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Welcome to our Club!

Ventura South

Service Above Self

We meet Mondays at 12:00 PM
The Tower Club
300 E. Esplanade Dr.
22nd Floor
Oxnard, CA  93036
United States
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Help is Still Critically Needed for People
Affected by Recent Local Disasters
Although more than half a year has gone by since hundreds of people in Ventura County and Santa Barbara County had their lives shattered by the Thomas Fire and the Montecito mudslides, the impact (physical, financial, and emotional) of those disasters has nowhere near subsided for a great many of them. Emily Barany, founder and owner of Visionality Partners, brought that sobering message to Rotary Ventura South on Monday, August 6.
Like many others in the area, Emily wanted to help in the immediate aftermath of these tragedies. She put out the call for volunteers and, as she puts it, "people showed up." What started as a simple spreadsheet quickly turned into a valuable website designed to connected people in need with people willing to help: "Our youngest volunteer was four years old," says Emily.
Soon, Emily and her volunteers were connecting people with dozens of resources, including transportation, financial help, mental health services, food, and clothing. In her presentation on Monday, she related several touching stories, including the 64 private pilots who helped 117 medical patients get to critical appointments, particularly when Highway 101 was closed for two weeks. One of those patients was eight-year-old Allie who needed to quickly get to Childrens Hospital in Los Angeles for a heart monitor. A local helicopter pilot responded and a grateful Ellie had the ride of her life.
Emily noted that her organization also responded to the recent Holiday Fire in Goleta. Even more recently, they added the devastating Carr Fire in northern California to their list of projects. "My vision is to pay it forward," she said. Thank you for that vision, Emily!
Ventura Rotary South Gets the Scoop
On Local Journalism from VC Star Execs
As the only local daily newspaper for the area, the Ventura County Star has quite a responsibility for getting the news and getting it right. News Director Darrin Peschka (pictured above) and Consumer Experience Director Michelle Rogers were the speakers at Rotary Ventura South's regular meeting on Monday, July 30, and they provided a fascinating profile of the 100 year-old publication and how it has adapted in recent years to the challenges of social media and the electronic era.
Darrin noted that, although the print edition of the VC Star is still going strong, many readers have switched over to the electronic version (, viewable on desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. She highlighted a number of recent stories that won awards from the California News Publishers Association, including a law enforcement piece that was worked on by virtually the entire Star editorial team.
Michelle provided details on the Star's extensive social media presence, noting that the paper can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She also explained feature such as the "Never-30-" podcast, "Prep Period," and "Storytellers." "Staff at the Star have worked hard to create a very interactive experience for our readers," said Michelle, "and we look forward to receiving news, opinion, and other reader input daily." 
Canine Companions for Independence -
Training Assistance Dogs for the Disabled
Our speakers on Monday, July 23 were from The Valley to the Sea chapter of Canine Companions for Independence, an organization that breeds, trains and provides service dogs to disabled individuals that need dogs that can be trained to meet their exact needs. This organization does not train "Guide" dogs for the blind.
In the photo above are Glen Grogas with Kailua (6 year-old  black lab), Pam Williams with Sir (18 month-old yellow lab), and Ellen Grogas with Constance (5 month-old black lab puppy). Ellen is a "Puppy Raiser." Her job is to take puppies and train them in a set of basic skills and care for them until they are old enough to move on to their "professional" training.
For more information the chapter can be contacted through the parent organization:
District Governor Sandi Schwartz
Urges Members To "Be the Inspiration"
The members of Ventura Rotary South were honored to host District Governor Sandi Schwartz at our regular meeting on Monday, July 16. Sandi presented an inspiring talk on the core values of Rotary and the organization's global mission, as well as specifics on her goals for the new Rotary year, which began just two weeks ago on July 1.
