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Mail: P.O. Box 6383, Ventura, CA 93006
Phone: (805) 658-4608
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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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Venue Map
Home Page Stories
A New Level of Medical Care
At Community Memorial Hospital
With the opening of the new Ocean Tower at Community Memorial Hospital, Ventura has enhanced is cardiac, neo-natal, emergency, and surgical care for patients. Megan O'Neill, Business Development Manager with Community Memorial Health System, spoke to members and guests of Ventura Rotary South on Monday, July 22, and provided a brief history of CMH and details on its newly expanded profile.
Megan noted that CMH is a leader in health care in Ventura County with more than 450,000 patient visits annually. It has the busiest surgical, heart/vascular, and birthing centers in the County. The new Ocean Tower was built in response to a California seismic mandate. It features 250 private rooms, a larger emergency room with state-of-the-art technology, and a dedicated maternal health floor.
Megan also explained some of the "softer" features of the new facility, including a healing garden, sleeper sofas in patient rooms so family members can stay with their loved ones, and more than 600 pieces of local artwork that were donated to the hospital (including art by children for the pediatric unit).
The older facility (designated the Mountain Tower) is still an integral part of the Community Memorial Health System, housing administrative offices, the graduate medical education/residency program, and the outpatient program.
With the expanded facility comes a greater need for volunteers to assist with everything from patient care to staffing the gift shop to providing general information to visitors at the main entrance. Applications for volunteer work can be obtained in the lobby of the new Ocean Tower.
Club Members Congratulate Melody Thurman
For Her Year of Leadership at Step-Down Event
On Monday evening, June 24, members and guests of Ventura Rotary South enjoyed the traditional Step-Down Dinner, an annual event that recognizes the leadership and achievements of the outgoing president (Melody Thurman, right), and welcomes the president-elect (Marilyn Scott, left). This year's event, held at the Tower Club in Oxnard, featured live jazz, an elegant dinner, and plenty of reminiscences of the Club's past year.
Among the speakers was Kendall Mattina, who recounted the many service projects and fundraisers that the Club undertook during Melody's term, including the Trivia Challenge (in support of adult literacy), Mardi Gras (Turning Point Foundation fundraiser), dictionary program, Ronald McDonald Walk, and so many others.
Photos from the evening can be viewed here. Congratulations, Melody!
Rotary Ventura South held its annual Bake Sale in support of the Interact Club at St. Bonaventure High School on Monday, June 3. Club member Dennis Longwill (left) handled the auctioneer duties as Interact Club members displayed and passed out the goodies. Bids for the delectable delicacies totaled $1,420, which will go toward helping the Interact Club with their service projects.
Southern California Gas Company is Busy
With Pipeline Projects in Ventura
Maria Ventura, Public Affairs Manager for Southern California Gas Company, spoke to members and guests of Ventura Rotary South on Monday, April 22, outlining the purpose and scope of her company's current work on gas infrastructure in the City of Ventura. Specifically, So Cal Gas is finishing up a major pipeline replacement project along several miles of Telephone Road and will shortly begin a companion project along Mills Road and Main Street.
Maria noted that natural gas is clean, renewable energy and it is helping California maintain its leadership role in greenhouse gas reduction. She also explained the efficiencies gas has as compared to electricity as far as cost and storage are concerned.
To minimize impacts on homes, businesses, and traffic, work on the Mills Road/Main Street pipeline project will largely be done at night. The replacement operation is expected to take approximately six months to complete (weather and other factors permitting).
For more information on the pipeline replacement work, visit
Supervisor Zaragoza Details Accomplishments
and Challenges Facing Ventura County
Speaking to members and guests of Ventura Rotary South on Monday, April 8, Ventura County Supervisor John Zaragoza presented a comprehensive summary of the state of the County, detailing recent successes, current projects, and primary challenges facing County officials. Supervisor Zaragoza's 5th District includes  Oxnard Shores, Mandalay Bay, Silver Strand, Hollywood Beach, Hollywood by the Sea, Channel Islands Harbor, El Rio, Nyeland Acres, Del Norte, Oxnard College, Oxnard Plain, Strickland and a portion of the Ventura County Naval Base Pt. Hueneme.
