Foundation Helps Loving Animals — and Their Owners

Linda Venegas and her dog Ottie getting pampered by groomer Deborah Stevens. Photo by David Laurell / Burbank Leader

In the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Gary Michelson, a renowned spine surgeon and prolific medical inventor, founded a nonprofit organization he called Found Animals. 

Beginning with the establishment of the first free pet microchip registry, today the Michelson Found Animals Foundation has gone on to create the Better Neighbor Project, which delivers pet food and wellness services to pet owners in need.

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Family Promise ‘Rattles’ in Fundraiser at Starlight Bowl

Photos by David Laurell
Family Promise bestowed their 2021 Impact Award upon Charles “Chuck” Cusumano, who was joined by family members including his wife Tracy, and sister-in-law and brother Evelyn and Roger Cusumano.

This past week, Burbank’s Verdugo Mountains shook, rattled and rolled.
It wasn’t the type of shaking, rattling and rolling that had Burbakers dropping, covering, holding on, and then checking their phones for the epicenter and magnitude. Instead, it was the type that rocked the hills with the sound of music – specifically the music from the early days of rock ‘n’ roll.
While the Starlight Bowl has not hosted an evening of music since August of 2019 due to the pandemic, last week the city allowed the bowl’s parking lot to serve as the venue for a 1950s “drive-in” concert staged as a fundraiser for the Burbank-based Family Promise of the Verdugos, an organization committed to helping local homeless families achieve lasting independence.

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Family Promise to Host Drive-In Concert April 10

On the evening of Aug. 10, 2019, when John Waite performed his 1984 hit “Missing You” as a finale to the Starlight Bowl’s summer concert series, little could anyone have imagined just how prophetic the words of that song would be. In just over six months, Burbank would join the rest of the world in missing everything and everyone by taking shelter from a novel virus.
While the “missing” of those who have fallen victim to the virus is the paramount heartbreak, the pandemic has also precipitated missing myriad things, from businesses who couldn’t hang on, social gatherings and classroom schooling, to so many things we love and have taken for granted. Among those things are traveling, visiting museums, dining in restaurants, going to plays and films, and the Starlight Bowl’s 2020 Summer Concert Series.

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Awaiting the Day When Starlight Makes Memories Anew

The Starlight Bowl’s audience in 2019.

By David Laurell
Special to the Burbank Leader

I believe memories are our most prized possessions, and while I have many fond ones of past Fourth of July parades, picnics, parties and pyrotechnic performances, nothing will ever beat my flashback to 2003, when I served as guest conductor of the Burbank Philharmonic Orchestra at the Starlight Bowl.
After going through an afternoon session of conducting for dummies taught by Philharmonic music director Steve Kerstein, I had the basics needed to get the musicians through John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”
That evening, Maestro Kerstein introduced me and turned over the leadership of his orchestra to a guy whose musical talents consist of being able to download what I enjoy listening to.
Moments later, as I signaled the orchestra to commence, I learned something only those who have had the opportunity to stand in front of 80 musicians as they are playing know: Your entire body becomes enveloped in vibrations and you experience the sound of each instrument in its purest form, in that you are behind the theater’s amplification system. Continue reading “Awaiting the Day When Starlight Makes Memories Anew”