Quoting Sir Clem Renouf, a past president of Rotary International, Sandi said, "Rotary takes ordinary people and gives them extraordinary opportunities to do more with their lives than they ever dreamed possible." Sandi spoke of her own involvement with Rotary service projects, including participation in a National Immunization Day for polio in India, which she described as "a life-changing experience."
Sandi noted that Rotary membership in North America has been declining in recent years, and she stressed the need for individual members to invite friends and business associates to visit a meeting and consider joining. She also noted that the District Conference is coming up on October 5 and 6 in Bakersfield (her own club's home town), and she challenged members to participate in the "$33 for 33" program, that is to donate $33 to The Rotary Foundation, representing the 33 years that Rotary has been engaged in the global fight against polio.
"It all comes down to fulfilling the vision of Rotary, said Sandi, and "see a world where  people unite and take action to create lasting change - across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves." Closing with the Rotary International theme for the new year, she reminded members that it's up to all of us to "be the inspiration."
Club President Bob Davis Hands Over the Gavel
To Incoming 2018-2019 President Melody Thurman
Members and guests of Ventura Rotary South gathered at the Tower Club on Monday evening, June 18, for the annual step-down dinner, during which the outgoing president (Bob Davis) was honored and the incoming president (Melody Thurman) was welcomed. In addition to a fine meal and warm fellowship, the evening included heartfelt tributes (and a few good-natured jabs) for Bob, his remarks and recognition for Club members who went the extra mile during the past Rotary year, and comments from Melody, including an introduction of her Board of Directors who will chair the Club's various committees for the next 12 months.
Normally, the step-down dinner is held closer to the end of June, but the Annual Rotary Convention, which Melody will attend with her husband Gene, is happening later than usual this year, and the presidential couple will be in Toronto for that event.
Congratulations, Bob, on a terrific year as Club president, and a big thank you to Melody for taking the helm as president for the coming term!
"Better Posture Equals Better Health"
Says Club Member Dr. Brant Gerckens
Our electronic gadgets may be making our lives more efficient and entertaining, but they're not doing us any favors as far as our health is concerned. That was the message that Rotary Ventura South member and local chiropractor Dr. Brant Gerckens brought to the Club at our regular meeting on Monday, June 11. According to Brant, the poor posture that results from people's use of PCs, laptops, and smart phones is leading to a multitude of health problems
As an example, Brant encouraged those in attendance to observe someone texting with a smart phone. "Their neck is bent forward, shoulders are hunched, and they're usually holding the phone too low," he said. "It's better to stand or sit straight and hold the phone higher so that your neck is more relaxed and not needing work so hard to hold up your head."
Brant posed an interesting question to his audience: What is the ergonomically correct way to position and work on a laptop computer? His answer was surprising: there is no correct way. No matter where you place the laptop, you eyes, your neck, or your arms are going to be strained. Brant suggested a remote keyboard and mouse as good places to start so that the screen of the unit can be brought to eye level.
A question regarding stand-up desks came from an audience member: are they good or bad? "In general," said, Brant, "I'm a fan of stand-up desks, although recent studies have shown that they can cause their own health problems if not used properly." He noted that most people tend to stand with locked knees, which can cause foot and back pain.
"Generally speaking," said Brant, "no matter what you're doing - standing, sitting or walking - better posture results in better health." Turns out Mom was right when she told you to "sit up straight." Thanks, Brant, for the timely tips!
Passion Spark Helps High Schoolers
Set Goals to Achieve Meaningful Careers
A recent study by Forbes magazine revealed that as many as 80 percent of employed Americans are dissatisfied with their jobs. That sobering statistic was presented by Jerry Beckerman, our meeting speaker on Monday, June 4. Jerry is founder and president of Passion Spark, an innovative mentoring program designed to help high school students find their passion in life and develop goals to help them find meaningful rewarding careers.
"A college education is expensive," said Jerry. "How many people can afford $30,000 per year, or more, without a focus?" Jerry explained that the core of Passion Spark is a weekend retreat/workshop that guides students through an introspective, exploratory process on how to develop goals and a sense of who they are. The sessions are led by experienced facilitators who are familiar with the needs and anxieties of students who are about to graduate from high school and may have little, if any, idea of what they really want to do with their lives.
