Category Archives: News and Notes

Business Profile: Embarc is first cannabis dispensary to open in Ventura

Ventura Mayor Joe Schroeder and Mike Marostica, local embarc owner.

After a lengthy, multi-year review process, embarc was the first of the selected operators to open their doors and begin serving the Ventura community, ushering in a new era of access to local cannabis dispensaries in the city.

Embarc is a well-respected dispensary operator, with Ventura marking its ninth store opening in a little more than three years in the Golden State. Embarc is known for its friendly staff, affordable price points, and wide variety of products to meet diverse needs.

Embarc’s Ventura operations will generate 6% of gross receipts as a local cannabis tax to the City for municipal priorities. In addition, embarc has allocated 1% of gross receipts for the lifetime of the business to local non-profit and community priorities such as youth education to ensure the business remains a community partner and good neighbor.

“Our team spent years engaged in a listening tour to understand the perspectives and priorities of community members from throughout the region,” explains Lauren Carpenter, embarc’s Chief Executive Officer. “I am so proud of our team for all of their dedication which has culminated in a retail store that I know the community can be proud of, too.”

Embarc hosted a grand opening which was met with excitement from neighbors throughout midtown and from residents living in Ventura and beyond. As midtown continues to see significant investment in small, local businesses including hair salons, bookstores, coffee shops, yoga studios and more, embarc is a welcome addition to this corridor.

The Ventura location is embarc’s first Southern California store and will serve as the jumping off point and flagship for the company’s Southern California expansion. The space has been designed to reflect the free spirit and energy of Ventura, with beautiful exposed brick, bright light and vintage surfboards from local shops.

1890 East Main Street

Daily 9am-9pm

River Haven Program closure

Turning Point Foundation has managed this unique transitional housing program for 17+ years.

The City of Ventura and Turning Point Foundation have decided to sunset the River Haven Transitional Housing Program on Oct 1, 2023 due to challenging weather conditions (recent high winds/heavy rains) and increasing safety/security issues with nearby encampments. This decision, while not an easy one, was made in the best interest of our residents’ wellbeing.

Turning Point Foundation is grateful to have managed this unique transitional housing program for 17+ years bridging the gap between unsheltered and permanent housing for hundreds of residents experiencing homelessness. While unfortunate circumstances

(mentioned above) have become the root cause of River Haven’s closure, Turning Point is unwavering in its commitment to providing quality housing, mental health, and wellness services to this vulnerable population in the City of Ventura and countywide through our variety of other program locations.

Turning Point Case Managers will continue to support and work one-on one with current members during the sunset of this location. Our priority is to transition current residents in finding optimal permanent or alternative sheltered housing programs within Turning Point’s internal and external networks.

For questions or concerns, we welcome you to contact us at [email protected]. To learn more about the programs and services we offer please visit

Turning Point Foundation




River Haven offers a way out of homelessness

Note: From a previous Ventura Breeze

by Carol Leish

“River Haven started during the El Nino in 2006,” according to, Suki Sir, Marketing and Fund Development Manager at Turning Point Foundation. “Thus, during the El Nino, we approached the City of Ventura in March, 2006. Contracts were signed in September, and the program started in October. The former director, Clyde Reynolds, was very instrumental in approaching the city, and in negotiating the contract to secure the land for River Haven.”

“Clients/residents of River Haven receive case management services that follow up with service plan goals and their well-being,” according to, Joe Dawson, Program & Facilities Manager at Turning Point Foundation. “Case management takes a team approach by offering and connecting clients/residents with supportive services that offer follow-up care. And, the case manager and the treating agencies maintain communication to promote and create action plans for clients that will help them to become more successful and to maintain service connections obtained.”

Dawson also focused on the types of services that are offered to clients/residents of River Haven by saying, “Connected services consist of: Ventura County Behavioral Health; Whole person care program; ADP (Alcohol & Drug program; Health Care Agency/ One Stop; and, the Human Service Agency.”

