Category Archives: News and Notes

Ventura College Foundation launches fundraiser to ensure tuition costs are covered

The program covers all tuition and fees for eligible students.

The Ventura College Foundation has launched a fundraising effort to support the Ventura College Promise program. The program covers all tuition and fees for eligible students for up to two years. The foundation’s goal is to raise $40,000 by April 30.

Ventura College was the first community college in California to offer a tuition Promise program if students meet certain criteria. For students to be eligible for the current two-year tuition-free education they must be first-time incoming students who attend full-time. The Ventura College Promise served as a model for the creation of the statewide California College Promise Program in 2017.

The funds are needed because state budget cuts caused a shortfall in Promise funding statewide in 2022,” says Anne Paul King, executive director of the Ventura College Foundation. “The foundation’s board of directors wants to be sure the funds will be there for all students who qualify.”

Since it began at Ventura College in 2007, more than $4 million in tuition costs have been covered and close to 20,000 students have been served through the Ventura College Promise. “VC Promise removes the financial barriers to a quality education that many students face and allows them to pursue rewarding careers that benefit their future, their family and our community,” says Dr. Kim Hoffmans, R.N., president of Ventura College.

To donate, go to or text VCPromise to 71777. For more information about supporting the Ventura College Foundation’s VC Promise Campaign, contact Gerry Pantoja, Director of Philanthropy, at 805-289-6158 or [email protected] To learn about the Ventura College Foundation, go to

Achievement recognizes hospitals’ commitment to mentoring newly licensed nurses

SJRMC nurses from accredited nurse residency programs.

Dignity Health—St. John’s Regional Medical Center (SJRMC) and St. John’s Hospital Camarillo (SJHC) are proud to announce that the Nurse Residency Program was recently awarded accreditation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for the Practice Transition Accreditation Program (PTAP). With this accreditation, St. John’s program is now one of 240 officially accredited nurse residency programs in the nation and the only accredited program in the Tri-County area.

PTAP sets the global standard for nurse residency programs and formally recognizes the education program and support environment provided specifically to new nursing graduates so they can achieve the highest level of professional success.

“We are incredibly proud of earning national accreditation. Just a few years ago, our team saw a need for a nurse residency program in the community and quickly mobilized to develop the comprehensive program we have today,” said Dalarie Manda, Vice President, Chief Nurse Executive at St. John’s Regional Medical Center and St. John’s Hospital Camarillo. “It’s rewarding to see our seasoned nurses provide invaluable support and guidance as the new nurses adjust to providing care at the bedside.”

The Nurse Residency Program at St. John’s provides mentorship and hands-on training for new nurse graduates and nurses transitioning to specialty and acute care. This comprehensive program is structured to include practice-based learning under the guidance of preceptors and clinical leaders, specialty core courses, and workdays focused on interprofessional education, professional development, and reflective learning.

“During a time where there is a critical need for health care workers in our community and across the nation, it is an honor to be part of a solution that is recognized not only for providing future health care workers with real-time experiences but also for supporting our existing nurses,” said Barry Wolfman, President & CEO of St. John’s Regional Medical Center and St. John’s Hospital Camarillo.

Ventura Unified making news

DATA launches its second cohort of this STEAM-focused program.

When Casey Stoops, Head of Patagonia’s Global Information Security and Core Technology and Scott Reed, Senior Account Executive at ePlus reached out to DeAnza Academy of Technology & the Arts’ (DATA) Principal Carlos Cohen to see if he wanted to launch a GRIT pilot program, he enthusiastically said, “Yes!”. GRIT, Girls RE-Imagining Tomorrow, was founded in 2017 by ePlus Technology in partnership with Cisco and a small group of girls on the East Coast in response to the increasing shortage of cybersecurity professionals worldwide, particularly women. GRIT was started to help girls understand what is available and what they can aspire to and to encourage them to consider careers in technology – girls can then re-imagine their tomorrow. The program has since grown to seven schools across the nation, including DATA. 

GRIT’s mission is to introduce diverse groups of middle school and high school girls to technology-focused career possibilities, inspiring curiosity and exploration in various areas of STEM. In addition, they seek to build confidence in these young women by providing mentorship and holistically approaching these young ladies in the areas of public speaking, online safety, and business etiquette.  