Jerry observed that when students know where they are going with the lives, they can graduate from college in a focused four years, rather than spending the time (and money) on six to seven years of trying multiple courses of study. "We have developed  a program for college students as well," said Jerry, "and we'll be rolling that out at Ventura College in the near future."
Tuition for the Passion Spark retreat is $595, and Jerry noted that there are scholarship/financing options for those who may need them. For more information, click here to visit the Passion Spark website, or call (805) 643-3444.
Rotary Ventura South Holds Finals
Of First Annual High School Speech Contest
On Thursday, May 17, the Rotary Club of Ventura South awarded $6,300 in scholarships to students from Buena, Foothill Technology, and Ventura High Schools - finalists in the Club's first annual high school speech contest. The talented and eloquent students wrote and presented their speeches on the American Civil Rights movement to a panel of judges including current Rotary District 5240 Govermor John Weiss (second from left in the photo above). The event was held at the Tower Club in Oxnard.
Winners in the Freshman class included Kaitlyn Saldana (1st place, $1,500, Buena) and Angela Tang (2nd place, $750, Buena). The sophomore finalist was Joshua Cenzano ($1500, Buena). There were no junior entrants. In the Senior class, Alaina Hooks (center in the photo above) came in first ($1,500, Foothill Technology) with Aspen Levitt placing second ($750, Ventura) and Jonathon Saldana taking third ($300, Buena).
Invitations to participate went out to all Ventura high schools in March, and the initial round of competition was conducted on campus for students at the responding schools. First Bank of Ventura contributed $2,000 to the project.
Club President Bob Davis commented, "We're excited to sponsor this first annual event as a means of supporting education in our community and encouraging students to develop their public speaking skills. We look forward to welcoming even more students in the coming years." Bob, together with Club Community Service Co-Chair Sal Saldana, coordinated the event.
For additional photos of the event, see the album here.
Past District Governor Wade Nomura
Provides Overview of the Rotary Foundation
If you're looking for a way to truly make the world a better place by writing a check, look no further than The Rotary Foundation. Such was the message delivered to members and guests of Ventura Rotary South at our meeting on Monday, May 7, by Past District Governor Wade Nomura. "The Rotary Foundation is one of the world's most respected charities," said Wade. He noted that this is one of the reasons that the Gates Foundation partnered with the Foundation in its fight to eliminate polio worldwide.
The Rotary Foundation, as the charitable arm of Rotary International, is charged with supporting Rotary's six areas of focus: promoting peace; fighting disease; providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; saving mothers and children, supporting education; and growing local economies.
Wade's presentation included photos and stories of some of the dozens of trips he has made on behalf of Rotary to cities and villages around the world. Wade is involved with the Rotary Foundation Cadre, a group of volunteer technical advisors who evaluate global grant projects in each of Rotary's areas of focus. Wade's specialty is water, sanitation, and hygiene.
Wade noted that there are many different ways to support the Rotary Foundation, from individual donations to the General Fund or specific areas of focus, to arranging for Rotary to be part of an individual's estate plan. He also reviewed the various levels of donor recognition offered by Rotary.
Click on this link for more information on the Rotary Foundation. Even a small donation can make a significant difference in the lives of people in need!
Rotary Ventura South Donates More Than
300 Dictionaries to Local Third Graders
Members and guests of Rotary Ventura South participated in the 2018 Dictionary Donation Program, visiting eight third-grade classrooms at three Ventura Elementary Schools and handing out more than 300 dictionaries. The annual program was delayed this year by the Thomas Fire, but our volunteers made sure to complete the donation before the end of the school year.
