On the Town: Chamber hosts year-end, wrap-up event

While the world will not be celebrating the new year for another seven weeks, the Burbank Chamber of Commerce got a jump on ringing in 2018 by presenting an early New Year's Eve-themed mixer last week at Belmont Village Senior Living Community in Burbank.

The focus of the evening, which included a wine tasting, the opportunity for participants to have their fortunes told and a champagne toast to the new year, was to acknowledge the chamber's 2017 accomplishments and present its plans for 2018.

Welcomed by the evening's hosts — Mary Jane Rodriguez and Michelle Sucillon of Belmont Village, the chamber's Chief Executive Tom Falvin and Managing Director Chris Hunter — members received a status report from Lee Wochner, chairman of the board, fresh from the organization's 2017 retreat.

Along with capital improvements to the chamber's Magnolia Boulevard offices, Wochner pointed to membership growth, the successful work the group did to help pass Measure B that approved a replacement terminal at Hollywood Burbank Airport and the biggest turnout ever for the chamber's annual presentation of the mayor's State of the City address, as just some of the successes this year.

"We are also very fortunate to have Tom Flavin serving as our CEO," Wochner said in praise of the man who served as mayor of the city in the early 1990s and took over the reins of the chamber this year following the retirement of Gary Olson.

"Tom has played an instrumental role in helping numerous Burbank businesses establish stronger relationships with the city, the business community and residents alike," he added.

Among the 100-plus chamber members who enjoyed the festive mixer were Gloria Ramirez of Beauty Works Hair Studio, who won one of the evening's raffle prizes; Ed "The Car Guy" Levitt, who shared an emotional story about his father's final years as a resident of Belmont Village, and Patricia Nelson, founder and owner of the Burbank-based Nelson Treasures, which has teamed up with Wanita Accessories to create custom hand-made jewelry of which a portion of the proceeds are donated to help people of the Wayuu tribe in Cartagena, Colombia, with much-needed food, clothing and education.

The Burbank Chamber of Commerce represents nearly 1,000-member businesses with more than 33,000 employees.

For more information about its upcoming events and membership, call (818) 846-3111.

DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.