Honoring Those Who Give

Honoring Those Who Give

Empire College paralegal student Andrea Ruiz receives White House recognition

As we celebrate the holiday season, we are grateful to the Empire College students, alumni, faculty and staff who bring the joy of service and the gift of their education to the community and their families. A small sampling of the gifts they have given this year include:

  • Juris Doctor law students Susannah Edwards and Kharman Aidun were honored at the annual Sonoma County Bar Association’s Pro Bono Awards Luncheon for their dedication, leadership, and compassion in providing assistance and care to the senior and disabled citizens of the Redwood Empire as students and volunteers in the Elder and Disability Law Clinics. Susannah’s tenacity in pursuing a recovery for a client from their homeowner’s insurance resulted in a significant payment. Her instinct was outstanding, and she demonstrated an ability to spot red flags that many would not have noticed. Similarly, Professor Adam Brown stated that Kharman "immediately dove into her case, developed a strong rapport with her client, and adeptly organized and presented her case.”
  • Medical assisting faculty and student volunteers provided free health services to thousands of people this year at employee wellness, health fairs, and clinics. There is rarely a month that goes by during which their giving hearts and clinical skills are not requested by a community member. This year their outreach was held at homeless shelters, elementary schools, American Heart Association events, a variety of local businesses, on campus, and more. 
  • Paralegal student  Andrea Ruiz volunteered her time two days a week for over a year as a translator in the Small Claims Advisory Clinic. In the legal context, a translator must understand the legal issues and nuances as there often is not a direct translation for legal concepts. In July 2016 she was recognized as the first Empire College student to receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a certificate and signed letter from President Obama along with a pin signifying her contribution at the Gold Award level for more than 250 service hours.
  • For the seventh consecutive year, Empire College accounting students assisted United Way of the Wine Country in delivering free income tax services to low-to-moderate income residents through the Earn it! Keep It! Save It! Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. They prepared more than 1,100 returns at the site they host on campus.
  • As part of the Empire curriculum, business and hospitality students plan and execute an event to benefit a student-chosen nonprofit organization. This year's Potluck Chef Showdown - "A Taste of Winter" raised $2,700 for Senior Advocacy Services, an organizations that advocates for the rights and dignity of those experiencing challenges in the long-term care setting.  
  • Information technology alum Chris Sutton donated 19 systems on behalf of his company, Fusion Technology Solutions. So one Friday morning, 10 IT students and 4 of Empire’s IT instructors tested the hardware on the CPUs and then uninstalled all software, bringing the systems back to their original state so that they could be donated to schools and individuals.

Tech student Chris Rivera beautifully summarized the collective spirit of Empire's volunteers: “Doing something good and helping folks less fortunate is very rewarding.”

We wish our Empire community a healthy and very happy New Year.