University of California, Merced

04/17/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/17/2024 16:20

California Volunteer Program Expansion Effort Makes UC Merced Stop

By Patty Guerra, UC Merced
April 17, 2024
The state is launching an effort to recruit 1,000 volunteers from the Central Valley.

Sometimes public service at UC Merced looks like finding ways to grow crops with a changing water supply. Or delving into how children translate for their non-English-speaking parents.

And sometimes it looks like picking up a paintbrush and refurbishing park benches and curbs at Lake Yosemite.

That was the case Wednesday as California Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday joined UC Merced Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Charles Nies, Merced River School District Superintendent Richard Lopez and several volunteers on campus to announce recruitment of 1,000 people in the Central Valley to join the paid California Service Corps.

California Service Corps members receive living stipends. Many can receive up to $10,000 after completing their service to be used for college, trade school or to pay back student loans. The benefits will help individuals who face crises of isolation, student debt and growing income inequality.

One of the groups is the College Corps program, for which UC Merced served as a pilot site. The others are AmeriCorps, Climate Action Corps and the California Service Corps.

"Today we proudly join Gov. Newsom's initiative to recruit 10,000 Californians for volunteer service, tackling our most pressing issues, gaining economic opportunities and shaping the future of our workforce," Muñoz said. "We should never consider volunteering as separate from our vision … you learn about yourself by being of service to others."

Wednesday's event was followed by a refurbishing project at Lake Yosemite, where volunteers picked up trash and refinished picnic tables and curb markings.

Officials from UC Merced and the state were joined by members of the volunteer program.

Fryday said he was thrilled to return to the campus that helped launch the College Corps program.

"I love being here," he said. "UC Merced has played such a central role in showing what's possible around the idea that we could actually create economic opportunities for Californians while lifting up our communities."

Lopez described how his school district partnered with AmeriCorps to help students with reading skills. Two program members are working as tutors with 40 students.

"We are seeing progress," he said. "The learning is personalized. AmeriCorps tutors are making a difference. It's a win-win for everyone; they have become a part of us, and they attend school events because they are a part of our school system."

Nies said the volunteer programs have a broad impact.

"Volunteering has multiple benefits," he said. "It reduces stress and anxiety while making a positive impact and helps support skill development for our scholars.

"It positively changes lives."

One of those changed lives belongs to Angelica Guadalupe, a third-year sociology major and College Corps fellow. Guadalupe works with the Community Foundation of Merced County and the Merced Symphony.

Guadalupe said she chose to work with the community foundation because she wanted to learn about grants and what it takes to run a nonprofit organization. And she picked the symphony because she supports its mission of providing students with access to the arts.

"I am not originally from Merced, but I knew that wherever I went to college, I wanted to help the community," she said. "I love that the College Corps program has allowed me to work on my professional skills, and I have been able to talk to so many people and create friendships."

More information about all the programs is available on the California Volunteers website .

Patty Guerra

Public Information Officer

Office: (209) 769-0948

[email protected]