Tag Archives: Burbank Noon Rotary

Local Sunrise and Noon Rotary Team Up and Successfully Fill BTAC Shelves

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

This past weekend members of the Burbank Sunrise Rotary and Noon Rotary held a contactless Food Drive at Ume Credit Unions parking lot in an effort to fill the shelves at Burbank Temporary Aid Center (BTAC).

Members from both organizations along with Ume Credit Union staff donned masks gloves and unload ed from over 113 vehicles enough food and supplies to fill over 17 oversized shopping carts, bins and bags.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

Everyone who went through the drive-thru was given a Ume Credit Union mask and shopping bag as a gift from Ume Credit Union.

Burbank residents also donated in excess of $1672.00 in checks and gift cards.

The two organizations are also co-funding a much need commercial fridge/freezer to BTAC from other fundraising drives the Rotarians continually do.      

Sunrise Rotary Along With Noon Rotary Holding Drive -Thru Food Drive Saturday at Ume

Rotary Clubs members from the  Sunrise and Noon Rotary received a call of HELP from BTAC (Burbank Temporary Aid) that they are in a short supply of cans goods and food because of the current COVID situation.

The two clubs thought with current restrictions on social distancing and other precautions what was the best way to collect a large amount of food for BTAC. Anita Hutchinson from Ume Credit Union offered the Credit Union’s parking lot to the groups for the collection event.

This Saturday from 9:00 AM till 2:00 PM they are going to hold a DRIVE-THRU food drive at the Ume Credit Union Parking lot located at 3000 W Magnolia Blvd. Members of both Rotary Clubs will be on hand to remove shopping bags and boxes from your vehicle and make sure they get to BTAC that afternoon.

Everyone is asked to mask-up and stay in your cars as you drive through and the club members will take care of everything it will be CONTACTLESS for everyone making donations.

BTAC has supplied a list of items they are asking for such as Boxes of Macaroni & Cheese, Peanut Buther & Jelly, Boxed Cereals, Canned Fruits and Vegetables, Canned Meats, Rice and Pasta, Pasta Sause, Instant Potatoes, Pancake Mix and Syrup, Trail Mix, Fruit Cups,  Powdered Milk,  Personal Hygiene Supplies including soap, toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, etc.

St. Joseph’s Medical Center Has Prepared For The Surge

Two weeks ago, the Burbank-Glendale area had only a handful of known cases.  As of April 9, 282 cases.  And over the next two weeks, the cases will continue rising, perhaps dramatically, as the novel coronavirus makes itself felt among those of us who had been infected, but without any symptoms until now.

Dr. Angelique Campen

If we’re lucky, April will turn out to be “the cruelest month” rather than May, or June.  We need things to turn around before summer, or we’ll see people dying from an oxygen-starved economy alongside those dying from oxygen-starved lungs.

In the meantime, “when we’re in hell, keep marching.”  Straight talk and sound advice will help us climb out of the virus pit sooner rather than later, and this is exactly what Dr. Angelique Campen offered to the ZOOMed-in Noon Rotary audience yesterday.

Dr. Campen graduated from UCLA medical school, got certified in emergency medicine and ran St. Joseph’s Emergency Medicine Department for many of her 20 years there. Today, she’s the Chief Financial Officer for St. Joseph’s Emergency Medical Group.   “She’s fluent in all things concerning emergency medicine (as well as Italian and Greek)”, said Gregory Madore, President of the host Rotary Club of Burbank Noon.

Most importantly, she’s on the front lines of the fight against this “novel” virus, whose unique methods of attack cannot be found in a medical book, but instead are being discovered in the world’s emergency rooms, be they makeshift or modern.

St. Joseph’s is ready for The Surge

“We’re just starting to see the uptick right now in the emergency department,” said Dr. Campen.  Fortunately, “every emergency department in Southern California has been at half volume.”  [Providence Saint Joseph’s Medical Center] usually handles 200 emergency patients daily. That number has fallen to 100.  Possible reasons: Light freeway traffic leading to fewer accidents, and people becoming reluctant to resort to emergency rooms for fear of catching the virus.

