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Ventura County’s 35th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., national holiday observance

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee of Ventura County is pleased to announce that its 35th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day observance and birthday celebration, will be held on Monday, January 18, starting at 10 a.m. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday, which celebrates King’s birthday, honors his legacy, and lifts up civil rights.

This is a free all-virtual, online event that will be broadcast via multiple online platforms, including Zoom, Facebook Live, and YouTube. The program will be rebroadcast at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center, 800 Hobson Way, Oxnard, on January 18, at 4:30 p.m., where it may be viewed with safe social distancing from parked cars.

This year’s event theme, “Lives end when we are silent…Get in trouble, good trouble.” incorporates an homage to the late civil rights hero John Lewis, who was a close associate of Dr. King and made famous the words “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and redeem the soul of America.”

The keynote speaker will be Tamika Jean-Baptiste, AMGEN Executive Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging. Mrs. Jean-Baptiste has over 25 years in the biopharmaceutical field and has worked for Amgen for over 19 years, serving in the capacities of Director of Sales, Key Account Manager, and District Sales Manager. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from Arkansas State University and a Global Executive MBA from TRIUM (NYU, London School of Economics, HEC Paris). Throughout her career, Tamika has been a champion for diversity and a mentor to others to find their authentic voice and professional purpose.

The event will include brief comments from elected officials, spiritual music, and a virtual Freedom March, as well as the winning speech from the annual Alpha Kappa Alpha Youth Speech Expo.

The Committee still has an online presence through its website and social media. The website address is http://www.mlkventuracounty.com. The Committee is also on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/mlkofventuracounty, and on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/MLKventura.

From its inception in 1986, the Ventura County MLK observance program has spotlighted the positive achievements and accomplishments of the youth of our community. In previous years, the Monday program has drawn hundreds of people from throughout Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.
It was necessary to cancel the program only once, on January 17, 1994, due to an earthquake.

As in previous years, this year’s program promises to be an inspirational, informative, and enjoyable experience. We invite everyone to be a part of the activities and celebration of Rev. Dr. King’s life and legacy, by logging on for our first all-virtual event.

Welcome to the new CEO of Vista del Mar Hospital, Dan Powell

Powell was the former supervisor of impatient mental health services for Ventura County.

by Carol Leish

Dan Powell became the new CEO of Vista del Mar Hospital, a private psychiatric facility in Ventura, in December of 2020. He says, “My focus is to continue the exceptional patient care to the communities that we serve. This will include expanding upon staff and team development, since we have a good team of folks that work here now who really care about the patients that they work with. They provide safe, compassionate, and meaningful care to patients.”

Powell was the former supervisor of impatient mental health services for Ventura County. He supervised the impatient psychiatric unit and a short-term crisis stabilization program at Ventura County Medical Center’s Hillmont facility for six years. He has a master’s degree in clinical psychology; is a Marriage Family Therapist (MFT); is a Board-Certified Behavioral Analyst; and is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Specialist.

“My philosophy for treatment of patients, and my vision for treatment aligned,” according to Powell. “Thus, it was a good time to transition into the CEO role for me. I’m committed to providing exceptional behavioral health care to all patients in the communities that we serve.”

Changes have occurred at Vista del Mar since the Thomas Fire of 2017. According to Powell, “Now there is the opening of opportunities of expansion in order to provide more services, such as: outpatient and telehealth services. Along with rebuilding parts of the hospital, we are continuing to expand upon outpatient services, which includes reaching out to help more from an outpatient perspective.”

Powell said that, “With people coping with a stay-at-home order, there is more fear and anxiety of contracting COVID-19, along with fear of the future. Because of the current situation, we work actively with patients in order to address their needs and help them to better cope with depression and anxiety, especially with the possibility or occurrence of losing loved ones or of knowing others who are sick. We work with patients by treating their current symptoms and helping them to work through this process.”

“We are beginning to partner with St. John’s Regional Medical Center, in Oxnard, to jointly provide a crisis stabilization unit,” according to Powell. “This unit will be able to help more citizens of the county who need crisis intervention services. I’m pleased to work together and to be able to partner in order to provide this much needed service.”

