"When our children hear us say, 'Now, look at what you've done,' it's not because they have done something good," laughed former Burbank Mayor Michael Hastings. "But when it comes to the Cusumanos, when we say, 'Now, look at what you've done,' it is said because of all the very good and positive contributions they have made to our community over the years."
Thus began the accolades bestowed upon the Cusumano family, the recipients of Woodbury University's 2010 Movers & Shapers Award presented Thursday at a luncheon held on the school's Glenoaks Boulevard campus.
Hastings was joined in lauding the Burbank-based developers by the university's president, Ken Nielsen, Burbank Chamber of Commerce president and past Movers & Shaper honoree Gary Olson, and the event's emcee, Jack O'Neill, who serves as the chief operating officer of The Bob Hope Family Estate and Legacy.
"So much of the Cusumanos' charitable work has been done low-key and below the radar screen," said O'Neill, who is also a past Movers & Shapers recipient. "That is true giving."
Olson agreed, citing a passage from the Gospel of Luke that the family has adopted as its creed—"To whom much is given, much is required.' That captures the essence of this family," Olson said.
Established in 1959 by brothers Chuck and Roger Cusumano, The Cusumano Real Estate Group has grown into a highly respected company. Today, joined by their sons, Michael and Charlie Cusumano, the company is the San Fernando Valley's leader in apartment rentals, office leasing and senior housing. With a long history of business integrity, civic participation and charitable philanthropy, they recently contributed $300,000 toward the planned renovation of Memorial Field at John Burroughs High School, and have implemented a sustainable-and-efficient- operations initiative that addresses the conservation of water and natural gas, electrical efficiency and recycling.
"The Cusumanos are an outstanding example of the spirit of community," said Nielsen as he presented the award that recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the community. "They have strengthened Burbank by giving their time and energy, as well as considerable financial backing, to the institutions that play such an important role in the daily lives of Burbank citizens."
Accepting the award, Michael Cusumano said his family has been honored to have been involved in the evolution of Burbank.
"We stand committed to continue to be a part of the great things happening in this community," he said. "We will always be there to join hands and help in any way we can."
Among the special guests in attendance were Evelyn and Caroline Cusumano, Mayor Anja Reinke, Councilmembers Dave Golonski and Gary Bric, City Treasurer Donna Anderson, Police Commissioner Nat Rubinfeld, Woodbury University Vice President of Marketing Don St. Clair, Seta Javar, who serves as the executive assistant to President Nielsen, and past Movers & Shapers honorees Tomme Lenz and Sunder Ramani.
Other notables in attendance included Rose Nielsen, Barbara Howell, Ernie Berger, Richard and Rilla Raad, Barbara Beckley, Tracy Canfield, Laurie Bleick, Joan McCarthy, Pete McGrath, Katherine Richards, Suzy Jacobs, Barbara Howell, Shanna Warren, Tim and Paula Davis, Boyd Flinders, Vic and Sue Georgino, Lucy Burghdorf, Michael Walbrecht, Jackie Lewis and comedian Jaime Monroy.