Years of sewing specialty clothing for studios and stars -- often
on emergency deadlines -- left Anita Kwasni frayed and ready to
follow a new pattern.
“It was a very stressful business,” Kwasni said of her time with
companies including Warner Bros. and Disney. Ready to make a change,
the Burbank resident was sitting in McCambridge Park, “praying for
God to give me some direction,” when members of The Salvation Army
Corps, who were inviting people to come to their church, stopped by
the park, she said.
A woman from the group asked Kwasni if she would like to volunteer
with them, and nearly eight years later, the former tailor is still
serving those in need as a full-time volunteer at the Burbank center.
"[This work] is the love of my life,” Kwasni said.
Coordinating volunteers who keep the building spotless,
distributing breakfast and lunch five days a week, assisting with
donations and offering encouragement to those in need of it are all
part of an average day.
Her post means the 58-year-old talks to people without jobs,
homes, food or adequate clothing on a regular basis. Some of them
need referrals to other services, which they receive from Salvation
Army Captains Gary and Brenda Smith.
As the state faces a looming budget crisis of more than $30
billion, and local programs risk deep cuts, volunteers play an
essential role in maintaining services.
“Volunteers are important to us all the time,” City Manager Bud
Ovrom said. “It’s going to become even more critical as we go into
this budget crisis because money for these type of services are
typically what get cut.”
In addition, the downturn in the economy gives people who are
looking for work an opportunity “to keep active and keep their skills
up” by volunteering, said Dee Call, the city’s volunteer coordinator.
During the 2002 holidays, The Burbank Salvation Army Corps served
a complete sit down Thanksgiving dinner to 500 people, and
distributed gifts and food to almost 400 families, including 2,000
“My life has quality now, I can’t tell you how rich I feel,”