On the Town: Ascencia takes ‘Orient Express’ to gala benefit


Supporters of Ascencia celebrated the organization’s first decade of serving the homeless during a gala earlier this month at the historic Los Angeles Union Station.

The location was a great inspiration for the evening’s theme, “Orient Express.”

Natalie Profant Komuro, the organization’s executive director, welcomed the 300 guests and credited the program’s success to the teamwork of the board of directors, sponsors, donors and staff.

Together, the team increased the capacity to house chronically homeless individuals, concentrated on ending veteran homelessness and provided homeless families with nutritional counseling, employment guidance and trauma therapy.

Additional support has come from the cities of Glendale and Burbank, Los Angeles County, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, local foundations, businesses, congregations and volunteers.

Kathy Seuylemezian was the event chair, with help from board member Karen Swan, Treasurer Jenny Chen and Vice President Debbie Hinckley. Board officers include President Mia S. Lee, Vice President Paul Brodsky and Secretary Collin Wedel. Sarah Joung is the organization’s development director.

Special volunteers helping during the gala were the Ticktockers from the Glendale chapter of the National Charity League and the Disney VoluntEARS.

Since 2006, Ascencia has served more than 12,000 homeless men, women and children. It offers services to veterans, and it partners with local hospitals to help end the costly cycle of homeless frequent hospital users.

Receiving the Ambassador of Hope Award was the Stone-Beck Group at Morgan Stanley. Gene “Chip” Stone and Toni Beck Espinoza were instrumental in the Ascencia capital campaign titled “Advancing Ascencia.”

Stone was vice-chair of the capital campaign leadership committee that raised $7.45 million over three years. The firm’s office team includes Nancy Stone, Bryan Longpre, Rob Stone, Christina Smith, Celia Cocherell and Annette Baban.

Serving as emcee was Ellen Leyva, who is co-anchor for ABC7 Eyewitness News at 4 and 6 p.m. Rick Dinger kept the bidding alive as auctioneer. The French Toast quintet, featuring vocalist Mignonne Profant, performed music during social hour.

Mayor Ara Najarian congratulated Ascencia on its many successes and promise for the future.

“As the mayor of one of the largest cities in the greater L.A. area, and personally, I believe that there is no greater work than to provide for those in need,” he said. “We can’t do it alone. Our partnership with Ascencia is rich and genuine. I hope Ascencia can expand its efforts countywide to end homelessness.”

L.A. County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich praised Ascencia for completing its three-year capital campaign and presented a scroll from the county.

“A vital partner in our mutual effort to provide services that will address homelessness and help restore productive lives, Ascencia’s mission is to end homelessness one person at a time by providing coordination of care for mental health, health, social services and employment as well as housing and other wrap-around services,” he said.

Campbell Center benefits from poker tournament

The Campbell Center will hold its inaugural Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament fundraiser on Sunday at its headquarters, 6512 San Fernando Road, Glendale.

Proceeds will benefit the nonprofit agency whose mission is to provide adults with disabilities the opportunity to achieve their highest level of independence through residential placement, on-site vocational training, job placement, community inclusion and education.

To register online, visit, and click on the “events” tab on the home-page banner. Up for grabs are a $500 gift card for first prize, a $300 gift card for second prize and a $200 gift card for third prize.

For more information, call Rita T. Hopkins at (818) 242-2434 or email

Growth honor makes Arbor Day ceremony greener

In cooperation with Glendale’s Community Services and Parks Department, Glendale Beautiful will observe the 66th annual Arbor Day celebration on March 1 at the Casa Adobe de San Rafael, 1330 Dorothy Drive, Glendale.

Refreshments will be available at 10 a.m., and program will begin at 10:30 a.m. Koko Panossian is the Arbor Day chair.

Glendale has been designated a Tree City USA again by the Arbor Day Foundation, and has also received its Growth Award this year, said Roberta Medford, president of Glendale Beautiful.

The Tree City USA Growth Award is given by the Arbor Day Foundation to recognize higher levels of tree care by participating Tree City USA communities.

The deadline for tree donations, which are $45 each, is Tuesday. Trees can be purchased to honor or memorialize a person, group or cause. For a form, visit

Torin Dunnavant, director of engagement and partnerships at the green nonprofit Tree People, will deliver the message on trees, the drought and El Niño.


JOYCE RUDOLPH can be reached at