Throughout April, the Bakersfield News Observer will continue to feature stories contributed by local nonprofits participating in the Give Big Kern online fundraising campaign hosted by Kern Community Foundation.

Consider giving locally to the charities featured in the pages of the Bakersfield News Observer this week and through the end of the month. Simply go to givebigkern.org, use the search bar to find a nonprofit you care about, and give. The minimum donation is just $5. The Give Big Kern campaigns continues till May 4.

You Can Pledge Volunteer Hours, Too!

You can also pledge volunteer hours to the organization of your choice by using the menu at the top of the page on the Give Big Kern website and choosing the “Volunteering” option. Fill out a brief form online, choose the agency you would like to support through volunteering from the drop-down menu, and your contact information will be provided to them so they can get in touch with you when public health protocols allow. Since this week, April 18-24 is National Volunteer Week, this is a perfect opportunity for you to pledge volunteer hours to a nonprofit you feel passionate about For more information, write to us at info@kernfoundation.org.

Give Big Kern, an online fundraiser to support local nonprofits, lasts from April 4 to May 4. Just go to givebigkern.org, find a nonprofit you feel passionate about, and, as Mascot Billy the Give Big Goat likes to say, “Give B-I-I-I-G!”

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Bakersfield Angels

Ed Clark, left, says, “I volunteer as a mentor with Bakersfield Angels for the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of youth in my community.” With him is Robert Davis, a foster youth he mentors. (Photo courtesy of Bakersfield Angels)

By Denise Reynen, Director of Programs

May 4 is not only Give Big Kern, but also National Foster Care Day, an especially significant time of year for us at Bakersfield Angels. We are a local chapter of a national organization that wraps support around children, youth and families experiencing foster care. Last year was our inaugural year and partnering with Give Big Kern was incredibly successful: We raised over $62,000 with help from a generous matching donor.

This year our goal is twofold: to raise money to further our reach and impact, and more importantly, to rally our community around our mission to make a difference in the life of each child and youth experiencing foster care locally.

The reality is that many of the issues plaguing our county–homelessness, incarceration, sex trafficking, unemployment–are disproportionately populated with foster or formerly foster youth. Our programs help change the trajectory of the lives of the more than 2,000 children and youth in foster care in Kern County, thereby stemming the prevalence of these issues.

Our programs, launched in September of 2020, are already producing life-giving relationships for our volunteers as well as the children and families we serve. The Love Box program pairs local foster families with volunteers who are matched based on compatibility and needs. The Dare to Dream program is a one-on-one mentorship program for foster children and youth ages 11-24.

We are calling on our generous community to consider stepping up to make a difference. Not everyone is called to foster, and not everyone is called to adopt, but EVERYONE can make a difference in the life of a child.

Donate to us through givebigkern.org by searching for “angels.” To learn how to get involved with Bakersfield Angels, visit our website bakersfieldangels.org, Facebook @BFieldAngels, or Instagram @bakersfield_angels. E-mail us at info@bakersfieldangels.org.

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Bakersfield Center for Pastoral Counseling

The Bakersfield Center for Pastoral Counseling, an outreach ministry of the Free Anglican Church of Emmanuel USA, offers peer-led support groups that are “warm and inviting.” (Photo courtesy of Bakersfield Center for Pastoral Counseling)

By Sarah Drake, Executive Assistant

The Bakersfield Center for Pastoral Counseling is an outreach ministry of the Free Anglican Church of Emmanuel USA (FACE-USA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Originally founded in 2013 by Dr. Abraham David Parker in Phoenix, Arizona, FACE-USA operates in Kern County as the Free Anglican Diocese of California and is a member organization of the Worldwide Anglican Church in North America (WAC-NA).

At the Bakersfield Center, we provide free or low-cost pastoral, professional, and peer counseling services to Kern residents in need. Our pastoral counseling staff includes diaconal candidate Dr. Nicole Allen and our Center founder Dr. Abraham David Parker. Both pastoral counselors have received graduate training in either counseling psychology or pastoral psychotherapy, and Dr. Parker’s personal experience and pastoral expertise stretch back 17 years to his ordination in 2004.

