Rotary Club of Ventura South

Club Executives & Directors

Past President
Club Service
Community Service
International Service
International Service
Vocational Service
Membership Chair
RYLA Coordinator
New Generations
Rotaract Chair
Public Relations and Programs Chair
Rotary Foundation Chair
Youth Service Chair
Veteran services
Liaison to District 5240
Club Programs
Foundation Giving
Family of Rotary
Awards Chair
Interact Liaison
Trivia Challenge
Mardi Gras Event

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Club Information

Welcome to our Club!

Ventura South

Service Above Self

We meet Mondays at 12:00 PM
Wedgewood Banquet Center
5882 Olivas Park Road
Ventura, CA  93003-7673
United States
District Site
Venue Map

Home Page Stories

Dr. Emily Longwill Shares
Tips For Healthful Eating
At our regular meeting on Monday, September 14, Dr. Emily Longwill gave a wonderfully informative presentation on the importance of good nutrition and healthful eating. Dr. Longwill has practiced naturopathic medicine since 2011 and currently maintain an office in Ventura, which she shares with her husband Matt, a doctor of chiropractic.
"Adult and childhood obesity are dramatically on the rise in the U.S.," noted Dr. Longwill. "In fact, adolescent obesity rates have quadrupled over the past 30 years." She attributes this to the growing availability of unhealthful foods and their popularity. "Sugar is as addictive as cocaine," she stated, "and the vast majority of Americans eat far too much of it." Dr. Longwill noted that one can of a typical soft drink like Coca Cola contains more than the maximum recommended daily amount of sugar.
Dr. Longwill reviewed the current "food pyramid," noting that lots of water and colorful vegetables form its broad foundation, with very limited quantities of grain- and dairy-based foods. She also recommended the inclusion of "healthy fats," such as those derived from olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and nuts.
"Healthful eating is just half of the story," said Dr. Longwill. "Exercise is the other piece of the puzzle. As human beings, we're designed to move, and to do so regularly."
Thanks to Dr. Longwill for sharing such valuable tips on how to achieve and maintain good health!

Chilean Medical Transport Vehicle Project
Nears Completion at Rotary Ventura South
For well over a year, the Rotary Club of Ventura South has been working to assist the Rotary Club of Olmue del Valle in Chile with the acquisition of a much-needed vehicle to provide non-emergency medical transportation to clinics and hospitals for residents in outlying villages near Valparaiso. The necessary funds have been raised, the purchase and body customization is underway, and the vehicle will soon go into service.
Rotary Ventura South led the fundraising effort and coordinated the purchase logistics from the United States end. Additional funds in support of the project were contributed by Rotary District 4320 (in Chile), local Rotary District 5240 here in California, the Rotary Club of Westlake Village, the Rotary Club of Camarillo (Noontime), John and Linda Zaruka Charities, and the Rotary Club of Olmue del Valle.
A dedication ceremony for the vehicle purchase is planned for September; the members of Ventura Rotary South hope to participate via live video conference.

District Governor Jim Bell
Visits Ventura Rotary South

On Monday, August 17, 2015-2016 District 5340 Governor Jim Bell came to our regular meeting and addressed the membership and guests. Among his motivating remarks, Jim noted that if every one of the 34,000 Clubs around the world participated in an average of 10 projects (large and small) each year, that would total 340,000 projects. "With just 10 individual acts of kindness per project," said Jim, "we're looking at 3.4 million acts of kindness worldwide, which is very powerful." He also noted that each is based on the individual member, the core of Rotary's strength. "Whatever your level of involvement with Rotary," said Jim, "stay active and stay committed. We will continue to do great things."

Rotary Ventura South President-Elect Rosanna Colin and her granddaughter Makayla represented the Club in the Ventura County Fair Parade on Saturday, August 9. Club member Bob Braitman drove the car and took the above photo.

Ventura South Members Participate
In Annual Veterans' Stand-Down
On Saturday, July 25, 15 members of Rotary Ventura South and family members came together at the Annual Ventura County Veterans' Stand-Down, a three-day annual event designed to provide a wide variety of assistance to homeless veterans within the County. Rotary Ventura South sponsored a barbecue dinner, and participants helped with the cooking and serving. Some 150 veterans enjoyed the tri-tip dinner with all the trimmings, including dessert.
For a look at the event, check out the photos on the Photo Album page.

