Credit to David Laurell, Burbank Leader…
While there may by scant little, if any, glamour or romance associated with today’s world of commercial aviation, the staff, executive board and close to 300 supporters of Family Promise of the Verdugos took a step back in time, to an era when those words and air travel were almost synonymous, as they gathered for the organization’s third annual fundraising gala this past Saturday evening.
Presented under the theme “Take Flight to End Homelessness,” the event was held at the Grand Central Air Terminal where, for the better part of three decades — from the 1920s through the 1950s — legendary aviators, including Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Howard Hughes and Laura Ingalls touched down and took off.
The airport, which served as a shooting location for numerous classic films such as Hughes’ “Hell’s Angels,” Shirley Temple’s “Bright Eyes,” “Lady Killer,” which starred James Cagney, and Ronald Reagan’s “Secret Service of the Air,” was also home to various commercial airlines including TWA, Varney, Western and Pickwick.
Hosted by the organization’s Executive Director Albert Hernandez and Board President Renee Johnson, the event, which saw many participants dressed in the fashions of those bygone days of aviation glory, was co-chaired by Miryam Finkleberg and Lisa Patino.
Following a cocktail reception in the terminal’s courtyard, members of the assemblage were issued “boarding passes” to enter the terminal for dinner and the evening’s main event: the awarding of the group’s Impact award, which was presented to state Sen. Anthony Portantino and his staff by Glendale Mayor Paula Devine.
The event also saw the inaugural presentation of the Hands On, Hearts In award presented to dedicated Family Promise supporters Howard Fallman and his wife, Nancy Kachline, by Rev. Rich Garner of First United Methodist Church of Glendale.
Among the many dignitaries in attendance were state Assemblymember Laura Friedman, Burbank City Councilmembers Bob Frutos and Emily Gabel-Luddy, Councilmember-elect Sharon Springer as well as Michael and Caroline Cusumano, who represented one of the evening’s main sponsors, the Cusumano Family Foundation, and Claas Ehlers, the national president of Family Promise.
Other notables who assisted in making the event a success were Family Promise staff members Raul Cruz, Melodee Sims, Janice Casazza, Norma Serrano, Serge Shahinian and Aylin Cervantes, along with committee members Alex Bruno, Carolyn Jackson, Debbie Kukta, Geraldine Alvarenga-Ramos, Nancy Guillen, Sandra Thompson, Yvette Herrera and Zizette Mullins.
Also helping were board members Darrin Borders, Robert Goetsch, Robert Hill and Barbara Lazar, and advisory board members Sam and Kathryn Engel, Toni Beck Espinoza, Jennifer Smith Greene, Lynn Kronzek, Elizabeth Manasseran, Ara Najarian, the Rev. Ross Purdy, Joylene Wagner, Christine Walters as well as former Burbank Mayor Marsha Ramos, and current mayor Jess Talamantes and his wife Sandy.
Established in 2010, Family Promise of the Verdugos is one of more than 201 networks across the country affiliated with Family Promise, a national nonprofit organization committed to helping homeless families achieve lasting independence.
The organization helps mobilize communities by providing safe shelter, meals and support services for homeless families with the assistance from local church congregations and volunteers from Burbank, Glendale, North Hollywood, Pasadena, La Crescenta and Eagle Rock.