Category Archives: This ‘n’ That

Celebrating Excellence: Boys and Girls Club Winners Shine

As each winner took the stage, they shared their personal journeys.

by Ross Williams

In a heartwarming ceremony that captured the essence of community spirit, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Ventura honored their winners of the 2024 Youth of the Year. The event, held at the Bill LeFevre Center on Johnson Dr, served as a platform for our local youth to showcase their remarkable talents, achievements, and aspirations, igniting hope and inspiration among the attendees. The banquet and award ceremony, brought together families, community leaders, and supporters to celebrate the outstanding accomplishments of these young individuals.

It all starts with the youths being recognized by Staff at their local Boys and Girls Club as “Kid of the Week.” They are chosen for good behavior, character and service to either the Club or the community.

From there, every month each of our four clubhouses selects an elementary, middle school and high school youth to be honored as their “Youth of the Month.” At the end of the year, from this pool of winners, each clubhouse elects one of these top winners in each age group to be honored with their clubhouse’s “Youth of the Year” award.

As each winner took the stage, they shared their personal journeys, highlighting the obstacles they overcame and the triumphs they have so far achieved. Their stories resonated deeply with the audience, reflecting the diversity and strength of Ventura’s youth population.

Among the honorees was Charlotte Summers, whose life experiences have ignited a passion for medicine as she now wants to become a nurse at a Children’s hospital when she grows up. Another remarkable individual, Aurora Phillips, showcased the club’s exceptional leadership and the experiences that the Club has provided. “I am happiest here. The Boys and Girls Club made my childhood better.” Kristin Brown discussed the confidence that the Club had instilled in her and the friendships that she was able to cultivate and Jaylene Aguirre discussed her passion for tennis and all of the programs that have become available to her because of the Boys and Girls Club.

In addition to recognizing individual achievements, the event underscored the collective effort invested in nurturing the next generation of leaders. Parents, mentors, and volunteers were acknowledged for their unwavering support and guidance, underscoring the importance of community involvement in youth development.

The future of Ventura shines bright with promise, fueled by the passion and potential of its youth. The Boys and Girls Club winners of the 2024 Youth of the Year embody the resilience, compassion, and determination needed to overcome challenges and build a better tomorrow.

Their stories serve as a testament to the transformative power of mentorship, education, friendship and community support. As Ventura continues to navigate the complexities of the modern world, these young trailblazers stand as beacons of hope, leading the way towards a brighter, more inclusive future for all.

Elmhurst Elementary gets ReLeaf

It took a group effort to plant the trees at Elmhurst Elementary School. Photos by Audrey Bancroft

by Shirley Lorraine

A gathering of local dignitaries, school personnel and others took place on March 28 at Elmhurst Elementary School. They were there to celebrate, with the students, the planting of 15 trees in the school yard. Grants from several sources such as CalFire, the Coalition for Clean Air, Southern California Edison and ReLeaf have made this possible.

The Ventura Tree Alliance has been busy advocating for the reforestation of Ventura’s tree canopy only since 2021. Already they have been proven to effect great change in the community. Their goal statement reads “The Ventura Tree Alliance works to enhance Ventura’s urban canopy, to beautify Ventura and contribute to counteracting climate change. Our goals are to inspire, engage and support Venturans in planting and caring for trees through education, advocacy, volunteerism and fundraising.”

Elmhurst Elementary has quite a large uncovered grassy area. By planting trees at strategic spots around the grounds, as they grow, the trees will supply much needed shade and a healthier environment for the students.

At this celebration, 15 trees were planted. Individual classes adopted trees, named them and helped plant them. Many classes painted rocks for placement around the base of the trees. The students were excited to get their hands in the dirt, artfully place their rocks and proudly display signs sporting the names chosen for their trees.

One tree in particular, a stately magnolia, was named Zephyr- in honor of a student who passed away recently.

Former Mayor and Alliance co-founder Christy Weir, along with co-founder Barbara Brown, Ventura County Board of Supervisors Matt Lavere, school board member Sabrena Rodriguez, and volunteers from the Tree Alliance lifted their shovels for the cause.

159 Trees have already been planted in Ventura because of the Alliance’s efforts, with many more planned. Bike trails, city parks and schools have and will receive new plantings to maintain the landscape we enjoy. To learn more, volunteer or support the Alliance, visit their website at They would love to have you take part.

