Sequoia Community Corps Helps Deliver Water to Drought Affected Households

Corpsmembers and Senior Center staff load water in East Porterville (photo originally published in The LA Times).

From Sequoia Community Corps' Newsletter

Partnering with the Tulare County Fire Department, fourteen Corpsmembers and five CSET Senior Services staff helped deliver over 15,500 1-gallon water containers to approximately 300 drought affected households in East Porterville. The community is one of the hardest hit areas after declaration of the drought in Tulare County.

Approximately 500 homes reported being out of water after a survey was conducted in September. With dry wells and cost-prohibitive contracting fees, many families cannot afford to dig deeper wells to compensate for the lack of water.

CSET and other local agencies are coordinating relief efforts to ease the stress and provide support to the East Porterville community. The volunteer efforts of Corpsmembers and Senior Center staff were greatly appreciated, and were highlighted in The LA Times. Visit this link to check out the article!

Boiler Plate: 
Partnering with the Tulare County Fire Department, fourteen Corpsmembers and ve CSET Senior Services staff helped deliver over 15,500 1-gallon water containers to approximately 300 drought affected households in East Porterville. The community is one of the hardest hit areas after declaration of the drought in Tulare County.

Sequoia Community Corps Receives Grant for Used Oil Recycling Program

Article appears in Sequoia Community Corps July 2014 Newsletter
 
The Sequoia Community Corps (SCC) recently received a two year grant from CalRecycle to collect used motor oil from the agricultural community of Tulare County. Farms, dairies and ranches will be able to responsibly dispose of their used motor oil. The SCC will make arrangements to come to the site to pick up the used oil.
 
The goal of the used oil collection program is to increase the recycling of used oil and avoid improper disposal, which can be harmful to the environment. One gallon of used oil can ruin the taste of a million gallons of drinking water, and one pint of oil can produce a 1 acre oil slick on the surface of a body of water.
 
Sequoia Community Corpsmembers will work alongside SCC sta to operate this program. The young men and women are completing this meaningful work while pursuing their education.
 
For more information about the Used Oil Recycling Program or to sign up, contact Lisa Torres at (559) 977-1560 or lisa.torres@cset.org.

How Sequoia Community Corps helped Marcos Molina build a better life for his wife and children


Where are they now? – Catching up with 2008 Corpsmember of the Year,
Marcos Molina


Marcos receiving his award at The Corps Network 2008 National Conference in Washington, DC.
 

Marcos Molina, a former Corpsmember with the Tulare County Youth Corps (now the Sequoia Community Corps), won Corpsmember of the Year in 2008 for his commitment to service and self change. Read below to find out what he's been up to since accepting his award, or find out more about Marcos and his Corps experience by reading his bio from our 2008 National Conference.

Marcos Molina is very honest about where he might be today if he had never joined the Sequoia Community Corps.

“I’d probably be in jail or dead,” he said.

Marcos heard about the Corps (which was then called the Tulare County Youth Corps) from a cousin. It was 2007 and Marcos was unemployed and involved in the court system. He and his wife and their two young daughters lived in a single room in his mother’s house. Marcos had dropped out of high school, but having a young family to support motivated him to get an education and turn things around. Marcos was quick to sign up for the Corps when he found out that the program offered a chance to work while also earning high school credits.

“In high school I was a troublemaker. I was hanging out with the wrong people and the wrong crowd. And when I came to the Corps I was around different kinds of people and it was a whole different story. I just decided that I was tired of that no good life,” said Marcos.

Adjusting to the culture and the expectations at the Corps wasn’t easy for Marcos. Many of his supervisors were concerned he wouldn’t make it through the program. It was with the personal attention and support of one particular supervisor that Marcos was able to not only finish the program, but excel.

