Category Archives: This ‘n’ That

Delegation visited Ventura Sister City, Loreto Baja Sur, Mexico

Who was able to read the Breeze first?

On October 20-27th, a delegation of 15 people from the Ventura Sister City Association (VSCA) went down to Ventura’s first and only Sister City, Loreto Baja Sur, Mexico, to participate in the 325th year of Loreto’s founding. Loreto served as the first capital of California, and it has ties to Ventura through its Mission and the headquarters for the five island Mexican National Park off of its coast in the Sea of Cortez.

The trip included a visit to San Javier, an older mission in the Gigante’ Mountain range, boat rides out to the islands, a stop at a working ranchero where goats are raised, visits with artists, the Loreto Fire Department and a foster home and a beach clean-up. Additionally, we had an orientation session with Eco-Alianza, on organization that supports and collaborates with, which is dedicated to environmental protection of the Sea of Cortez and promotion of ecotourism.

Most importantly, the delegation got to participate in the four-day celebration of Loreto’s founding, including the presentation of a proclamation from Ventura’s Mayor and City Council to their Mayor and Council. Pictures and a video of the trip can be found on the Ventura Sister City Facebook page.

This is the second year in a row that the VCSA has partnered with the Hermosa Beach Sister City Association (HBSCA), as Hermosa Beach has been a Sister City of Loreto for 55 years. Beyond the October visit, which coincides with Loreto’s founding on October 25, 1697, the VSCA is working on developing trips to enhance our purpose of building cultural exchanges in the arts, with our museum and with our schools. If you are interested in getting involved with the Ventura Sister City Association, please visit our webpage at VenturaSisterCity.org.

Rubicon co-founder retires after 25 years

Rubicon Co-Founders James O’Neil and Karyl Lynn Burns with goddaughter Lauren Patten.

Rubicon Producing Artistic Director and Co-Founder Karyl Lynn Burns retired from the company on Sunday, November 13, following the acclaimed sold-out run of In the Heights. Says Burns, “It’s been a long and beautiful run and Jim [O’Neil] and I will forever be grateful to those we’ve met during our 25 years in Ventura who have taught us the meaning of community and showed us what can happen when dedicated and passionate people come together in pursuit of common goals. We are looking forward to beginning a new chapter, and to spending more time with each other and our families.”

“What we’re most excited about,” continues Burns, “is the opportunity to pass the torch to two longtime friends and collaborators, Beverly and Kirby Ward. They are multi-talented, incredibly diverse veteran performers with West End, Broadway and National Tour credits. After years of knowing them and working together at Rubicon, we have complete faith in them and trust that, with continued board and community support, they will take the company and the art to new heights.”

Burns and husband James O’Neil co-founded Rubicon in November of 1998 and have led the organization for nearly 25 years. During their tenure, the company has produced more than 160 comedies, dramas and musicals, including more than 20 world premieres. Under Karyl Lynn and Jim’s leadership, Rubicon received numerous awards, including the L.A. Drama Critics Special Award for Sustained Excellence, two New York Drama Desk Awards, Ovation Awards for Best Production of a Play, Larger Theatre (for Arthur Miller’s All My Sons and Gulf View Drive by Arlene Hutton), and an NAACP Award. Rubicon has taken five shows to New York and has also toured productions across the U.S. and to Tokyo, South Korea, London and Dublin. In addition to mainstage programming, Burns and O’Neil have produced festivals, special events, a Broadway concert series and extensive educational programming for young people ages 6-23.

The Wards have a long history at Rubicon, freelancing as directors and actors at the company since 2008. They stepped into ongoing administrative/creative staff positions in 2018 and were responsible for the direction and choreography of Rubicon’s critically acclaimed, sold-out run of Big River in 2019. The couple have worked together on stage and off for nearly half-a-century. They bring with them West End, Broadway, Off-Broadway, and National and International Tour credits.

Says Board President Doug Halter, “This is an ideal succession plan for the company that we all have been quietly working on together for some time and we are pleased to share the news with the public. We as a board and community owe Karyl Lynn and Jim a great debt for their many years of service,” adds Halter, “and for giving Ventura the gift of a professional not-for-profit theatre that we know and trust will be here for generations.”

