HomeCommunity NewsDavid Laurell: ‘Cause for the Paws’ Benefits Burbank Animal Shelter

David Laurell: ‘Cause for the Paws’ Benefits Burbank Animal Shelter

Deep in the throes of raising funds to renovate the dog run, and to enhance a meet-and-greet socialization and adoption area at the Burbank Animal Shelter, the Leadership Burbank class of 2023-24 unleashed a full-court press to accomplish their goal at Johnny Carson Park last week.

Staging “A Cause for the Paws,” a day of family fun that included a silent auction, entertainment, food, and myriad vendors offering information, education, merchandise, services and artistic creations, the event was co-chaired by class members Stephanie Shaw and Carrie Walko.  

“Our class had been broken into five groups and were each tasked with coming up with a project idea,” said Shaw. “As a big animal advocate, I was surprised that Leadership Burbank had never been involved with the local animal shelter.”

Shaw, who came up with the idea to do something for the shelter, made arrangements to meet with Brenda Castaneda, who serves as the facility’s superintendent.

“Brenda had a list, with No. 1 being a dog run and, secondly, to provide a better socialization area,” said Shaw. “She just gave us the ideas on a silver platter.”

Janice Rosenthal and her Old English sheepdog-pit bull mix, Dipper, were out enjoying the festivities.

Following that meeting in which Shaw came away understanding the shelter’s needs, she put together a project proposal along with photos and a PowerPoint presentation for the class.

Receiving an enthusiastic response from the other 24 members of her class, Shaw said that, with no begging involved, they unanimously chose the shelter project.

“Because I had been the one who brought up the idea, it was kind of natural for me to take on managing the project,” Shaw explained. “And while our fundraising committee has done an incredible job, we as a class believe it is up to each one of us to help raise funds. “We have talked to our friends, family members, local businesses, and worked the farmers market and many other local events handing out flyers so that people know what we are doing and what financial help we are in need of.”

The shelter upgrades, which saw physical construction begin this week, have been budgeted at $50,000. The upgrades include a 75-foot dog run and the socialization area. The plan is to also replace the current heat-absorbing asphalt in these areas with cement to protect the dog’s paws.

Supporting Leadership Burbank’s shelter project were Veronica Haug and her dog, Kerrygold.

The shelter upgrades join a long line of undertakings that Leadership Burbank classes have done to better the community over the years. From the class who restored the “B” in the Verdugo Mountains that has overlooked the city since the 1920s, subsequent classes have expanded instrumental music instruction in elementary schools, provided an outdoor seating area at the Joslyn Adult Center, and revitalized a garden at the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley. Subsequent classes have designed a computer learning lab at the Burbank Temporary Aid Center, created the John Burroughs High School Wellness Center, upgraded the kitchen facilities and equipment at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall Ship 8310, and worked in concert with the school district to install water bottle filling stations in elementary schools.

Shaw, who did her undergraduate work at the University of Arizona before matriculating to Cal State Northridge, where she earned a master’s degree in social work, now serves as the director of mentorship for the Burbank YMCA.

She said she was attracted to the nine-month leadership and professional development program because she has always been interested in anything that furthers her leadership skills.

“As someone who is involved in mentorship, I seek out people who are older and wiser to learn from,” said Shaw. “I also felt going through this program would be beneficial in that I would get to know many of the key people in the city.”

With just weeks to go before she and her classmates graduate, Shaw said she has gained a higher level of confidence by being involved with Leadership Burbank.

“I’ve never been shy about giving my opinions, but I’ve learned to really think out what I have to say so it will have the greatest value, impact and benefit, not just to myself, but to my work colleagues, the organizations I’m involved with, and the community-at-large,” said Shaw. “It has also taught me the importance of being quiet, to listen to others and how vital it is to have people who possess diverse skill sets on any project team. Learning those things will be an invaluable asset to me as I look forward to recruiting and hiring in my career and also for any future projects or tasks I ever take on.”

Along with the benefits, Shaw said the most important thing she learned is how important it is to get involved in the community.

“Many people are interested and involved in state or national politics,” said Shaw. “I’m one of those people. But Leadership Burbank has shown me how vitally import local municipal government is. It not only effects our daily lives in so many ways, but it also provides us with so many ways to really get involved in a hands-on way and make positive changes.”  

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

Fundraisers in attendance for “A Cause for the Paws” were Yolanda Wu, Chaquitta Boyce, Bryce Burton, Robert Watson, Annie Markarian, Adrian Flores, Stephanie Shaw, Hailey Holliman and Carrie Walko, with shelter volunteer Kim Barton in the red shirt.
Mike Christensen, Alen Khachatourian, Gina Kozai and Ester Alarcon of Leadership Burbank’s 2023-24 class.
Taylor Foxhall, who is a program director with the Family Service Agency of Burbank, shares his approval with McGruff the Crime Dog at last week’s event.
Bailey Wojcik, Gillian Kelly, Peter Garcia, Sylvia Garcia, Zoe Bannon and Gersom Michel are ready for a day of fun and fundraising.
Parks and Recreation Director Marisa Garcia, who oversees the animal shelter, did some canine cuddling at the event.
Paige Cizek of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, Councilwoman Zizette Mullins and local businesswoman Cynthia Wagner show their support at last week’s event.
Arts commissioner Cynthia Pease, state Sen. Anthony Portantino and Don Baldaseroni of the Road Kings were in attendance.
Mary and Steve Frintner enjoying the day with their dog Felipe.

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

First published in the April 27 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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