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On the Town: Casino fundraiser raises money for dental services for low-income children

Depending on the embrace one misses or receives from Lady Luck, spending an evening at the gaming table of a casino can be either a jubilant or wound-licking experience.

For the 200-plus supporters of the Burbank-based Kids’ Community Dental Clinic who gathered at Media Studios North for the “Casino Paradise” fundraiser held last week, the evening proved to be one of jubilance for every participant, as well as the benefiting clinic.

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This annual event, which has garnered support from Burbank residents and businesses alike, has become a tradition that offers an end-of-summer evening to enjoy live music, sample exotic beverages, peruse an elaborate silent auction, tangle with Lady Luck and dine on the building’s plaza.

The attendees were welcomed by the event’s co-chairs, Silvia Mancini, Alejandra Gillette-Teran, Thomas Kissinger, who serves as the president of the clinic’s board of directors, and the clinic’s executive director Dale Morimizu Gorman.

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“Tonight, we will be officially launching the Richard Marias Memorial Fund program,” Gillette-Teran said as guests arrived.

“Dr. Marias was always grateful for the grant funding we received for equipment, but he felt the most important thing for us to do was to raise money for operations. The money raised through this fund, that has been established in his memory, will be earmarked specifically for our administrative and operational costs.”

Marias, who died unexpectedly in 2017, was a founding member of the Kids’ Community Dental Clinic and served as the president of the clinic’s board.

The clinic was created to fill a crucial need in oral healthcare services for children of low-income working families after the pediatric dental clinic at St. Joseph Medical Center closed in 1997.

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In 2002, after much planning and with strong support from local businesses and individuals, the doors of the new clinic opened in the Burbank YMCA.

Originally known as the Kids’ Community Clinic of Burbank, the name was changed in 2004 to emphasize their commitment to provide oral healthcare treatment to families who live outside Burbank.

Today, housed in a free-standing location on the campus of the William McKinley Elementary School, the Kids’ Community Dental Clinic is dedicated to improving children’s oral health through quality dental care and preventive education for children under 18 years old from low-income families.

Staffed by local dentists who volunteer their time and services, the clinic emphasizes education, early intervention and continuous dental diagnostics, along with preventive and treatment services.

Among the special guests in attendance at the event were Rep. Adam Schiff, Vice Mayor Sharon Springer, Councilman Bob Frutos, and members of the clinic’s board including Renee Johnson, Alfred Antoun, Ross Necessary, Thomas Engman, Rene Benavides, Nancy Guillen, Bradley Recker, Peter Shimizu, David Dobson, Tim Knox and Dan Sanchez.

For more information about services and giving opportunities at the Kids’ Community Dental Clinic, visit its website at kidsclinic.org.

DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.

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