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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Lending a helping hand

Editor’s note:

Although the clubbing scene in Davis isn’t very big, the club scene sure is. Throughout the school year, The California Aggie will give you a feel for student activities at UC Davis by profiling various clubs and student organizations on campus. First off is service organization HELP.

When Monisha Paripatyadar reads feedback cards reading “You make me feel like I’m not worthless,” from a local community member, she knows she’s done her job.

Her goal, along with all the members of the Help and Education Leading to Prevention organization, is to serve the Davis community. Although the SPAC group has only been around for about four years, they have grown to accommodate a lofty position among the homeless and disadvantaged in Davis.

HELP consistently runs three different programs, the first of which is a weekly service called Chow Nights.

Every Thursday, between 10 and 15 volunteers cook a meal for the homeless and low-income community members in Davis at St. Martin’s Church. The meals are served restaurant style, with attendees sitting at tables and HELP volunteers serving dishes.

“Everyone is in a circle, [and] we ask if we can get them anything,” said Paripatyadar, a fourth year psychology major, and HELP president. “It creates a family atmosphere and it shows that we care about them.”

The volunteers have a $30 per week budget on their meals, and they usually serve about 30 people. A separate organization, Davis Community Meals, helps them with some of the costs by donating food. DCM also holds dinners on Tuesdays and Saturdays at St. Martin’s Church.

“[HELP] is a very well-run organization and they’ve done some good work with us and our shelter,” said Bill Pride, executive director of DCM. “They’re a great addition to the service we provide.”

Another program that the organization works on is Progress Ranch, a house in Davis where disadvantaged boys are temporarily placed. The organization goes to the house Mondays and Tuesdays to mentor and tutor the boys, who are often behind in school.

“These boys are really nice and funny, and they really appreciate the help,” said vice president Jenifer Kim, a fourth year genetics major. “It’s in our best interest to help them grow up to be happy people.”

The last program on the organization’s agenda is Childhood Education Advocacy Project. The program seeks to turn students currently in middle school into leaders by teaching them about world issues like poverty and hunger.

Though volunteers have not taught the course in about a year, they are currently working on a curriculum and plan on teaching it later this year. HELP has included a segment on Progress Ranch and as a result, the middle school students in the course put on a carnival for the disadvantaged boys.

“We were able to talk to next generation and make sure they’re aware of poverty in their own community,” Paripatyadar said. “Now when they grow up they can make a difference in the world.”

Aside from their three major programs, HELP also sponsors a Thanksgiving dinner every year, similar to Chow Nights, except open to all of Yolo County.

The turnout is much larger, and in the past, the organization has served as many as 80 people.

Their annual event Empathy not Apathy draws even more attention to poverty within the community. Participants fast for 24 hours to understand the hunger many members of the community face every day.

Nearly 80 people participated in the event, including all of the club members.

“Going the whole day without food was taxing especially with schoolwork,” Kim said. “The good cause motivates you to get through the day though.”

The club is currently looking to expand their relatively small membership and will be discussing further details at their meeting on Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. in 226 Wellman. The cost of joining is $25 and all membership fees go toward service costs.

LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at features@californiaaggie.com.


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