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published on June 21, 2019 - 12:33 PM
Written by Gabriel Dillard

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,” Haider said. “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’s 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 that provided more than 1.4 million hours of public 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 and opportunities for our students, and providing impactful service to our community,” said Chris Fiorentino, director of the Richter Center.

The Richter Center is responsible for coordinating the University’s community engagement and service-learning efforts. They work closely with other Fresno State programs and departments also involved in community engagements, and partners with around 200 community benefit organizations across the Central Valley.

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