Last week the Oakhurst College Center was bustling with even more activity than usual as more than 40 vendors and organizations flocked to campus to be part of the third annual Community Unity Event.
"Each year, through Community Unity, more people find out about the programs we have to offer and the community resources that are available to them," said Vikki Piper, Oakhurst College Center coordinator. "We are very pleased to present this event to the community every year because it just seems to get better."
Jessica Carpenter, an Oakhurst College Center student who was volunteering at the event, had nothing but good things to say about it.
"I look forward to this every year," Carpenter said. "I've gone to a lot of festivals but this is just what the title says -- Community Unity."
Christopher Guillen, Associated Student Government president, said he was impressed with the support he saw for the Oakhurst/Madera college centers.
"It brings the community together and shows students that the community is behind them and to, in turn, support the community," Guillen said. "It also gives us an excuse to throw a party."
There were veterans' resources and information, school representatives Cal Works, student outreach, student government, Alpha Gamma Sigma, the science club, and financial aid. There were also Mountain Area vendors, service groups and other area colleges represented at the event. Plus, there were free hot dogs right off the grill and fresh popcorn, as well as music, workshops, games, and prize drawings.
"It's really impressive when you see the involvement and support of the community from different businesses and organizations in the Oakhurst area," said Ronald Nishinaka, board trustee for State Center Community College District." Being able to share information with students is important to promote education and opportunities at the Oakhurst site and community college district. I'm impressed with the enthusiasm."
Piper said the purpose of this event is to let the community know what the college has to offer.
"Although Oakhurst may be a small town, the Oakhurst campus has a lot to offer," Piper said. "There are many students who have told us that if it were not for the Oakhurst campus they never would have gone to college. I can't tell you how gratifying it is to know that we have made a difference in the lives of many students."
One of those students is Mikaelle Trayer.
"If there was no Oakhurst College I wouldn't be in college," she said.
Trayer has an 18-month-old and cares for her grandma. Combine that with high gas prices and Trayer says she couldn't afford to go to another college.
"I wanted to make life better for my son and me," Trayer said. "Vikki (Piper) and Lynne (Walke, college office assistant) have been such strong positive influences in my life since I got here."
Piper's influence has been felt by more than just the student population.
"I want to commend the leadership of Vikki," Nishinaka said. "She's done an outstanding job. She's the one that brings it all together and makes it happen."