“We aim for clients/residents to be at River Haven for up to two years at the most,” according to, Sir. “But some residents get permanent housing within 6 months, and others take longer than two years.”

Turning Point Foundation’s website is:, which describes the latest news and events. Please sign up for the newsletter to become more informed.

“Some of the needs for supporting River Haven are on the list, which is at:,” according to, Sir. “Do realized that River Haven gets very little government support. Thus, online donations are very much appreciated.” And, that, according to the website, “$525 Feeds 25 people per month.” Also included on the list of needs on the website, which can be downloaded, are: “Heavy blankets; bath towels; washcloths; canned food; and, books & board games.”

Through support and housing both Turning Point Foundation and River Haven have given people the opportunity and the tools to start truly living happier and healthier lives. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done, all that matters is the future and what you want to do with your future.

Ventura Fire Department puts new ladder truck into service with ‘push-in’ ceremony

Push-in ceremonies date back to the early 1800s.

The Ventura Fire Department firefighter-paramedics received a helping hand from the Mayor and City staff who lent their strength for the Department’s ‘push-in’ ceremony on September 14. A new state-of-the-art fire truck was unveiled and officially put into service, signifying its readiness to respond to emergencies and slated to serve Ventura for the next 25 years.

Push-in ceremonies date back to the early 1800s when firefighters utilized horse-drawn equipment; the animals could not back into the station, requiring the horses to be detached and crews to push the equipment into the bay. The push-in ceremony remains a symbol of fire service unity and serves as a way to pay homage to fire departments across the nation.

“This push-in ceremony not only celebrates our new apparatus but also our unwavering commitment to safeguarding the lives and property of our community,” said Fire Chief David Endaya. “Firefighting is a demanding profession that requires the best equipment and tools to protect lives and property. Our firefighters are dedicated to their duty, and this cutting-edge ladder truck will empower them to respond even more effectively in emergencies.”

The $1.5 million 2022 Pierce fire truck, equipped with a 107-foot aerial ladder, advanced modern safety systems, all-electric tools, and an elevated platform for a strong stream delivering up to 1,500 gallons of water per minute, further enables firefighters to perform their duties more efficiently and effectively. It will also be used to perform advanced and high-angle rope rescues for hard-to-reach environments, and vehicle extrication for trapped victims.

The truck is staffed with one captain, one engineer, and two firefighter-paramedics.

The Fleet Fire Apparatus Replacement schedule evaluates the economically practical life of fire engines per the National Fire Protection Association’s recommended 20-year life. The new fire truck will be used daily on the front line, while the current fire truck will be placed into a reserve status, utilized when the front-line apparatus is down for maintenance or assigned to a mutual aid event.

Ventura Police and Ventura Fire Department hold community block party

Crime prevention and fire safety issues were the major themes of the event. Photos by Richard Lieberman

by Richard Lieberman

The Ventura Police Community Foundation, the Ventura Police and the Ventura Fire Departments hosted Ventura residents at a block party on Saturday, August 25th. The community event was held at police headquarters 1425 Dowell Drive in Ventura.

Crime prevention and fire safety issues were the major themes of the event. Officials welcomed a crowd of Ventura residents to get a glimpse behind the inner workings of both the Ventura Police and Fire Departments. Also included as exhibitors Ventura County Sheriff’s office, Ventura County Fire Department, Ventura Harbor Patrol, American Medical Response among several others.

A demonstration of K9 abilities and use in crime prevention and pursuit techniques was a crowd pleaser and attracted some of the largest crowds. K9 Handlers demonstrated the police dogs’ capabilities in rescue and crime fighting. In a closed arena the dogs demonstrated holding on to a potential subject, leaping from a police car window and demonstrating a soft and peaceful demeanor as youngsters and adults alike bravely petted and caressed the animals.

A SWAT rescue vehicle was exhibited and open for public view, police motorcycles, patrol vehicles, Ventura County Police Helicopter, CSI demonstrations, Jaws of Life Demonstration, Fire Engines, Ventura Harbor Patrol jet skis, Jaws of Life demonstrations, were among a few of the activities available at the event.