Pictured above is Bonaventure Wakam, making the presentation to a classroom at Portola Elementary School. Presentations were also made at Junipero Serra and Will Rogers Elementary Schools. Those making the presentations included Bob & Mary Davis, N.K. Khumalo & guest Debbie Senate, Bonaventure Wakam, and Sandy Warren. Those helping out with organizing and labeling the books included Bob & Mary Davis, Ed Keay, Sal Saldana, and Marilyn Scott.
KEYT Anchorman Joey Buttitta Talks
About Journalism and The Amazing Race
Joey Buttitta, our meeting speaker on Monday, April 9, is a familiar face to thousands of people in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties. Joey is the morning news anchorman on KEYT-TV in Santa Barbara. During his visit to Ventura Rotary South, he shared insights on modern broadcast journalism, particularly in the coverage of local news.
"We like to be in the middle of what's happening," said Joey, "although to stay safe when covering stories like the Thomas Fire and the Montecito mudslides we keep the motor running in the news van." He noted just how frightening those two tragedies were from the perspective of a field reporter. "It's scary to see what Mother Nature is capable of doing."
A native of Ventura County, Joey noted that he was very fortunate to be able to land a news job in the area where he grew up. "I love to tell stories," he said, "and we bring local coverage of stories in the tri-county area to the L.A. regional market."
Joey also spent some time talking about his adventure on the CBS television show The Amazing Race, which he and his then-girlfriend, now wife Kelsey Gerckens won a couple of years ago. "Covering 10 countries on five continents in 21 days was the experience of a lifetime," said Joey. "Kelsey and I often ask each other, 'did we really do that?'"
Kelsey joins Joey on KEYT each morning, working as the weather reporter on the daily broadcast. "We're both very fortunate to be working where we do," said Joey. 
Library's Adult Literacy Program
Enriches the Lives of Hundreds
Our speaker on Monday, April 2, was Club member Carol Chapman, Manager of the Ventura County Library's Adult Literacy READ Program. Carol shared with members and guests the significant impact that illiteracy has on society in general, noting that one out of four English speaking adults in California is reading below the fifth grade level. In correctional facilities, that statistic jumps to 70 percent.
"Learning disabilities are the number one reason for difficulty in reading," said Carol, "followed by trauma, illness, and truancy." Learning disabilities create a barrier for learning in a group environment, which is where the one-on-one tutoring provided by the READ program comes into play. "Our program is very flexible in terms of when we begin with a student and at what level. It is really tailored to the individual's specific needs."
The READ program has sites throughout Ventura County, each of which is overseen by a credentialed teacher. The tutoring is provided by trained volunteers and begins at the pre-kindergarten level, teaching everything about phonics and English that a student needs for reading.
Carol noted that Rotary Ventura South has been instrumental in its support of the READ program through the annual Trivia Challenge event, which typically happens in November. Funds raised from the event enabled the Library to purchase the Barton System, a 10-level literacy instructional program.
"Literacy is debilitating," said Carol, "and the READ program is transforming." Click here for more information on the READ program, including details on how to volunteer as a tutor.
Ventura Botanical Gardens Recovering
After Devastating Thomas Fire
First, the bad news: When the Thomas Fire swept across the hills above Ventura last December, the Ventura Botanical Gardens, currently under construction, lay in its direct path. Much of the 109 acres that are the focus of the Gardens' master plan were burned. Now the good news: Restoration of vegetation, trails, signs, and other components is underway, and many of the plants themselves are slowly regenerating.
Nicole Horn (pictured above), a landscape architect with Courtney Jane Miller in Santa Barbara, provided details on the recovery efforts when she addressed members and guests of Ventura Rotary South at our March 26 regular meeting.
According to Nicole, debris removal was first among the many tasks that will need to be completed in the restoration process, followed by mulching of the remaining vegetation to ensure its continued growth. Hillsides have already been hydro-seeded to stimulate new ground cover that will aid in erosion control. Replacement plants for those that were completely destroyed are currently being purchased. Additionally, the fire revealed some additional existing walls and structures that will be incorporated into the renewed design of the Gardens.
