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.”
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.
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.
This past Tuesday afternoon, a maroon-colored compact car pulled up in the parking lot behind the Burbank Temporary Aid Center. Adjusting his mask into place, the casually dressed driver got out and opened the back door, revealing bags and boxes of food items.
Moments later, after unloading his haul into a shopping cart, the man pushed it to the donation receiving area where he was greeted by BTAC Executive Director Barbara Howell; Roger Koll, who serves as the president of the nonprofit organization’s board; and Michael Flood, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Continue reading “Aid Center Responds to ‘Tsunami’ of Need Amid Crisis”