Tony Sands Relates the Inspiring History
Of Family Theater Productions
The speaker at our meeting on Monday, July 20, was Tony Sands, Senior Producer of Family Theater Productions. He provided fascinating insights into the history of this company, from its radio roots in the late 1940s when it began as the Mutual Broadcasting System, to its current status as the production company of cable television specials, feature-length films, and inspiring public service announcements.
The company was started by Father Patrick Peyton. From 1947 to 1961, the organization produced more than 700 radio shows, many of them featuring A-list actors and actresses from the Golden Age of Hollywood. At that point, the company transitioned into television, eventually attaining worldwide distribution of its programs. Feature-length films followed in the 60s and 70s, and additional television productions in the 80s and 90s.
Family Theater Productions is currently involved with cable distribution of TV specials, as well as reissuance of some of its classic radio shows. Tony noted that the company is adapting to new media environments, including the Internet and  smart phone applications, all in its mission of "Inspiring and entertaining families through faith-based short films, TV, radio, and billboards."
Thanks, Tony, for a fascinating look behinds the scenes!

President Dennis Longwill Introduces
2015-2016 Club Leadership Team
At his first meeting as the new President of Ventura Rotary South on Monday, July 6, Dennis Longwill introduced his Board and leadership team. Those in attendance pictured above are, from left, Don MacDonald, Dante Honorico, Allen Urban, Gerardo Sanchez, Kendall Mattina, John Mattina, Bob Davis, Rosanna Colin, Stacy Zaruka, and Dennis.
"We're looking forward to a great year," said Dennis.

Past District Governor Wade Nomura
Provides Insight into Vocational Service
"It's the one Rotary Avenue of Service that focuses on the individual." That's how Past District 5240 Governor Wade Nomura described Vocational Service in his presentation to members of Ventura Rotary South on Monday, June 21, 2015. Wade offered fascinating insights into the history of Rotary's Avenues of Service, as well as other historical highlights.
For instance, the well-known 4-Way Test originated in 1932 when Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor wrote and posted it on the wall of a business he had purchased, to serve as guidelines for his employees. The Rotarian Code of Conduct pre-dates that, having originated in 1915.
Wade focused most of his presentation on Vocational Service, one of Rotary's five Avenues of Service. "Vocational Service," said Wade, "encourages each Rotarian to represent the dignity and utility of his or her vocation. You can all benefit the world with the expertise you bring to your profession." He challenged members to determine what special skills they have as individuals that they can bring to their Rotary membership as a means of benefiting their communities and the world at large.
"Involvement in vocational service has a tremendous ripple effect," said Wade. "How can you personally use your professional talents to be of greater service?"
Thanks, Wade, for an interesting and challenging presentation!

Ventura South Learns Time Management
and Productivity Tips from Eran Maor
Our speaker on Monday, June 15, was Eran Maor of Agent for Success. Among his specialties in coaching business professionals and students is time management, or, as he describes it, "unlocking the secrets to getting more done."
Eran's presentation focused on three core strategies:
  1. Increasing awareness and monitoring one's use of time;
  2. Planning and prioritizing daily;
  3. Introducing structure into the daily routine for things we want to do in order to achieve balance.
"Sometimes," Eran noted, "the biggest hurdle to getting things done is simply not getting started on a task that seems particularly large or challenging." When we do take the first step to addressing it, however, the anxiety decreases and it seems much less daunting very quickly.
Eran also observed that "It's not about getting everything done - it's about getting the right things done in the available time, and maintaining balance in one's life."

