On the Town: Local Soroptimists hold annual awards luncheon event

The Glendale Soroptimists would never let a year go by without donating thousands of dollars to organizations serving women and girls. This year, checks totaling $25,000 were presented to 10 organizations.

The Oakmont Country Club was at its holiday best as the setting for the Soroptimists’ Annual Service Grant Awards Luncheon on Dec. 17.

Soroptimist President Lola Abrahamian presided over the festivities attended by some 70 members and guests. First up was Paula Devine, wearing her two “hats” — Glendale City Councilwoman and Soroptimist immediate past president. Devine led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Next, Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian offered greetings from the city.

“Soroptimist International of Glendale is critical to the success of Glendale. You do what the city can’t do,” Najarian said, referring to Soroptimists’ generous financial support of local organizations.

One of those organizations receiving a grant was the Campbell Center. Sandy Contreras, the center’s chief executive and Soroptimist member, accepted a grant on behalf of the center’s developmentally disabled clients represented by Rosie Mendoza, on stage as well.

Presenting the check was Soroptimist member Heather Ghermezian, who said the grant would pay for motion-detector faucets for women’s restrooms because center clients don’t always remember to turn off the tap.

Kudos to luncheon committee chairwoman Susan Hunt, who is only one of dozens of busy Soroptimist gals who work hard to raise grant funds throughout the year. The majority of the money, however, comes from the group’s popular “Bras for a Cause” scheduled next for April 16. Don’t miss it.


The perfect confluence for art lovers and gourmands — a free silent auction of art at Gauchos Village Steakhouse. Buy your painting, and then chow down on 15 cuts of all-you-can eat steak sliced from skewers by “gauchos” straight from Brazil.

On a recent evening in Glendale, a smattering of art lovers showed up at the steakhouse to bid on their favorite work of art and talk to some of the artists whose pieces were up for auction.

One of the paintings was “Bloom”, size 12 inches x 12 inches. Its minimum bid was $250. The artist is Scott Hyers, an editorial art director and designer. He brought along his 8-year-old daughter, Hana, a budding artist in her own right.

Choosing the artists and putting the art all together was Irena Panasyuk, chief curator and chief executive of Conflux Arts, an online platform. Her goal is to “bring art to the audience.” The event’s organizer was art exhibitionist Timothy Wahl of ChamoLand.

At the event, 10% of every piece of artwork purchased will benefit Toys for Tots. There to collect the proceeds and any toys donated were Cpl. Angel Salinas and Sgt. Jeremy Sparks, representing the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.


The staff at the Health & Fitness Center of Burbank’s Providence St. Joseph Medical Center puts on a holiday fundraiser dinner every year. This year’s dinner was recently held in a ballroom of the Burbank Marriott Hotel. Hardworking staffers behind the scenes were Kristen Coblentz, Elfie Hadad and Patty Mockary.

There is always a Glendale contingent of center clients who want to stay fit and party at the same time — a tough goal this time of year. Willing to interrupt their roast beef dinners and pose for a photo were Glendale residents Nadia and Bob DeWees.

The DeWeeses were also interested in the fundraiser’s silent auction held at the Fitness Center on Hollywood Way. There, they and others could exercise and bid practically at the same time. Auction items included a 90-minute medical massage, Magic Castle passes and a one-week vacation in a condo in Maui.

Getting the most attention at the auction, however, was a gift set full of the latest in “Star Wars” goodies including a “Talking Kylo Ren” with his light-up, lightsaber. For those who’ve not yet caught the current “Star Wars” movie, “The Force Awakens”, Kylo Ren is the latest bad guy on the dark side of the Force.

On a personal note, yours truly will be taking a hiatus from the News-Press. But no worries, I’ll be sure and stay on the “light side.”


RUTH SOWBY RANDS may be reached at