrapping event was held Monday, Dec. 16, 2013 at the Galleria at Tyler in Riverside. (Image was contributed)

The Be a Santa to a Senior holiday gift wrapping event was held Monday, Dec. 16, at the old Tuesday Morning store at the Galleria at Tyler in Riverside. Gifts were collected for 1,700 seniors, allowing each to receive at least three gifts.

The program — run by the local Home Instead Senior Care office in partnership with the Community Events Volunteer Council, area retailers, volunteers and members of the community — ensures isolated seniors receive gifts and companionship during the holidays. There were many examples of Unified City over the holidays this year. Riverside is a caring community and it’s demonstrated throughout the entire year.

To see the article along with additional photos, click here.

Food And Toy Drive Helps Fill The Needs of Local Residents

 (This article includes excerpts from the article written by Dayna Straehley, Staff Writer, and published in the Press Enterprise on December 23, 2013.)

Christmas is a bit brighter for hundreds of Inland families thanks to the efforts of neighborhood schools and students’ generosity.

“It means they’re going to have a present under the tree, something to look forward to on Christmas,” said Delia Cruz as she watched her 5-year-old daughter pick a toy at Lincoln High School in Riverside and then choose a book for her 9-year-old daughter.

Anahi Isidro, 12, left, and sister Ashley Isidro 11, enjoy their new stuffed animals at Lincoln High School on Saturday, Dec. 21. Lincoln adopts 60 families for the holidays. (Photo Credit: KURT MILLER/PRESS ENTERPRISE STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Anahi Isidro, 12, left, and sister Ashley Isidro 11, enjoy their new stuffed animals at Lincoln High School on Saturday, Dec. 21. Lincoln adopts 60 families for the holidays. (Photo Credit: KURT MILLER/PRESS ENTERPRISE STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Were it not for the alternative high school’s holiday food and toy drive, Cruz said her two daughters probably would not get presents at all this Christmas.

Lincoln adopted 60 families, mostly in the Eastside neighborhood, because students and staff see the need every day, said campus manager Eddie Chagolla, who organized the drive.

Most Inland schools have some kind of holiday food, toy or penny drive. Lincoln’s stands out for the size of its drive compared to its small enrollment. The alternative high school has 240 students, Chagolla said.  Madison Elementary School in Riverside had a coin drive and raised $800 for gift cards for 10 families.

”It’s really amazing because there are many more than 10 families in need at our school,” which third-grade teacher Tina Sawa said has high poverty rates.

Coming together like this is not looked at as an option for community members like Chagolla and Sawa. As a Unified City, Riversiders are aware of local needs and make all out efforts to fulfill them.

Chagolla said he purchased $120 worth of groceries for each family at cost from his friend’s store La Playita in Perris.  His family has lived in the Eastside for five generations.  “I’ve seen the poverty in this neighborhood,” he said.  So he organizes the holiday food drive, now in its 14th year, and calls on friends and other contacts throughout the city, including car clubs and disc jockeys at KUCR radio station.

For the full article, click here.