April 15 was a special day at USC’s Town and Gown where the 2003 USC Community Service banquet was held. In kicking the evening off, Michael L. Jackson, vice president for USC Student Affairs, said, “This annual event salutes outstanding volunteers from the university and community. We are here to honor students, staff and faculty members, alumni and community volunteers – all members of the USC Trojan family – who are strengthening our campus neighborhoods through their volunteer efforts.”
Among the faculty and staff, alumni, community members and non-residents honored were:
• Jeanette La Vere, education outreach coordinator, USC Fisher Gallery: La Vere’s job title includes community outreach, but she always puts forth extra effort. She consistently contributes personal time and creativity to make art accessible to the children and the adults of the community through programs like Art in the Village. Through this program, La Vere works with the USC Family of Schools to encourage children to create and submit their artwork. Then she and her team create professional exhibits at the University Village food court, complete with a reception, certificates and prizes for the students and their families. And she is frequently called upon to provide arts and crafts projects at Kid Watch events, working nights and weekends with grace under pressure that includes large groups of children and minimal assistance or supplies.
• Melvin F. Baron, associate professor of clinical pharmacy, assistant dean for programmatic advancement, USC School of Pharmacy: Baron is a dedicated, community-minded USC alum and faculty member. As co-director of the PharmD/MBA Program, he has infused his local community devotion and expertise into new generations of pharmacy professionals. In particular, he uses a unique tool – the fotonovela (see story, page 5) – to educate Hispanic adult females in East L.A. about how adequate folic acid intake before and during early pregnancy can reduce certain kinds of birth defects.
• Stephen Edward Bucher, director, USC Engineering Writing Program: Bucher has volunteered countless hours to harness the brain power of more than 1,300 engineering students in less than five years. He and his students provide the “oomph” behind a project-based service learning program in the Engineering Writing Program that helps a variety of organizations including homeless shelters, elementary schools, local churches, youth centers, mental health facilities and environmental advocacy groups. These local organizations have implemented many of the students’ ideas, and have even captured grants ranging from $5,000 to $800,000.
• Karen Murphy, alumnus, volunteer, Peace Center: Murphy completed her master’s degree in music conducting from USC and still volunteers as a Peace Center associate at the United University Church, working with the year-round children’s program Peace Trek L.A. Every Saturday, neighborhood children and their families are introduced to a curriculum that includes conflict resolution, multicultural sensitivity and music and arts education, opening the doors of musical experiences, on campus and away, to the children and parents of Peace Trek L.A.
• Peggy Hentschke, resident, interim coordinator, Kid Watch executive director for ECCLA: For the past few years, this neighborhood resident has been interim coordinator of the Kid Watch Program – an award-winning program that is closely associated with USC and a program increasingly copied nationally. Hentschke took on this duty at a time when key founding leaders of Kid Watch began moving on. She puts in nearly full-time work on Kid Watch in addition to her ongoing role as executive director of Education Consortium of Central Los Angeles.
• P. Diane Kenney, Campus Pastor, United Ministry at USC: Kenney never does anything halfway. Diversity, hunger and homeless issues, equality awareness and more are all areas that have received her creativity and compassion above and beyond the call of her stated role as campus minister for United Ministry at USC. She has been encouraging and provoking students to become involved in volunteer and service projects for nearly 20 years. Students, staff, faculty and neighbors of all ages are all beneficiaries of her way of approaching the bigger picture of peace and justice, and how local actions empower us all.