Nicole also shared illustrations of several of the planned features of the Gardens, including the Welcome Center, nursery, amphitheater, and the Rotary Plaza, a viewpoint and seating area that will be constructed with the financial support of multiple area Rotary Clubs.
If you would like to donate time or money to the Gardens' restoration and development, please visit Thank you, Nicole, for an encouraging look at the process that is underway to surmount the setback of the Thomas Fire and bring the Ventura Botanical Gardens to reality!
Club Member N.K. Khumalo: Lessons Learned
From South Africa to the United States
At our meeting on Monday, March 19, Rotary Ventura South member Nkosi Khumalo, better known to his fellow members as "N.K.," told the inspiring story of his personal and professional journey from his homeland of South Africa to his current home and business location in Ventura. Along the way, he applied many of the basic life-lessons his mother taught him, and added to those with guidance and input from friends and mentors.
One of those lessons from N.K.'s mother can also be attributed to Ben Franklin, to whom is attributed the adage of "early to bed, early to rise." N.K. noted that he gets up every morning at 5:30, thanks to a pattern his mother set for him at an early age when the family operated a chicken business. "I hated getting up for those chickens," said N.K., "but I love those early hours now. I can catch up on emails and hit the gym before the day gets started."
N.K. related the story of his early years as a partner in an information technology business that he and his brother created in South Africa in 1999. "We went through tough times for over a year with a handful of employees," he said, "but with persistence, we managed to grow quickly." The brothers eventually took the company public and tripled the share price, finally selling the business that then employed more than 500 people. It is now the largest information technology business in South Africa.
N.K.'s entrepreneurial spirit is still going strong as he creates a private equity business to purchase baby boomer companies. His advice to others? "Focus on people," he said, "especially those who have given you a leg up along the way." N.K. is also focused on giving back. He has started a program of scholarships at two high schools in Ventura, beginning with four $5,000 scholarships in the initial year, then doubling the number of awards each year thereafter until the goal of 100 scholarships per year is met.
Thank you, N.K. for sharing your inspiring story!
Rescuing Thousands of Pounds of Produce
That Would Otherwise Go To Waste
On Monday, March 12, members and guests of Ventura Rotary South learned the remarkable story behind Food Forward, a non-profit organization that rescues 300,000 pounds of surplus produce each week from fruit trees, farmers markets, and the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market. Jill Santos (pictured above), the Ventura County Branch Manager of Food Forward, explained that 100% of these fresh fruits and vegetables is donated to over 300 hunger relief agencies across eight counties in Southern California.
"In the United States," said Jill, "one in six people lack access to nutritious food. Those below the poverty line frequently rely on inexpensive, high-calorie fast food that lacks nutritive value." That's where Food Forward steps in.
Jill stressed that the organization relies on volunteers who are willing to harvest and/or pick up surplus produce from public and private properties, including backyard fruit trees. Farmers wanting to help fight hunger make their unsold produce available, and it is also groups of volunteers who pick up and help distribute these fruits and vegetables.
"The mission of Food Forward is very simple," said Jill. "It is to fight hunger and prevent food waste by rescuing fresh surplus produce, connecting this abundance with people in need, and inspiring others to do the same."
If you find yourself inspired by this story, visit or call Jill at 805-630-2728 to get involved or to learn more.
Dr. Brant Gerckens Shares His Knowledge of Vitamin K2
Our speaker on Monday, March 5 was charter Club member and longtime Ventura chiropractor Dr. Brant Gerckens. Over the years, Brant has shared his knowledge of many health-related topics, including nutrition, ergonomics, and chiropractic. On Monday, his topic was Vitamin K2, an important component for human health.
K vitamins, said Brant, are a group of fat-soluble vitamins that affect multiple factors of optimal well-being, including cardiovascular health, arterial function, and bone density. The two most important forms of vitamin K are K1 and K2. The former is found in leafy green vegetables but is poorly absorbed by the body. K2, on the other hand, is found in the traditional Japanese dish, natto (or available supplements).
