Published : Thursday, March 28, 2019 | 5:21 AM
If Robert Shahnazarian were still in the music business, he’d be getting a gold record Thursday.
Robert and wife Maggie will be honored at the Pasadena Police Activities League’s Golden Badge Awards tonight, selected for their devotion and charity to the community.
“Robert and Maggie are amazing people,” said Eva Monroy, a PAL board member. “They do so much in-kind stuff for people and they’re community minded. They want to help no matter what. I believe they represent the true spirit of what PAL stands for.”
The PAL board selects the recipients of the Golden Badge. From among the 15 board members, myriad names were suggested for the award. Many were notables or celebrities.
“I think we all looked at different criteria, but Robert and Maggie don’t step up for the recognition,” Monroy said. “That’s why I wanted them to be recognized.”
But getting into weddings and special events wasn’t exactly in the original plans for Shahnazarian.
A well-respected music producer, Shahnazarian changed directions with the downturn of the industry in 2008.
“I produced John Legend, the Killers, Snow Patrol and Kelly Clarkson,” Shahnazarian said. “I was in-house music producer at Sony. My wife always had this idea of doing an event space that really caters to cultures, and weddings are a cultural event.”
“Maggie’s brother is a developer,” Shahnazarian said. “So in late 2008 and 2009 the music business was tanking because you can download it all for free, and the housing market was in a crisis. So I thought ‘OK, I’ll go back to Pepperdine, do the executive MBA program and I’ll do all that marketing and strategy and everything on Noor, our new business idea.’ And Maggie hired an interior designer, did all the interior design and her brother built it. “
While enrolled in the executive MBA program, Shahnazarian did his research.
“While in that program, I came to find Pasadena had more nonprofits than any city in the country,” he said. “So I knew a big part of our mission and vision statement had to do with doing something for the community.”
“So when we launched, in all of our contracts with the nonprofits, when they do their fundraisers, we put in these in-kind donations that basically help support their fundraising event at Noor. We’ve done probably about half a million dollars of these over the last nine years.”
Shahnazarian takes a multicultural approach to the wedding and event business.
“You realize when a couple is coming to you to have their wedding at Noor, is they’re entrusting you to bring their two families together,” Shahnazarian said. “To make this a great celebration, to implement everything that they paid for and celebrate their love. Nowadays particularly, you’re bringing together not only two families, but sometimes it’s two families from different cultures, or different religions. This is a cultural event. For example, if one side is Latino and the other side is Middle Eastern, they have different needs for their celebrations. You’re making them aware of the food and drink that are important to those cultures. “
The nonprofits are important to the Shahnazarians, who get repeat business. But after PAL booked the latest event, recently, there was an additional phone call to Shahnazarian.
“PAL did their fundraiser last year at Noor and this year I got a call,” Shahnazarian said. “We already booked their event his year at Noor. And I got a call saying ‘The board wants to consider you for the award’ and it was nice to see our little mission statement came full circle. “
Board member Monroy carried the banner for the Shahnazarian family because of her own experiences. She learned early on about the value of being involved in the PAL.
“I got involved because they honored the family I worked for,” she said about the Lofthouse family, who received the Golden Badge honor in 2007.
Monroy said that the PAL program, like the Shahnazarians, is something she can’t say enough good things about.
“I was adamant that Robert and Maggie are the best choice,” Monroy said. They contribute their restaurant and they have a scholarship through which they’re giving back to another child.”
There is a lot behind the giving that the Shahnazarian family perform. They suffered the loss of their son, Chris, their oldest of two sons, to a tragic gun accident.
“Robert and Maggie represent the true spirit of what we want our kids to be like,” Monroy said. “They do not say no. Even with the loss of their son, they turned it into something great so the spirit of their son can continue. They continue to give and give even with their loss. But even before they lost their son they were like that,” she said.
The Shahnazians’ younger son, Dven, is graduating from Clark Magnate in June and then heading to Pasadena Community College.
Monroy used the golf tournament as an example.
“Robert doesn’t know how to play golf very well,” Monroy said. “But he’ll still show up. He’ll buy raffle tickets.
“Well, it’s still producing, but instead of producing music, it’s producing events,” Shahnazarian explained. “You know why — you still need a great team.”
“Maggie is the sweetest person,” Monroy said. “She’s the person that you see her smile in your heart. I wish every child had a mom like her. She’s just so warm.”
Both of them care greatly about the community and the customer. And in today’s diverse world that means knowing the market.
Shahnazarian recently took a tour of the PAL center.
“My parents are first generation here, so I related just looking at those kids,” Shahnazarian said. “We were a lower middle-class family in Palm Springs growing up. And so I went to the Boy’s Club after school. They had the tutoring there, they had the sports, they had these opportunities to go to camp. And through the fundraising that they do, they make it possible for kids to have a place to go to after school that’s really nurturing, where they’re not stuck at home watching TV alone. They have a safe place to be and it’s really well structured.”
The Golden Badge Awards will include dinner as well as silent and live auctions featuring an array of wonderful items and experiences. Cocktails will begin at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m.
To support Pasadena PAL, sponsorship opportunities are available. Tickets are $175 each and can be purchased on the Pasadena PAL website. For more information or to purchase raffle tickets in advance, call Jill Hawkins at (626) 791-1225 x 701.