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Working Toward a Better Community

north hagerby Eddie North-Hager
Working Toward a Better Community
Photo: Councilman Bernard Parks and USC Good Neighbors Campaign director Carolina Castillo, right, honor Jennifer Holtzman for her volunteer work.

The Community Service Awards recently recognized more than 30 people for their exemplary volunteer work.

Los Angeles Councilman Bernard Parks was among the hundreds at Town & Gown who appeared at the annual dinner hosted by USC College, USC Government and Community Relations and the USC Division of Student Affairs.

“We are here tonight to honor students, staff and faculty members, alumni and community volunteers – all members of the USC Trojan Family,” said Martha Harris, senior vice president of USC University Relations.

Good Neighbors Awards

� Pillar of Community Award

For the past three years, USC has named at least one person a Pillar of the Community. For their service, USC installs a special bronze plaque along the Wall of Troy that rings the University Park campus. This year, Thomas Sayles, vice president of USC Government and Community Relations, gave the honor to Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker for more than two decades’ of service as president of the Ward Economic Development Corp. The corporation has developed more than 277 units of affordable housing, including the Rosa Parks Villas for senior citizens, as part of the Crenshaw Gateway project.

“For all of us in community development, we realize it’s a long journey,” Dupont-Walker said. “So it’s unusual for us to have the opportunity to see the benefits. For me, seeing the neighborhood change is worth everything. The USC administration and President [Steven B.] Sample took their word seriously and were committed in following through on their commitment. It doesn’t always happen with institutions.”

� Community Resident Award

Juan Romero prepares Boyle Heights youth for employment for the city of Los Angeles, and he owns Primera Taza Coffee Shop in the neighborhood by the USC Health Sciences campus. He hosts community group meetings free of charge, donating coffee and pastries for events and fundraisers.

While she was a student at Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School, Julianne Burg worked for the Norman Topping Scholars Program, was a community volunteer and was part of the L.A. Police Explorers program.

� Non-Resident Volunteer Awards

A member of the Ahmanson Senior Citizen Center, Mary Patterson also is a volunteer coordinator for the video exercise class and the Walking Club. She serves as a board member on the center’s Community Council and she is a stroke survivor.

Jacqueline Barrios is a junior honors English teacher for the USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative, teaching students who live around the University Park campus. She helped create a new mentoring program linking the initiative and the Joint Educational Project.

Instead of just patrolling, police officer Don Norek has become part of the Norwood Street Elementary School community by volunteering in Norwood’s safety valet program, the health fair and the USC Kid Watch picnic.

� Faculty/Staff Volunteer Awards

Steven Chen, an associate professor at the USC School of Pharmacy, practices in safety net clinics around the L.A. area, caring for the poor and homeless, occasionally making house calls.

Jennifer Holtzman, an assistant professor at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, is a force behind the USC Neighborhood Mobile Dental Van. The program provides valuable training for USC dental students as well as care for thousands of children.

�Alumni Volunteer Award

Shin Ja Kim, a USC alum who came to the United States in 1979, volunteers as a piano accompanist for area students who perform in concerts. She converted her home to provide afterschool and music education programs.

USC alum Judy Rosenberg has been instrumental in the Witness to a Dream Choir project at the Foshay Learning Center. The choir, which has performed throughout California over the past 12 years, has been represented by 14 members at USC. She established the Friends of Foshay Group, which each year helps its robotics team travel across the country.

Student Volunteer Awards

� Extraordinary Community Service Award

Erica Edwards runs an afterschool program, teaches a weekly dance class and spends 20 hours a week as a tutor. Over the next two years, she will serve as a member of Teach for America.

� Outstanding Volunteer Award

Abhinay Jhaveri, an international student from India, taught geology at John Mack Elementary and French at St. Vincent School. He was a reading tutor at
the 32nd Street/USC Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School who has traveled to the Navajo Nation and Orcas Island during Alternative Spring Break.

Sara Osias led 30 children who painted a community mural. She also mentored and tutored students and was a counselor for Troy Camp. She spent her spring break helping others in Costa Rica.

� Barbara Seaver Gardner Award

Kelley Lowe has taught Chinese history and culture to first and second graders at the First Chinese Baptist Church and led college admission workshops for Chicanos for Progressive Education. She also supervises the student staff of the Joint Educational Project.

Nicole Sharma became an advocate for the homeless as founder of the USC Street Voice Organization and as publisher of an on-campus newspaper. She also runs the USC Literacy Project at local schools.

� Desiree Benson Award

After spending nearly every day volunteering at A Community Place, Elizabeth Sophy now serves as co-director of the organization that supports the homeless with meals, transportation assistance and job placement services. She also traveled to Honduras with Global Medical Brigades.

Angelica Sabado Juarez was supposed to support the arts as a tutor of the K-4th grade students at the Global Education Academy. Instead she took the initiative to bring dictionaries into the classroom because she saw a need for literacy and math.

� USC Student Organization Volunteerism Award

ProPel works with local high school students at the Bresee Foundation to educate high school students about their options after graduation.

� Grace Ford Salvatori Community Service Scholarship

This honor goes to USC College for outstanding community service, academic performance and civic leadership: Travis Glynn, Susan Lee, Joseph Li, Nannapas Phawanaphon and Elizabeth Sophy.

� Student Volunteer Award

The award recognizes students who have done outstanding work for community service programs: Siu Hung Chow, Elizabeth Gustafson, Megan Jimenez, Michelle Mary Lee and Greg Woodburn.