Meanwhile, Saint Joseph’s has been actively preparing for the onslaught of corona cases, paying close attention to the battles of the bug raging across Europe, New York, Detroit and New Orleans.  “Half of the entire hospital is set up to offer intensive unit care, if necessary,” said Dr. Campen.

Hospitals typically operate at 90-95% capacity, but elective surgeries have been cancelled, leaving extra room available for fighting the virus.  St. Joseph’s made sure they could fill that space with critical equipment.  “We have 100 ventilators on hand,” said Dr. Campen. “We usually have had only 20 ventilated patients in the ICU.” 

The doctors and nurses also have at their disposal self-contained ventilator helmets (much friendlier than skin-chafing masks) as well as full-body protection when caring for critical patients.  The virus will probably have surprises in store (remember, it’s a novel corona virus) but St. Joseph’s has plenty of ammunition.

Understanding the enemy

Dr. Campen points out that there are currently two strains of the virus: one causing fever and diarrhea; and the other, which has gotten most of the press, attacking the respiratory system.  “It is mostly a disease of the elderly,” she says. Those over 65 are most at risk, particularly those with pre-existing respiratory conditions like COPD and emphysema, which make up the great majority of those needing a ventilator.  (In Dr. Campen’s opinion, many in their 30’s that tested positive are health care workers, for whom being tested is a priority.)  “In my experience, everyone under 45 who has been severely ill from the virus has been smoking or vaping,” says Dr. Campen.

One of the newer discoveries is that some virus sufferers have “happy hypoxia;” that is, their lungs are at 70% oxygen- rather than the healthy 90+%–but they report no breathing discomfort.   “Putting these people face down helps increase oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood without using the ventilator,” explains Dr. Campen. “The longer a patient is on the ventilator, the greater the chance of lung damage. So ventilators have to be used carefully, and more as a last resort.”

Understanding What’s At Stake

Millions of lives may hang on whether they can receive hospital care if they need it.  “In the absence of a vaccine, it takes 60% of the population to achieve herd immunity,” points out Dr. Campen.  In round figures, there are 330 million people in the U.S., so 198 million of us would have to be infected before enough of us acquired natural immunity to prevent the further spread of infection.  Just for illustration, suppose the death rate were a flulike 0.1% if all patients were able to receive the care they needed, including time in a hospital.  But what if large numbers of people could not get needed hospital care because the hospitals were overwhelmed? Then the death rate would go up.  If it went up to only 1.1%, that would mean 1.98 million more people would have died.

Left to its own devices, the novel coronavirus can easily overwhelm hospitals and boost the death rate by 1% or more. The virus is a sneaky saboteur that spreads the gasoline far and wide and then lights the match.  People catching the virus are without symptoms for five days or more.  “And you can spread the virus for up to two days before you yourself start showing symptoms,” said Dr. Campen.  That’s a lot of gasoline. 

“What we’ve done to slow the spread of the disease has been successful,” said Dr. Campen.  Even though a lot of horses had already left the barn, California’s shelter-in-place and social distancing seems to be working. The strategy is reduce the number of cases per day while at the same time increasing the beds available for those needing them until, ideally, every virus sufferer who needs a bed can get one, and the death rate is thereby kept to a minimum.  Possibly saving a million or more lives throughout the U.S..

How To Avoid Catching the Coronavirus

To avoid catching the virus, Dr. Campen offers several suggestions:

  • The novel corona virus spreads by riding on droplets, which we emit even during ordinary speech. Within a short distance, they fall to the ground, or onto a surface. Hence the admonition to stay at least six feet way from others. “You won’t catch it walking into an empty elevator or along a sidewalk,” states Dr. Campen.
  • “Treat every public surface as if it were contaminated. Don’t worry about how long a virus may last on a given surface,” advises Dr. Campen. “You don’t know when a surface was last touched by someone who had the virus. So if you touch the surface, wash your hands.”  She adds, “Gloves are more likely to make you sick.  Touching a surface and cleaning your hands afterwards is safer.”  Also, “You can find traces of the virus on delivery packages, but the real hazard is from touching door knobs or elevator buttons.”
  • Fortunately, the novel coronavirus does not penetrate the skin. It enters through the nose or eyes when you touch your face, often without thinking about it. So wash your hands often so even if you mistakenly touch your face, you won’t be leaving viruses on it.
  • “You’re more likely to get infected going to the grocery store and interacting with people than by touching things,” says Dr. Campen. Especially if you make a point of frequently disinfecting your hands.
  • “Masks are a low-risk way to prevent transmission of the virus from people who don’t know they have it,” said Dr. Campen. “Beyond that, they help remind you not to touch your face.”
  • At 2000 mg per day, Vitamin C does decrease virus replication. Zinc lozenges work too, as well as zinc taken orally.  (But too much zinc will affect your sense of taste or smell.)

What to Do If You Have It

But what if you do have symptoms?  Here’s Dr. Campen’s advice:

  • If your symptoms are consistent with the virus (e.g., fever, fatigue, dry cough) but you aren’t short of breath, then stay at home and self-isolate. Don’t ask for a test, which involves inserting a strip up your nose. “Every time they put a test on you, they put themselves at risk. You’ll likely cough or gag or otherwise spew out virus particles,” points out Dr. Campen. Instead, just assume you have the virus.  Save the testing for those for whom it will make a real difference: medical workers, first responders and nursing home clients and staff.
  • Contrary to some assertions on the Internet, it’s perfectly safe to use Ibuprofen for headaches.
  • On the issue of hydrooxychloroquine (HCQ), Dr. Campen advises caution. “Prolonged use can cause heart arrhythmia. Effective doses carry side effects. The safest application is by a doctor in a hospital setting.” In any case, seek first the advice of your personal physician, who knows best your medical condition, prescription drugs, etc.
  • Campen points out that azithromycin is used in cases of pneumonia or bronchitis three to four days into the illness in order to fight bacterial infection. The coronavirus, in particular, “makes the body ramp up the production of white blood cells and use them up.” And so the patient is vulnerable to bacterial infection.

The Dilemma

Prevention and treatment are good as far as they go, but when will there be a cure?  Dr. Campen estimates that a vaccine for the virus “is 12 to 14 months away.”   One can only hope that we get it right the first time. “The Ebola vaccine got pulled from the market when it backfired,” she said.  “Doctors discovered that it triggered an overwhelming immune response.”  A successful coronavirus vaccine would be taken in addition to the flu virus annually; hopefully, the coronavirus would not mutate quite so readily as the flu virus.

Flu vaccines can be effective, with a due regard to their limitations. “Vaccines take two weeks to develop antibodies,” says Dr. Campen. “So if you wait too far into the flu season, then you may catch the flu before the vaccine can immunize you against it. Best to take the shot early in the season.”  Moreover, Dr. Campen pointed out that UCLA had tested 3,600 people suspected of harboring the coronavirus.  Only 10% tested positive; reminding us that there are still plenty of other respiratory viruses only too happy to make us miserable.

And so now we come face-to-face with our dilemma:  What about those of us who have so far avoided the virus, perhaps by staying mostly at home, maintaining social distance and washing our hands more than Macbeth’s wife?  Several cases come to mind:

  • If we’re under 65 and healthy, chances are we’ll have a version of the cold from the virus, and that’s it. It’s even possible we already had the virus, had minimal symptoms and so we can go out into the world as before.  We may even have been exposed to just trace amounts of the virus which, Dr. Campen points out, can also trigger the production of antibodies that way vaccines are meant to do. Massive testing for those with antibodies would be a good start; chances are they’d be safe, and the vaccine would arrive before the virus mutates into a new disease.
  • If wer’re elderly and in a nursing home, chances are we’d be staying there anyway. The challenge is to keep the nursing home facility virus free until the vaccine arrives.
  • If we’re younger but with any number of high risk factors (diabetes, prior lung damage, etc.) we may well decide to limit our exposure until a vaccine arrives. For many of us in this category, that’s easier said than done.
  • If we’re over 65 and reasonably healthy, we’re still at an elevated risk, facing a morbidity of 5% or more. Before we take the risk and venture out into a coronavirus world, we’d want to know if we could receive antibody plasma or hospitalization if we needed it. 