Since coping with anxiety and depression, along with other behavior health needs, is as important as dealing with physical needs, especially during the pandemic, Vista del Mar Hospital offers needed psychiatric services, under the leadership of the new CEO, Dan Powell.

“There’s No Place Like Hope” for children with cancer and their families

When Jasmin was diagnosed with cancer, she was only one year old.

Every year, Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation (TBCF) provides guidance and companionship, as well financial and emotional support to families in the Tri-County areas who have a child facing pediatric cancer. Last year and now, due to the pandemic, life has become tougher on these families who have a child who is immunocompromised.

Whether it be a single-family household, or an entire family in need, TBCF has offered hope, comfort and stability during this time, when they need it more than ever. Families battling pediatric cancer have been dealing with isolation, fear, uncertainty and the loss of “normal” for so much longer than we’ve been fighting this pandemic and they’ve been doing it alone. TBCF aims to help support these families with basic needs going into 2021.

One child TBCF has provided for throughout the years is Jasmin Castro from Ventura County, who has lived with cancer her entire life. Her story is truly one of courage, hope, and grit.

When Jasmin was diagnosed with cancer, she was only one year old. The treatments saved her life, but left her almost completely deaf, and with other disabilities. During this time, TBCF assisted Jasmin’s family with financial support, and she began attending their family support groups so she did not go through this alone.

Years later, when Jasmin was 10, TBCF and Santa Barbara Police Foundation partnered to raise funds for state-of-the-art hearing aids which was truly a miracle for her and her family. After Jasmin received the hearing aids, she heard birds chirping for the first time in her life and her and her family were so happy! With the help of the hearing device, her determination to succeed, and community support, Jasmin became a straight-A student, played softball, and danced.

As she continued to attend TBCF’s family support groups and became a role model for other children battling cancer. She helped other families feel less alone. Nothing could stop her. Then five years later, she suffered a brain aneurysm and was in a coma for 3 weeks. She lost her ability to walk, talk and eat, and she had to start over again. But Jasmin never stopped fighting. She went back to school and although It was hard, she never gave up. She graduated from high school with honors and is now studying to become a nurse. She has been attending Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation’s family support group for the past 17 years. Jasmin never gave up on herself and Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation will never give up on her.

Jasmin is just one of the family stories of hundreds of children in the Tri-County areas facing pediatric cancer and now these families need hope more than ever as we stay in lockdown. To learn more or make a donation and give a family hope during COVID-19, please visit https://www.teddybearcancerfoundation.org/

Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation advocates for families living in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties that have a child with cancer by providing financial, educational, and emotional support.

A timeless piece of architectural and Pierpont history

Starkly beautiful geometric lines make this award-winning home unique.

by Amy Brown

It was the 1960s, and Bud and Eunice Koch of Arcadia owned a modest family summer beach bungalow on a lane in Pierpont. The Ventura Freeway had only recently been expanded, further putting Ventura literally and figuratively on the map in new ways. Homes were just beginning to be built on the sand in the area, and when a beachfront lot became available, the Kochs purchased it. They soon launched the idea of their dream home, made possible with help of family friend in Arcadia–and Bud’s fellow Dartmouth alumnus–well-known architect James G. Pulliam. Pulliam was famous for commercial designs, and some residential projects, featured in Pasadena, Beverly Hills and the campus of Cal Poly Pomona, all with a signature geometric style. Pulliam went on to greatly influence mid-century modernism throughout Southern California.

The culmination of their partnership in 1971 was a beautiful home at 1094 Driftwood Lane, with symmetrical, imposing, square lines and a wall of glass windows looking out to the ocean. “Just look for the house that looks like a Chinese puzzle,” was how the Koch family would help first-time visitors find the beach house. Once someone had seen it, they wouldn’t need it described again. The unique home went on to be recognized for architectural design distinction, and was featured in the 1973 LA Home Magazine, and in 1974 received an Award of Merit by the American Institute of Architects for excellence in the design and execution of architecture.

