2014 Corpsmember of the Year, Edgar Galvez

Edgar Galvez
AmeriCorps member - EOC Fresno Local Conservation Corps

Fresno, CA

Edgar Galvez wanted to be an honest man and earn an honest wage. A bad mistake landed Edgar in Federal Prison, but he was awarded the opportunity to participate in an alternate sentencing program. While completing the terms of his sentence at a sober living facility, Edgar first learned about how becoming an AmeriCorps member with the Fresno Local Conservation Corps (LCC) could help him complete his education, earn job skills, and become a productive member of his community.

“Moving forward with my life and wanting to take care of my family, the LCC was the light at the end of the tunnel for me,” said Edgar. “The opportunity to have a chance at an honest living made me want to become a Corpsmember.”

Edgar joined LCC as a YouthBuild SMART student. He gained skills in construction and landscaping and excelled as a leader on campus, earning multiple perfect attendance certificates and high praise from his teachers. As one instructor noted, Edgar not only worked hard, but “showed his leadership qualities by assisting his classmates with assignments and computer issues.”

As a result of his hard work and perseverance, Edgar won LCC’s Whatever It Takes College Award two semesters in a row. Also, as an AmeriCorps participant in The Corps Network’s Postsecondary Success Education Initiative, he received his high school diploma and enrolled in Fresno City College. Edgar paid for his classes and books with the help of the $5,550 in AmeriCorps Education Award money he earned for his 1,800 hours of service with LCC. He has become well known in Fresno for his countless volunteer hours with his local neighborhood coalition, Bringing Broken Neighborhoods Back to Life (BBNBTL), and the Southwest Subdivision of the Fresno Police Department.

“I learned to serve my community and understand the meaning of giving back,” said Edgar. “The feeling of making a positive impact on my community is invaluable.”

Edgar quickly gained the respect of his peers and the LCC staff. He was selected to be an LCC Senior Corpsmember and subsequently spent a term mentoring fellow Corpsmembers in the field and in the classroom. He was also elected to be a member of the YouthBuild SMART START Council. Edgar proved his ability as a leader and his dedication to the Council through his work counseling formerly-incarcerated Corpsmembers. His standout performance led to his being chosen to attend YouthBuild USA’s Conference of Young Leaders in Washington, DC. To this day, Edgar is an active councilmember and a participant in YouthBuild USA’s 1000 Leaders movement and the Alumni Exchange.

Edgar is enrolled in classes at Fresno City College for the spring 2014 semester. He hopes to eventually transfer to Fresno State and earn a bachelor’s degree in business. His main goal for now is to work, save money, and buy a home for his family.

These days, Edgar is a member of the Local 294 Laborers Union. Due to the classroom education and field training experience he gained while with LCC, Edgar excelled in Union certification training and currently earns nearly $19.00 an hour. He can now say he is an honest man, supporting his family with an honest income. 

Boiler Plate: 
dgar Galvez wanted to be an honest man and earn an honest wage. A bad mistake landed Edgar in Federal Prison, but he was awarded the opportunity to participate in an alternate sentencing program. While completing the terms of his sentence at a sober living facility, Edgar first learned about how the Fresno Local Conservation Corps (LCC) could help him complete his education, earn job skills, and become a productive member of his community.

[Video] Fresno Local Conservation Corps Re-Entry Program Highlighted by Local News

Earlier this week several staff members from the Fresno Local Conservation Corps joined KSEE24 local news to talk about their re-entry program for formerly incarcerated youth. The program, much like The Corps Network's Civic Justice Corps Initiative aims to help youth who have been involved in the justice system to unlock their full potential and successfully become productive citizens in their communities.


2010 Project of the Year: Neighborhood Youth Center in Fresno

Winner: EOC/Fresno Local Conservation Corps

Bursting at its seams, with waiting lists in excess of 400, EOC's Fresno Local Conservation Corps took a major risk - constructing a community campus, the Neighborhood Youth Center (NYC). What drove the project was the desire to make a one-stop beacon of hope in an area the Brookings Institution ranked among the highest concentrated poverty in the nation - and to have it designed and planned by Corpsmembers.

Corpsmembers surveyed 1,000 local residents to determine which services were needed, ranking them by importance. From the survey the Corps engaged architects to design a campus with an NBA-sized gymnasium, weight room, and community meeting facility; a child care facility with capacity for 80 Corpsmember children; a vocational training facility to teach solar installation, welding, recycling, and construction applications; and a headquarters facility complete with a 40-station computer lab, space for seven classrooms, and the Corps' administrative offices. The services co-located at the NYC include counseling delivered by masters-level supervised interns from Fresno State University, WIC, WIA One Stop Training, the YouthBuild Charter School of California, Fresno City College, a Career Center, AFLN, and EOC health screening services.

Staff moved into the 60,000 square foot, $16 million complex in September 2009. 

2005 Corpsmember of the Year: Erik Hurd


Erik Hurd enrolled in the EOC/Fresno Local Conservation Corps (LCC) in October, 2003 and has served on most crews operating at the LCC.  He has established himself as a leader in this Corps and in the wider Corps community.  In August, 2004, Erik was elected to the Board of Directors of the Conservation Corps Institute, and in November Erik was elected by his peers to be Vice President of the Fresno LCC Corpsmember Council.  Erik is married and he and his wife are expecting their first child in July 2005.  He will continue his education at Fresno City College, concurrent to enrollment at LCC. Erik's major is in Business Administration.  

