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FACES for the Future

FACES for the Future

Vesper Society is committed to improving the well-being of youth. So, we link arms with leaders and organizations creating long-term solutions in their communities. FACES for the Future at St. Rose Hospital in Hayward, CA, was founded in 2007 as a two-year program to motivate and prepare underrepresented youth for careers in the health industry. Partnering with the Eden Area Regional Occupations Program in Hayward, FACES provides high school students with unique opportunities to learn from healthcare professionals in various hospital settings and explore career options in the health professions. Students benefit from academic enrichment opportunities, including individualized tutoring and college preparation activities, leadership training, and multi-faceted psychosocial support services, including one-on-one case management. The program also assists FACES alumni with job and internship placements, academic and career guidance, and ongoing life coaching. One of the program activities supported by Vesper Society was a retreat in December 2017. Students of the FACES for the Future-Hayward program had the opportunity to attend an overnight retreat in San Francisco. The retreat, offered in partnership with St. Rose Hospital Foundation, Vesper Society, San Francisco State University, and Vision Quilt, taught the students about public health issues and to develop their skills as advocates for their own communities. Activities included a visit by students to San Francisco State University (SFSU) where they were welcomed by Dr. Leticia Marquez-Magana, Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology, and Director of the Health Equity Research Laboratory. Dr. Marquez-Magana taught them about the field of Public Health and got them thinking about the reality of health disparities and social determinants of health. The students completed exercises to understand how they can influence the decisions made at their own schools. They gained familiarity with the college campus and had an opportunity to participate in a mentoring session with SFSU... Read More

Los Angeles United Methodist Urban Foundation

Los Angeles United Methodist Urban Foundation

Vesper Society is committed to improving the well-being of youth. So, we link arms with leaders and organizations creating long-term solutions in their communities. One of our incredible partner organizations, the Los Angeles United Methodist Urban Foundation (Urban Foundation) encourages the efforts of other faith communities to find, embrace, and support overlooked youth and young adults who dream of attending college. The Urban Foundation’s Kid City Hope Place program recognizes the problem of educational inequity and severe economic hardship among the communities it serves in downtown and south central Los Angeles. With programs in leadership development, music and arts, college access, and college completion, Kid City provides mentoring, college knowledge, high-level math tutoring, and guidance through admissions and financial aid applications. As a result, students are better able to access opportunities, explore their intellectual curiosity, and discover their ability to advocate for themselves and their communities. Teens and adults find their voice and become self-empowered leaders. The program has helped over 200 college students apply and enroll in college, and up to 50 high school juniors and 50 high school seniors are welcomed into the program every year. Once in college, the commitment to community continues. Kid City’s approach to college success is about more than just getting a diploma. It includes helping students through inevitable struggles, honoring a commitment to lifting up the community, getting the most out of educational opportunities, and becoming leaders, change agents, and contributing members of the world. By empowering each person to “take responsibility for the things they care about” (Kid City’s definition of leadership), the benefits can be felt in communities long after a student has left the program. Vesper Society supports The Urban Foundation’s Kid City Hope Place program because we believe that by serving youth, we establish long-term solutions and are... Read More

Introducing IVROP Project RISE

Introducing IVROP Project RISE

Bordering on Mexico, Imperial Valley youth work towards a better future. In a county with a 21% unemployment rate, and where agriculture accounts for 49 percent of all employment, the Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program (IVROP) is a public education service that introduces students to new career opportunities and teaches them technical and life skills. It was formed by seven unified school districts in collaboration with the Imperial County Office of Education. One of IVROP’s projects, Project RISE (Relationships Inspire Success and Excellence), aims to create an asset building culture that contributes to the educational developmental of young people. They do this by engaging schools, social services, health care organizations, and businesses in Imperial County. In January 2015, with support from Vesper Society, Project RISE surveyed over 1,100 Imperial County high school freshmen attending Brawley Union, Central Union, and Southwest. The survey, the Developmental Assets Profile (DAP), was developed by Search Institute and has been administered to more than 5 million diverse children and youth to date. It identifies a set of skills, experiences, relationships, and behaviors that enable young people to develop into successful and contributing adults. As a result of Project RISE’s survey in Imperial County, a group of freshman students created the Brawley High School Asset Ambassadors “Wild Cats in Action” after attending a three-week Leadership Asset Training course. Their projects included attending the Brawley Parks and Recreation Summer Camp in 2016, where they were each assigned a group of young people to mentor and were able to apply their leadership skills in group activities. Vesper Society believes that the future well-being of our communities lies in the hands of our youth. Tomorrow’s leaders need support and encouragement to make maximum impact on our communities. With support from Vesper Society, IVROP’s Project RISE has established long-term... Read More

