Tag Archives: Burbank Sunrise 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.      

Burbank Sunrise Rotary Delivered Holiday Baskets

Burbank Sunrise Rotary brightened the holidays for four Burbank families in need, delivering gifts and food for daily needs as well as a holiday meal.  The entire club had adopted two families, and individual club members had adopted two more families.

Along with other organizations and private individuals, the club participates in the Burbank Coordinating Council’s annual holiday basket program.  In mid-December, the Burbank community as a whole typically delivers several hundred baskets.

“Our club really enjoys choosing the items and putting the baskets together,” says Janice Lowers, who coordinated Burbank Sunrise’s efforts. “The Coordinating Council’s annual tradition shows the tremendous amount of good that can be accomplished when so many work together.”

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. 




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.

Rotary Helps Volunteer Dental Clinic Reap a Harvest of Smiles

Dale Gorman from Kid’s Dental Clinic receives aGrant Check from Burbank Sunrise Rotary

Dale Gorman (second from left) from Kid’s Dental Clinic receives a Grant Check from Burbank Sunrise Rotary members (L to R) Lee Stacy, Janice lowers and current club president Beth Anderson

Last Tuesday, DALE GORMAN was all smiles as she received a check for $2,250 from BURBANK SUNRISE ROTARY. As Executive Director of KIDS COMMUNITY DENTAL CLINIC (KCDC), she knew this funding would help children whose dental health would otherwise fall through the cracks.

The parents of these children often work two or three part-time minimum wage jobs, with no benefits. Somehow, they make enough money to keep a roof over their heads. Most days, they keep their kids’ bellies filled. But they don’t make enough to get their kids’ cavities filled. Or to get their teeth straightened out.

On the other hand, they do make enough money to disqualify themselves from MediCal and other forms of medical and dental assistance that require their poverty to be dire rather than merely nerve wracking.

Fortunately, the world of the working poor in Burbank includes the KCDC. “We’re the safety net of the safety nets,” said Dale. “Hardly anyone else in Los Angeles County is helping low-income, uninsured kids.”

Last year, KCDC served over 14,000 such children. Services ranged from teaching basic dental hygiene to making extensive dental repairs. “Burbank’s really wonderful,” said Dale. “It has quite a number of dental specialists that are willing to help us.” KCDC also enables parents to adopt the modern-day best practice of “first tooth, first visit” to detect any dental problems from the very start, problems like chronic toothaches that can become serious barriers to learning in school.

But sometimes, what’s needed is far more basic. “Once or twice a year we meet kids who say we’ve given them their first toothbrush of their very own,” says Dale. That’s why passing out dental hygiene kits is an important part of what KCDC does.

And that’s why, at their meeting last Tuesday, BURBANK SUNRISE ROTARY donated $2,250 to KCDC for more kits. “Helping out Kids Community Dental Clinic was such a right thing to do,” said JANICE LOWERS, Community Service Chair for Burbank Sunrise Rotary. So she leveraged $250 in club funds nine-fold into a $2,250 donation, thanks to help from Rotary District 5280 and their Community Grants Program.

“In any given year, District 5280 and its clubs make donations to the Rotary Foundation,” explains Sunrise Rotarian LEE STACY, who also serves as the District’s Community Grants Chair. “Three years later 50% of those donations become available to the District’s 63 clubs for local community projects and vocational scholarships, as long as a club fills out an online application. The other 50% is used to fund large international projects. This year, there were 45 community grants available at $2,000 each. But only 40 clubs took advantage of this year’s opportunity.” Burbank Sunrise Rotary was one of them.

KCDC, which operates on a shoestring budget out of a bungalow next to McKinley Elementary School, understands the power of leveraging. Thanks to volunteers giving up evenings and weekends, and dentists donating their services, the value delivered to the Burbank community is many times KCDC’s $240,000 annual operating budget. “Let’s focus on just one of our activities,” says Dale. “Last year we visited 56 schools, screened over 8,500 kids and provided over $564,000 worth of dental treatment.”