At this point, we need to start factoring in the deaths that may result from a wrecked economy as well as those that result from a ravaging disease. Perhaps we can think of a compromised economy as a kind of “side effect “ of the “medicine” of our semi-quarantine. 

Minimizing total deaths from both disease and cure must become the new goal. Hospitals like St. Joseph’s, which have prepared for sudden contingencies and heavy caseloads, make it far easier to the rest of us find workable solutions.

To learn more about the coronavirus and how to fight it, visit Angelique Campen on facebook or visit glamerdoc on Instagram.


Burbank Noon Rotarians Help Young Adults In Need

Burbank Noon wanted to continue its focus on charitable efforts for people who are often invisible to the general public in spite of needing special attention.   Earlier this year, Burbank Noon’s Executive Board decided to target emancipated and displaced youth, who all too often can be found swelling the ranks of the burgeoning homeless population. 

The club partnered with the Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, which offers transitional housing (50 beds) for young adults (ages 18 to 24) without a support system. “Hope of the Valley has been an amazing partner in reaching them,” remarked Burbank Noon president Gregory Madore.

Using “happy dollars” collected at Burbank Noon luncheons throughout the year, member Renee Johnson purchased hats, scarves and gloves.  At their last meeting in 2019 (December 17), club members stayed after lunch and assembled gift bags of these items, along with handwritten cards bearing messages of encouragement and hope.  Members Sunny Singer and Charleen Gosling delivered the gift bags to HVR Mission staff later that day.

Immediate past President Albert Hernandez had come up with the gift bag idea, which had followed upon an earlier, LA Rotary District Grant-funded project that delivered hygiene kits and provided a Bingo luncheon.

Burbank Rotary Clubs Bring Santa’s Magic to BCR Clients

“Sorry, I’m late.  The freeway traffic was murder,” explained Santa Claus, making his merry way across the Emmanuel Church gymnasium.  But the BCR clients of BCR A Place To Grow didn’t mind in the least.  They’d been singing holiday carols with their beloved “Pia the elf”, while their bellies were happily digesting a helping or two of Handi Mart’s lasagna.

Sporting a top hat, Emcee Gregory Madore ushered Santa to his special chair by the Christmas tree.  His fellow Rotarians, who were now serving desserts and otherwise bussing the tables, smiled in anticipation. 

Santa called each BCR client by name to come to him.  One by one, they received their present (and goodie bag) and quickly proceeded to eagerly tear off the wrappings.  They proudly displayed their gifts to friends, family, and caregivers.  Somehow, Santa had known exactly what they had wished for! 

“Seeing their faces light up in sheer joy is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season,” said Rotarian Mary Gilbert, the long-time organizer of the annual dinner for BCR clients. 

The festive evening, occurring during the first week of December has also become a favorite holiday tradition of both the Burbank Sunrise and Burbank Noon Rotary clubs.  Club members served dinner to about 100 people this year.

The party concluded with Pia the elf singing more holiday favorites as her BCR fans sang and danced around her. 




Longtime Community Member and Pillar Peter McGrath Passes Away

Peter McGrath passed peacefully in his home surrounded lovingly by his children on October 17, 2019, in Burbank, CA following a brief struggle with cancer. He was 92.

Pete was born on February 2, 1927, in San Francisco, CA. He served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in Business in 1950. He married his sweetheart Lou Ann Lison also in 1950.

Pete worked in various industrial sweeper companies from 1948 onward, eventually forming the R.J. Lison Co. in 1954. He sold power sweepers for the first few years and eventually became the President and General Manager. He sold the business in 1987 and retired to an active life as a community volunteer in the City of Burbank.