Foothill Technology High School wins three prestigious journalism awards

Everyone in the publication puts in an equal amount of work.

Foothill Technology High School (FTHS), part of the Ventura Unified School District, has achieved a remarkable feat by winning three major national high school journalism awards. The FTHS journalism program stands out as the sole High School program in California to accomplish this achievement this year, possibly since the inception of the of all three awards in 2016. The FTHS Dragons were honored with the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) Crown Award, the SNO Distinguished Sites Award and the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) Pacemaker Finalist Award for 2024 recognizing the excellence of The Foothill Dragon Press.

The NSPA Pacemaker Finalist Award is bestowed upon the cream of the crop in high school journalism programs across the United States, with only 24 high schools earning this prestigious recognition this year. The CSPA Crown Award acknowledges overall excellence in either print or digital student publications. “I am constantly amazed at my student journalists and how they operate in a professional manner, but also their togetherness and family vibes in the classroom is what sets them apart from other programs. Journalism here is student run and their success is student earned; my hope is that they have learned that we are better as a society when we work together, when we learn together, and when we strive to understand each other,” stated Journalism Adviser, Yiu Hung Li. Established in 2009, the Foothill Dragon Press is an online-only publication committed to providing the Foothill community with accurate, responsible, thought provoking, and timely journalism. “Clear communication and collaboration played a major role in our publication’s success this year.

Everyone in the publication puts in an equal amount of work: the staffers always come up with stories to portray, the editors oversee and send those stories to the editors-in-chief, and the editors-in-chief publish the stories for everyone to see. If our journalism program did not function in this process, our journalism program would not have achieved such recognition,” stated Isheeta Pal, Student Writing Section Assignment Editor. “To all aspiring journalism students, let your voice be heard! Whether through art, photography, writing, or even videography, journalism is a platform to express yourself and make an impact on thousands of people around the world,” stated Co-Editor-In Chief, Olivia Mowad.

Strawberry Festival winning poster design

Eleven-year-old engineering wiz Gio Basile created the winning poster design for the 38th Annual California Strawberry Festival.

This is the first California Strawberry Festival poster design contest since 2020 when the festival was canceled due to the pandemic. Gio’s generative art design was one of 154 entries from around the country. He takes home the $2,000 grand prize and VIP tickets to the festival.

Gio lives in Upland with his parents and sister. “Thank you for the opportunity to enter the contest,” says Gio. “I want to share my work and hopefully inspire others to be creative.”

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.”


Ivor has lived in Ventura for the past 44 years

Ivor Davis shared his remarkable career.

On March 23, the Ventura Breeze presented Ivor Davis at Portside Ventura Harbor where he introduced his latest book 60th anniversary Beatles and Me On Tour. Breeze publisher Sheldon was the moderator for the event.

Ivor, who has lived in Ventura for the past 44 years entertained the approximately 50 in attendance sharing his remarkable career and wit. An entertaining Q&A followed his presentation.

Over more than half a century as a writer for the London Daily Express and the Times of London, British born Ivor covered major stories in North America. He penned a weekly entertainment column for the New York Times Syndicate for over 15 years, interviewing some of the biggest names in show business, from Cary Grant to Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton to Tom Cruise and Muhammad Ali.

In 1962 he was smuggled onto the campus of the riot-torn University of Mississippi when James Meredith became the first black student ever to be enrolled Three years later Davis was in the front lines as Los Angeles’ Watts riots erupted.

In l964, Davis was the only British daily newspaper correspondent to cover The Beatles’ first American tour from start to finish, given unparalleled access to John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Davis covered Robert Kennedy’s 1968 presidential bid and was in the kitchen in the Ambassador Hotel the night Senator Kennedy was assassinated. He was one of the Boys on the Bus chronicling the life of actor-turned-politician Ronald Reagan, first in his campaign for governor of California, then for president. He always seemed to be at the right place at the right time.

He was a co-author of the 1969 political book Divided They Stand, which chronicled the Presidential election; and witnessed some of the biggest trials in American history: and, in 1976, he was in San Francisco to see heiress Patty Hearst convicted of robbery after being kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Over more than half a century as a writer for the London Daily Express and the Times of London, Ivor covered major events in North America. He penned a weekly entertainment column for the New York Times Syndicate for over 15 years.

