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All at HSC urged to give to Good Neighbors campaign

by Chrissie Castro

Think of a good neighbor and you might call to mind a friend who will keep an eye on the kids after school, share gardening advice or even watch over your house when you are away. In that same neighborly spirit, USC is committed to enhancing the communities that encircle its campuses.

Each year, usually in November, USC employees contribute to outreach and education programs for local neighborhoods and people through the Good Neighbors Program.

By giving a donation, Peter J. Katsufrakis, associate dean for student affairs, said, employees can assist in enhancing the surrounding community, “something that is going to benefit all of us.”

To help fund programs, employees are asked to contribute a monthly or one time donation. To participate, employees need only to fill out the registration form, enclose it in the gold envelope sent out to them, and give it to their department coordinator.

“I think that for those who out of the generosity of their souls give to charitable causes, this would be one that they should look at,” Katsufrakis said, explaining that he participates each year because he finds the goals to be consistent with his own. As the dean for student affairs, he said that he would like to see the medical students and others on campus involved with the immediate world around them. The more money the program has, the more creative the relationships can be, he said.

A mutually beneficial relationship between the university and the community is a thought that is echoed by Maria Lou Calanche, director of community outreach at the Health Sciences Campus (HSC).

“Part of our community outreach effort is to utilize and maximize USC health resources and make them available to the community,” she said. “We can do that through programs [and by] working with community groups.”

Calanche added that she feels strongly about the possibilities “to work the community into the research,” so that everyone benefits.

Both Calanche and Katsufrakis said they would like to see the medical school make try to match or exceed the level of employee participation from the University Park Campus.

And though traditionally, participation from the HSC has been lower, Katsufrakis said this may be due to the countless volunteer hours given by USC physicians each week to LAC+USC Medical Center.

“Unfortunately, the existing need around the Health Sciences Campus is so great that the volunteerism of physicians serving at the county is not enough,” Katsufrakis said. “Cash contributions are needed to sustain programs of learning and health in the community.”

This year, the cash goal of the drive for both campuses is $675,000, an amount 12 percent greater than last year. Though organizers say this is ambitious, they feel it is attainable, especially because the program has steadily increased since it began six years ago.

This year, USC Neighborhood Outreach Grants totaling $172,500 were given to eight programs surrounding the HSC. The programs include Mission Science, an after-school hands-on science workshop, and Expanding STARS ­ sharing the Power of Science with Neighborhood Youth. In addition, funding will strengthen the Reading is Healthy Program, which is run by nursing students.

Rose Washington, assistant vice president for civic and community relations, explained that the university incurs all administrative costs for the Good Neighbors Program allowing the full amount of the donations to be given directly to each program.

Washington said she feels that a donation, whatever its size, is a responsibility that all employees should feel compelled to give.

“If the community is thriving the university will continue to thrive.” said Washington.

All at HSC urged to give to Good Neighbors campaign

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