Adventist Health Glendale Foundation Hosts ‘UNGala 2020’

By Nina Aghadjanian
Glendale News-Press

Photo courtesy Vic Pallos
Honorees Georgiana and Dr. Ronald Wu are pictured with Adventist Health Glendale President Alice Issai at the hospital’s UNGala drive-in fundraiser on Wednesday.

Amid a summer replete with COVID-19 versions of events like drive-thru graduations and concerts, the Adventist Health Glendale Foundation transformed the rooftop of the Americana at Brand into a nostalgic movie experience for its first-ever “drive-in gala.”
Aptly named, UNGala 2020 convened 140 cars and more than 200 guests to recognize Dr. Ronald S. and Georgiana Wu, this year’s honorees after which the foundation named the medical center’s main auditorium for their 52-year service to the hospital and community.
On Wednesday just before sunset, casually dressed and masked dignitaries pulled up to level eight of the Americana, where they were greeted with a welcome bag full of movie snacks and celebratory flags that read, “Congratulations Dr. Ronald and Mrs. Georgiana Wu.” From their cars, attendees waved to and cheered Adventist Health Glendale President Alice Issai and the Wus, who briefly stood outside their car while maintaining a six-foot distance. Attendees remained inside their vehicles for the entire evening in this unique “no contact” fundraiser.
The smell of popcorn wafted through the air while Abba’s “Dancing Queen” played from Issai’s convertible for the start of what felt like a feel-good party from which the hospital could be seen in the distance.
Though a real stage and hors d’oeuvres were sidelined by social distancing, the UNGala event, which was planned in a matter of two weeks, went on. The procession turned to car Tetris as vehicles made their way in front of two massive projection screens to watch the program, audible via K-Wave radio station 107.9 FM.

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Activists Rally Support for Armenia, Reject Hatred

Photo by Zane Hill / Glendale News-Press
Activists and others gathered outside of the Armenian Consulate last Saturday in a show of support for Armenian troops who in July engaged in border skirmishes with the Azerbaijani military. The clashes represent the latest in a series of ceasefire violations between the two nations since 1994.

When hundreds gathered outside of the Armenian Consulate last week — an event that largely turned the corner of Lexington Drive and Central Avenue into a sea of red, blue and orange — it was not to showcase aggression or hostility.
Rather, those who gathered in solidarity with Armenia and the Artsakh Republic sang, cheered and danced in the closed-off block, to a backdrop of motorists — many of whom had decked their vehicles with flags — enthusiastically honking in support. And, as officials for local Armenian organizations shouted to the crowd last Saturday, they did so out of love for their homeland, not hatred for Azerbaijani soldiers ordered to fire upon Armenian targets throughout July.
“We are here to tell our brothers and sisters in the homeland that the diaspora stands with them,” yelled Gev Iskajyan, a member of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region’s board of directors. “We are here to exemplify the love that we have for peace, the love that we have for freedom and the love that we have for our people in the homeland. That love will never cater to hatred.”
The Armenian and Azerbaijani militaries traded artillery rounds and drone strikes starting on July 12, when Armenian troops said their adversary’s units began aiming at civilian targets along the nations’ borders. The escalation again violates a ceasefire agreement in 1994 that followed the Nagorno Karabakh war; a more substantial incursion occurred in 2016.

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USC-VHH Sets Baby Birth Record Despite Pandemic

Photo courtesy Keck Medicine of USC
A new mother and her baby are pictured with USC Verdugo Hills Hospital nurse Kristin Anderson.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital has doubled down on its commitment to safely help mothers bring their bundles of joy into the world.
In fact, USC-VHH delivered 61 babies in July, the most it has welcomed in any month in the last seven years and more than double the number of births in the same period in 2019.
Part of the reason for that increase is the hospital’s growing reputation for creating a supportive environment for expectant mothers and fathers and having state-of-the-art medical care, like the neonatal intensive care unit’s specialized staff and equipment to treat ill or premature newborns, USC-VHH officials said. The unit opened in 2018.
“We have developed a wonderful relationship with our obstetricians and created a collaborative, supportive environment for them and the mothers who entrust them to deliver their babies. We have focused on adding additional support, the NICU and laborists, to provide a higher level of care capabilities,” said Kenny Pawlek, USC-VHH’s chief operating officer. “During COVID-19, we’ve stressed safety for our moms, parents, babies, MDs, nursing team and employees.”