"Ventura County is one of the safest places in the world," said the Suervisor, "thanks to the work of our public safety personnel and the involvement of our citizens." He noted that County government has a $2.24 billion budget and includes some 26 agencies and departments, staffed by over 9,000 employees, which makes the government the second largest employer in the County behind Naval Base Port Hueneme (19,000 employees).
Among the County's key priorities are revenue enhancement, social services (homelessness), public safety and the 2020 Census, which is critical to funding, provision of services, and political representation.
Supervisor Zaragoza reviewed a dozen current capital projects in the County, including a $61 million medical/mental health unit at Todd Roadd Jail, a permanent year-round homeless shelter on Knoll Drive, medical examiner facility upgrades, Fillmore Library improvements, and the commissioning of two Black Hawk helicopters for the County Fire District.
Focusing on his own District 5, the Supervisor noted a number of topics of interest, including Nyeland Acres Community Center and Park, improvements at Channel Islands Harbor, a cannabis ordinance, the 2040 General Plan, and Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics (STEAM) Program at Rio School.
Asked about the most pressing challenges facing Ventura County, Supervisor Zaragoza named three: housing, jobs, and water resources. "We have to address all three if Ventura County is going to continue to thrive as one of the most desirable places to live and work."
Ventura Rotary South Members Walk to Support
Ronald McDonald Family Room at VCMC
About a dozen members of our Club gathered at Ventura State Beach on Sunday morning, April 6, to participate in the Ronald McDonald Walk For Kids. The event raised funds in support of the new Ronald McDonald Family Room to be built at Ventura County Medical Center. The Room will provide a place where families can be with their children who are undergoing treatment at the hospital.
Other Ventura County Rotary Club members participated in the walk as did District 5240 Governor Sandi Schwartz.
The walk took participants along the promenade to the Ventura River and back again on a warm and beautiful morning. Additional Club members who weren't able to participate in the walk supported the event with financial contributions.
Santa Barbara-Based Direct Relief
Provides Medical Aid to the Needy
The largest charitable medical aid organization in the world is based in our own back yard: Santa Barbara. It's Direct Relief, and has been providing much-needed medical services, free of charge, to people in need around the world for more than 70 years. On Monday, April 1, Dean Axelrod of the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara, spoke to our members and guests about Direct Relief's mission and goals.
"Maternal health is the bedrock of any strong community and family," said Dean, "and that is a core mission of Direct Relief." He noted that it is also one of the key areas of focus for Rotary International. "Every year," said Dean, "303,000 women die from pregnancy-related illnesses, most of them in third-world nations." He added that a great many of these deaths are preventable with simple medical care, which is often unavailable. "A basic human need is that of healthy families," said Dean.
To that end, Direct Relief serves 102 countries, all 50 U.S. States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. "We partner with local organizations to provide free medical resources for people in poverty, after disasters, or as the result of civil conflict," said Dean. He noted that Direct Relief provides significant support to midwives who are frequently the "first responders" in many areas of the world.
Last year, Direct Relief provided $1.1 billion in donated aid. For more information, visit
Food Share Feeds Thousands
In Ventura County
"We are the Costco of food donation in Ventura County." That's how CEO Monica White described the operation of Food Share, an agency that provides free food to more than 75,000 people each month in Ventura County. Indeed, with two 36,000 square-foot warehouses, a staff of 28 employees, and 3,000 volunteers serving 190 community charitable food outlets, Food Share is able to tackle the problem of hunger from Ojai to the Conejo Valley.
According to Food Share's website, 1 in 6 people in Ventura County are struggling with food insecurity. Monica noted that, while that ratio includes the 1800 chronically homeless and hungry people (as of the latest count), it also includes people for whom having enough to eat may be an intermittent or one-time event. "Seventy percent of the people we serve come to us for help one to three times a year," she said. "The remaining 30 percent rely on us regularly. And no matter who they are, when they come to a Food Share agency, they are treated with respect and courtesy."