Imperial Valley 4-H

Imperial Valley 4-H

At Vesper Society, we are dedicated to long-term solutions that help communities help themselves. One example of this is the University of California Cooperative Extension’s (UCCE) 4-H youth development program in Imperial County. Around the world, 4-H encourages young people and adults to volunteer. Through service learning—a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection—members learn civic responsibility and strengthen their communities. 4-H youth who excel in leadership and community service are selected to serve the 4-H Youth Development Program as a 4-H All Star—a leader among the organization. And Imperial Valley 4-H’s five-day Team Camp Council program helps youth foster awareness and behavior change in areas related to environmental sustainability. Each day at camp, campers plan, develop, and implement projects related to land, air, energy, water, and food. In doing so, they take on the responsibilities of leadership when it comes to the environment, which is important to ensuring a healthy community. 4-H also provides leadership opportunities further from home. Last summer, four Imperial County 4-H members were selected to attend the 2015 Citizenship Washington Focus Conference in Chevy Chase, Maryland. At the conference, they had the opportunity to identify individual citizenship rights and responsibilities, identify issues facing youth and explore causes and possible solutions, and establish communication with lawmakers and witness government in action. Of particular interest to Imperial County, having the highest number of diabetics in California, local delegates worked collaboratively with San Diego State University-Calexico to initiate a healthy living workshop on diabetes for Imperial County Youth. The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development, conducted by the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University, shows youth engaged with 4-H are: Nearly two times more likely to get better grades in school Nearly two times more likely to plan... Read More

California Lutheran University Interns

California Lutheran University Interns

California Lutheran University (CLU) educates leaders for a global society who are strong in character and judgment, confident in their identity and vocation, and committed to service and justice.  Vesper Society knows that communities and institutions can be transformed when people are approached with respect, hope, passion, and inspiration. CLU’s Interfaith Allies presented an opportunity for Vesper Society to create the CLU intern program in memory of Vesper’s co-founder Bob Cummings who served on the CLU Board of Regents.  Vesper’s support made it possible for five students and three faculty members from CLU’s Interfaith Allies to attend Interfaith Youth Core Leadership Institutes in 2012.  Since then, the program has blossomed. Interfaith Allies values pluralism, tackles stereotypes, supports faith formation, and develops interfaith competencies for leadership.  Service learning, internships, off-campus study, and experiential education provide students with opportunities to build civic leadership skills. Joining other universities in Water to Thrive’s push to spread awareness about the global water crisis, CLU’s water-wise campaign culminated with a weeklong challenge for students to track their water usage and consumption.  Participants only drank tap water and donated the money they would have spent on other beverages to build a well in Ethiopia. By linking arms with student and faculty leaders at California Lutheran University, Vesper Society is part of a growing network that helps facilitate change to establish long-term solutions for overlooked communities all over the world.  Visit CLU Interfaith Allies’ Facebook page... Read More

First United Methodist Church Garden Project

First United Methodist Church Garden Project

With an unemployment rate of 21 percent, food insecurity is very high in California’s Imperial Valley. In fact, one in three of the county’s 150,000 residents don’t know where their next meal will come from and half of the region’s children suffer from food insecurity. Ironically, this lack of regular, healthy nutrition has led to very high rates of obesity among children, because what is most readily available to them is highly-processed and cheap, fast food. With support from Vesper Society, Harding Elementary School started The Garden Project as a collaborative effort of the El Centro Elementary School District and Harding School, First United Methodist Church, El Centro, and the El Centro Rotary Club. Starting in September 2014, the entire Harding Elementary School student body took responsibility for planting, composting, weeding, and watering the garden. Led by Rev. Dr. Ron Griffin from First United Methodist Church and El Centro Rotary, the project is a fantastic collaborative effort by the students and teaches the importance of healthy nutrition. The beauty of this project is that the whole community can become involved. From local farmers to the UC Cooperative Extension, Vesper Society’s support helped plant the seeds of leadership for healthy... Read More

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