University of Southern California


Working with our neighbors to build a strong community

Health Sciences staff partner with local youth organization

Under the bright sun on another sweltering summer day in Boyle Heights, a team from the USC Health Sciences Campus Advancement and Development department took on a different perspective of philanthropy for the day. Their search for a community service project was answered by the Health Sciences Campus office of Community Partnerships under Civic Engagement, which coordinated volunteer opportunities at the Variety Boys and Girls Club and USC’s Hybrid High East Los Angeles.

Executive Director of HSC Community Partnerships, Zul Surani, said, “This was the first time we got a request like this. It was unusual for an entire department of 50 staff members within the university wanting to spend their morning in community service. Their selfless service helped extend the university’s reach and goodwill in the neighborhoods we serve.”

“It was a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community,” said Mike Andrulis, Director of Gift Planning. “Our role at USC Keck Medicine is to give back, to raise money for students, patients, and physicians so they can save people’s lives. If we get this opportunity to help a local boys and girls club and to make a difference in their day, in their studies, and their enrichment, then we thought it was a great idea.”

Growing up, many of the volunteers came from families that encouraged service, a significant factor in their career choices. Together they tidied areas around the Variety Boys and Girls Club that had been littered with trash left to fester in the heat, organized donations for the upcoming toy drive that serves 1200 neighborhood children, and helped out with some art projects.

David Carrera, Vice President of USC Health Sciences Development, has been committed to connecting with the community for years. In particular, he said, “The service that this community center provides this neighborhood is just absolutely priceless. You can’t put a value on how important this is. These kids need a place to run off steam, they need a place to be when they’re not at home or at school, in a safe place more importantly, in a place where they can be constructive and doing things that are going to help them succeed in life.”

The Variety Boys and Girls Club Interim Executive Director, Patricia Siquieros highly values her volunteers. She says, “Volunteers fill gaps where there are certain services that we’re unable to provide our kids. So for example, the USC team that came out here today, they’re helping us get ready for an event, they help enhance our programing. Volunteers are critical to our mission because they help our program staff enhance the services that we’re able to provide our members.”

Michael Horvat, Senior Director of Development, ultimately believes that we all receive more by giving, and that we should follow our passions when deciding where and how to give back. He said that community service impacts education, public safety, the environment, and health. “I’m a firm believer in that it [giving] can really change the world.”

By Melisa Acoba