First published in the Nov. 19 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
Everyone loves to hear secrets revealed, and so, to satisfy the desire of Burbank Leader readers who want to be “in-the-know,” keep on reading.
Secret one: One of the most unique event venues is Centennial Courtyard. Located on the Burbank Water and Power “EcoCampus,” it is a retired substation that has been repurposed incorporating sustainable elements.
Secret two: Sandra Thompson is a devoted member of the Burbank community who, quietly, without fanfare or the spotlight’s glare, has served as one of the city’s most dedicated volunteers for more than four decades.
Secret three: While many recognize the Burbank Coordinating Council, or BBC, for their annual Holiday Basket Program, which provides financially disadvantaged families food items, gifts and other necessities to help them have a happy holiday season, the organization does much more than that.
Secret four: Although 24 years have passed since Frank Sinatra took his final bow and sauntered off to that big saloon in the sky, the spirit and sound of Ol’ Blue Eyes still abounds upon this earthly plane thanks to a man who performs a tribute to him under the pseudonym Vaughn Suponatime.
The revelation of those secrets became crystal clear to the 150-plus supporters of BCC as they recently gathered at Centennial Courtyard to hear of the organization’s work, honor Thompson and enjoy Mr. Suponatime’s recreation of the Rat Pack’s chairman of the board crooning some of his most popular standards.
Staged under the theme “Where Hope Grows,” the festive gala sponsored by Burbank Water and Power, County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Gain Credit Union, Imagecraft Productions and Cari Pelayo, included a silent auction, dining and Suponatime’s performance.
Welcomed by BCC President Mary Anne Been, a highlight of the evening was the recognition of Thompson who Been called: “Burbank’s silent philanthropist.”
“Through the volunteer work Sandy has done at BCC, her church, and other nonprofit organizations, she has been an inspiration to me and so many others,” Been said. “She is not the type to talk about her volunteer service. She is quiet about what she does and stays out of the limelight, but her impact over the past 40 years has been incredibly impactful. That is why we decided to shine the light on her, honor her, and thank her for her service to our community and BCC.”
A lifelong Burbanker and former 35-year employee of Amtrak who served as a train supervisor and the manager of Union Station, Thompson was the 2013 recipient of the Hollywood Business and Professional Women’s Susan B. Anthony Award which is given to an outstanding woman who lives by Anthony’s credo that: “Failure is Impossible.”
Along with her longtime service on BCC’s board, Thompson has also volunteered at the Burbank Library bookstore, is actively involved in mission outreach through her church, and has served on the board of Home Again Los Angeles.
Following Thompson’s recognition, Been thanked everyone who made the fundraiser a success including her board composed of Theresa Ayers, Muskan Lalwani, Eddie Arnold, Geraldine Walters Arnold and Luis Centerio.
She especially thanked the organization’s volunteers and those who came out in support of their work.
“We have never had a paid staff in our 90-year history,” Been said. “We have board members and volunteers who are committed in the same way that people are who are paid, full-time employees. They are truly passionate and have a dedication to those we serve.”
An active part of the Burbank community since 1933, BCC collaborates with other nonprofit organizations, service clubs, schools, city offices and local businesses to enrich the lives of the financially disadvantaged. With a focus on children and families they established their Holiday Basket Program in 1946. They also sponsor a kids’ camping program, work in concert with the Burbank Housing Corp., and conduct holiday food drives which will be taking place at local grocery stores this month.
If you know of a family who needs assistance, would like to find out about BCC membership and volunteer opportunities, or make a financial, food,or gift donation, visit their website at burbankcc.org, or call (818) 266-9766.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 563-1007.