Category Archives: Home Page Links

Second Annual Mental Health Wellness Festival

by Carol Leish, MA

The Ventura County Mental Wellness Festival returns to Ventura Harbor. The organizer is local non-profit, Turning Point Foundation, whose mission is to improve the quality of life for adults experiencing serious mental illness, addiction, lack of housing and inadequate physical health care. The festival’s objective is to raise awareness about mental health and share mental wellness pathways that support, maintain and/or improve peoples’ mental health. This annual event celebrates the completion of National Mental Health Awareness Month (May).

Folks can visit Ventura Harbor Village (lawn area) at 1583 Spinnaker Dr. The event will be from 10:30am – 4:30pm on Saturday, June 1st 2024. Come relax with yoga and sound meditation, hosted by Meditation Mount. Enjoy live music from the Orchard Bluegrass Band. This band has been entertaining audiences of all ages throughout Southern California for many years. Two of the venues they have performed at include the Reagan Library and Ventura County Fair.

View the Mental Health Art Exhibit, which displays a variety of artwork submitted by Turning Point’s wellness program clients. Also, shop a variety of native plants and talk to horticulture experts at the Growing Works Garden Exhibit. Growing Works is an innovative wholesale plant nursery that serves as one of Turning Point’s mental wellness programs. It provides job training, employment, volunteer opportunities, recovery services and hands-on horticulture work experience to people experiencing mental health challenges.

Participate in an arts and crafts activity by Ronald McDonald House Charities (SoCal) Camp Good Times! RMHC’s Camp Good Times provides a cost-free multi-day sleep over experience for kids battling cancer and their families. Ronald McDonald House-Charities of Southern California’s mission is to create a positive, long-lasting impact on children with cancer and their families by providing fun-filled medically supervised cost-free year-round programs in tandem with seven houses spread through Southern California. This includes the newest “Family Room” at Ventura County Medical Center.

Event exhibitor and activity sponsors include: Ventura County Behavioral Health; Meditation Mount; Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times; Tinyplants; Growing Works; Oxnard Wellness Center; 1Health Right 360; Autism Society-Ventura County; California Lutheran University; Ventura Breeze; New Talk 1590-KVTA; VC Reporter; Nate’s Places Wellness & Recovery Center and Rotary Ventura South.

Contact: [email protected] to become a sponsor and/or vendor!

Special thanks to Ventura Harbor Village as the venue! Join us at the grass lawn. Also, explore the wonderful array of shops, restaurants, boat rides and more.

Event Website:

Get a 10% off at participating Ventura Harbor restaurants & shops by going to:

SEEAG Hosts Earth Day Plantopia “U-Pick Your Garden” Fundraiser

A perfect opportunity to plant a garden and celebrate Earth Day.

Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture (SEEAG) will host its 2nd annual Plantopia “U-Pick Your Garden” fundraiser to celebrate Earth Day. The event, held on Saturday, April 27, will raise funds to support SEEAG’s agricultural education programs where students learn about the farm origins of their food, water resources, soil health, entomology and locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Plantopia is from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and will be held at two locations in Ventura County: Growing Works Nursery (1736 S. Lewis Rd., Camarillo) and SEEAG’s headquarters in Ventura Harbor (1575 Spinnaker Dr., Ventura). For a $35 donation, participants can select a combination of 12 small plants to fill two six-pack containers. Participants who order in advance can also select seedlings that produce vegetables that makeup three types of food specialty gardens: salsa garden, soup garden and salad garden. The organic seedlings are from Plantel Nurseries. Pre-order online and receive a free four-quart bag of Agromin’s potting soil.

Plantopia is also taking place at Refugio Ranch Tasting Room (2990 Grand Ave., Los Olivos) and Santa Barbara Eary Day Festival (Alameda Park, Santa Barbara).

“Plantopia is a perfect opportunity to plant a garden and celebrate Earth Day,” says Mary Maranville, SEEAG’s founder and CEO. “It’s a great way to kick off Spring.”

For more information about SEEAG’s Plantopia and to select and reserve your plants, go to or pre-order directly through My805Tix.

Spring into action: Give blood with the Red Cross

Make an appointment now to help save lives during National Volunteer Month

During National Volunteer Month in April, the American Red Cross asks donors to help protect the blood supply by making and keeping blood donation appointments in the weeks ahead. Donors of all blood types – especially type O blood donors and those giving platelets – are needed now to keep the blood supply strong enough to support critical patient care this spring.

