On the Town: ‘A Royal Night’ gala will benefit programs supporting area’s homeless


A festive gala pairing sitar music and an Indian-fusion dinner created by Wolfgang Puck will generate funds that benefit the homeless in Burbank and surrounding areas.

In keeping with its motto, “Lifting People Out of Homelessness,” Glendale-based Ascencia serves nearly 1,000 men, women and children annually through its Access Center and coordinates services with partner agencies in Burbank, the San Fernando Valley, northeast Los Angeles and West Hollywood. Services include employment assistance, trauma therapy, addiction recovery, mental-health counseling and housing placement, as well as personal needs, such as laundry, showers and mail delivery.

Since 2012, Ascencia has conducted an outreach program in partnership with the city of Burbank’s Community Development Department and Burbank nonprofit organizations to help connect with people on the streets so they can transition to jobs and permanent housing.

To cover costs not provided by the government, Ascencia’s board of directors is planning the 12th annual gala called “A Royal Night” at Universal Studios Hollywood’s Globe Theater on Saturday.

Comedian/actor Rizwan Manji will be master of ceremonies.

The evening’s program will include recognition of successful clients, along with two longtime supporters, Shire, a biotechnology company, and founding board member Steve Nakasone.

Tickets are still available. For more information, call (818) 246-7900, Ext. 114, or visit

Proceeds from this event will go to general operating costs that enable Ascencia to run its programs, such as specific items for clients, auditing costs and accounting, said the organization’s executive director Natalie Profant Komuro.

“These funds make it possible for us to use government funding to assist homeless people with shelter and to move them to permanent housing and help them stay housed,” she said. “Most government grants do not pay for all the costs associated with running these programs, so support from individuals, foundations and businesses are crucial to our success.”

The outreach team in Burbank has served 34 new clients since July, Komuro said, and continues to make referrals to Burbank Temporary Aid Center and Ascencia in Glendale for case management and shelter services.

“We housed a total of 10 homeless people from Burbank in the last fiscal year,” she said. “They were placed in and around Burbank. More housing placements are pending.”

In Glendale, Ascencia’s Access Center supports more than 100 formerly homeless individuals and families in permanent housing with continuing services, Komuro said.

“These are people with at least one disability, often mental illness, and sometimes addiction issues that we ensure stay housed,” she said. “Ninety percent of the people we place in housing remain housed.”

This is the final gala of its kind, because events like this, while they do raise a lot of money, are very costly to produce and require a lot of staff time, Komuro said.

“We are trying to explore ways that are less costly to raise money and to reach more people,” she said. “If we continue on this route, we’d have to keep raising our ticket prices and that becomes too much for our supporters.”

However, Komuro said she thinks that in-person events are really important.

“The people who support Ascencia are very social and enjoy coming together, sharing and celebrating what we do,” she said.

Philharmonic violinist performs during holiday soirée

The Glendale Committee for the Los Angeles Philharmonic celebrated the holidays with a luncheon at the beautifully decorated Annandale Golf Club in Pasadena.

Mark Kashper, associate principal of second violins for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, performed for members and guests. He was accompanied by pianist Meriette Saglie, who is studying and working at USC.

Applauding their performance were the mothers of both musicians, Sofia Kashper and Edith Saglie. Mark Kashper, introduced by member and past President Louise Peebles, is a native of St. Petersburg, Russia.

He was hired by the philharmonic in 1978, three months after arriving in the United States as a refugee. Eight years later, he was named to the position he still holds today.

The Glendale philharmonic committee, formed in 1962, and one of 16 philharmonic support groups, meets monthly in members’ homes and hosts two annual music programs.

Co-presidents are Stella Balesh and Bonnie Hall. Chaired by Trudy McGraw, the luncheon featured chicken and mushroom crepes, followed by dessert served in a canning jar with attached lid, which opened to reveal layers of spiced pumpkin cake, orange cream cheese frosting and chocolate mousse, topped with a candied Christmas tree.

Assisting McGraw were past President Marie Chaplar as well as Charlene Byers and Janet Hamilton.

Among the guests were Becky Novy, chair of Philharmonic Affiliates, and several past presidents of the Glendale philharmonic committee: Joan Callanan, Darlene Hubanks, Lucile Leard, Juanita O’Marah, Leila Otey and Katherine Yamada.

Committee members are kicking off their annual Music Mobile program this month. Co-chairs Karen Lefever and June Cheleden are scheduling docents to take the instrument-filled Music Mobile to 11 elementary schools in Glendale.

They will also send third-graders from eight other schools on an affiliate-sponsored field trip to the Hollywood Bowl for a Music Mobile presentation, guided tour and picnic lunch.

JOYCE RUDOLPH can be reached at