When his son Bob was 6 years old, Pete and his son joined the YMCA Indians Guides, which started his meaningful service as a volunteer. Organizations Pete has served as a volunteer or as a leader were Burbank YMCA, First Congregational Church of Burbank, Burbank Police Commission, Burbank Board of Leadership, Burbank Noon Rotary Club, Burbank Rotary Foundation, Verdugo Mental Health, Wesley Homes, Burbank Housing Corporation, Salvation Army, Red Cross, Burbank Senior Board, Burbank RSVP, Burbank Supporters of Senior Service, Los Angeles County Commission for Older Americans, California Senior Legislature and the Burbank School Board.

Pete McGrath receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Albert Hernandez Noon Rotary President. (Photo Courtesy Burbank Noon Rotary)

Pete was honored in December by Burbank Noon Rotary with a Lifetime Achievement Award, he received several honors from Presidents of the United States to local Burbank City Council Members, recently Burbank Housing Authority named one of their new buildings “Pete’s Place” in honor of his service to the Burbank Housing Authority where he served as President for many years.

Pete is survived by his daughter Peggy Christ, son-in-law Jim Christ, son Bob McGrath, daughter-in-law Bettina Stammen, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Pete will be buried in a public ceremony at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills at Old North Church on Friday, October 25, 2019, at 2:30 p.m. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Pete’s life.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Burbank Noon Rotary Club or La Providencia Guild Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

Burbank Noon Rotary Donates $15,000 to PSJ Foundation

This time of year Rotary service clubs across the world are roasting their outgoing club presidents while saluting their achievements over the past year.  Burbank Noon Rotary observed this time-honored tradition last Saturday at a cozy corner of Market City Caffe, ribbing outgoing club president Albert Hernandez with the help of some regrettable photos.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

But the club’s “demotion party” was also the occasion to celebrate an outstanding year of fundraising while having fun.  A highlight of the event was making another $5,000 donation to the Providence St. Joseph Foundation in support of its “Minutes Matters” campaign to add a new Emergency Department as well as an Urgent Care facility.

Check presented to Angela Khurdajian Development Officer of the St. Joesph Foundation from Karen Volpe, Albert Hernandez, Barry Gussow, Nat, and Alama Rubenfield. ( Photo by Ross A Benson)

Hernandez “had made health and wellness the focus of our giving this year,” explained Barry Gussow, who chairs the Burbank Noon Foundation and who made the club aware of PSJ’s goals.  “Our club committed to donating a total of $25,000 to PSJ over the next five years.”  With the club’s blessing, the better-than-expected fundraising allowed Hernandez to accelerate the schedule of giving, with last Saturday’s $5,000 donation bringing the total donated this past year to $15,000.

“We’re very excited by the results of our fundraising this year,” said PSJ Foundation Development Officer Angela Khurdajian, who received the additional $5,000.  According to Khurdajian, PSJ has so far raised about $58 million of the $78 million needed for the Emergency Department and Urgent Care facilities.  “It’s truly a testament to how strong this Burbank community is,”  she added.

Reflecting on Burbank Noon’s successful teamwork, Hernandez said, “I see you all like family.“

Burbank Noon Rotary Awards Scholarships to High School Seniors

At their June 4 meeting, the Burbank Noon Rotary club awarded two $1,000 Woodburn Engineering Scholarships to Burbank High School senior Erik Harutyunyan and Burroughs High School senior Anika Maskara.  As well, the club awarded a $1,000 Monterey Scholarship to Monterey High School senior Ashley Rios. 

Those applying for a Woodburn Engineering Scholarship must be college-bound engineering students who have above-average grades and demonstrate leadership and good citizenship.  The Monterey Scholarship award helps motivated students to overcome obstacles and continue their education, be it in college or in a vocational training program.

“It’s a testament to our school district that we have such fine students,” remarked Burbank Noon Scholarship Committee Chair Paul Herman.  Burbank Noon members Carole Collins and Cynthia Wagner also served on the Scholarship Committee, which oversaw the selection of the award recipients.  

