The Burbank Temporary Aid Center has named Will Rogers, former political columnist for The Burbank Leader, as the new chairman of the nonprofit's Board of Directors.
The now actor and freelance writer said he has "big shoes to fill" in the wake of Michael Walbrecht, vice president of public affairs at Warner Bros., who will remain on the executive committee.
"It's very intimidating to follow [Walbrecht's] two consecutive terms," Rogers said. "He is effective, well-connected, well-liked and I'm very worried about messing all of that up."
Rogers, who as a journalist first wrote about center in the early 1990s, has seen the need for the nonprofit's services grow dramatically over the past 20 years, as well as a need for a solid financial base to fulfill those needs.
Working with both the board and Executive Director Barbara Howell, Rogers has helped develop a strategic plan for the organization and plans to begin implementation as soon as possible, he said.
The organization is a major source of help for Burbank's homeless and down and out, providing financial assistance with utility bills, laundry, food and other services to help people make ends meet, Howell said.
"We are not a soup kitchen, but a temporary aid center; we want people to get back on their feet," she said.
The community organization helps about 8,000 individuals and families each year, but is run by only two full-time staff members — Hubell and a pantry/facilities manager — three part-time employees and around 60 volunteers
The board plans to build the stronger financial base needed to continue the services for lower income residents by partnering with a wider range of businesses. Although local businesses and larger corporations in the area have always been key donors, Burbank Temporary Aid Center officials say they want to attract the smaller, mid-range businesses to broaden their support.
There are also plans to develop an endowment to ensure the center can continue to plan for the future.
"It has always been really moving that there are people from our own neighborhoods that have this much need," said Rogers, a 14-year resident of Burbank. "I hope that the people of Burbank will grow to understand that this can happen without it being anyone's fault and they can help people get back on track with relatively little effort."