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Kelsey Gerckens Offers Fascinating Insights
Into the Amazing Race and Broadcast Journalism
"It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience." That's how Kelsey Gerckens, our guest speaker on Monday, April 17, described her participation (and victory) in TV's "The Amazing Race" last summer. Kelsey and her then-boyfriend, now-fiance, Joey Buttita, visited 10 countries on 5 continents in 21 days, doing everything from hang-gliding over Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe to washing laundry in a river in India to working with gauchos in Argentina. When it was all said and done, they beat out 10 other couples, winning the one million dollar prize. (Kelsey was quick to point out that Uncle Sam and the State of California took about half.)
In addition to their personal relationship, Kelsey and Joey are professional colleagues, working at KEYT television in Santa Barbara. Joey anchors the morning news while Kelsey works as the Ventura County Bureau Chief, reporting local news on camera from her hometown of Ventura. Kelsey explained that news crews across the country are becoming leaner these days. Instead of a reporter, cameraman, and sound technician, the field reporter is often expected (as is Kelsey) to do it all on her own.
"I shoot all my own video, make sure the sound levels are correct, then edit everything for the story on a smartphone in my car," she explained. "Not very glamorous, but I love it." When she's not in the field chasing down stories, she's frequently working in the studio, writing copy, anchoring broadcasts, or reporting the weather.
Among Kelsey's favorite assignments was flying with the Blue Angels, another experience very few people get to have. "I love working with people," said Kelsey. With her bright smile, confident demeanor, and sparkling personality, it's a safe bet that people feel the same about working with her. Thanks, Kelsey, for a fascinating glimpse into what has already been a very exciting life!
Ventura Rotary South
Welcomes New Members!
Here we grow again! The Rotary Club of Ventura South recently added two new members. On Monday, March 20, Carol Chapman was inducted into the Club. Carol is well known to members of Rotary Ventura South, as she heads up the Ventura County Library's adult literacy program, which is the focal point of the Club's annual Trivia Challenge fundraiser event. In the top photo, Carol receives her Rotary pin from sponsor Don MacDonald.
In the bottom photo, Peter McClintock receives his pin from member John Mattina on Monday, April 3, as Club President Rosanna Colin conducts the induction. Peter is Director of Development for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Ventura. Congratulations and welcome to Carol and Peter!
Project Understanding Provides a "Reset Button"
For People Whose Lives Have Come into Crisis
At our regular meeting on Monday, March 20, Ben Unseth, Executive Director of Project Understanding, provided members and guests of Ventura Rotary South with an in-depth look at the wide variety of services his agency offers to people in need. "We provide a 'reset button' for some of life's greatest challenges," said Ben, "including homelessness, hunger, and lack of education."
Founded 40 years ago, Project Understanding's Mission Statement pretty much says it all: "Project Understanding provides hope by developing and directing resources for the purpose of transforming lives and community through justice, mercy and compassion."
Ben noted that homelessness in Ventura is improving, citing the official numbers of 701 in 2012 and 300 in 2016. "Although it has been cut by more than half," said Ben, "301 is still an unacceptable number." Project Understanding offers several programs to aid in finding permanent housing for those in need, including the Tender Life Maternity Home that provides homeless pregnant women with safe housing and support services that promote self-sufficiency.
For assistance in fighting hunger, The Food Pantry at Project Understanding provides groceries once a month to families whose budget cannot support the purchase of their own. Donations may include in-kind, non-perishables, fresh vegetables and fruits and $$’s designated for food. Most food on the shelves is purchased from FOOD Share.
Rounding out the agency's scope of services is its tutoring program, in which more than 300 children in grades K through 5 receive 11,000 hours of one-on-one assistance with schoolwork in 11 tutoring centers across the County.
In celebration of its 40th anniversary of service to the community, and as a means of raising additional needed funds, Project Understanding is hosting its "Hope Worth Giving Breakfast" from 7:30-9:00 on Thursday, March 30, at the Pierpont Inn in Ventura. For more information about this event, or about Project Understanding in general, visit projectunderstanding.org.