Last year’s DATA cohort, which began in January of 2022, participated in two visits to Patagonia’s office spaces in Ventura. One was to their corporate office, where students were able to see its IT/cybersecurity infrastructure, marketing, and work/lifestyle spaces, and the second trip was to their Research & Development “Forge,” where they saw the social and physical science that goes into making and selling a Patagonia product.

This year’s Cohort will try to get out into the community monthly with its next visit to Fathomwerx. Fathomwerx is a public-private laboratory, community, and resource for technological innovation that fuses small and non-traditional companies, academic institutions, and other Department of Defense stakeholders to work on the most challenging problems in the port and maritime domains. The students will be building a drone while they are there. 

This program has been such a hit with the middle school girls at DATA a long waitlist was created at the beginning of the year. Instead of turning down a group of girls interested in STEAM, the DATA team created a GRIT club. This club includes the students chosen to be a part of the Cohort and any other girls at DATA who want to participate. The club is bringing guest speakers to campus and coordinating field trips to other STEAM sites throughout the year. They are also working on opportunities for goal setting when it comes time to select their high school classes as freshmen.

The Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) has been awarded $1,000,000 in 2022-2023 K12 Strong Workforce Program (SWP) funds. VUSD is one of ten Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to be funded by the South Central Coast Regional Consortium (SCCRC) and will use the funds to create a new Public Safety/Emergency Response Career Technical Education (CTE) pathway at Buena High School. 

VUSD’s strong partnership with Ventura College, Oxnard College, Ventura Police Department, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Ventura County Fire Department, Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, and other community partners will allow the District to design and implement a robust and relevant pathway for high school students to transition into high-wage high-demand careers in Public Safety and Emergency Response after graduation. This pathway will be available to all high school students in the District via multi-site agreements.


Food Share readies to meet “Hunger Cliff” demand

Food Share’s capacity to serve is dependent on volunteers.

Food Share, Ventura County’s food bank, is bracing for an expected wave of food insecure individuals as the end of COVID CalFresh benefits becomes reality on March 1. People already struggling with hunger will now have an additional worry – less CalFresh money for groceries.

CalFresh, a federally-funded program, provides monthly food benefits to low-income individuals and families. CalFresh benefits were extended during the pandemic but those extra payments are set to end this month, at a time when high inflation means that wages aren’t keeping pace with rising grocery prices.

According to data from the California Department of Social Services, as of December 2022, more than 41,889 households and 75,163 people currently receive CalFresh benefits in Ventura County, including 27,800 children under 18 and 10,800 adults aged 60 and over.

Commenting on the impact, Monica White, Food Share’s President & CEO, said “There’s no question that this is going to really hit people hard at a time when many are already struggling. We’re bracing for an influx of people. The biggest impact is likely to be to low-income seniors qualifying for the minimum benefit under standard income guidelines. We’re seeing estimates that their monthly CalFresh benefits could drop from $281 to only $23. These cuts really couldn’t have hit at a worse time.”

Inflationary costs are also hitting food banks like Food Share, placing them under increasing pressure to raise more money to meet the increased demand for food that’s now considerably higher in price than it was 18 months ago. The cost of purchasing a case of canned mixed vegetables rose 30% in 2021 vs. 2020, while the cost of purchasing a crate of canned mixed fruit has risen 39% over the same period.

Food Share continues to serve hundreds of thousands of Ventura County residents each year through its network of 190 food pantries, plus multiple weekly emergency food box distributions, which the organization started running at the beginning of the pandemic. “We’ve just surpassed 900 emergency distributions,” commented Monica White. “We started out thinking there’d be a need for just a few months, which turned into three years. Now we’re running them in response to inflationary price hikes and the reduction in CalFresh benefits. It doesn’t appear there’s an end in sight.”

For all the latest information on where to find food, how to volunteer, and how you can support Food Share with a monetary donation visit:

Follow Food Share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube and tag posts #WeFeedVC

Open House ~ Ventura County Grand Jury

The Ventura County Grand Jury invites the public to its annual Open House on Thursday, February 23, 2023, from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm at the Grand Jury Chambers located at 646 County Square Drive, Ventura.

