First published in the Dec. 3 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
Photos by David Laurell
It was just a typical Saturday night at the intersection of West Olive Avenue and South Lake Street, with the exception of the sound of some of the most popular songs from the last five decades emanating from the courtyard of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce.
The vocalizing of those hits didn’t come via recordings by the original artists, nor from a cover band with an impressively deep repertoire, but rather from members and supporters of the Burbank Noon Rotary Club who gathered for an evening of socializing and fundraising as they staged their 2022 Karaoke Night.
After gaining sustenance from an appetizer buffet and courage from the vocal cord-lubricating libations poured by bartender Dana DiMaggio, the event’s mistress of ceremonies, Lisa Donahey was joined by Stephanie Bennett, who serves as the president of the local Rotary Club, and Natalie Worsham, who coordinated the evening, to welcome the gathering.
Donahey kicked off the night’s vocalizing with her rendition of “Dancing in the Street,” the Marvin Gaye-penned Motown hit associated with (dependent upon your age) Martha and the Vandellas, the Mamas and the Papas, Van Halen or David Bowie and Mick Jagger.
A professional singer who has performed in numerous studio sessions for television themes and film scores, Donahey who kept the evening humming along, has also created, produced and stared in a many local venues including Upstairs at Vitello’s Supper Club and the Catalina Jazz Club.
Following her warmup, she was joined by past Noon Rotary President Brian Volpei, who explained that, unlike traditional Karaoke, this event would institute a twist designed to raise funds. For a donation of $25, any attendee could nominate anyone to sing a song of their choosing. That individual would then be faced with three choices: To sing the nominator’s chosen song, to donate $40 to do a different song, or to bow out of taking to the stage by shelling out $50.
“While this does help us raise some funds, we really do this event to give our club the opportunity to get together outside of one of our formal meetings — to socialize and just have some fun,” Worsham said. “As for serious fundraising, that will come when we do our Centennial Party gala which will take place in February.”
Albert Hernandez, who chairs the Noon Rotary Club’s Foundation, said the organization is looking forward to this year’s gala, which will be a celebration of their 100th anniversary.
“It will be a grand party that will bring together past and present Rotarians and the community,” Hernandez said. “Our club has been an important part of Burbank since we were chartered in 1923. Since then, we have provided hands-on help and monetary funding to support an array of nonprofits and local projects including the Providence St. Joseph Urgent Care, the building campaign for the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and the Greater East Valley, and the annual Teachers of Excellence and Student of the Month programs for the Burbank Unified School District. We have also recently purchased a new refrigerator for the Burbank Temporary Aid Center and furniture for Home Again Los Angeles.”
While the local Rotarians are always looking forward to assisting nonprofit organizations who strive for a better life and future for Burbankers, Hernandez said that, as they celebrate a centennial of service, this year’s gala will also look back to honor those who have served in the past.
“Throughout our history we have had so many great community members serve as our president and help elevate our mission,” said Hernandez. From Ray Sence, who served in the late 1920s, Ralph Foy, who was president in the late 1950s, and Bob Brunner, who took over in the early 1960s, to those who are better remembered or known by so many today such as Jim Woodburn, Peter McGrath, Darrell Taylor, Gordon Bowers and the Rev. Jerry Jones. We owe them all a debt of gratitude.”
Along with the past presidents, this year’s gala will pay tribute to two families that have been long-standing members of the Noon Rotary Club and supporters of the community-at-large: Nat and Alma Rubinfeld, and the Taylor family.
The Rubinfelds have been active with the Noon Rotary Club since 1988, with Nat serving as president in 2006. Still active, he is now the organization’s longest tenured member.
The Taylors, who has been active with the club for decades, is the only family to have three generations of members who have served as club presidents: Glen, Darrell and Jonathan Taylor.
“The Rubinfelds and the Taylors are all about service above self,” Hernandez said. “That is what Rotary is all about, and we are thrilled to have this opportunity to recognize both families who have invested so much of their time and energy into making Burbank a great community.”
The Noon Rotary Club’s Centennial Party will take place on Saturday, Feb. 25, at Lakeside Golf Club. The organization is currently seeking event sponsors. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available by visiting BurbankNoonRotary.org or contacting Hernandez via email at AlbertRotary5280@gmail.com.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at email@example.com or (818) 563-1007.