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On the Town: Locals get to showcase their talents, raise funds to help those in need

On the Town: Locals get to showcase their talents, raise funds to help those in need
Singer and actress K’'Lynn Jackman, right, who performed at last week’'s open mic night, arriving at the Little White Chapel with her mother, Wendy. (David Laurell / Burbank Leader)

For those who can sing, dance, tell jokes, juggle, perform magic or even read an original poem or essay, Burbank’s Little White Chapel Christian Church provides locals the opportunity to showcase their talents while benefiting the area’s struggling and homeless.

“We do our open-mic night about every three to four months,” said Rev. Bill Thomas, the church’s pastor.

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“We always tell people, they can do whatever they want as long as they would do it in front of God and their mother,” he added, with a laugh.

The price of admission to last week’s open-mic night, which included a special opening performance by members of the Knights Marshall Arts group who paid homage to the Chinese New Year, was a contribution of non-perishable foods, personal-hygiene item, or a free-will cash donation to the Burbank Temporary Aid Center, BTAC.

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Among the special guests who enjoyed last week’'s open mic night was Burbank Temporary Aid staff member Catherine Bourgeois.
Among the special guests who enjoyed last week’'s open mic night was Burbank Temporary Aid staff member Catherine Bourgeois. (David Laurell / Burbank Leader)

“Every one of our open-mic nights benefits BTAC,” Thomas said. “We do that because some of our congregants are older and can’t do a lot to get out and physically volunteer. But, what they can do is enjoy an evening of entertainment by making a donation to this amazing organization that does so much to help those who are in need of assistance. For us, this is more than just participating in community service. It’s a part of how we worship.”

Thomas, who holds a doctoral degree in ministry from the Claremont School of Theology, is no stranger to blending spiritually and philanthropy with entertainment.

Prior to entering the ministry on a full-time basis, he sang and danced professionally on Broadway for many years, appeared as Cool Charles in the 1980s CBS Television series “Frank’s Place,” and in the 2003 Jim Carrey feature film “Bruce Almighty.”

For attendees at last Friday evening’s Valentine’s Day-themed open-mic night, which included Vice Mayor Sharon Springer and BTAC executive director Barbara Howell, the highlight was a performance by singer and actress K’Lynn Jackman, who performed Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”

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Jackman is best known for playing the role of young Nala on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning musical, “The Lion King.” She has also appeared in the national tour of “A Christmas Story,” sang at Whitney Houston’s funeral and has opened for numerous gospel and R&B legends, including Cissy Houston and the late Aretha Franklin.

Prior to the start of last week’s performance, Howell expressed her appreciation for Thomas, all of the evening’s performers and audience members, who came out to support BTAC.

“I always enjoy seeing the many fun ways people find to support us,” Howell said. “The Little White Chapel has done this for us for years, and we truly appreciate it.”

Howell and her staff are currently preparing for their 2019 Burbank Top Award for Citizenship gala, which will be held in the Castaway Starlight Room on March 15.

This year, the nonprofit organization will honor Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse and longtime BTAC board member, volunteer and former Burbank firefighter Darryl Forbes.

Established in 1974 by the Burbank Ministerial Assn. and the Burbank Coordinating Council, BTAC offers a centralized source of services and provisions for the working poor, the homeless, crime victims, veterans, senior citizens and those who are in times of transition, emergency or disaster.

For more information about BTAC or to get tickets for the gala, visit burbanktemporaryaidcenter.org.

To find out about the Little White Chapel’s next open mic night, visit littlewhitechapel.org.

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

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