2018 Autumn Appreciation Dinner Celebrates Stories

Links to the videos shown at the Event –  Scholarship, Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial, Pinola/Crescenta Valley Education Fund, and CFV Giving – are included below. All Photos from the event are available here.

The Community Foundation of the Verdugos’ 2018 Autumn Appreciation Dinner on Nov. 7 was another successful showcase of just some of its donor and grant activities during the past year.  Under the theme “Every Gift … Is a Story,” the evening got a warm start from Event Chair & CFV Board Member Toni Beck Espinoza’s welcome followed by the ultra-cool serenades of The West 79th Street Funk Jazz Band. Other CFV Board Members serving on the Event Committee were Eric Ashton, Jr., David Levy, and Lee Wochner who were supported by their Board peers CFO Charles “Bud” Alleman, Peter Baghdassarian, Board President Seok Jo, and Board Secretary Trey LeCroy III.

Painting a storybook picture for the guests’ evening enjoyment was Dink O’Neal as Alastair Cook (really!), who found the Foundation via the help of Legacy Board Member Amity Hume Grimes. Other past Board Members in attendance included Jarrett Anderson, Michael Deaktor, Bruce Hinckley, Mary Rough, Gerald Tomsic, and Ron Youra.

The philanthropic idea of telling your story is almost a mantra today, but it’s not always an easy thing to do.  The Event Committee’s goal was to find an entertaining way in which to present this idea that the Foundation’s very fabric, its existence, was made possible through the stories that are behind every gift.  These gifts subsequently lead to the establishment of funds that the CFV manages which then lead to the grants that nonprofits benefit from.  Each of these steps in the cycle have stories. 

The Foundation’s updated website in 2019 will feature heavily on stories – stories of its donors, its projects and involvement in the community, its funds, and the results (what we like to call “impact”) of the grants and scholarships. In the past decade alone, the Foundation has issued approximately $5.8 million in grants and scholarships. 

Board President Seok Jo did a fantastic job of presenting some of these facts to the audience prior to segueing to the Storyteller’s magic.  Frequently peppered with humor, “Alastair” used his British accent to drive home the impact of the cumulative giving of fund holders Adel Luzuriaga, and Mary Pinola & Charles Kenny who were recognized with certificates. New fund holders recognized were the Las Candelas and their endowment fund; lead by President Nancy Stone, other members present included Treasurer Patti Baker, Marion Greene, Debbie Hinckley, and Suzonne Slaughter. The new Cami’s Courage Scholarship Award Fund recognized Mr. Alistair & Dr. Carol Ann Burton and the Burton Family; the Fund’s first award will be presented at the 2019 Glendale YWCA’s Legacy Luncheon. And recognized for moving their Funds forward in growth and perpetuity were Fran Benedict for the Chuck Benedict Journalism Scholarship Fund, and The Glendale Historical Society with President Steve Hunt. Many thanks to Lee Wochner for leading the recognition segment of the evening.

A scholarship program update was presented by Scholarship Chair and Scribe, David Levy. Historical recognition to the completion of the Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial was made by PAGMC Board Members David Gevorkyan and Shoghig Yepremian. Providing an update on a 2017 grant to the Glendale Police Museum was Police Foundation Board Member Bruce Hinckley (with wife Debbie among the guests)Zonta Club of Burbank Area President Nickie Bonner removed the mystery of what a Zonta is, and shared why she and her fellow club members decided to create their endowed fund with the Foundation. Marva Murphy, also a Zonta, provided the cheering section of the room!  Highlighting the story of how a fund, started decades ago, has now reached the half-million mark was Mary Pinola and Advisory Board Members of the Pinola/Crescenta Valley Chamber Education Fund Charles Kenny, Jo Loomis, and Bobbi Parker. It was heartwarming to hear how having a fund with the Foundation has helped this group to attain their goals and how they will be making greater impact with grants moving forward.   

A highlight of the evening was, no doubt, the amazing footwork, flips, and moves of the award-winning Glendale Coed Dance Team! The program started with the team performing “Another Day of Sun” and wrapped up with “From Now On.” Glendale High Principal Dr. Benjamin Wolf was on hand to support the Team under the direction of instructor Kelly Palmer and bolstered by coach Sean Koro

Among the guests at the dinner included Paul & Marion Greene, Les & Ania Zador, Frieda & Isaac Vartanian, Eli Gunnell and his father, Dr. John Gunnell, and the Burbank Police Department’s Chief Scott LaChasse, Captain Denis Cremins, Sergeant Derek Green, and Captain Eric Deroian.  Though we cannot list all of our guests in this article, we extend a deep appreciation for those who were able to join us.  Staff Edna Karinski and Melissa Watte helped pull it all together while the following sponsors are extended an extra special “Thank You” for helping to make future grants possible: Event Angels Jeffrey C. Peter and The Walt Disney Company; Theme Sponsor Melby & Anderson LLP; Printed Program Sponsor Wing Chung; Centerpiece Sponsor Crown Financial Partners; Entertainment Sponsor Toni & Vince Espinoza Family; Gifts Sponsors Edwards, Aston & Gin LLP, and Peter & Ruby Baghdassarian; Coffee and Dessert Sponsor Ernie & Angie Burger; Cocktail Sponsor Lee & Valorie Wochner; Epic Sponsor Phyllis Winnaman; Legend Sponsors Denis Cremins, Glendale Historical Society, Bruce & Debbie Hinckley, J’s Maintenance, King King Alleman & Jensen, Scott LaChasse, Frieda & Isaac Vartanian; and Parable Sponsors Edna Karinski, and David Levy.    

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