One full year ahead of the challenge target date, 12,168 California State University, Fresno students, faculty, staff and administrators aggregated more than 1.16 million hours of community service.

And the help at scores of programs, agencies and events provided an estimated regional economic stimulus of $28 million.

President John D. Welty made the announcement during his 2010 Fall Staff and Academic Assembly addresses Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 16 and 17, which kick off the university’s 100th academic year.

In 2007, Welty challenged the campus community to expand upon its efforts to serve needs in the greater community by volunteering a cumulative million hours by Fresno State’s Centennial Commencement in 2011.

Welty talked about the reason participation in community service is strong at Fresno State, saying, “We’ve repeatedly received national recognition, and that’s gratifying, but that’s not what drives us. We do it because it prepares our students to become productive, caring citizens once they leave us. We do it because our knowledge and skills as faculty and staff can help our community.

“How did we accomplish such a momentous milestone? We did it together as a community. The participation of many enabled us to reach our goal,” said Welty.

Community service has been integral to the university’s mission since Fresno State was established in 1911 to prepare teachers for the fast-growing San Joaquin Valley. Now, there are numerous academic programs that incorporate volunteerism and service-learning, administered through the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning.

Besides coordinating and recording volunteer efforts of students, the Richter Center tracks the community service of faculty, staff and administrators through a self-reporting process.

Richter Center director Chris Fiorentino defined the impact of the 2009-10 Fresno State community service as “equivalent to 581 people working full time for 50 weeks – all in service to others.”

Put another way, he said, “If we went back in time 1,162,101 hours, it would be the year 1877,” 34 years before Fresno State opened its doors. The 2009-10 community service from Fresno State in 2009-10 was more than 25 percent greater than 2008-09’s 923,565 hours.

“The service programs come from across the university, so we can all take pride in this accomplishment,” Fiorentino added. “Reaching the goal really was a campuswide effort.”

Service ranged from Alternative Spring Break projects in the community and Earth Day activities to the Fresno READS after-school literacy program, Kids Day newspaper sales to benefit Children’s Hospital, Central California and the student-organized Bulldog Pantry food bank.

Churches, environmental preservation initiatives, prison-visitation programs, community food banks, charitable organizations and activities and six campus blood drives were beneficiaries of Fresno State community volunteers.

Fresno State was named to the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement. It was the third consecutive year the university has received this national recognition.

The Corporation for National and Community Service also cited Fresno State for its impact on issues from poverty and homelessness to environmental justice.

The economic impact of volunteer service is based on philanthropic standards calculated by Independent Sector, a coalition of charities, foundations and corporate philanthropy programs. Its recent estimate of value for an hour of volunteer work ranges from $14.66 in Montana to $28.52 in New York.

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