Woodburn Engineering Scholarship Recipients Harutyunyan and Maskara

Scholar-athlete-entrepreneur Harutyunyan has earned a 4.34 GPA and is a finalist for the National Football Foundation Scholarship.  With a team of other engineering students, he designed and built from scratch a solar-powered racing boat.   

Harutyunyan is the founder and CEO of Something Different, LLC, an Amazon retail company that conducts research on trending products, and contacts foreign manufacturers to produce similar products under its own private label.  The products are then sold on Amazon’s marketplace.

He is also a CEO with a heart.  He volunteered on the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Student of the Year Campaign, serving as the campaign manager for Team Burbank.  Under his leadership, Team Burbank raised over $40,000.

Harutyunyan will be attending UC Berkeley, where he plans to double major in engineering and business economics…and give the NFL a shot.

Burbank High Assistant Principal Steven Hubell was on hand to congratulate Harutyunyan.

Anika Maskara is 3rd in her graduating class with a 4.45 GPA.  She volunteered over 150 hours on behalf of the City’s libraries, having served as President of the Burbank Public Library Teen Advisory Board.  She also worked as a paid intern at Burbank Water and Power, working with employees in energy conservation, water services, and electrical services.

Anika will be attending Princeton, where she plans to major in engineering with an eye to having a career in aerospace.

Anika was in India at the time of the Rotary Noon scholarship award presentations.

Monterey Scholarship Recipient Rios

In spite of having dealt with many obstacles on the home front, Ashley Rios is on track to receiving her GED this October.  She intends to begin the Certified Nursing Assistant program at the Burbank Adult School next February.  She impresses everyone who meets her as “sincere and hardworking, someone who will carve out a bright future for herself.”  Assistant Monterey High principal David Guyer was on hand to congratulate Rios.

Burbank Noon’s Ongoing Commitment to Burbank Students

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matt Hill praised Burbank Noon’s “first-backpack-to-scholarship” support for students.  Burbank Noon’s traditional funding from scholarships comes from its long-established Burbank Foundation, which enables the club to give out Monterey Scholarship awards, as well as to support other community programs.  

More recently, the late Jim Woodburn, who had been a longtime Burbank Noon member and BWP’s Chief Engineer for two decades, had bequeathed to the Burbank Foundation a generous, additional endowment for scholarships intended to encourage careers in science and engineering. 

Burbank Noon Rotary Again Sings Its Way To Fundraising Success

A tomcat was on the prowl last Saturday evening, warily entering Nickelodeon’s cartoony courtyard.  He could’ve sworn he had heard a mating call caroming from one building to the next, mixing with the warm spring air heavy with the scent of jasmine.  But the mating call was starting to sound…different.

The frisky feline made his stealthy way past the four-star buffet and bar, under tables vibrating with cheerful chatter.  With cautious optimism he emerged from under a wine-stained tablecloth…

…and beheld a trio of boa-bedecked human females lustily belting out “Somebody Who Loves Me.”

They say the more you imbibe, the sweeter the karaoke singing becomes. 

Unfortunately for the tomcat, he was sober. 

By the time he cleared the outer wall, the terrified animal had left a sonic boom in his wake.  Less observant members of the feeling-no-pain audience thought that one of the trios must’ve banged her mike against something or someone.

Meanwhile, dogs howled in the distance, wishing they could jump the fence and join what surely must be some kind of canine celebration.  “Let them have their fond illusions,” the tomcat snarked to himself, still fleeing at supersonic speed.

A Greek professor unburdening himself on Mikonos, and who was admittedly woo-zo from all the ouzo, once averred that karaoke is punishment meted to the gods for chaining poor Prometheus to that rock.  But last Saturday the Olympians had a major consolation: Burbank Noon Rotary’s Second Annual Karaoke Fundraiser was for a great cause: helping Burbank Noon Rotary fulfill a very sizable pledge to, over the next five years, Providence Saint Joseph’s Foundation.