The Grand Jury is a panel of 19 Ventura County citizens who conduct investigations into the operations of local governmental entities within the county. Investigations originate either from a public complaint or from within the Grand Jury.

The Open House is your opportunity to tour Grand Jury Chambers, meet current Grand Jurors, learn about Grand Jury functions and the application process. If you are interested in applying for the Grand Jury or want more information, please visit the Grand Jury website at:

For questions, please email [email protected]

Ventura County Public Works Agency battles a growing problem of illegal dumping

Illegal dumping is a serious problem for the communities in Ventura County. Waste poses an environmental threat to both humans and wildlife. Illegal dumping, along with a $3,000 fine plus clean-up costs and community service, can be avoided by locating the proper information on disposal and recycling options. Ventura County Public Works Agency’s “Don’t Dump On Me, VC!” campaign encourages the community to keep Ventura County beautiful by providing information on simple and easy ways to dispose of waste.

It’s important to first determine the type of waste that is being disposed of. Examples of commonly found materials that cannot be put in the trash or recycle bin include mattresses and bulky items, electronic waste, and household hazardous waste.

For mattresses and bulky items, you can schedule a no-cost curbside pickup by calling your waste hauling service. This can often be included in your service at least once a year. Bulky items can include appliances, furniture, and electronic waste. If you are getting rid of a mattress, you may be able to donate it, recycle it or even have it picked up. The Mattress Recycling Council runs a recycling program called ByeByeMattress, and households are allowed to drop off old mattresses and box springs at collection sites.

Electronic waste includes electronic products that are unwanted or do not work. This includes televisions and computer monitors, printers and scanners, fax and copy machines, video game consoles, and cell phones. These products can contain heavy metals that contaminate the environment and should not be disposed of in trash or recycling bins. E-waste can be recycled at numerous waste collection facilities throughout Ventura County.

Household hazardous waste is generated by a resident in a household while performing household activities and maintenance at your home. Some products that can pose a threat to the health of humans, animals, and the environment include antifreeze, batteries, drain cleaners, glue and adhesives, oven cleaners, and paints. To dispose of or recycle household hazardous waste properly, you can make an appointment at the Pollution Prevention Center. The County of Ventura holds about 9 monthly events during the year for the collection of hazardous waste.

“Waste is not only an eyesore on the Ventura County landscape,” said Chris Kurgan, Director Roads and Transportation. “It harms our communities and costs taxpayers millions of dollars in clean-up costs, pollutes surface and groundwater, and poses safety hazards to people, especially children. If you witness illegal dumping in progress, please report it today.”

More information and direct links to resources provided in Ventura County can be found at

Congressman Salud Carbajal Visits Ventura Port District to Survey Winter Storm Damage

Ryan Sutherland, Harbor Patrol Officer II; Brian D. Pendleton, Ventura Port District General Manager; Michael Blumenberg, Port Commission Chair; Salud Carbajal, US Congressman; Jackie Gardina, Port Commission Vice-Chair; John Higgins, Harbormaster; Todd Mitchell, Senior Business Operations Manager; and Taylor Plasch, Harbor Patrol Officer I.

California Congressman Salud Carbajal, U.S. Representative of California’s 24th District, visited the Ventura Port District recently to survey the impacts of the early January Atmospheric River Rain Events to the Ventura Harbor area.

In the past weeks, severe winter storms have caused damage, including significant coastal beach erosion, debris flows into the Harbor and surrounding beaches, the District’s public launch ramp, private boats and docks within the City’s Ventura Keys, and City streets within the Harbor. Debris removal and repairs were hampered by the volume of material and extended period of rain, wind, wave action and storm surge. “These conditions presented risks to the public and having Congressman Carbajal assess the damage first-hand provided him with a good perspective of the impacts Ventura Harbor faces in recovery,” said the District’s Chair Michael Blumenberg.

“The efforts by our District’s staff, in particular the Ventura Harbor Patrol, are commendable. Our Harbor Patrol officers offer around the clock support to help safeguard the public and property whenever possible and went above and beyond during this series of events,” said Brian Pendleton, the District’s General Manager. “We will coordinate closely with the City and County in our recovery efforts for the Harbor area,” said Pendleton.