More than 3,500 seniors receive a 30-pound box of various fresh and packaged food items each month. All food is collected from growers, retail outlets and individual donations. At present, 32 percent of the food includes fresh fruit and vegetables - Monica's goal is to raise that to 50 percent.
For those looking to support Food Share's mission, they can donate money or volunteer their time. Each $1 donated buys $5 worth of food. And people are always needed to pick up and deliver food, stock shelves, or perform other essential tasks. "If you want to help," said Monica, "we'll find a place for you.
For additional information, visit or call (805) 983-7100.
Preschool Teacher Training Continues To
Benefit Thousands of Children in Sri Lanka
Our speakers on Monday, March 11, Hans and Helena Dahlin, made the scenic drive down from Goleta to provide Ventura Rotary South members and guests with an update on a multi-club Rotary project designed to educate new preschool teachers in Sri Lanka, an island nation of 21 million people in the Indian Ocean. Helena and Hans are the president-elect and president-elect nominee, respectively, of the Goleta Noontime Rotary Club.
The Goleta Club is an International Partner and Global Grant sponsor to help preschool teachers in rural Sri Lanka obtain the education necessary for a diploma in early childhood education. The project began in 2012 when the Sri Lankan government passed a law requiring that all preschool teachers have a valid diploma to be able to teach. Since then, more than 4,300 teachers have been trained, benefiting 86,000 preschool children. The current Global Grant stands at $515,000. Multiple clubs in District 5240, as well as clubs in three other districts, have participated since the project's inception.
Hans and Helena have made several trips to Sri Lanka as part of the project, visiting preschools, distributing educational materials, and presenting diplomas to newly trained teachers. They are planning another trip in 2020. "We're inviting other Rotarians to join us," said Helena. "It is an incredible feeling to see firsthand the benefits of this project," echoed Hans.
Detective Details Multitude of Scams
That Target Seniors and Others
For centuries,criminals have sought out ways to separate innocent people from their money. Modern technologies such as the telephone and the Internet, while obviously very useful, even essential, have only provided new and more numerous ways to achieve that nefarious goal. At our meeting on Monday, March 4, Ventura County Sheriff's Detective Tim Lohman offered details of many of the latest scams that are often targeted toward seniors.
"I'm currently working 40 active cases," said Detective Lohman, "and each of them is like putting a puzzle together. People need to be educated on what to look for when they're checking email, using social media, or even answering their cell phone."
One of the most important tips he offered was the general advice to simply be very aware when you are contacted by someone you don't know. That contact could take the form of an email supposedly from your bank, or a voicemail from someone claiming to be with the IRS. Frequently, emails and calls such as these come with a request to provide personal information in order to help resolve a "problem" of some sort. If provided, the personal information will likely lead to unrecoverable loss of money.
Detective Lohman reviewed some of the many types of scams that people fall victim to on a daily basis, including fraudulent business opportunities, offers to share in sweepstakes winnings, fake kidnap/ransom threats, or phony alerts from Microsoft or Apple that your computer is infected with a virus that needs to be cleaned up. He even shared a photo of the young criminal convicted in one of the ever-popular schemes involving a "foreign prince" who needs help sheltering millions of dollars in a U.S. bank and just needs your checking account information to share the wealth with you.
"Do your research," said Detective Lohman. He suggests that you Google unfamiliar phone numbers that show up in emails or on caller ID - they will frequently come back as part of a scam. You can also use to find out where a particular image has shown up online, again, frequently as part of widespread fraud. In general, he counsels people to simply remain alert when it comes to technology. If you're the least bit suspicious of an email, a phone call, or a social media post, listen to your intuition.