Says Burns, “Parting with people and places you love is always sweet sorrow, but we leave knowing that this is the right time to infuse new vitality and vision into the organization as Bev and Kirby move Rubicon from a founder-driven organization to a strong and sustainable institution. There’s so much more to say; we look forward to time to express our gratitude personally to those who have made this Rubicon journey possible.”

True to the company’s name and the vision of founding artistic directors Karyl Lynn Burns and James O’Neil, Rubicon has created an environment where commitment and risk are encouraged, and where artists are nurtured and respected. As a result, the company has gained a reputation for invigorating interpretations of the classics and for supporting the development of new works. Rubicon presents at least one World Premiere each season, as well as readings of works-in-progress.

Candlelight remembrance celebrating loved ones passings

Paul Lenderman officiated the ceremonies.

On the evening of November 3, 2022 the Joseph P. Reardon Funeral Home & Cremation Service of Ventura proudly opened its doors to all of greater Ventura County for the eighth annual Candlelight Remembrance Service.  This was a special evening for anyone who has experienced a loss and wished to remember their loved one in a sacred space.  This moving night of remembrance and reflection featured several speakers from Assisted Hospice of Ventura.

Michael Boyko, owner of the funeral home stated “we again are so proud to be able to host this evening for our entire community in need of reflection, consolation, and care.  Moreover, I remain humbled to be able to provide such a touching ceremony with the entire highly professional staff of Assisted Home and Hospice of Ventura.  Our community really needs this type of service and we know we are reaching people who need it as attendees are from all walks of life and from many different communities in Ventura County.

This evening featured live harp music from Ted Nicholsen, professional harpists from the peninsula hotel in Beverly Hills as well as the officiant Dr. Paul Lenderman, Spiritual counselor/grief coordinator of Assisted Hospice in Ventura.  Dr. William and Dr. Lisa Rajala also took time and spoke with spiritual poems and readings of consolation.  Spiritual Counselor Raquel Jensen and Social Worker Susan Derby also participated with life affirming prayers and tributes to loved ones and patients that have passed within the last several years.  Marianne Cody of Assisted Hospice helped coordinate the evening and assisted participants with candle lighting and placement.

Michael went on to say “no one can tell you how to grieve.  I believe a ceremony like this one is just one more way we can be of service to our community. Our funeral homes offer a helping hand to all who need it no matter the circumstances.  Yesterday, today, and tomorrow we’ll be here to help”.

A surf inspired gala celebration supporting foster youth and families

Guests enjoyed fine food, entertainment and inspiring speeches. Photos by Yana Khiyod

Kids & Families Together hosted their 4th Annual November Fundraising Event Fostering the Next Wave 2022, held on Saturday, November 5th, at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach, was a surf inspired fundraising celebration supporting Ventura County foster youth and families. The event raised funds for Kids & Families Together (K&FT) and More Than Conquerors Surf (MTC Surf).

More than 150 guests joined us for this fun and successful event! Guests enjoyed surf inspired music and films during Happy Hour, along with a silent auction filled with a wide variety of items up for bid. The evening’s program included inspiring testimonial speakers and messages from two Ventura County political leaders and a local professional surfer!

Speakers for the event included: an opening and welcome from Ventura County Supervisor Matt LaVere; Sharon Watts Woolley, K&FT’s Board Chair; David & Faith Friedlander, K&FT’s Co-Founders; and Elle Miller, Founder of MTC Surf. Kids & Families Together presented the 4th Annual Founders’ Award to CA State Assemblymember Steve Bennett for his continued support of programs benefitting Ventura County foster youth.

Testimonial speakers included: Dr. Barbara Morris Jensen, adoptive parent supported by K&FT; Gwendolyn Herrera, Assistant Vice President/Branch Manager Union Bank and kinship caregiver supported by K&FT;

Lea Martinez, Ventura County foster/resource parent supported by K&FT and an “MTC Surf family” participating in their monthly surf events; and John Villela, Board Member of MTC Surf.

Featured guest speaker was professional surfer, long board champion and Ventura local, Mary Osborne. We want to thank Mary for stepping in at the last minute to join us. The event closed with a fantastic hula performance by Hula Anyone from Santa Barbara. https://www.hulaanyone.com/ Our event emcee was, Matthew Graczyk. Our event DJ was, Logan Graczyk. https://djmajestic.com/

We gratefully acknowledge our event sponsors! Sponsorship levels were surf themed, recognizing the top big wave surf spots in California and our local favorites here along the Ventura County coast!

