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Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation’s Gold Ribbon Campaign raises awareness for pediatric cancer

Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation Gold Ribbon Honoree, Susie Perry, helped host a special birthday for the Ortiz Family as their daughter, Ximena, battled cancer.

Just imagine having a child with cancer during this COVID-19 crisis–a pandemic that is leading to job loss and insecurity, financial hardship, mounting health concerns, and an overworked and exhausted health care community.

COVID-19 is creating even greater challenges for local families battling childhood cancer. Many of these families have lost their jobs and are no longer able to buy food and clothing for their families, or pay rent or medical expenses, including critical prescriptions.

During this challenging time, Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation (TBCF) has been providing even more services for families, including money for rent assistance, grocery gift cards, additional emotional support groups with licensed therapists, virtual and in-person tutoring, meal and care package delivery, and virtual family fun events to keep their kids engaged. Community support has made it possible for TBCF to provide additional financial assistance to 31 local families who have been severely affected by the pandemic.

When Ximena was five, her family noticed she was having difficulties using the bathroom properly. After seeing the doctor a few times and not receiving a diagnosis, the Ortiz family noticed she had a bump on the right side of her stomach. They took Ximena to Ventura County Medical Center to receive a cat-scan, where it was discovered that she had Wilm’s tumor – a rare kidney cancer that primarily affects children. The doctors told the Ortiz family Ximena would need surgery, as the tumor on her kidney was putting pressure on her veins.

Ximena went into surgery just a few short days later and began to receive small doses of preventative chemotherapy once weekly for six months. This became complicated for the Ortiz family, as the treatment location was two hours away. During this difficult time, TBCF helped support the Ortiz family as Ximena’s mom, Araceli, had resigned from her job to take care of Ximena.

To date, TBCF has helped the Ortiz family through their Direct Financial Assistance fund, which provided Araceli with food, gas and car repairs as she took Ximena to receive treatment. TBCF has also provided support to the Ortiz family with in-person and virtual Family Connection Events, where they bonded with other families going through similar situations.

Ximena’s treatment ended in December 2019, but TBCF has continued to provide support during the pandemic. Additional ways the organization has helped the family are by providing Ximena and her two siblings toys through their Project Christmas program, and by offering continued virtual support and phone check-ins. One of this year’s Gold Ribbon Campaign 2020 Honorees, Susie Perry, helped the Ortiz family by hosting a special birthday party for Ximena when she was sick.

TBCF will be hosting their annual Gold Ribbon Campaign throughout the month of September to raise funds during National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the annual in-person Gold Ribbon Luncheon at the Four Seasons Biltmore has been cancelled, which is a major source of funding for the nonprofit. This year, the Campaign is solely focused on raising funds and awareness for the organization and the families they serve.

Through donations and continued support, TBCF can help more families like the Ortiz family.

To participate in TBCF’s Gold Ribbon Campaign for National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, please visit TBCF at: https://bit.ly/32t4YeM

Physicians for Progress: Healing the healthcare system

Dr. Leslie-Lynn Pawson at the Ventura March for Science.

by Amy Brown

Most people are familiar with the Hippocratic Oath for physicians, which—paraphrased—binds them to treat the sick, preserve confidentiality, and pass on medical knowledge to the doctors coming after them. Physicians for Progress, a group of about 50 doctors in Ventura County, are committed to both the Hippocratic and the democratic. The organization was founded in 2017, focused on solving issues with the current healthcare system, preserving democracy, as well as protecting the environment, which directly affects everyone’s health. They share concerns about the current administration’s attacks on the Affordable Care Act, and are working to influence lawmakers to consider a single payer system, to ensure that all Americans have access to insurance and healthcare. Their endeavors so far have included advocating directly and vigorously with members of congress and state legislators, during town halls and in their offices, holding a Healthcare Forum earlier this year for Ventura residents, and raising awareness through strategic social media outreach.

Dr. Leslie-Lynn Pawson speaking at the Physicians for Progress HealthCare Forum in Ventura.