The Sheriff's Department Fraud Hotline is 805-371-8327. Detective Lohman can also be reached directly at 805-494-8232 or
Help is Available for Victims of Sexual Assault
and Domestic Violence in Ventura County
Our speaker on Monday, February 11, Caroline Prijatel-Sutton brought both sobering and helpful news to her presentation to members and guests of Ventura Rotary South on Monday, February 11. The sobering news? Domestic violence and sexual assault are on the rise in Ventura COunty. The helpful news? Victims of these crimes have dedicated resources for assistance, available 24/7.
Caroline is the Executive Director of the Coalition for Family Harmony, an Oxnard-based agency that maintains a rape crisis center and a domestic violence safe house, together with a wealth of resources to aid victims. Included in her presentation was a brief video entitled, "You Are Not Alone," four little words that can mean the world to someone facing the trauma of sexual or domestic violence.
Trained advocates are available to provide counseling, and the Coalition has attorneys who provide pro bono legal advice, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. "These crimes are very isolating," said Caroline, "and our staff members are there to make sure the victims know they are not alone. There are people on their side."
Caroline explained the triggers and causes of sexual/domestic violence. Some is societal, some is "ancestral," meaning that abusive behavior is often modeled by those who have experienced it themselves earlier in life. There are cycles and patterns that, if unbroken, can persist for months or even years, leading to repeated abuse. And it's not just a women's problem; Caroline noted that men can be victims as well.
At present, the Coalition's work is 80% intervention and 20% prevention, the latter mainly through education. "Our goal is to reverse those percentages," said Caroline.
For more information, visit the Coalition's website. If you need help, or know someone who does, the 24-hour bilingual helpline number is (800) 300-2181.
Cyber-Crime is on the Rise
Says District Attorney Rep
"Cyber-crime is everywhere, and no one is completely safe from it." Those were the sobering words from Kimo Hildreth, a member of the Ventura County District Attorney's office. Back by popular demand to Rotary Ventura South on Monday, January 28, Kimo explained a number of the widespread scams that people in Ventura County and across the country are falling victim to.
Most cyber-crime is, of course, designed to separate people from their money. And the old standard rule still applies: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Worldwide, global losses just from business email compromise alone totaled over $9 billion in 2018.
Among his many helpful recommendations, Kimo offered six tips to keep from falling victim to online crime:
  1. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (password and a code sent to your phone)
  2. Interrogate suspicious emails (hover over the email and examine where it is really coming from)
  3. Don't use public WiFi without a virtual private network (for checking email, banking, and sending documents)
  4. Be an educator (tell your friends about scams you have avoided)
  5. Use strong passwords and security questions (long passwords that aren't easily guessed)
  6. Patch everything (update your computer regularly - most compromises affect unpatched systems)
For further information on how to protect yourself from cyber-crimes, or to file a complaint, visit
Ventura Land Trust:
Preserving the Best of Ventura
Our first speaker of the new year was Steve Doll, Board member of the Ventura Land Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of Ventura's land, water, wildlife, and scenic views. Steve shared the organization's vision for greater public access to and involvement with the remaining open spaces in and around the City.
"Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization," said Steve, noting that the third Saturday of each month will find groups of volunteers participating in activities ranging from tree planting to the removal of invasive plant species, to the collection and disposal of trash from waterways such as the Ventura and Santa Clara riverbeds.
The Ventura Land Trust is also actively involved in the purchase of open space to keep it just that - open. Currently in escrow is a large parcel of land near Kimball and Foothill Roads. Known as Harmon Canyon, the 2100 acres of land stretch back into the hills for several miles and is known for its tranquil beauty. Steve explained that plans are underway to make it public open space, once escrow closes.
To find out more about the organization's activities, or to donate or volunteer, visit
Newly Elected Sheriff Bill Ayub
Addresses Ventura Rotary South
It was our Club's distinct privilege and honor to host Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub as our meeting speaker on Monday, December 3. Sheriff Ayub gave a fascinating overview of the department he now leads, having been elected to his post on June 5.