The Salvation Army's Multi-Faceted Mission
In Ventura and Around the World
Rotary and the Salvation Army are similar in many ways, not the least of which is the international scope of their humanitarian efforts. At our meeting on Monday, March 13, member and guests of Ventura Rotary South got a firsthand look at what the Army is doing to assist people right here in our home community, thanks to a fascinating and enthusiastic presentation from Lieutenant Fabio Simoes who heads up the Army's Ventura-area operations.
Fabio began his talk with a little personal history, noting that he was born and raised in Brazil. As an adult, he followed two roads simultaneously: his passion for music, and his education as a dentist. In 2002, while on vacation in the U.S., he spent some time with a friend who was involved with the Salvation Army. Three years later, when he felt a need to "change his life," he answered the call to serve. He and his wife are both Salvation Army officers, working from the center on Petit Avenue in Ventura.
"The are three main parts to the Salvation Army," explained Fabio, "the church, social services, and disaster relief services." The Army's local humanitarian efforts include a 44-bed transitional living center, senior apartments, and an outreach program for the homeless, among other projects. Fabio noted that he is currently working with the City of Ventura on a feasibility study to make use of a three-acre parcel of land adjacent to the Petit Avenue center. "Small things can change lives," he said. "My joy is when I can see people with hope."
Thank you, Fabio, for bringing the Salvation Army's vision of hope to Ventura Rotary South. For more information, visit ventura.salvationarmy.org.
Paul Paulin Shares the Vision and Value
Of Ventura County City Center
On a section of Thompson Boulevard, near downtown Ventura, sits a nondescript building that began its life as a motel. Years of decay and the occasional criminal activity took their toll on the structure, but today it serves as a testament to the power of positive action. It is the Ventura County City Center, a program that provides transitional housing for the County's homeless population. At our meeting on Monday, February 27, Board member Paul Paulin gave members of Rotary Ventura South an inspiring overview of the Center's goals and accomplishments.
"Our mission," said Paul, "is to give people a hand up, not a handout." He explained that the Center offers temporary housing to homeless men, women, and children with a high level of accountability and the goal of transitioning residents into long-term housing within one year. Clients contribute 30 percent of their income (whatever that may be) for housing and services, and 20 percent of their income is saved to begin the process of becoming financially stable.
Paul noted that the Center currently houses 42 residents. "When they leave us, adult residents have a car, a job, a bank account, and an apartment. During their stay with us, they have a personal mentor to help them with life issues including finance, job hunting, and schooling." He also explained that there are strict regulations for program participants, among which is the requirement to have been clean and sober for six months, and to remain so. "One mistake and they're out," said Paul.
The Center receives no permanent financial support, relying on donations from churches, businesses, organizations, and individuals. "A big part of my job," Paul said, "is helping to find $750,000 a year, which is our operating budget." He noted that the City Center relies heavily on volunteer effort, and it has become a model program for organizations in other cities. Summing up the Center's mission, he said, "We encourage self-sufficiency."
For more information about the City Center of Ventura County, visit thecitycenter.org.
Members of Ventura South Go Back to School
For Annual Dictionary Donation Program
For the eighth consecutive year, members of Ventura Rotary South visited third-grade classrooms in the Ventura Unified School District to distribute dictionaries and instruct the students on their use. Pictured above is Club member Sal Saldana in a classroom at Portola Elementary School. Other schools visited include Junipero Serra and Will Rogers Elementary.
According to Marilyn Scott, Community Service Chair and coordinator of the program for our Club, we distributed 315 dictionaries in this year's event. "The books cost just $2.50 each," said Marilyn, "so this is a very affordable effort that the students will be able to easily use through the 6th grade and beyond." She also noted that a quantity of English-Spanish dictionaries was distributed to those students needing them. All books included a label stating the dictionaries were donated by Ventura South, along with a Rotary wheel sticker for each child.