Dr. Leslie-Lynn Pawson is one of the founding members of Physicians for Progress, a family physician since 1982 who now teaches Family Medicine and Palliative Medicine at VCMC. During her long tenure in the field, she’s had many years to see what works and what doesn’t in the current healthcare system. “Every other wealthy democratic nation on this planet has a variation of single payer healthcare system that provides health insurance to 99 if not 100% of their people. We are absolutely alone as a wealthy democratic country that does not provide health insurance to everybody,” said Pawson. When asked how she and other members of the organization counter some of the typical arguments (concerns about higher costs, for example) against government-engaged healthcare, she shared “Our current system is so much more expensive! We spend 17-18% of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product), while other nations spend 10%, and they get better care for less money. Yes, our taxes will go up, but what each of our individual families will pay in healthcare will actually be less. Access will go up, availability will go up and our health outcomes will go up.”

Many doctors in the organization have seen firsthand what tragedies can happen with the capriciousness of the current health insurance system. Dr. Zadok Sacks is a double board certified internist and pediatrician and has been at VCMC since 2014. He’s seen patients lose their insurance through divorce or loss of employment, and then develop cancers that went untreated, unchecked, and ultimately metastasized. “When you see even one case like that, it’s such a shocking indictment of the way that we fail so many,” said Sacks. “Single payer would keep the same providers in place, with the same range of service, and give folks the safety net of a universally available public insurance system that will pay for all the care they need. Ultimately it is going to drive the cost of healthcare down.”

Some opponents suggest that single payer health care will eliminate competition. “I consider myself very much a capitalist,” said Dr. Clint McBride, who now teaches at the Fort Collins Family Medicine residency program, after his residency at VCMC. “People should be able to work hard and achieve differential levels of economic success. I actually think the correct place for competition in our medical system should be among hospitals and providers—if all patients had the same insurance, then they’d have the freedom to choose the doctors.” According to McBride, often the choice of which medicine a patient is prescribed is based on the type of insurance they have—not what type of medicine would actually benefit them. “I’ve had many, many patients, both in California and Colorado, go without the dose of insulin they need because they can’t afford it. I will often see patients that ration their medicine or take less than they should. They then often progress to needing dialysis or amputations and ultimately they incur even higher healthcare costs.”

McBride has words of encouragement for those who may feel powerless to effect change in something as monolithic and embedded as the current healthcare system. “You have incredible power,” said McBride. “Organize, vote—remember that generations that came before us overcame huge challenges in this country: we abolished slavery, we guaranteed women the right to vote, and we fought world wars against fascists. When you take a historical context and the magnitude of those challenges, certainly guaranteeing the right to healthcare and eradicating medical bankruptcies is a big challenge, but we’ve achieved bigger things before.”

City of Ventura Deputy Public Works Director Mary Joyce Ivers assumes Presidency of APWA

Mary Joyce Ivers has been involved in public works for over 27 years.

On August 31, City of Ventura officials joined Deputy Public Works Director Mary Joyce Ivers in a virtual ceremony as she was sworn in as the President of the American Public Works Association (APWA). Affirmed by APWA’s more than 30,000 members, President Ivers will lead the organization for the 2020-2021 term.

“We are thrilled to have a President with one of the most impressive resumes in the industry,” said APWA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Scott Grayson, CAE. “As a key figure in APWA’s leadership, we will benefit from her vision, influence and creativity to successfully connect with and support our membership and communicate APWA’s Public Policy Priorities to Capitol Hill.”

Mary Joyce Ivers has been involved in public works for over 27 years. In 2019, she was promoted to Deputy Director overseeing operational activities for the City’s Public Works Department, which oversees a $100 million budget with a team of 91 employees. Prior to her current role, she spent 17 years as the City’s Fleet and Facilities Manager, where she was inducted into the 2018 Public Fleet Hall of Fame and recognized as the 2017 National Government Fleet Manager of the Year.