“My attitude was a big problem. Especially my attitude towards other people,” said Marcos. “I wasn’t really used to working with a supervisor and other Corpsmembers. Where I had worked before it was always ‘just a job’ and I was like ‘boom, boom – get it done.’ But then at the Corps there were different rules you had to follow, you had to have a good attitude, and there were attendance rules. They were teaching us the right way to do our jobs and handle problems.”

Marcos’s dedication paid off. He became an Assistant Crew Leader and was eventually promoted to Crew Leader. Marcos was not particularly interested in construction work when he came to the Corps, but through his time as a Corpsmember he learned every aspect of concrete work, chain link fence installation, landscape maintenance, and heavy equipment operation. He even became a Certified Construction Trades Trainer and taught new Corpsmembers how to operate heavy equipment.

These days, Marcos is a Supervisor with the Corps in the Weatherization program. With his various professional certifications, Marcos is qualified to train new Corpsmembers how to safely install energy efficient appliances, install new doors and windows, and generally make sure homes are as weathertight as possible.

“When they made me a supervisor, that really helped me out a lot – moneywise and all around. Then I could do more things with my family that I couldn’t do before because of the money,” said Marcos. “Now, since I was a Corpsmember too, I know how to approach the Corpsmembers because they’re in the same shoes that I was in. I know how to help them out. If they have any questions I’ll try to help.”

Marcos sees a little bit of himself in the Corpsmembers he trains. He realizes that many of them join the Corps without construction experience or knowledge of tools. It’s a good feeling for him to be able to take them under his wing and pass on the skills he learned at the Corps. Marcos maintains contact with the Corps’ mentors and supervisors who took the time to help him when he was a new Corpsmember.

“Some of them taught me a lot of the knowledge that I know now. I like to keep in touch just to get some words of wisdom every now and then,” said Marcos.

While with the Corps, Marcos earned his high school diploma, obtained his driver’s license, and bought his own car and apartment. Today, Marcos has a mortgage on his own home and multiple cars. He has considered going to college, but for now his main concern is making sure his family is provided for and comfortable. Marcos is very conscious about setting a good example for his daughters. He sometimes volunteers at their school and always makes time for family activities.

To young Corpsmembers and to youth thinking about joining a Service and Conservation Corps, Marcos says:

“The sky is the limit. That’s how I see it. There’s no stopping point, you should always try and reach for better things for yourself. So keep your head up and don’t let anything keep you down. If you put hard work into what you want to do, you’ll get it done…You can get stuff done no matter where you’re from or what your situation is.”

Corpsmember Success Story: Luis Cruz

 

From the October 2012 edition of Corps Conection - the Sequoia Community Corps Newsletter 
 
Luis Cruz has been an outstanding member of the Sequoia Community Corps for five years. After a friend told him about the Corps, Luis joined to learn valuable job skills.  Luis has learned how to complete projects such as plumbing, electrical, HVAC repair and more. 
 
One of Luis’ most memorable experiences as a member of the Corps is assisting a disabled Porterville resident.  She was unable to find work and wasn’t comfortable in her home.  Luis helped install new windows, doors and a stove.  The resident was extremely grateful and Luis was very happy to help someone that really needed it.
 
After he completes the Corps, Luis hopes to use his skills to help people and to find employment in the construction industry.

Corpsmembers Complete Park Upgrades

From the October 2012 edition of Corps Connection - the Sequoia Community Corps Newsletter 

In August, the Sequoia Community Corps completed work on 1800 square feet of concrete sidewalk for Mulcahy Park in the City of Tulare.  The sidewalk was six feet wide and 300 feet long.  The project, contracted by the City of Tulare, took one supervisor and four Corpsmembers eight working days to complete.
 
The new sidewalk is part of the City of Tulare’s new Mulcahy Park.  When complete, the park will have sports fields, lighted walking trails, shade arbors and covered play areas for young children.
 
The concrete sidewalk installed by the Sequoia Community Corps will provide an easy and safe way for area residents to pass from the south end of the park to the north.  It will also be included in the walking path that totals 1/2 mile.
 