Rotary South Goes Offsite for Meeting
At Ventura County Medical Center
On Monday, June 8, Ventura South members held an offfsite meeting at Ventura County Medical Center. Hosted by Amy Towner, CEO of the Health Care Foundation for Ventura County (pictured above), the session included updates on the major new construction project underway (the largest such project in Ventura's history), as well as a detailed profile of the multitude of award-winning medical services provided by the Medical Center every day.
The new facility, scheduled for completion in 2017, will treat patients in an all-private-room setting with state-of-the-art equipment. Pediatric patients will enjoy family-centered amenities, including a Ronald McDonald center to accommodate family members from out of the area and a rooftop play area for ambulatory pediatric patients.
On the subject of pediatrics, Rotary Ventura South members also enjoyed a tour of the Pediatric Diagnostic Center from Director Kay Urban. The Diagnostic Center has three pediatricians and 14 sub-specialists on staff. Together, they offer a medical "one-stop shop" that integrates multiple specialties, social work, behavioral health, an infusion center, and support groups for kids and their families. Kay noted that the Center also serves special needs children. "Our goal is to give every child in Ventura County the specialized care they need, said Kay."
Our thanks to Amy and Kay for a fascinating glimpse into the multitude of services provided by the Ventura County Medical Center!

Bonaventure Wakam Completes Africa Tour
With Presentation on Continent's Economy
Ventura Rotary South Member (and Cameroon native) Bonaventure Wakam made a second presentation on Africa at our meeting on Monday, June 1. His comments concentrated on the continent's economy, including the global challenges and opportunities faced by the 55 countries that make up Africa.
Bon noted that most people are unaware of the sheer size of the African continent, which includes 20 percent of the earth's land mass. Its area could accommodate that of China, the U.S., India, and most of Europe. "Africa contains vast areas of valuable natural resources," said Bon, "including oil, diamonds, minerals, and agricultural land." He explained that recent growth has ranged from 2 to 6 percent, depending on the region, with political instability being the greatest limiting factor in certain countries, along with an average of 8 percent inflation in recent years.
"Trade within Africa remains more diversified and active than trade with the rest of the world," said Bon, "although external trade is gradually expanding, particularly with China, which is investing heavily in the continent." He noted that —labor market indicators are slowly improving, partly due to wage policies and harnessing of natural resources. While widespread poverty and high unemployment remain stubborn problems throughout Africa, Bon noted that indicators are favorable for long-term progress.
Thanks, Bon, for two great presentations on Africa!

Bonaventure Wakam Takes Members
On a Virtual Tour of the African Continent
Ventura South member Bonaventure Wakam gave a fascinating presentation on Africa to our Club members on Monday, May 15. He noted that the African continent remains one of the least understood by most people, partly due to its massive size and partly on account of its diversity. Bob noted that 55 separate countries make up the whole of Africa, each with its own culture, resources, opportunities, and challenges.
In terms of resources, Bon explained that rubber, gold, wheat, copper,and cotton are plentiful in various locations throughout Africa. And, oil is an increasingly important trade resource as well, with considerable exports to the U.S.
In terms of tourism, Bob explained that the most popular destinations are in Kenya and Tanzania, primarily for safaris. "There are, however, plenty of beautiful and exciting spots to visit in other parts of the vast continent, including South Africa and Cameroon."
Thanks, Bon, for a terrific presentation!

Kevin Clerici Updates Rotary Ventura South
On Activities of Ventura Downtown Partners
Our speaker on Monday, May 11, was Kevin Clerici, Director of Ventura Downtown Partners, a city improvement district whose mission is "to produce a healthy retail center, a diverse cultural district, an attractive visitor destination, and a livable neighborhood."
Kevin shared with our members and guests the organization's recent efforts to enhance the visitor experience at the two downtown parks, as well as initiation of the new Downtown Trolley that picks up riders at several downtown locations and shuttles them to the Ventura Harbor area. His group is also responsible for the new "Clean and Safe Streets" program, which includes staff members in the downtown area to assist visitors with directions or other information, as well as providing a watchful eye on the area for enhanced security.
"Downtown is an amazing destination for so many reasons," said Kevin. The goal of Downtown Ventura Partners is to continue making it even better.

