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On the Town: Assistance League celebrates 75 years of service to the community

On the Town: Assistance League celebrates 75 years of service to the community
The Glendale Assistance League's 75th anniversary is celebrated by, from left, President Marcie Haug, City Councilwoman Paula Devine and Event Chair Judy Rogers. (Ruth Sowby Rands / Glendale News-Press)

"The Assistance League of Glendale is the best kept secret in town," said Marcie Haug, president of the organization.

A jewel in Glendale's crown of charities, the league has been serving the community for 75 years. This past Sunday, more than 100 league members and supporters packed the Chapter House to acknowledge the league's anniversary as well as the Chapter House's designation as a Glendale historic resource.

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Historic Resource #123 is the 1928 Tudor Revival-style building that has housed the league since 2002. The earlier owner was the Kiefer & Eyerick Mortuary. Twenty-two members of the Kiefer family were present to celebrate the historic designation of their former building designed by Alfred F. Priest.

The mortuary operated in the building for 75 years, before the league bought it.

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Along with other members of the Kiefer family, John Kiefer and his sister Jo Ann Kiefer took a tour of the Chapter House.

"It looks just the same, except for the kitchen. That was our embalming room," John Keifer said.

According to Judy Cabrera, publicity chairwoman, "Some people get freaked out about that".

Today, the league's kitchen was manned by culinary arts students from Glendale Community College. League members paid the college for its catering services.

As supporters enjoyed the savory appetizers made by the students, the afternoon program featured the unveiling of a plaque from the Glendale Historic Preservation Commission. It will be installed on the wall next to the league's entry gate.

Kiefer family members were present for the Glendale Historic Resource designation of the building owned by the Kiefer & Eyerick Mortuary for 75 years. The building is currently the Assistance League's Chapter House.
Kiefer family members were present for the Glendale Historic Resource designation of the building owned by the Kiefer & Eyerick Mortuary for 75 years. The building is currently the Assistance League's Chapter House. (Ruth Sowby Rands / Glendale News-Press)

Also present were field representatives from the offices of U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge). Both recognized the league's 75-year dedication to the community.

In Glendale, more than 600 elementary school children are given clothes and backpacks through the league's "Operation School Bell" program every year.

"Authors and Illustrators Day" has introduced 4,000 school students to the love of reading. The league also gives scholarships to worthy Glendale high school students.

These programs are primarily funded by the league's thrift shop, located in the Chapter House, 314 E. Harvard St., Glendale.

The recent opening of the neonatal intensive-care unit at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital doesn't mean all fundraising can stop. The babies served by the unit still need more resources "to help make our littlest ones as comfortable as possible," said Ruth McNevin, foundation women's council member.

The Wine and Canvas Night held last month perfectly fit the bill. For $50 per person, participants received supplies and art instruction from the hospital's art therapist, Julie Shadpa. Of course, there were plenty of sips and nibbles to go around too.

Easels and canvases were set up in the council room for anyone from the community who fancied themselves an artist. Shadpa walked them through the preliminaries so that they could paint flowers worthy of Monet.

La Crescenta resident Kristina Garcia begins her flower at Wine & Canvas Night, put on by the Women's Council of the USC Verdugo Hills Hospital Foundation.
La Crescenta resident Kristina Garcia begins her flower at Wine & Canvas Night, put on by the Women's Council of the USC Verdugo Hills Hospital Foundation. (Ruth Sowby Rands / Glendale News-Press)

Shadpa, who helps Alzheimer's and dementia patients draw, said, "Art can decrease anxiety. Patients can express themselves without words."

Busy painting her flower at one of the easels was La Crescenta resident Kristina Garcia, who planned to give her parents her finished painting.

Hospital staff on hand included foundation director Kerri Yoder Hubbard, foundation director of major gifts Stephanie Van Sickel, foundation systems administrator Barbara Jordan, women's council president Tiffany Ajaryan and council program chairperson Purnima Panchal.

Proceeds will go toward the new neonatal intensive-care unit in order to add private rooms and install computer cameras so family members can view their babies off-site.

RUTH SOWBY RANDS may be reached at ruthasowby@gmail.com.

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