“Mary Joyce is a longtime Ventura resident who cares deeply for our community and has a career-long history of service excellence, innovation, and integrity,” said Ventura City Manager Alex D. McIntyre. “We are thrilled to have an enthusiastic, forward-thinking leader like Mary Joyce not only serve our City but represent Ventura on a national level. She will lead APWA to new levels of distinction.”

The City’s Public Works mission is to provide innovative solutions for Ventura’s infrastructure and environment. The City’s 2020-2026 Adopted Capital Improvement Plan contains 140 capital improvement projects totaling $700 million. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the department continues to deliver $57 million worth of projects this fiscal year.

To learn more about the City of Ventura’s award-winning Public Works Department, visit our website at www.cityofventura.ca.gov/PublicWorks.

Rebecca Chandler is the new Assistant Superintendent of Business Services

Familiar face to serve as Assistant Superintendent of Business Services.

After a months-long competitive search, the Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) Board of Education has voted, 5-0, to hire VUSD’s current Chief Innovations Officer, Rebecca Chandler, as its new Assistant Superintendent of Business Services. Ms. Chandler replaces Ms. Betsy George, who resigned from her position in June 2020. Ms. Chandler will begin as the Assistant Superintendent of Business Services on October 1, 2020. In this new role, she will oversee various departments, including Budget & Finance, Facilities, Food and Nutrition Services, Payroll, Risk Management, and Transportation. Ms. Donna Rose, who has been serving as the Interim Assistant Superintendent, will continue to work to ensure a smooth transition occurs.

Since joining the VUSD team in 2019, Ms. Chandler has been highly effective in her current position, working to upgrade systems and structures at the District office and bringing in more than $5 million in support of Career Technical Education in VUSD. Ms. Chandler has accomplished all this while cultivating strong working relationships with District and site staff and community, local businesses, and industry leaders.

“In addition to her strong skill set and experience, Ms. Chandler is an innovative leader with a deep knowledge of teaching and learning. It will be a luxury to have someone guiding the allocation of resources who understands the programs they are meant to support. This has already paid huge dividends as she worked to support our transition to distance learning through her leadership of our implementation of Canvas, the District’s learning management platform,” stated Superintendent Dr. Roger Rice.

Ms. Chandler previously served in Oxnard Union High School District, VC Innovates at the Ventura County Office of Education, Ventura Community College, Simi Valley Unified School District, and in the private sector. In her various roles, she was instrumental in developing countywide standards-based curriculum, served as a leading expert in the realm of Career Technical Education, implemented numerous software platforms to streamline processes, managed budgets that included state and federal funding and monitoring, oversaw several extensive facilities upgrades and new construction projects and mitigated risk with every project.

“Ms. Chandler brings a great deal of knowledge in fiscal and purchasing management, teaching, facilities, risk management, and technology. She is a strong leader with a passion for doing what is best for students. She will make an excellent addition to our Executive Cabinet,” stated Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Dr. Jeff Davis.

 

 

Alzheimer’s Association is encouraging participants to walk as individuals or in small groups

The Oxnard Walk to End Alzheimer’s continues but not like this.

The Alzheimer’s Association is inviting Ventura County residents to join the fight to end Alzheimer’s by participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® on Saturday, September 26, 2020.

The Oxnard Walk to End Alzheimer’s continues, but instead of hosting a large gathering, the Alzheimer’s Association is encouraging participants to walk as individuals or in small groups on sidewalks, and trails across their local communities.

“This year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be everywhere,” said Wendy Vizek, vice president, constituent events at the Alzheimer’s Association. “The pandemic is changing how we walk, but it doesn’t change the need to walk. This year, more than ever, we need to come together to support all those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementia. With the dollars raised, the Alzheimer’s Association can continue to provide care and support to families during these difficult times while also advancing critical research toward methods of treatment and prevention.”

For many participants, this year is a trivial and emotional time to come together in support of this cause. Some, like Mary Simpson, are experiencing a very recent loss; her mom struggled with Alzheimer’s for 10 years. “It is difficult now not being able to meet with my church and support group, but my faith, friends and family have been a huge support,” Mary said. “ I’ll still be walking this year as part of Team His Sparrows because it is so important to continue to raise awareness and support for the cause.”