1 Family 1 Restaurant Reaches Out
to Food-Insecure in Ventura County
Our speaker on Monday, May 4, was James Panagoti, co-founder of 1 Family, 1 Restaurant, an innovative new program that aims to help food-insecure individuals and families enjoy the special pleasure of dining out in area restaurants. "One in six people are food-insecure across the country," said James. 1 Family 1 Restaurant brings them together with participating restaurants and people wishing to donate the needed funds to make that happen.
Using a streamlined online system (, people can donate one or more meals through their favorite participating restaurant. Food-insecure individuals can then redeem a donated meal through a "reservation" that allows them to visit the restaurant and enjoy a meal with their family. "For many," said James, "going out to eat is like a trip to Disneyland. That's how special the experience is."
The 1 Family 1 Restaurant organization is an official partner with 200-plus food banks across the country, and it is James' vision to expand the program nationwide. "In the U.S., 46.5 million people are food-insecure. We want to bring the simple pleasure of dining out to them."

Writer Anneke Green Gives Insights
on Washington DC Journalism
"Work hard and by savvy." Those are the words of advice Anneke Green had for anyone considering a career in politics or journalism in the nation's capital. Anneke was Ventura Rotary South's featured speaker on Monday, April 20, and she regaled the members and guests with  variety of stories from her extensive career that began as a Congressional intern.
After serving as an aide in Senator Mitch McConnell's office, Anneke landed a spot as a speechwriter in Pres. G.W. Bush's administration. "I was passionate about finding stories of extraordinary Americans that President Bush could use in his speeches," said Anneke. Much of her time was spent in the West Wing of the White House, "which never ceased to be awe-inspiring."
Anneke left the administration side of politics to go into publishing. One of her first significant projects was editing rocker Ted Nugent's book, "Ted, White, and Blue." Anneke confided that Nugent "got after me" when she thought she was correcting typos in his manuscript, which turned out to be "Nuge-isms."
Annika is now assistant editorial page editor of the Washington Times. Her stories appear in additional publications including USA Today, and she can be heard weekly on several radio outlets with her commentary.

Rotary Ventura South Donates $1,000
To Thousand Oaks Special Needs Playground
Ron Block (pictured above), member and past president of the Rotary Club of Newbury Park, visited Rotary Ventura South on Monday, April 13, to give an overview of the DreamCatcher Playground, an ambitious project coordinated by multiple Rotary Clubs in the Conejo Valley. The playground is designed to serve children with a variety of mobility and developmental issues such as autism, cerebral palsy, and Down Syndrome.
"Special needs children will be able to play side by side with others on accessible play pieces, rubber surfacing, a tandem swing, and teeter-totter," said Ron. "Umbrellas, shade structures, and cooling mists will provide support to those unable to monitor their temperature needs, or with increased sensitivity to sun." Ron noted that disability affects approximately 12% of the U.S. population.
"We've raised about $268,000 toward our budgeted goal of $500,000," said Ron. With that, Ventura South President Sandy Warren added a correction, stating that, thanks to a unanimous vote by the Ventura South Board, that number would be $1,000 higher. "We're delighted to be able to partner with Play Conejo and support this vital project," said Sandy.
The DreamCatcher Playground is located at Old Meadows Park in Thousand Oaks. Phase 1 will officially open in July conjunction with the Special Olympics. For more information, or to make a donation, visit

Kay Urban Discusses
"Pediatrics on Steroids"
Kay Urban of the Landon Pediatric Foundation was on hand at Rotary Ventura South's April 6 meeting to tell members about the Pediatric Diagnostic Center at Ventura County Medical Center. The facility, developed over the last 20 years by the Foundation, is designed to enable critically ill children to obtain world-class medical care right here in Ventura County. "It's pediatrics on steroids," said Kay.

The Diagnostic Center has three pediatricians and 14 sub-specialists on staff. Together, they offer a medical "one-stop shop" that integrates multiple specialties, social work, behavioral health, an infusion center, and support groups for kids and their families. Kay noted that the Center also serves special needs children. "Our goal is to give every child in Ventura County the specialized care they need."
In addition to its day-to-day care of children with a wide range of diagnoses, the Center is also involved in research activities into such diseases as cystic fibrosis.


Rotary Ventura South Buys Computers
For Boys and Girls Club of Greater Ventura
On Monday, March 30, Patti Birmingham, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Ventura, came to our regular meeting to accept a check for $6,000 from the Rotary Club of Ventura South Foundation. The money will be used to replace 10 computers at the Boys and Girls Club's LeFevre Center on Johnson Drive. Pictured above with Patti is Sandy Warren, current president of Ventura South.