“It was so unusual at that time—there were only a few beachfront houses sprinkled along the sand,” said daughter Marjo Gardner. “Now it doesn’t stand out quite as much, but it was pretty noticeable in late 1970s!” Gardner remembers the feeling one would have when first walking into the house, with the living room right on the sand, with wall-to-wall windows, especially back then, before the beach was later built up.

Eunice and Bud loved Ventura and were active in the community. Eunice was particularly involved, engaged in supporting organizations from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), League of Women Voters, Ventura County Women’s Political Council, Friends of The Library, to the Ventura County Symphony League, C.A.S.A program of Interface, Ventura Education Partnership, Camerata Pacifica, and the Ventura Botanical Gardens. In 1978, she and Marjo opened Voila! Coffee Beans on Thompson Blvd, which for years, according to the family, was the only coffee bean shop between Santa Barbara and Santa Paula, in that pre-Starbucks era.

Adela Trainor, the realtor currently representing the home, which is now in escrow, shared that this distinctive house has stood the test of time and is unique among the other homes in the area, which range from little beach cottages to the ultra-modern.  “People say they love the character when they come through to see the house, many of them in the entertainment business from Hollywood, it’s just been fascinating,” said Trainor. “They appreciate it just the way it is, original. Someone even asked if the sellers would be interested in filming there, since it’s so unique to a time period.”

Bud passed away in 1991, and Eunice in January of 2020 at the age of 94, but they leave behind a lifetime of contributions to the community, including the legacy of a timeless piece of post-modern Ventura architectural history.

VCAAA offers online nutrition courses and counseling for older adults

Start eating healthy in 2021.

The Ventura County Area Agency on Aging’s Senior Nutrition Program is offering free nutrition counseling and classes to Ventura County residents as part of an effort to promote healthy living among older adults. All classes and counseling sessions are currently being held over the phone or online and are free to participants.

Nutrition counseling services and classes include personalized one-on-one or group online settings with a registered dietitian and a focus on healthy eating on a budget, understanding food labels, managing weight loss, controlling diabetes, controlling high blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, enhancing bone health, and variety of other individualized concerns.

Registration is now open for classes beginning in January, including a special series for the New Year. Counseling session availability varies. Participants must be 60 and older.

To learn more about the Senior Nutrition Program, counseling sessions, or to register for a class, please contact the VCAAA at (805) 477-7300 or visit www.vcaaa.org.

The Ventura County Area Agency on Aging, an agency of the County of Ventura, is the principal agency in Ventura County charged with the responsibility to promote the development and implementation of a comprehensive coordinated system of care that enables older individuals, caregivers, and individuals with disabilities to live in a community-based setting and to advocate for the needs of those 60 years of age and older in the county, providing leadership and promoting citizen involvement in the planning process as well as in the delivery of services.

Ventura County Leadership Academy announces new board members and leadership

The Ventura County Leadership Academy recently announced the addition of Bob Harrell and Flossie Hall to its board of directors and named new officers of the board. “These leaders bring unique insight and a passion for our community that will be beneficial to VCLA,” said Brad “Brick” Conners, Ventura County Leadership Academy’s board president.

Bob Harrell is a Financial Planner with Independent Capital Management. He is the past chair and director for the Camarillo Rotary Club and a Community Advisory Member for the Camarillo Healthcare District.

Flossie Hall is the Co-Founder of The Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs. She has volunteered extensively with the Student Veterans Association, MCCS Miramar Food Locker and the Travis Manion Foundation.

New board appointments include Brad “Brick” Conners, City Manager for the City of Port Hueneme, as president, Steve Elson, Ph.D., CEO Emeritus for Casa Pacifica, as treasurer, and Rudy Gonzales, Government Relations Manager with Southern California Edison, as secretary.

VCLA was founded in 1994 and delivers on its mission of “connecting people and issues to strengthen our county” by developing, educating and inspiring a diverse group of leaders who aspire to enhance the quality of life in Ventura County.

For more information about Ventura County Leadership Academy please contact Pattie Braga via phone: (805) 797-3985 or email: PBraga@vcleadership.org.

It’s a family affair! Three generations at the Pierpont Racquet Club

“My biggest dream was to play tennis with my daughter.”

