HomeBlocksFront-TopOn The Town: Burbank Leadership Makes a Difference With Class Project

On The Town: Burbank Leadership Makes a Difference With Class Project

When it comes to doing research, formulating opinions and making educated guesses and decisions on what may be the best path to take for the future of Burbank, our nation, or our world, even those who agree on things, can find themselves at odds on how that path should be traversed.

According to the most recent census, there are (give or take a birth, death or move) 105,400 people out of the 8 billion earthlings who are also known as Burbankers. That means there are more than 100,000 unique opinions in Burbank alone.

While each of us has the right to determine our own personal method for gathering and processing information to formulate our beliefs, there is one thing every Burbanker knows for an absolute fact and agrees on: In 2473, none of us will be around, if we continue on the same path.

While that year will see us all gone for almost twice the length of time since the United States has declared its independence, there will be a trace of us that still exists — the polyethylene terephthalate (plastic) bottles that were not recycled, have been buried in our landfill, and, which according to experts in such things, will take around 450 years to erode into smaller nanoplastics and microplastics that will still, even then, have the ability to creep into our ecosystem.

It is important to know that even if you do recycle your plastic bottles, they cannot be used to create new plastic bottles and must be down-cycled to make lower-quality materials.

While their names may not be recognizable to the Burbankers of 2473, those future residents will, hopefully, owe a debt of environmental thanks to 24 of their forefathers and foremothers from 2023 who staged a fundraiser at the Burbank Community YMCA’s Social Impact Center last week.

Collectively known as the Leadership Burbank Class of 2023, Alex Acevedo, Ava Alexandar, Hasmik Badalian Collins, Calvin Clark, Holli Cusumano, Brent Fekety, Dena Giron, Darian Gonzalez-Kessler, Rowena Gonzalez, Rita Greenspan, Bryan Homyak, Krystal Lee, Maggie McEldowney, Artin Megerdichian, Serli Mehrabian, Dena Moon, Carol Nunez, Kyle Porter, Victoria Torigian, Alvaro Valdez, Rick Vonk, Tina Wright and Lauren Zaslansky Conner earned that future thanks for their class project, known as “Reuse, Refill, Rethink.” Working as a team, they provided education and help to Burbank youth through the Burbank Unified School District in reducing plastic waste in local elementary schools.

As a part of the community-based organization that offers a nine-month leadership and professional development program, each Leadership Burbank class conceives and executes a service project that will have a positive and lasting effect on the Burbank community.

After brainstorming on ways to cut down on plastic waste, this year’s class decided to raise funding to install bottle filling stations at 11 schools. These filling stations promote the use of reusable bottles and the reduction of plastic litter, a small and simple act that, according to Burbank Water and Power, if done by every Burbank resident, would remove more than 16.7 million plastic bottles from the waste system on an annual basis.

“Going through this program, and embracing this project has shown me, and all of our class members, that doing small things as a group can have a huge impact,” said Zaslansky Conner, who served as the “Reuse, Refill, Rethink” project manager.

“Each of us is proud that through our connection through Leadership Burbank — with one another and with people in our community we may have otherwise never known — we have made important relationships and gained a better understanding of how our city operates [and] how we are able to better navigate our way through various city departments to address problems and challenges to help make positive changes.”

With their classes, fundraising, and project now behind them, the next event the Leadership Burbank Class of 2023 will be looking forward to will be their graduation ceremony, which will take place on May 17 at Woodbury University with keynote speaker, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

The mission of Leadership Burbank is to identify, educate and motivate current and emerging leaders in Burbank. Along with enhancing their personal and professional skills, the program helps them gain a deeper understanding of community dynamics and assists them in building a network of colleagues and associates. The organization’s goal is that graduates will then use the insights and contacts they gained through the program to enhance and enrich the community by becoming involved with local civic, government, business, faith and nonprofit groups.

For more information on Leadership Burbank, visit leadershipburbank.org.

DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.

Among the 2023 class members who gathered for last week’s event were Calvin Clark, Rick Vonk, Tina Wright, Artin Magerdic, Hasmik Badalian Collins and Bryan Homyak.
Class members Alvaro Valdez, Serli Mehrabian, Carol Nunez and Ava Alexandar show off a filling station similar to the ones that are now, thanks to them, in 11 local schools.
Plastic bottle waste-busters Victoria Torigian, Rowena Gonzales, Dena Giron and Dena Moon are part of the Leadership Class.
Among those who enjoyed last week’s fundraiser put on by the Leadership Burbank Class of 2023 were the organization’s facilitators Mary Alvord and Sue Georgino.

First published in the April 29 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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