There were plenty of kid friendly events including Face Painting, Fire extinguisher game, Kids Firefighter challenge course and a coloring contest.

Almost all the exhibits were manned by working police and fire professionals. This event was a great opportunity for residents and families to engage with local law enforcement, firefighters, dispatchers and members of the Ventura Police and Fire departments.

Business Profile: Car Show for K-9s this Saturday

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Many people are confused about what is happening at Crown Classics & Museum, the car dealership that held its grand opening at the old Toys R Us building in Ventura, just to be shut down by the City over a permit issue within days. The business appears to have plenty of beautiful classic vehicles in excellent condition, and yet it has been closed to the public for over a year now. Customers may only enter by calling (805) 291-8281 for an appointment.

“Our doors may be closed,” says Classic Auto Museum Curator Michelle Annette Leveille, “but we still want to play an active role in promoting car culture.”

Thus, Crown Classics & Museum has been hosting car meets in their parking lot for several months. Car afficionados can be seen with their vintage vehicles there from 3pm to 6pm on the first and third Sunday of the month. Each meet is a fundraiser for a different local charity.

This Saturday, September 9th, there will be a car show from 9am-1pm to benefit the Ventura Police K-9 Unit. The Momentum Charity Car Show is presented at Crown Classics & Museum by Pastor Ted Pugh, of Higher Vision Ventura.

This is the ninth annual show for Ted Pugh, who chose the good cause because, “People don’t realize that our K-9 Unit isn’t funded by our taxes. Training, veterinary bills, dog food – it’s all paid for by donations. They’re a nonprofit, so they have to raise all their own money.”

Spectators at this event are in for a real treat. There is no admission charge to see the show. Besides the classic cars, there will also be a live DJ, food trucks, merchandise vendors, souvenirs, a raffle, and special demonstrations of Police K-9 training.

The family-friendly car show will be held this Saturday in the parking lot at Crown Classics & Museum, 2975 Johnson Drive, in Ventura, from 9am-1pm. Roll in is from 7am-9am. Trophies will be awarded at 12:45.

Show car owners can register to enter the show online at or pay $30 cash during roll-in from 7am-9am the day of the show.

Registration is open to most categories of show cars of all eras. Trophy categories include Best Antique (pre-1940), Classic (1940-75), Modified (1950-2023), Sports Car (1954-2023), Muscle Car (1964-75

The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children opens Bright Space at The City Center

Ventura Mayor Joe Schroeder and Jim Duran, City Center Executive Director welcomed the attendees. Photos by Michael Gordon

The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children opened a Bright Space at The City Center, 837 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura, on Thursday, August, 24. Bright Spaces, the signature program of the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children, provide engaging environments for play that are cheerful, inviting, safe, and fun, and support non-profits like The City Center and the children and families in their care. The Bright Horizons Foundation has created over 300 Bright Spaces in the United States. This Bright Space will be a play space for families with young children who are experiencing homelessness.

The City Center provides a safe place for homeless families to learn the skills need to become productive members of society.

“Our goal with Bright Spaces is to give children the opportunities they deserve to develop resilience and form stronger bonds with their families and other caring adults. We strive to promote healing, offer nurturing and stimulating activities, and provide a stable, enriching environment for each child who walks through the door.” stated Yvonne Lynch, President of The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children.

Bright Spaces are customized based on the needs of the non-profit organization. The space created at City Center will allow preschool-aged and school aged children to experience a sense of normalcy and stability through play and learning. Through the collaboration between Bright Horizons foundation for Children, Amgen Foundation, The Rotary Club East, and a very special donor Fred C. Ferro, there is new furniture, toys, learning materials, and computers. Each area was intentionally designed to engage a variety of ages. The walls are adorned with beautiful candid photos of the children living at The City Center, courtesy of Tana Hayes Photography.

