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Don’t turn your back on BTAC

Recently, I have read several unpleasant news stories about Burbank

Temporary Aid Center in the Leader. As one of the five former

executive directors of BTAC in the past four years, I feel that my

opinion might be of some value to the community who supports this

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amazing and compassionate nonprofit organization. I believe the most

important concern, over the past four years, has been the motives of

some members of the Board of Directors on some diverse and

significant issues.

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I believe several of the problems at BTAC arose because many

previous board members were ill-advised, befuddled, and lied to by a

single person who is no longer involved with BTAC. Most of us who

have been around BTAC throughout this mess know of whom I’m speaking,

so no names are required.

Lately, much has been written about BTAC and its board of

directors, but the one thing that has not been addressed is, the

board of directors at BTAC is almost a completely different board

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than the one when I was serving as interim executive director four

years ago.

So the problems at BTAC presently have very little to do with

mistakes made by former board members. I have also been told that

only two members of that former board are still serving today.

Sometimes, as the old saying goes, it takes just one or two rotten

apples to spoil the whole barrel. And I know that is what happened on

BTAC’s board in the past but I also sense those apples have been

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recognized and eliminated, and now this amazing agency can get back

to its mission of helping our needy neighbors during the difficult

and tough times they sometimes face.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge in the past four years

and I, for one, am willing to forgive and forget the past and look to

the potential of this extremely worthwhile and very vital Burbank

agency. Stacy Schumacher, who for five years served as the backbone

of BTAC, has recently returned, and I have also offered her my

services as a volunteer, if BTAC needs me.

I know a lot of people loved Pat Smola -- her nickname at the

agency is “Good Pat.” If anyone knows how bad she feels, I suppose it

is probably me. I know how heartbreaking and unappreciated the job of

executive director can be, especially if you really and truly care

about the unfortunate people you assist daily. I wish her all the

best in the future. I also would like to offer her my support and

thanks for all she has done for our wonderful community.

But I am also sure she knows how important it is for BTAC to

continue to provide the needed services to Burbank’s poor and

homeless. For three decades, BTAC has been one of the most important

nonprofit organizations in our city. BTAC has helped a countless

number of our less fortunate citizens. Its volunteers are some of the

kindest and most generous people I have ever had the privilege and

pleasure to work with. The service that this agency provides to our

community is often the answer to the prayers of many of Burbank’s

most disadvantaged citizens.

I will never forget the morning a lady with five children, all

under the age of 10 and one in diapers, came into BTAC for help. They

had no food, diapers, money or a place to sleep that night. BTAC took

care of that family by providing them with a $100 food coupon, a $10

gas voucher, a large box of diapers, new shoes for the kids, and a

motel room for a week. BTAC’s magnificent volunteers also made her an

appointment with welfare in order to get her food stamps, Medi-Cal

and a monthly check until the needy family could get back on their

feet. BTAC helped to save that family and a lot of other families a

great deal of grief and heartache. It is good to know that BTAC will

always be there to help these hopeless and desperate families. We all

know BTAC has had its problems in the past. But so have most of its

clients.

We must not forget that BTAC is now almost 30 years old and for

most of that time has been an outstanding example of the great

generosity and kindness of Burbank and its wonderful citizenry. I

trust BTAC will continue to help the needy in our community for the

next 30 years. I also hope it will be able to keep expanding and

growing, so it can provide even more services to the less fortunate

and the homeless. To accomplish that, it will need our continued

support. So please continue to preserve this superb agency for all

who need some help.

Kevin McKenna

Former BTAC executive director


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