For volunteer and Alzheimer’s advocate Terry Seidel, this year will be his fourth time participating in the annual Oxnard Walk to End Alzheimer’s – only his second Walk since the passing of his wife and love of his life, Gina. Terry explained the increased difficulty of navigating a new Walk experience amidst the pandemic.

More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease – the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Additionally, more than 16 million family members and friends provide care to people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In California alone, there are more than 690,000 people living with the disease and 1,624,000 caregivers.

To register and receive the latest updates on this year’s Walk to End Alzheimers, visit: act.alz.org/oxnard.

For questions and more information, contact Aracely Avila at aravila@alz.org.

Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®
The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Since 1989, the Alzheimer’s Association mobilized millions of Americans in the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk®; now the Alzheimer’s Association is continuing to lead the way with Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Together, we can end Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s Association®
The Alzheimer’s Association is a worldwide voluntary health organization dedicated to Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Its mission is to lead the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.

 

Ventura Friends of the Library reaches out to the community

Leslie Bellmore and Sandy Greenberg at Hill Road Library.

by Jill Forman

The Friends of the Library bookstore at Foster Library, and the sale shelves at Hill Road Library, have been closed down for months due to COVID. This has been a loss to the community in several ways. People loved coming in, browsing, and finding book bargains. The libraries benefited from all revenues, for programming, supplies, and book purchases. The bookstore volunteers, and the customers, enjoyed the social interaction and being able to chat about books with others who value them.

Now, thanks to innovative thinking and a lot of hard work, the Friends once again offers gently-used books at good prices. Board members Leslie Bellmore, Mary Olson, and Sandy Greenberg have set up an online store, easily accessible through the Friends website (VenturaFriendsoftheLibrary.org). Booklovers can browse by genre or choose bags of books, order and pay securely, and pick up their selections locally. No waiting for packages, no shipping fees!

New selections are added daily, so customers are encouraged to check back often. Nothing is over $5; most children’s and youth books are $1. There are educational aids also. Holiday items will be added soon for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and so on.

For now, pickups are Tuesday from 1-3 and Saturday 10-12 at the Hill Road Library, 1070 South Hill Road (near the government center.) All county COVID protocols are strictly followed.

VIP Fellows were sworn in

These VIP Fellows are part of a cohort serving sites across 17 California counties.

by Eric Harrison, President & CEO United Way of Ventura County

Recently, three AmeriCorps VIP Fellows were sworn in to serve United Way and our partner sites. Partner sites for the upcoming year include the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging and Westminster Free Clinic, a brand-new site. These VIP Fellows are part of a cohort serving sites across 17 California counties. United Way of Ventura County has served as the Supervising Organization for the AmeriCorps Volunteer Infrastructure Project (VIP) in our county since 2016.

AmeriCorps VIP is a capacity building program created to grow volunteer engagement at local nonprofit partner sites. VIP Fellows work to increase the infrastructure, volunteer support, and resources that will empower the nonprofit to serve their constituents more effectively. Over the past five years, United Way of Ventura County has placed 22 VIP Fellows with 13 different nonprofit organizations.

Our most recent class of fellows, who graduated in July, did remarkable work during the pandemic to mobilize COVID-19 volunteers for nonprofits in our community. Lauren Zika, our fellow here at United Way, helped us in countless ways–even serving as a 211 operator during the height of pandemic related calls in early March.

Nonprofits interested in participating as a partner site for 2021 should contact Susan.Englund@vcunitedway.org.

Outdoor sculpture exhibit at Ventura Botanical Gardens and the Museum of Ventura

“The Where and the Why” – Wrona Gall

by Richard Lieberman

While the worldwide pandemic continues to alter the way we live, work and play the Museum of Ventura and Ventura Botanical Gardens have taken things outdoors. Dining, music, movies and haircuts have taken themselves outdoors. The Museum and the Botanical Gardens have taken art outside. Teaming up the Museum and the Gardens have joined to offer a sculpture installation at both venues.