The City Center is a transitional living center for homeless families with children in Ventura County, equipping them to rebuild their lives and become self-sufficient. Almost 100% of our graduates do not return to homelessness. We provide our residents with a safe place where they can receive support through counseling, mentoring, case management, financial coaching & employment assistance. They learn life skills necessary for self-sufficiency, acquire transportation, obtain employment, and no longer require government assistance.

Bright Horizons® is a leading global provider of high-quality early education and childcare, back-up care, and workforce education services. For 35 years, we have partnered with employers to support workforces by providing services that help working families and employees thrive personally and professionally. Bright Horizons operates approximately 1,100 early education and childcare centers in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia, and India, and serves more than 1,400 of the world’s leading employers. Bright Horizons’ early education and childcare centers, back-up child and elder care, and workforce education programs help employees succeed at each life and career stage. For more information, go to

$337,500 in grants awarded to small business owners

Since 1991, WEV has provided business training and small business advisory services to more than 28,000.

Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV)’s Emprendimiento Program increases opportunities for historically marginalized individuals by providing entrepreneurial training and access to capital for limited English proficient (LEP) and Hispanic community members.

On August 23, Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) presented $337,500 in grant funding to participants who completed WEV’s Emprendimiento Program for entrepreneurial Hispanic and Indigenous Ventura County community members. Forty-five of the 90 participants who successfully completed WEV’s free, 8-week business training program taught in Spanish each received a $7,500 microgrant to grow their existing small business. For more information about the Emprendimiento Program, including enrollment for the fall 2023 Santa Barbara County cohort, visit: .

Launched in 2021, WEV’s Emprendimiento Program provides entrepreneurial training, technical assistance, and microgrants for small business owners to grow their enterprise in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. To date, 330 people have participated in WEV’s Emprendimiento Program and 261 have graduated. With the August 2023 Grant Awards Ceremony, a total of $937,500 in microgrants have been awarded to entrepreneurs in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

At WEV’s Emprendimiento Award Ceremony, graduate Catalina Almazán Sosa, owner of Artesania Ita Indivi Oaxaqueña, was one of the class speakers who shared her story with the attendees. “My first language is Mixteco… Spanish is my second language and I speak some English. When I was a child, my mother taught me that you don’t win every time – you must learn to lose, don’t worry, tomorrow will be better,” said Almazán.

Gloria Martinez, Economic Vitality Manager for the County of Ventura, gave the welcome remarks and congratulated the program graduates. “With your creativity, skills and sheer determination, I have no doubt your businesses will thrive and make important contributions to Ventura County’s economy and community,” said Martinez. “This is an incredible accomplishment and demonstrates your commitment, passion, and vision to start or grow your own businesses here.”

Martinez also thanked WEV “for designing and implementing this outstanding program to empower Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs. We are grateful for WEV’s partnership and dedication to creating economic opportunity in our region.”

The program was approved by the County of Ventura’s Board of Supervisors for support through the County’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding Plan.

Women’s Economic Ventures is dedicated to the economic empowerment of women. WEV is a business resource network for anyone looking to start a business, grow a local business, or improve their business skills. WEV provides a full range of small business support – including classes, consulting, and funding – as well as financial literacy programs in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. While WEV’s focus is on women, it welcomes people of all gender identities into the WEV community. Business courses, programs and loans are provided in both English and Spanish.

Since 1991, WEV has provided business training and small business advisory services to more than 28,000 people throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. WEV has made more than $6.9 million in small business loans and helped nearly 5,300 local businesses start or expand, generating an estimated $873 million in annual sales and creating over 12,400 local jobs. WEV is a U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women’s Business Center and Microlender, as well as a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).

To support WEV’s work, please visit

Celebrating a significant milestone in community safety and wildfire prevention

Ondulando Board of Directors and City support staff. Photos by Patricia Schallert

On August 25th, the Ventura Fire Department invited the community of Ondulando, located in East Ventura to join Fire Chief David Endaya, Fire Marshal Brett Reed and the Ventura Regional Fire Safe Council in celebrating a significant milestone in community safety and wildfire prevention. The Ventura Fire Department and the Ventura Regional Fire Safe Council are thrilled to announce Ondulando as the City of Ventura’s inaugural nationally recognized Firewise USA community.

