My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. – 1 John 3:18
Our parishioners' commitment to outreach and service in and around the Los Angeles area truly sets the St. Monica Catholic Community apart. On Saturday, August 26, we gathered in celebration and spirit across our local communities for St. Monica Serves – a parish-wide day of service in honor of the Feast Day of our Patroness, Saint Monica.
Through service, we discovered that we encounter people and experiences that kindly remind us to look for Christ – in others, in the environment, and even in ourselves.
By committing to this day of outreach, we wholeheartedly celebrated our Patroness. Saint Monica, in addition to achieving sainthood, was an exemplary mother who placed her son, Saint Augustine, above all else. Much of Monica’s time on earth was dedicated in service to Augustine and his reformation and conversion.
In celebrating this giving spirit of St. Monica, our parishioners and friends embarked on transformative journeys across Los Angeles.
An enthusiastic contingent of St. Monica volunteers helped host a summer BBQ for the alumni of Harvest Home, a residential program providing case management, therapy, parenting classes, and more to homeless pregnant women. Stephen R.’s favorite part of the day was connecting with a young mother who has aspirations of attaining a masters in electrical engineering soon. Another volunteer, Lilian P., was welcomed back to the St. Monica community after some time away and had a particularly impactful experience:
“It was my first time signing up for St. Monica Serves and I chose to help at Harvest Home. I was just returning from Virginia after a month visiting family on the east coast…including spending a lot of quality time with my little niece and nephew. When I saw that Harvest Home helps pregnant women and their children who are experiencing homelessness, I felt called to serve this organization. It breaks my heart that these families are unsheltered.
When I arrived at Harvest Home, I was overwhelmed by how joyful the environment was: children laughing and playing, mothers (re)connecting and sharing advice about motherhood with one another, and the staff welcoming everyone with open arms – including our St. Monica team. I got to meet my fellow parishioners who also feel called to serve and it was beautiful. I connected with one of their staff members and found another way I could help them – by identifying data for their statement of need (i.e., for grants). I'm a researcher so this is a skill I know well! With the help of a co-worker, we sent her a few data resources the next day and she was so grateful. I was so happy to have made this connection and hope to stay in touch with the Harvest Home team. I will definitely be signing up for more volunteer opportunities through St. Monica!”
At another site, our New Directions for Veterans team assisted with gardening and painting interior rooms. New Directions for Veterans is an organization providing housing and comprehensive services for at-risk veterans and their families.
A number of parishioners and friends also worked to keep our beach and environment clean and safe during our St. Monica Serves celebration. "We are all in this together," Green Team leader Meredith McCarthy told close to 50 St. Monica parishioners, who participated in Saturday's beach cleanup. With half the planet depending on the ocean for their primary source of protein and livelihood, McCarthy told them, “Our job is taking care of the tiny bit of coast in Santa Monica." The group collected approximately 30 pounds of trash. Meredith was also one of the recipients of the David Hines Volunteer of the Year award this year!
Volunteers even had the opportunity to lend a helping hand to this year’s Thanksgiving Boutique at St. Monica. The team had some high energy and Ryan R. reported that “each volunteer came in with a generous and enthusiastic spirit!” With some great coordination skills displayed by the volunteers, the Boutique team was able to prepare about 300 toiletry kits for those in need.
Other service sites for St. Monica Serves included Safe Place for Youth and St. Mark’s Food Pantry. Our Safe Place for Youth group was composting, planting flowers, and painting inspirational bricks for the community garden. Safe Place for Youth is an organization that offers hot food and clothing to homeless youth in Venice Beach. Participants at St. Mark’s Food Pantry, on the other hand, assisted with making bags of fresh produce and distributing them to families in need at St. Mark's Church, which serves 300 families in need every Saturday.
If you are interested in unique service opportunities such as these, please join us for our upcoming and ongoing events: