Mar 23, 2019

Make a Difference Day

Matt Weir / The Collegian

In past years California State University, Fresno has partnered with the City of Fresno to volunteer on projects for Make a Difference Day, a national day of service held on the fourth Saturday of every October.

This year, Fresno State is changing things up a bit.

On Saturday Oct. 24, students, faculty, staff and alumni will begin work on two long-term projects with the non-profit organizations Sierra Foothill Conservancy and Rotary Storyland, said Renee Delport, special events and project coordinators for the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning.

“We wanted something that was going to be long-term, have a lasting impact, something the agencies could fund, and it was going to be around for a long, long time and contribute to the educational experience for our students but also for other people in the community,” said Delport of Fresno State’s choice for partnering with the two non-profits.

Rotary Storyland in Roeding Park, with its fairytale-theme and promotion of early childhood literacy, was an obvious fit for a long-term project, Delport said. The first job will have volunteers demolishing the Alice in Wonderland display at the park in preparation to rebuild a new display next semester.

Sophomore Amanda Fadal, community service coordinator for the Craig Scholars, will be volunteering at Storyland with five others from the club. Having to tear down the display is sad, Fadal said in a phone interview, but she looks forward to rebuilding it in the spring.

“We hope to make a difference with the park,” she said.

Fadal explained that a few of the Craig Scholars members have been to Storyland before and wanted to be a part of rehabilitating and improving the park so other kids can enjoy it.

For the second project, Fresno State volunteers will clear a hiking trail in the McKenzie Table Mountain Preserve. The preserve, located on the north side of Auberry Road between Friant and Prather Avenues, has a lot of Native American history, Delport said.

Trails that currently exist on the preserve correspond with a guidebook designed to educate school groups on different types of vegetation and the environment.

“By Fresno State participating with these agencies, we’re not only enhancing our student’s educational experiences and giving them an opportunity to give back to the community, but we’re also going to give back to the educational experience for the whole community, for students that will come years and years from now,” Delport said.

Alpha Zeta Cal Epsilon, a co-ed honorary Ag fraternity, will have 15 members volunteering at the preserve. Senior Aimee Meidinger is censor (vice president), of the fraternity and said in a phone interview that the team is excited to take part in the service day.

“It’s a good opportunity to get outdoors together as a group,” Meidinger said.

The volunteer experience will also allow the fraternity to get to know the new pledge members as they work side by side as a team, Meidinger said.

Volunteer spots for the Rotary Storyland project are already filled. In her five years as coordinator, Delport said she has never had a project site full the week before the event. The Sierra Foothill Conservancy project has 70 total volunteer positions, of which 35 are still vacant. Volunteers will meet at their respective sites on Saturday morning to check-in, receive directions and start on their projects. The service day will go from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Make a Difference Day will kick start the long-term projects that will likely span two to three years, Delport said. Fresno State plans to send volunteers to these sites once or twice a semester until the work is complete.

“We’re trying to really focus on getting some work done and making an impact,” Delport said.

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