Jul 18, 2019
Tribune News Service

Fresno State volunteers help the community

Renovating Fresno State’s campus; building hiking trails; painting art at the Ronald McDonald House; and even planting trees at Woodward park are what S.E.R.V.E. (Service Experience with Richter Volunteer Events) students can do this coming Saturday, Nov. 17.

“It’s a student-led and student-run event. From the planning stages to the on-site leadership, they do it all! It is a great leadership opportunity for them, and I get to see them grow,” said Taylan Bennett-Parker, the Richter Center special projects coordinator and adviser to this event at Fresno State.

The S.E.R.V.E. committee was founded in 2011 and has been growing stronger every year because of student volume and relationships that have been made through this organization.

“I got involved with Serving Fresno Day through my position as a Richter Center student leader. Within the Richter Center, I am on the S.E.R.V.E. committee, which plans and implements three one-day service events for all Fresno State students, staff and faculty throughout the academic year,” said Katlyn Grootendrost.

Grootendrost is a senior at Fresno State who has served on this event for the past three years.

“I’ve have had the pleasure of planning, implementing and volunteering at S.E.R.V.E. Fresno Day. Students have the opportunity to sign up at one of four different sites for Serving Fresno Day (and for all of our one-day service events), allowing them to experience volunteerism with different community organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, Sierra Foothill Conservancy, Art of Life, the Discovery Center and Ronald McDonald House,” said Grootendrost.

While there are several volunteers, Grootendrost has become one of the student leaders who really takes these events into her own hands and passionately gives her time to the community that raised her.

This concept was begun by student leaders who were interested in getting more Fresno State students involved in the local community. Along with the help of the student leaders, the Richter Center identifies sites to work with.

“We are so excited to partner with Habitat for Humanity, Sierra Foothill Conservancy, Discovery Center and Ronald McDonald House. The Richter Center’s one-day service events have been going on for many years, and we are lucky to be able to have long-standing partnerships with community benefit organizations, such as Sierra Foothill Conservancy,” said Bennett-Parker.

The Sierra Foothill Conservancy is land that is located between Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Park that provides clean water and life to plants and animals. Providing service from students in this particular organization protects the area so it can be enjoyed by future generations.

Without this concern and care from those who wish to spend their free time giving back to their community, the Sierra Foothill Conservancy may not still be around.

This upcoming S.E.R.V.E. Fresno Day in particular is being held on Saturday, Nov. 17, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“November is a month for giving thanks, and this event allows students to appreciate their community and serve others,” said Bennett-Parker.

Although students are busy with the semester’s end in sight, taking a break to spread some unconditional love may be something that more students should become aware of.

S.E.R.V.E. Fresno Day is only offered once a year, but there are two other one-day service projects available throughout the year.

Spring into Service is held in April, and Make A Difference Day is held in October.

“This last October for Make A Difference Day, I was volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and had an incredible experience. We (16 other volunteers and I) were helping paint the exterior of a Fresno resident’s home for the “Senior Paint Project,” and at the end of it all we got to meet the homeowner. Meeting the resident was such a genuine experience and allowed us to immediately see the difference we were making. It’s experiences like this that highlight the meaning and reason behind service,” said Grootendrost.

If it’s an hour of your time or even a kind donation, November is the perfect time to reflect and give thanks to those who make this community a better place to live.

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