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Students cultivate growth, aid areas of need

Lindsay Weimer | The Feather Online

Before heading to various serve locations, students attended a brief rally where they were encouraged by faculty, March 12.

For the sixth consecutive year, the Fresno Christian HS and JH student body engaged in Serve Day, March 12. While JH stayed on campus to complete various work projects, all of HS packed up after first period, attended a quick rally before loading up in buses, and heading out to various different locations across the city to serve. Over 260 campus students participated in this year’s event.

Students traveled to nine locations within Fresno and Clovis including CrossCity Christian Church, Every Neighborhood Partnership and the Central California Food Bank. Students also participated in graffiti cleanup and yard work in various locations like Fink White City Park, the Valley Dream Center and the Mary Ella Brown Center.

Janice Mathurin, director at the Mary Ella Brown Center, sees student volunteer opportunities as mutually beneficial to both non-profits and the students themselves. She hopes to see the students rising up and meeting the needs in the city so that places like the Mary Ella Brown Center are no longer needed.

“I feel that service is really important,” Mathurin said. “Having come from a low income community, our family was a beneficiary of a lot of those services that we support families with. I feel a need to give back so that’s the impetus of my mission at the Mary Ella Brown Center. When students come out and serve it is mutually beneficial as it allows us as a non-profit association of minimal staff to have extra hands around the property.

“It also provides an opportunity for students to give back to the community and exposing them to the needs in our city so they can help,” Mathurin continued. “The organization benefits and the students benefit by making a contribution to their community.”

Students served the city by painting over graffiti at various locations. Danielle Foster, ‘20, part of the graffiti clean-up crew helped alongside her friends on the “Graffiti Team.”

“Working on graffiti was really fun.” Foster said. “We got to paint all day which was really cool. It was awesome to be able to help people with their jobs.”

Along with graffiti cleanup, there were several groups that completed yard work and park beautification.

Volunteer organizer Gabriel Lozano of the Southeast Fresno Community Development Association (SFCEDA) oversaw the efforts of students working in the city park cleanup group. Students at the cleanup used lawn mowers, clippers and their hands to cut and clean up the area for the planting of 120 trees. Lozano shares the impact of the students.

“The students are out here mowing the lawn and picking up trash which is preparing the land for 120 trees to be marked and planted,” Lozano said. “Eventually we are going to use an auger to dig holes and plant these trees. This park is lacking green space, so what they’re doing is providing a place, in the future, for other kids to play.”

The following tweet features a video showing students cleaning an area for the upcoming planting of trees.

Mark Pimentel, ‘21, helped pull weeds at the Valley Dream Center, an organization his church, Valley Christian Center, founded in 2014.

“To me to help out an organization that is close to me means a lot,” Pimentel said. “It shows that people actually care for others in need. It also shows how much some of the community means to us and who cares. It’s just great to give back to a place that has given so much to me.”

Sophomore Alyssa Reese was also part of the Valley Dream Center beautification process by helping clean up the outside area. Reese enjoys serving and feels proud of helping the community.

“Today we helped beautify Valley Dream Center,” Reese said. “Many of us pulled weeds and did any projects they needed us to. I liked serving here because I know that the people who come here will appreciate the work we did and it feels great. I like to serve and do it more than just for school so being able to do it with my friends makes it so much more special.”

In the following podcast, senior Sam Cross speaks with Volunteer Organizer Gabriel Lozano about students helping clean up city parks.

Leadership advisor and Bible teacher Aubri Foster shares her favorite memory from Serve Day. She appreciates not only the simplicity of the work but the meaning behind it as well.

“I had the opportunity to go to CrossCity Church after a last minute change to the schedule with a fantastic group of students,” Foster said. “I personally was in the main auditorium with four students who are so precious to me wiping down chairs. It may seem like it was a menial job, but it was so important to the church and the conversations that took place while we were spraying rags and scraping wax were life giving to me.”

“We met an FCS alum who was taking pictures on the stage for the staff of the church, (Jay) and he shared with us some of his favorite teachers and what a blessing FCS was in his life,” Foster continued. “I think even the subtle moment of meeting him and watching our students interact with him, will stick with me as a highlight from this year’s SD.”

Lindsay Weimer | The Feather Online

Students signed up for the location they wanted to serve at during a Tuesday chapel the week before Serve Day.

Campus students also continued to serve at the Central California Food Bank. Working at the Food Bank for almost five years, Jobelle Duka explains the impact volunteers make and the goal that the company hopes to achieve.

“Volunteers are great,” Duka said. “It is a really great project and just seeing a lot of new faces, making sure that they understand that there is a hunger epidemic here in the community as well as just seeing their faces helping us out and making sure we get all this product out to our community. Our main goal is to end hunger in the central valley. That means providing extra resources like our cow fresh program all the way to helping them get by to the end of the week.”

Another group of students helped serve at CrossCity Christian Church by cleaning part of the campus. Blake Burdan, ‘20, was one of the dozen students who participated.

“For serve day I went to CrossCity Church in Fresno,” Burdan said. “I served by cleaning up a church building, organizing for events, and helping out wherever my name was called. Serve day was a lot of fun because it was great to be able to help out a good local church and work alongside friends in something that will ultimately help the community in service of God.”

How do you serve the community? Why is serving important? Leave a comment in the section below.

The video below shows a recap of this years serve day:

For previous serve day articles, read Fifth annual Serve Day engages students, staff with community, or FC Serve Day promotes community service.

Alexander Rurik can be reached via Twitter @alexrurik23, email and Instagram.

Below is a slideshow of students volunteering during the sixth annual Serve Day

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