As the largest law enforcement agency in the County, The Sheriff's Office utilizes 750 sworn deputies, 500 professional employees, and 1,000 volunteers to provide its wide range of law enforcement-related services in 1,872 square miles of Ventura County, including the Cities of Camarillo, Fillmore, Moorpark, Ojai, and Thousand Oaks, as well as unincorporated areas. Those services include patrol, arson/bomb squad, SWAT, crime analysis, a forensincs lab, narcotics enforcement, and detention services, to name a few.
Detention services include management of the Todd Road Jail. Sheriff Ayub detailed the plans for the expansion of the facility (currently underway), which features a new health and programming unit for acute and psychiatric care of inmates. The 64-bed facility is scheduled to open in mid-2019.
Sheriff Ayub also spoke about his Office's efforts to fight the growing opioid crisis, noting that annual opioid-related arrests have increased from fewer than 90 in 2009 to 165 in 2017. Medical malpractice, he noted, is a primary factor in the increase.
Using video clips in his presentation, Sheriff Ayub explained the value of technology such as heat-seeking surveillance from the department's six helicopters and body-worn cameras for patrol deputies. Since their initiation, the 325 cameras have logged more than 45,500 hours of video. He also noted that the Office's Unmanned Aerial System (commonly referred to as drones) has played a big role in search and rescue, warrants, suspicious device investigation, and back country marijuana eradication.
Thank you, Sheriff Ayub, for the service you and your deputies, employees, and volunteers provide, and thanks also for taking time from your busy schedule to visit Ventura Rotary South!
Human Trafficking a Persistent Problem
In Ventura County Says Sheriff's Deputy
For Aaron Grass, Senior Deputy in the Special Crimes Unit of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, human trafficking is an an all-too-real (and growing) problem. Speaking to members and guests of Ventura Rotary South at our November 19 meeting, Officer Grass offered a sobering look at the perpetrators and victims of this crime that affects virtually all parts of California and most other states.
In its simplest legal definition, human trafficking is the depriving of one person's personal liberty by another. Its most common form involves the coercion and control of one or more individuals for paid sex, but labor trafficking in other industries (custodial, construction, agriculture) is also common.
"Human trafficking is hard to address on a large scale," said Officer Grass, "because it is so prevalent and so widespread." He noted that, on the positive side, California has very strong laws against the practice. Even the attempt to commit human trafficking carries a minimum sentence of eight years to life in prison.
Officer Grass is one of just two members of the Sheriff's Department Special Crimes Unit who work exclusively on enforcement of these laws in Ventura County. He and his partner work both proactively and reactively, conducting surveillance, sting operations, and compliance checks with businesses such as massage parlors. They respond when patrol officers encounter situations where human trafficking is likely.
"Human trafficking investigations are complex," said Officer Grass, "but we have support from outside agencies including the FBI, the California Franchise Tax Board, and the District Attorney's Office." As with any crime, the Sheriff's Department appreciates tips from the public in cases where human trafficking is suspected.
John Krist of Ventura County Farm Bureau
Discusses the Future of Agricultural Water
If you've driven around the agricultural fields of Ventura County, you've probably seen signs that read "Food grows where water flows." Kind of an obvious statement, but a true one nonetheless. Our speaker on Monday, November 5, was John Krist, CEO of the Ventura County Farm Bureau, an advocate agency for the local agriculture industry. John presented a fascinating look at the history, current status, and future challenges of water in the region.
To give members and guests of Rotary Ventura South an idea of the critical importance that water plays, John noted that a single strawberry crop requires three acre feet of water. or roughly one million gallons. In Ventura County, that water comes from four principal sources: local groundwater (63%), the State Water Project (25%). local surface water (8%), and recycled water (4%).
With the heavy dependence on local wells, John explained that careful management of the groundwater basins, from Ojai to the Oxnard Plain, is vital. A delicate balance must be maintained to avoid over-drafting, taking out more than is going in over the course of years. That balance becomes particularly hard to achieve in times of drought.
