Burbank Civitans seek members

The Burbank Civitan Club is seeking more men and women to help with its charitable projects.

Some of the group’s activities include providing food and financial assistance for the annual Graduation Dance of BCR “a place to grow” and supporting, in conjunction with the Burbank parks department, the baseball jamboree in which about 1,000 Hap Minor League baseball players compete in several competitions. Civitans provide trophies, hot dogs and punch. This event has been hosted by the club for more than 50 years.

The main fundraiser each year is the Sunday St. Patrick’s Day Champagne Brunch at the Castaway Restaurant, featuring a buffet luncheon, door prizes, silent auction, music and the O’Connor Irish Dancers.

To join, call Elaine Paonessa at (818) 845-6851.

Agency is there for those who need it

Unless you have taken part in its services, you might not have heard about the Family Service Agency of Burbank.

Its counselors have been helping people cope with life's challenges since 1953. At the helm today is Executive Director Laurie Bleick.

The agency's vision statement is “A Healthy Community Built on Strong Families” and it strives to support the sustainability of the Burbank community by providing all residents access to quality mental-health care and preventive education through quality professional low-cost/no-cost services.

In ecology, sustainability describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. For the agency, sustainability for humans is the potential for long-term maintenance of well-being. That sustainability has environmental, economic, financial, social and psychological dimensions. Basically, that means that if we can learn to cope with the rigors of daily life, we are happier, healthier individuals.

Bleick says this year will be one of preparing for the agency's 60th anniversary and then, starting in January, once a month there will be an outreach to re-introduce the community to the purpose of the agency.

While the agency desperately needs support from the community, Bleick said, the community seems to need the agency more than ever.

“We are seeing more critical issues at younger ages and more multiple complex family challenges than in decades past,” she said. “Suicide, depression, violence and substance intervention and prevention are issues we are addressing daily. I want to be sure that our community's families know that FSA exists to support them during life's most challenging of times.”

Serving on the board this year are Bruce Osgood, president; Ross Purdy, vice president; Anja Reinke, treasurer; and Yasmine Wolfe, secretary. Two new members, Brian Miller of Cartoon Network, and Samuel Scriven, senior chaplain at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, join veteran board members Mary Alvord, Anita Schackmann, Bill Kirsch, Teri Stein and Mickey DePalo.

Currently the board is working on its annual fundraiser, “Imagine a City,” a dinner dance and auction Nov. 3 at Providence High School. Receiving this year's Mary Alice O'Connor Vision Award will be City Manager Mike Flad. For tickets, call Pat Smola at (818) 845-7671.

Providence has for the last three years allowed the agency free use of its facilities so that every dime raised goes to the agency's services, Bleick said. All food and bar beverages are donated. Prizes available at the event include a big-screen TV, an iPad and vacation trips.

Family Service Agency provides individual, family and couple counseling and family domestic violence counseling at the agency. It sends more than 60 therapists every day to all 18 schools in the Burbank Unified School System to administer individual counseling and psycho-educational preventive programs on-campus.

The agency, partnering with the Burbank Housing Corp., runs three residential-care facilities in Burbank, one for victims of domestic violence, one for homeless families, and one for emancipated youth and young adults leaving the foster care system.

Mental health issues used to be swept under the carpet and ignored. But here in Burbank, early movers and shakers saw the need and fulfilled it by putting into place the Family Service Agency. Sixty years of providing mental health education and counseling is a monumental achievement, and one that should be shouted from the rooftops.

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

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