Engagement Through Action

USD Parent Corps members work on a local project

USD Parent Corps ready and willing to serve others

Susan Hassett was determined to pull up a stubborn patch of tall, dry weeds in the front yard of Anayeli Zambrano and Raul Medina’s home in Barrio Logan. It only took a minute or so, but when she successfully uprooted and cleared it away, she treated it like a small victory. She jumped up, wiped her brow and expressed genuine happiness while working so hard to help others.

“This is going to be a success, I can already feel it,” said Hassett, the mother of two sons, both of whom are University of San Diego alumni. Hassett, a USD Parent Association Board member, is part of the USD Parent Corps, made up of parents of current students — some of whom are USD alumni themselves. She, along with her husband, John, flew in early from Boston to participate in the hands-on, one-day community service project, just days before attending their youngest son’s commencement ceremony.

Other volunteers included current students Austin Pavin, Shayna Mohammad and Shannon Merrill, and some USD employees, too. Together, they cleaned up the home’s front and back yards, spruced up the landscaping and painted much of the house and surrounding fences.

“This is an extension of the kind of philanthropy that these parents already do,” said Renda Quinn, director of USD’s Office of Parent Relations and 1986 alumna. “Seeing students out here, too, with their parents, shows me that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Our parents have modeled to their children the importance of community service work and helping others.”

Hassett brought her idea to the attention of current USD Parent Board co-presidents, Jim and Bonnie Trumbull, who live in Oregon. They liked it and began planning for the big day.

“This is a natural way for us to give back to the community,” Jim Trumbull said. “The university is service-centric and we felt this was a good way for us to have a role in doing some community outreach, let the community know that we care about them as much as they enjoy USD being part of the community.”

He and the other volunteers enjoyed rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty.

“Normally we sit in a boardroom, talk about the good we’re trying to do for others, such as making financial contributions to programs or contributing to student scholarships, but it can be a little sterile,” Trumbull said. “Here, we get to really dig in, work and immediately see the fruits of the labor. This is a deeply satisfying project.”

The group was grateful to San Diego resident and parent board member Sonny Thadani, father of USD student Shanelle Thadani, for taking charge of the project locally.

“Sonny has been a bulldog about this project from the start,” Trumbull said. “We thank him for all of the work he’s put into it.”

Thadani was humbled by the praise. He worked closely with the San Diego-based nonprofit Rebuilding Together to choose the house, where Zambrano and Medina have lived for four years, raising three children who range in age from 8 months old to 4 years old.

He also worked with local businesses to secure donations of food, snacks, water and more to support the volunteers.

“At the end of the day, there’s a tremendous sense of accomplishment because it’s very gratifying to give back to the local community,” Thadani said. “This project shows that giving back is not only about money, but also your time, energy and effort. USD parents are coming together to do this and I feel it’s a turning point in our thinking. I think this is a project that we can do more often and get others at USD involved.” — Ryan T. Blystone

To join the Parent Corps, email Renda Quinn ’86 at rquinn@sandiego.edu or call (619) 260-4808.