September 16, 2009
The Los Angeles City Council has officially designated Sept. 22 as UCLA Volunteer Day.
On Friday, Sept. 11, Antoinette Mongelli, executive director of the UCLA Volunteer Center, and David Bloome, campaign director of the center and chief organizer of Volunteer Day, were on hand to receive a proclamation from city council members. Accompanying them were Keith Parker, assistant vice chancellor, and Felicia Brannon, executive director, both from Government and Community Relations at UCLA.
Volunteering has been a longstanding tradition at UCLA, Mongelli told city council members. “UCLA has sent students, staff and faculty volunteers all over the world. Students have held walkathons, dance marathons and blood drives.
“There is a UCLA chapter of Habitat for Humanity. The nationally known Project DARE was established at UCLA in 1969. We believe it is important as a public university to take our citizenship seriously,” she said. “The need to be engaged in the city where we work, study and live is a necessary part of a vital democracy.”
In fact, she noted, many of the city’s current elected officials started their public service careers while volunteering at UCLA, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Controller Wendy Greuel, Council members Paul Koretz, Ed Reyes, Jose Huizar and Council President Eric Garcetti, who attended the then-University Elementary School.
Reyes recalled riding the bus as a youngster from the Eastside to Westwood and noticing how beautiful the campus looked, compared to other parts of the city. “This shows that UCLA is not just about Westwood. It’s about the whole city. … UCLA is a public school, supported by taxes that come from our own wallets. And it gives back time and time again. It’s making this city great. Volunteers will go out with pride to show that UCLA is about the whole city, the whole region, indeed, the whole nation.”
Councilman Koretz reminisced about his student days in Westwood.
“As a proud UCLA graduate myself, I have great memories of volunteering as a student in political, social and humanitarian causes,” said Koretz. “Those efforts touched my heart,” and imbued him with the spirit of civic involvement.
Now his daughter, Rachel, an incoming UCLA freshman, will have that same chance to experience this on Volunteer Day.
“I’m thrilled that she and her fellow students will have this great opportunity,” Koretz said.