A celebration of family brought together more than 300 guests to raise funds for the Family Service Agency during the “Imagine a City” auction and dinner on Saturday night at Providence High School.
The guests of honor included three generations of one family — the Clarke, Machuca Vargas and Vander Borght family. It was a fitting tribute because Family Service Agency has strived to help all Burbank families and individuals achieve psychological, emotional and social wellness through counseling, educating, preventing and advocating since 1953.
Board President Bruce Osgood gave the official welcome and introduced masters of ceremonies Michael Hastings and Jack O’Neill, who came riding into the high school gymnasium on a two-seater bicycle.
“We are here tonight honoring not only a great organization but also a wonderful family,” O’Neill said. “The family we are going to honor tonight does so much not only for the community of Burbank, but for so many communities in this area. But this three-generation family — they are Burbankers and we take absolute ownership of them.”
Charitable and community organizations are always struggling for money, O’Neill added.
“To accomplish the tremendous work that they try to do, Family Service Agency needs the financial resources to do it,” he said. “What they do is like any community organization that tries to reach out to the community like this, is help families sustain sometimes a barely acceptable way of life. I cannot imagine nor can any you what type of a life these people would have if it were not for Laurie Bleick and her staff at the Family Service Agency.”
Executive Director Bleick thanked the audience for its support in helping to “make the success stories happen” and the honorees for being outstanding examples of positive work in the community.
The resume of service the three families have quietly, collectively and humbly have provided through the decades is amazing, Bleick said.
“You are an example of what it really means to serve,” she said. “Thank you for all your hard work and helping us to get to know your family and I hope to meet you all.”
Following dinner, Hastings led the ceremony to present the Mary Alice O’Connor Vision Award. O’Connor, who passed way in 2010, is remembered as the city’s Fairy Godmother. She was devoted to providing community service in many areas, but especially as a founding board member of the Family Service Agency. The board of directors continues to honor her memory by recognizing those who do extraordinary work in the community.
The Clarke family is a leading example. Owen and Carol Clarke moved to Burbank 60 years ago and have served as role models in their work ethic, values of compassion and public service to their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and extended family.
The Clarke’s three children — Susan, Bonnie and Mark — have continued to reflect the values of their parents. The marriages of each has enriched the family and community by joining together with others who share a dedication and service to others. Nearly half of the family members have had long careers in public education whether it be as teachers, administrators or support service personnel.
Other family members have had careers in public service with municipal or governmental agencies. In addition, family members have volunteered for youth programs, faith ministries, civic or educational organizations.
Former mayor and city council man, Jef Vander Borght, represented his family in thanking the agency’s board for the award.
“I’m really humbled by the recognition afforded my family and proud of all of them for the service they perform,” he said. “I also think there are hundreds of families that are equally deserving of this recognition, and we accept the recognition on their behalf. My biggest joy was seeing our children and our parents in the same room being acknowledged for their commitment to family.”