Brant shared case studies of people who had been helped by taking K2, and he explained the emerging research that highlights the importance of vitamin K2 intake for optimizing calcium transport in the body. Thank you, Brant, for an interesting and valuable presentation!
Kimo Kildreth of Ventura County D.A.'s Office
Offers Insights into the World of Cyber-Security
"Cyber-crime has exploded." This was the simple and sobering statement that Kimo Kildreth used to begin his presentation to members and guests at our January 29 meeting. Kimo, an investigator with the Ventura County District Attorney's office, noted that no one who goes online with a smart-phone, tablet, or computer is completely safe from a potentially damaging cyber-attack. However, he stressed, there are ways to make oneself safer and less likely to fall victim to such a threat.
Kimo provided statistics on both corporate and personal cyber-crime. He noted that 60 percent of small businesses that have a major breach of their data security are out of business within six months. On the home front, he reminded everyone that it's not just cell phones and computers that can provide an entry into a person's data - many new appliances, such as refrigerators, have their own IP addresses and are thus vulnerable targets to a hacker.
What to do? The number one defense, according to Kimo, is a combination of vigilance and common sense, particularly when dealing with something as seemingly routine as email. Pretty much everyone knows to ignore those messages from distant foreign lands that offer to share millions of dollars if you just "click here" and provide a bank account where they can transfer your riches. But did you know that a smart hacker can cleverly disguise his message to appear as though it came from a trusted source, like your broker or mortgage lender, and offer up a link where you can conveniently take care of a planned transaction? Again, vigilance is key - if in doubt, call the person before you click on anything.
Lastly, said Kimo, protect yourself with strong passwords for your various financial accounts and other frequently visited sites. His recommendation is a minimum of 15 characters, and don't use the same password for more than one site. Also, back up your data onto an external source, such as a portable hard drive, then disconnect that source from your computer. That way, if you are hacked and it appears your data is gone, you've got a secure back-up from which to restore it.
Thank you, Kimo, for an eye-opening look at the potential perils that await on the information superhighway!
Rotary Ventura South Contributes to
Sri Lanka Early Childhood Education Project
In 2016-2017, 11 Rotary clubs in District 5240 helped fund a project ($50,750) to support early childhood education by improving preschool teachers' training in rural Sri Lanka. Rotary Ventura South was one of those clubs.
The Rotary Club of Goleta Noontime spearheaded the project, securing a Global Grant from Rotary International. It was the second such grant that Rotary Goleta Noontime has completed, and the project is now helping 450 preschool teachers (currently in training) to earn their diplomas.
Supporting education is one of the six key areas of focus of Rotary clubs around the globe. The other five are: promoting peace; fighting disease; providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; saving mothers and children; and growing local economies.
Click here to read more about the cooperative project that is benefiting 70,000 children in Sri Lanka annually!
New Year, New Meeting Location,
Same Great Club!
On Monday, January 8, the Rotary Club of Ventura South celebrated the beginning of 2018 with the first meeting in its new location: the elegant Tower Club on the 22nd Floor of the Topa Financial Plaza (300 Esplanade Drive in Oxnard). With the dawn of a new year, it seems fitting to offer a few thoughts on who we are and what we do.
Rotary Ventura South is part of Rotary International, the global organization where neighbors, friends, and problem-solvers share ideas, join leaders, and take action to create lasting change, around the world and right here in our community. Our international involvement includes projects to promote peace, fight disease, provide clean water and sanitation, foster education, and help develop local economies.
Rotary International's signature project is the fight to eliminate polio from across the globe. Since 1988, we've seen a worldwide reduction in polio cases of 99.99%. The Gates Foundation has been a proud partner with Rotary in this effort for 10 years. Since 2013, they have matched every dollar that Rotary commits to polio eradication 2-to-1.
