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Upon This Rock

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In hard times Black Churches swing doors open even wider

By BVN Staff –

Throughout the history of the African American people there has been no stronger resource for overcoming adversity than the Black Church. From its role in leading a group of free Blacks to form a colony in Sierra Leone in the 1790s to helping ex-slaves after the Civil War; to playing major roles in the Civil Rights Movement; to offering community outreach programs in American cities today, black churches have been the focal point of sustainability and social change in their communities.

It comes as no surprise that in these times of budget cuts and partisan rancor over government’s role in providing social services, Black churches are de facto first responders addressing pressing human needs, including emergency food, clothing and shelter.

“No matter what the financial situation of the economy, among the least of these and the left out we are the seat of hope. The church remains the rock in a weary land,” explains Temple Missionary Baptist Church senior pastor Raymond Turner.

At the Temple Outreach Center located in the T. Hughes Building in San Bernardino, Pastor Turner takes a hands-on approach to the church’s outreach ministry. Four days after Christmas he huddles with front line workers including the center’s executive director Loistine Herndon.

“We don’t take community outreach lightly. Faith-based outreach centers have long been an oasis amid the storms. Hard times simply make that reality more evident,” says Herndon.

“We’re not strangers to struggle, depression or crisis,” says Turner. “The message through the years has been consistent: We preach and deliver hope.” We’re saying to the people in our community: “don’t sit back and wait for the recovery.”

“The economic rebound is coming. We have to prepare. We are our best stimulus plan. We are our best recovery package,” says Turner, co-founder of the Westside community advocacy organization, Inland Empire Concerned African-American Churches.

Indeed, the Black church’s historic role in providing Blacks with education, social services, and a safe gathering place prefigured its historic role in the civil rights movement.

Meanwhile, Temple and other churches in the region’s underserved communities are supplementing messages of faith and hope with practical teachings on nutrition, health, parenting, relationships, finances, job searching, entrepreneurship and business ownership.

That means says Turner we’re replacing hopelessness with self sufficiency through education.

For example “You won’t see long lines of desperate people waiting for food and shelter here. We bring them in from the winter cold and summer heat – and teach them how to cook and serve a nutritious meal. That’s self sufficiency.”

This year before giving out Thanksgiving baskets, he says people had to take three nutrition classes.

“Take the classes – get a basket. What’s more the people helped prepare the meal that went into those baskets. So when they sat down to eat and fellowship they got an education on nutrition and obesity as well.”

The T. Hughes Building acquired by Temple in 2003 was originally built by Councilwoman Valarie Pope Ludlam and Talmage Hughes. Herndon says essential services once considered government staples are an important part of the church’s faith mission and mandate.

“With our national health care system cracked and breaking and government cutting essential services to the poor we’re being called to fill the gap in the safety net. The work of our churches has never been more important,” said Herndon.

“We offer workshops on life skills, simple but essential tools like how to manage your money. It’s amazing how learning to balance a checkbook can help empower an entire community.”

She says programs such as life saving CPR, nutritional instruction and other health services help sustain families struggling with everything from foreclosure to depression.”

By partnering with local hospitals and national organizations such as the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and the American Diabetic Association the church has a direct hand in preventing disease and desperation.

Once a year, Temple offers a CPR instruction workshop to those who otherwise could not afford such training. Herndon says heart disease, obesity, diabetes prevent ion and exercise instruction promotes personal responsibility and makes for an overall healthier community.

“Outreach is more than the ministry of the church. It’s the ministry of Christ in partnership with the church.”

The bottom line says Pastor Turner “Black churches are more than the gospel…”

He points out, in the Bible, in every story where you find famine in the land, by the end of the chapter, “you find blessing, overflowing abundant blessing.

Through our actions we show the people we care.”

“There’s an old saying, ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’.”

Union Bank Donates Nearly Half A Ton In Clothing And Accessories To Women's Center

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Union Bank, N.A., donated nearly half a ton of gently-used business suits, shoes, purses, dresses, jewelry and other items to the Los Angeles Downtown Women’s Center (DWC) to celebrate the new year as part of an ongoing partnership with the organization that provides housing and other resources for homeless women needing transitional assistance.

“Giving back is part of our culture at Union Bank, and we were thrilled with the huge response we received from our bankers, especially our female executives,” said Ruth Edwards, Union Bank senior vice president.

“Almost every woman has either known a homeless person or has come perilously close herself, so we salute and support the work of the DWC.”

Community Briefs

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Cal State opens January 4

In observance of the holiday season and due to State Budget Closure Days, California State University, San Bernardino has been closed since Friday, Dec. 18. The university will reopen on Monday, Jan. 4, 2010. Winter quarter classes will begin Monday, Jan. 11.