Patti noted that the existing computers are approximately eight years old and are rapidly nearing the end of their useful lives. "These computers are in use five days a week, year round," said Patti. "They are the backbone of our homework program, and they have greatly contributed to the outcome of 97% of our members being on track to graduate from high school. We are extremely grateful for Rotary Ventura South's generous donation."
Sandy noted that Ventura South has long supported the Boys and Girls Club with financial donations and hands-on projects such as painting and refurbishment of Club facilities. "We're always delighted to be able to help this wonderful organization."

Rotary International Garners
Extensive Media Coverage in 2014
According to General Secretary John Hewko, Rotary International received extensive media coverage throughout 2014, with more than 375 news organizations in 20 countries featuring our humanitarian efforts. Of those, roughly 50 stories appeared in top-tier international news organizations, including seven out of the 10 most influential ranked by Forbes, such as the Associated Press, BBC, CNN, Reuters, The Washington Post, TIME, and Wall Street Journal. Highlights include:
TIME Magazine - Rotary's National PolioPlus Chair for Pakistan, Aziz Memon, was quoted. The story also called Rotary "the point-organization for the eradication of polio for more than 25 years.
Newsweek - Rotary's National PolioPlus Committee Chair for Pakistan, Aziz Memon, was quoted in the story, which offers an in-depth look at the history and current status of the polio program.
NPR (National Public Radio) - Rotary's Director of PolioPlus, Carol Pandak, was quoted. The story explores how well-established polio eradication programs prepared Nigeria to fight Ebola.
To view a compilation of the media highlights with links to the coverage, click here.

Members of Ventura Rotary South
Present Dictionaries to Local 3rd Graders
In a favorite January tradition, members of Ventura Rotary South participated in the annual Dictionary Give-away Program, purchasing and distributing over 300 student dictionaries to 3rd graders at three Ventura elementary schools.
Rosanna Colin and Melody Thurman visited Junipero Serra Elementary School on January 13; Marilyn Scott and Kendall Mattina took care of the give-away at Will Rogers Elementary on January 15; and Dennis Longwill and Sandy Warren visited Portola Elementary that same day. (The photo above shows Dennis addressing one of the five classes that he and Sandy visited.)
A big thank you to Marilyn Scott for coordinating the project once again. Thanks also to the members who came together to put Rotary Ventura South labels in the books, including Rosanna Colin, Dennis Longwill, Lee Ann Luongo, John and Kendall Mattina, Marilyn Scott, Jerry Spencer, Melody Thurman, and Sandy Warren. Kudos also to Bob Braitman and Monty Clark who volunteered to serve as "stand-by" presenters.

Manny Pacheco Shares Little-Known Facts
About Stars of Hollywood's Golden Age
On Monday, December 22, members of Ventura Rotary South enjoyed a trip back in time to the Golden Age of Hollywood. Manny Pacheco, author of two books about "Forgotten Hollywood" spoke to the Club and shared fascinating anecdotes and little-known facts about some lesser-known stars of classic films. "There are plenty of books about people like John Wayne and Clark Gable," said Manny. "I decided to concentrate on actors that people recognize but may not immediately be able to recall their names." Examples included Van Heflin, Peter Lorre, and John Barrymore. Additionally, Manny's criteria for including a star in one of his books was a connection of some sort to U.S. history.
Manny's presentation included a video clip of the documentary he is currently working on, and he autographed copies of his two books for members who wished to purchase them. Manny has made the presentation to more than 50 Rotary Clubs - we're delighted to be the most recent of those!


Ventura South Donates Funds and
Builds a "Can-Tree" for FOOD Share

Members of Ventura Rotary South gathered at The Collection shopping center in Oxnard on Saturday afternoon, December 6, to help build and decorate a "tree" out of canned food that the Club donated to FOOD Share, Inc., Ventura County's regional food bank. The Club donated $500 for this year's event, which consisted of a "forest" of more than 200 trees, stacked and decorated for the holidays.

Pictured in the photo above are (l to r) Sandy and Anne Warren, Bob Braitman, John Mattina, Monty Clark, Stacy Zaruka, Nils Johnson, Marilyn Scott, and Kendall Mattina. (Standing with Kendall is Maxwell, our official job supervisor for the day. Maxwell is the Mattina's grandson.)

