Rebecca T. Asami, a biology student who volunteers for Food Not Bombs, was honored Wednesday as California State University, Fresno Student Volunteer of the Year during the 39th annual Volunteer of the Year luncheon. The luncheon at TorNino’s is sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Fresno County.
There were four finalists for the university’s top student volunteer award.
Chris Fiorentino, director of the Office of Civic Engagement and Service-Learning, said, “These four finalists represent the outstanding work that thousands of Fresno State students perform in the community each year. We’re very happy to honor them and to recognize Rebecca’s exceptional service.”
As co-founder of the Sunday Fresno chapter of Food Not Bombs, Asami has helped to address issues of hunger and poverty in some of Fresno’s poorest neighborhoods.
Asami volunteers on average about 15-20 hours a week and has dedicated nearly every Sunday for the past eight years to Food Not Bombs. She has provided countless dependable, nutritious meals for those in need. She also has recruited volunteers, which has helped to raise awareness of poverty and hunger issues in the community.
Food Not Bombs, a all-volunteer grassroots political organization with chapters across North America, protests militarism and poverty by serving free vegetarian food to people in need.
In the nomination letter for Asami, Madhusudan Katti, assistant professor of biology at Fresno State, stated that Asami was never compensated for her work and even spent her own money when funds for Food Not Bombs were low. Katti said through Asami’s volunteer work and her biology research, she “demonstrates an extraordinary commitment toward improving human life and our interaction with the environment.”
A senior who will graduate in December, Asami has been conducting research on issues of urban ecology. She helps several graduate students with their projects in bird ecology and behavior in urban environments.
As the Student Volunteer of the Year, Asami receives a $1,200 scholarship from Fresno State’s Community Service Scholarship Program.
The other finalists for Fresno State student volunteer honors were as follows:
Brooks Wheeler helped plan and staff the Mayor’s Friendship Camp. She also prepared a proposal for a $25,000 grant for One by One Leadership, a faith-based nonprofit organization. In May 2007, she will become the first Fresno State student to graduate with a special major in nonprofit administration.
Michael Edward Olsen Jr. volunteered for conservation work with indigenous plant and animal life at the Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia. A Smittcamp Family Honors College scholar, he also worked to establish an on-campus recycling program and planned and coordinated environmental events.
Anthony Yrigollen is a grassroots community organizer and a principle organizer for human rights rallies on Fresno State campus. He initiated the effort to bring an early voting polling station to the university and was instrumental in planning the American Indian Student Recruitment Conference at Fresno State.