Those who participated in the preparation and the classroom distribution included Al Antelman, Bob Braitman, Mary Braitman, Rosanna Colin, Matt Jones, NK Khumalo, Hugette Peters-Khumalo, John Mattina, Kendall Mattina, Sal Saldana, Marilyn Scott, Don Scott, Melody Thurman, and Sandy Warren.
California Correctional Officers (and K-9)
Visit Rotary Ventura South
At our regular meeting on Monday, January 23, members and guests of Ventura Rotary South enjoyed an informative presentation from three California correctional officers about the challenges they face every day as a routine part of their work. Officer John Colin from Lancaster State Prison was joined by youth correctional staff members Sergeant Paul Hernandez and Officer Richard Bautista (pictured above with "Jack," a K-9 correctional officer).
Speaking of the youth facility where he and Officer Bautista work, Sergeant Hernandez said, "Our facility houses very dangerous people. These youths, ages 13 to 23, can be as violent and disruptive as any adult inmate." He spoke of the need for correctional staff to be constantly observant for indications of impending fights or other incidents. "My goal is to have every one of my staff go home safely every night."
The officers displayed samples of the chemical agents they employ when needed for inmate fights or other incidents. Officer Bautista described one specific instance when 112 inmates were fighting at the same time. He also noted the constant tendency of inmates to hide drugs, money, and even cell phones on a regular basis. They frequently spend time creating crude weapons out of anything sharp they can get their hands on. Officer Bautista, who spends much of his time on duty searching inmate cells, hid a packet of marijuana and a packet of methamphetamine in the meeting room, then brought in Jack. He promptly located both packets, alerting his handler with an assertive "woof."
Officer Colin noted that it is the objective of many youth offenders to "graduate" to the State prison system as a "badge of honor" in the eyes of their gangs. "These young men frequently know nothing but gangs, drugs, and violence," he said, "which makes rehabilitation extremely challenging."
Our thanks to officers Bautista, Colin, and Hernandez for the important work they do and for sharing their insights with us!
The Ventura County Community Foundation --
Promoting and Enhancing Philanthropy
Rotary Ventura South kicked off its first regular meeting of the new year with an inspiring and informative presentation by Vanessa Bechtel, President and CEO of the Ventura County Community Foundation, a Camarillo-based organization whose mission is "to promote and enable philanthropy to improve our community...for good...for ever." Established in 1987, the Foundation connects philanthropic resources with community needs through scholarships, grant-making, and collaborative partnerships.
Vanessa noted that "philanthropy is a core American value." With $87 million in net assets, she stated that her organization manages for the highest degree of impact for the donor dollars entrusted to it. "We work to transcend much of the bureaucracy that is traditionally associated with philanthropy.
Much of the Foundation's activity is directed toward providing educational scholarships for students of all ages. Vanessa noted that the current application process is underway now. To apply for a scholarship, or to obtain more information about the Ventura County Community Foundation, visit their website at vccf.org. Thank you, Vanessa, for educating the members and guests of Ventura Rotary South about the Foundation's good work!
Veteran Farmers of America Connects County Vets
With Job Opportunities in the Agriculture Industry
When Lawrence Parkhill (pictured above) returned from the second of his two Marine Corps deployments to the Middle East, he began thinking about the fact that soldiers coming home from active duty have precious few resources to aid them in 1) determining the employment opportunities available to them and 2) taking advantage of the opportunities that exist. In his work at Mission Produce, Lawrence has broad exposure to the local agricultural industry. In 2013, together with Mary Maranville he founded Veteran Farmers of America with the goal of introducing vets to career opportunities in agriculture.
"We introduce veterans to farming," said Lawrence, "by providing them a paid educational hands-on internship at local forms and agricultural businesses in Ventura County." Lawrence noted that agriculture offers a full range of career paths in a variety of disciplines, including law, finance, sales, operations, and more. "We attempt to match veterans to agricultural employment, either through 80-hour internships or direct positions. He noted that Mission Produce has hired eight veterans in recent months.