For additional photos of the event, check out the link on the "Photo Album" section of our home page.

Thanks to all who turned out to lend a hand with the tree building and decoration!




Mayor Cheryl Heitmann Presents
"State of the City" to Ventura South

On Monday, November 10, Rotary Ventura South welcomed Ventura Mayor Cheryl Heitmann as our lunchtime speaker. Mayor Heitmann presented a comprehensive "State of the City" overview, complete with a PowerPoint presentation of images, charts, and descriptive data.

"These are exciting and challenging times for Ventura," said Mayor Heitmann. She described the City's efforts to help new businesses get started with an "entrepreneurial zone" at City Hall. She noted the recent increase in sports tourism in Ventura with marathons, water sports, and bicycle racing at the new BMX track at Community Park on Kimball Avenue.

Mayor Heitmann also described the City's efforts to maintain the quality of core services, despite budgetary challenges. Such services include street maintenance, water and wastewater services, fire protection, and law enforcement. The Mayor noted that violent crime has decreased nearly 10% and burglaries are down about 17%. She also described a renewed emphasis on senior services through the Ventura Council on Aging, including a focus on providing transportation to seniors in need.

"Ventura is a wonderful place to visit, live and work," said Mayor Heitmann. Her presentation to Ventura Rotary South certainly confirmed that!





Educator and Literary Agent Toni Lopopolo
Instructs Ventura South on Book Publishing

On Monday, October 27, members of Rotary Ventura South enjoyed a fascinating lesson in current trends in book publishing from local educator and literary agent Toni Lopopolo. With an extensive background in editing and publishing, including positions as executive editor with MacMillan and St. Martin's Press, Toni heads up her own agency which partners with authors in developing and editing their projects. She has created a unique series of fiction "bootcamps" and writers' groups that she has named "Tea with Toni."

"The world of book publishing has changed radically in the last decade," said Toni. "The explosion of electronic publishing via the Internet has created a huge new marketplace." She noted that, while the quantity of available literature has dramatically increased, the same cannot be said of the quality. Most beginning authors fail to perform a much-needed step in the writing process: self-editing. They get to the end of their first draft and decide it's ready for publishing. "Not true," said Toni, "The greatest writers in history have been relentless editors of their own work." She also noted how valuable a professional editor can be.

While the digital age has brought many innovations to the world of publishing, Toni still prefers the traditional bound book format. She noted that the vast majority of major publishing houses are now owned by European companies.

Summing up, Toni advised the aspiring novelists in attendance to avoid several common pitfalls: submitting a manuscript without thorough editing, failure to master the craft of plot development, setting, point of view, etc., poorly developed or boring characters, and the use of passive rather than active voice.

All in all, the members of Rotary Ventura South left Monday's meeting with a clear idea of the challenges and rewards of book publishing.




Rotary Ventura South Members Enjoy Club Social
Hosted by Dennis and Jeannette Longwill

On a picture-perfect late Saturday afternoon, October 25, some 50 members of Ventura Rotary South and their guests enjoyed a wonderful Club Social, hosted by Club President-Elect Dennis Longwill and his wife Jeannette at their beautiful beach-front home in Mussel Shoals, just a few miles north of Ventura. Tasty hors d'oeuvre, a catered Mexican buffet, and a range of tempting desserts formed a perfect menu for the casual affair, and most of those in attendance spent the majority of their time on the Longwills' spacious terrace, enjoying the warm sun and cool afternoon breeze.

Huge thanks to Dennis and Jeannette for hosting such a lovely event, and to Family of Rotary Chair Melody Thurman for her assistance in organizing the food and drink. As any Rotarian will tell you, the third element of our Four Way Test asks the question, "Will it build goodwill and better friendships?" The answer on Saturday evening, as the sun set slowly into the Pacific, was a resounding Yes!

For a look at photos from the event, check out the Photo Album box on our home page!




Oct 12, 2015
PDG Jack McClenahan
Rotary Foundation Giving Overview
Oct 19, 2015
Gerry Olsen
Adolfo Camarillo
Oct 26, 2015

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