Project Hope Offers Relief, Reassurance to Vulnerable Residents

Photo courtesy Burbank Volunteer Program
The Burbank Volunteer Program team helping to coordinate Project Hope, which pairs older adults and volunteers so those at risk can safely stay in their homes, includes recreation coordinator Marcus Munguia, Aimmy Galvan and Lacey Cabrera.

If the people can’t come to the city’s support program, the program will go to the people.
The Burbank Volunteer Program started a group dedicated to supporting older adults and people with mobility challenges a few years ago, long before the coronavirus pandemic took hold and effectively kept anyone at risk for health complications from the disease completely quarantined.
Now that group, Project Hope, has further embodied its name by offering — at no charge — to do essential errands like grocery shopping and prescription refill pickup through a small army of volunteers, who’ve also extended companionship to those who’ve had to self-isolate, especially those who live alone.
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Telehealth Therapy Enables a Stream of PCDA Services

Photo courtesy PCDA
Professional Child Development Associates therapist Alaina Hogue prepares for a music therapy telehealth session from her home. Like most PCDA therapists she has transformed her in-person therapy methods to a virtual format, ensuring the safety of medically at-risk clients and their families during the pandemic.

Amid the pandemic-generated tumult being confronted by many local nonprofit organizations, there are a few silver linings to be found here and there.
For Professional Child Development Associates, which focuses on family and child health services, the upside of social distancing protocols aimed at combating the spread of COVID-19 has been found in a radical leap to telehealth therapy.
Now, PCDA’s small army of therapists can be found streaming into a family’s kitchen or living room, engaging young children with music, puppets or soothing stories, and lending support to mothers and fathers as well as extended family members who might be isolating with them.
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Flintridge Prep Introduces New Mascot: the Wolves

The times are changing, and so is the mascot at Flintridge Preparatory School.
A school community-wide email sent by Prep Headmaster Peter Bachmann announced that the new mascot, the Wolves, will replace the Rebels starting July 1.
The decision to change mascots was made as a board resolution in January, and was the culmination of what the email said were “many meaningful and spirited discussions across campus over several years.” The process included the appointment of a multi-constituency mascot committee and a board oversight committee.
“We have recognized the controversial nature of our former mascot and have sought an adequate solution for years,” said Nicole Trevor, Prep’s director of communications. “It is worth noting that in 2014, the school also considered changing the mascot completely, but ultimately the school decided to rebrand instead.”
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Mama Bear, Two Cubs Delight LCF Watchers

Photo courtesy Carmen Porto
A mother bear and her cubs were spotted this week as homebound neighbors gathered outside to observe the animals’ adventures, which included tipping over trash cans and climbing onto a roof.

“Honey, there’s a bear at the door!”
Those are the words Joani Bartoli-Porto announced to her husband, Carmen Porto, this past weekend when she suddenly spotted a trio of furry bodies strolling along in the La Cañada Flintridge residents’ front yard, located near the Gould wash.
After some happy commotion, the couple, watching from a window, confirmed that the lumbering visitors were a mother bear with two small cubs trailing behind. To get a better look, they cautiously peeked outdoors, joining a number of neighbors doing the same.
The baby bears, clearly of nursing age, ran at the heels of their mother, who was wearing a large yellow tag in one of her ears.
“They are so doggone cute you wouldn’t believe it, those babies looked just like real-life teddy bears,” said Carmen Porto, a professional photographer, who began taking pictures.
The bears spent the afternoon roaming the neighborhood, tipping over a few trash cans along the way, and eventually climbed onto the roof of a neighboring house via a nearby fence. That created some concern among residents, as the mother bear began crying and moaning as she searched for a way to get her youngsters down.
Eventually, a cruiser from the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station showed up and the deputy warned everybody to keep their distance.
“He reminded everybody that a bear can run 30 miles per hour,” Porto noted.
During this time of year, deputies are often called to respond to wildlife in the area, said Sgt. Ed Retamoza, but he added that unless an animal is acting aggressively, the best thing is to leave it alone and let it be on its way.
“When we receive a bear call, there’s really not much we can do, just make sure people stay indoors and stay safe,” he said. “Most of the time, the bears return on their own back into the mountains. We don’t really get involved in approaching them, just assure that people keep their distance.”
On this occasion, Porto noted, the patrol car slowly followed the animals — who by now had come down from the roof — seemingly giving them their own escort.
The mother bear “just lollygagged up the street, her babies following. We heard later that they spent the night in the tree down the block,” he added.

After 40 Years, Flintridge Prep’s Bachmann Opens New Chapter

Photo courtesy Flintridge Prep
Flintridge Preparatory School Headmaster Peter Bachmann has dedicated his life’s career at the private school, first becoming a history teacher 40 years ago and then becoming headmaster in 1991. On July 1, Bachmann will step down from that role and Jim Pickett will become the new head of school.