For more information, Lawrence recommended that people contact Julie Sardonia, the organization's program coordinator, at (805) 797-5539, or visit the website: vetfarm.org.
Ventura County's Foster Children
Find a Much-Needed Voice in CASA
At our regular meeting on Monday, December 5, speaker Tom Buenger had some sobering statistics to share with members of Ventura Rotary South about the plight of foster children in Ventura County. Tom is a Board Member of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children).
"There are approximately 1,100 foster children in Ventura County," said Tom. "Virtually all of them are victims of a crime of some sort, primarily abuse or neglect, which is why they were removed from their original homes and placed in foster care. That's where CASA comes in."
The CASA organization, explained Tom, consists of a Board of Directors (of which he is a member) and a small paid staff. The lifeblood of the organization are the 170-plus volunteers who serve as advocates for the children. They represent them in court and, as Tom noted, may well be a child's only legal voice. Additionally, the volunteer advocates offer the children a sense of reliability and hope, qualities that are usually missing from their lives otherwise.
CASA volunteers receive training in child advocacy and typically devote 10-15 hours of service monthly. Tom noted that there are more than 700 children on the waiting list to be assigned an advocate, so the need for additional volunteers is critical. Donations are also needed to fund the agency's work. For additional information, visit casaofventuracounty.org or call 805-389-3120.
Tracy Towner Educates Ventura South Members
On the Role of County D.A.'s Investigators
Members and guests of Ventura Rotary South enjoyed a fascinating presentation on Monday, November 28, by Commander Tracy Towner of the Ventura County District Attorney's Bureau of Investigation. "Our agency's goal is to streamline the process by which criminal cases are prosecuted by the District Attorney," said Commander Towner.
He noted that the prosecution of major crimes in the County is frequently a multi-agency effort involving his office and the Ventura County Sheriff, city police departments, and state and federal law enforcement agencies. With more than 30,000 cases per year, Commander Towner stated that the 100-plus deputy district attorneys and the 45 agents in his office maintain a high conviction rate. Crimes range from homicides to burglaries, to sexual assaults and cyber attacks.
"That last category is demanding more and more of the Bureau's time and resources," Commander Towner noted. "If you use email, online banking, wire transfers, or other forms of electronic communication and business transactions, you have an 80 percent chance of falling victim to some form of cyber crime, and it's only going to increase."
Commander Towner continued, "Don't use the same password for all the sites you visit." He also recommended using extra caution when responding to emails from unfamiliar sources. At this time of year, when online holiday shopping is at its height, Commander Towner's remarks were particularly relevant. Thank you for timely and valuable information!
Ventura Rotary South Member Bob Davis
Talks Interest Rates and Mortgage Lending
"Interest rates are going higher, and that's a good thing." That was Bob Davis' opening statement to Club members and guests on Monday, November 21. Bob, a local mortgage lender with many years of experience in the real estate lending field, provided an historical overview of the volatile, and frequently unpredictable, world of interest rates, as well as a current snapshot of the industry.
Bob spoke about the traditional spread between savings and lending interest rates, noting that historical norms no longer apply. He also noted that the recent general election, which had some surprises of its own, will undoubtedly continue to affect the national (and global) lending market.
Bob commented that few generalizations can ever be reliably made about the future performance of the U.S. economy, especially given the volatile nature of national and global politics. Given the outcome of the November 8 presidential election, however, Bob said "it's probably a real good time to review your financial position and plans, and to meet with your financial advisor."
Thanks, Bob, for a fascinating and entertaining overview of a subject important to virtually everyone.
Ventura Rotary Clubs to Have Own Site
At Ventura Botanical Gardens
If all goes according to plan, and sufficient funds are raised, the three Rotary Clubs in Ventura (Downtown, East, and South) will make a lasting impact on the Ventura Botanical Gardens, now under development in the hills directly behind City Hall. Rotary Ventura East members Kathy and Bruce McGee (pictured above) were on hand at our meeting on Monday, November 14 to update members on the ambitious plans for a Rotary site in the Gardens and encourage financial participation.
