Family Service Agency Holds Annual Care Walk 5K to Support Mental Health in Schools

Zonta Club of Burbank being honored at the 16th annual Care Walk. Photo by Ross A. Benson.

The 16th annual Care Walk 5K event took place on Saturday, April 20, 2024 at Johnny Carson Park to raise money for the Family Service Agency (FSA) of Burbank. FSA provides mental health awareness and care, while working to eliminate domestic violence, suicide, interpersonal violence, preventing homelessness, and serving veterans.

It was a cold, gloomy, Saturday morning, but that didn’t stop people from coming out to support the organization’s efforts. Participants pulled their maroon Care Walk shirts over their sweatshirts, ready to walk and run for a cause that is so important to the Burbank community.

Each year, FSA honors a person or organization that has made a difference at the agency and works towards their mission. This year’s honoree was the Zonta Club of Burbank Area for their work in advancing the status of women and girls, providing scholarships and grants to ensure women have resources to reach their goals, and for being a powerful voice against human trafficking, child marriages, and domestic violence.

The morning kicked off with music by the Dolores Huerta middle school band on the Johnny Carson Park stage, followed by a welcome message from Mayor Nick Schultz. “The work that FSA does is so critical to the youth in our community, so critical to really making Burbank such a special place,” said Schultz.

Mayor Nick Schultz opening the Care Walk. Photo by Ross A. Benson.

Assemblymember Laura Friedman was also in attendance and addressed the crowd. “We have a mental health crisis, and we have people who are suffering, sometimes in silence and alone. Being able to offer services to people, show them that what they’re feeling is okay to feel and there are ways to be able to have your feelings and still move forward and be healthy, is what FSA is all about. So, you being here to support, supports our whole community,” said Friedman.

The proceeds from the walk will be used to support the no-cost school onsite counseling program at 18 campuses across Burbank, that helps 2,8000 students a year. The FSA, which is on its 71st year of offering care to Burbank also operates two Student Care Centers at Burbank and Burroughs High School, which have been open and accessible to all high students during the school year.

Many people came out to support the Care Walk including Mayor Schultz, Vice Mayor Nikki Perez, Assemblymember Friedman, representatives from Senator Caroline Menjivar’s and Senator Portantino’s offices, former BUSD School Board member Steve Frintner, Director of Secondary Education, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Dr. Oscar Macias, Bret Harte Elementary Principal Martha Walter, and City Manager Justin Hess.

After the presentation, participants lined up on the dirt path at the start of the course and waited for the buzzer that went off at 9:05 AM. While most people walked, a few ran, circling the course around Johnny Carson Park six times to reach the 3.1 mile distance. 15-year-old, Tyler Gogerty from John Burroughs High School, ran the course, completing the 5K first, at 27 minutes.

Participants and guests to the event enjoyed a complimentary breakfast, generously donated by the Lara Family of Command Performance Catering in Burbank. The Lara Family has been providing breakfast each year for the walk as a way to give back to the community.  Pancakes, sausage, bacon, and fruit were served. South Hills Church of Burbank also generously donated their time and volunteers to help set up the event in the early morning hours before the walk.