First published in the Nov. 27 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
This past Thursday, as Americans celebrated Thanksgiving, it marked the passing of 400 years since the first Thanksgiving.
That event, staged as a harvest celebration, didn’t take place on the fourth Thursday of November, nor was it known as Thanksgiving. In fact, many historians believe it took place at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts over a three-day period sometime between September and November of 1621.
This past week, four centuries on from that first giving of thanks over a harvest, Burbank saw the celebration of another “first” Thanksgiving as National Charity League of Burbank’s senior class of 2022 Ticktockers hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for locals involved in the Family Promise of the Verdugos program.
“This is our first Thanking — the first time National Charity League and Family Promise have partnered to serve our families — but it won’t be our last,” said Albert Hernandez, who serves as the chief executive officer of Family Promise of the Verdugos.
Established in 2010, the organization works with homeless families to help them achieve lasting independence. Partnering with a network of local interfaith congregations and volunteers, they also provide safe shelter, meals and support services such as counseling and job readiness for those in the Burbank, North Hollywood, Glendale and Eagle Rock.
Going on to thank the Burbank companies and restaurants who donated food, Hernandez also expressed his gratitude to local NCL President Teresa Weeden, the events chairwoman Caroline Buffolino, members of the 2022 class, and the food service staff from IKEA composed of Nicole Shoob, Robert Morgan and Mary Ann Barroso-Castanon who handled kitchen duties.
Close to 70 members of 30 families who are currently involved in the Family Promise program gathered for the feast at Emmanuel Evangelical Church in Burbank. Utilizing the funds they have raised in various ways over the past year, the Ticktockers provided the main course, dinner rolls and dessert, while IKEA and the Coral Cafe donated side dishes.
Buffolino, joined by her daughter Annie, oversaw the preparations of the dinner, and said that when the members of the 2022 senior class came up with this idea, she approached Hernandez and asked if he would be open to them providing Thanksgiving dinner for those in the Family Promise program.
“Albert was on board right away,” Buffolino said. “He was very excited about doing it and said it was something he had always wanted to do. He even expressed a desire to make it an annual event.”
After months of fundraising and planning, last week’s dinner proved to be tremendous success thanks to the mother-daughter teams of Dorothy and Adelina Hernandez; Michelle and Nicole Cloutier; Cynthia Wagner and Paige Cizek; Juliet and Sophia Navarro; Suzi and Juleanne Reader; Linda and Nuala Giffen; Rebecca Granite-Johnson and Ava Johnson; Kim and Emily Damer; Janine and Hayden Washington; Jhertaune Huntley and Jessica Allen; Adrienne and Juliana Carolan; and Sissy Funk Timmerman and Kelley Timmerman.
Soon after the meal was served by NCL members, Hernandez asked that the Ticktockers to gather around him in a circle.
“The families you served tonight will never be able to properly thank you for what you have done for them,” he told the young women.
“Many of them are living in very low-income units and local motels until they can get back on track. They have no place to make a home cooked meal. There will be no smell of a turkey cooking on Thanksgiving for them. So what you have done is given them a real meal with all the trimmings. That should make you all feel great, and on behalf of all of our families and our staff I want you to know that we greatly admire you and are so grateful for what each of you has done in making this evening possible.”
The Burbank Chapter of National Charity League was organized in 1959 and chartered in 1960. A group of mothers and daughters who come together in commitment to community service, leadership development and cultural experiences, they volunteer more than 2,000 hours of community service to local philanthropies on an annual basis.
For more information about the local chapter of NCL, visit nationalcharityleague.org/chapter/burbank/.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at email@example.com or (818) 563-1007.