Easier for some, difficult for others, but everyone was encouraged to "Be Yourself" at the Philanthropic Educational Organization's Founders' Day held on Jan. 21 at the Burbank First United Methodist Church.
Attending were more than 60 members from the three chapters that make up the Burbank Reciprocity Bureau. As each chapter is identified by initials, the Burbank chapters are U, EO and ES.
Toni Shepherd, reciprocity bureau president and a member of Chapter ES, gave background on the organization's history, noting that it is celebrating 148 years.
The sisterhood was founded in 1869 by seven young women at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Its purpose is to support the educational advancement of women. Students can apply for financial help through loans, scholarships and grants.
They also can attend Cottey College in Missouri, which is owned by the sisterhood. There are now 230,000 women in the organization around the world.
Each chapter shared in the responsibilities for the Founders' Day event. Chapter U, led by President Mary Alvord, created the invitations, name tags and kept track of reservations. Members working on those tasks were Marcia Baroda, Laurie Patterson and Bea Wainwright.
Chapter EO, guided by President Donna Michel, handled the decorations and publicity. Serving on that committee were Terry Allen, Deanna Jennings and Connie Trimble.
Allen came up with the idea of a photo booth and gathering up several props that encouraged members to "Be Yourself" by choosing hats and other accessories and posing for cellphone photos with their fellow members.
Trimble did double duty providing a delicious Tex-Mex-inspired brunch of enchilada casseroles, Caesar salad, fresh fruit bowl, fiesta rice and assorted breakfast breads. Her parents owned Barron's restaurant in town for many years, and Trimble is keeping the family tradition alive by cooking many of its tasty dishes — and some new ones — for community events through her Barron's Catering business.
Chapter ES, under President Joan Bethanis, worked on the location, program and brunch menu. Making that happen were Nancy Johnson, Laura Lockwood and Elaine Thomas.
The theme of the day was inspired by Sara Chatfield, the California State Chapter president, whose motto for the year is "In a world where you can be anything — Be Yourself."
Longtime members attending were Helen von Seggern, who has devoted 70 years to the group, while Jane Shanks has given 50 years.
Guest speaker was dancer/author Melinda Marchiano, who gave an inspiring talk about surviving cancer. She was able to attend Pepperdine University through a scholarship from the Philanthropic Educational Organization and received her bachelor's degree in creative writing. She is now associate staff director of Pepperdine's Dance in Flight.
Marchiano culminated her talk by reciting a poem and then performing an impromptu dance. The audience was spellbound.
YWCA honors area women at luncheon
Two Burbank volunteers are among six women who will be honored during the YWCA of Glendale's 20th annual Legacy Luncheon on April 5 at the Oakmont Country Club.
The event raises funds for the YWCA's programs for low-income families, including its emergency shelter for women and children who are escaping abuse.
The event will honor six women with the Heart and Excellence Award for their commitment to helping women and children in their communities and for their status as role models for all women.
JP O'Connor, of Burbank, has been training leaders of all ages for decades and has dedicated her life to empowering people through access to education, the arts and health resources. She has spent decades alongside her mother, the late Mary Alice O'Connor, supporting many charitable causes through the National Charity League. A cancer survivor, she has worked closely with the American Cancer Society San Fernando Leadership Council to raise funds and awareness for cancer research and education.
Nancy Guillen, of Burbank, has volunteered in Burbank and Glendale for more than 32 years, donating her time and money to causes affecting children and raising awareness about cancer. She has served on the boards of the Glendale Latino Assn. and Family Promise of the Verdugos and as a member of the Glendale Kiwanis and the Burbank Chamber of Commerce.
Also being honored will be Jeannie Flint of Glendale, Janet Hamilton of La Cañada, Nancy Stone of La Crescenta and Georgiana Wu of Glendale.
Tickets are $100. For more information, visit glendaleywca.org.
Burbank Singing Star contest returns
The Music Junction and Kiwanis Club of Burbank are teaming up again to produce the second annual Burbank Singing Star.
Young people ages 5 to 14 can submit their video audition to themusicjunction.com/bss. Deadline is March 10.
Finalists will perform live on April 9 at Luther Burbank Middle School. Leading up to the evening contest, there will be an outdoor family festival from noon to 6 p.m. with face-painting and food trucks.