Many years ago, John noted, before the County was developed, the groundwater wells were artesian - that is, they bubbled up from the ground under natural pressure. At the same time, the Santa Clara River had a constant year-round flow. Now, of course, the groundwater must be pumped and the Santa Clara riverbed is dry most years.
All of this boils down (so to speak) to a challenge for farmers: how to manage their supplies in the most efficient way. Legislation passed in 2014 mandates groundwater management plans for every basin, and significant investments are being made in technologies such as desalting of brackish water and the use of indirect potable reuse for recycled water.
John acknowledged the challenge is significant, but he added, "We have a long history of managing our groundwater basins intelligently."
Rotary Global Grant Aims to Assist
Young Women in Zambia
For most adolescent girls aged in Zambia, life is, at best, uncertain as to their future as adults. For many, it is downright tragic as they are either forced into marriage as young as 13, or sold into the sex trade. Couple that with the fact that only a small percentage of Zambian children have access to education beyond primary school, and you have a very desperate situation.
A number of Rotary Clubs in diverse locations around the world are working to improve the lives of as many young girls as possible. Our speaker on Monday, October 8 was George Poulakas of Ventura Downtown Rotary, one of those Clubs. George has been working with people in Zambia for 11 years, most recently in the administration of a global grant to support the Lushomo Trust and the Grace Centre in Kazungula, a small border town in Zambia, near the city of Livingstone.
"The Grace Centre," said George, "is a place where young women can come and learn ways to make a living through tailoring, computer work, or food service." He noted that one of the biggest challenges facing young Zambia women is the inability to make a living for themselves, and this program aims to change that.
George explained that the global grant is currently about $18,000 short of its $141,600 goal. "We're hoping to expand the project into other Zambian cities," he said, "and make this program a model for others to follow." Additional information on the Grace Centre's mission and activities is available at or by contacting George at
Ventura Area Rotarians Help Get Out the Vote
Rotarians Suki Sir (Ventura Downtown Club) and Kendall and John Mattina (Ventura South Club) recently volunteered at a Voter Information event in the City of Oxnard council chambers, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of California. Suki, Kendall, and John distributed election information and district maps to members of the public who attended the event leading up to the November 6 General Election.
Mental Health Resources in Ventura County
Are Numerous and Expanding
Our speaker on Monday, September 24, was Dr. Sevet Johnson, Director of Ventura County's Behavioral Health Department. She provided a comprehensive overview of the mental health resources available to the public throughout the County.
"Mental health has been stigmatized across the nation for many years," said Dr. Johnson, noting that part of the challenge is helping people understand that mental illness has no shame attached to it and deserves to be treated as any other health problem. She has held her current position since 2009. "It's my passion," she said. "I love what I do."
Her agency's target population includes children and adults with moderate to severe mental health issues. "We offer a full service partnership with the community," said Dr. Johnson, "offering intensive care beyond basic therapy sessions." She explained that the Behavioral Health Department operates 25 clinics, including offices in Oxnard, Ventura, Simi Valley, the Conejo Valley, and the Santa Clara Valley. "Someone can walk into any clinic and be assessed for the services they need," she noted. "We want to maximize the window of opportunity for people to get help."
Dr. Johnson explained that her agency partners with other organizations in the County to sponsor health fairs, prevention efforts, school-based programs, primary care interventions and more. "There's a lot of collaboration," she said. "We can't do it alone as a single-service agency. On the horizon are plans for expanded care including tele-psychiatry, mental health managed care, and improving access efficiency."
She concluded her presentation with a look at the agency's website (, where people can find contact information for the many mental health service agencies that operate in Ventura County.
Plans Underway for Ronald McDonald Family Room
At Ventura County Medical Center
As the only west Ventura County licensed pediatric care and trauma center, Ventura County Medical Center has become the medical facility of choice for a new Ronald McDonald Family Room, a place where families can rest and regroup while caring for a hospitalized child. Amy Towner, CEO of Health Care Foundation for Ventura County, visited Rotary Ventura South on Monday, September 17, to provide members and guests with an overview of the ambitious plans.