-- “I’ve learned to set my goals much higher than I might have without this experience.  I’ve realized that I am talented, that I can make a good living to support my family, but I’ve also learned the value and importance of community service."

(written in 2005) 

2006 Corpsmember of the Year: James Zmudzinski

***Update! Click here to find out what James has been up to since he won his award.***

James dreams of owning an auto mechanic shop. One year ago, this dream seemed to be only that - a dream. Working since age 15, James was struggling to obtain a stable income, lacking his high school diploma and auto mechanic's certificate. He heard about the 5-day orientation the LCC (EOC/Fresno Local Conservation Corps) led and decided to attend, quickly becoming a vital crew member in the Flood Control Basin Maintenance Program.

Working in 127 degree heat while fighting off snakes, James maintained an extremely positive attitude towards work and his fellow crew members. His supervisor described him as a self-starter. James routinely led the safety meetings for his crew. He made use of the classes offered by LCC and found the financial strategy class of particular interest. In addition to working and taking night classes, James is only 26 credits away from obtaining his high school diploma after completing 47 credits in the past year. He has completed his 900 hour AmeriCorps Education Award and has earned $2,365.50 towards furthering his education. He is currently working towards completing a full-time award to earn an additional $4,725.

All of this hard work reflects his desire to be a good father. He is even using the Individual Development Account to save money for his shop. Expecting his first child, James said his main goal is to "be a person who my son could look up to."

James is grateful for the new start the corps gave him. He said, "I do no know where I would be without the LCC. Before I came to LCC the only light at the end of the tunnel was hope and it was fading quickly. It was the hope that somehow I would be able to earn my high school diploma and an auto technician certificate in order to better support my family, and hope that I would one day be able to live my dream of owning my own shop."

(written in 2006)

2008 Corpsmember of the Year: Francisco Vizcarrondo


“It’s motivating to see a person who was in desolation and misery, then witness them in their weakness become strong and successful because of their drive to live a better life and improve on the skills and talents they have acquired.” 

Since his enrollment in the EOC/Fresno Local Conservation Corps, Francisco has received perfect attendance awards, been recognized as Corpsmember of the Month, earned his high school diploma, and completed a 675-hour term of service resulting in an AmeriCorps Education Award. He gained experience in concrete work, framing, drywall, roofing, landscaping, and sprinkler repair. He was also elected treasurer of the Corpsmember Council of FLCC, as well as the Youth Council at his transitional living center.

Francisco is currently studying Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning at Fresno City College.  It is hard to believe that he is the same person who enrolled in the Corps in December 2006 – a homeless, twice-convicted, drug-addicted high school dropout. 

“The experience has helped me reconstruct my life," said Francisco. "I plan to get certified in HVAC and Carpentry, have my own business, and present opportunities of advancement to others as they have been presented to me.”

2009 Corpsmember of the Year: Arthur Jacuinde


When Arthur Jacuinde enrolled in the EOC/Fresno Local Conservation Corps' YouthBuild program in March 2007, he was facing many obstacles in his life.  He was unemployed, on Juvenile Parole, a high school dropout with no work experience, and living in a group home. 

With the support of the Corps, he enrolled in EOC’s School of Unlimited Learning - a charter high school - to complete his secondary education. After just eighteen months, Arthur passed the California High School Exit Exam and received his high school diploma.  With his AmeriCorps Education Award, he enrolled at Fresno City College.  Arthur was also selected as a delegate at the National Young Leaders Conference and has begun working on a pilot program, “Our America,” initiated by YouthBuild USA.  As part of the project, he is talking to other corpsmembers and encouraging them to share their life stories. He is working on initiating discussions about issues affecting corpsmembers and raising awareness about these issues.

Arthur was also recognized by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Division of Parole Operations for his commitment to change and achieve success.

Arthur is currently enrolled in a second term at Fresno and plans on using his education award to continue furthering his education at Fresno City College in the Fire Academy.

As Arthur says:

“I realize now that nothing is impossible. I have learned a few things about what life is and now I have total control over the outcomes in my life. I now understand the value of my freedom and that even though I cannot change my past, I am in total control of my future.”

2010 Corpsmember of the Year: Alejandro Lopez

Alejandro Lopez was incarcerated at the age of 15 for a gang-related drive-by shooting. He lost two years of his life behind bars, and feels he could easily have wound up living a sad stereotype: the son of farm workers, with a criminal record, likely to end up back in jail or worse.

Fortunately, EOC/Fresno Local Conservation Corps recruited from his class of parolees. In the Corps, the once reserved young man blossomed and recovered from past mistakes.

Alejandro began vocational training on an irrigation crew while attending the Corps’ School of Unlimited Learning. The boy with the record became a man with credentials: earning a high school diploma and AmeriCorps Education Awards which took him to Fresno City College.

In 2009 Alejandro was selected for the Division of Juvenile Justice Outstanding Achievement Award for Juvenile Courts – recognition reserved for young ex-offenders who have changed their lives.

Today Alejandro has reached accomplishments his parents hardly dared dream of. He owns his own home, building a stable family for his child. To give back to others living the life he once had, he works at EOC/Fresno Local Conservation Corps, aiming to grow into a supervisory role.