Here in Ventura County, our Club sponsors projects to support adult literacy, provide mental health services to the under-served, and feed the hungry, to name just a few. Our members also enjoy fun and fellowship at our weekly meetings and special social events.
Would you like to learn more? How about joining us for lunch on an upcoming Monday at noon. We promise warm food and fellowship to match. Rotary maybe just what you're looking for! If you'd like to visit or learn more, click here to send us an email, or just drop by the Tower Club any Monday at noon. We'd love to welcome you!
District Governor-Elect Sandi Schwartz
Previews the Coming Year in District 5240
Our program on December 11 was provided by Sandi Schwartz (Rotary Club of Bakersfield East), who will be the next Governor of Rotary District No., 5240. The District includes the Rotary Clubs in Kern, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties.
District Governor-Elect Schwartz Is a retired registered nurse. It was a somewhat emotional presentation, given the fact that large mountainous portions of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties were currently being consumed of threatened by the Thomas Fire.
Sandi's slide presentation spoke poignantly of the fact that "Rotary is a family" and we all are part of something larger than just our Club. She believes that "Stand Tall for Rotary" may be the Rotary International theme during her year.
She introduced the District 5240 officers for the coming year and spoke of the RI Conference which will be held in Toronto, Canada, from June 23-27. Rotary Ventura South President-Elect Melody Thurman indicated she would be attending the Conference and encouraged other members of the Club to do so also.
Members and Friends of Ventura Rotary South
Participate in Annual Can-Tree Event for FOOD Share
Members and friends of the Rotary Club of Ventura South gathered on Figueroa Plaza in downtown Ventura on Saturday, December 2 to participate in the 6th Annual Can-Tree Event to benefit FOOD Share, Inc., an Oxnard-based agency dedicated to feeding, nourishing, and educating the hungry of Ventura County. Rotary Ventura South joined dozens of non-profit organizations and private companies in donating money and building/decorating "trees" of donated canned goods, all of which will be distributed to those in need in the coming weeks.
Our Community Service Chair Sal Saldana organized the Club's participation. Joining Sal in the tree-building were Rosanna Colin (with her helpers Vincent Rivera and Ayden De La Rosa), Club President Bob Davis, Diane and Ed Keay (with Club mascot-for-the-day Kenzie), Larry Matheney, John and Kendall Mattina (and their grandson Max), Marilyn Scott, Melody Thurman, and Sandy Warren.
What a great way to get into the Holiday spirit of giving!
Sharon Daly Shares Her Work in Ethiopia
Toward Eradication of Mossy Foot Disease
Among the problems facing people in third-world countries, podoconiosis is perhaps not among those most familiar to others around the globe, but it is nonetheless serious. More commonly known as "mossy foot disease," the ailment is caused by walking barefoot on volcanic soil. A non-infectious type of elephantiasis, it manifests itself as a massive swelling of the feet and legs. It causes great pain and frequently prevents the sufferer from walking, working, and leading a normal life. As a result, many of those afflicted are treated as outcasts and shunned.
Enter Sharon Daly (pictured above), president of the Mossy Foot Project. Founded in 1997 by Doctor Nathan Barlow, the organization applies a holistic approach to the treatment and eradication of podoconiosis and the care of those afflicted. Sharon, a member of the Rotary Club of Ventura East, visited Ventura Rotary South on Monday, November 27, to share her passion for assisting Ethiopians who suffer from the disease.
"Mossy foot is easily preventable," said Sharon, "but many people in the affected areas cannot afford shoes, which leads to their feet becoming infected." She noted that special extra-large shoes can help those in the early stages of the disease and that her organization is involved with the manufacture of such shoes. Additional treatment includes regular washing of the feet and legs, instruction in foot hygiene, and the use of anti-fungal ointment.