Congratulations to the City of Tulare on this exciting project!

2007 Project of the Year: TCYC Gains Secondary Emergency Responder Status

 

Winner: Tulare County Youth Corps (now Sequoia Community Corps)

Tulare County Youth Corps (now Sequoia Community Corps) corpsmembers participated in flood control this past winter season when water flooded public roads, portions of Sequoia Airfield, and areas surrounding the Tulare County Jail and Juvenile Detention Facility. The corps assisted county personnel in pumping water from flooded areas, replenishing supplies, and repairing levies and bridges to mitigate further flooding.

TCYC’s invaluable assistance led to an agreement with Tulare County to be a secondary emergency responder in 2006. TCYC prepared for this role by offering a new certification program in Bobcat operation. Seven corpsmembers have been certified in Bobcat operation and six more will be ready to test by November 2006. 

The testing consists of written and hands-on field navigation on uneven and unstable terrain and includes a full range of maneuvers such as moving land for repairing and shoring up levies and bridges where water breaks overflow, leveling of surfaces, and trenching for water flow redirection. Thus far in 2006, fully trained and certified corpsmembers assisted in trenching for disaster relief in Tulare County. 

2006 Corpsmember of the Year: Michael Taylor

Michael Taylor has recently entered college to pursue a degree in psychology. Three years ago, Michael was becoming all too accustomed to the Sacramento Juvenile Center. Having no role models and no high school diploma, there was little hope for Michael's future.

After the Tulare County Youth Corps (now the Sequoia Community Corps) contacted Michael, they saw his potential, in spite of the initial rejection they received from him. He was enrolled in the high school diploma program and maintained a 3.49 GPA. Michael was pleasantly surprised by his success. He was even valedictorian of his class.

Perfecting his public speaking skills, Michael has educated over 15,000 people on proper recycling procedures, including talks with the legislative bodies of the state of California. The entire city of Visalia recognized his work with a certificate of appreciation for extraordinary performance. Throughout all of this, Michael has maintained a sincere attitude of gratitude. He is currently a specialist for the corps in educating the community about environmental and social issues.

Michael said, "This has proven to be a great choice for me. Everything the corps has done has benefited me so much, so I would just like to take the opportunity to thank them." 

(written in 2006)

2012 Corpsmember of the Year: Nicholas Jimenez

Joining the Sequoia Community Corps has been an extreme experience for Nick Jimenez. With a difficult adolescence where he often found himself being bounced around in foster care and at one point homeless, Nick says that “growing up, I never had a stable home to live in. The Corps has impacted my life by providing that stability.”

Since entering the Corps, Nick has obtained his high school diploma, enrolled as a full time college student in the evening, and has been working as a Recycling Specialist, a position for which only a select few corpsmembers are chosen. Nick has also been promoted twice and is now a Crew Leader in his department. As a Specialist he leads public presentations and educates the community about the importance of recycling. He also organizes events, which includes doing the scheduling and all the logistical planning.

Since joining the Corps Nick has also been able to rent an apartment, purchase a vehicle, and use some of his earnings from the Corps to get Lasik surgery to improve his vision, a problem he has had since he was 4. Sequoia Community Corps Staff say that Nick has also built up his self-esteem, and serves as an excellent example for his fellow corpsmembers with perfect attendance and a positive attitude.

Nick talks to his peers about his college experience and how education is making a difference in his life. He has inspired 3 others to enroll in college courses and has served as a mentor to help them go through the enrollment process.

Beyond these important contributions and accomplishments, Nick is a leader and often the voice of the corpsmembers in staff events and meetings. He has learned how to voice his opinion in situations that may be intimidating.

As for his future, Nick plans to finish his degree in psychology and hopes to get a Master’s Degree. He’s never been outside of California, and looks forward to attending The Corps Network’s National Conference in Washington, D.C. as well as traveling more in the future.