Kathy, a member of the Gardens' Board of Directors, gave a presentation on the specific plans for the Rotary site, which will occupy a central spot in the 107-acre Garden. The 1600-square-foot site will include space for 50 people to sit and enjoy some of the best views of the hillsides and coastline. A donor wall will offer significant public visibility for the Rotary organization.
Kathy noted the $250,000 price tag for construction of the Rotary site and explained various ways in which Rotarians can contribute to that goal. The Gardens are a 501(c)3 corporation.
Bruce is a member of the joint Rotary Club Committee spearheading the fundraising project. "What a legacy this will be for Rotary in the Ventura community and beyond," he said.
To learn more about plans for the Rotary site and the Gardens in general, Rotarians from the three Ventura Clubs are invited to a preview party on Sunday, November 20, from 3:00-4:30 PM at the Gardens. (Click here for a map to the site.) Additional general information is also available from the Gardens' website: venturabotanicalgardens.com.
The Rotary Foundation -
Doing Good In The World
On Monday, October 31, members of Ventura Rotary South received an overview of The Rotary Foundation from Club member Sandy Warren. The mission of The Rotary Foundation, he noted, is to enable Rotarians to "advance world understanding, goodwill and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education and the alleviation of poverty."
The Rotary Foundation, Sandy explained, accomplishes these goals by using the expertise and compassion of Rotarians who foster effective and sustainable projects around the world. And, he noted, Rotary's reach is greater than that of the United Nations. "Rotary can go where politicians and religious groups cannot," he said.
Sandy provided details on the Foundation's work in six areas of focus:
- Building Peace
- Fighting Disease
- Providing Clean Water
- Supporting Mothers and Children
- Promoting Education
- Growing Local Economies
As an example, Sandy noted that a contribution of $100 would buy three backpacks filled with school supplies for primary school children in Honduras, 50 malaria diagnostic tests to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria in Mali, and one bio-sand filter and water hygiene training for a family in Peru.
"The easiest and most effective way for Rotarians to support this work," said Sandy, "is through the Foundation's Annual Fund, whose goal is 'Every Rotarian, Every Year'. Rotarians can give online or obtain more information by visiting rotary.org/give."
Helping Young People Find Their Career Passion
Is All in a Day's Work for Jerry Beckerman
Career planning for young people is like using a compass -- one benefits from knowing where one is headed before one begins the adventure. That was the message that Jerry Beckerman brought to Rotary Ventura South at our regular meeting on Monday, October 10. President and Founder of Passion Spark, Jerry and his team conduct intensive, focused workshops for teenagers aimed at determining what they enjoy doing most, then determining the best career path alternatives.
"According to a recent survey by Forbes Magazine," said Jerry, "eighty-one percent of working adults in the United States are dissatisfied with their careers." The Passion Spark workshops are designed to help 13 to 19 year-olds aim for that elusive nineteen percent group in which people are highly satisfied with their work. Over the course of four weekend days, workshop participants progress through a three-tiered program.
In Tier 1, group facilitators work on drawing out feelings and emotions to identify activities about which the young people are passionate. Tier 2 shifts into the objective and scientific arena and the assessments begin to match personalities with career types. The final Tier 3 sends participants into the community to speak with people who work at their dream jobs. The final outcome, says Jerry, is a synopsis of their notes, feelings, and guidance from facilitators to identify how their passion applies to their potential career.
"The Passion Spark Program not only helps with career planning," said Jerry, "but also for college preparation." He noted that the next session begins on November 5, and he encouraged people to visit the Passion Spark website for more information. Thanks, Jerry, for an informative look at the essential work you are doing to help young people find their own passion!
Wade Nomura Offers Insights Into
Japanese Internment During World War II
Rotary Ventura South was honored to have Former District Governor Wade Nomura as our guest speaker on Monday, October 3. Wade delivered a fascinating presentation on the relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Executive Order 9066 in February of 1942 resulted in the evacuation of thousands of Japanese Americans along the west coast of the United States. Wade noted that his parents were part of this relocation, which ultimately resulted in their internment in a camp in Arizona. Other such camps were located in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. "People were forced to leave their homes with what they could carry," said Wade, "and they were given assurance that the property they left behind would be guarded until their return, which, unfortunately, did not happen."