It all started with a mother’s desire that she and her daughter could some day play and compete in tennis matches together. PRC member Danyiel Callahan and daughter Katie Diaz are both avid tennis players!

Mom Danyiel, played tennis as a young girl and played on Rio Mesa High School’s team. Daughter Katie played high school team tennis as well.

While raising her family, Danyiel was the Tennis Director at Cabrillo Racquet Club until 2002, and her kids enjoyed growing up playing junior tennis.

Danyiel reflects back to those days “My biggest dream was to play tennis with my daughter.” So, it wasn’t long before Danyiel and Katie started playing as a doubles team in adult league tennis.

However, it was during a match in a Mother – Daughter Tournament that Danyiel tore her ACL, which led to many months of rehab.  She was determined to get back on the courts and play.

That’s when Danyiel and husband Will decided to join the Pierpont Racquet Club.
“The Pierpont Racquet Club was the place I wanted to play tennis and call my new tennis home…and I’m so glad I did!” Danyiel says. Continuing her desire to play with her daughter and spend time with her grandkids, Danyiel invited daughter Katie to play tennis at the Club.
Katie was hooked on Pierpont Racquet Club!
Then came Katie’s husband Chris, who was determined to try his athletic skills at Pickleball…and the rest is still making history! The whole family is now at the Pierpont Racquet Club playing Tennis, Pickleball and swimming, and also taking advantage of the fitness amenities offered to keep members healthy and fit for life!

There’s more than Tennis and Pickleball enthusiasm in this family!
Dad Chris loves to work out with the weights to maintain strength and agility when he’s not on the Pickleball courts. Danyiel also loves to take the PRC’s Pilates classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays with instructor Anne, to keep her core strong and her body in shape for tennis and Pickleball, and to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle.

Since becoming members of the Club, Katie and Chris are enjoying Pickleball together and playing round robin Pickleball matches with Club members, including mom!

The Diaz’s three girls are also enjoying tennis lessons at the Club, and developing their tennis skills.
Katie remembers growing up with tennis – “I grew up in a tennis club…I loved that from my childhood, and I want my kids to have the same experience I had!”

Danyiel and Katie adamantly agree, “Tennis & Pickleball are sports for a lifetime…that can be played at any level and all ages, with the whole family!”

For information about membership and amenities at the Pierpont Racquet Club, located at 500 Sanjon Road in Ventura, call 805-648-5161, or visit www.pierpontrc.com.

Justice For All Ventura County hosts virtual Town Hall Rally

“The Work Continues – Pick Your Passion” will be the theme of a virtual town hall to take place Saturday, January 23rd, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.

The virtual town hall will feature speakers from various organizations including Planned Parenthood, Ventura County Reproductive Rights Network, Climate Hub 350 and the Black Lawyers Association who will address pressing issues such as the threat to our environment, attacks on women’s and LGBTQ rights, the impacts of racism on our society, and the need for immigration and criminal justice reform.

With the Biden/Harris inauguration some may think that rallies and marches are no longer needed. Justice For All Ventura County (JFAVC) would disagree.

“We’re hopeful that the policies from the last four years will change, but we know there’s a lot of work to be done,” says Christine Burke, JFAVC President. “We want people to learn what’s going on, become engaged and make their voices heard.”

“By our count there are over 100 social justice organizations in Ventura County, each focused on different critical issues. Our goal is for people to find out about these groups, pick their passion, and find ways to help,” explained Burke.

An immediate way to begin helping is to donate warming packets for the homeless. Needed items include blankets, jackets, tarps and rain ponchos. Donations can be made at locations in Thousand Oaks, Oxnard and Ventura. Donations will be accepted between 9:00 am and noon on Saturday, January 23rd.

Information about the virtual town hall and the drop off locations for the warming packets can be found at http://www.justiceforallvc.org/

Justice For All Ventura County is a 501c3 non-profit organization that has been hosting, in association with the national Women’s March, rallies and marches since January, 2017.

Church of Scientology Ventura Women’s Auxiliary teams up with Friends of Fieldworkers

With the pandemic creating hardships for families across the Southland, the Church of Scientology helped make the holidays special for children who would otherwise have gone without.

