Growing up as part of a middle-class family in Palm Springs, Sue Burnside recalls that the only money which her family ever gave away was at church.
“It wasn’t part of my reality,” she said.
Burnside—a national political grassroots consultant who has helped LGBT candidates get elected to statewide and local office, such as Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Los Angeles School Board Member Jackie Goldberg , and former Los Angeles Board of Education member Jeff Horton—has come a long way in her attitude about giving. Several years ago she decided to include the Los Angeles LGBT Center in her estate plan through its Circle of Life program.
“You can’t take it with you, can you?” she quipped. “But, you can leave money behind to make someone else’s life better even if you aren’t here. It’s about leavingbehind resources for people who have had things go wrong or have no family in their lives other than their chosen family. They are looking for help, and the Center is there. I really want to make sure that the Center will always be there for people.”
Giving back gradually began entering Burnside’s consciousness when longtime Center board member LuAnn Boylan started inviting her to the Center’s Anniversary Gala Vanguard Awards and other events.
“At first, it didn’t move me at all. But the next year, LuAnn invited me again and then again the next year after that,” she recalled. “I knew what an impact she had made on me when I found myself bidding $6,000 for a Hollywood Bowl package that even included custom-fitted sunglasses. I outbid everyone and won.”
Burnside added: “Even though I didn’t use the Center’s services, I realized what a valuable resource it was and that it served so many people. The Center has been so incredible with its HIV/AIDS services—nearly every single gay kid in my high school class died from an AIDS-related complication.”
Burnside has been especially impressed with the Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus which opened last year. The Campus brings together a multitude of youth and senior services in a unified setting across nearly one full city block.
“The Culinary Arts program on the Campus is just amazing,” she said. “It helps the Center feed everyone and gives youths and seniors a chance to train for a culinary career.”
A graduate of the University of Southern California, Burnside is president of Burnside & Associates which worked on successful congressional campaigns for Janice Hahn, Joe Baca, Jane Harman, and Lois Capps as well as the presidential campaigns of John Kerry and Al Gore, among others.
In addition to being a staunch supporter of the Center, Burnside is co-chair of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund’s Campaign Board and sits on the board of Equality California.
“The level of service the Center provides is really unbelievable from health care, senior programs, and mental health to youth services and the culinary training program,” she adds. “There is not one segment of the community that is missed.”