People lived in the relocation camps for four years, during which time they tried their best to lead normal lives, working in the professions they had before they were relocated, setting up schools and other facilities. Food was often in short supply.
Very few photographs of life inside the camps exist, due to the U.S. Government's reluctance to publicize the relocation. Wade told of one of just a few photographers, Toyo Miyatake, who was able to build a camera out of lenses and a shoe box. Wade shared several of the images he created.
Wade also noted that HR Bill 442, enacted in 1988, was designed to provide $20,000 in redress to survivors for what the government called "a grave injustice." Wade encouraged the audience members to visit Manzanar, one of the California relocation camps which is now a National Monument. "It's a sobering part of our history," said Wade, "and one that should not be forgotten."
Dr. Brant Gerckens Explores the Connection
Between Body Movement and Brain Function
Rotary Ventura South's own Dr. Brant Gerckens took to the podium at our regular meeting on Monday, September 26, to provide some fascinating information about the mind-body connection as it relates to body movement and brain function. Brant, a local Ventura chiropractor, offered up examples of simple movement techniques that can actually enhance one's brain power.
"What we've discovered about the brain in the last 10 years is more than we have learned in the previous 200 years," said Brant. "Part of that knowledge concerns the importance of physical activities that use both sides of the brain." Brant noted that, as opposed to prior popular thinking, the human brain does not stop developing solely on account of age. Rather, it can, if properly stimulated, continue to grow in its abilities. Activities like exercise, working crossword puzzles, and listening to classical music all provide the necessary stimulation for brain development.
Brant led members and guests through a brief series of simple movements and low-impact exercises, each of which involved cross-body techniques that, in turn, stimulate both sides of the brain. For additional information, Brant suggested those interested perform an Internet search for "brain gym". Thanks, Brant, for timely tips to help us feel better and think more effectively!
Vino for Veterans Event Sponsored By
Ventura County Association of Realtors
Sarah Kenney, representing the Young Professionals Network of the Ventura County Association of Realtors, spoke to Ventura Rotary South members and guests on Monday, September 19 about an upcoming event designed to benefit the Veterans' Home of California in Ventura. The fifth annual "Vino for Vets" event will take place at the Poinsettia Pavilion in Ventura on Thursday, November 10.
Running from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., the event will feature tastings from local wineries and breweries, as well as delicious food from area restaurants. Tickets are available by pre-order for $40 at vino4vets.com. Tickets at the door will be $50.
In addition to individual tickets, there are several sponsorship levels available, ranging from $550 to $5000. Sarah explained that there is also a need for silent auction gift baskets and sponsorship of transportation for veterans to attend.
Sarah noted that last year's event raised $12,000 for the Veterans' Home. "This year," she said, "our goal is to present them with a check for $30,000! Honoring our veterans is the least we can do to give back for the sacrifices they have made."
Serving veterans is personal for Sarah - she noted that both her grandfathers were officers in the U.S. Air Force.
Members of Ventura South Learn Strategies
for Beating the Odds at Blackjack and Poker
For those at Ventura Rotary South who thought Lady Luck was their only ally when playing blackjack or poker, our speaker on Monday, September 12 told them to think otherwise. Tom Gallagher of Thomas Casino Systems offered an interesting look at the current state of casino gaming and how it's possible to come away a winner by investing some time in learning the techniques that actually got him banned from playing high-level blackjack at casinos worldwide.
Tom noted that, over the years, casinos have put measures in place to reduce the effectiveness of card counting and other strategies. These measures include multiple decks, constant shuffling, and no "mid-shoe" entry into games in progress. He also reviewed the five best and five worst games/bets in casino gaming.