During his 40-year career at Flintridge Preparatory School, Headmaster Peter Bachmann has always been one to look forward, envisioning a future and cementing the mission for a student-centered, nationally recognized private school located on 7.5 bucolic acres near Pasadena.

So it’s a rare thing for Bachmann, who’s retiring from his role as headmaster on July 1, to reflect heavily on his past achievements, admitting only to recently feeling “expectedly nostalgic” as he wrapped up a lifelong career committed to rigorous youth academics and human development.
And though he has steered the prestigious school through countless changes since getting hired in 1980 and rising to become headmaster in 1991, this year’s coronavirus pandemic may have been the biggest quagmire in all that time, shutting down in-person education at an institution whose success was built on the connectivity of communication and interpersonal relationships there.
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Clergy, Civic Leaders Unite Peaceful Protests for Justice

Photo by Luwin Kwan
Despite the coronavirus pandemic and a curfew set by the county and city, throngs of protesters flocked to the steps of City Hall this week to condemn the death of George Floyd, who died while in police custody on May 25. Peaceful protests took place across the city with more than a dozen churches participating in conjunction with city officials and civic leaders.

As protests rocked the nation this week in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who perished after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, Pasadena clergy, civil rights and social justice groups joined peacefully to decry police brutality on people of color — nationally and locally — and demanded civilian oversight for the city’s police department. Continue reading “Clergy, Civic Leaders Unite Peaceful Protests for Justice”

Clergy, Civic Leaders Unite Peaceful Protests for Justice

Photo courtesy Erin Rodick
An estimated 1,500 people, united by diverse clergy and civic organizations throughout the city, came together for a candlelight vigil and protest on Sunday in memory of George Floyd and to urge change against systemic racism.

As protests rocked the nation this week in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who perished after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, Pasadena clergy, civil rights and social justice groups joined peacefully to decry police brutality on people of color — nationally and locally — and demanded civilian oversight for the city’s police department.

Photo courtesy Luwin Kwan

Despite reports of protests turning violent across Los Angeles County over the weekend, with Gov. Gavin Newsom declaring a state of emergency and county officials issuing local curfews, an estimated 1,500 people convened on the steps of Pasadena’s City Hall on Sunday evening to express outrage and urge justice for Floyd.
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Burbank High School 2020 Graduates Shine in Video

It was a graduation unlike any other for the Bulldogs.
While the celebration to cap off Burbank High School’s class of 2020 graduating seniors was full of pomp and circumstance, the virtually recorded event also was spliced with poignant, heartfelt messages, lilting music and bittersweet comedy, telling of the toll quarantine measures took on the students and the rather unceremonious ending to their high school career.
The BHS Commencement 2020 was a tribute in partnership with local production company Mocean and culmination of a weeklong awards program aired through the school’s own BHS-TV, a student-run production that can be streamed on Vimeo and YouTube.
“The production became a passion project in a year when the kids have lost so much,” said BHS Principal Thomas Crowther. “We wanted to showcase our amazing school and our wonderful seniors — perhaps to some community members who hadn’t ‘met’ them.”
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Stars Pivots to Provide Groceries, Meals to Families

Photos courtesy Stars
Stars nonprofit organization has pivoted operations during the COVID-19 crisis to offer full-service food and grocery delivery to low-income families.

As efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic effectively shut down public education and socialization in mid-March, organizations such as the youth-based Stars nonprofit had to suddenly halt all its after-school programming and enrichment activities.
They knew, however, the low-income students and their families they typically serve would be hit hard by both the virus and the ripple effects of the resulting recession, and began a different kind of outreach.
“I used to say we were a low-income program, but now I say we’re a no-income program,” said Stars Associate Director Kurt Gibson, noting that nearly 70% of the heads of household for whom they provide outreach have been laid off.
After a survey of families revealed the majority were facing severe food insecurity as they increasingly tried to care for elderly family and neighbors, the Pasadena-based nonprofit’s leadership pivoted to provide a full scale food and grocery distribution. Now, after just five weeks, the organization is handling between 2.5 and 3 tons of food per week for up to 65 families or about 270 individuals, all of which is delivered to the homes.
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Unexpected Visitor Brings Joy to Hathaway-Sycamores’ Youth

Photos courtesy Hathaway-Sycamores
Committed staff members of Hathaway-Sycamores are continuing full-time work at the El Nido campus caring for the boys and homeless youth who live there during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just a few days before Los Angeles County issued its “Safer at Home” order, effectively shutting down all youth activities after schools themselves had closed, a petite feline crept her way unto Hathaway-Sycamores’ El Nido campus and into the hearts of the boys who reside at the facility for foster and homeless youth.
Soft and friendly, she commanded attention, and the boys were happy to reciprocate her cuddles.
Staff put out some food for the collarless critter, hoping the distraction might help soothe the boys as the campus shut down from outside visits to obey the social distancing order, meaning the youth would not see their families for supervised visits — part of the legal process they undergo to return to permanency with their parents or extended family.
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