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Life and Arts

An evening of pre-holiday bliss

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving eve — the day it all begins — the shopping, travel, food preparations, decorating, gathering, partying and everything else that comes with the hectic holiday hoopla we will all be caught up in over the next five weeks. As a prelude of respite for these year-culminating celebrations, the Burbank Chamber of Commerce offered their members, supporters and guest a few hours of pre-holiday bliss as they staged their November mixer at Bliss Unlimited in the Burbank Town Center Mall this past week.

Established six years ago this month, Bliss Unlimited’s goal is not to profit monetarily, but rather by positively affecting the lives of young people. The brainchild of We Care for Youth, a Burbank-based not-for-profit organization founded in 1991 by co-executive directors Jose Quintanar (who retired in 2009) and Linda Maxwell, Bliss Unlimited was started in response to the needs of teens seeking employment and connection to the community.

The business, initially instituted as a coffee brokerage operation in partnership with the Glendale-based Piacere Coffee, saw local teens instructed in all aspects of gourmet coffee products and sales techniques. Ultimately evolving into a retail store providing corporate gift baskets, Quintanar and Maxwell developed a curriculum on small-business management that offered high school course credit in exchange for work. Students were offered sales jobs and even the opportunity to apply for management positions with the shop that has since added the offerings of an eclectic array of art, jewelry and other unique items that have been inspired and created by young people.

This project, along with the multifaceted work of We Care for Youth, has provided thousands of youths with mentoring, job placement, and life-skills and employment-readiness training at no cost to them or their families.


Located on the mall’s third floor, near the Burlington Coat Factory, the folks of Bliss Unlimited who served as the hosts for Thursday evening’s business mixer saw attendees get into the holiday spirit with the seasonal sounds of the Tinseltone Carolers. The quartet, comprising the vocal talents of Christopher Maikish, Dana Shaw, Brittany Alexis Palmer and Michael Grebe, will be performing at the mall and at various venues and events around Burbank during the holidays.

Successfully coordinated by the chamber’s operations manager, Kimberly Thompson, Membership Director Melinda Martin and Community Relations Director Sheri Rang, the event saw the blissful mingling of Bliss Unlimited Manager Natalie Haroutunian, Burbank Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commissioner Barry Gussow, Burbank Heritage Commission Chairman Don Baldaseroni and Dr. Julie Flad of Learning Architects Inc.

Others who enjoyed the evening of bliss included Harvey and Hazel Branman, Jeannie Vlazny, Burt Johnson, Robert Vincent, Bella Flad, Michael Milauskas and Karen Volpei.

The Burbank Chamber of Commerce, representing nearly 1,000 member businesses with more than 33,000 employees, stages monthly business mixers that are hosted by member business. For more information on the chamber and upcoming mixers, visit their website at or call (818) 846-3111.