Tom had some interesting stories to share of his own experiences at the gaming tables, and, fortunately, he left for questions, as there were quite a few from members. Some of the answers, of course, were proprietary to Tom's "systems," which are available through purchase of his eWorkbooks on line.
Thanks, Tom, for an entertaining look at the world of high-stakes gaming!
Members of Ventura Rotary South
Tour U.S. Coast Guard Station
It was "all hands on deck" for Ventura Rotary South on Monday, August 29, as members paid a visit to the U.S. Coast Guard Station at Channel Islands Harbor. The offsite meeting was a follow-up to our August 9 meeting during which Lieutenant Thomas Wieland, station commander, spoke to members about the Coast Guard's history and current role in protecting our nation's waters.
During the offsite meeting, members heard from representatives of the Coast Guard Auxiliary (comprised of citizen volunteers). Members of the Auxiliary assist the Coast Guard with many of their usual functions, including search and rescue, patrolling, vessel inspection, and disaster relief. Auxiliary Lieutenant Goldman noted that additional volunteers are always needed.
After the lunch address by the Auxiliary, members of Ventura Rotary South were given tours of Coast Guard vessels moored at the station, including an 87-foot patrol boat and several smaller boats, which are often used for intercepting boats suspected of drug-related involvement. Those in attendance also got a look at the Station itself.
By the time our meeting was over, there was no doubt in anyone's mind why the motto of the Coast Guard is "Semper Paratus" (always ready). Our thanks for Lieutenant Wieland and the personnel stationed at Channel Islands Harbor for a fascinating tour. Click here for additional photos from the event.
Ventura County Ombudsman Program
Advocates for Seniors in Care Facilities
"Sixty percent of the seniors residing in Ventura County's long-term care facilities have no family or friends to visit them or speak on their behalf." That was the sobering news delivered by Daniel Uhlar, our meeting speaker on Monday, August 22. "They are, however, not without an advocate," said Dan, and he proceeded to tell the members and guests in attendance about the Ventura County Ombudsman, an organization dedicated to fighting for the rights and needs of elderly and disabled residents in nursing homes and other care facilities.
In Ventura County there are approximately 230 such facilities that house about 8,000 residents. Dan, who sits on the Board of the Ombudsman, explained that volunteers and staff representatives for the organization make unscheduled, unannounced weekly visits to all nursing homes in Ventura County and monthly visits to all assisted living facilities and board and care homes. "We visit with the residents," said Dan, "listen to their concerns, and help resolve them."
The Ombudsman operates with a lean staff of just five members, reinforced by a group of about 65 state-certified volunteers. Among the primary complaints they hear from facility residents are: not enough staff to handle resident needs, dietary issues, call lights ignored or not answered in a timely manner, personal items being lost or stolen, and language barriers that result in an inability to communicate with staff. Ombudsman representatives attempt to handle all concerns at the facility level, but are authorized to contact the state office for assistance in resolving issues.
Under federal authority from the Older Americans Act of 1965, the Ombudsman provides its services free of charge, relying on state funding, donations, and fundraising activities. There are 35 such programs within the State of California. For more information, visit ombudsmanventura.org.
Rotary Ventura South President Rosanna Colin
Presents Highlights of Rotary Convention in Korea
Our lunchtime presenter at Monday's meeting, August 15, was none other than our own 2016-17 Club President, Rosanna Colin. She used the opportunity to show photos and describe her experience at the 2016 Rotary International Convention, which was held this year in Seoul, South Korea.
Rosanna began her presentation by thanking the Club for the opportunity to attend the event, saying that it was an "amazing and memorable" experience. The sheer number of Rotarians and guests in attendance (over 50,000) was overwhelming, with dozens of inspiring and informative presentations by Rotarians from all over the world, including the outgoing and incoming RI Presidents, K.R. Ravindran and John Germ, respectively.
Rosanna was very impressed with Seoul itself, noting the cleanliness of the City and the friendliness of the people. Among her many culinary adventures was the sampling of kimchi, the traditional Korean dish. Rosanna noted that she was able to enjoy a taste of home when she found a Starbucks.
