Community: Luncheon thanks retired volunteers

Burbank seniors, ages 55 to 99, were thanked for giving thousands of hours to the Retired Senior Volunteer Program during a luncheon last month at the Castaway restaurant.

Some volunteers serve every day or others a couple times a month, helping seniors live independently in their homes, tutoring and mentoring at-risk youth as well as providing financial education and job training to veterans and their families. They also help communities recover from disasters.

And while these services help the community, volunteering helps keep individuals healthy, said Dee Call, the program’s director.

“More than two decades of health research points to the significant mental and health benefits including lower mortality rates, increased strength and energy, lower rates of depression, and a greater functional ability,” she said.

In Burbank, there are 698 volunteers on the program’s roster, ranging in age from 55 to 99 and 11 months, Call said. Volunteers provided 147,483 hours to more than 50 nonprofits and public agencies from October 2012 to September 2013.

Call presented an enlarged check for $3,650,204.20 to Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, representing the value of hours senior volunteers have given to the Burbank community. Based on the 2011 calculations made by Independent Sector — a national organization of nonprofits, foundations and corporate giving programs — the value of one volunteer hour in California is $24.75, Call said.

The mayor said she’s impressed with the volunteers' service.

“I know there are more than 300 of you here today and I think it's a remarkable show of commitment to your neighbors, to your friends and to your family here in the city of Burbank. The number of hours you put in yourself is truly something to celebrate today,” Gabel-Luddy said.

Special recognition was bestowed on Helen Marotta for serving 25 years as a volunteer with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program. Other volunteers were honored for serving five, 10, 15 and 20 years.

Grace Mylroie Patz was recognized as continuing to volunteer at the young age of 99 and 11 months. She is looking forward to celebrating her 100th birthday this month.

The program’s advisory council, led by chairwoman Judy Pike, sponsors the annual luncheon to thank volunteers. The council raises funds from daily coffee and pastry sales at the Cafe at the Joslyn Adult Center and holding senior health fairs, also at the adult center.

Judy Andrews, past chairwoman of the advisory council, has given more than 10 years of volunteer service.

With the council, she helps organize the health fairs and the Cafe. She also does computer data entry at the Burbank Police Department firing range, keeping inventory of the weapons and training as well as ordering ammunition.

Volunteering makes her feel vital, Andrews said.

“You have a mission in life — you have a purpose — and so rather than sitting in front of the television, you are out doing something to help people,” she said. “There are a lot of vibrant people at Joslyn. Even the 99-year-olds are vibrant.”

The event closed with several songs performed by the Gentlemen's Octet, an a cappella group from Burbank High School's Vocal Music Assn. The group performs a mix of favorites and contemporary selections with some humor, props and a little rap thrown in.

They are available to perform at parties with all funds going to their competition costs. To have them at your event, contact (818) 388-4942 or rimashid@earthlink.net.

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

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