California State University, Northridge faculty, staff, students and community members picked up brooms, rakes and shovels at the third annual Matadors Day of Service on Sept. 9 as part of the campus and neighborhood beautification effort.
The volunteer opportunity was a collaborative effort between CSUN’s Office of Government and Community Relations, Northridge Beautification Foundation and Unified We Serve, who designed it to enhance the community’s appeal and further connect the university with its neighbors.
For the first time ever, the event had an external sponsor in the Southern California Gas Company. David Meza, public affairs manager for SoCalGas, said he was impressed by CSUN students at Matadors Day of Service.
“The leadership demonstrated by our youth here today is incredible, I’ve never seen anything like it at any university,” Meza said. “We are simply happy to be part of an effort that ties community service, camaraderie and environmental stewardship.”
Maria Elizondo, activities coordinator for Unified We Serve, said that the initial goal was to make first-year students feel welcome and expose them to volunteerism.
“This was a program that was originally started in 2015 as an avenue for our incoming freshman class to create a sense of community here on campus,” Elizondo said. “The program is on its third year now and we have grown every year, and hope to continue to do so.”
The event has had a steady increase in volunteers since its first year. The first-ever Matadors Day of Service drew in about 350 volunteers and last year’s event gathered approximately 400 people. Over the last three years Matadors Day of Service has engaged more than 1,100 volunteers in service.
First-year student Karen Melendez said she attended Matadors Day of Service because she wanted to be a productive member of the community she is now a part of.
“I wanted to give back to my new family here at CSUN because whenever I need something, I know CSUN will have my back,” Melendez said. “I volunteered at the CSUN food pantry and I know that they will be there when I am short on food.”
CSUN Director of Government and Community Relations Francesca Vega said she has a big vision for the future of Matadors Day of Service.
“We want to expand this event to be of service to the entire San Fernando Valley,” Vega said. “We have the momentum and are building the capacity to take Matadors Day of Service to communities throughout the San Fernando Valley region.”
Unified We Serve and Government and Community Relations had partners on and off campus. Their on-campus partners included the Office of Student Involvement and Development, the Office of Student Housing and Conference Services, Associated Students, the University Student Union, the University Corporation and Alumni Relations.
Off-campus partners were the Northridge Beautification Foundation, the office of Los Angeles Councilmember Mitch Englander, local Neighborhood Councils (South, East, West), the Northridge Chamber of Commerce, Northridge Vision and the office of Assemblymember Matthew Debabneh.
Assemblymember Debabneh, who spoke to the student volunteers during the opening program, said that he was excited to be a part of Matadors Day of Service.
“To be in the Valley with so many CSUN students, faculty and alumni, and help contribute to making our community a better place to live, I’m all for that,” he said.
For more information on other volunteering opportunities in the future, visit the Matador Involvement Center website.