It was Martin Luther King Day and Vicki Brown was watching about 20 University of La Verne students hoe weeds, clear brush and do other tedious tasks on a hilltop that is part of her property above her home in the Glendora foothills, not far from the origin of the Colby fire.
“Just a few days after that destructive fire was started by three careless young men, here we have young people giving us their time to help turn a barren piece of land into a place where we can grow food to feed the needy,” Brown said.
Vicki is the CEO and founder of Sowing Seeds for Life, a non-profit organization that provides food and services to some 6,000 needy people per month. Where the students were working is where she is planning to have small grove of orange trees, an organic garden and a hydroponic greenhouse in which vegetables and herb crops are grown without the use of soil.
The ULV students were there as part of the university’s annual “MLK Day of Community Service,” started three years ago by university chaplain Zandra Wagoner and now being coordinated by Marisol Morales, the director of civic and community engagement. The program, funded by the school, has grown each year.
This year it involved nearly 300 students doing volunteer work for various charities and senior citizen facilities in the East San Gabriel Valley. Not all of the students are currently enrolled. For example, civically minded Monique Avila completed her undergraduate studies in 2008 and her graduate students in 2011 but continues to sign up for the MKL Day of Community Service. She was among those working at Vicki’s home.
Six rented buses and other vehicles transported the students to 17 sites to help in any way they could. The students were divided up into groups, with at least one supervisor with each group.
Sowing Seeds for Life had two those 17 sites – charity headquarters at DPI Labs at 1350 Arrow Highway in La Verne and Vicki’s home in Glendora. Vicki is also CEO and president of DPI Labs, an aerospace company that manufactures parts and instruments for the inside of private and commercial jets.
While one group of students worked at Vicki’s home, another group was at DPI Labs. Supervising the group at Vicki’s home was ULV Provost Jonathan Reed, who formerly was the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and his wife Annette. Supervising the group at DPI was Diane Anchundia, ULV’s director of financial aid. Her group reorganized food and clothing and any other things that will be distributed at Sowing Seeds for Life’s twice-a-month food pantries and elsewhere. The food pantries are held the first and third Wednesday of every month.
Sowing Seeds for Life has been around since 2007, and its relationship with the University of La Verne, as well as other local schools and institutions, has been extremely beneficial. In August of 2012, it was another group of ULV students who helped dismantle a $35,000 hydroponic greenhouse at a donor’s home in Covina and transport the pieces to Glendora.
For their work on Martin Luther King Day, the students, besides getting the satisfaction of doing something good, get a box lunch and a T-shirt inscribed with the words, “What are you doing for others?”
It’s a good question, one that many University of La Verne students can answer proudly.