“Colorspace”- Carlos Grasso piece called at the museum

Bringing art according to Denise Sindelar, MVC Deputy Director to the Gardens is a years old idea. VBG has been interested in a permanent art exhibit at the site since the beginning of the Botanical Gardens. Artist works from Ojai, Ventura, Channel Islands, as well as many other artists from the local area and from further afield. Most of the submitted entries however came from Ventura County. The exhibit consists of about 50 pieces, created by 20 artists.

The exhibit is at the entrance to the gardens and on the lower layers and at the courtyard of the Museum.

“Nuclear Family”- Paul and Kevin Carman.

Since the Museum is temporarily closed due to the pandemic the exhibits were displayed at the Museum plaza outdoors. The works can be viewed from the plaza and can be seen from Main Street. There are seven pieces currently on display, including Privitt’s “Captured Semisphere”, and a series of painted panels by Carlos Grasso called “Colorspace Plaza.” Paul Lindhard and Kevin Carman, while exhibiting at the Gardens also have two works at the Museum, “Flaming Medusa” and “Acorn”.

The theme of the exhibits was “Arte Forastero” it’s Latin root means outside. A fitting title for a very different art exhibit during a very trying time. Some might think it a little strange for artwork to be exhibited outside the walls of a Museum, but in this case outside works well.

“Captured Semisphere” – Bob Privitts

Come visit the Botanical Gardens and visit the Museum it will be well worth visiting, to view art among the splendor of the outdoors, where on one side the mountains and the other the sea form a background that enhances the experience.

Vol. 13, No. 26 – Sept 23 – Oct 6, 2020 – Harbor Patrol Blotter

 

Wed 9-2

6:35am, harbormaster and officers who responded to the Conception boat fire responding in the Fireboat to pay respect to the victims and their family members of the tragedy at a memorial at Platts Harbor Santa Cruz island.

Friday 9-4

7:45pm, monitoring US coast guard/TowBoat US attempting to contact a vessel near Ormond Beach Powerplant who called a mayday. A few minutes later the skipper landlined Ventura Harbor Patrol requesting assistance. Officers attempted to advise the skipper he was out of Ventura’s response area. The skipper failed to realized CI harbor is six miles closer to him and hung up exasperated. Unfortunately, the vessel went aground shortly thereafter.

Saturday 9-5

7:35am, officers opened launch ramp overflow because the ramp is nearly full. A truck/trailer was attempting to access the lot and sustained trailer damage. The vehicle was blocking access and a few vehicles were directed to park on Anchors Way Drive near the Four Points Sheraton until the vehicle/trailer moves

10:55am, while on patrol observed multiple parking violations along Spinnaker Dr, Beach lots and Harbor Village. The most egregious violators were ticketed.

11:55am, received a complaint that protestors in the Harbor Village were attempting to gather signatures for a recall and were not following Covid 19 restrictions. Officers responded, found the violators, and advised of the rules.

Thursday 9-10

9:00am, dispatched to an overdose at the 4points Sheraton. Officers responded & assisted VFD/AMR with a 35-year-old recovering from bystander CPR.

2:01pm, received a report of a 24ft sailboat aground at Emma Wood. Officers responded, found the vessel as reported and all persons safely on the beach. Tow Boat US towed the vessel off the sand bar and to the boatyard.

Friday 9-11

12:14pm, dispatched to a sick person at VHM. Officers assisted AMR/VFD with an 89-year-old male with extreme knee pain. Patient transported.

5:45pm, received report of an RV illegally parked in VIM lot. Officers responded and found the RV as reported, it was brokedown and waiting for assistance from a mechanic. There is an ordinance for oversized vehicles.

Saturday 9-12

1:30pm, received a report of a fuel spill at VWM B-dock. Officers responded and after a brief search were able to locate the source from a vessels bilge pump & pin hole in a high-pressure fuel line. The pump and fuel line were secured.

Sunday 9-13

11:50am, contacted a 23ft motor vessel adrift in main channel. The vessel had engine trouble but was escorted to the launch ramp safely.