If there was a contest to see who has the most neighborhood pride, Courtney O’Donoghue would definitely be in the running.
Born and raised in Westchester, Courtney never thought she’d end up staying in the community where she grew up. But after meeting her husband Brendan at The Gillis Volleyball Tournament, her fate was sealed and she wouldn’t have it any other way. As a recent New York transplant, he had no plans to give up California’s perfect weather.
Now with three kids of her own–Addy 12, Gabe, 11 and Jared, 7–Courtney is excited to see them creating memories that are reminiscent of her own.
“I feel so blessed for my kids to be going to the same school I went to, ” says Courtney who attended Visitation and St. Bernard High School. “Seeing them involved in the same activities I loved as a kid, like youth sports and scouts, really brings things full circle.”
While Courtney has a full-time job as Director of Renewals for the MPLC, a company that issues licenses to play movies in public settings, she could be considered a full-time volunteer as well. Over the years, she has coached numerous team sports, been a Girl Scout leader and is passionate about supporting her church, Visitation, where she’s Director of Development, which has earned her the affectionate nickname “the Church lady.”
This month, Courtney is chairing the school and church’s “Carnival in the NINE double oh FOUR FIVE,” and she’s inviting the whole community to stop by the weekend of October 21 to join in on the fun, hop on some rides, spin the prize wheel and meet their neighbors (you can purchase discounted tickets through October 14 here: e.givesmart.com/events/sCp).
The only downside about staying in the town you were raised in?
“It’s never fun to run into your ex-boyfriends when you’re shopping at Little Vons,” she says with a laugh.
We recently sat down with Courtney and asked her to share her thoughts, so here is “5 Questions With…Courtney!”
If you’re looking for the perfect evening out, where are you going?
I love to stay local and walk to date night with my husband. Our go-to spot is Truxton’s American Bistro. We have a drink at the bar, monkey bread for an appetizer and try something new for dinner. It’s a bonus when we can take friends and leave the kids at home. They get a party, and we get adult time.
What is your favorite neighborhood tip or trick?
The best way to see Santa is on the streets of Westchester. Nothing is better than hearing the fire trucks, LAPD sleigh and the Playa Venice Sunrise Rotarians with loads of holiday cheer outside your door. While we wait for Santa and his helpers to arrive, we gather with neighbors and friends, while drinking hot cocoa and enjoy other yummy treats. Save the date for this year’s Santa Tour, which is scheduled for December 19.
What’s something the neighborhood needs more of and something it needs less of?
Westchester is the gateway to the entire city of Los Angeles for visitors that land at LAX. We need to clean up and present ourselves better as a community. I love the lights on Sepulveda Blvd. that the Westchester Town Center BID has put up, but we need to clean up the streets and get housing and services for the homeless. We need more businesses, and welcome our visitors to L.A. so they say, “wow.”
What’s a local business you’d like to give a shout-out to?
Playa del Rey’s Cantalini’s Salerno Beach is my family’s number one spot. They make us feel like family, we are recognized, and they always serve the kids’ their meals with loads of cheese on top. We celebrate all our milestones there, and we even order catering when we have too many people to take into the cozy restaurant. My family jokes that someday my daughter is going to work there and greet everyone with a smile just like they have given us all these years. My favorite thing to order is the homemade ravioli.
What is the most rewarding thing about volunteering with community groups?
I love to give back and see it in action. I’ve been working on rebuilding and beautifying Visitation for the last few years. It is so rewarding to see the kids hanging out under the trees that have been planted and the parishioners enjoying the courtyard after mass. It has become an even greater gathering place. Another thing I enjoy after all my years volunteering with Girl Scouts, youth sports and throughout the community, is watching the kids grow over the years.