In Ventura County, where COVID-19 cases are surging, the Friends of Fieldworkers, a nonprofit and the Church of Scientology provided toys and gifts to underserved youngsters.

The Women’s Auxiliary of the Church of Scientology Ventura collected and donated hundreds of gifts which they presented to the Friends of Fieldworkers to help make the holidays special for these local families.

Safety was of utmost concern to those who participated in the toy drive and the Women’s Auxiliary took great care to follow the guidelines published on the Church’s “Stay Well” website.

Throughout the pandemic, the Church of Scientology Ventura has been active in providing for the needs of the community while helping residents by promoting prevention protocols to ensure they and their families stay well.

“Our holiday wish is for everyone to stay healthy,” says Bobbi Grantham, Director of Public Affairs for the Church of Scientology Ventura. “We can bring down the number of cases and start the new year right.”

The Church of Scientology of Ventura celebrated its grand opening in February 2020. Mr. David Miscavige, ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion, dedicated the new Church. Within weeks, stay-at-home-orders were issued throughout California, and Church staff and parishioners immediately adopted the guidelines the Church published on the Scientology website and used these to reach out to the community to help everyone make it through these challenging times.

Friends of Fieldworkers, Inc., is a non-profit charity established to help improve the lives of the families of fieldworkers in Ventura County. We receive contributions of cash and in-kind gifts (clothing, bedding, books, household items, furniture, etc.), sponsor activities for children, and provide assistance with such matters as education and healthcare.

Ventura College launches Veterinary Technology Program

Ventura College is offering a new two-year Veterinary Technology Program culminating in an Associate of Science degree. Classes begin spring 2021 at Ventura College’s East Campus in Santa Paula.

After successfully completing the first-year curriculum, students will receive a Certificate of Achievement in Veterinary Assistant, which will enable students to seek entry level employment in the field of veterinary technology while completing the Associate of Science degree requirements.

Ventura College partnered with Ohana Pet Hospital to launch the program. “Ohana is helping build a new teaching lab adjacent to the Ventura College East Campus and our Santa Paula hospital location, which are in the same building,” says Dr. Jill Muraoka Lim, a founding partner of Ohana Pet Hospital. “We are also working with the Ventura College Foundation on fundraising efforts.”

The program is seeking accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Accreditation occurs 1 to 2 years after a program has begun. The program is on course to receive accreditation by the time the initial group of students successfully complete their two-year curriculum. Students will then be eligible to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) to become a Registered Veterinary Technician. Preparations for the national exam are embedded in courses throughout the program. Besides classwork, students will receive training in lab courses and participate in clinical externships at Ohana Pet Hospital.

“We are grateful for the help and support of the Ohana Pet Hospital staff,” says Dr. Kim Hoffmans, Ventura College president. “Their clinical experience brings real-world knowledge into the classroom.”

There are currently no AVMA accredited veterinary technology programs in Ventura, Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo Counties. “The Ventura College program is important in that it provides local students with a solid education to enter a profession with many diverse career paths and opportunities for growth,” says Lim. “In addition, due to a local (and national) shortage of qualified and educated veterinary technicians and assistants, this program will help fill the staffing void that all veterinary hospitals face.”

The Ventura College Foundation assists the college to successfully facilitate the corporate and campus partnership for the Veterinary Technology Program. Other foundation efforts for educational and local economic development have resulted in the development of the college’s Diesel Mechanics Program, a relaunch of the Agricultural Program (with a renovated avocado orchard and Living Learning Lab) and the Gene Haas Advanced Manufacturing Lab expansion.

“It’s important that students can apply what they learn in college to good-paying jobs in our community,” says Anne Paul King, Ventura College Foundation executive director. “The return on our corporate partners’ investment in education is immediate.”

Program classes are full for the spring 2021 semester. Ventura College will host information sessions and make applications available in March 2021 for the Veterinary Technology Program’s 2021-22 school year. For more information, go to www.venturacollege.edu, select Programs & Courses and type in Veterinary Technology Program in the Search box.