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On the Town: Charity League honored for supporting homeless

State Sen. Anthony Portantino presents a commendation to his daughter, Ticktocker Bella Portantino, center, and Cynthia Kenyon, immediate past president of National Charity League, Glendale Chapter.

State Sen. Anthony Portantino presents a commendation to his daughter, Ticktocker Bella Portantino, center, and Cynthia Kenyon, immediate past president of National Charity League, Glendale Chapter.

(Courtesy of James Van Evers)

A mother/daughter philanthropic organization was praised for giving time and financial support to Ascencia, an organization whose purpose is to end homelessness.

The Glendale chapter of the National Charity League received the Ambassador of Hope Award at the 11th anniversary gala held on Jan. 28 at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

The chapter truly embodies the spirit of the award, said Debbie Hinckley, president of the Ascencia board.

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Charity League is a national organization of mothers and daughters dedicated to volunteering in their community. The daughters, referred to as Ticktockers, participate in a six-year program from middle school to high school. Throughout their membership, they are also exposed to leadership and cultural experiences.

The Glendale chapter has contributed time and resources to enrich the lives of the clients who live in Ascencia’s shelter, Hinckley told the more than 350 attending the gala. They host birthday parties for the clients, many who have not had birthday parties for years.

“Their compassion and spirit boost the morale of the clients,” Hinckley said. “The girls always put a smile on the residents’ faces with their homemade cookies.”

Ascencia board members are, from left, Gala Chair Karen Swan, Nicholas Lam, Executive Director Natalie Komuro, Mia S. Lee, Board President Debbie Hinckley, John Sadd and Barry Gussow.

Ascencia board members are, from left, Gala Chair Karen Swan, Nicholas Lam, Executive Director Natalie Komuro, Mia S. Lee, Board President Debbie Hinckley, John Sadd and Barry Gussow.

(Courtesy of James Van Evers)

Chapter representatives receiving the award were Cindy Kenyon, immediate past president, and Bella Portantino, a ninth-grade Ticktocker who was recognized for accumulating the highest number of hours specifically at Ascencia.

Bella said she has made at least 800 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the outreach team at Ascencia to distribute to the homeless in the community.

Commendations were presented by Glendale Mayor Paula Devine, County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Assemblywoman Laura Friedman and state Sen. Anthony Portantino, who is also Bella’s father.

Karen Swan chaired the gala committee. The event’s theme, “Spanish Night on the Sunset Express,” was carried out with a Latin-inspired meal and entertainment.

Paco and Yolanda Arroyo kicked off the evening with a mesmerizing flamenco performance and later the Herencia Flamenca dancers performed an exciting number. Dancing in the company was Jani Quintero, member of the gala committee and wife of former mayor Frank Quintero. Mistress of ceremonies was Ellen Leyva, of ABC7 Eyewitness News.

Natalie Komuro, executive director of Ascencia, briefly reviewed the organization’s growth since last year, including the expansion of employment and financial literacy services in Glendale and new staff in Burbank and West Hollywood.

The purpose of the event came into focus when former Ascencia client Anthony Rubio gave guests a glimpse into what life on the street is like. Ten years ago, Rubio had an injury on the job, became addicted to painkillers and ultimately lost his job. Divorce and the deaths of several close relatives followed. His addiction worsened and soon he found himself homeless.

But with the help of case managers and a psychiatrist at Ascencia, he rebuilt his life over the course of several years, at last landing a job that pays too much for him to continue in Ascencia’s Shelter Plus Care program.

In addition to thanking Ascencia staff, Rubio credited psychiatrist Roy Kushel for helping him recognize the depression that was a source of his problems, and city of Glendale staff members Ivet Samvelyan and Arsine Isayan, who coordinated the Shelter Plus Care subsidy program.

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JOYCE RUDOLPH can be reached at rudolphjoyce10@gmail.com.


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