Maya De Leon Communication Outreach specialist for Ventura Regional Fire safe Council and Andrew Ortega Board President for Ventura Regional Fire Safe Council presenting the certificate.

In celebration of this achievement, a special certificate presentation ceremony took place at the restored Ondulando Clubhouse and was able to capture the spirit of unity and resiliency that defines the Ondulando community.

Firewise USA, is a program by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) that acknowledges communities that take proactive measures to minimize wildfire risks through organized collaboration and action. Ondulando’s achievement reflects a united effort among its 640 property owners to enhance safety for all residents in Ventura County.

The journey to becoming Firewise-recognized demanded rigorous efforts by Ondulando’s residents, including:

  • Conducting a comprehensive community wildfire risk assessment
  • Creating a three-year action plan, outlining strategies to reduce ignition risk for homes
  • Facilitating a community gathering to foster awareness and collaboration
  • Committing to the maintenance of defensible space around structures
  • Pledging 640 volunteer hours annually for wildfire risk reduction activities

“The efforts of the residents of Ondulando are extremely commendable and deserving of this recognition,” said Ventura Fire Chief David Endaya. “By taking proactive steps to reduce their risk from wildfire, these 640 property owners are the largest community in Ventura County to make a commitment to creating a safer community for every resident.”

“Wildfires can impact dozens or hundreds of homes simultaneously, and if my neighbors’ homes aren’t prepared, mine will be vulnerable, too,” said Ben Rode, Ondulando resident of 21 years. “By embracing the Firewise USA program, we can fortify our homes and collectively enhance our community’s resiliency.”

There will be several more opportunities for the hillside Ventura Communities to participate in learning more about the Firewise program.

Ondulando Firewise Community website:

Fire Safe Council Annual Fundraiser will take place at Topa Topa Brewing Co. at

4880 Colt St., Ventura on November 9th -5:30 pm – 8:00 pm. RSVP to

Growing Works Nursery’s 5th Anniversary Fall Festival Fundraiser

Growing Works now enjoys a reputation of high quality 4” and 1 gallon and larger plants.

by Carol Leish, MA

Josh Carsman, Marketing/Fund Development Manager for Turning Point Foundation, says, “Come celebrate on October 28, 2023 from 10am-2pm the Gowing Works Nursery’s 5th Anniversary Fall Festival. There will be free admission! There will be music, plant sales, local artisan craft and food vendor and much more! It will be located at 1736 S. Lewis Rd. Event booth spaces are available and sponsorships are welcome. Please visit and click on ‘Growing Works Fall Festival’ and/or contact Jenn Rodriguez (nursery manager & event director) at: (805) 586-9900 for more information.”

Turning Point Foundation provides mental health recovery services, job training and supportive employment to adults with severe mental health diagnoses. Carsman said, “Growing Works is a wholesale nursery growing California Native plants, succulents, and other water wise plants for folks to purchase and enjoy. The nursery is open to the public for retail days on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month from 10am-2pm. Fun and educational gardening and horticulture workshops are also held throughout the year!

“The nursery helps to fulfill the ever-present local need for high quality, drought-tolerant California Native plants, Mediterranean Plants, and succulents. Growing Works is based on a thriving and sustainable business model where plant ales, job training services and donations from supporter contribute to its success.”

Established in 2018, Growing Works now enjoys a reputation of high quality 4” and 1 gallon and larger plants with customers from Solvang to Los Angeles County. They grow 60% California Native, 30% succulents and 10% fun plants that they love and think you will, too(

The Growing Works Nursery’s 5th Anniversary Fall Festival Fundraiser on October 28th, 2023, will help to provide: hope, a haven, and healing to improve the quality of lives for those in need of help that Turning Point Foundation provides. They will continue to provide these services in order to improve the quality of life for adults experiencing serious mental illness, addiction, lack of housing and inadequate physical health care. Thus, come to enjoy the beauty of nature and buy to improve your own gardens while helping an important cause.