“It’s the single largest pledge Burbank Noon has ever made, “ stated Barry Gussow, who chairs the Burbank Noon Foundation. “And we had a very successful evening.”

Key PSJ goals are to add an expanded, state-of-the-art Emergency Room as well as a new Urgent Care facility.  And only supporting such worthy goals could stay the hands of the gods.  Otherwise, they’d have surely hurled lightning bolts at event impresario and Rotary Noon President Albert Hernandez, bobbing his cobra-headed cane like a majorette and prancing about in red-velvet-and-zebra bellbottoms.  You couldn’t unsee something like that, any more than you could unhear his ear-rending rendition of “Superfreak.”

Not to be outdone in harmony horror, a dozen or more Noon Rotarians attacked “Happy Together,” in a sonic version of gangs gleefully rampaging on Purge Night.

It fell to Burbank Sunrise Rotary to provide a respite from the melody mayhem.  When the Sunrisers sang, it brought tears of something to every eye. Even the stars in the sky gathered around them. (No, they weren’t meteors.)  You’d swear that all of them had been singing like angels from the crib.  Jessica Garcia, the night’s superstar with her seriously good “I Will Survive,” instantly became a member of Rotary Sunrise, whether she knew it or not.

Just about everyone made promiscuous use of props—feather boas, yachting caps, sombreros, and completely random accouterments.  And then there was a certain someone who, to spare his family, shall be referred to only as “J”.  As if the caterwauling weren’t enough, J would frequently flounce stage left and play the air bugle, and then the air piccolo, lurching into an interpretive dance for good measure.  At least he didn’t sing.

To be fair, the karaoke singers were the pawns of fate. Under Noon Rotary’s karaoke rules, you could nominate anyone to sing a song of your choice for only $25.  It’s even better if several of you each contribute $25, and better still if—how to put this in a kind way—singing is not your target’s wheelhouse.  The person nominated can avoid singing the song but only if they pay $40 to sing a different one or $50 to get out of singing altogether.

But more often than not, after a glass or two or three of liquid courage, there go your friends…

…Doing a duet of “It’s A Whole New World,” except that Aladdin is singing with the Genie…

…Singing “When Will I Be Loved?” and when she sings, “I’ve been knocked down,” a sign obligingly falls on her…

…Daring to attempt “Like A Virgin,” and sounding like demented castrati, which come to think of it, actually makes sense…

…Channeling Alexander Hamilton, although that turned out pretty well…

…Crooning romantic songs with their spouses…how sweet, even if any teenager in the hearing distance just wants to sink through the floor.

Your friends should’ve paid the $50.  But you knew that, terrible person.

Providing a recess from these horrors, Gussow introduced some of the leading organizers of the PSJ Foundation:

Dr. Angelique Campen, emergency department physician and a member of the PSJ Board of Governors

Renee Bianco, Executive Director of the PSJ Foundation

Angela Khurdajian, philanthropic gift advisor

Sarah Skolnik, administrative secretary for the PSJ Foundation

Always good to have a couple of angels in your corner.

Hernandez’ acknowledged event organizers Jessa Freemeyer, Barry Gussow, Renee Johnson, Greg Madore, Sunny Singer, Mike Thomas, Brian Volpei, and Natalie Worsham.  Noon Rotary gave special thanks to Vicky Fenton and Nickelodeon for donating the venue.

“We owe a huge debt to our amazing sponsors, which include many Burbank Noon members,” said Hernandez.  “We also want to thank our contributors.  Their generosity made for a great evening and allowed all the money raised to go toward our goal.”  Besides Nickelodeon, the contributors included: Backstage Café, California Eatery, Domino’s Pizza, Granada, Lincoln Beer Company, Porto’s Bakery and Café, Santoro’s, Tony’s Deli, Ugly Mug, and Zach’s Catering.

Rotary Noon is already gearing up for Karaoke III in 2020.  Tomcats, you’ve been warned.  Dogs—never mind, you can’t read.

Burbank Rotary Clubs’ Season Of Giving

In the spirit of the season, the Burbank Sunrise and Burbank Noon Rotary service clubs joined forces for a special week of holiday giving.

