HomeCommunity NewsDavid Laurell: Guild of CHLA Enters New Era of Leadership

David Laurell: Guild of CHLA Enters New Era of Leadership

In a springtime tradition that stretches back to 1947, members of the Burbank-based La Providencia Guild of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles once again saw the organization’s presidential gavel passed to a new leader.

Ann O’Donnell-Gardner became the 78th woman to be sworn-in as the guild’s president during their yearly reorganization ceremony held in the Burbank First United Methodist Church’s Trever Hall.

Chaired by former President Jill Kessler and conducted by outgoing President Nancy Wiggins, O’Donnell-Gardner was installed by renowned liturgist Cherie Sprosty.

Selecting the theme “Spark Joy” for her presidential term, O’Donnell-Gardner explained that the phrase comes from organizing expert Marie Kondo’s method of simplifying your life.

While Kondo says if you look at an item and it doesn’t spark joy, get rid of it, O’Donnell-Gardner admitted she will never adhere to that when it comes to her own possessions.

“I love my things too much,” she said. “However, I did choose the theme because it’s a wonderful phrase for a way to live your life, and helping make something better in the lives of children is one of the things that sparks joy in my life,” O’Donnell-Gardner added. “I assume it is yours also or you wouldn’t be a member of this guild and here today.”

Expanding on why she selected her theme, she said it was also because her goal for the year is to see the guild’s business model streamlined and simplified to synthesize what is important, productive and sustainable, and eliminate things that may just be taking up precious space, energy and time.

“There is no denying our guild is smaller than it once was, but we are still accomplishing amazing things,” O’Donnell-Gardner told the members. “I want to keep us sustainable so we can continue the good work we do with energy and joy. So, if you are aware of some old habit that you think may have outlived its time, let me know and we will take a look at it and see if it is something that could be modified or even eliminated.”

Event chair Jill Kessler welcomed Bonnie McClure from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

As a part of achieving her goal she said the guild will be eliminating two of its annual events, which will result in the saving of members’ time and money that has been used for postage, printing and staging events.

In the closing remarks of her inaugural address, O’Donnell-Gardner said that one of the main reasons she chose her theme is because of how it ties in with the group’s main fundraising effort.

“Our thrift shop is a place where people bring the things that no longer spark joy in their lives,” she said. “By doing this, they give someone else the opportunity to find joy in those items and support a worthy cause to boot.”

Born and raised in a small Michigan town, O’Donnell-Gardner and her five siblings were the children of farmers. From the time she was very young, music played an important role in her life, and by the time she was in high school she had become her church’s soloist for weddings and funerals.

With a love of theater, she went on to earn a bachelor’s in performance from Central Michigan University where she studied with classmates Terry O’Quinn and Jeff Daniels who would go on to become Emmy Award-winning actors.

After graduation, she landed leading roles with regional theater companies in Illinois and Wisconsin. It was during this time she met her future husband, actor Brooks Gardner, who is best known for his portrayal of Travis, the commercial cowboy pitchman of Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus restaurants, and, in Burbank, as a police commissioner.

Among those who will serve as 2024-25 executive officers are Teresa Garcia, Joan Chandler, Janice Shafer and Carrie McCoy.

After moving to Los Angeles in the 1980s, where their children Zack and Taryn were born, O’Donnell-Gardner continued singing and volunteering with the Burbank First United Methodist Church where she has been the wedding coordinator for more than 30 years. Along with having played a vital role with Burbank Showcamp, a dance and theater program for children, she also co-directed the theatre program at Burbank High School for 11 years.

An accomplished watercolor artist who has been a member of the La Providencia Guild since 1998, O’Donnell-Gardner says she lives by the motto: “Never stop learning and creating!”

Along with the installation of O’Donnell-Gardner as president, the guild’s reorganization ceremony also saw the swearing-in of the executive officers who will serve in 2024-25, Carrie McCoy, Glenda Jones (sworn in absentia), Janice Shafer, Joan Chandler and Teresa Garcia.

Among the notables in attendance for the event were Bonnie McClure, who serves as the chairman of associate and affiliates and a member of the board of trustees of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and longtime guild member and former President Rosemarie Witten, who was honored for her dedicated service to the guild’s thrift shop.

Past Guild President Rosemarie Witten was honored for her dedicated service to the guild’s thrift shop.

Others who enjoyed the day included Desi Galvez, who will be chairing the guild’s Sept. 28 gala fashion show at The Garland Hotel in Hollywood, and new associate members Linda Baker, Juliet Barroso-Navaro, Michelle Cloutier, Cyndee McCarthy, Roseann Mecca and Sunny Peltier.

The La Providencia Guild is currently funding two associate chair programs at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles: endocrinology and transplant surgery. The guild, one of 26 associate and affiliate members, has a mission to support the services and research of the hospital. They accomplish that mission by building membership, accepting donations, operating their thrift shop and staging fundraising events throughout the year.

For more information about the La Providencia Guild of Children’s Hospital Thrift Shop, located at 3301 Burbank Blvd., guild membership, upcoming events or to make donations, visit laprov.org or call (818) 845-6606.

New associate members in attendance for the guild’s reorganization ceremony included Sunny Peltier, Linda Baker, Michelle Cloutier and Cyndee McCarthy.
Connie Barron Trimble, who catered the event and was celebrating her birthday, was recognized by the guild.

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

First published in the April 6 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Most Popular

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=3]