"The Ventura County Board of Supervisors has approved our moving forward with re-purposing an existing space at the Medical Center," said Amy, and she shared the preliminary architectural drawings of what was formerly the Homer Auditorium section of the building. "There will be places for families to have meals together, play, and have much needed quiet time," she explained. "It will be a home away from home during a very traumatic time in a family's life."
Amy noted that the Foundation has already secured roughly $500,000 of the needed $750,000 to $1 million needed for the renovation. Plans are in the works for a County-wide walk-a-thon to help raise the remaining funds. "We have a goal of $100,000 for that event," said Amy. Rotary Ventura South President Melody Thurman noted that our Club and others in the area are making plans to participate in the event, tentatively scheduled for April.
Remittances Constitute a Significant Part
of National Economy for Many Countries
Dr. Sabith Khan, Assistant Professor in the School of Business at California Lutheran University, spoke to members and guests of Ventura Rotary South on Monday, September 10. His topic, "Remittances and International Aid," highlighted the significant amount of money that flows between nations of the world through remittances, which are generally defined as regular payments sent by migrant people in one nation to family members or friends in their country of origin. Such payments include money for consumables, health care, education, home building and other basic needs.
"Remittances are a lifeline for many people," said Sabith. "They play an important role in the development of families, communities, and even countries." He noted that, of the 232 million international migrants, approximately 180 million regularly send money to people their homelands, and those payments average roughly $200 per month. In 2013, international migrants sent $413 billion to families and friends, an amount three times greater than the total of global foreign aid that year.
Sabith explained there are numerous benefits to remittances. Among the examples he cited were the reduced school dropout rate in El Salvador and a decrease in Nepal's poverty rate from 42% to 31% from 1995 to 2005. He noted that India ranks first in remittances, receiving $72 billion in 2014, an amount larger than its information technology product exports. India is followed by China, the Philippines, Mexico and France.
Sabith also noted that there are barriers to remittances, including the fact that sending money internationally can be costly, from an average of 8% to most nations up to a staggering 90 percent when money is sent to countries in crisis, such as Venezuela. There are also government sanctions and restrictions to deal with, as well as the threat of money laundering in some areas of the world. In spite of that, remittances continue to be a beneficial and growing contributor to the global economy.
Brittany Ward Relates Her Experiences
As a Medical Volunteer in Tanzania
About a year ago, medical student Brittany Ward visited Rotary Ventura South to talk about her plans to visit Tanzania as a volunteer. The Club donated some money to help her fund the trip and, on Monday, August 20, she paid us another visit to report on the "life changing experience."
A pre-med student at California State University Northridge, Brittany was joined by several other medical students from across the country, supported in part by International Service Learning, a non-governmental organization that has been offering volunteers experiential learning opportunities in health care, education, ecology, and community development since 1994 while offering sustainable aid in developing communities.
Part of Brittany's adventure included setting up a clinic for members of the Masai Tribe, and she also traveled to the island of Zanzibar to offer her services. "It was a vastly different environment than most of us here in the U.S. are accustomed to," said Brittany, "and the people we met were so very grateful for the care they received. It was truly a wonderful experience."
Brittany will soon begin applying to medical schools in California and elsewhere as she works to fulfill her goal of becoming a doctor. Given the compassion and enthusiasm with which she shared her Tanzanian experience, we have no doubt she will reach her objective!
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:
Megan O'Neill
Jul 22, 2019 12:00 PM
The New Tower at Community Memorial Hospital
Rebecca Evans
Jul 29, 2019 12:00 PM
Exec. Dir., Ventura County Workforce Development Board
Elena Brokaw
Aug 05, 2019 12:00 PM
Museum of Ventura County
Max Simon
Aug 12, 2019 12:00 PM
The Green Flower
Labor Day
Sep 02, 2019
(No Regular Meeting)
Dana Vinke
Sep 09, 2019
Asst. Director, Ventura County Library
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