Students at California State University, Northridge spent their first Saturday of the 2015 fall semester making a huge difference on campus and around the community.
Freshmen took part in CSUN’s first-ever Matadors Day of Service, which consisted of several projects to help clean up the campus and the neighborhoods surrounding the university.
“I wanted to come out and help the community,” CSUN freshman Christian Marroquin said. “This gave me a sense of cohesion with the community and the other students. It’s an honor to be a part of what hopefully will be a longstanding tradition at CSUN.”
Local community member Don Larson, who was instrumental in the planning and development of the event, hopes to make Matadors Day of Service a yearly event, as well as having several smaller projects throughout the year.
“The community needs this,” Larson said. “We need to win [the community’s] support. This was a way to make a bridge between the real neighbors of Northridge and [CSUN].”
Larson’s volunteer organization, Northridge Sparkle, was one of many key partners responsible for making the project happen.
After enjoying a light breakfast on the campus’ Bayramian Lawn, 24 teams — each consisting of freshmen and volunteer leaders — began the project with shovels, brooms and rakes in hand.
While some teams scattered around the CSUN campus picking up trash and cigarette butts, others fanned out to the east, west and south side of the community to remove weeds and rid the local neighborhoods of litter.
“Every freshman should be a part [of this event],” Associated Students President Jorge Reyes said. “Being able to interact with the community that CSUN surrounds is a great part of being a Matador.”
CSUN freshman Nicole Lombardo said the project helped her feel more connected to the surrounding neighborhoods and more involved on campus.
“We were able to talk to a few neighbors while we were cleaning up, so it was really cool to be able to get to know more people outside of class,” Lombardo said.
Matadors Day of Service was a collaborative effort led by Unified We Serve and CSUN’s Department of Government and Community Relations. City of Los Angeles Councilmember Mitchell Englander presented Unified We Serve with a certificate of recognition for their efforts.
“Receiving this award was amazing,” said Cristina Navarro, events assistant for Unified We Serve. “To get recognition for the work we are doing for the community was a really great feeling.”
Other partners in the project included the Northridge Chamber of Commerce, the three Northridge neighborhood councils, CSUN’s Associated Students, the University Student Union, CSUN Athletics and Student Housing and Conference Services.
“The inaugural Matadors Day of Service was a testament to CSUN’s commitment to our community and the power of collaboration,” said Francesca Vega, director of CSUN government and community relations. “We’re all looking forward to next year!”