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Community: Ascencia friends revel in a night of royal festivities

Community: Ascencia friends revel in a night of royal festivities
Ascencia Board President Debbie Hinckley, from left, with award recipients Steve Nakasone and Abbas Yar-Khan and Ascencia Executive Director Natalie Profant Komuro. (Joyce Rudolph / Burbank Leader)

The "Royal Night" celebration captured all the sights and sounds of a colorful festival in India.

It was the 12th anniversary Gala of Ascencia that raised funds to support its mission — lifting families and individuals out of homelessness in Burbank, Glendale and surrounding communities.

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Having the event at the Globe Theatre in Universal Studios Hollywood added to the pageantry.

The gala committee, led by chair Mia Lee, succeeded in creating an exciting evening, starting with an outdoor bazaar.

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More Burbank supporters are, from left, Kellie Bertain, Richard Bertain, Ascencia board member Terry Walker and councilman Bob Frutos.
More Burbank supporters are, from left, Kellie Bertain, Richard Bertain, Ascencia board member Terry Walker and councilman Bob Frutos. (Joyce Rudolph / Burbank Leader)

Waiters passed skewered hors d'oeuvres, while a sitar player plucked mesmerizing melodies and a henna artist painted designs on guests' wrists.

A few chose to dress in draped garments or saris, including Ascencia's executive director Natalie Profant Komuro.

All of the guests then followed a dhol player into the theater's Royal Hall for an Indian fusion dinner inspired by Wolfgang Puck Catering and program.

Debbie Hinckley, president of the board of directors, illustrated the theme well in her magenta sari with sky blue shawl. A search through his closet netted her husband, Bruce, a yellow tie with an elephant pattern.

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The highlight of the event was the presentation of the Ambassador of Hope Awards, which are presented to an individual or business that has gone above and beyond in providing support for Ascencia's mission.

Recipients were Steven Nakasone and Shire, a biotechnology firm focused on rare diseases.

Representing Burbank, from left, are Barry Gussow, Joan McCarthy, Karen Volpei-Gussow and City Council member Sharon Springer.
Representing Burbank, from left, are Barry Gussow, Joan McCarthy, Karen Volpei-Gussow and City Council member Sharon Springer. (Joyce Rudolph / Burbank Leader)

Nakasone, an attorney, is a founding Ascencia board member and served from 2006 to 2017 as vice president. He drafted documents, filed for a name change and handled the merge with the S.H. Ho Hope and Compassion Centers.

He also has provided staff with advice on legal and human resources matters.

He and his wife, Makiko, have supported Ascencia financially, including contributing to the Advancing Ascencia Capital Campaign. The computer station for clients bears his name.

Also honored was Shire, which, after purchasing the Baxter operations in Los Angeles, continued support of Ascencia. Since 2014, 106 Shire employees have volunteered 426 "guest chef" hours during which they purchase and cook breakfast or dinner for Ascencia shelter residents.

Since 2012, Baxter and now Shire have been consistent sponsors of the gala, contributing a cumulative total of $25,000 in the past five years.

Celebrating Ascencia are, from left, Dan Ziegler, Board Vice President Paul Brodsky, Mary Brodsky and Tina Ziegler.
Celebrating Ascencia are, from left, Dan Ziegler, Board Vice President Paul Brodsky, Mary Brodsky and Tina Ziegler. (Joyce Rudolph / Burbank Leader)

In 2013, Baxter International Foundation awarded a $52,000 Hospital to Home grant.

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Accepting the award was Abbas Yar-Khan, vice president of manufacturing and site head for Los Angeles.

Noon Rotary Club plans first karaoke benefit

The Burbank Noon Rotary Club is kicking off its first karaoke night from 6 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 24 at Nickelodeon Studios.

There will be a $75 donation to attend and reservation deadline is Feb. 22.

For reservations, contact Barry Gussow, chair of the Burbank Rotary Foundation, at (818) 266-9898 or by email at barrygussow@gmail.com, or go to the Burbank Noon Rotary Club Facebook page.

Chairing the event is Rotary President Brian Volpei. Proceeds go to the Burbank Noon Rotary Foundation.

The club adopted the idea after it was suggested by member Mike Thomas. The club was looking for a unique annual fundraiser because it doesn't have an annual gala.

The club wanted to generate more funds to give back to community nonprofits through scholarships and grants, Gussow said.

The grants will be presented during an April meeting when the club's monthly theme will be "Giving Back."

Young performers sought for Singing Star 2018

Auditions are scheduled on March 3 and 4 for the Burbank Singing Star 2018 competition for children ages 5 to 14.

Callbacks will be on March 10.

In addition, video auditions are being accepted until March 3. Audition details are available at themusicjunction.com/bss.

Burbank Singing Star is an annual fundraiser for local charities produced by the Burbank Noon Kiwanis Club and the Music Junction.

This year, proceeds will go to Burbank Unified School District's music programs.

JOYCE RUDOLPH can be reached at rudolphjoyce10@gmail.com.

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