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Glendale, Burbank Firefighters Team Up to Battle Blaze

Photo courtesy Glendale Fire Department
Firefighters from Glendale and Burbank on Sunday fought off a blaze on Alameda Drive that threatened a two-story apartment building next door.

Glendale firefighters, with assistance from their Burbank peers, successfully fought off a structure fire on Sunday that threatened a nearby apartment complex.
Four ladder trucks and seven engines responded to the fire Sunday morning in the 1100 block of Alameda Drive. Glendale Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas said a detached garage there was well-involved by the time firefighters arrived and that the blaze had begun damaging adjacent fences and buildings, including a two-story apartment building next door.
Firefighters contained the blaze within half an hour and spent another three hours on cleanup. Lanzas said investigators determined the fire was accidental and caused by electricity. One firefighter was examined on the scene for a bout of dizziness, Lanzas said, but was cleared and resumed work at the site.
Lanzas praised the work between the Glendale and Burbank fire departments.
“It was seamless,” he said. “The communication and cooperation between them, you almost wouldn’t know they were separate departments.”
The detached garage, which was destroyed, was valued at around $100,000, the fire chief said, and the response saved $3 million in potential additional damage.

City Council Deems Bike Trail Proposal Worth Studying

The proposed Verdugo Wash bike trail and linear park are a step closer to reality after the Glendale City Council this week showed enthusiasm for the idea and approved opening a bidding process for a design firm to help determine its feasibility.
This year’s budget allocates $250,000 in Measure S sales tax money to fund the visioning study, which will solicit input about the proposal from community members and identify cost estimates and potential issues to navigate. The trail would begin in Crescenta Highlands and follow the natural Verdugo Wash along 17 other Glendale neighborhoods all the way to where it meets the Los Angeles River, which itself has a bike and pedestrian trail.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to be able to connect to several neighborhoods, several communities and offer another mode of transportation,” said Bradley Calvert, assistant director of community development, at Tuesday’s council meeting.

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Council Takes Shine to Possible Mylar Balloon Ban

The City Council has asked for an ordinance to ban the sale of Mylar balloons in Glendale because of the problems they cause for electric utilities.
Photo courtesy Los Angeles Department of Water & Power

In the coming weeks, the City Council expects to take up a possible ordinance banning an innocent-looking party product that can cause nuisances that have frustrated Glendale officials for decades — the Mylar balloon.
City Attorney Michael Garcia will, at the unanimous request of the council at its Tuesday meeting, prepare an ordinance that would ban outright the sale of the metallic balloons — known to drift into power lines — in city limits. The council, for now, eschewed a ban on possession, citing enforcement issues for such a law.
“These products have unfortunately become a nuisance and we have to do the right thing by our residents and by the users of our utilities,” said Councilman Ardy Kassakhian, adding it was a “no-brainer” to enact a sale ban. “I don’t think we can do anything about the possession of them, and I think the enforcement of that becomes a little bit more difficult and troublesome. Our code enforcement is already stretched thin. Our police are now enforcing our mask guidelines and rules. I think now is not the time to add anything of this sort to their plate.”

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Coronavirus Demographics: Younger People Also Afflicted

While the tally of positive COVID-19 tests grows larger, the average age of patients has been inching lower in recent weeks as the initial wave of the pandemic has surged back with fury.
When the pandemic grew in March and April, hospitals found themselves overwhelmed and low on key supplies to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, and elderly men and women with pre-existing health conditions represented a large percentage of cases. A significant number of such patients came from skilled nursing facilities, whose residents sometimes made up a super-majority of deaths in a given community.
Now, in the weeks after Los Angeles County and state officials briefly relaxed public restrictions, it’s a different picture.

