PATH benefit raises funds

DOWNTOWN — Civic and business leaders and champions of local nonprofits had dinner under the stars Saturday at the Americana at Brand as part of a fundraiser for PATH Achieve Glendale, the chapter’s first large-scale benefit since opening its doors to the homeless three years ago.

More than 4,000 homeless people have transformed their lives during that time by receiving from the organization emergency, transitional and permanent housing as well as goods to help begin rebuilding their lives, said Executive Director Natalie Profant Komuro.

The dinner-and-a-movie gala, which began with a small reception, saw Larry Zarian serve as master of ceremonies and highlighted a mother of three whose family successfully progressed through the system.

“I am proud to say I broke the cycle of violence and am now living free of abuse,” said the woman, whose name is not to be publicized because she was a victim of domestic abuse.

Like many of today’s homeless, she had a job, but the $1,800 a month was not enough to pay the bills and put food on the family of four’s table. They slept on church floors, but even that wasn’t the most difficult part, she said. The children still needed to be brought to school every morning, and she needed to get to work, where no one suspected that she had become homeless.

When the family qualified for transition housing, “I will never forget the day when we got the key,” she said.

Zarian referred to her plight as “unfathomable.”

“What condition would I be in if I had to turn to my children and say, ‘Kids, we have to go?’”

Today she’s part of the community helping mothers like her former self make the changes necessary in their lives.

Stories like hers keep the program’s lifeblood flowing, convincing “angels” to open up their checkbooks and corporations to donate, Zarian said.

The list of angels Saturday stretches several pages and is punctuated by businesses and organizations, such as Pacific BMW and David L. Ho Jr. and the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, which Zarian announced pledged $225,000 and $50,000, respectively.

“It’s heartwarming,” he said. “But we need more. Truly we need more.”

Demand for goods and services is outpacing the supply, and the recession has for the most part caused grants and other funding from the state and county to dry up, Zarian said.

“It takes you people,” he said. “We can come to you and say, ‘Help if you can.’ And it always comes back.”

Cathay Bank, Glendale and Glendale Water & Power each pitched in $5,000 before the crowed of board and council members, business leaders and other top donors made their way down from a reception area of the Excelsior condominiums to the Americana at Brand’s courtyard.

Waiting for them were another 150 people, catering provided by Katsuya and a massive inflatable screen on which the group would watch “Forrest Gump.”

The movie was preceded by the raffling off of a 128i BMW Coupe.

“My heart is full of gratitude when I see a big group of people like this coming together and doing something good for the less fortunate,” said Nicholas Lam, the organization’s chairman of the board. “Hopefully we can [do] something that is good for everyone.”


 CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO covers Burbank City Hall and the courts. He may be reached at (818) 637-3242 or by e-mail at christopher.cadelago@ latimes.com.

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