On the Town: Foundation dances with diamonds

Glendale Educational Foundations Diamond Award Honoree
Daughter Lauren Phillips looks proud of father Ron Underwood, Glendale Educational Foundations Diamond Award Honoree.

The Glendale Educational Foundation did more than “Dancing with Diamonds” Friday evening. It gave them away, honored them and collected them to the tune of $50,000 in expected proceeds. On Friday (Feb. 17), the Glendale Hilton Hotel staff pushed out the dividers into their largest ballroom to accommodate more than 350 supporters in sipping, supping and socializing, all in the name of educating our Glendale youngsters.

This 5th Anniversary Gala Dinner & Dance, chaired by Vrejh Hovsepian, saluted three Diamond Award Honorees. Each honoree graduated from Glendale high schools. Peabody Award winning motion picture and TV director Ron Underwood was recognized for Distinguished Achievement in the Arts. Underwood was accompanied by wife Sandy Underwood and daughters Lana House, Larissa Block and Lauren Phillips. Later in the evening Phillips was the lucky winner of 1/2-carat diamond. (A second 1/2-carat diamond was won by Glendale Healthy Kids Board Member Corliss Andrade, who donated it to Glendale Healthy Kids. Executive Director Camille Levee was thrilled.)

Dr. Varoujan Gorjian was honored for Distinguished Achievement in Science & Technology. Dr. Gorjian is a research astronomer at the Jet Propulsion Lab. He was joined at the gala by wife Allison Gorjian, his father Vram Gorjian, mother Victoria Gorjian, brother Zareh Gorjian and sister-in-law Alina Gorjian.

Distinguished Achievement in Health & Fitness was given to Tom Holmoe. Holmoe is the athletic director at Brigham Young University and former NFL player.


Glendale Educational Foundation President Laurel Patric, Glendale Unified School District Superintendent Richard Sheehan and Board of Education President Joylene Wagner welcomed their audience. Wagner introduced the other board members present — Clerk Nayiri Nahabedian and Mary Boger. Deputy Superintendent John Garcia took over as Master of Ceremonies.

After dinner and the program recognizing the honorees, dancing to a band called Bob’s Yer Uncle followed.

In this season of annual recognition dinners, Glendale Clean & Beautiful and Neighborhood Services joined the fray. Their community recognition dinner was held at Glendale Adventist Medical Center on Thursday (Feb. 16).


Award recipients included the Luna family of Glendale, which was jointly named Volunteer of the Year. Parents Evelyn Luna and husband German Luna picked up cigarettes and trash on the sidewalks of Glendale, erased graffiti and recycled. Their children Keasha Luna, 18; Odalis Luna, 15; and Anthony Luna, 12, more than held their own by pitching in. “We like to volunteer to teach our community that together, we can make a difference,” said Evelyn.

The Carol Jean Felker Community Volunteerism Award went to Elizabeth B. Bitow. She was joined on stage by husband Ermias Bitow and sister Mehret Werrede. Elizabeth is a faculty advisor for Wilson Middle School’s Junior Ambassador Program. In 2011 she coordinated the construction and operation of a student garden at the school.

The Glendale Beautiful Arbor Day Committee was awarded the Civic Pride Award. President Gladys Wymore and Vice President Lynda Burns shared the certificate of recognition. This year’s Arbor Day will be held March 6 at Casa Adobe.

Spoiler alert! If you don’t want to know the likely Oscar winners in the top categories, don’t read further. If you’re curious, however, film critic Andy Klein named his favorites at Altrusa of Glendale’s luncheon at Shakers Restaurant celebrating the 84th Academy Awards. On Wednesday Klein, film critic for the Los Angeles Times Community Newspapers Group, talked Oscars to about 20 members and guests.

Klein named “The Artist” as his choice for the Best Picture Oscar. Klein’s favorite for Leading Actor was George Clooney in “The Descendants.” Klein’s pick for Leading Actress was Viola Davis in “The Help.”

After Klein’s remarks were followed by lunch, Altrusa Vice President Sandra Moore opened the program to questions. Those doing the bulk of the questioning included Glendale residents Roberta Hagopian, Donnalee Monniger and Marguerite Sweeden.

Let’s see if Klein is right when the Oscars are broadcast on Feb. 26.


RUTH SOWBY may be reached at