On the Town: BTAC goes off to see the Wizard

Whether it is a tiny one-room apartment or a magnificent sprawling mansion, one has to agree with the words lyricist John Howard Payne penned for the 1822 song "Home! Sweet Home!" and that Dorothy repeats at the end of "The Wizard of Oz" — "There's no place like home."

In Burbank, if someone were to find themselves in a situation where they have lost that precious "nothing-else-like-it" dwelling or the funding to keep their home stocked with essentials, they quickly learn there's also no place like the Burbank Temporary Aid Center, which celebrated its 40th anniversary of service to the community with a gala fundraiser at the Castaway this past Friday.

Staged with a "Wizard of Oz" theme, last week's event saw BTAC honor Warner Bros., represented by Lisa Rawlins, senior vice president of public affairs and Michael Walbrecht, vice president of public affairs, who were bestowed with the organization's 11th annual Burbank's Top Award for Citizenship.

"Warner Bros. has played an enormous role in helping to assure BTAC is here for its 40th birthday, to say nothing of how the studio and its people have nurtured and encouraged our growth and mission over the years," said Barbara Howell, BTAC's chief executive officer. "From executives right through to employees of every stripe who have repeatedly chosen BTAC to be among the charitable organizations they support, we simply couldn't be what we are, and do what we do, without Warner Bros."

The evening, emceed by Burbank Chamber of Commerce President Gary Olson, was co-chaired by Vicki Williams and Maddy Horne who oversaw the event committee comprised of Susan Borders, Alethia Calagias, Silvia Mancini, Will Rogers, Darryl Forbes and Jocelyn Paris.

Others who assisted in making the event a success included BTAC board members Ron Sorensen, Dee Call, Ron Cogan, Nancy Gams Korb, Jennifer Magerkurth, Silvia Mancini and Teri Suarez, and sponsors The Walt Disney Co., Worthe Real Estate Group, Dave and Pat Augustine, Burbank Water and Power, Cusumano Real Estate Group, Entertainment Partners, Crown Reality/Burbank Town Center, Logix Federal Credit Union, Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, Belmont Village, Gangi Development and local Realtor Brad Krob.

Among the many notables in attendance at Friday's gala were Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy and her husband, Bill Luddy, Vice Mayor David Gordon, Councilman Bob Frutos and his wife, Laura, five former mayors — Jess Talamantes, Gary Bric, Dave Golonski, Jef Vander Borght and Michael Hastings, Police Chief Scott LaChasse and Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority President Sue Georgino.

Founded in 1974, BTAC provides assistance for the homeless and working poor in Burbank that includes a grocery pantry, sack lunches, laundry and shower facilities, utility assistance programs, referrals and access to physical and mental health services, and case-management services to help end the cycles of poverty and homelessness. The organization is operated by seven staff members, a workforce of dedicated volunteers, and is overseen by a board of directors made up of Burbank residents, local business leaders and active volunteers.

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DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.

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