KCDC also helps local high school students rack up community service hours in a very rewarding way. And would-be dentists and dental hygienists can get a serious look at the dental careers awaiting them.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that KCDC has experienced 50% growth in just five years. Or that local service clubs like Burbank Sunrise Rotary go the extra mile to support them.

Jack O’Neill Honored by Burbank Sunrise Rotary at Their Silver Anniversary Gala

The Burbank Sunrise Rotary club celebrated their 25th year by honoring Jack O’Neill and raising nearly $39,000, enough money to immunize 64,000 of the world’s most vulnerable children against polio.  The celebration took place at the Holiday Inn last Sunday, September 8, and concluded with an evening of music and dancing.

Rotary President Lee Stacy, Honoree Jack O'neill and Past President & Dinner Chairman Greg Simay. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Rotary President Lee Stacy, Honoree Jack O’neill and Past President and Dinner Chairman Greg Simay. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Notables wishing Burbank Sunrise well included U.S. Representative ADAM SCHIFF, Burbank Mayor EMILY GABEL-LUDDY, Vice-Mayor DAVID GORDON, Councilmember BOB FRUTOS, former Burbank Mayor MARSHA RAMOS, former Councilmember TIM MURPHY, and former 44th District Assembly member ANTHONY PORTALINO.

Jack emceed Sunrise Rotary’s Silver Anniversary Gala, reprising a role that he has served for countless community organizations and causes. As a senior executive with NBC, he had played a pivotal role in garnering support for the network’s master plan for its extensive Burbank facilities. Jack later served as the chief operating officer of the Bob Hope Family Estate.

Rotary member Beth Anderson presents Jack O'Neill his Paul Harris Fellow Award along with Rotary President Lee Stacy. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Rotary member Beth Anderson presents Jack O’Neill his Paul Harris Fellow Award along with Rotary President Lee Stacy. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Sunrise honored Jack with a Paul Harris Fellowship, named after the Rotary International (RI) founder.  “Jack’s many years of being a positive force for Burbank made him a particularly good choice for this honor,” said LEE STACY, Burbank Sunrise president and District Grants Chair. “Jack joins a distinguished group of people who advance the ideals of  RI.”

Burbank Sunrise member and District PolioPlus Chairperson JULIE JENKINS gave a deeply moving account of Rotary International’s battle against polio: a cruel malady that had remained one of the world’s leading causes of poverty even after it had been conquered in 1950’s America. Coincidentally, 1988 was not only when Burbank Sunrise was chartered but also when RI’s commitment to eradicating polio became a worldwide effort. Back then there were over 350,000 new cases annually. Today there are less than 300, a 99.9% reduction. “Because of Rotary’s efforts, there are now 10 million people alive and walking who would have been otherwise paralyzed or worse,” said Julie.

That’s the good news. The bad news is this: Until it’s eradicated completely, polio can quickly spread and reassert itself as the world’s scourge. “If polio spreads out of control, we could have 10 million paralyzed victims within 20 years,” warns Julie. And once polio wracks and cripples a child’s body, there is no cure. Polio is making its last stand in the worst arenas of war and chaos—Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria.  “We are ‘this close’ to finally getting rid of polio,” said Julie, holding up her thumb and index finger in a gesture echoing RI’s public awareness campaign. “But we must reach the children in these areas and immunize them.”

In attendance were former Mayor Tim Murphy and Current Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

In attendance were former Mayor Tim Murphy and Current Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Recently, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation decided to donate two dollars for every outside dollar contributed to RI’s PolioPlus effort. “This was too good an opportunity to pass up,” said Lee. “So the club decided to make its silver anniversary celebration an occasion to also do fundraising for PolioPlus.” Lee also added that RI has also used its polio-fighting resources to distribute Vitamin A to 1.3 billion people so far, and health experts have estimated this effort alone has avoided 1.5 million childhood deaths.

