The yr 2020 felt like a collection of unlucky occasions for most individuals in Fresno and the remainder of the nation. The COVID-19 pandemic, now in its tenth month, has turned life the other way up, modified societal norms and left the well being of total communities weak – each bodily and mentally.
On high of that, in the middle of this yr, Fresno County residents skilled an alarming storm of gun violence, dangerously unhealthy air from California fires, particularly the Creek Hearth this summer time, and a financial crisis that has crippled companies, employment stability, and in lots of circumstances, disadvantaged households of shelter and skill to afford their meals.
Nonetheless, there have been small rays of sunshine that broke by means of – neighborhood members who, regardless of their very own challenges, went out of their approach to give again. Meet 5 of the Fresno-area of us whose sacrifices brightened this yr.
A Huron hero
Dorian “Cuddie” Castro, 34, born in Huron – the small western Fresno County metropolis powered by migrant farm employees – moved to Fresno in 2013 to increase his artistry and community. Castro is a graphic designer, photographer and illustrator who labored because the graphic designer for the Fresno Grizzlies for six years – a job he misplaced as a result of pandemic.
“I wanted to maintain my creativity going and in addition pay my payments,” Castro mentioned.
In the summertime, the SayBruh crew mobilized to help the youngsters of native farm employees who’ve been severely impacted by coronavirus. Over a span of two weeks, the crew collected greater than 1,000 faculty provide objects – notebooks, graph paper, calculators, highlighters, white boards and headphones – and raised $2,706, an enormous assist for college students in Huron the place faculties have historically struggled with insufficient assets.
The group additionally teamed with Fresno Barrios Unidos to buy and ship faculty desks and about 400 faculty kits to Biola Elementary College, a rural Central Unified campus west of Fresno.
Castro mentioned he hopes to inspire individuals to turn out to be leaders throughout occasions of disaster and assist present for his or her neighborhood.
“The impacts of 2020 have been tough,” Castro mentioned. “Throughout monetary hardships, plenty of cities like Huron and others are impacted when the assets they depend on will not be out there.”
Sisters who give again
Sisters Geeta Dhugga, 35, and Roma Dhugga, 33, initially from Hayward, got here to Fresno for love after they married their husbands in 2014.
Following within the footsteps of their mother and father who personal an Indian bridal boutique and threading salon in Hayward, the sisters began their very own forehead bar enterprise – R & G Threading Bar at 7795 N. First St.
“We realized that Fresno was lacking a spot that not solely made you look good however really feel good,” Geeta Dhugga mentioned.
The sisters have saved their phrase about serving to individuals feel and appear good and are additionally making it a precedence to assist others by sponsoring neighborhood occasions and donating to native causes that profit youngsters and households.
“This yr was tough to do charity on a bigger scale because of being shut down for a number of months of the yr,” Geeta Dhugga mentioned.
Like many entrepreneurs in Fresno, their enterprise was hit arduous by the pandemic, however they pushed by means of, paying $12,000 in hire throughout the first shutdown with no revenue and and not using a Private Safety Program mortgage.
Nonetheless, the sisters did a money giveaway of $150 throughout the first shutdown in March and one other $200 in early December. Moreover, they made a donation to Camp Kesem – a Fresno State summer time camp which helps youngsters whose mother and father have most cancers.
The Dhuggas say they’re impressed by “Vand Chakna,” a vital pillar within the Sikh faith that encourages them to share what they’ve with others and serve their neighborhood.
Portray love throughout the town
Omar “Tremendous” Huerta, mural and tattoo artist, has turned his life round, due to artwork. Initially from Los Angeles, Huerta had a difficult childhood which resulted in his spending time in juvenile services in his early teenagers.
In early March, earlier than the raging pandemic that might quickly change the world, Huerta opened Ink Galleria, a tattoo store, at 3860 N. Vineyard Ave. in Fresno. He was intent on utilizing his creative methods to make a dwelling., regardless of the pandemic threatening his revenue.
Outdoors of the store, Huerta enjoys painting murals. He has accomplished murals in communities all through the town, just like the Selena tribute on Ventura Avenue and the Cesar Chavez tribute on C avenue in downtown Fresno.
This yr alone, Huerta accomplished 40 portraits of well-liked and provoking celebrities who handed away, similar to Nipsey Hustle, Vanessa Guillen, George Floyd, and Kobe and Gigi Bryant. He additionally honored native heroes, similar to 2-year-old Thaddeus Sran from Madera whose mother and father had been charged for his dying and Jose Luis Rivera, the “elotero” (avenue vendor) and household man who was gunned down in broad daylight.
Huerta additionally was the lead artist within the Black Lives Matter’s colourful avenue mural that befell exterior of Fresno Metropolis Corridor in the summertime.
Huerta mentioned he has devoted as a lot as 800 hours to murals this yr, most of which he has funded himself; solely 5 obtained funding from the neighborhood.
“I’ve discovered that murals have a loud voice that may cowl any story, encourage, and unite us as one,” he mentioned.
Huerta mentioned his 2021 objective is to convey to life extra murals throughout the Central Valley, from Sacramento to Bakersfield.
Supporting native distributors and eloteros
Whereas the neighborhood mourned the lack of Rivera by voicing anger and anguish on social media, Mario González, referred to as Roeski, turned to his artwork and graphic design to honor Rivera and different native distributors who’ve skilled violence.
González created an artwork piece depicting a conventional vendor cart with the phrases “Pray 4 us” written throughout. He made copies of the artwork and has offered 20 of them to this point, elevating $400.
With that cash, he bought 4 $100 present playing cards which he distributed to completely different avenue distributors. He says anybody who needs to accumulate the artwork for $20 every to assist avenue distributors can attain him by way of social media.
“Looking for an elotero if you want him is type of arduous,” González mentioned. “I’m simply attempting to assist out some households that may be going by means of it proper now.”