There was no evidential proof that any of the 250-plus supporters of the Burbank Temporary Aid Center (BTAC) who gathered at the Castaway Restaurant for the nonprofit organization’s recent gala had superpowers far beyond those of mere mortals.
While the Starlight Ballroom of the hillside banquet facility was filled with the movers and shakers whose movement and shaking oversee, direct, protect and enhance the city of Burbank on a daily basis, no one gave the outward impression that they possessed X-ray vision or were faster than a speeding bullet.
Although it was clearly evident that the gathering represented the city’s highest level of those who provide service, philanthropy and volunteerism, not one person gave an inkling of indication that they had the physical strength of a locomotive, the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, could change the course of mighty rivers, or bend steel in their bare hands.
And yet, as was acknowledged by the event’s theme, “Salute to Our Superheroes … Celebrating Our Donors, Essential Workers, Volunteers and Support Team,” the assemblage was, in fact, composed of those who may not have been able to fly, but do possess the metaphoric wings of angels.
“Gratitude is truly the word for the night,” said Jeanette Meyer, who serves as the chairwoman of BTAC’s board of directors. “The list of those who are our superheroes is long and our gratitude for what they do is deep.”
Along with honoring every attendee as a superhero for their superpowers of support, the evening highlighted the organization’s gratitude to three specific individuals: Longtime BTAC volunteer Stacy Schumacher, who received the event’s annually bestowed Volunteer Legacy Award for her 49 years of service, and posthumous recognition of Darryl Forbes and Kaye Norris, dedicated supporters of BTAC, who both died last year.
Schumacher, a former director of religious education at Burbank’s Saint Robert Bellarmine and Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Churches, also worked as BTAC’s executive administrative director from 1994 to 2012. After retiring, she continued to be a vital part of BTAC as a volunteer, a service she described as being “a real blessing.”
“It’s not that frequently you get a chance to make a difference in someone’s life,” said Schumacher. “Our clients need help. And thanks to the goodness of the people of Burbank, we [are] able to help. I am just a conduit of other people’s goodness.”
The gala fundraiser, which marked a return of the annual event after a three-year absence due to the COVID pandemic, was chaired by Vicki Williams, who headed up a committee, which included Alethia Calagias, Luis Centeno, Kimberley Clark, Lee Gonsalves, Roger Koll, Rozana Nazari, BTAC’s Executive Director Barbara Howell and Meyer.
Along with Assemblywoman Laura Friedman and Burbank Mayor Konstantine Anthony, the gala was attended by numerous dignitaries, including a full complement of the Burbank City Council, representatives from many city departments, businesses, faith-based and nonprofit organizations, and members of BTAC’s board of directors, which includes former-Mayor Jess Talamantes.
Founded in 1974 by the Ministerial Association and the Burbank Coordinating Council, BTAC was established to assist the city’s residents who are unhoused or find themselves having difficulties in providing for their daily needs. Among the numerous services BTAC offers are laundry and shower facilities, a mail drop, grocery services, hygiene kits, utility bill and rent assistance, and case management and employment support.
Funds raised at this year’s gala will help the organization, which serves more than 9,000 Burbank residents each year, continue their vital work.
For more information on BTAC’s services, volunteer opportunities, or to make a financial or in-kind donation, visit burbanktemporaryaidcenter.org.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 563-1007.
First published in the April 8 print issue of the Burbank Leader.