Boys & Girls Fundraising Gala Proves to be Big Success

Executive Director Shanna Warren with a couple of Silent Auction items. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Boys & Girls Club benefits from the 17th annual fundraiser Gala Saturday at the Burbank Airport Marriott.  Funds raised support after-school programs for more than 2,000 children a year.  Special
recognition was given to entertainment companies that provide items and services to the club.

By Joyce Rudolph

Executive Director Shanna Warren with a couple of Silent Auction items. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

It was both surprising and exciting to see how youth members took such an active role in the Boys & Girls Club’s 17th annual fundraiser Gala Saturday night at the Burbank Airport Marriott.

Appropriate to the theme, “That’s Entertainment,” the club members from age 6 to 18 sang and danced on stage but also were part of producing the videos shown throughout the evening that showcased the activities that keep them busy during the week at the facility.

The club provides a place afterschool where kids can get help with homework, play sports, participate in art and dance and spend time on computers in the tech lab, Sherine Saad said in her welcome speech.

Two years ago the club launched the first free teen program for ages 13 to 18 that offers a place to hang out in the evenings. The program draws 200 teens, she said. The club also continues to operate the only deaf and hard of hearing afterschool program for grade-school children.

“All this is possible because of you,” Saad told the more than 250 people attending. “Your generous donations keep our doors open~helping us provide the quality programs that support over 2,000 children a year while filling a valuable need for parents.”

Former Mayor Jess Talamantes bids for a Disney Art Piece during the Silent Auction. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The theme gave the club and its board of directors a chance to honor the entertainment businesses that play a huge part in the success of the club, namely The Walt Disney Co., Entertainment Partners, Cartoon Network, Hub and NBC Universal.

“Their ongoing support allows us to provide high quality programs and services to over 1,250 youth each day,” said Shanna Warren, chief executive officer. “These companies help make it possible for these children to pursue academic success, develop good character and citizenship, and lead healthy life styles.”

Disney continues to help the club by funding the Boys & Girls Clubs of America national campaigns, donating toys and supplies, lending a hand with club beautification projects and other programs.

Entertainment Partners provides professional payroll services to the club. Cartoon Network Studios provides arts grants and employees spend time mentoring club members. Artists visit and conduct workshops on drawing the network’s characters.

Hub provides financial sponsorships and service projects that benefit the club members and their families. NBC Universal gives the club financial support and partnerships through NBC entities.

Boys & Girls Club Youth of The Year Andrea Baghaee. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

During the evening, the Youth of the Year ~ Andrea Baghaee ~ was introduced and she explained how the Boys & Girls Club had inspired her to decide on a career goal. A senior at Burbank High School, Andrea has been a member of the club since first grade. She leads the Teen Leadership program, is president of the Keystone Club, is involved in the financial literacy program and her participation in the club’s programs Career Launch and College Bound have helped her to
prepare for attending Cal State Northridge in the fall.

When she is not tutoring younger club members or participating in the teen programs she helps the club’s staff members in the office. As a result of that experience, she started taking finance classes in high school and plans to major in that in college, she said.

Burbank's City Manager Mike Flad, Deputy City Manager Joy Forbes & City Attorney Amy Albano watch there bids during the silent. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“It was the club’s administration that gave me self-confidence and encouraged me to make goals that would lead me to a career,” she said.

The evening started with a silent auction of items ranging from restaurants to golf packages and beautiful original artwork by the club members. Throughout dinner, club members also entertained guests with a segment called Beachside Beauties and later a colorful ribbon dance, which led into the live auction.

Those taking home great items were Mitchell Weiss, who will fly in a World War II-era AT-6 with the Condor Squadron out of Van Nuys Airport; and Terri Shapiro, who will see the Jay Leno Show in person and take a tour of the Big Dog Garage in which Leno keeps his prized collection of vehicles and motorcycles. Thank you to donor NBC!

The kids handed out Red Roses to all the Mothers in attendance for Mother's Day. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Planning the gala along with Sherine Saad were Leena Mathew, Dan Stillwell, Dave Augustine, Darin Ryburn, Lynn White-Shelby, Michael Walbrecht, Michelle Bouse, Robin Tarufelli, Zachary Hult and Barbara Sykes.

The evening culminated with a sweet gesture, in honor of Mother’s Day.  The youngest members of the club presented all the moms in attendance a red rose.