Family Services Agency Gala to be held on October 24 – Outlook Newspapers


Burbank’s Family Service Agency’s annual Imagine a City gala, which will honor City Manager Justin Hess and State Senator Anthony Portantino, will be held on Saturday, October 24 at Olive Ball Fields in Izay Park.
The mission of the Family Service Agency is to provide quality mental health counseling, care, education and advocacy at low cost or free of charge. The FSA has radically changed and saved the lives of local individuals, couples and families as well as serving and veteran members of the armed forces by providing housing, crisis intervention, legal advice, security in the face of domestic violence and hope for those gripped by mental illness and addiction.
Former city manager Mary Alvord, who co-chairs the event with Terry Stein, said the gala had to be “reinvented to meet county security protocols.”

“We are a bit of uncharted territory as the first local organization to organize a real gala since the start of the pandemic; but the FSA board discussed it, felt we could do it in a safe way, and so we are running with it, ”Alvord said. “We really felt that as long as we could do it safely, this is something that people really need because they feel so isolated and hungry to see each other.”
Alvord said that just as Laurie Bleick, the agency’s executive director, had to reinvent how the FSA works during the pandemic, the nonprofit’s board of directors has had to reinvent the way which he was going to organize this event, which serves as their main fundraiser.
“We know that many people and businesses are strapped for financial resources due to the pandemic,” Alvord said. “But we are really relying on this event for funding and felt we had to go out and do it as a celebration of hope.”
According to Alvord, they plan to create the Field of Hope from cutouts of each person who purchases a ticket for the event.
“Exactly how we deal with this will depend on the county’s COVID numbers at that time,” she said. “We are working with the city and doing our due diligence to be in compliance with all public health protocols. The fields are so big that we think it can be done safely. When people arrive, they will have a group to cook their dinner at the baseball park, there will be live music, and then they will have the opportunity to have their photo taken by their cutout.
Hess and Portantino are the recipients of the Evening Vision Award, which is presented annually in recognition of the memory, work and spirit of longtime community volunteer Mary Alice O’Connor. She was also a founding member of the FSA.
Hess, who has been with the city for over 20 years, is its chief executive officer and is responsible for conducting its operations in accordance with policies established by city council. He oversees a full-service city with 15 departments and a workforce of around 1,500 employees. He is a long-time member of the International City / County Management Association and is also vice president of the California City Management Foundation and a member of the Municipal Management Association of Southern California.
Hess holds a BA in Political Science from UCLA and is a graduate of the Executive Master of Leadership Program from the USC School of Policy, Planning and Development.
Portantino, who represents District 25 of the California Senate, is also a former member of the Assembly and advocate for public education, mental health care, and accountability. He chairs the Senate Credit Committee, the Select Committee on Mutual Trade, Art and Cultural Exchange between California, Armenia and Artsakh, and is a serving member of the committees of banking and financial institutions, government and insurance organizations.
Portantino has successfully drafted legislation requiring mental health facilities to notify a patient’s family or friend at least 36 hours before the patient’s possible release. In 2018, he introduced SB 972 which was enacted into law, requiring the telephone number of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline to be printed on the ID cards of students in grades 7 through 12th grade and higher education.
To obtain tickets for this event, receive more information about FSA services, volunteer or make a financial donation, call (818) 845-7671 or visit


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