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45,000 hours of service!

May 6, 2024

Last week was the award ceremony of the UC Merced College Corps interns. About 100 young students spent a year working in various non-profits to engage with their local community, to learn and grow and to receive a stipend. 45,000 hours were given by these students and what an impact they have! At the ceremony I got to sit with some of the students that were at different sites and it was fun to hear their future dreams, to see the impact the non-profits had on them as they were shaped by our city. Some of these students will graduate this week and move back to their hometowns, go to work somewhere, or continue to their study.... but they will never be able to forget Merced and the impact it had on them.

Students engaged with our community centers and what an impact it has on our youth. It is one thing if I tell young people to think about their future and to pursue higher education, it is another thing if a young person facing the same challenges will encourage them to go to college. Our seven interns helped our kids with homework, developed programs, played games, had deep conversations, helped with food distribution, community gardens, tutoring at Rivera and so much more.

G is a good example, when he came to us he did not even make eye contact, this quiet young man changed Rivera Elementary School through creating a school garden where 1-3rd graders learn to garden and explore earth science. G has now changed his major into teaching, and has a group of young people around him who eagerly want to learn about potatoes and carrots.

Or E whose contagious smile and laugh draws people to her as she helps folks of all ages. Or J&J who helped develop some projects for the kids to be involved in. Or S. who in her quiet way cared for the little ones with a tender heart. Or F. who helped with some of the adult programs and who K. worked with our seniors.

Each one of them contributed to the well being of our community. Each of them whose life will never be the same because they were in Merced, because they met and served our community members.

We are thankful for their work, thankful how they stretched us to think about new ideas, how they at times challenged us to look outside the box, who brought their all to help us empower under-resourced neighborhoods to thrive.

Franklin Roosevelt said "We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can always build our youth for the future."

Thank you UC Merced for helping our young men and women to become the best people they can be. We are looking forward to the next group of young people using their giftedness.

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