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AmeriCorps National Member Experience Part 2: Daniel Anchondo

AmeriCorps National Member Experience Part 2: Daniel Anchondo

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. “- John 15:12

I have now been an AmeriCorps National Member stationed at Habitat for Humanity Riverside HFHR for little over 8 months and I can say I have learned tremendously about community outreach, speaking to people of all different ways of life and connecting to partners in the community to better the lives of residents of our Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative NRI focus area and the city of Jurupa Valley. As a graduate of Cal Poly Pomona in Urban Regional Planning URP, I gained the education to observe various spaces throughout cities where design ideas are needed, to set and implement goals for policy making and to be environmentally cautious when planning. However, I could have never learned to be a Community Outreach Coordinator unless I left the classroom setting. Actually talking face-to-face with people of the community has been a great experience and a learning process. Listening to their stories of struggle, triumph, and perseverance provides me with insight to understand with compassion and eagerness to connect with services that are willing to help and become partners with HFHR.

One of the venues that have garnered many partnerships for HFHR is Healthy Jurupa Valley HJV. HJV is a healthy initiative seeking to empower and encourage residents of Jurupa Valley to eat healthier, exercise more, to connect them to health services, to spread emergency awareness and safety and broaden communal artist activities, which all focus on a better quality of life. Healthy Jurupa Valley has its beginnings tied to the incorporation of Jurupa Valley, Cal Poly Pomona’s URP senior course project and Reach-Out’s leadership and mission to bring a healthy initiative to these once Riverside County operated communities. As co- leader of the Arts and Recreation Action Team portion of HJV, along with Jurupa Valley Council Woman Laura Roughton, we are committed to bring art to the communities of Jurupa Valley. We want the residents of Jurupa Valley to express themselves through art, and enhance their creativity, while getting involved with community projects to better their own neighborhoods. The recreational aspect of our team is simple; inspire people of all ages to exercise and eat healthy to further live healthy lifestyles.


However, HJV is just a portion of what I do at HFHR. I am also very much involved with NRI, which includes resident meetings, improving the communities where I serve, connecting with fellow stakeholders to broaden resident’s awareness to services, and to serve families any way I can. We actually had our 3rd resident meeting on the 8th of March. Nine residents representing six households attended the meeting. The topics we spoke on were: neighborhood watch and emergency awareness kits. We also talked about their neighborhood.

My favorite part of my position is serving and getting to know families on a personal level. I believe sharing stories, laughing and interacting with amazing people generates a joyous outcome. People have goals and dreams and if I could help them attain such aspirations I feel I have accomplished a wonderful thing. It reminds me of Habitat for Humanity’s vision and mission: “A world where everyone has a decent place to live” and “Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope.” If I continue to live and work out this vision and mission I know I’ll make a difference in people’s lives. How can anyone want to live any other way than to help the people around them? In turn, the love that they have received will reflect upon those around them. It is a cycle of gentleness, goodness and kindness.

I also had the opportunity this month to speak to AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) high school students about my college experience, why I chose my major, what career choices I have, and my experience as an AmeriCorps at Habitat for Humanity Riverside. I told the AVID students that I grew up in Pomona, went to public school, received an Associated of Science in Architectural Technology from Mount San Antonio College and transferred to Cal Poly Pomona where I received a Bachelor’s of Science in Urban Regional Planning. I explained how I was determined and persevered to accomplish my goals. Of course I had great support from my family. I spoke on how the trials of life could actually strengthen you as a person. I then began to talk about HFHR and AmeriCorps. As I stated before, I enjoy helping people around me, so I explained how I have been meeting so many great people in the communities and agencies that offer wonderful things for residents. I explained how it is greater to give than receive and empowering someone can change their life. This experience was a great way to spread positive ideals to the youth of today, the leaders of tomorrow. After speaking to over 630 students this month, I feel that I could someday be a teacher. Who knows, I may be teaching the youth how to reach out and make an impact on their communities and then the world.