The Boys & Girls Club of Burbank Honored Its Founders During Recent Gala

(Photo By Ross A. Benson)

The Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley honored its founders during its “Great Futures Gala — Celebrating 20 Years” at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Hotel in mid-May.
Founders attending were Dave Augustine, the Rev. Dr. Jerry Jones, Tim Murphy, Marsha Ramos, Jack Reardon and Al Shapiro.

Boys & Girls Gala Pic
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“Our founders had a vision and made it a reality,” said Chief Executive Officer Shanna Warren. “Our club would literally not exist without them. The most amazing part is how they all still support the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley.”

The idea to bring the after-school program to Burbank was initiated by former mayor Tim Murphy.

While working as a public defender, Murphy met Clay Holopeter, program director of the Boys & Girls Club of El Monte.

“He would come up to me and say ‘I can help that kid’ ” Murphy said.
Murphy went to the program to see what is was all about.

“Program leaders were trying to get into the hearts and souls of the kids and get them out of the gang lifestyle,” he said.

When Murphy was voted onto the Burbank City Council in 1989, he said he had no interest in starting a Boys & Girls Club program until he started talking to a lot of the senior citizens who had complaints about the graffiti and gang activity.

Boys & Girls Gala Pic
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

He did research on what programs were effective at keeping kids from a negative environment and Boys Scouts and Boys & Girls Club came out on top for that. He talked to the national Boys & Girls Club and they put him in touch with the local representative. A study was conducted by the organization and it concluded that a club was needed.

Murphy started working on getting the legal paperwork started in 1991 and put together a board of directors. It took about three years to open the doors, he said. They needed a place, money and an executive director. The city leased the former fire station on Buena Vista Street and San Fernando Road at $1 a year to the club.

Murphy started talking to people who were interested in serving on the city’s boards and commissions. Coming on board during those three years were Marsha Ramos, Barbara Sykes, the Rev. Dr. Jerry Jones, Kevin McKenna, Dave Augustine and the late Liz Shapiro

“Liz donated a lot of money and resources,” he said. “She forced her husband and son to join the board.”

The board members got their hands dirty cleaning up the old fire house.

“We were painting and scraping and then we were getting computers and hooking them up and having garage sales and bake sales to raise money,” he said.

Even some of the kids came to help because they wanted a club in Burbank.

The Rev. Dr. Jerry Jones served three terms as president of the board, Murphy said, and he brought a lot of energy and leadership to the board. Jones came up with the idea to have each board member take charge of one room of the fire station and see it to completion.

Local businessman Jack Reardon owned a glass business and donated glass work to the clubhouse. Ramos had a contact with an asphalt business that had done a lot of work for the city of Burbank. They repaved the asphalt over the outdoor play area for free and in exchange, the board allowed them to store their machinery there overnight so they didn’t have to transport it back to the office in Santa Clarita.

Jack O’Neil helped with securing surplus portable classrooms from the NBC property that were turned into computer labs for kids to do homework at the clubhouse.

Boys & Girls Gala Pic
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The business community continues to support the club, Murphy said. Cartoon Network employees give time on the weekends to paint the clubhouse. Nike donated a rubberized asphalt for the outdoor court.

The board of directors continues to raise funds and the major fundraiser is the annual gala. This year, master of ceremonies was Mario Solis, NBC4 Southern California sports anchor and reporter. Kurt Long, from the Disney Channel’s “Liv and Maddie”, was auctioneer during the live auction. Gala co-chairs were Leena Mathew and Joan Ortiz.

This year’s live auction was a recording-breaking event. Overall, more than $200,000 was raised with proceeds going directly to the club’s education programs, including but not limited to: After School Enrichment, Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) program, Creative Arts, Athletics, College Bound, STEM and Teen Programs.

There were interactive play stations set up at the event, illustrating program areas that allowed guests to have a club experience. And, just to add more fun to the jam-packed evening, a grand stakes opportunity drawing took place and Marsha and Dave Ramos were the lucky winners of $10,000 in prize money.

Sponsors were Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., Cusumano Real Estate Group, The Walt Disney Company, Midnight Oil and Dave and Pat Augustine.

Members of the Creative Arts Program and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing students performed live, and Sapphyre Price, the Youth the Year, got a standing ovation from the crowd after announcing that she was recently awarded a full scholarship to Cal State Northridge.

Boys & Girls Gala Pic
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“She had been in a single-parent home — her mother with three siblings — they were homeless for four years and lived in their car for one year,” Murphy said.

They were all members of the club, he added, because no youngster is ever turned away, even if they don’t have the means to pay the membership fee.

“Sapphyre is on her way,” Murphy said. “She told the audience that the club meant everything to her and her siblings and she said we saved their lives. That’s the greatest reward. Our product is kids and we are saving them everyday.”