The club sold raffle tickets for 15 gift baskets, and past District Governor ELI GUANA conducted the silent auction, which included a Hawaiian vacation in Maui. It also included a generous donation of time from the evening’s band, Misplaced Priorities. The result: $12,800 was raised at the gala. Together with the two-for-one match of $25,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a total of $38,400 was raised.  At only 60 cents per immunization, that amount makes it possible for 64,000 children to be immunized against polio.

Local Burbank Realtor Ana Lizarrage and her husband Hurbert. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Local Burbank Realtor Ana Lizarrage and her husband Hurbert. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Noon Rotary had sponsored Burbank Sunrise, and back in 1988 it was the first club in the district (then District 5260) to meet early in the morning. More significantly, Burbank Sunrise was the first club that included men and women from the start, reflecting a change that had occurred in Rotary’s membership policy only a short while before. (Burbank Sunrise’s current membership is about 40% women.) Charter and current member GREG SIMAY introduced fellow charter member DR. KEN WAINWRIGHT. He also recognized GEORGE MAUNEY, who had been a Burbank Noon member in 1988 that had been part of the club’s sponsoring team.

If you wish to learn more about RI’s polio eradication efforts, please visit www.endpolio.org.

Burbank Sunrise Rotarian On The Front Lines Against An Age Old Enemy

Human misery can arise from so many evils that it can be hard to know which one to tackle first. But what if you learned that one particular factor was a leading contributor to dire poverty throughout the world? So much so, that if you eliminated this factor, you would eliminate the worst of the world’s poverty? And what if you knew that this one factor would continue to paralyze millions of people if no one did anything to combat it?

Rotarians throughout the world rolled up their sleeves and tackled that “one factor”: the scourge of polio.

It started with one person. In 1975, a Rotarian in the Philippines got his local Rotary club to help children get vaccinated against polio. Rotary clubs throughout the Philippines and soon throughout the world learned of this idea and launched their own vaccination efforts.  By 1985, Rotary pledged $120 million to its PolioPlus fund, the first and largest internationally coordinated private-sector support of a public health initiative. Rotary spurred the World Health Assembly to launch the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988.

In 1988, there were 300,000 cases of polio a year. Today, there are only 300: a 99.9% reduction. Without Rotary’s commitment, there would have been over eight million people paralyzed and crippled by polio since 1988.

And without the passionate engagement of people like Burbank Sunrise Rotarian Julie Jenkins, the Rotary effort could never have succeeded. “It wasn’t the fact that I had polio, but that my dad had it,” Julie explains. “He was only 31 and I watched the disease take its toll over decades until it finally took his life.” And Julie also saw that polio “was not just a kid’s disease.”

In February 2010 and 2012, Julie went to India to participate in their national Immunization day for polio. Together with other Rotarians and world health officials, they vaccinated 172 million children. “It was a deeply moving experience,” said Julie. “You see the absolute poverty so many of these children endure, and it’s easy to see how vulnerable they’d be to contracting polio.  That said, polio knows no boundaries and all children everywhere—including the United States—are vulnerable unless and until we eradicate this disease.”

Organizing a colossal immunization effort is daunting enough in a friendly country, but RI has succeeded in vaccinating children in hostile countries that had barred every other organization from entering. “Rotary has mostly succeeded in winning the trust of many of these countries,” Julie explains. “Their governments came to realize we were genuinely there to help their children and had no other agenda, political or otherwise.” Julie notes that one big break came from Saudi Arabia: “Nobody could make their first time pilgrimage to Mecca unless they could prove they had been vaccinated against polio.”

There are three countries left: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. Suspicions against outsiders are a continuing problem in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the last 5 months, at least 17 vaccination volunteers have been killed in Pakistan and Nigeria. And Nigeria has borders so porous that a polio infection can easily spread to neighboring countries. “Fighting polio is like fighting a vicious wildfire,” Julie said. “Polio can suddenly flare up and spread to countries that had been polio-free.” Even Europe did not achieve freedom from polio until 2002. (The United States had achieved polio freedom much earlier, though some of us may be old enough to remember worried parents telling us to stay away from community swimming pools.) And that is why, even with 99.9% eradication, RI continues to maintain a strong focus on 100% eradication.

