Ahson Haider started volunteering for Camp Kesem Fresno State in 2016, not long after his mother died from brain cancer.
The club, led by University student volunteers, helps support children, ages 5 to 18, through and beyond a parent’s cancer diagnosis.
“It resonated with me, and I felt it was a perfect match,” said Haider, who transferred to Fresno State after attending Clovis Community College and Fresno City College. “I became a counselor and these kids, they blow your mind away — how inspiring they are. It was a life-changing moment for me. It helped inspire me, what I wanted to do with my career.”
Haider graduated in May with a degree in sociology and plans to go to medical school. He is wrapping up his last summer as a Camp Kesem volunteer. This year, he served as volunteer coordinator recruiting and training 40 new counselors.
The camp volunteers are among thousands of Fresno State students, faculty and staff who provide service hours to the community every year. For the 10th year in a row, the University provided over 1.4 million hours of service during the 2018-19 academic year, according to the Service Impact on the Community Report by the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning at Fresno State.
The estimated economic impact of these hours, provided by more than 40 University programs and initiatives, is more than $42 million based on calculations from the Independent Sector, a national nonpartisan network of nonprofit and philanthropic organizations and professionals. The 2018 value of an hour of volunteer time in California was $29.95, according to the network.
“As amazing as these statistics are, they mask the true value of the University’s service programs; providing meaningful learning and development opportunities for our students, and providing impactful service to our community,” said Chris Fiorentino, director of the Richter Center.
Haider agrees and encourages all to get involved. “It’s an absolute must to volunteer because that’s where you get to meet people and find yourself,” he said.
The Richter Center is responsible for coordinating the University’s community engagement and service-learning efforts. In August 2007, Jan and Bud Richter pledged to provide $3.5 million to establish the center on the Richters’ belief that it would “instill in students a lifelong character trait of giving to the community.”
The center works closely with other Fresno State programs and departments also involved in community engagement such as the Humanics Program at Fresno State, Community Service Scholarship Program and the Scholars in Service Program. Additionally, the Richter Center partners with about 200 community benefit organizations across the Central Valley.
“Jan and I are grateful for the Fresno State leadership who enable students, staff, faculty and administration to join forces in helping our community have a better quality of life,” said Bud Richter. “The life lessons learned in service to others benefits our students and our region. Service has become an integral part of the Fresno State culture and we are thrilled to be a part of that effort.”