The Red Cross depends on thousands of volunteer blood donors to collect about 12,000 blood donations every single day. With no substitute for blood and no way to manufacture it, volunteer donors are essential in transfusion care. Blood drives and donation centers also depend on the generosity and valuable time of those who make it possible for the Red Cross to help people in need

Spring into action – book a time to give lifesaving blood or platelets now by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App. Those who come to give April 8-28, 2024, will receive a $10 e-gift card to a merchant of choice, plus be automatically entered to win a $7,000 gift card. There will be two lucky winners. See for details.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities April 8-28

Ventura- 4/23/2024: 11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Knights of Columbus, 36 S. Figueroa St.

Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

County of Ventura puts out call to older-adult artists for May exhibition

Artists must reside in Ventura County and be 60 years old or over.

May is Older Americans Month, and to celebrate the occasion, the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging (VCAAA), Ventura County Arts Council (VCAC), and County of Ventura Arts & Culture will host an art exhibition of works created by the county’s older adults.

The exhibit will be held in the County of Ventura’s Hall of Administration Atrium Gallery (800 S. Victoria Ave. in Ventura). It will open on May 13, 2024, and run through June (closing date TBD).

The exhibition will aim to showcase the vibrant creativity and talent of artists ages 60 and older within our community through an open call. While there is no specific theme, artwork is encouraged that explores the sharing of experiences, traditions, customs, and stories across generations.

Entry Guidelines:

  • Only one entry per artist will be admitted.
  • Entries will not be accepted without registration.
  • Submissions will be reviewed and approved by the Ventura County Arts Council according to the County of Ventura’s art display guidelines.
  • Approved submissions will be provided with designated drop-off locations across the county.
  • Artists must reside in Ventura County and be 60 years old or over.

Important Dates:

  • Online registration is currently open and must be received by the deadline: Sunday, April 28, 2024, at 11:59 p.m.
  • Artwork must be dropped off at pickup location by Friday, May 3, 2024.
  • Exhibition schedule: Monday, May 13 to June (closing date to be determined).

Artwork will be returned to the drop-off locations upon exhibit closing.

For online registration and complete entry guidelines, visit

Ventura Harbor celebrates $8.4M in dredging

Dredging of Ventura Harbor. Photos by Patrcia Schallert

The Ventura Port District proudly announces the commencement of the annual dredging for Ventura Harbor’s entrance channel, an annual program that is critical to the harbor community and made possible through the dedicated efforts of Congressman Salud Carbajal, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and their contractor, Manson Construction.

This significant undertaking underscores the recognition of Ventura Harbor’s importance as California’s largest commercial fishing harbor most years. The annual dredging of the federal navigation channel is an essential action that ensures the harbor remains navigable, safe, and prosperous for the industries and boaters that rely on our harbor’s working waterfront.

“The annual dredging project not only facilitates safer maritime navigation in the Ventura Harbor but is essential to maintain the economic vitality of commercial fishing, recreational boating, tourism, and all of our waterfront business partners,” shares Brian Pendleton, Ventura Port District General Manager.

Congressman Carbajal‘s efforts on the Fiscal Year 2024 budget have secured $8,471,000 for the Corps to perform Ventura Harbor’s dredging program which will commence in the next few weeks. Further, his advocacy has seen the President’s Budget request include $8,796,000 for Ventura Harbor in Fiscal Year 2025, which puts Ventura in a very strong position for next year’s dredging as well.

“The Central Coast’s harbors and ports are central to our community’s livelihood and lifestyle. Whether it’s the family enjoying a Saturday sail or a fisherman collecting their daily catch, having safe and operational channels and waterfronts are crucial to our region,” said Rep. Carbajal. “I’m proud to have secured these important funds for the Central Coast in the negotiations over this year’s budget agreement, and I will continue to work with our local officials to ensure their needs are met as we face more extreme weather patterns and other abnormal threats to the Central Coast’s harbors and ports.”

Michael Blumenberg, Chair of the Ventura Port District’s Board of Port Commissioners, said “Congressman Salud Carbajal continues to play a vital role in securing the federal funding necessary for our Harbor dredging project each year. His efforts have been crucial in ensuring federal recognition and support for the harbor’s economic and public benefit to the region”.

The collaboration, between the Ventura Port District, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and their contractor, Manson Construction, continues to demonstrate the best in federal and local partnerships. Along with keeping the harbor navigable, the dredge efforts provide high-quality sand used to nourish the public beaches in the Ventura Harbor for beach goers.

“As we recognize the importance of this dredging project, we extend our deepest gratitude to Congressman Salud Carbajal for his unwavering support and dedication. His advocacy continues to contribute to the success and dependability of our working waterfront,” Blumenberg said.

The Ventura Port District invites the community to come and see the renourished beaches at the conclusion of the project. In the meantime, the public is asked to be mindful of the construction activities in the water and on the beach and to respect the presence of protected species including the Western Snowy Plover, Least Terns, and California Grunion and their essential habitat, which benefits from the responsibly managed sand placement of this project.

