First published in the Nov. 26 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
Photos by David Laurell
Getting a jump on last Thursday’s Turkey Day by a week, members of the Burbank chapter of National Charity League provided a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings to more than 90 individuals representing 26 families who are currently involved in the Home Again Los Angeles program, formerly known as Family Promise of the Verdugos.
The Ticktocker daughters and Patroness mothers of NCL teamed up with employees and board members of Burbank’s Gain Federal Credit Union to present the festive evening held at the First Presbyterian Church of Burbank.
As plates were filled, carried to tables, and enjoyed, Albert Hernandez, the chief executive officer of the organization that works with homeless families to help them achieve lasting independence, looked on.
“Last year was the first time National Charity League partnered with us to serve our families a Thanksgiving dinner and it was so well received we both decided to make it an annual tradition,” Hernandez said. “They are a perfect partner for us because they are volunteer-oriented and hands-on. They have been working for days cooking and getting everything ready for tonight.”
Standing in the back of the room watching as families partook of the feast, Hernandez noticed that one family had invited his young daughter, Maddy, to join them.
“The family she is with just got the key to their apartment,” said Hernandez, as he pensively looked on. “They lost their home in the summer and have been with us in temporary housing for three months. Now both parents are working again, their two boys are in school, and they are so excited to have a home again in time for the holidays. That was so important to them.”
Hernandez was clearly emotional, never taking his eyes off his daughter as she dug into her plate alongside the newly housed family.
“I try to include her in what we do so she understands how fortunate we are,” he said. “I’m number five of 11 kids and my father died when I was 14. Our mom had to do all she could to hold our family together. Because of that, I know how easily we could have been one of the families we serve.”
Along with acknowledging the kindness, dedication and work of NCL, Hernandez also lauded the representatives of Gain Credit Union for making the Thanksgiving dinner possible.
“The folks at Gain provided the funding for the food and the members of NCL did all the work,” Hernandez explained. “It proved to be a great partnership and every one of them who volunteered their time to make this happen have done so much to help brighten and change the lives of so many people.”
Along with Kathy Sessinghaus who chaired the event, other NCL Patronesses who made the dinner a success were Claudia Hunsaker, Natalie Gonzalez, Maddi Francis-Nappi, Brenda Martino, Caroline Buffolino and Suzi Reader.
Ticktockers who prepared and served the meal included Kylee Beveridge, Katy Sessinghaus, Emma Hunsaker, Madison and Caitlin Gonzalez, Kiana Reader, Isabel and Sophia Ghazarians, Colette Nappi and Natalie Buffolino.
Led by Mayor Jess Talamantes, who serves on Gain’s board of directors, his colleagues and employees of the credit union including Brock Collins, Kathleen Argueta, Kim Freed, Anna Escobar, Dan and Laurie Krattiger, Jasmine Dixon, Stephanie Flores, Nicole Gardner and Louie Velazquez also served as volunteer servers.
Home Again Los Angeles works with homeless families to help them achieve lasting independence. Partnering with a network of local interfaith congregations and volunteers, they provide safe shelter, meals and support services such as counseling and job readiness for those in Burbank, North Hollywood, Glendale and Eagle Rock.
The Burbank Chapter of National Charity League, which was organized in 1959, was chartered in 1960. A group of mothers and daughters who come together in commitment to community service, leadership development, and cultural experiences, local Ticktockers volunteer more than 2,000 hours of community service to Burbank nonprofit organizations on an annual basis.
One of the 2023 goals of the local chapter of NCL is to build up their membership. The organization’s core program is for mothers and their daughters who are in grades 7 through 12. For information on joining, visit nationalcharityleague.org/chapter/burbank/.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 563-1007.