First published in the Nov. 13 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
We have now entered into the season in which the spirit of giving, gratitude and thankfulness is, perhaps, stronger than it is at any other time of the year.
In honor of this special time, the Burbank Coordinating Council recently recognized two women — Janet Diel and Doris Palmer — for their longtime commitment to caring for others at a gala fundraiser held this Saturday evening at the UMe Federal Credit Union.
Diel, who has been a member of the organization for nearly three decades, served as the group’s president longer than anyone in its 88-year history and headed-up the Holiday Basket program, and stepped down from her presidential role this past year. She turned the reins over to Mary Anne Been, who chaired and hosted last week’s event. Diel was lauded by both Been and local dignitaries for her years of service to the all-volunteer organization.
“As we update our mission and bylaws, and look forward to the future and become more involved with the community-at-large to serve our families and youth who are in-need, we are building on the solid foundation that was built by Janet Diel,” Been said.
“Janet’s kindness, love and care of this community has been evident in everything she has done to make Burbank a better place.”
Honored by numerous elected officials, state Sen. Anthony Portantino described Diel as “one of those special human beings who brings her community together.”
Clearly moved by the outpouring of love, Diel stood quiet before the assemblage for a moment while composing herself.
“As I look around this room, I see an ocean of friends,” Diel said. “You are not just friends, you are all a part of my extended family, and I am humbled by your presence here this evening.”
Diel credited her late husband Hank and her children for the help and support they have given her over the years to be able to do what she has done.
“For me and our family it has never been about recognitions,” she said as she dabbed her eyes. “It has always been about making Burbank a better place for everyone, and tonight, as I see so many of you who know that those who give get so much more than those who receive, I can only say you have my heartfelt gratitude and thanks.”
Palmer, a longtime BCC board member was also lauded for her dedicated service to the organization that, since the early 1930s, has been helping local low-income families in need and, since 1946, has been making the holidays brighter for those with children that may otherwise have no holiday meal or gifts.
Saturday’s event was attended by numerous notables including Mayor Bob Frutos, Vice Mayor Jess Talamanes, Councilmembers Sharon Springer, Nick Schultz and Konstantine Anthony, former Councilman Tim Murphy, and Burbank Police Commission member Romik Hacobian.
As it does each year, the Coordinating Council is now putting out a call for donations and volunteers to help assemble the gift baskets, which, according to Been, will help close to 500 families this year.
If you are interested in getting involved, the organization is looking for donations of gift certificates, food items, unwrapped toys and personally requested items that are provided to those who sponsor a specific family.
The council is also in need of volunteers to help deliver baskets, and will be staging a food drive for the program on Nov. 20 from 9 to 11 a.m. at South Hills Church, 222 South Victory Blvd.
For more information on how to get involved or to sponsor a family, email BCC.HolidayBaskets@Gmail.com, call (818) 679-2217 or visit burbankcc.org.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 563-1007.