Sharon travels to Ethiopia a couple of times each year to work with the 62-person staff in country. We're grateful that she "traveled" to Ventura Rotary South to tell us her story. More information is available at
Members of Ventura Rotary South
Learn About the Ketogenic Diet
Our speaker at Ventura Rotary South on Monday, November 20, 2017 was Nick Peterson, a physics and calculus teacher at Oxnard High School. Nick related his personal story of a 100-pound weight loss through the Ketogenic Diet, combined with intermittent fasting and calorie restriction. Nick was involved in a serious auto accident earlier this year and "just wasn't recovering" at the pace he wanted. Part of the advice from his doctors was to lose weight.
"The Ketogenic Diet," explained Nick, "involves increasing the intake of healthy fats while drastically lowering carbohydrates." Moderate amounts of protein are also part of the plan, which has some similarities to the Atkins Diet. Nick noted that intermittent fasting was also part of his regimen. Currently, he eats just one meal a day: dinner.
As for daily energy, Nick explained that "the body will find and burn fat, whether it's already on the body or being consumed." The Ketogenic diet, when followed properly, helps the body burn fat more efficiently, said Nick. "And you don't feel hungry in the process," he noted.
As with any diet, of course, one's personal physician should be consulted first, but there's no denying the results that Nick has achieved (and maintained). Thanks for sharing your story with us, Nick!
Rotary Ventura South Continues Its Tradition
Of Supporting Adult Literacy in Ventura County
With the 29th Annual Trivia Challenge held on Wednesday, November 15, the focus at our regular meeting on Monday, November 13 was solidly on the subject of adult literacy. Carol Chapman, Club member and Program Manager of the Ventura County Library's Adult Literacy Program, reminded members and guests of just how important literacy is to the well-being of families and individuals alike.
"I had planned to show a PowerPoint presentation about the Library's READ program," said Carol, "but instead I brought a special guest." She then introduced Honorina Carrasco, one of the adult "learners" in the program. Honorina (pictured above) related her story of wanting to improve her reading skills and coming into contact with Carol, who found her a tutor in the READ program. "When I began," Honorina said, "I was reading at a grade school level. I'm now reading at the college level."
"Education is the key to success," said Honorina. Building on her own accomplishments, she convinced her husband to attend Oxnard College and a trade school, and she is committed to making sure that her children attend college as well. "I work hard on my dreams," she said, "and I never give up." Clearly, her persistence and determination have paid off. Thank you, Honorina, for sharing your story with us!
Opioid Epidemic Exists in Ventura County,
But Local Law Enforcement is Making Progress
The abuse of opioid-based narcotics, including commonly prescribed drugs such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet, has reached epidemic proportions nationwide. California, for example, recorded a 20-percent increase in opioid-related deaths year-to-year. For Ventura County, however, the outlook was not quite so bleak - deaths from opioid use actually decreased by 23 percent over the same period.
Sergeant Victor Fazio of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department was our speaker on Monday, November 6. He credits the positive results to his Department's collaborative approach in dealing with the problem. "We work with schools, community groups, and others to get the message out about the dangers of opioid abuse," he said. A 23-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department, Sergeant Fazio performs undercover work as part of his duties. For that reason, he asked that no photographs be taken during his presentation to Ventura Rotary South.
A portion of Sergeant Fazio's eye-opening remarks dealt with the history of opioid promotion by the pharmaceutical industry. In 1996, for example, sales of the popular drug OxyContin totaled $46 million. Just four years later, that figure soared to $1.1 billion. Early on in their promotion and advertising, opioids were characterized as non-addictive, an absolute falsehood.
With numerous questions from the audience, Sergeant Fazio was unable to present all of the information he had planned to share. By virtually unanimous acclamation, our members invited him back to a future meeting. Thank you, Sergeant, for a sobering look at one of today's most critical public safety issues!
Brittany Ward
Aug 20, 2018
Medical Volunteer in Tanzania
John Krist
Aug 27, 2018
CEO, Ventura County Farm Bureau
Sevet Johnson
Sep 24, 2018
Director, Ventura County Behavioral Health Dept.
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