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Racism Panel Depicts ‘Painful Reality’ of City History

Acknowledgment, the group assembled by the city contended, is a strong first step for a community to address a past marred by racism and other prejudice.
However, as the panel tasked with discussing the past and present state of racism in our society and communities emphasized, it will take more than that to truly heal from prior transgressions, even though the people of today might not have had anything to do with them.
“This is a really painful and difficult reality that I think, of course, has to be acknowledged,” said Safiya Noble, one of three panelists brought together for Thursday’s “Racism: Past and Present” discussion sponsored by the city government. “There are so many ways in which these practices remain about who belongs and who doesn’t belong, like the way we don’t need the signs but we have the customs that exist.”

Noble and her peers were brought onto the virtual panel — a sign of our coronavirus-affected times, which themselves have had an outsize impact on black Los Angeles County residents — as part of the city’s commitment to facing its past-but-not-forgotten racial discrimination, whether formal or passive. That engagement was prompted by protests and advocacy that crystallized in May, when George Floyd, a black man, died while in Minneapolis police custody after an officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
Locally, Glendale’s past reputation as a sundown town — in which black men and women faced potential violence if they remained within city limits after work hours — re-entered the public conversation, as did the fact that the American Nazi Party maintained its West Coast headquarters here for a couple of decades and that a prominent Ku Klux Klan leader lived and purveyed his rhetoric here.
“With respect to sundown towns and communities that have this tortured history, certainly acknowledging that is a first step. Apologizing for it is another step,” said panelist Hannibal Johnson, a lawyer and historian with expertise on the 1921 riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a white mob attacked a black district and its residents and businesses. “I guess the really meddlesome part is the atonement, making reparations, making amends: What do we do to repair the damage imposed by those systems? Acknowledgement is not enough. Apology is not enough. You need all three steps.”
Panelist Gary Keyes, an author of local history books who previously taught at Glendale Community College, said Glendale police officers were actively enforcing a sundown town mentality as recently as the 1960s. That mentality was something he said he personally observed when, as a teacher at Crescenta Valley High School, he would drive along Foothill Boulevard through La Cañada Flintridge and see scores of black men and women waiting at bus stops.
On occasion, he said, he would see local law enforcement stopping black motorists to redirect them as they journeyed to what were then African-American communities, such as Pacoima or Altadena.
“That’s where it gets really ridiculous,” Keyes said. “Some sundown cities did not allow African-Americans in the community at all, and therefore if you were going someplace you would have to detour around town.”
Noble, a UCLA professor specializing in technological and data redlining, outlined that the difference between “not racist” and “anti-racist” is that the former is a passive stance whereas the latter describes people who “actively work” to dismantle institutional racist practices. “Not racist” white people’s acknowledgment of the inherent social benefits they are afforded is not enough, she said. Noble also pushed back against the “half-and-half” designation she said she sometimes gets because her mother is white and her father black.
“Of course this is completely absurd because no place in my life have I been misunderstood or misclassified as a white person,” she said. “Every dimension of modern life is governed by racial categories …We live in systems, and it doesn’t matter if you signed up for the system or not. It doesn’t matter if you declare yourself to be not racist. You’re still a beneficiary to long-term, systemic racism.”
Johnson, pointing out that the Tulsa riot remains an obscure part of the nation’s history, said enhancing education and curriculum represented a strong first move in the right direction. Indeed, as moderator Steven Nelson quipped, the harrowing opening scene of the 2019 HBO miniseries “Watchmen” has been for many the first exposure to the tragedy.
“What we are taught in our schools really feeds into systemic and structural racism that exists,” Johnson said. “We are too often taught a sanitized version of history that is exclusive of people of color and exclusive of what I call ‘hard history.’
“That’s something that people don’t forget,” he added, referring to the riot, “and it takes years and years and years of ‘affirmative action,’ if you will, to even begin to bridge the divide between the races. One concrete step, I would say, is for the community to take a look at curriculum, particularly history. There are a number of opportunities for just the ordinary citizen to make a real difference. We’re all represented by somebody on a school board. That’s influence.”
Keyes added that in 1920 the KKK hosted a major rally, which included a cross burning, that began at Verdugo Park, and that the organization would frequently participate in the city’s parades in that era. He added that the “last gasp” for overt white racism may have occurred in the 1970s, when an industrial park planned for the south side that would have pushed out the area’s Mexican community was ultimately shot down.
“I believe Glendale has made a sincere effort to change its past,” he said, having earlier noted: “People don’t always know their history and people should always look for the dark side of American history, because if we don’t know anything about our past, we can’t do anything about it in the future.”

