Former Mayor Stamper Dies at 86

First published in the Oct. 9 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

The Rev. Larry Stamper, who served as Burbank’s mayor in the ‘80s and was a longtime pastor of a local church, died this week at the age of 86.
Stamper was on the Burbank City Council between 1981 and 1985, holding the seat of mayor from 1983 to 1984. He was the pastor of Burbank First United Methodist Church for more than 30 years, retiring in 2004, the Leader reported at the time. Stamper was also regularly involved in various local charitable events, such as collecting donations for the Burbank Temporary Aid Center.
Continue reading “Former Mayor Stamper Dies at 86”

Drive-Thru Resource Event for Students Returns in August

Photo courtesy Burbank Housing Corp.
Volunteers at last year’s Back to School event for Burbank students from low-income families hold signs for participants. About 34% of Burbank Unified School District students are socioeconomically disadvantaged, according to the superintendent.

Though many students finished the school year just weeks ago, local nonprofits are already preparing for their annual Back to School event.

Traditionally, the August event has taken the form of a resource fair representing several charitable organizations providing information and services to Burbank students in low-income families. In a normal year, the Kids Community Dental Clinic might offer screenings, while the Burbank Noon Lions Club could offer vision examinations.

Continue reading “Drive-Thru Resource Event for Students Returns in August”

BTAC Drive-Thru Event Helps Those In Need

Photo by David Laurell / Burbank Leader
Volunteers filled the trunks of 59 cars with food during BTAC’s drive-thru event.

For the first time in its 47-year history, the Burbank Temporary Aid Center staged a drive-thru food distribution event open to anyone in need this past Saturday morning.

“Having never done anything like this, we really didn’t know what to expect,” said Barbara Howell, who serves as the nonprofit organization’s chief executive officer. “But we were fully prepared for whatever needed to be done.”

Continue reading “BTAC Drive-Thru Event Helps Those In Need”

City Awards Funds for Nonprofits, Homelessness

A line of people stand for the Burbank Temporary Aid Center food bank line
The City Council allocated $28,000 in federal funds to the Burbank Temporary Aid Center and several other local nonprofits this week. BTAC said it plans to use the money to provide rental assistance and bolster its food bank (above). Photo courtesy Burbank Temporary Aid Center

The city of Burbank recently designated more than $1.1 million in federal funds for several local nonprofits along with one of its own departments that is tasked with addressing homelessness.

The federal government provides Community Development Block Grant funds annually to cities, which then distribute the money to organizations serving low-income populations. On Tuesday, the City Council gave those funds to programs and initiatives for next fiscal year, including homeless prevention, health services and after-school activities.

Continue reading “City Awards Funds for Nonprofits, Homelessness”

Losses and Lessons: Community Members Reflect on COVID Year

Photo courtesy Perez family
Lisa Perez, pictured here with her husband Mario, said they are avid moviegoers. However, they haven’t been to the theater in about a year due to the pandemic, and though they’ve reopened, Lisa isn’t sure when she’ll be going back.

The woman who found out she had breast cancer amid a pandemic. The martial arts instructor who had to move classes from a studio to a garage. The leader of a charity that found itself supplying dozens of households with food.
These are just a few of Burbank community members who found themselves grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. Their stories are by no means uncommon. By the time the first COVID-19 case in Burbank was confirmed on March 19, 2020, businesses had closed, events had been canceled and schools had shut down.
Just over a year later, the virus has killed more than 200 residents and infected more than 8,500. While many businesses have adapted to the pandemic, and restaurants are able to offer limited indoor dining again, others have closed permanently.
“We’ve absolutely lost businesses as they could not survive the economic impacts and we’ve lost jobs as businesses have laid off people,” Mayor Bob Frutos said in an email. “This is sad and why it’s so important to focus on making the recovery happen as quick as possible.
“At the same time, we have gained a stronger relationship with our community as they have come together to help each other from simply delivering groceries to a senior citizen to assisting decreasing the spread of the virus by wearing our masks.”
In interviews with the Leader, many community members hit similar notes, explaining ways they’ve adapted to the pandemic while describing periods of intense anxiety. Many balanced caution against predicting a too-early end of the pandemic with hope spurred by vaccination efforts.
None had been unaffected by the pandemic.

Continue reading “Losses and Lessons: Community Members Reflect on COVID Year”

Teen Swims 25 Miles Today for Local Charity

Photo courtesy Edie Markovich
Edie Markovich, pictured here during her aquatic trek around Coronado Island in October, is swimming 25 miles at the Verdugo Aquatic Facility today to raise donations for local food banks.

