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Among the nearly 140 students, faculty, alums and staff who answered the President's Invitation to Serve were these Athenians volunteering with Heal The Bay at Santa Monica Beach.

President's 'Invite to Serve' sends volunteers across L.A.

Nearly 140 students, faculty, staff, alumnae and friends of Mount Saint Mary’s University joined President Ann McElaney-Johnson in volunteering at seven Los Angeles area community organizations during the Mount’s annual “President’s Invitation to Serve” held Saturday, April 2. The event again reached capacity in the number of volunteers it could accommodate.  

Established in 2007, the event commemorates the community service tradition of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. During the past decade, the event has supported and served 14 local nonprofit and community organizations, many of them multiple times.

Volunteer activities included:

Sorting and packing food for distribution by the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and Stop Hunger Now;

Gardening, cleaning and special event assistance at Alexandria House, a transitional home for women and children;

Helping manage inventory at a boutique operated by the Downtown Women’s Center, which supports homeless women on Los Angeles’ Skid Row;

Participating in a Heal the Bay beach cleanup on Santa Monica Beach;

Improving the outdoor learning environment at Franklin D. Lanterman High School, a special education placement high school; and

Sorting donations at a local thrift store operated by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which serves children, families and the homeless in the greater Los Angeles area.

“I had a great experience,” said Laura Nario ‘19. The first-year student was among six Mount students assigned to a Heal the Bay clean-up crew working a section near the famous Santa Monica Pier. “I felt like my small action made a big difference on what turned out to be a huge job. Count me in for next year!”

Alumna Brittney Plascencia-Saldana ‘12, now assistant director of Student Programming and Commuter Services, marked her fourth year with the event and also volunteered with Heal the Bay. “Invitation to Serve has always been an eye-opening experience, regardless of the nonprofit organization you’re supporting. It may take only a few hours, but you walk away with the tremendous feeling that you and your fellow volunteers have made a difference to hundreds, if not thousands, of Angelenos.”

Anne Rigone, an instructor in the Business Administration program, joined two dozen other Mount volunteers, including President McElaney-Johnson, in setting a new Mount record bagging more than 15,000 pounds of dry food goods for shipment by Stop Hunger Now. The previous record was 10,000 pounds. The food will be distributed to areas of need throughout the U.S. and around the world.

“Working with other people from the Mount, many you may not have known before, you were able to build a sense of community in realizing that what you were doing mattered and that it benefitted others,” said Rigone, who has volunteered for the past five years.

The event was sponsored by the Office of the President, Alumnae Relations, Campus Ministry and Community Engagement, which also matches students with local volunteer opportunities on an individual basis. For volunteer information, contact Kim Terrill, director of Community Engagement, at 213-477-2662 or

Next year’s President’s Invitation to Serve is scheduled for March 25, 2017.

For a look at some of the scenes from the 2016 President’s Invitation to Serve, visit the Mount’s Facebook page and Instagram account.


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