Sorrento’s Vera now serving Upward Bound Organization to aid L.A. County’s homeless

Upward Bound House, a county-wide non-profit organization that serves homeless families, has added two new members to its board of directors – Russell Whittenburg, senior vice-president–finance and chief financial officer for Forest Lawn; and Albert P. Vera, owner of Sorrento Italian Market in Culver City.

“We are excited to bring both Russ and Albert aboard, and we know they will made a significant contribution to our on-going efforts to help children and their families get off the streets,” said Upward Bound House Executive Director Christine Mirasy-Glasco. “Russ and Albert are dedicated to helping their community and we look forward to their contributions as board members.”

Russ Whittenburg has rejoined the UBH board after several years of service as President of our Advisory Board, Russ served as a past president for UBH and was a board member for many years, including the period when Senior Villa was dedicated. He is a member of the First United Methodist Church of Santa Monica, which founded UBH Family Place and Senior Villa as part of its mission to serve those in need in our community. Russ also serves on the board of directors for the church’s foundation.

Russ is a past president and current board member of the Westside Food Bank, which serves 40 social service agencies and food pantries on the westside of Los Angeles, including a food pantry for Family Place residents. He is also a current director and past president of the Rotary Club of Los Angeles’ Foundation.

Russ grew up in Oklahoma and Texas but has called Santa Monica home for over 35 years. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and Harvard Business School, and he currently serves as CFO of Forest Lawn, His wife, Barbara, is a past president and current board member of the Westside Food Bank as well as a CASA volunteer for foster children in LA County. Russ and Barbara have two adult daughters, Jocelyn and Jamie, who have recently moved back to the Los Angeles area, much to the delight of their parents!

Business owner Albert P. Vera is a lifelong Culver City resident born in 1965 to Italian and German immigrants, Albert and Ursula Vera.

Vera was schooled in Culver City and graduated from St. Bernard High School in 1982. While growing up, Vera spent much of his spare time and time after school working alongside his parents at both their family business – Sorrento Italian Market, and in the family-owned olive fields north of Bakersfield.

He graduated from the South Bay Police Reserve Academy in 1985 and spent 15 years working as a reserve officer in the Culver City Police Department. Along the way, Vera was married and had a daughter, Alexandria, in 1994.

Vera, whose father served 12 years on the City Council from 1992-2000 and from 2002-2006, has long been committed to giving back to the community he calls “home,” and since his parents’ deaths, Vera has revitalized the family businesses.

The Sorrento market retains its old-world charm, but he has made numerous upgrades and improvements, including the introduction of new imports from all over Italy and the creation of what has become one of Southern California’s finest Italian wine departments.

Vera has maintained the broad philanthropic efforts undertaken by his father, something he believes in deeply, donating to a wide array of organizations from local churches, schools and youth sports teams.

He is a member of the Culver City Exchange Club and has served on both the Culver City Landlord/Tenant Board and the Culver City Civil Service Commission, where he currently serves as part of the five-member commission charged with advising the City Council on all matters concerning Human Resources administration.

Vera also serves on the Culver City Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the Culver City Palms YMCA Board of Managers.

For more information about Upward Bound House, visit,