First published in the April 23 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
For Burbankers who have been around since before the days of the Internet, Instagram, or Instacart, the names of Jim and Mary Lou Wagner may bring back memories.
Jim, who died in 1996, was a local civic and business leader who promoted Burbank’s downtown business area and was well-known for always wearing red socks. Mary Lou, who died in 2018, was involved as a volunteer or member of just about every local charity, guild and non-profit organization.
In the early 1980s, Mary Lou and her daughter, Cynthia, became active members of the Burbank Chapter of National Charity League, a philanthropic organization committed to foster mother-daughter relationships through community service, leadership, development and cultural experiences.
With Mary Lou serving as a “Patroness,” and Cynthia as a “Ticktocker,” the monikers respectfully used by NCL mothers and daughters, the duo embraced volunteerism and by the time Cynthia had completed her six years in the program, she had earned numerous charms for her accomplishments. Among them were the Hourglass and Golden Rose charm for putting in more than 100 volunteer hours during each of her six years, and the Tyra Award, presented to a Ticktocker who has put in the most hours during her time with NCL.
Mary Lou had those charms put on a bracelet and presented it to her daughter as a high school graduation gift. It was a bracelet that Cynthia proudly wore when she and the NCL Class of 1986 were recognized and presented in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Universal City Hotel.
This past Friday, in that very same ballroom, Cynthia once again proudly donned that bracelet as her daughter Paige Olivia Cizek was joined by 12 other local young women who made up the Class of 2022 for NCL’s annual recognition and presentation ball.
Cynthia, who like her parents is well-known throughout Burbank for her volunteerism and work in public relations and marketing. She currently works as the co-founder of the College Help Squad which assists students in finding their best-fit college, prepare their applications and essays, and help their families with ways to fund their education. She has also served as the patroness president of NCL’s Class of 2022.
With her NCL charm bracelet dangling in the soft light of the same ballroom in which it glistened 36 years ago, Cynthia lauded the 13 young women who were presented on Friday evening calling them: “An exceptional group.”
“This is the first class to have an actual event to celebrate their achievements since the pandemic,” said Cynthia. “It is a class of real leaders — both the mothers and the daughters — so we are all excited to be able to be together tonight to celebrate the extraordinary volunteer work they have done during a challenging time, and to begin to see where they will go in the future.”
Along with Cizek, the 2022 class included Juleanne Frances Reader, Ana Francesca Buffolino, Emily Grace Damer, Nicole Elizabeth Cloutier, Adelina Isabela Hernandez, Ava Ellis Wen Ji Johnson, Jessica Allen, Kelley Natsumi Timmerman, Sophia Michelle Navarro, Nuala Mairead Giffen, Juliana Rae Carolan and Hayden Soule Washington.
Presiding over the festive evening, that saw over 300 formally attired family members and supporters in attendance, was Lee Gonsalves, an NCL “Sustainer,” which indicates she is a former NCL member who has completed the core program and wishes to remain active in the chapter and her community.
After welcoming the assemblage, she introduced the evening’s mistress of ceremonies, former NBC and KCAL reporter and anchor Tracie Savage who now serves as a professor of journalism, video/audio production and media studies at Pierce College.
Along with the formal presentations, the evening recognized the Ticktockers for their work and achievements in hands-on volunteerism and other activities that inspire social awareness and compassion.
Each year of NCL’s six-year program, open to girls who are in grades 7 through 12, focuses on a different area of leadership development such as conducting meetings, organization skills, goal setting, public speaking, career building and personal finance management. The young women also learn etiquette, how to foster friendships and interpersonal relationships, prepare for high school, establish identities, make college and career choices, and transition to leave home.
The organization also promotes involvement in cultural activities such as attending and participating in theatrical, dance or music performances and instruction, visiting museums, touring architecturally significant buildings and gardens, cooking classes featuring world cuisines, and visual art classes.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at email@example.com or (818) 563-1007.