The campus will observe State Budget Campus Closure Days on Monday, Dec. 21 through Thursday, Dec. 24. CSUSB employees are required to use these days as furlough days as part of the university’s response to a staggering $26 million state budget reduction – a 25 percent decrease from last year’s state budget allocation to the campus.

Year-round, full-time employees are being furloughed a total of 24 days over 11 months from Aug. 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010. Faculty who are contracted on a nine-month basis are being furloughed 18 days from Sept. 1-June 30.

Additional State Budget Campus Closure Days are scheduled for 2010 on Jan. 8, Feb. 12, March 2, April 2 and 27, May 28 and June 25 and 28. Faculty, management and staff will add additional furlough days on an individual basis to meet the furlough requirements, but the campus will remain open on those days.

The CSU negotiated furloughs with most of its various labor unions in response to the massive budget cuts to the university system. The combination of employee furloughs and layoffs is expected to generate approximately $275 million in salary and benefits savings throughout the CSU and more than $10 million at Cal State San Bernardino.

Approximately 85 percent of the university’s total annual expenses consist of salary and benefits payments.

For more information regarding the CSU budget, visit the California State University Budget Central Web site at http://blogs.calstate.edu/budgetcentral or contact the Cal State San Bernardino Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007 and visit http://news.csusb.edu.

City of Riverside Christmas Tree Collection

The holidays are a time of giving, so give something back to the environment by recycling your old Christmas tree.

For City of Riverside residents, Christmas tree collection will begin the day after Christmas and continue for 3 weeks.

· Collection will take place on the same day as your normal trash pick up.

· Remove the tree stand and all decorations.

· Cut your Christmas tree into 4 foot sections.

· Regular Christmas trees will be collected with your greenwaste. Please place it next to the greenwaste container.

· Flocked Christmas trees cannot be recycled. These trees will be collected with your regular trash. Place sections of a flocked Christmas tree inside your brown container.

For more information, please call (951) 826-5311.

LifeStream’s Flight for Life Promotion National Blood Donor Month

During the winter months – due to the holiday season, blood is traditionally in short supply – travel schedules, inclement weather and illness have a direct impact on blood donations. January, in particular, is a difficult month to collect blood donations.

January is also National Blood Donor Month and LifeStream wants to recognize all the contributions of its donors. Participants who donate between January 2 and February 15, 2010 will be automatically entered into a drawing for a pair of tickets on Southwest Airlines to a destination of their choice. (within the Southwest Airlines service area). Donors will also receive points as part of the “Gift of Life” Donor Loyalty Program that can be redeemed for items on the LifeStream’s online donor store.

For additional information, please contact LifeStream at 1.800.879.4484 or visit www.LStream.org.

 

Community Briefs

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4th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Candlelight Vigil & Tribute

The Distinguished Brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, Pi Epsilon chapter, will be holding an event to honor the life and contributions of the Civil Rights leader and beloved member Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Wednesday, January 13th, 2010 at 6:30PM at the University of California, Riverside Watkins 1000 in Riverside, California. Of the nine National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. stands as the first established intercollegiate fraternity.

Founded in 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. promotes the principles of good character, uplifting humanity and scholarship. This event, to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is aimed at bringing the community together in celebration of his accomplishments and efforts in making racial equality a reality during the Civil Rights Era. With poetry, songs from the university choir, and local elementary students answering “What Dr. King Means to Me?,” this event will highlight the extraordinary individual Dr. King was to so many. A candlelight vigil and silent march will also be held, leading to the Carillon Belltower, located in the center of UC Riverside. The candlelight vigil will allow any attendees to reflect on Dr. King and his impact on the Civil Rights Movement, struggle for racial equality or improvement of society. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., was established to serve as a cornerstone to the community and continues to do so with its four community service programs: A Voteless People is a Hopeless People, Go to High School/Go to College, Project Alpha and our Annual MLK Silent March. The Fraternity has also played the leading role in establishing the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, D.C., a 100-million dollar project, making Dr. King the only non-president to be honored by a memorial in the Washington Mall.

The Pi Epsilon chapter, established in 2003, has grown steadily over a few short years to become an influential entity of our campus and community through our contributions including our annual Miss Black & Gold Scholarship Pageant, annual Thanksgiving/Christmas toy-drive donations, various youth initiatives, as well as other educational programs. For more information regarding our upcoming events or community service, please contact our chapter at piepsilon@ooglegroups.com.

 

Riverside International Film Festival sets 2010 Dates, Location

Experience the World in 10 Days! The Riverside International Film Festival (RIFF) has announced that it is bringing 10 days of films to the University Village in 2010.

This 8th annual event, which features more than 100 films from countries around the world, launches April 16 and continues through April 25, 2010. RIFF will not only show films, including submissions from Riverside’s own Sister Cities, but will also feature special educational panels on the film industry and film making.