For any questions regarding the project, please contact Ventura Harbor Harbormaster John Higgins at [email protected] (navigation), Sr. Business Operations Manager Todd Mitchell at [email protected] (dredging), or for emergencies, contact Harbor Patrol through 9-1-1 dispatch services or on marine radio channel 16. For information on Ventura Harbor and Ventura Port District programs, beaches, and boater amenities visit

The demand for professional first responders can exceed availability

Local residents graduate from CERT training.

After over six weeks of emergency response training, 40 Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) students participated in their final practical exercise, a simulated earthquake with multiple victims. They practices lifting vehicles, putting out fires, triaging the injured, and managing an incident.

In the aftermath of a major disaster, the demand for professional first responders can exceed availability. We are so grateful these Ventura and Santa Paula residents are more prepared and feel confident taking action.

This program equips residents with essential knowledge about potential local disasters and how to safely, swiftly, and responsibly respond. Participants will learn how to reduce fire hazards, set up medical treatment areas, assist responders, conduct light search and rescue, and more!

Completing the CERT program requires 24 hours of training and each graduate will receive a certificate of completion, a manual, and a CERT disaster start-up pack containing a helmet, gloves, vest, and safety goggles.

After several months of wild weather and natural disasters, the city of Ventura is re-instituting their program called the Community Emergency Response Team.

It’s a free program that trains civilians to respond to emergency situations before, or in place of, first responders, such as assessing the level of trauma, applying tourniquets, CPR, putting out fires and more. It’s the first time the C.E.R.T. course has been offered since COVID-19 shut it down.

Ventura Police Department Mac Douglas said they received 93 applications for the course, showing that the community wants this kind of education.

“The fact of the matter is when we have a major incident, our first responders, as good as they are, are going to be overwhelmed,” Douglas said. “So, the community needs to take more of a responsibility for their own preparedness and supporting themselves and their neighbors.”

Local Partnering Organizations Launch Free Mobile Vision Clinic

The Ventura Chamber held a Ribbon Cutting on March 20. Photo by Rich Ramos

In a groundbreaking initiative aimed at expanding access to vision care for local underserved populations, leading community organizations Rotary International, Lions Clubs International, SEE International, Westminster Free Clinic, and The Salvation Army, announced the launch of a mobile vision clinic.

This innovative service made its debut with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 20, 2024, at 11:30 AM, located at 650 S Petit Ave, Ventura, where lunch was served to attendees. The event featured keynote speaker Matt Levere, County Supervisor, as well as words from different organizational representatives, such as Sandra Adelante, Optician Technician and Sabriana Marrufo, from the Spirit of Santa Paula along with some patient testimonies. Local KVTA radio personality Tom Spence was The Master of Ceremonies.

The need for mobile services became apparent following the organizations’ opening of three free vision clinics across the community. After opening the first clinic in Ventura in 2018, services were expanded through two more clinics, one opening in Oxnard in 2021, and another in Thousand Oaks in 2023. Despite these expansions, it was clear that transportation issues and other barriers prevented many community members from accessing the much-needed vision care services offered at these clinics. This led to the idea of a mobile clinic, capable of reaching patients directly in their areas.

Thanks to many generous donations and the support of the partnering organizations, a van was purchased and converted to accommodate medical equipment.

Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, the mobile clinic began operations.

The mobile unit will replace the traditional brick-and-mortar setup at the Ventura walk-in and will be stationed outside the Salvation Army every Tuesday. It will also periodically offer services at the Swap Meet Justice in Oxnard, the Santa Paula Westminster Free Clinic, and many other local events throughout the Central Coast.

Together in partnership, Rotary International, Lions Clubs International, SEE International, Westminster Free Clinic, and The Salvation Army, are committed to providing vision care to underserved communities throughout the Central Coast. To make DONATIONS and/or to learn more about the mobile clinic, please visit

WEV hosted an Award Ceremony

Marisa Aj-Tobar delivering her acceptance speech.

On March 20th Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV, pronounced “weave”) hosted an Award Ceremony at the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum to grant $412,500 to 55 Hispanic business owners from across Santa Barbara County. 83 entrepreneurs recently completed WEV’s “Emprendimiento” program, an eight-week business skills course taught entirely in Spanish.  Upon completion of the training, the business owners had the opportunity to submit a business plan in competition for the $7,500 grant to help grow their existing small business.

