Every second Wednesday a bevy of ladies called the “Birthday Angels” by the Little Sisters of the Poor board of directors assemble in the home’s auditorium to surprise the 100 residents with monthly birthday celebrations.
The eight Birthday Angels are just a few among the 125 volunteers who assist the Little Sisters in making the home a lively place for its low-income elderly residents.
The volunteers quietly go about their heartfelt mission. They send written invitations and set up elaborate table and room decorations for a festive luncheon. They take turns baking birthday cakes and present a new theme every month.
On Sept. 6, the Birthday Angels will be honored at the Auxiliary of the Little Sisters of the Poor's annual “Make it a Habit” gala at Trump National Golf Course. The elegant event will feature a sumptuous gourmet dinner and action-packed live auction.
The gala, held annually for about 25 years, is the Sisters’ main fundraiser of the year. Organizers said they expect a record crowd this year.
Co-chair Carol Regneta said there are so many wonderful volunteers at LSOP, but Birthday Angels almost go unnoticed because they enter on the bottom floor of the building and set up their parties to try to surprise the birthday guests.
“After more than 20 years of being in existence, I thought the Birthday Angels should be recognized,” said Regneta, who co-chairs the popular Make it a Habit Gala with Millicent Bougarding. “The volunteers don’t do it to be recognized. They are wonderful, and we need more giving people like them.”
About 21 years ago Birthday Angel Kathy DiBernardo, whose mother was living at the residential care home in San Pedro asked the Mother Superior at the time what she could do to help.
“Mother,” as everyone calls the home's top overseer, thought about it and told DiBernardo she would like some volunteers to do something with birthdays.
“We took that idea and ran with it,” said DiBernardo, one of the original founders of the group who works on all the intricacies of the parties. “We bring candy and wine—because they like that—and present them with a gift and special birthday dessert with a candle. We serve the luncheon ourselves.”
DiBerdardo said the part the residents enjoy most is when the Angels sit and visit with them. Many of the elderly residents, including a handful of centenarians, don’t have family in the area, and a little extra company (while savoring a glass of wine) is an opportunity for the residents to feel special and part of the outside world.
The Little Sisters of the Poor in San Pedro are part of an international congregation of Roman Catholic women who serve the elderly poor in more than 30 countries around the world. Since 1839, they continue the work of founder Saint Jeanne Jugan to care for the neediest of every race and religion.
On August 30, 2018 Little Sisters of the Poor began celebrating a jubilee year marking its 150th anniversary of the community’s arrival in the United States.
“The funds raised are mainly for the continual upkeep and operation of the home,” said Mother Margarite who manages the immaculate and well maintained home. “Our gratitude goes to the Angels for helping us continue the ministry of loving care and service.”
Want to go?
Little Sisters of the Poor "Make it a Habit" Gala
Sept. 6, 2019
6 to 10 p.m.
Tickets are $175 per person
Trump National Golf Course
1 Trump National Drive
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA