Community, Service, and Helping Others

Dennis Nef, Associate Provost

Since moving to Fresno more than 30 years ago, I have spent a couple of Saturday mornings each January with other members of my church pruning vines.  Then in the fall, we spend a couple of afternoons and a Saturday morning picking grapes from those vines and laying them on paper trays between the rows.

The raisins produced from this effort are used in Food Banks across the country and donated to other relief organizations both nationally and internationally. I’ve learned how to prune a Thompson Seedless grape vine, how to maintain the poles and wires in a raisin vineyard, and some basic raisin production processes. Those with whom I’ve worked over the years come to realize how productive our farmland is and how blessed we are to live here.

But the most important thing I’ve gained is empathy for farm workers who spend far more time in the vineyards. I know from experience how hard that work is, and I’m appreciative of it every time I consume raisins. Knowing that the raisins I’ve helped harvest are going to help those in need adds to the value I feel from serving.