“I’m grateful to the Ventura Port District for helping me get an up-close look at the impact that the high surf and heavy rains of this month’s storms had on the Harbor and the Keys neighborhood. As the new representative for the harbor and the City of Ventura, I’m committed to supporting our Harbor residents, businesses, and industries in both these short-term recovery efforts and their longer-term maintenance needs,” said Congressman Salud Carbajal. “I have already joined local officials and the State of California in urging the Biden Administration to expand their major disaster declaration to include Ventura County, and I will continue to work with FEMA and other federal officials to ensure our entire region gets the support it needs to repair and rebuild.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on January 4, 2023, as a result of the winter storms with the City of Ventura following suit on January 6, 2023. The Board of Port Commissioners also declared a state of emergency for the Ventura Port District at its meeting on January 18, 2023, to authorize the General Manager to take any action required to respond to the emergency. Blumenberg stated, “It is important to have these measures in place to restore District assets and coordinate response efforts with local and state officials.”

Ventura County officials have declared that the cost of damages from these winter storms is expected to top $30 million.

Why We March

The march started at Plaza Park. Photos by Patricia Schallert

by Shane Meserve, President Justice For All Ventura County

Several hundred people gathered at Plaza Park in downtown Ventura on Saturday, January 21st to honor free speech in the United States and to state our concerns on a number of fronts. Many people, from over a dozen elected officials from all over the County, to local citizens, spoke about their hopes, fears and the realities of living in the United States in 2023. Although there has been much progress made on behalf of equal rights and justice over the past 50 years, there is still more work to be done.

We gathered to march on behalf of women’s rights, as we have since 2017 when the national Women’s March was founded. Each year on this date, we gather to hear about the state of the union and the challenges America faces in the future. We work to bring together people and organizations who are working towards a greater good and will continue to encourage education, cooperation, organization, and registration for all.

While California recently voted to enshrine the right of reproductive health care in the state constitution, millions of women in this country do not have the same. Many legislators have or are attempting to enact laws to restrict these very personal decisions. California is bearing the brunt of people coming from other states to receive health care services. There is a cost to that that needs to be recognized.

We march to protect our freedoms and to side with the future. Racism and prejudice based on a person’s background, ethnicity, sexual orientation is unfortunately still alive and rearing its ugly head throughout our nation. While the right to marry whomever you choose is legal in many states, twenty-five states have both statutes and constitutional amendments to prevent same sex marriages.

We march for the rights of the disadvantaged and the oppressed and to support working families. With over 33 million Americans living in poverty, not enough attention is being paid to their needs. For a society to be successful, we must find ways to assist the disadvantaged through education, mentoring and compassion.

We march for voter’s rights. Many communities are under attack to limit constituent determination through decreased voting hours, options and other interference. This attack is often from those elected to lead their community.

We also march to help the environment. Human made pollution, whether it be through air, water or land contamination, is making citizens ill, degrading our natural resources and costing us billions of dollars annually in remediation and health care. Society already has many solutions but is lacking the political will to reverse much of the problems we’ve caused.

If you’d like to learn more about what Justice For All Ventura County is doing in our community, or to join us by volunteering or donating, please go to

Dignity Health California named to Newsweek’s America’s Greatest Workplaces for Diversity

Dignity Health (California) announced that it has been recognized as one of America’s Greatest Workplaces for Diversity 2023 by Newsweek and Plant-A Insights Group. Dignity Health is a part of CommonSpirit Health, a nonprofit health system committed to advancing health for all people and is dedicated to serving the common good. Newsweek and market data research firm Plant-A Insights looked at 1,000 companies and based their scores on publicly available data, interviews with HR professionals and an anonymous online survey of a diverse pool of employees at companies with 1,000 or more employees in the U.S. Respondents were asked questions about corporate culture, working environment and other subjects at both their own companies and others they were familiar with. The survey yielded more than 350,000 company reviews.

