From Left to Right, Black Voice News Executive Editor Stephanie Williams, Publisher Paulette Brown-Hinds, California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Mapping Black California Project Director Candice Mays meet at the Inland Empire Community Foundation. Brown-Hinds volunteers her time as Chair of the IECF Board of Directors.
From Left to Right, Black Voice News Executive Editor Stephanie Williams, Publisher Paulette Brown-Hinds, California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Mapping Black California Project Director Candice Mays meet at the Inland Empire Community Foundation. Brown-Hinds volunteers her time as Chair of the IECF Board of Directors. Credit: blackvoicenews.com

S. E. Williams

As 2022 comes to an end, we close the book on the year that was and welcome 2023 with new resolutions, fresh optimism and great expectations. Looking to the future it is easy to forget that time is an illusion and life is a continuum connecting one generation to another, one historical event to the next in the seamless flow of forever.

That being said, it is still exciting to know that if we choose, we can start 2023 with a fresh outlook while simultaneously embracing new opportunities to make a difference in our own lives, in our interactions with  those around us and how we choose to contribute to our communities and the world. 

(L) Ruth Escorcia, President of National Association of Hispanic Real Estate  Professionals. (NAHREP) and (R) Black Voice News Director of Revenue and Audience Engagement Christen Irving during a community fundraising event, Christen Irving. (source: blackvoicenews.com).

I often wonder how different, how much better our communities would be if each of us could devote just a couple of hours each week to making a difference. 

I know it is easy to feel generous and give during the holiday season, but what about the rest of the year? The needs we observe this time of year exist throughout the next and there are so many ways to serve.

Just find something you are passionate about and get involved. There are almost as many ways to volunteer as there are people to do so and you can dedicate as much or as little time as you can spare.

Two of the three interactive maps mounted on display as part of the new Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California’s (CRIISC) “Still I Rise: The Black IE Fight for Justice” Exhibition in downtown Riverside. The story maps use sound and video to help visitors learn about waves of the Great Migration and local civil rights leaders advocating for equity in housing, education, jobs, leisure, and politics. The story maps were sponsored by the Riverside African American Historical Society (RAAHS) and created by a team of volunteers representing Black Voice News, Mapping Black California, University of California Riverside and the University of Redlands. (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News Newsroom / CatchLight Loca, October 20,2022).

Whether it’s working with seniors, or youth, advocating for the environment or feeding the homeless, supporting the arts or a local politician, there are programs where you can volunteer from the comfort of your home to call an older adult who is living alone once a week for about 30 minutes.

Experts agree that volunteering has as many, possibly more, benefits for the volunteer as it does for the cause(s) they choose to serve.

Research has shown that volunteering enhances your self-confidence, self-esteem, and satisfaction with life. It can help combat depression, help you stay physically healthy, provide a sense of purpose and even teach valuable skills. Equally as important, it can also provide opportunities to establish and nurture new and existing relationships. 

(L to R) Miguel Santana, Weingart Foundation CEO;  Jesse Melger, Inland Empire Community Foundation (IECF) Board member and CIELO Fund Founding Chair; Michelle Decker, IECF President/CEO; and Paulette Brown-Hinds, IECF Board chair and President/Publisher Voice Media Venture, at the launch of the CIELO Fund in Riverside. (source: iegives.org).

As the inland region continues to evolve and expand its multi-cultural, multi-racial majority, what better way to build a caring and cohesive community than to be an active participant in creating the type of supportive community we desire? 

There are hundreds of volunteers working across the region making a difference every day, yet those hundreds could easily be thousands. Consider volunteering yourself or as a family, it’s a wonderful way of teaching your children to give back. Volunteering is also another way to transmit values and because children learn by observing, it is highly probable they will model this behavior. 

Explore local nonprofits and cultural organizations, schools, faith-based institutions, nearby hospitals, or other community based organizations. There is room and opportunities for everyone to get involved in something they are passionate about. 

Let 2023 be the year you got involved and do your part to help make a difference.

Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.

Happy New Year and “Thank you” for helping Black Voice News and the IE Voice “Keep it Real” .

S.E. Williams

Stephanie Williams is executive editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News. A longtime champion for civil rights and social justice in all its forms, she is also an advocate for government transparency and committed to ferreting out and exposing government corruption. Over the years Stephanie has reported for other publications in the inland region and Los Angeles and received awards from the California News Publishers Association for her investigative reporting and Ethnic Media Services for her weekly column, Keeping it Real. She also served as a Health Journalism Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. Contact Stephanie with tips, comments. or concerns at myopinion@ievoice.com.