5 Questions With…Ahmanise Sanati Morgan

Feb 5, 2024

Playa del Rey’s Ahmanise Sanati Morgan is full of energy and determination to make the world a better place. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker overseeing seven schools in LAUSD, she helps connect students to services like counseling and housing, and as a super volunteer with groups like Grass Roots Neighbors, Westside Pacific Villages and the Westchester Family YMCA, she dedicates her time advocating for society’s most vulnerable populations.

Prior to her role working with the school district, Ahmanise spent years working in the L.A. County jail system, first as an intern and then as a mental health clinical supervisor at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility. While many things weighed on her during her time there, one thing was painfully obvious to the philosophy major and avid reader: there was a major shortage of books and no libraries.

Confident this was an area where she could make a measurable impact, she began bringing in reading materials from her collection and from the local “Buy Nothing” groups, and they’d be borrowed as quickly as they were brought in.

“After all these years, I thought, ‘I should do something about this, and I could do something about this,” said Ahmanise. “There’s a human being behind this situation.”

Once she began shining a light on the lack of reading materials and campaigning for more access to books, she gained attention from local media and the L.A. County Supervisors. In February of last year, a motion was approved to add shelving and an officially structured program, and now all L.A. County libraries can accept donations for “Books for Jails” in an effort to promote literacy, education and mental health.

Closer to home, Ahmanise’s efforts have impressed the Westchester Rotary Club, which recently announced they will be honoring her as their 2024 Citizen of the Year at a fundraiser on Saturday, March 23 at the Flight Path Museum. For the club, which has held an annual book sale for the last 60 years, the decision to recognize Ahmanise for her work promoting literacy and making a difference in the community was an easy one.

“I am so humbled to be honored,” said Ahmanise. “I really feel like the club represents the community, and this is a win for everything I’ve been involved with. I feel so touched that people are responding to and like what I’m doing!”

We recently sat down with Ahmanise and asked her to share her thoughts, so here is “5 Questions With…Ahmanise!”

What’s your perfect day in Westchester/Playa look like?

Because we are so active–between work, school, volunteering and two club sports–I especially appreciate the days of rest and relaxation. So, it would be a day with nothing on the calendar to start. Then it would go like this: meditate, jog/walk with my husband while the kids scooter to the beach and then have a picnic together. If it’s that time of year, we’d do some sand sledding. When we finish, I’d take the kids to The Book Jewel (love them!), and since we’re mostly plant-based, I’d pick up some dinner at Hart House for the whole family. I’d also introduce the kids to some of my favorite tunes for the drive home, and then we’d park it at home to continue the fun!

What’s one local spot you couldn’t live without?

Westchester Pharmacy! For a few years now, they have been keeping my family healthy, and we literally and metaphorically cannot live without them! Pharmacist Erin Cueto and the whole team are amazing!

Cool Fact: Ahmanise spun a dollar on the “Price is Right” and still has the fridge and fancy coffee maker she won on the TV show.

What is the most rewarding part of volunteering with local groups?

The people I get to meet in service of others are by far the best thing about this work. I believe that most people want this world to be better. However, meeting those who actually “do the work” has led me to find my people…which is priceless.

Is there any business or organization you’d like to give a shout out to?

Not having family nearby has given me the opportunity to expand my family a bit differently. Since we joined the Westchester Family YMCA and the Westchester Rec Center, we have found our family! Also, to see how kind and loving everyone has been with my children is perhaps one of the most meaningful gifts a mother could witness. So, to all of my extended family in Westchester, especially at the Y and Rec Center, I am so grateful.

Cool fact: Ahmanise loves being active, especially if she’s jogging outdoors, and has completed five marathons!

If you were a member of the city council what issue would you want to tackle?

Housing. Every day, I add another unsheltered family to my caseload. So, while many people think of the encampments, I think of my students and their families. It’s very personal to me, and when I think of the fact that their basic needs are not being met, I realize how our society has failed them. They deserve housing, first and foremost, and I know we can do better.

Learn more about the Rotary Spring Fundraiser and tickets at https://givebutter.com/2024springfundraiser.

Photo by Robert Higgins.

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