So far, the “wildfire” of human compassion–given wings by countless Rotary service clubs–has been faster than the spread of one of humankind’s nastiest viral foes. In 1975, a fire had ignited in one human heart that saw the suffering in his own backyard. And now, Julie explains, “What Rotary has been doing against polio is now the template for fighting other diseases.”

Interested in learning more about eradicating polio for good? Please visit www.Rotary.org.

Postscript. In conjunction with Rotary’s polio-fighting efforts, many children receive Vitamin A as well as vaccinations. Since 1988, over 1.2 million childhood deaths from Vitamin A deficiency have been prevented.

Burbank Sunrise Rotary Achieves Number One Status

Psy this closeAt the weekly meeting on March 19, Jim Miceli from Universal City Rotary presented Burbank Sunrise Rotary with a mini-banner for having been the #1 club overall (including large and medium ones) in Rotary International District 5260 for per capita giving (an average of $916.50 per person) for Rotary Year 2011-12.
All that giving better allows Rotary to help those less fortunate throughout the world, and is in keeping with their motto of “Service Above Self.”
Burbank Sunrise Rotary meets most Tuesdays from 7:15-8:30AM at the Burbank Holiday Inn at 150E. Angeleno Ave.  For additional information, check out their website at http://www.burbankrotary.com/ and/or on Facebook at “Burbank Sunrise Rotary.”  For any questions, contact Rod Gregson at gregrodson@yahoo.com

Burbank Sunrise Rotary is Awarded Silver Bell

At the Rotary District 5260 Conference in North Hollywood on June 8 & 9, Burbank Sunrise Rotary was awarded the very highly coveted and hotly contested Silver Bell as the best small club in the 33-club District for the past Rotary Year (July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2012). 
District Governor Tom Hardy presented the award to club President Rod Gregson in recognition of outstanding achievement for all of the club’s hard work in numerous areas of Rotary endeavors. 
Governor Tom also presented Rod with the Changemaker Award for the club, 1 of only 7 in the District to be so awarded, “For making positive and significant change in the community and the world” for meeting demanding criteria in all five of Rotary’s Avenues Of Service, along with a “100% Paul Harris Fellow Club” banner for everybody in the club being a Paul Harris Fellow, an award given for donating money for Rotary International’s Polio Plus program. 
These awards were the culmination of a LOT of hard work and dedication to the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self” over the past year.  For those involved in Rotary, the Silver Bell is a really big deal.
Burbank Sunrise Rotary does not do all that they do, helping out all those both locally and globally less fortunate than themselves, in order to get awards.  They would still do everything even if there were no awards, but it is always nice to get the icing on the cake. 
If you want to be part of a very active, award-winning, and very dedicated club of people committed to helping others and making this a better Burbank and world, come join them for a meeting and see for yourself what they are all about or check them out at www.burbankrotary.com).  Join them for a meeting and they will buy you breakfast!
Burbank Sunrise Rotary meets Tuesday mornings at 7:15 in the newly remodeled Holiday Inn at 150 E. Angeleno Ave., just east of the I-5 freeway, 1 block south of Olive Ave.


Burbank Sunrise Rotary Donates 3,000 Books to St. Finbar School Library

On Dec. 14, six members of Burbank Sunrise Rotary — club president Rod Gregson, Beth Anderson (who had done most of the organizing), Lee Stacy, Dave Thomas, Janice Lowers, and Mary Gilbert — loaded up three vehicles containing dozens of boxes with about 3,000 books they had earlier collected, purchased, and labeled and delivered them to the St. Finbar School Library, which had lost many of their books during a remodeling snafu.  The kids were very excited to have some new books to read and reference, and librarian Dora Morales was literally moved to tears she was so happy with the donation.

Burbank Sunrise Rotary meets every Tuesday at 7:15AM in the Holiday Inn at 150 E. Angeleno Ave., Burbank.  Contact club president Rod Gregson at (818) 428-0151 for questions. www.burbankrotary.com