Greg Semay serves up a tray of dinners. ( Photo by Ross A Benson)

Giving joy.  Last Tuesday, December 4, the two clubs put on their annual holiday dinner for those cared for by BCR, together with their families.   The Emmanuel Church’s gymnasium echoed with happy chatter as the over 100 people enjoyed Handi Mart’s lasagna and eagerly awaited the arrival of Santa Claus. 

When Santa sat by the festive tree and called up each of the BCR clients by name to give them their present, their faces soon became bright with delight.  Somehow, Santa had known exactly what each person had wished for!  The evening concluded with Santa’s elf singing holiday favorites as her joyful BCR fans smiled, sang and danced. 

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

Event organizer and Burbank Sunrise member Mary Gilbert let out her breath and sat down.  It all came together once more.

Giving recognition.  The following evening on Wednesday, December 5, Burbank Noon held their holiday party at the Castaway’s Valley View Room, as rain and mist blanketed the stars above and the streetlights below.  But the Rotarians’ spirits weren’t dampened, and the drinks were dry.  The Boy’s and Girl’s Club had just finished a charming holiday revue of singing and dancing, including green elves singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”   And there was much to celebrate.

President Albert Hernandez inducted Stephanie Bennett as the newest member of Burbank noon.  Burbank Noon member Barry Gussow had made Stephanie aware of Rotary during a recent poker tournament benefitting Kids Community Dental.  Bennett, a Burbank resident who is no stranger to volunteering, decided to visit Burbank Noon.  She liked what she saw.  “I look forward to new opportunities for serving in the community,” she said.

Rotary Lifetime Achievement Honoree Peter McGrath occupies the opposite end of membership longevity, having been a member of Burbank Noon for 52 years.  (For perspective, when he joined in 1966, we hadn’t landed on the moon yet, and the Beatles were still together.)  “As a young man, older guys were giving me all kinds of business advice,” he recalled.  Now he’s the gray-haired sage. In between, he grew a business, raised a family and served in just about every Rotary capacity, including club president.  McGrath’s long and distinguished Rotary career made him a natural candidate for a roasting, and his own wry remarks made sure that the flames left nothing unsinged.

Women In Rotary History Honoree Janice Lowers was not expecting to be part of the program that evening.  But her contingent of Burbank Sunrisers knew she was in for a pleasant surprise.  They also knew she exemplified the enormous impact of women in Rotary since 1989 when the international organization had the good sense to admit women members.  Her Burbank Police Department career involved her in many community projects and made her aware of many unmet needs.  She carried that awareness into her many years with Rotary, where she has been one of the club’s dynamos.  Recalling the late President George H. W. Bush’s “thousand points of light” speech she said, “If I could just be one of those points of light. I’m so proud to be a Rotarian.”

Giving financial support.  Also during the Wednesday evening party, Foundation Board Chair Gussow awarded $10,000 to the Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center Foundation, in support of a state-of-the-art Emergency Room and Urgent Care Facility.  Gussow reminded that Burbank Noon club that they had committed to $5,000 annually for five years ($25,000 total) for this purpose. “But thanks to our president, Albert Hernandez, who also has a passion for this project, our first installment is $10,000, shortening the giving time by a year.”  This was in no small part due to very successful fundraising during the previous 2017-18 Rotary year.

On hand to accept the contribution were Dr. Celina Barba-Simic, a board-certified physician in

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

emergency medicine and a member of PSJ’s staff since 2004; Renee Bianco, Vice-President of Foundations, LA Region and Executive Director of PSJ Foundation; and Michael Mayne, Senior Philanthropic Advisor at PSJ Foundation.  They were joined by Burbank noon member Nat Rubinfeld, co-chair of the Burbank Committee and member of the board of directors of the PSJ Foundation.

Giving time.  Add in getting ready to distribute holiday baskets, and the bell ringing for the Salvation Army and you have, along with many other Burbank service clubs, a very special time of giving.