Category Archives: Coronavirus

Program helps COVID-impacted veterans become employed in high-demand industries

Veterans experiencing unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic are among the country’s hardest-hit populations. To help veterans who have been impacted, Ventura College’s Veterans Resource Center (VRC) is now offering the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP). Eligible veterans will receive up to one year of U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs-paid training for high-demand occupations and a monthly housing allowance.

To qualify for the Veteran Affairs (VA) program, veterans need to be between the ages of 22 and 66, unemployed due to COVID, not totally disabled and have no other VA benefits remaining.

The VRC will assist eligible veterans in applying for VRRAP and then getting enrolled at Ventura College for the fall 2021 semester with classes starting Aug. 16. Ventura College also offers classes beginning January 2022 to accommodate students’ schedules.

The college’s VRRAP students will have a choice of 23 certificate of achievement programs, including accounting, automotive technician, construction management and the new veterinary assistant program.

VRRAP veteran students and all military-connected students—including active duty and dependents of veterans—are supported by the VRC. The Center helps students navigate the college’s enrollment process, links them with educational benefits, and connects students with academic counselors and financial aid specialists. As an advocate for military students, the VRC provides information, holds special events and offers a location for students to work, study and mingle.

“It’s rare that the VA introduces new educational funding programs. Having Ventura College be a VRRAP provider is important because it specifically addresses the needs of our veterans who have been so greatly impacted,” said Jordana Ybarra-Telias, VRC program coordinator. “I hope to see more VA programs like VRRAP that provide a housing allowance to make it easier for veteran students to focus on school without worrying about how they will pay rent as they invest in their futures.”

“Ventura College is honored to support our veterans, and this new program will help them gain knowledge and skills to increase their employability,” added Ventura College President Kim Hoffmans. “Veterans and their families have made great sacrifices for our country, and this is one way for us to demonstrate our gratitude.”

In March, the VA enacted VRRAP as part of the American Rescue Plan of 2021, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package designed to help individuals and businesses recover from the effects of the pandemic.

“As a member of the California Community Colleges Veterans Caucus, I appreciate how VRRAP will not only help Ventura College students, it will also help our community’s economic recovery,” said Chancellor Greg Gillespie.

Ventura College offers several VA programs and other educational funding resources from federal, state and local entities. Students can access the college’s Zero Textbook Cost program and other resources to help with educational expenses.

For more information about VRRAP at Ventura College, contact Ybarra-Telias at (805) 289-6060 or vcvets@vcccd.edu, or visit venturacollege.edu/departments/student-services/veterans-resource-center

 

Getting Back to Normal: Helping Your Family Through COVID-19 Transitions

Many people struggled with mental health challenges during this last year, often exacerbated by lockdowns, isolation, new stresses, and societal turmoil. As American society now slowly transitions to more “normal times,” Community Memorial Health System is helping families find ways to cope and move forward.

The public is invited to join CMHS psychologists at a free online seminar as they discuss the current mental health crisis and the deep impact of COVID-19 on families. Participants will learn coping strategies as they prepare to transition back to school, work, and other normal routines during uncertain times.

The free virtual seminar takes place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 22. To attend, please RSVP at  www.cmhshealth.org/RSVP. This event is hosted by Community Memorial Health System as part of its 2021 Speaker Series Online. Participating psychologists include Dr. Ronda Doonan, director of Behavioral Health and Resident Well-Being for CMHS’ Graduate Medical Education; Dr. Shirah Bale, who specializes in behavioral health and mindful practices for wellness; and Dr. Monique Boswell, a specialist in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

City of Ventura launches online tool to support local businesses in recovering from COVID-19

The City of Ventura’s Economic Development Division is launching a new online business intelligence tool called “SizeUp Ventura” to provide access to market research information.

“The City of Ventura is committed to helping our local businesses succeed and recover from the pandemic,” stated Mayor Sofia Rubalcava. “They are the foundation of our local economy, employ our residents, create new jobs, and make our community a more prosperous place.”

Local businesses and entrepreneurs can now access free industry-specific and hyperlocal information to help them grow and make smarter decisions using big data analysis. SizeUp features information collected from hundreds of public and proprietary data sources covering firmographic, demographic, geographic, labor, wage, cost, consumer spending, transportation, and more.

“In today’s information economy, if you don’t have access to information your business is at a significant disadvantage. With the launch of SizeUp, we are empowering Ventura businesses to make more data-driven decisions to better operate, succeed, grow, and recover from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Estelle Bussa, City of Ventura Economic Development Manager.

Using the new SizeUp Ventura website, local businesses can:
1.   Rank their business performance compared to industry competitors,
2.   Discover potential customers and suppliers,
3.   Better understand the competitive landscape, and
4.   Optimize advertising to target ideal customer segments.

