On the Town: Cancer guild raises $78,000 in first year

An avid photographer and all-around-go-to-girl, Julie Shermer was on the receiving end of the camera at Glendale Adventist Medical Center. On Thursday, in front of some 75 fans, Shermer received the first annual Courage Award for her courageous fight against colon cancer. Her oncologist, Dr. Boris Bagdasarian, presented the award to her in the hospital's “Garden of Hope” in front of the hospital's Cancer Services Center. Bagdasarian is also on the hospital staff and is a member of the L.A. Cancer Network.

Owner of the Glendale Connection, Shermer was most recently employed as the City's Neighborhood Services Fund Development Coordinator. Shermer was also a past president of Soroptimist International of Glendale, having joined in 1978.

At the podium was new CEO Kevin Roberts. He described joining the hospital six months ago from Hawaii. He felt right at home surrounded by the afternoon's Hawaiian theme. He introduced Shermer's family, including her mother Genevieve Sultenfuss, looking spry at 101 years old. Julie's husband of 30 years, Howard Shermer, was also front and center, as were three of Julie's adult children, Kimberly Meyer, Kathy Burroughs and Jim Burroughs. Fourth child, Chris Burroughs, was not able to be present. Shermer's granddaughters on hand were Alyson Meyer, 21, and Kristen Burroughs, 19.

Event Co-Chairs, both Soroptimists, were Liz Mirzaian and Sandy Schultz. Mirzaian is the hospital's director of volunteer resources. Another Very Important Person present was Director of Cancer Services Melina Thorpe. Thorpe introduced Karine Bagdasarian, President of the event's presenting organization, the Dr. Norick Bogossian Cancer Care Guild. Karine, wife of Dr. Boris Bagdasarian, announced that in the Guild's inaugural year, $78,000 was raised to support the Guild's mission to raise cancer awareness and to raise funds for the Cancer Center. Available at the center are free support services, free family counseling, free fitness center services and free wigs, scarves and hats.

But the afternoon belonged to Julie. Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero presented her with a Mayor's Commendation. Glendale City Councilman and cancer survivor Laura Friedman was also on hand to congratulate Julie and lend a little moral support.

Janice M. Robinson has three more math classes to take before she receives her Associate of Arts degree from Glendale Community College and transfers to Cal State Northridge. At 55, she's a grandmother of two and has a background no one would envy. Raised in an abusive home, she was abandoned at age 15 by a college-educated mother who told Robinson she was “too stupid” to send to college. “I think I carried her words with me until I entered Glendale Community College at the age of 50,” she continued, “I conquered my first test, my first essay and my first semester.” Now Robinson's goal is to become an English instructor. She received the Geraldine Manus Scholarship to help further those goals. Robinson also received the Kabateck Family Re-Entry scholarship and two other scholarships, as well.

It was all scholarships all the time at the college's 2012 Honors & Awards Banquet, sponsored by the college Associated Students, the college Scholarship Office and the Glendale College Foundation. On June 13 at Burbank's Castaway Restaurant, more than 400 students received awards and scholarships ranging from $250 to more than $1,000.

Besides Robinson, more standouts included Sona Ter-Yegishyan, who plans to become a politician after transferring to Berkeley in the fall and eventually going to law school. Her scholarship was donated by David Greenbaum and his family, including son Jim Greenbaum. Father and son presented the scholarship to Ter-Yegishyan. David graduated from the college in 1958. Agnes Constante is also graduating from the college and will transfer to Cal State Northridge in the fall. She plans to major in journalism. Constante is from Saipan and has been in the U.S. for four years. Her scholarship was given by Fran Benedict on behalf of her late husband, sportscaster Chuck Benedict.

Dean of Student Affairs Dr. Paul Schlossman presided over the Inaugural Scholarship presentations. Announced Schlossman, “Glendale Community College has one of the largest scholarship programs in the state.”

RUTH SOWBY may be reached at ruthasowby@gmail.com.

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