Top Level “Maverick Sponsor” at $5,000 was Union Bank. “Rincon, Queen of the Coast Sponsors” at $2,500 were, Assured Partners and Aqua-Flo Supply. “C-Street Sponsors” at $1,000 included, Mission Produce, Gold Coast Health Plan, The Partnership for Safe Families & Communities of Ventura County, Pacific Western Bank, Liz Donnelly Group Re/MAX, Gold Coast Health Plan, Ventura Townehouse, Community Memorial Health System, Sharon Watts Woolley, John Woolley, Marianne Bloom and the Kearney Family Fund. “Mondos Sponsors” at $500 were, Rick & Sheri Ashleman, Dorn & Dr. Kathleen Van Antwerp, the Mullett Family, Robert & Jean Bonar, Lu Setnicka, Kyle & Crystal Cummings, Controlled Elements Heating & A/C, and the Ventura Breeze.

Founded in January 2000, Kids & Families Together serves foster, adoptive, kinship, and birth families throughout Ventura County. For over two decades K&FT has become the leader in providing critical services and support to children who have experienced trauma, abuse, neglect, loss, and multiple placements. K&FT is unique in that we provide counseling services, education, support and strategies to connect caregivers and parents to the children in their care. We wrap our arms around the entire family to help them raise healthy, nurtured children that thrive. To learn more visit – https://www.kidsandfamilies.org/

More Than Conquerors Surf, founded in 2020, serves foster youth in Ventura County by providing them with the opportunity to experience freedom, joy, and confidence through the gift of surfing. MTC Surf’s mission is to provide foster youth with the ultimate surf experience in a safe and fun environment while encouraging personal growth, community, and faith. MTC Surf desires that every child and teen that surfs with them would know that they are fully loved and capable of conquering any current and future challenges they may face. To learn more visit – https://www.mtcsurf.org/

We thank everyone that came out to support this event! Thank You!!!

Missed the event? You can still support by texting the word “Fostering” to 91999 to donate.

A video recap of the event can be viewed on Kids & Families Together’s YouTube Channel … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvTYSC241Kc

New surfing royalty

Competitor nose riding during the Queen of the Cove competition. Photo by Kaili Reynolds

by Amy Brown

With three days of sun, smiles and shredding, professional and amateur surfers came together recently at the Queen of the Cove, the first all-women’s longboard competition held at C Street. Pro surfer Sally Cohen finished first in the pro division with a $6000 purse, and a range of talented women were crowned in age divisions ranging from 50s to 10 and under.

Olivia Willhite, Sierra Cameron and Elieah Boyd share a hug before their next heats.

Amateur surfers had the chance to compete against some of their idols in different divisions and hone their skills, according to 18-year-old Olivia Willhite, who has been surfing in competitions for years. “I surfed against Rylin Baker (who won the 17-19 division) yesterday, and she’s really good, and definitely someone to look at as a mentor in surfing,” she said, “I like being part of an all-women’s surf event, I think that’s really cool,” said Willhite, who is also a popular local singer songwriter gaining international acclaim with her Indie beach rock style.

Elieah Boyd shared that while this was only her second surf competition, she had placed second in the 20s division the day before. “I follow most of these girls that are professional surfers on Instagram, and I got to surf with them, it was a crazy experience. It feels like they’re there to support you just as much as you’re there to support them,” she said.

Many competitors had to overcome nervousness before being able to relax into the spirit of the event. “I’m new to competitions, and yesterday the nerves got the best of me. I fell on a lot of waves and I got really frustrated with myself,” said 21 year old Sierra Cameron. “But then I realized, I’m just going to go out and really surf in my next heat, because I love this sport. So I did that, and I got second in my heat!”

Ashley Heath competed in the 14-16 division and finished fifth place overall.

Ashley Heath made it to the finals on Sunday and placed fifth in the 14-16 division. “It was really fun, it’s been amazing, and I feel like it’s also a little piece of history, as there aren’t that many women’s competitions around, and I love being part of this one,” she said. “I look up to all the pro girls here, they’re really empowering, and I’ve made some great friends along the way.”