In support of Small Business Week, local small and medium businesses are invited to a virtual SizeUp Ventura workshop on Thursday, May 6, 2021, from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Advance registration required for the Zoom meeting. To register, visit http://bit.ly/SizeUpVentura.

To learn more about SizeUp Ventura or the City’s Economic Development Office, visit www.cityofventura.ca.gov/SizeUpVentura.

Fraud schemes related to the novel coronavirus

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General is alerting the public about fraud schemes related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General is alerting the public about fraud schemes related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Scammers are using telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits to perpetrate COVID-19-related scams.

Fraudsters are offering COVID-19 tests, HHS grants, and Medicare prescription cards in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information. However, these services are unapproved and illegitimate.

These scammers use the coronavirus pandemic to benefit themselves, and beneficiaries face potential harm. The personal information collected can be used to fraudulently bill federal health care programs and commit medical identity theft.

Protect Yourself

Be cautious of COVID-19 survey scams. Do not give your personal, medical, or financial information to anyone claiming to offer money or gifts in exchange for your participation in a COVID-19 vaccine survey.

Be mindful of how you dispose of COVID-19 materials such as syringes, vials, vial container boxes, vaccination record cards, and shipment or tracking records. Improper disposal of these items could be used by bad actors to commit fraud.

Offers to purchase COVID-19 vaccination cards are scams. Valid proof of COVID-19 vaccination can only be provided to individuals by legitimate providers administering vaccines.

Photos of COVID-19 vaccination cards should not be shared on social media. Posting content that includes your date of birth, health care details or other personally identifiable information can be used to steal your identity.

Be vigilant and protect yourself from potential fraud concerning COVID-19 vaccines. You will not be asked for money to enhance your ranking for vaccine eligibility. Government and state officials will not call you to obtain personal information in order to receive the vaccine.

Beneficiaries should be cautious of unsolicited requests for their personal, medical, and financial information. Medicare will not call beneficiaries to offer COVID-19 related products, services, or benefit review.

Be suspicious of any unexpected calls or visitors offering COVID-19 tests or supplies. If you receive a suspicious call, hang up immediately.

Do not respond to, or open hyperlinks in, text messages about COVID-19 from unknown individuals.

Ignore offers or advertisements for COVID-19 testing or treatments on social media sites. If you make an appointment for a COVID-19 test online, make sure the location is an official testing site.

Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone claiming to offer HHS grants related to COVID-19.

Be aware of scammers pretending to be COVID-19 contact tracers. Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your Medicare number, financial information, or attempt to set up a COVID-19 test for you and collect payment information for the test.

If you suspect COVID-19 health care fraud, report it immediately online or call 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).

Information about COVID-19 Vaccines for Older Adults

You can help protect yourself and the people around you by getting the vaccine when it is available. Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in preventing severe illness from COVID-19.

You can’t get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

Depending on the kind of COVID-19 vaccine you get, you might need a second shot 3 or 4 weeks after your first shot.

After getting the vaccine, some people have side effects. Common side effects include:

  • pain where the shot is given,
  • fever,
  • chills,
  • tiredness,
  • or a headache for 1-2 days.

These are normal signs that your body is building protection against COVID-19. Learn more about what to expect after getting your COVID-19 vaccine.

Even after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, you should still:

  • wear a well-fitting mask that covers your nose and mouth when around others
  • stay at least 6 feet away from others
  • avoid crowds
  • avoid poorly ventilated spaces
  • wash your hands often

We still have more to learn about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions, so it is important to continue to follow all safety recommendations to help stop the pandemic.

The vaccine is free of charge to people living in the United States. However, your vaccination provider may bill your insurance for administering the vaccine. No one can be denied a vaccine if they are unable to pay this cost.

Scam Alert: If anyone asks you to pay for access to vaccine, you can bet it’s a scam. Don’t share your personal or financial information if someone calls, texts, or emails you promising access to the vaccine for an extra fee.

During a global pandemic, education and community thrive online

The Oasis Institute, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to enriching the lives of adults ages 50+, has announced the launch of Oasis Everywhere, a virtual lifelong learning platform with an expansive menu of online classes aimed to provide seniors with social connections and enrichment as they continue to shelter in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oasis Everywhere offers live online courses led by top instructors from across the country, making it possible for anyone in the U.S. to participate in exclusively curated classes and seminars streamed from Oasis Centers across the country. Utilizing a simple online platform and Zoom video conferencing, anyone can easily explore their interests regardless of geographic location, mobility, or travel constraints.

Affordably-priced classes are easily searchable and open for registration through the Oasis Everywhere website, oasiseverywhere.org. Available courses cover a variety of topics ranging from art and history to science, religion, cooking, technology, current events, health, and more.

