Butte College's "Extreme Community Makeovers: Butte-Glenn Edition" is being honored by USA Weekend Magazine as one of the Top 10 Make A Difference Day projects in the nation for 2008. The college's students, faculty, and staff were among the millions of Americans who volunteered to make a difference for others.
The college's volunteer effort attracted over 300 volunteers and resulted in 23 community projects throughout Butte and Glenn Counties on October 25, 2008.
"We are thrilled to receive this national award on behalf of our Butte College Make a Difference Day Committee and it's exciting to be the first college ever to receive this award," said Dr. Diana Van Der Ploeg, Butte College President. "The college's Make A Difference Day effort touched the lives of so many and gave back to our communities and that's what the day is all about."
In addition to being honored in the national publication on April 19, the Butte College Make A Difference Day Committee will receive $10,000 from Newman's Own. The specialty food company provides $10,000 to the charities selected by each of the national Top 10 Make A Difference Day honorees.
Butte College's Make A Difference Day Committee, comprised of faculty, staff, community members and students, including the college's softball team and Phi Theta Kappa international honor society chapter has chosen to use these funds to establish a scholarship endowment that will yield a minimum of two $1,000 "Make A Difference" scholarships in perpetuity. Recipients of the scholarships will then be invited to serve on the Make A Difference Day planning team for the following year.
"With the generous donation from Newman's Own, we will be able to use the funding to establish an endowed scholarship to recognize and reward students engaged in Make A Difference Day activities each year," said Dr. Jo Anna Birdsall, Butte College Make A Difference Day Co-Chair, Co-Advisor for Phi Theta Kappa, and Director of Career and Employment Services.
After soliciting nominations throughout a two-county region, the Butte College Make A Difference Day planning team selected 23 community "makeover projects," which took place on a single day in eight towns.
The college received requests for makeover projects from charitable community organizations, community members, and individuals in need. As a result, hundreds of volunteers were organized into teams to repair handicapped ramps, mend fences, plant trees and gardens, paint school playgrounds, clean graffiti, stain decks, pull weeds, retrofit playground equipment, build stairs, clean gutters, and paint walls.
"As excited as we are to have been selected for this great honor, the real honor was in serving so many deserving individuals and agencies in our community. Not only will this award allow us to provide scholarships to Butte College students, but I'm confident we'll continue our commitment to Make A Difference Day for many years to come," said Dr. Roger Ekins, Butte College Phi Theta Kappa Faculty Advisor, English Instructor, and Co-Chair of the Make A Difference Day planning team.
Donations of lumber, paint, garden supplies, rental equipment, along with $5,000 were provided by local businesses, including Home Depot, Mendon's Nursery, Ryan Eble's Xtreme Homes, Corlin Paint, Norcal Waste Systems, Ken's Paint Store, Sutherland Landscape, Northern Recycling and Waste Services, and Waste Management Services, along with other companies and donors.
One of the college's project crews took on the remodeling of a local shelter's playground in Chico, California.
"Their help was absolutely wonderful," remarked Lucia Navarro-Imsdahl, Director of the Community Action Agency of Butte County's Esplanade House Child Development Center. "We now have a nice area for the children to play in."
Another college work crew, comprised of 35 high school seniors, completed two holistic playground painting projects and planted 12 maple trees.
"The students' attitude, work ethic and attention to detail were admirable to say the least. Needless to say, the spirit of volunteerism and community pride is very much alive and well," said Edward Gregorio, principal of Sierra Avenue Elementary in Thermalito.
The day's activities also benefitted a local theater company with a long overdue painting project.
"Their efforts will have a lasting impact on the community," said Ted Miller, Director, Birdcage Theatre in Oroville. "The painting project allows others to see the theatre as a beautiful exterior and not an eyesore. We asked several volunteers why they would take time out of their lives to help and they replied, ‘because we care about our community'."
A homeless shelter in Chico for men, women and children received a makeover by the college's honor society, Phi Theta Kappa-one of the major organizers of the event.
"What these folks did for us was amazing," said Louise Meyerfeld, Supervisor of the Torres Homeless Shelter in Chico. "The project made a huge difference. Our shelter guests were in awe over it."
One Butte College volunteer said the efforts touched volunteers as much as those benefiting from the projects.
"We came together to represent Butte College in making a difference in our community, along with helping someone in need. It was a very fulfilling experience. We were very proud of the work we accomplished. It impacted our lives as much as the lives of the families we served," said Jody Eble, Butte College faculty.
Butte College employee, Bill Fuller, volunteered with several of his co-workers to install safety handles in the restrooms of a local senior center.
"It was a very gratifying experience and all of our team walked away feeling we definitely made a difference," said Fuller.
The college is already planning for next year's Make A Difference Day taking place on October 24, 2009. To volunteer or donate toward the effort, please contact Butte College at 530-895-2334.
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Make A Difference Day, the largest national day of helping others, is sponsored by USA WEEKEND Magazine and its 600 carrier newspapers. Make A Difference Day is held in partnership with HandsOn Network and is supported by Newman's Own, which provides $10,000 donations to charities selected by of each of 10 national honorees. Make A Difference Day is an annual event that takes place on the fourth Saturday of every October. The next event is Saturday, October 24, 2009.
Resting on 928 acres, Butte College is one of the largest community colleges in California. The campus is a designated wildlife refuge and offers associate's degrees along with over 100 career programs, from business to welding. With 44 percent of the campus using solar energy, the college is now the largest solar campus in California.
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