The event was organized by Carla Zamora, who had initially founded a Queen of the Cove event in Malibu. She was thrilled with the success of the Ventura competition and says it will be an annual event. “It was spectacular. Perfect weather conditions, it was so beautiful and sunny, the wind didn’t come up and all the things just fell into alignment,” said Zamora. “We wanted an opportunity to both offer the pros a platform and money and bring the amateurs in to see what they could have in the future.”

The event concluded with a paddle out in sweaters to honor the late great Ventura surfing pioneer Mary Monks, who famously surfed Ventura County breaks in the 1950s in a wool sweater in lieu of a wetsuit, and whose photo adorns the Ventura pier.

Most Optimistic Community

Todd Taylor

The first annual Most Optimistic Community Member Award was given to Todd Taylor by the Sunrise Optimist Club of Ventura at their fall awards event. Todd has lived most of his life in Ventura and is known and loved by all who have met him. He was thrilled speechless when the surprise award was presented.

Todd has a lot of reasons that he could be negative. He was born with Cerebral Palsy making his every movement a challenge. People are not always kind to him. Sometimes he physically hurts.

But Todd always has a smile on his face. He exudes an abounding joy and gratitude for all that he has in his life. When asked why he is so optimistic he said “I’m just a happy person.” Todd says that his deep faith and his family are two reasons that he remains optimistic no matter what difficulties come his way. If you are fortunate enough to meet Todd, you will be given a precious gift: that of being in his optimistic glow—and don’t forget to say “hi” and give him a happy smile.” Todd was nominated by club member Roanna Prell.

The Sunrise Optimist Club has been active in Ventura since 1960 and is affiliated with Optimist International. The Club also recognized Frances Flores, E.P. Foster teacher as Educator of the Year and Sgt. Eric Vazquez, Ventura Police Department as Safety Officer of the Year for their outstanding service to our community.

Sgt. Eric Vazquez

Sgt. Eric Vazquez was presented with the Ventura Sunrise Optimist Club’s Safety Officer of the Year Award for 2022. Club members Roanna Prell and Jennifer Robles visited the Ventura Police Department to honor Sgt Vazquez with the presentation of a plaque and a check that Eric donated to the Ventura Police Community Foundation.  VPD Chief Darin Schindler added his congratulations along with those from the Optimist Club members. With this award the Optimist Club annually expresses their appreciation for the work done to keep our community safe, alternating the award between Ventura Fire and Ventura Police Departments.

Frances Flores

Frances Flores, long time teacher at E. P. Foster school,  was honored as the Educator of the Year by the Ventura Sunrise Optimist Club. Upon receiving her award, Frances said “I was truly humbled to receive the award you honored me with.   You all touched my heart with all of your words.  They took me to my Migrant Education years as a child to my dream of becoming a teacher…  It was truly an honor to be recognized for doing what I love and I know that many others are worthy of this award.” The award was presented at E. P. Foster school with the school staff,  district personnel, Frances’ family and Sunrise Optimist club members  in attendance.

For Information about the nomination process for the 2023 Most Optimistic Community Member or about the Sunrise Optimist Club of Ventura contact roanna.prell@gmil.com or visit www.venturasunriseoptimist.org. Nomination forms will be available on our website at the beginning of January.

Reinventing funeral service in Ventura one Memory at a Time

With arms wide open, Michael Boyko invites all of greater Ventura County to stop by and visit the Boyko & Reardon Telegraph Road Mortuary & Cremation at 15 Teloma Drive to say hello and maybe have that important talk about your lifetime.

Boyko finds working with grieving families a calling and being of support to them comes naturally.

In December of 2019, Boyko of the Joseph P. Reardon Funeral Home & Cremation Service on Main Street in Ventura acquired the mortuary property at 15 Teloma Drive. Also in Ventura, this site has been comforting the public since the 1960’s. And, so began the Boyko & Reardon Telegraph Road Mortuary & Cremation nestled at the corner of Telegraph Road and Teloma Drive. The addition of the location furthers their enhanced ability to continue to serve our community at two distinctly different sites: the original funeral home at 757 E. Main Street and 15 Teloma Drive. Residents of our community want convenience, affordability, and a high degree of professionalism and they proudly provide service and fine facilities on each side of the City.

