Community: Optimist Club honors those who protect and serve

Community: Optimist Club honors those who protect and serve
Burbanp Police DepartmentVolunteer of the Year Soon Hee Newbold Rettig. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The Burbank Magnolia Park Optimist Club believes in recognizing people who make outstanding contributions to the community.

So when members were reevaluating which programs to continue, the "Respect for Law" dinner was one of the top projects they voted to save, said Doreen Wydra, the club's president.


Three members of the Burbank Police Department were recognized during the recent event at the Burbank Elks Lodge.

"This event is just the beginning of many very special nights to recognize people in the community," she said. "Next month, we will be giving scholarships to high school students. The Burbank Police Department deserves this and more. That's what optimism is all about — to see the goodness in everybody."


The honorees were chosen by their peers, said Respect for Law chair Vonda Neundorf, who added that all three epitomize the mission statement and core values of the local police department — "to protect life and property, provide professional police services and work in partnership with the community through respect, integrity and excellence."

Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse, who served as master of ceremonies, said the difficult task in choosing the honorees is that the department has 200 people —160 who are sworn employees and the remainder are civilians — who are all great candidates. Nominations are accepted, and a selection process follows.

LaChasse introduced Sgt. Mark Stohl, who received the Officer of the Year award for 2016.


Stohl began as a Burbank police recruit in January 2000 and became a police officer the following May. He was promoted to detective in July 2007, working with the Gangs and the Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force. He was promoted to sergeant in September 2012, working in the patrol division and then started with the detective bureau, investigating property crimes. He now works with vice and narcotics crime investigation.

Sharise Barker received the Non-Sworn Employee of the Year award for 2016.

Sharise Barker received the Non-Sworn Employee of the Year award for 2016.
Sharise Barker received the Non-Sworn Employee of the Year award for 2016. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

She began her career at the Burbank Police Department in February 2009 as a police technician in the records bureau. She became proficient at entering arrest bookings, traffic collisions, citations and missing-person reports.

In March 2015, she joined the investigations bureau. She records juvenile arrest information and drafts the on-call schedule as well as other investigation-related correspondence. She runs records/information checks for detectives in the field, and provides the city attorney personnel with detective assignment information. She is also a member of the Burbank Police Foundation Awards Luncheon Committee.

Soon Hee Newbold Rettig received Volunteer of the Year for 2016.

For the past year, she has worked with the Burbank Police Department's community outreach and personnel services bureau, producing and directing promotional videos and documenting through pictures and videos the different police units, department training and community events. She also assisted with the expansion of the police department's social media presence.

The Burbank Magnolia Park Optimist Club has served the community for more than 60 years. It meets on the first and third Thursdays of the month and supports such programs as the High School Girls' Golf Tournament, Live2Give Childhood Cancer Campaign, Burbank Optimist's Halloween event and the Burbank Unified School District's music and business programs.

For more information, contact Wydra at (818) 281-2094 or email


Wine benefit will be the toast of the town

Whether you are a casual wine enthusiast or connoisseur, an upcoming scholarship benefit should pique your interest.

The Glendale Area Alumnae Panhellenic is gearing up its annual fundraiser, titled "Of Wine & Wine Tasting," and will welcome special guest Paul Woolls, proprietor of Progeny Winery on Mount Veeder in Napa County. The event will take place on April 8 at Oakmont Country Club in Glendale.

A complementary wine tasting of special Napa wines will be followed by lunch, a silent auction and drawing prizes, said Kim Westhoff, the organization's president, who lives in Glendale.

Proceeds go to the panhellenic's scholarship fund to benefit local graduating high school senior women and to local collegian women belonging to one of the 26 National Panhellenic Conference sororities.

Tickets can be purchased online or the registration form can be downloaded at and select "Annual Benefit Luncheon."

Students are singing for scholarships

California Women's Chorus, Inc. has announced the three winners in its scholarship competition and the bonus is they will perform in a public concert.

Scholarship winners are Kali Hardwick, Niko Murakami and Elizabeth Queen. Each will receive $2,000 to further their vocal studies and education during the 58th annual scholarship concert at 2 p.m. April 30 at the Glendale Hilton Hotel, 100 W. Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale.

Titled "California Dreamin,'" the concert will also feature almost 200 women from 10 choruses in California performing a medley that commemorates our beautiful state. The Verdugo Hills Women's Chorus and the Burbank Singers are co-hosting the concert. Both are members of the state chorus. They promote choral singing among women and raise funds for scholarships for vocal music students.

Tickets can be purchased for $15 presale or $20 at the door. For more information visit Tickets can also be purchased by contacting Marianne Jennings at (818) 398-7323 or by email


JOYCE RUDOLPH can be reached at