Thanks, Rosanna, for treating us to a trip to Korea by way of your pictures and words!
Rotary Ventura South Celebrates
Birthday of the U.S. Coast Guard
Lieutenant Thomas Wieland was our special guest on Monday, August 8, as Rotary Ventura South celebrated the birthday of the U.S. Coast Guard. Tracing its origin to August 4, 1790 when Congress authorized the construction of 10 vessels to enforce tariff and trade laws, the Coast Guard holds the distinction of being the longest continuing seagoing service in the U.S.
Stressing the broad scope of operations and services in which the Coast Guard is involved, Lieutenant Wieland explained, "If there's a need, the Coast Guard fills it." The Coast Guard is involved in missions that range from search and rescue to law enforcement to environmental protection and more.
Lieutenant Wieland entered the Coast Guard Academy in 2003 and graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor's Degree in Management. Before assuming his current position as Commanding Officer of U.S. Coast Guard Station Channel Islands Harbor, Lieutenant Wieland served in many capacities, including command officer positions in Boston and deployments to the Middle East and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The Lieutenant's current command area extends from Point Dume to Point Conception, and he is responsible for 25 active duty "Coasties" and 25 reservists. Their daily work includes vessel inspection, maritime rescues, ocean pollution investigation, facilitation of sea-going commerce, and a variety of law enforcement activity.
Thank you, Lieutenant Wieland, for your service to our Country and for a fascinating look at the much-needed work of the U.S. Coast Guard!
Local Winery in the Spotlight
At Ventura Rotary South
From its beaches to its restaurants to its balmy Mediterranean climate, Ventura County is known for many wonderful things. Typically, winemaking isn't one of them. However, the owners of Four Brix Winery are on a mission to change that. From humble beginnings as home winemakers in 2002, Karen and Gary Stewart, together with a few wine-loving friends, built a local winery with a current annual production of 1500-2000 cases, and growing.
Karen, pictured above with a sample bottle of juice just beginning its fermentation, joined us for lunch as our speaker on Monday, August 1. She began by announcing that Four Brix Winery is on the verge of a major expansion, doubling its current footprint to approximately 8,400 square feet at 2290 Eastman Avenue in Ventura. "We needed more space for production and for wine events," said Karen.
Karen also explained how the business got its name. "Brix" is a French term that refers to the quantity of sugar in grape juice. The number four pays tribute to the Stewarts' four favorite wine regions of the world: France, Italy, Spain, and California, all of which are reflected in the wine varieties they produce.
Nearly all of the winery's grapes come from Central California, although Karen noted that the winery also uses fruit from vineyards in Ojai. She explained that the drought has had a major impact on growers, with some suffering as much as a 75-percent cut in production. "However," said Karen, "the grapes that we do get are of extremely high quality."
Karen walked Rotary Ventura South members and guests through the winemaking process, noting that it typically takes about five years to go from grape harvest to a bottle ready for purchase. Four Brix wines may be purchased directly from the winery. More information is available at their website: fourbrixwine.com. Thank you, Karen and ... "Cheers!"
Ventura Rotary South Participates in
Annual Veterans Stand-Down Event
On Saturday, July 30, members, spouses, and friends of Ventura Rotary South gathered at the Ventura National Guard Armory to help prepare and serve dinner to nearly 200 veterans at the Ventura County Stand-Down, an annual three-day event that provides a variety of services and assistance to veterans in need. The Club also contributed money toward the food served, which included barbecued tri-tip, baked potatoes, salad, beans, fruit, and pie.
Ventura Rotary South member Gerardo Sanchez coordinated the Club's participation in the event. Others who attended and helped with the meal included Bob Braitman, Rosanna Colin and her cousin Olga Hernandez, Dante Honorico, Nils Johnson, Diane and Ed Keay, Dennis and Jeannette Longwill, Sal Saldana, Marilyn and Don Scott, and Sandy and Anne Warren. Tim Blackwell from the Rotary Club of Ventura East was also part of the team.
Check out additional photos from the event here.
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