Continuing at this historic site at the former “Candy Cane Lane”, this landmark of a building in Ventura houses a spacious in-house chapel that can accommodate over 250 guests as well as spacious family meeting rooms, parlors, and a celebration reception room. They have upgraded with modern and sleek amenities like contemporary audiovisual equipment, sound systems, and comfortable furnishings to provide peace and a home-like surrounding. The warm decor gives a feeling of comfort that falls just short of opulence. You’ll be greeted by offices and halls painting in comforting beiges, tans, and maroon accents coupled with the smell of a freshly cut bouquet.

Michael already known for the funeral home on Main Street said the decision simply made sense, “Ventura is basically all the same people yet having the facility at 15 Teloma Drive just lets me give people what they want, affordable excellence and either of our fine facilities.”

Boyko finds working with grieving families a calling and being of support to them comes naturally. You can find him locally giving talks, volunteering, and supporting churches, temples, and even hosting community events. Boyko proudly serves on the Board of Directors of the Ventura Music Festival and has hosted concert events in the Funeral Home’s Chapel. The owner shares, “As gatherings resume, I am excited at the possibility of doing more of these types of events bringing in friends for live performances.”

“We find the meaning in life in service and helping others. Navigating the path of loss isn’t something to be taken lightly. No matter the scenario my staff takes time to support our families served in their hour of need and thereafter. Sometimes it’s not what you say, its being there for someone and just lending a should to lean on and an ear to listen to.”

Michael is overcoming the stereotype of the typical undertaker. At 45, Boyko is president of both funeral homes and considers it an honor to be the fourth generation to carry on the tradition of funeral directing, operating one of the state’s oldest funeral homes which recently turned 111.

Constantly, Michael remains vanguard with alternative funeral/cremation/memorial options. He’s known for programs like green burials, whole-body burials of caskets at sea, free grief-counseling seminars, and a reputation for throwing some of the best parties in the City. Boyko does as much as he can to breathe life into the death business. Boyko who is an eager host is quick to answer questions and stress the profound responsibility he has as a funeral director. “People want options and I’ve got an array of numerous distinct options for traditional and non-traditional funerals, themed memorial services, final toasts, paddle out to sea scatterings, beach party tributes, or keeping one’s services private. Within these options, you well know we have caskets, urns, burial vaults, livery, memorial products etc. but what we really sell here is ‘trust’.”

Rather than wait for people to walk through the door, Michael and his staff reach out to our community to offer seminars and talk in regards to the funeral home’s offerings and pre-planning arrangements.

Each day Michael opens his doors and urges all of greater Ventura County to stop by for a visit and have that all important conversation.

Exotic Treasures

by Richard Senate

Ventura County has some exotic treasure yarns that implies that treasures still are to be found here. These include the lost padre’s gold mine (at the headwaters of Piru Creek) to the lost Olivas Gold (buried on Red Mountain) But few realize that some treasures exist within the city limits of Ventura! This is a partial list of the lost gold rumored hidden beneath our feet. Now are these just stories or could they really exist? You be the judge. Have they been found but not reported? Perhaps but still they are worth examination.

The Lost Mission Vault. The story is that the padre’s of Mission San Buenaventura operated a gold mine and formed the gold into crude ingots. They were taken down the Santa Clara River Valley and stored in a hidden vault at the mission Church. Once a year a black painted galleon of the Jesuit Order would come and take away the gold for the use of his Holiness the Pope in Rome. The galleons stopped coming with the Mexican War for Independence and the gold is still there! Some say it was within the thick walls of the church, others say it was under the Mission Padre’s Quarters, still others believe it is located in an underground room in the hill behind the church.

The iron bound chest at the Cross. In 1818 a pirate threatened California so the mission treasures were hidden and the settlement abandoned for several weeks. They saw the pirates as godless men who would be repelled by the cross–so they buried the contents at the foot of the cross on the hill. Native people saw them and curious dug up the goods, only to re-bury them on the hill. When they padres returned the treasure chest had vanished. The present site of the cross was not the original location. Maybe the rusted chest could be found with a metal detector?

The gangster’s loot. In prohibition times gangsters smuggled Canadian Whiskey into LA though Ventura. The ships would carry in the booze and fast boats would take it ashore, all the while avoiding the Coast Guard Cutters. The ship captains demanded to be paid in cash. So the gangsters brought cash in suitcases to pay them. This was hidden in a tunnel under the city. But, before the ship came, an earthquake caved in the tunnel and buried the bag of cash. Those gold certificates would be worth a fortune today!