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Answering the call

Hundreds of Athenians turn out for the Mount's 2017 Invitation to Serve.

November 5, 2017

On Nov. 4, 2017, hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alums and friends of Mount Saint Mary’s University answered President Ann McElaney-Johnson’s “Invitation to Serve” — a day solely dedicated to giving back to the community.

This year marked the 13th anniversary of this event, and the scope of service continues to grow. In addition to volunteering at L.A.-based community nonprofits, out-of-town alums expanded this year’s reach, hosting service groups at satellite sites in Orange County, San Francisco, San Jose, and Phoenix.

“The President’s Invitation to Serve is special because it enables members of the Mount community to come together to carry on the tradition of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet to ‘serve the dear neighbor without distinction,’” says Kimberly Terrill, director of community engagement. “Together, the Mount community makes a meaningful difference in the lives of the people of Los Angeles and around the world.”

View an album of photos on Mount Saint Mary’s Facebook page. And read on to learn how this year’s event made a considerable impact on local and global communities:

Heal the Bay. Volunteers collected about 20 pounds of trash in the section of Santa Monica Beach that was adopted by the University.

South LA Animal Shelter. Athenians cleaned 120 kennels to provide safe, hygienic and comfortable homes for animals during their stay.

Rise Against Hunger. Volunteers sorted 12,050 meals, including rice, vitamins and dry ingredients, which will be shipped to different communities worldwide and help feed thousands of families.

Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Volunteers sorted and packed thousands of pounds of produce and prepared it for the food pantry where members of the community in need can go and access fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables.

Martin de Porres House of Hospitality (San Francisco). This Catholic soup kitchen operates a free restaurant called Martin's, which serves meals every day of the week. Athenians pitched in by serving food, washing dishes, bussing dishes and spending time with the guests.

Sacred Heart (San Jose). At Sacred Heart’s food pantry and clothes closet, volunteers assisted with the distribution of food, clothes and other essential items.

Society of St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store. More sorting and organization of donations!

A Place Called Home. Invite to Serve participants helped with a variety of projects for this nonprofit that works with youth in need to provide them with a safe environment and programs in education, arts and wellness.

Alexandria House. At this transitional home that provides safe and secure housing for women and children in the process of moving from emergency shelter to permanent housing, volunteers helped with the organization of donations, gardening and light repairs.

Mary’s Food Bank Alliance (Arizona). Alums helped sort and pack emergency food packets for those in need for this organization that distributes 250,000 meals per day.

WHW (Women Helping Women). Athenians worked with job seekers one-on-one, serving as mock interviewers and as professional assistants, helping clients select professional attire and accessories — and, most importantly, providing support and encouragement as they prepare for interviews and new beginnings.

Alums expand the scope of event
Dedicated to their alma mater, 100 proud Mount alums — 50 in Los Angeles and 50 at the satellite locations — also participated this year.

“The President’s Invitation to Serve is a tremendous opportunity for our alum community to connect with each other while also supporting a wonderful cause in their communities,” says Kate Fergusson, director of alumnae relations and volunteer engagement at Mount Saint Mary’s. “We encourage all of our alums to participate in this special University tradition that honors the legacy and tradition of our founders.”

Danielle Batol Steele ’08 participated in this year’s event as a volunteer at St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance in Phoenix. She hosted this inaugural satellite event in Arizona and looks forward to making it a tradition associated with the Invitation to Serve moving forward.

“I'm so grateful and thrilled to have had the opportunity to meet and reconnect with fellow Mount alumnae who now live in the Phoenix area, especially while partaking in the 13th Annual President's Invitation to Serve,” Steele says. “The alumnae who participated graduated between five and 30-plus years ago, which goes to show that serving our community spans generations and continues over a lifetime.”

For those interested in participating in the 2018 Invitation to Serve, stay tuned!