If I’ve learned anything over the last three years writing in Burbank, it’s that there is never a shortage of ways people can help their community.
There’s also no shortage of groups to facilitate the work. You have Rotary, two different groups of Optimists and a couple chambers of commerce. There are shelter programs, counseling programs, a literacy program at the library and the super-senior crew that volunteers for special events.
There are so many Kiwanians that Burbank has not one chapter but three — a morning, noon and evening group just to make sure you can fit it into your schedule.
Ten years ago, members of this latter Kiwanis group came home from a conference in Las Vegas rejuvenated and excited. They had just learned about Aktion Club, a program through Kiwanis International that gets developmentally disabled adults active in their community.
At the time, only Isabel Adams had any close family with a disability — her daughter, now 53. The Kiwanians partnered with the BCR day program and began building the club.
“We got to learn how to work with them, how to get them comfortable with us,” Adams said. “We’ve come a long way.”
Today, the Aktion Club is involved in volunteer programs across the city. In December, Aktion members assembled 150 care baskets in two or three hours for the Burbank Coordinating Council. At Easter, they make and deliver cards for seniors, and Burbank firefighters occasionally receive cookies from the group.
Currently, the Aktion Club is assembling Easter baskets for homeless children in Glendale.
“They have so much energy. They want to be there and they want to work,” said Kiwanis for Fun president Jan Loporchio.
This Sunday, the group is hosting a fundraiser bowling tournament at Pickwick Bowl, 921 W. Riverside Drive, from noon to 4 p.m. Admission includes two games, shoes and lunch. It’s $35 per individual or $125 for a team of four.
The money raised at the tournament will send the Aktion Club to its annual convention near Fresno this September. The annual event helps members network with other chapters in Hawaii, California and Nevada and provides them with ideas for community projects they can apply back home.
That’s because in Burbank there’s no shortage of people wanting to do just a little bit more.
At fundraising events, the Aktion Club usually helps serve or sometimes cook the food, though other Kiwanis members handle the money. When an Aktion Club member asked Loporchio if she could learn how to make change and help at the register, Loporchio sat with her and ran through the numbers.
Eventually, they developed a system to help her understand the math involved. Loporchio printed a simple Excel chart that the Aktion club member could refer to when trying to make change from a $20 bill.
“Out of everything I’ve done in Kiwanis, Aktion Club is the most special,” Loporchio said.