The first and last two hours of the swim are the hardest, according to Edie Markovich. Other than those, there are another eight hours of near-constant movement. “Low-key,” she calls it.
The “low-key” event, “Outswimming Hunger,” features the 15-year-old college student swimming 25 miles at the Verdugo Aquatic Facility today, from 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. In the first charity-related swim event she’s held, Markovich is asking people to bring non-perishable, packaged food to the pool deck; donations will later be sent to the Burbank Temporary Aid Center.
She’s also accepting monetary donations online, which will be relayed to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Some donors will also swim in a lane near Edie as she makes her laps.
Continue reading “Teen Swims 25 Miles Today for Local Charity”

Pandemic Recovery and More: Councilmen-Elect Detail Plans

Change could be coming to Burbank, according to the two new City Council members its residents elected.
Both Konstantine Anthony and Nick Schultz ran on progressive platforms that included ideas involving police reform and increased resources for people experiencing homelessness, and pledged to help the city recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We absolutely need change in the city,” Anthony said, pointing out that only two of the eight candidates, himself included, had run for a seat on the panel before. “There is not a single person I’ve talked to who didn’t have something that they needed changed in this city. It was a change election. So let’s do it — let’s make some change.”

Continue reading “Pandemic Recovery and More: Councilmen-Elect Detail Plans”

World Mission Society Church of God Hosts Food Drive

The World Mission Society Church of God recently hosted a food drive at 1817 W. Olive Ave. to support those effected by the coronavirus.
Volunteers collected dozens of donations, including canned and dry food, hygiene products, cleaning supplies, and paper products such as toilet paper and paper towels. The donations were packed up and delivered to the Burbank Temporary Aid Center for distribution to those suffering from financial hardships, especially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Burbank City Council member Timothy Murphy showed appreciation to the volunteers during the event.
“Thanks a lot to the World Mission Society Church of God for helping the people who are hungry and hurting during this time. This is absolutely awesome. We had a great day out here. We collected a whole bunch of food, and it’s going to go to people who need it. Thank you,” said Murphy.
The organization has hosted more than 15,866 volunteer services in 120 countries worldwide to give courage and hope to neighbors in need. In addition, WMSCOG’s social services correspond to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. According to the United Nations Development Programme, the Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.
For more information, visit

Kiwanis Looks to Draw Its Next Generation Into Service

Photos by David Laurell / Burbank Leader
Newly sworn-in Kiwanis Club of Burbank President Kelly Peña (center) with First Vice President Douglas Chadwick (left) and Second Vice President Bryan Snodgrass at last week’s reorganization ceremony, which fellow club members saw via Zoom.

This past week, for the 99th time, members and supporters of the Kiwanis Club of Burbank gathered to swear in the organization’s new president and board of directors.
While the event included all of the traditional components of a Kiwanian reorganization, it was also very different from the previous 98 ceremonies. Instead of a gathering at a local restaurant or event facility, the service club’s 2020-21 reorganization was physically attended only by the group’s board members, who wore masks and maintained a social distance while convening at the Magnolia Park home of incoming President Kelly Peña.
As preparations were finalized by the evening’s hostess, Charissa Wheeler, to “go live” via Zoom and bring in a screen-ful of fellow Kiwanians and local dignitaries, Peña shared some insight on what the organization will look like under her leadership.
“My theme will be ‘Creating the Leaders of Today and Tomorrow,’ and we will be making that happen by what I am calling the ‘Three M’s’ — membership, marketing and mentoring,” Peña revealed.

Continue reading “Kiwanis Looks to Draw Its Next Generation Into Service”

Nonprofit BTAC, Which Assists Many, Receives Help in Return

Photos by David Laurell / Burbank Leader
Sunrise Rotary Club President Kelli Lowers and Noon Rotary Club President Barry Gussow teamed up to stage last week’s drive-thru food drive for BTAC.

A man who served his country and worked his entire adult life to provide for his family.
A single mother whose job in the food service industry gave her the income to afford a small apartment, food, other living expenses and an occasional treat for herself and her two children.
A young man, just a year out of college, using his degree to begin what he hopes will be a high-paying career in post-production.
Not one of those people — like countless others with similar stories — ever thought they would be in need of the services of the Burbank Temporary Aid Center. Yet today, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployed, financially challenged, hungry and homeless are no longer just those on the fringes of society. They are our friends, former co-workers and neighbors. They are our fellow Burbankers.

Continue reading “Nonprofit BTAC, Which Assists Many, Receives Help in Return”