“Through Oasis Everywhere, you can learn alongside your mom, dad, grandparent, neighbor or friend as we all adjust to pandemic life while also prioritizing our older loved ones who need support and care,” said Paul Weiss, PhD, President of The Oasis Institute. “We have carefully curated Oasis classes with the interests of adults ages 50+ in mind, but we have found that our topics really have a broad appeal, especially in these days of self-quarantine.”

The need for online classes increased exponentially in 2020 due to the isolation experienced by so many seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Poll on Healthy Aging conducted by AARP and Michigan Medicine in June 2020 reported 56 percent of respondents over the age of 50 sometimes or often felt isolated, more than double the number in the same study from 2018. The Oasis Institute launched Oasis Everywhere to address that need. Participants on the platform have reported that their learning experiences are valuable, varied and offer high-quality intellectual stimulation amongst the uncertainty. Participants have something to look forward to as they see old friends and make new ones through the interactive video sessions.

Founded in St. Louis, Missouri, for nearly 40 years, Oasis Centers and partners throughout the country have served adults ages 50 and over as a “home away from home” with robust educational offerings that include arts and humanities, science and technology, health education and exercise programs.

Oasis Everywhere is open for individual enrollment and offers group enrollment for senior centers and care facilities that want to provide additional enrichment to their residents. The classes offer a turnkey solution and enrollment group discounts for facilities that want to expand the variety of opportunities for learning and social activities that they offer. Senior living communities who register residents receive a 15% discount.

To sign up for classes, visit www.oasiseverywhere.org and view the growing list of courses to choose from.

Find more information about the Oasis Institute on Facebook at @OasisInstitute, on Twitter at @OasisInstitute, on LinkedIn at The Oasis Institute, or via their website www.oasisnet.org.

Note: Even though Oasis is a non-profit most classes do have a small fee. The Breeze is printing this for your information, this is not an endorsement.

Ventura College Foundation’s Weekend Marketplace returns to East Parking Lot

The community has relied on the Marketplace for wonderful things to purchase.

Ventura College Foundation’s Weekend Marketplace, which temporarily moved to the West Parking Lot on the Ventura College campus while solar panels were installed at its home on the East Parking Lot, has returned to its permanent location. 

The East Parking Lot is able to accommodate more vendors and guests than the smaller West Parking Lot location. Prior to the COVID pandemic, the Marketplace drew about 2,000 shoppers each weekend with 300 to 400 vendors. However, because of current COVID pandemic restrictions, the attendance is capped at 25% of capacity, and the number of Marketplace vendors has been limited. 

“We want to thank all our vendors, patrons and neighbors to the Marketplace who have been supportive as we first closed, reopened, then moved and are now moving back,” says Anne Paul King, the foundation’s executive director. “It’s been a rollercoaster.” 

For more than three decades, the community has relied on the Marketplace for affordable fresh produce and other items.  Vendors’ families have been supported by weekend sales. Our foundation has relied on the vendor rental revenue to support Ventura College students. “When the Marketplace temporarily closed because of COVID, many people in Ventura County lost an important resource,” says King. “That’s why, despite all the ups and downs, it was important that we did all we could to keep the Marketplace open.”

COVID Marketplace hours are 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. COVID safety and spacing protocol remains in place for both vendors and visitors. All vendors and visitors must wear face coverings and practice proper social distancing.

Admission is free. For vendor information, contact Esmeralda Juarez, marketplace supervisor at 805-289-6062 or email, ejuarez@vcccd.eduFor general Marketplace information, go to www.venturacollegefoundation.org/weekend-marketplace.

St patrick’s day parade years gone by

Happy St. Patrick’s Day Ventura! This year everyone’s favorite St. Patrick’s Day Parade is sadly, yet understandably cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. However the clever CAPS Crews and the Ventura Elks Elves have conjured up something special to fill the Saturday morning celebration. Ventura County St. Patrick’s Day Parade Years Gone By is a fun-filled, festive trip down memory lane (in place of Main Street). The hour long program will feature great moments from past and recent St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Ventura County St. Patrick’s Day Parade Years Gone By will premiere on Saturday, March 13 at 10AM on CAPS Channel 6 and repeat multiple times throughout the month. The program will also stream on the CAPS Media website – capsmedia.org. and air on CAPS Radio – KPPQ 104.1 FM. We hope everyone settles in with a bag of popcorn and a set of streamers to enjoy the show.

All of the CAPS Media board of directors, staff and members are excited to welcome Ventura’s newest Councilmember, Jeannette Sanchez-Palacios as the District 4 representative. We look forward to working with Ms. Sanchez-Palacios on all the city projects and initiatives, and especially on those that are of greatest interest to her.

Speaking of City Council collaborations, recently CAPS had the pleasure of collaborating with City Councilmember Lorrie Brown on an historic initiative to have the Ventura City Council proclaim February as Black History Month in Ventura.

