Community: Guest chefs have secret recipe for helping homeless

Community: Guest chefs have secret recipe for helping homeless
Board member Terry Walker, from left, Tippy Boonkokua, branch manager of HomeStreet Bank, and Ascencia Executive Director Natalie Profant Komuro. (Joyce Rudolph / Burbank Leader)

Officials with Ascencia homeless services recently thanked donors and those who contribute to its year-round meals program during a volunteer appreciation reception held at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center.

Kelly Linden, Providence’s chief executive, and Terry Walker, manager of business development, welcomed 90 guests including Ascencia’s board of directors, staff, volunteers and supporters.


Debbie Hinckley, Ascencia’s board president, conducted the program and said that in the guest chefs program, a different group of volunteers comes in 365 days a year to purchase, cook and serve dinner to those residing in the Glendale shelter.

This year, some 900 volunteers gave 4,646 hours of service to the program.


“Our clients have had 730 gourmet dinners and breakfasts served by 50 teams of guest chefs,” Hinckley said. “All of these volunteer services have saved $46,467.50 that Ascencia could spend on [other] homeless services.”

Last year, the board instituted the Top Guest Chef Award, Hinckley said, to recognize outstanding commitment to the guest chef program. The first recipient was St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church in Burbank.

This year’s recipient was Aren Blanco, who started her guest chef service in 2010 with St. Robert’s church. She enjoyed it so much, she started her own team of chefs and now serves dinner twice a month. In total, she has logged in more than 150 hours serving dinners to Ascencia clients.

“It may be more than that, as Aren is very humble and sometimes does not log in her hours,” Hinckley said.


In addition, she has brought in more than 50 volunteers to help with the meals.

This year, the board instituted the Volunteer of the Year Award, and the recipient was announced by Brianna Beyrooty, administrative assistant, who coordinates the volunteers.

Receiving the honor was Barbara Gormley, who began in February 2016 and has logged in more than 200 hours of service — the longest administrative volunteer to date.

Several of the guest chefs, donors and guests attending had created culinary delights for the reception. In judging, the majority voted desserts as the top two favorites.

Debbie Andrus captured first place for her cream puffs, and Anush Avejic received second place for her Armenian kadayif with cream.

Adding icing to the cake, Tippy Boonkokua, branch manager of HomeStreet Bank in Burbank, presented a $2,500 donation to Ascencia Executive Director Natalie Profant Komuro.

Volunteers not only provide the meals, but they sit down and eat with the homeless clients and exchange their life stories, said Anjalika Nigam, development officer with Ascencia.

A group of police officers had served food to clients at one dinner, and a client’s high-school-age daughter was so taken with her chat with the police chief during the meal, she has decided on law enforcement as a career.

Top Guest Chef Aren Blanco, from left, Volunteer of the Year Barbara Gormley and Ascencia Board President Debbie Hinckley.
Top Guest Chef Aren Blanco, from left, Volunteer of the Year Barbara Gormley and Ascencia Board President Debbie Hinckley. (Joyce Rudolph / Burbank Leader)

Fiat featured vehicle at Road Kings car show

Former drag race driver Ron Stearns of Burbank will show his Fiat body A/A coupe during the Burbank Road Kings’ 29th annual charity car show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 10 at Johnny Carson Park, 400 Bob Hope Drive.

Stearns teamed up in 1958 with high school buddies Don Ratican and Bill Jackson, and in the drag-racing world became known as Ratican-Jackson-Stearns. They created a new chassis for the Fiat that was completed in 1960.

In their brief racing career, they won their race at what is now known as the U.S. Nationals in Detroit and won in their class two years in a row at the National Hot Rod Assn.’s U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.

Other vehicles on display at the car show will include hot rods, classics, muscle cars and vintage boats and motorcycles.

To register, contact Bruce Borst after 5 p.m. at (661) 296-3133.

The show will kick off with Gino Gaudio singing the national anthem and then Boy Scout Troop 50 will present the colors. This year, a new concessionaire, Tropical Island Catering, will be cooking up breakfast and lunch.

There will be door-prize drawings, a silent auction and the Road Kings own band Chrisco and the Last Mile.

Proceeds will benefit Relay for Life, the Burbank Police Foundation, Burbank Historical Society, Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley, Burbank Temporary Aid Center and Burbank Fire Department Muster Club.