Among the graduates were 25 childcare business owners through WEV’s partnership with Children’s Resource & Referral of Santa Barbara County.  One such participant, Maria Equihua, Owner of “Tu Casita” family day center in Santa Maria shared during her graduation speech, “Every day I work as a chef, cleaning lady, teacher, nurse, choreographer, motivator, administrator, and psychologist- and now, thanks to this program, I can call myself an entrepreneur. This program prepared us to be smart business owners who focus on the growth and operations of our businesses, giving us valuable educational, administrative and financial tools.”

Another graduate, Marisa Aj Tobar, arrived in the United States from Guatemala in 2008 with what she describes as a “suitcase full of dreams and goals”.  She started out taking the bus to clean houses, worked her way up to supervisory positions on commercial cleaning sites which was what gave her the idea to start her own business.  Today Marisa runs her own small business, “Marisa’s Housekeeping Services” which has other employees and a waiting list.  Marisa said that “coming to WEV was about finding guidance, education, the advice to grow, but above all it was about finding the hope and reaffirmation that I could realize my dreams.  WEV is the life jacket I needed to jump into the water.  My goal is to grow my business so I can employ mothers who would benefit from a flexible schedule that will allow them to have time with their families.”


Ventura PD officers honored for saving a life.

Officers Veronica Ross and Nick Nunez were dispatched to the fifth story of the hospital parking structure to check the well-being of an individual seated on the top floor ledge. They saw him leaning over the edge and wasted no time quickly leaping towards him to pull him back before he slipped entirely off the edge.

Nick and Veronica were honored as our 2023 Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Officers of the Year for their patience, skill, and compassion in de-escalating crises and ensuring community safety.

New Art City Theatre Welcomes Sally Struthers

Bev and Kirby Ward are co-founders of Art City.

New Art City Theatre, Ventura County’s newest professional theatre, is pleased to announce Festival ’24, the company’s inaugural festival of new works. Festival ’24 runs April 25th through 28th at The Museum of Ventura County. Beverly Ward and Kirby Ward, the founders and Co-Producing Artistic Directors, are especially thrilled to bring renowned actress Sally Struthers to Ventura to join the cast of Drowned Cats, one of four brand-new plays presented as part of the four-day, jam-packed schedule of staged readings and discussion panels.

The mission at New Art City Theatre (also know as NACT) is unique. As an emerging nonprofit, NACT serves two groups: writers and audience. “Our goal is to support the work of established and emerging playwrights as well as to expand the audience who attends professional performing arts events,” states Kirby Ward. “By keeping the readings free, we’re saying, everyone is welcome!” adds Bev Ward, Kirby’s wife of nearly 40 years.

“It’s a win-win. Writers who develop new works need an audience, and audiences crave affordable, live entertainment.” she adds. Key to the company’s mission is to attract less typical attendees, like young people with modest means and older people who may be on a fixed income.

The Wards bring decades of professional theatrical practice to their roles. Ultimately, their work as writers shapes their vision as they cultivate relationships with playwrights across the country. As part of their annual programming, NACT will open a submission portal each year and accept scripts of all types, from comedy to drama, and musical theatre, too. For this year’s festival, 175 scripts were submitted from playwrights and composers across the county. With the help of volunteers, each submitted script is read by multiple readers, narrowing the selection to a handful of projects, eventually settling on four. The four writers participating in Festival ’24 hail from Maryland, Long Island, Seattle and Chicago

Each show will have two presentations (matinee and evening) involving professional actors, including Ms. Struthers. The Wards first worked with the star of stage and screen on the east coast, and she later performed in a Manhattan reading of Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, a musical written by the Wards. “Sally is incredible! Not just funny, but as fine an actress as I’ve ever seen on stage. Her role in Drowned Cats will benefit from her sublime sense of humor” gushes Bev.

The Wards spent the first two weeks of March on casting and are confident all the talent will rise to the level set by Struthers. “We saw nearly 150 actors in L.A. and Ventura and there were so many wonderful auditions. We can’t wait to bring these new scripts to life at The Museum of Ventura County.” beams Kirby.

To reserve your free ticket, go to:
The theatre has open seating.

The plays:
Swimming Up The Sun – April 25, 1 & 7 PM
Reconciliation – April 26, 1 & 7 PM
Drowned Cats – April 27, 1 & 7 PM
Imitating Life – April 27th, 5:00 PM
Blowhole – April 28, 1 & 5:30 PM

Talkback immediately following each performance.
To Reserve your free ticket, go to:

About New Art City Theatre
New Art City Theatre (NACT) is a groundbreaking theatre company based in Ventura. Founded in 2023 by Kirby and Beverly Ward, renowned theatre professionals, the company is dedicated to the development of new works and offers a platform for emerging playwrights to showcase their talents. By giving equal access to diverse voices and inviting a broader audience to participate, NACT aspires to elevate all that is compelling about original theatre. For more information, visit, email [email protected] or connect on Facebook or Instagram.