Working in coordination with Ms. Brown and city staff, CAPS produced a special video in support of the city proclamation. The video premiered at a recent City Council meeting and has been featured on the city website and in social media and has been shown on all CAPS Media platforms including Channel 6, Channel 15, KPPQ 104.1 FM, and streaming online and on social media.

March/April is the time of year for annual staff recognitions and CAPS Media is working with numerous governmental agencies to pay tribute to their dedicated employees. CAPS is producing video profiles for the Ventura County Fire Department’s annual awards program honoring inspiring firefighters and support staff as well as outstanding citizen volunteers. CAPS is also working with the City of Ventura directors to create a series of profiles recognizing the city’s outstanding Employees and Supervisors of the Year. And since March 30th is National Doctor’s Day, CAPS is collaborating with the creative folks at VCMC to produce a special Thank You, shout-out to the compassionate and passionate doctors.

Due to the COVID-19 emergency the CAPS Media Center remains closed to Members and the public until further notice. CAPS Member/Producers can submit programming via the online portal at capsmedia.org for broadcast and streaming on CAPS public access television Channel 6 and on CAPS Radio KPPQ 104.1FM.

Every week CAPS Crews record and broadcast the County COVID updates at the County government center and locations throughout the community. These reports provide the public with the latest, accurate information on the crisis and the relentless efforts by government and health officials to keep us safe and help all of us through the pandemic.

All of us at CAPS Media hope everyone stays Safe, Strong, Distant and Healthy during these very challenging times.

The Homeless Coronavirus Outreach

Eric Moseley, Erica Moseley and George Alger on Our Ventura TV.

Homelessness has been a problem in Ventura County for many years before the pandemic. But the coronavirus has exacerbated the matter. One of the challenges for those attempting to aid the homeless — or even for those who are trying to better understand it — is the fact that not all homeless are trying to get back into society and others are hidden from view, since they may be couch surfing with friends and family or accommodating hosts and/or living out of their vehicles.

Father and daughter team, Eric and Erica Moseley, are advocates for the homeless. They each have experienced homelessness themselves.

To provide greater insight into the issue, they produced a documentary, titled: The Homeless Coronavirus Outreach.

Recently they spoke with Our Ventura TV host and producer, George Alger, about their documentary and they also discussed three classes of homelessness, which can aid an individual attempting to understand or communicate with the homeless.

Our Ventura TV is an award-winning weekly talk show television series broadcast on Ventura cable channel 6 TV and also published on OurVentura.com as well as on social media networks.

To view the 9-minute discussion, visit the following link:

http://ourventura.com/the-homeless-coronavirus-outreach/

For more go to www.ourventura.com

Ventura Botanical Gardens in the time of COVID

Enjoy a free day at the Gardens.

by Barbara Brown

As fascinating as sitting in front of our computer screens is, sometimes we just have to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the day. If you are looking for a place to go where you can socially distance comfortably, the Ventura Botanical Gardens (VBG) is offering free admission on President’s Day, Monday, February 15.

Visiting now, after the rains and as spring approaches, you’ll begin to see bursts of color. In the South African Gardens, the Fynbos plantings are starting to bloom with a wide range of Leucadendrons and Leucospermums (including the red pincushion protea that looks much like Fourth of July fireworks). Also the Karoo Garden, located behind Summit Plateau, is in full bloom. This garden boasts an abundance of aloe, which blossoms brightly in reds and oranges, and provides the silky substance that is part of the hand sanitizer we use every day during this pandemic. From here, you can see an expansive view of the Santa Monica Mountains, the California coastline and the Channel Islands.

While you are visiting the Gardens, you may want to search out the Chilean Soap bark tree. This tree provides the adjuvant, a chemical compound affecting immunity, which is part of the shingles and COVID-19 vaccines. Near the Soap bark tree are several Chilean Wine Palms, a protected species once used as a part of wine making in Chile. They can grow to nearly 80 feet tall and live over 1500 years. These trees are an important component in the conservation mission of VBG.

In the Mediterranean Gardens above Rotary Plaza, you’ll notice 130 newly planted olive tree saplings. In no time, this grove will grow to create a quiet place to sit and contemplate nature. These 40 cultivars will also provide an opportunity for conservation and research for an agricultural resource that humans have developed over millennia and will enable us to examine what cultivars do well in regional agriculture as our climate changes.

Located at Grant Park in the City of Ventura, the Ventura Botanical Gardens’ goals include encouraging visitors to strengthen their connection to nature. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 9am to 5pm — closed on Mondays. Admission is $7 but members are free, children 18 and under are free, and EBT cardholders are free. Fridays are free. Leashed dogs are welcome on Wednesdays and Fridays. COVID protocols are in play. Masks are required for entrance and must be worn within 6 feet of others. During the pandemic, restrooms are closed.

For more information, visit www.VenturaBotanicalGardens.com. To stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the Gardens, join us on Facebook.