HomeCommunity NewsLaurell: Burbank Places Bets on Boys & Girls Club at Casino Night

Laurell: Burbank Places Bets on Boys & Girls Club at Casino Night

In the words of Lady Gaga: “Can’t read my … can’t read my … no, he can’t read my poker face.”

It seemed as if every one of the more than 120 supporters of the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and the Greater East Valley were counting on that by incorporating their own unique unreadable poker face at the youth organization’s 18th annual Casino Night fundraiser held this past week.

While Burbank Realtor Barry Gussow went with the pursed lips look, and local real estate title marketing representative Lisa Matzner adopted the sly-smile-with-lowered-eyes technique, others adopted the tried-and-true impassive and expressionless face to conceal the quality of the hand they had been dealt.

Welcoming supporters to the club’s East Angeleno Avenue complex for the event, the organization’s CEO Shanna Warren worked the room, made sure all was running well, and expressed gratitude for those who continued the tradition of making this an always popular annual fundraiser.

“I am so grateful to our amazing staff who worked to make this another successful evening,” said Warren. “I am also thankful for the guests and board members who showed up in support of the club; for the mothers and daughters from National Charity League who baked for us, helped set up for the event, and served dinner; and for our hardworking Marketing and Special Events Director Tracey Ban for making it all happen.”

Along with taking on Lady Luck at the bingo board and poker and blackjack tables, the assemblage partook of drinks, dinner and desserts, and had the opportunity to meet celebrity Chef Mick Brown who was crowned “Grill Master” on the eighth season of the Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen.”

With their Casino Night now behind them, Warren and her team are now turning to other special events they have planned, including a special basketball clinic conducted by Mike Graceffo scheduled for the evening of Nov. 7.

Graceffo, a local athletic coaching legend who, over the past 45-plus years, has coached individuals and teams for the city of Burbank, faith-based organizations, and the Boys & Girls Club, also worked at the Michael Jordan and B.J. Armstrong basketball camps. Having coached at Burbank’s four high schools, he has overseen teams that have won numerous championships in baseball, basketball, football and cross country.

Along with getting to meet and work with Graceffo, the upcoming clinic will also be a special event for local Boys & Girls Club members in that they will be the recipients of 50 new athletic balls being donated by the Youths for Youths Foundation, which was established by Andrew Abikzer, the son of a former club staff member.

The foundation, a nonprofit that raises funds to donate athletic balls to other nonprofits serving youth, works to identify needs and provide teachers and coaches with the resources they need to empower youth through sports to ensure they will learn teamwork, fundamental skills and building human connections to grow into confident, capable, and compassionate leaders of tomorrow.

The club is also preparing for its sixth annual Holiday Shopping Event, a two-day event that will take place at their facilities on Dec. 8 and 9.

The event gives Burbankers the opportunity to do holiday shopping by perusing items showcased by local businesses and artisans. The Dec. 8 event will take place from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., while the Dec. 9 event will go from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Proceeds from the shopping event, just like Casino Night, will support the club’s educational, athletic and artistic programs, including the performing arts, homework assistance, tutoring, college prep, leadership training, and a specialized program for deaf and hard-of-hearing children and teens.

The Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley started in 1995 as a place for neighborhood kids to hang out and play. Long before they ever thought of having official school sites or a tech lab, the club was just a bunch of young people wanting a place to call their own.

Today, the club has grown to operate in 23 satellite sites and serves more than 4,200 local youth. Partnering with the Los Angeles and Burbank Unified School Districts, and with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, they provide numerous after-school programs.

For more information on club membership, their upcoming events, or to make a donation, visit bgcburbank.org.

Arpineh Khodagholian, who serves as the club’s director of programs, teamed up with Marketing and Special Events Director Tracey Ban to make this year’s Casino Night a success.
Among the club’s board members who attended last week’s fundraiser were Natalie Augustine and Leena Mathew.
Barry Gussow puts on his best poker face.
With lowered-eyes and a sly mile, Lisa Matzner was hoping no one could read her poker face.
Assemblymember Laura Friedman came ready for an evening of poker to raise funds for the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley.

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

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