Hit-and-Run Severely Injures Girl, 13

The Glendale Police Department is eager for any possible leads as it investigates a hit-and-run incident last week that left a 13-year-old girl in critical condition at a local hospital.
Police are searching for a black 2019 or 2020 Lexus GX460 SUV with damage to the passenger-side headlight and right front bumper, a department spokesman said. Investigators did not have a description of the driver as of press deadline.
The vehicle struck the teenager at 3:12 p.m. Friday, July 24, in the 800 block of East Garfield Avenue, dragging her at least 30 feet before stopping and almost immediately fleeing east on Garfield toward Chevy Chase Drive, according to a police report. It remains unclear how the vehicle came to collide with the girl; that section of Garfield is an unusually long residential corridor with just one crosswalk in the half-mile between intersections.
It’s also unclear how fast the motorist was driving, but the vehicle collided with the girl with such force that it damaged the SUV. Investigators were able to determine the make and model of the vehicle based on damaged pieces of the SUV that were left at the scene. The girl was listed as severely injured and remained in critical condition this week, according to police.
The GPD urges anyone who may have seen that type of vehicle speeding through the area at that time to call the department.
“Maybe if someone in the neighborhood has a Ring camera, we can get some better information on the vehicle,” said Sgt. Christian Hauptmann, public information officer for the GPD.
Those with information should contact police at (818) 548-4911. To make an anonymous tip, call the Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477, download the P3 Mobile App on a mobile device or visit lacrimestoppers.org.

Armenian Group to Rally Today Over Foreign Conflict

The Armenian Youth Federation, through its western U.S. office in Glendale, will host a rally for unity today amid an escalation of military hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The rally will take place outside the Armenian Consulate on Central Avenue at 5 p.m.
And on Tuesday, Aug. 4, at 5:30 p.m., the local organization GlendaleOUT will host a gathering of solidarity for the Armenian community outside City Hall on Broadway. In observance of the pandemic, both events will require participants to wear face coverings and adhere to social distancing.
Similar demonstrations have occurred in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the U.S. since clashes between Armenia and Azerbajian were renewed on July 12. In the wake of the Soviet Union’s breakup, the two nations engaged in the 1994 Nagorno-Karabakh War as part of their broader ethnic conflict over territory largely occupied by Armenians but apportioned to Azerbaijan by the Soviets in their state’s early days.
The AYF plans to “celebrate our Armenian culture, heritage and strength” at today’s rally at 346 N. Central Ave.
The organization “is calling on our community to stand with us as we showcase our unity and strength and celebrate our culture and heritage in the face of Azerbaijani aggression against our homeland and Armenians around the world,” it wrote in its fliers.
This event follows a similar march, organized last week, where there were a variety of speakers and a number of signs left at the consulate. The Glendale chapter of the Armenian National Committee of America condemned the military clashes in a statement, and the House Armenian Caucus — which is co-chaired by Congressman Adam Schiff, a Burbank Democrat who also represents Glendale — called upon the Trump administration to take action to reel in Azerbaijan’s aggression.

For information about the youth federation, visit ayfwest.org.