Gangs, drugs, vandalism and robbery are some of the unwanted activities in the community around Fresno State. However, Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) is determined to make a stand for revitalization.
Students participate in a Greek Clean Up Day. This is one of the events sponsored by the Community Revitalization, started by Fresno State ASI in 2011. Photo Courtesy of Melissa Ellis
In the summer of 2011, ASI created Community Revitalization. Its mission is to empower Fresno State students to help make a difference in the area around the campus.
With the support of ASI and the Every Neighborhood Partnership, El Dorado Park is now home to a Saturday Sports program.
This program encourages Fresno State students to play sports and make crafts with children from the neighborhoods around Fresno State and El Dorado Park. It aims to give these children a safe, productive weekend activity in the midst of the neighborhood’s many crime problems.
“Saturday Sports allows the children to engage with college students through sports, crafts, games and a positive character talk,” said Roberto Munoz, student coordinator of El Dorado Saturday Sports. “It gives the children something to do on the weekend and helps keep them out of trouble.
In addition to Saturday Sports, Fresno State students have paired with Community Revitalization to volunteer at Basecamp — a weekly community dinner — Bulldog Pantry, Reading and Beyond, El Dorado Park Boys and Girls Club, and Stone Soup.
“We want students to be invested in the neighborhoods around their beloved school,” said Melissa Ellis, ASI community affairs coordinator.
El Dorado Park is in the residential housing area bordered by Barstow Avenue and Bulldog Lane, and between Sixth and Fourth streets. The children in this area generally come from low-income backgrounds, Ellis said.
ASI recruits volunteers to participate in Community Revitalization as well as striving to create bigger and better programs for the community.
“I meet with Arthur Montejano, ASI president, and Melissa Ellis each week to discuss how the last Saturday Sports was and how we could improve for the next Saturday Sports to make it a better experience for both the children and volunteers,” Munoz said.
Not only do the hours that Fresno State students volunteer affect the community around Fresno State, the students know they are actively helping the Community Revitalization program grow and reach more people in need.
“The best part is that we give them [the volunteers] real-world experience making a difference in the community,” Montejano said. “And we intend to keep growing.”
More than 500 Fresno State students have contributed more than 1500 hours of service in an effort to improve the community and serve those in the area that surrounds Fresno State, Montejano said.
Through Saturday Sports and other Community Revitalization programs, the children of El Dorado Park are able to interact with Fresno State students and find the inspiration they need to do well in school, Munoz said.
“Fresno State students are the foundation of Community Revitalization,” Ellis said. “Without the time and dedication given by over 500 students, Community Revitalization would not be possible. It only takes a short time for a Fresno State student to change the lives of many people in this community.”