La Providencia Guild of Children’s Hospital – Making a Difference

Photos by David Laurell / Burbank Leader Last Saturday’s “Come Aboard for a Friendship Sail” summer meeting was chaired by Janice Shafer, who is pictured with Sue Meckley, a key contributor to the thrift shop’s continued success.

For as far back as most Burbankers can remember, if you’re on the lookout for vintage clothing, fashion accessories, jewelry, glassware, art work, memorabilia, collectibles, furnishings or a really unique gift, you have no further to take your search than to Magnolia Park’s antique and specialty shops.


While you just never know what sort of eclectic treasures you may come upon at those shops, there is another place in Burbank that also offers an array of diverse finds that range from gently used everyday household goods and vintage items, to designer shoes and accessories that, in some cases, have never been worn.
This place is not to be found amongst the shops that dot West Magnolia Boulevard and its side streets from Hollywood Way to Buena Vista Street, but rather a few blocks north, at 3301 West Burbank Blvd.
The shop doesn’t have a romantic name that conjures up visions of yesteryear. It is simply known for the organization its proceeds from every sale go to support: Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles’ La Providencia Guild Thrift Shop.
Since the guild’s formation in 1947, the operation of a thrift shop has been a crucial element in their fundraising efforts. The genesis of establishing and operating a thrift shop staffed by volunteer guild members can be traced back to the late 1940s, when members would stage yard sales to show off and sell used clothing and other items.
In 1958, they transitioned from yard sales to operating a brick-and-mortar shop located on San Fernando Boulevard. After rapidly outgrowing the first facility, the guild moved to Tujunga Avenue, and after 22 years, moved again to what became known as the “Little Blue Cottage” on Magnolia Avenue. In November 2007, the guild relocated once again to its current location on Burbank Boulevard.

Rosemarie Witten and Sue Ann Gordon coordinated the afternoon’s fashion show, which featured items available at their thrift shop.

This past Saturday, members of the guild met for their annual summer meeting that pays tribute to their thrift shop and the women who make it a success. Convening at the Chevy Chase Country Club, this yearly event always includes a fashion show in which guild members showcase clothing, jewelry and accessories available at their shop.
Presented under a nautical theme, “Come Aboard for a Friendship Sail,” the event was chaired by Janice Shafer and made possible by her committee composed of Diana Irell, Debbi Lowman, Teresa Garcia, Ann O’Donnell-Gardner, Carol Thielemann, Malena Tappan and Veronica Chavoor.
The afternoon’s fashion show, coordinated by Sue Ann Gordon and Rosemarie Witten and hosted by O’Donnell-Gardner, featured guild models Sandra Kelley, Jill Kessler, Jeanne Margolin, Irene Metzger, Donna Salant and Linda Viebahn.
In 1947, the charter membership of the La Providencia Guild consisted of 25 women who were interested in supporting the work of Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. They chose the name for two reasons: “La Providencia” means “the provider” or “the beneficent one” and Burbank is in the heart of the old Spanish land grant of that name.

Ann O’Donnell-Gardner is flanked by two of the guild’s longest-serving members, Mary Jo Hjelmstrom and Mary Hurst.

Today, the guild has more than 120 women who participate in four levels of membership: actives, associates, patronesses and emeritus members, who have either served as the group’s president in the past or have been members for more than 40 years.
The guild also has sustaining members, who support their work through their financial generosity.
Funds raised at the guild’s events and its thrift shop help fund the current projects its members are supporting, which include the Associates Endowed Chair for the Chief of the Children’s Orthopedic Center and the Associates Endowment for Liver and Intestinal Research.
For more information about guild membership, the thrift store or upcoming fundraising events, visit laprov.org or call (818) 845-6606.

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

Among those who served as models were guild members Sandra Kelley, Jill Kessler and Donna Salant, who were joined by member Veronica Chavoor’s granddaughter Emily Silah.
La Providencia Guild members Teresa Garcia, Debbi Lowman and Diana Irell were among those who served on last week’s event committee.