Community

Ysty Veluz paints the mural in the workout room at Linden House. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph / May 8, 2012)

Employees of Viacom celebrated a day of giving back to the community by adding their creative touches to Linden House, a transitional facility for young adults run by the Family Service Agency of Burbank.

Viacommunity Day is an annual event that brings together employees from the companies under the Viacom umbrella, including Nickelodeon Animation Studio in Burbank and Nickelodeon Games in Glendale, VH1 and Comedy Central, said Carson Smith, human resources manager at Nickelodeon in Burbank. The cost of materials is covered by Viacom.

“One day a year we go out in the community and do something good,” Smith said. “It is an opportunity to reach out in the community, where we work and many of us live, to help.”

So on April 20, a team of more than 25 employees got an early start to work their magic at Linden House.

Emily Asaro, a production assistant who works on “Dora the Explorer,” was working on a mural on the walls in the garage, which will become a workout and social area. The abstract design was created by employee George Nachev. Storyboard artist Ysty Veluz liked the colors in the design — olive, gray-blue and flesh tones, with white intersecting lines.

Linden House is a partnership between the Family Service Agency and the Burbank Housing Corp., said Judith Arandes, executive director of the city's housing corporation.

“We buy neglected properties and we rehabilitate them,” she said. “As a nonprofit, we get good loans from the city of Burbank and that enables us to keep the rents low and rent them to lower-income families.”

Seven years ago, the corporation started a partnership with the Family Service Agency to create living spaces for special-needs populations. The first project was CARE Cottages, which provide housing for women and children who were victims of domestic violence. The second joint venture was Home Front Project, a residential program for homeless families.

Linden House is a transitional home for young adults, ages 14 to 24, who are homeless, at risk of being homeless, and/or have aged out of the foster-care system. At Linden House they receive counseling through the Family Service Agency and are given the tools they need to become self-sufficient.

Within six months of moving in, they must have found a part-time job and be in school fulltime or in some career/job training program, said Laurie Bleick, executive director of the Family Service Agency.

“These young adults are survivors and they can teach us something about getting through the day,” Bleick said. “We want them to take a moment and breathe in a safe environment where they can think beyond tomorrow, that they can start planning for a year from now … 20 years from now, and think about what they want from their lives and be able to construct a life that is beyond survival.”

Each participant in the program has their own individualized treatment plan. They have a therapist through Family Service Agency and participate in support groups. Most of them are using some form of art therapy or non-verbal ways of communicating the traumas they have experienced before coming to Linden House. They all complete a financial-planning class and life skills class, and they participate in communal activities.


Pancake breakfast funds youth programs

YMCA programs will benefit from the annual Pancake Breakfast scheduled from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. this Saturday in the Ray Sence Room at 321 E. Magnolia Blvd. Donation is $4.

Members of the Burbank YMCA Service Club, formerly known as the Y's Men's Club, will be on kitchen duty.

Funds raised go to youth programs, including Youth and Government, a teen leadership program that teaches students how a bill is passed into legislation, said Susan Sebastian, senior membership and communications director.

It's a nine-month program that culminates with a trip to Sacramento for 2,500 youth from across the state, Sebastian said. Volunteers guide the students through mock committee meetings. Students debate and vote on the bills that are written and presented by fellow delegates. Bills that pass through committee are taken to the floor of the Assembly or Senate for full debate and vote.

It is a chance for youths to find their voices, Sebastian said. Some of the students start out shy and become leaders of groups, and they build self-esteem.

The pancake breakfast also raises funds for scholarships for such programs as swim lessons, gymnastics or the Junior Lakers basketball program for ages 3 to 16.

JOYCE RUDOLPH can be reached at rudolphjoyce10@gmail.com.