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Many more on a caring path

Walkers take to the streets to raise money for the Family Services Agency of Burbank.

April 22, 2009|By Veronica Rocha

There was no stopping Burbank residents Grata Chung and Alvaro Valdez, who walked along the Chandler Bikeway on Saturday for a cause.

The high school students trudged the path with their group, Burbank Youth Board, during the second annual Care Walk of Burbank, a fundraising event for the nonprofit organization Family Services Agency of Burbank.

The board helps the organization put together backpacks filled with school supplies for children in need.

For Chung, 18, and Alvaro, 17, walking in the event was about supporting an organization that has helped hundreds of Burbank children and families.

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“Our mission is get all the youth involved . . . in activism,” Alvaro said. “If you look around, you don’t see a lot of youth.”

The walk started at 8 a.m. at Whitnall Park at Whitnall Highway and Chandler Boulevard, went onto the bike path and returned to the park. Walkers had snacks waiting for them when they returned to the park.

Resident Barbara Bartman and her group, the Cusumano Real Estate team, walked in the event to raise funds for the organization. The large turnout demonstrated that the community supports organizations like the Family Service Agency, which has helped many Burbank families, she said.

“That’s what Burbank is all about,” Bartman said.

The organization, which was established in 1953, provides low- or no-cost clinical and educational services to Burbank families. The services include family, couple or individual counseling; parenting programs; violence intervention; art therapy; counseling at Burbank schools; teen anger management; child abuse treatment and community outreach.

“It changes people’s lives in so many ways,” City Councilwoman Anja Reinke said.

Attendance at the walk doubled last year’s turnout, she said.

Last year’s inaugural walk raised $30,000, Organization Executive Director Laurie Bleick said. The organization is providing services to 1,400 people each month, she said.

Raising funds to support its programs and growing clientele has been challenging due to the economic downturn, Bleick said.

“It’s the first time in many years we have had to look at reducing programs,” she said.

But the organization has not cut any programs yet, Bleick said.

The organization is seeing more hostility and anger among families, which she said may be the result of financial difficulties.


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