“We are honored that Newsweek has recognized our efforts to create a healthcare system that fosters belonging, respect and value for everyone who enters our doors,” said Julie J. Sprengel, President and CEO, CommonSpirit Health Southern California Division, parent company of Dignity Health. “It’s important that our physicians and staff members reflect the diversity of the communities we serve, as we believe it builds trust among our patients which leads to improved outcomes.”

In total, the two CommonSpirit Health California divisions represented in this ranking employ nearly 43,000 individuals that work across different healthcare settings from community hospitals, urgent care clinics to surgery and imaging centers. The communities represented cover highly populated metropolitan areas like San Francisco and Los Angeles to smaller, suburban communities such as the cities of Woodland and Camarillo.

“California consistently ranks as one of the most diverse states in the country and we’re proud to have made concerted efforts to mirror that diversity within our workforce,” said Shelly Schorer, Interim President and CEO, CommonSpirit Health Northern California Division, parent company of Dignity Health. “It’s motivating to hear of this distinction as it comes on the heels of years of important work – from our launch of medical residency initiatives that expand opportunities for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) to being recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index – we are encouraged now more than ever to continue these ongoing advancements.”

In the development of this list, Newsweek aimed to better inform the public of employers who are truly dedicated to Diversity.

“With the word “diversity” attracting so much attention from companies, however, it can be tough for job applicants, customers and potential business partners to tell who is serious about supporting a diverse workforce,” shared Nancy Cooper, Global Editor in Chief, Newsweek.

Newsweek grouped the winning companies by six main economic sectors and 34 industries. The top scoring companies are themselves a diverse list spanning different kinds of businesses.


How the recent heavy rains have affected Ventura’s drought situation

Foto: City of Ventura was unable to utilize water from Foster Park.

How the recent heavy rains have affected Ventura’s drought situation

By Carol Leish, MA

“Although the rainfall has been beneficial,” according to Gina Dorrington, Ventura Water General Manager, “the recent rainstorms do not immediately relieve the years of persistent drought that the City of Ventura has faced. Per the Governor’s orders from last summer, the City of Ventura and its customers are still subject to demand reduction actions of Stage 2 of the Water Shortage Event Contingency Plan in addition to the irrigation ban of non-functional turf at Commercial, Industrial and Institutional properties. The emergency regulations will remain in effect until December 20, 2023.”

Water sources have been affected since, according to Dorrington, “The City of Ventura is entirely dependent upon 100% local resources. The water supply portfolio includes Lake Casitas, Ventura River, and three groundwater basins. The recent rains have increased surface flows in the Ventura River, have begun to fill up reservoirs, and have been recharging groundwater basin.

“The City of Ventura was unable to utilize water from its Foster Park facilities due to sewage spills on the Ventura River and San Antonio Creek. Communications to the wells currently operating in the park were lost during the storm in addition to other minor equipment damage. As of January 18, 2023, operations at one of the wells has been restored.”

“Yes, the City of Ventura is grateful for the recent rainstorms that have helped to alleviate drought conditions,” according to Dorrington. “Per the California Drought Monitor, released January 12, 2023, the County of Ventura is currently experiencing Moderate Drought conditions. ( ca trd.pdf) Prior to the recent rainstorms, the County of Ventura, along with most of California, was experiencing severe drought to exceptional drought conditions. The California Drought Monitor notes that it focuses on broad-scale conditions and that local conditions may vary.

“At this time, single family residential properties in the City of Ventura are encouraged to voluntarily reduce water use by 20 %. Stricter measures, including implementing water shortage rates and mandatory outdoor watering restrictions, could go into effect if demand reductions are not achieved through voluntary efforts.

“As a reminder, the City of Ventura will continue to enforce water waste prohibitions, offer water efficiency programs/incentives, and pursue multi-benefit water supply projects, such as the ‘State Water Interconnection Project’ and the ‘Ventura Water Pure Program.’ Ventura Water extends its sincere appreciation to Ventura residents for their continued commitment to improved water efficiency as the State of California shifts towards ‘making water conservation a California way of life.’”

“Climate is changing,” according to Dorrington. “We’ve experienced a reminder of that change through the increased intensity of storm events that we’ve been having. Conservative water use will continue to be valuable when we see another period of no rainfall. Thus, it’s important that we continue to use water wisely.”