The Center’s professional counseling services are facilitated by our Executive Director, Mesha Muwanga, LMFT. As a California-state Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Mesha offers professional counseling services to individuals, couples, and families, that seamlessly blend counseling theory together with biblical principles. Of course, Mesha and all the counselors on staff here at the Center gladly offer their services to all without discrimination!

Our Center prides itself as a safe space for Kern residents living with mental illness or emotional difficulties to care for each other through a variety of peer-led support groups including Emotions Anonymous and our National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Support Group which is held on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month. We also distribute bags of food to our Center clients challenged with food insecurity. In addition to our pastoral, professional, and pastoral counseling services, the Center also provides referrals to other agencies as needed for the benefit of the client. Help spread the word, donate, or sign up as a volunteer at GiveBigKern.org! Search for “pastoral.”

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Bakersfield Ivy Legacy Foundation

In this pre-COVID photo, students in Bakersfield Ivy Legacy Foundation’s Ascend Program came together to plant a vegetable garden in Downtown Bakersfield. (Photo courtesy of Bakersfield Ivy Legacy Foundation)

By Raquell Jones, President

The Bakersfield Ivy Legacy Foundation (BILF) is a proud supporter of the Give Big Kern fundraising campaign. This is an exciting opportunity for the BILF to partner together with the Bakersfield community to raise money to support our philanthropic targets: education, health awareness, environmental sustainability and other issues affecting the African American community.

We are an African American organization that is committed to helping our youth, especially young girls and women, to reach their full potential. We seek to extend the circle of support through educational forums, field trips, workshops and videos highlighting how our youth can prepare for college entry; also, we engage in projects with Dignity Health, the Kern High School District and other similar community and educational organizations, which help us touch the lives of over 500 students each year. Visit www.bakersfieldivylegacy.org for more information on all our programs, or email us at info@bakersfieldivylegacy.org

Every dollar that we raise together through the Give Big Kern fundraiser makes a 100% impact on our mission. Together we must elevate, empower, and embrace our community through education, health awareness, and economic and environmental sustainability. Donate to us by visiting givebigkern.org between now and May 4, then searching for “Ivy.” Thank you.

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Bakersfield Museum of Art


Students working during the Bakersfield Museum of Art (BMoA) Summer Art Camp. (Photo courtesy of the Bakersfield Museum of Art)

By Amy D. Smith, Executive Director

Bakersfield Museum of Art (BMoA) inspires and engages audiences through the exhibition and preservation of fine art, educational programs, community outreach, and special events. During our more than 60-year history, we have accessioned more than 350 works on paper, sculptures, photographs and paintings created by 20th and 21st century California artists. Additionally, as part of our mission, we provide arts education programs to more than 10,000 children annually through programs including Museum on the Move, Saturday Studio and ArtReach.

Like so many organizations, the COVID19 pandemic forced us to close our doors in March 2020. We wondered when we could return to normal operations, and how we could continue bringing visual arts experiences to our community. A social media campaign we launched, #bmoachalkyourwalk, told us that even though we were closed to the public, the public still needed BMoA.

To meet that need, we made several adjustments to our exhibits and events calendar.

· Created our Museum at Home initiative (bmoa.org/museumathome): a series of online essays, downloadable art projects, interviews, and podcast episodes, each sharing from our permanent collection and exhibits with our community.

· Transformed our 2020 Spring fundraiser, ARTMIX, into an online art exhibition with grab-and-go food and drink specials from local restaurants.

· Launched our first virtual exhibition featuring our Artworks Class of 2020, a group of16 gifted high school art students whose work was featured in an online BMoA exhibition.

· Partnered with Donahue Schriber and the Kern County Department of Public Health to produce our annual Via Arté Italian Street Painting Exhibition at The Marketplace in October 2020, complete with masks, attendance limits and social distancing.

We’re open to the public again, but the impact on our financial wellbeing remains. Our need for your support is greater than ever. Consider making a donation by visiting givebigkern.org between now and May 4, then searching for “bmoa.”