HE’S ONLY BEEN ON board for a short time as the USC department of public safety’s representative to the neighborhood safety program Kid Watch. But Lt. Hugh E. Mears already has embraced his duties with enthusiasm.
Mears has attended spring training sessions at Norwood Street, Vermont Avenue and L. B. Weemes elementary schools, and has taken part in the annual Kid Watch summer picnic at USC. He also recently co-chaired his first USC Family of Schools Safety Task Force committee meeting along with program partners from the Los Angeles Police Department/Southwest Division and the Los Angeles Unified School District police force.
“Kid Watch, which is funded by a USC Neighborhood Outreach grant, is a great example of USC’s commitment to the neighborhoods that surround our campus,” said Mears. “Contributions that we make as faculty and staff to the USC Good Neighbors Campaign make it possible. It is something we can all be proud of as members of the Trojan Family.”
KID WATCH has been funded by monies raised through USC Good Neighbors Campaign since it was founded in 1996. It was initially created to help keep children safe in the University Park area.
The program recruits neighborhood volunteers to watch over local children as they walk to and from school and home and help to report crimes against them. The program, which began with 26 volunteer members, now includes more than 800. It has received local, national and international recognition, and has been adopted city wide in Los Angeles. The city attorney’s office is using the model to establish new Kid Watch programs, and 14 have been started at elementary schools over the last year and a half.
“This program is successful because the funding it receives from USC allows us to keep our volunteer members trained and outfitted in their distinct yellow T-shirts and to conduct recruitment efforts throughout the year,” said Kid Watch coordinator, Peggy Hentschke. “We also keep volunteers motivated by hosting special events in their honor.”
AND AT THE HEALTH Sciences Campus, another program funded through the Good Neighbors Campaign is making an impact on neighborhood students. A partnership between the USC School of Pharmacy and the I Have a Dream Foundation–Los Angeles (IHAD– LA) provides academic tutoring, mentoring, and cultural and enrichment programs to more than 148 second-graders at Murchison Street Elementary School.
The students, called “dreamers,” took part in a six-week summer program practicing language arts skills and participating in a variety of art activities for up to four hours a day. Field trips included excursions to the Long Beach Aquarium, the Watts Towers, the IMAX theater and the public library, where each child received a library card and was able to check out books.
“Many of the [entering] second- graders were struggling with their reading and writing skills and were in danger of repeating the first grade,” said Jennifer Watson, IHAD–LA project sponsor and executive director of development in the USC School of Pharmacy.
“This was the focus of the summer school program, along with several terrific cultural experiences and daily art instruction,” Watson said.
“It is truly inspiring to see that USC employees contribute a portion of their income to encourage neighborhood advancement. We look forward to collaborating with USC faculty and staff on future programs to benefit our students,” said Rick Greenthal, executive director of IHAD-LA.
THE USC GOOD Neighbors Campaign runs through Oct. 31. Donations are tax deductible and USC employees can contribute through lump sum
contributions for the year or through monthly payroll deductions. Contributors can also choose to support the United Way of Greater Los Angeles
or a nonprofit agency or program as designated through United Way.