The best of international and independent features, documentaries, and shorts will be shown at UltraStar Cinemas in the University Village at 1201 University Avenue, Riverside, CA, 92507. The entire University Village plaza is excited to participate in RIFF and plans are underway to highlight the “Experience the World in 10 Days” theme throughout the plaza.

The City of Riverside is eagerly anticipating the 2010 festival: “We couldn’t be happier that RIFF will be partnering with UltraStar Cinemas to showcase RIFF at University Village,” said Mayor Ron Loveridge. “The connection between UC Riverside, University Village and RIFF will be a great way to further involve Riverside’s nearly 50,000 students in this fine film event.” The City of Riverside is a Director’s Club sponsor of RIFF.

Further information, including an invitation to a special press reception in March, will be forthcoming.

Details are posted as they become available at www.riversidefilmfest.org.

 

Community Briefs

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RPU Officials Refute Water Report Finding

Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) officials announced today that a recent Internet blog report placing Riverside’s drinking water among the worst in the nation is just plain wrong.

“Bottom line: Riverside’s water is safe to drink and meets or surpasses state and federal water quality requirements,” said Kevin Milligan, RPU assistant general manager/ water.

The Environmental Working Group, a watchdog nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. , released the report on Saturday. It placed Riverside as No. 2 on a list of cities with the worst water in the nation.

However, Milligan said, what the report does not indicate is that samples used in the survey were from groundwater sources taken before treatment as required by California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

RPU General Manager David Wright said the people of Riverside can see annual water testing statistics going back to 2001 at the RPU Web site: http://www.riversideca.gov/utilities/water-wqr.asp.

 

“Big View” Meeting On Developing Your Personal Financial Plan To Be Held In Moreno Valley Community Action Partnership of Riverside County (CAP Riverside) and United Way of the Inland Valleys are offering a free presentation on “The Power of your Paycheck” to be held on Saturday, January 9, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. This “Big View” meeting will be located at the Moreno Valley Community Education Center, 23910 Alessandro Boulevard in Moreno Valley. It is being sponsored by the Guiding Coalition, a community advisory committee that is a part of Project B.L.I.S.S. , a CAP Riverside initiative to help families move out of poverty.

Topics to be discussed include:

How to Develop a Financial Plan, Living Within Your Means and What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You.

The meeting is open to all, and reservations are requested. For reservations or information, contact Lanita Tademy at (951) 955-4900 or info@capriverside.org

 

Help A Neighbor – Volunteer To Ring A Silver Bell

The Salvation Army has started its Christmas tradition of ringing silver bells by shiny red kettles, so that passersby have a trustworthy opportunity to help those less fortunate.

“The Red Kettle fund raiser is our biggest fund raiser of the year,” said Capt. Nancy Ball, co-director of The Salvation Army San Bernardino Corps. “We use the funds received to support our programs year-round to provide food, shelter and youth programs to our community.

The Salvation Army will continue ringing bells, Monday through Saturday until Christmas Eve. It seeks volunteer bell-ringers so that it can staff even more locations, more of the time.

For the past several years, Salvation Army of San Bernardino board member, and Dameron Communications founder and creative director, Carl Dameron volunteered with his wife Malaika and two daughters, Shaila and Shiane. The entire Salvation Army of San Bernardino board also volunteered their time to ring silver bells and ask the community for help.

“We receive great satisfaction knowing we had made a difference in our community,” Carl Dameron said. “We also enjoyed spending the time together as a family and teaching our children about the responsibility we have to care for those in our community who are less fortunate.”

55 and Better Line Dance Class

The City of Riverside Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department will be hosting a Line Dancing class from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm each Wednesday beginning February 3, 2010. The class will be held at the new La Sierra Senior Center, located at 5215 La Sierra Avenue.

Come to the La Sierra Senior Center and learn the Cotton Eyed Joe, Olé and Slappin’ Leatherhearts. Line dancing can be doubly rewarding, offering a chance for social interaction and gentle exercise.

Come into the La Sierra Senior Center Monday through Friday to sign up for a fun and exciting lesson of Beginning Line Dance. The cost is $20.00 for residents and $32.00 for non-residents.

For additional information regarding Beginning Line Dancing class at the La Sierra Senior Center, please contact Michael Mitchell at 951-351-6435 or email mpmitchell@riversideca.gov.


Pechanga Hosts So Cal’s Largest New Year’s Eve Party

More than 75,000 people are expected to descend upon Pechanga Resort & Casino on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, possibly breaking last year’s record of the biggest NYE ever. Southern California’s greatest party will feature a cirque-themed gala in the Ballroom; American Idol winner, David Cook, in the Showroom; LMFAO in Silk; a flashback party in Eagle’s Nest; not to mention free live bands in The Cabaret.

Pechanga will be the place to celebrate the countdown to 2010 as thousands gather in the Round Bar to count off 2009’s final seconds.

Tickets available at the Pechanga Showroom Box Office, or call 877-711-2946, or visit www.pechanga.com.

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