Ivor’s first-hand, insider’s memoir, the award winning The Beatles and Me On Tour: 60th Anniversary Edition is a fascinating travel back in time where for the first time he chronicles, frankly and humorously, 34 days with the world’s most famous band on the road—at a critical moment in the history of rock and roll. His new book contains photographs from some of the world’s pre-eminent Beatle photographers–as well a wealth of fascinating new details about the Fab Four.

His new true crime book, “The Devil in My Friend: The Inside Story of a Malibu Murder.” It is an account of the famous Eighties trial of Malibu engineer Frederick George Roehler, who was convicted of the murder of his wife and young stepson after an almost year-long trial in the Santa Barbara Courthouse in May l982. The killings took place close by—at Santa Cruz Island. The book will be published on May 7th.

Valdez Alley

Photos by Patricia Schallert

Walking downtown it is easy to pass by Valdez Alley/Eastwood Park and to just keep walking but you are missing a wonderful experience by not entering it. It is right next to the Albinger Museum on Main St. and across from the County Museum.

Valdez is beautiful as you traverse its many stairs(difficult for some). Surprises await you as you take the walk to the top. So the next time don’t just walk by it take the journey. Valdez Alley is the walkway where the handsome 1820 Ramon Valdez adobe once stood as the first polling place where all nine eligible voters cast their ballots for Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

The Bookmark About Libraries and Friends

by Mary Olson

It’s time for another Ventura Friends of the Library Book Sale
Saturday, April 6, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
at the Vons at Telegraph & Victoria
Children’s books – buy one get one Free (except graphic novels)
Puzzles; DVDs and CDs $1.00 each; Books on CD $1.50-$2.00 each

California State University, Channel Islands Library Lecture Series
Events are free and open to the public
Defining Regenerative Agriculture in California
Ojai Library Saturday, April 13, 2:00 pm
The California Department of Food and Agriculture is currently in the process of defining what the term regenerative agriculture means. Rachel Soper, Associate Professor of Sociology at California State University, Channel Islands, will explain all sides of the debate, drawing on public comments given during listening sessions and working group meetings to illustrate the point of view of those who think organic should be the baseline to regenerative, and those who think regenerative should be more inclusive than organic.

Dr. Rachel Soper’s publications are on the experiences of indigenous farmers in Ecuador, Black urban gardeners in San Diego, and farmworkers in Oxnard. She examines how each group fits into alternative food movements for food sovereignty and food justice. Dr. Soper is currently writing a book about sustainable, organic, and regenerative farmers in Ventura County. For more information, contact Ron Solórzano, Regional Librarian, at (805) 218-9146 or [email protected].

Peering Into Darkness: Exploring the Deep Sea
Hill Road Library Sunday, April 21, 11:30 am
What makes the deep ocean a wondrous, mysterious environment? Dr. Geoffrey Dilly will discuss the strange adaptations deep ocean animals have developed, the human impact on this far-away ocean environment, and his own experiences in deep sea biology, including several dives on Alvin, the most widely recognized deep-sea submersible. For more information, contact Linda Cherry, Hill Road Librarian, [email protected]

The Ventura County Library Foundation is bringing its Rising from the Ashes Home Tour back for a third year, on Saturday, April 20, 12:00 to 4:00 pm.

The “Rising from the Ashes” Home Tour celebrates the strength and solidarity of the Ventura County community. Attendees can look forward to exploring homes rebuilt following the devastating Thomas Fire featuring a variety of architectural styles. The 2024 tour features five homes, a native plant garden, refreshments, live music, and more.

All proceeds from the home tour will directly support the Ventura County Library Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing Ventura County Library Services. The funds raised will contribute to a vast array of programs at Ventura County libraries, encompassing literacy, the arts, technology, and cultural lessons designed to engage and inspire library members of all ages throughout the county.

Tickets are $50 each. To purchase tickets, visit

UFO at Marina Park

The truth of what this wall was covering in Marina Park had finally been revealed. On April 1, while vacationing on Earth this UFO landed at the Park. They wanted to get an “on vacation” photo in the Breeze while vacationing in America so landed here.

Vol. 17, No. 14 – April 3 – April 16, 2024 – Ojai News & Events

Chamber On The Mountain, a chamber music concert series in Ojai, CA, presents the brilliant young pianist, Dominic Cheli, for a beautiful solo piano performance on Sunday, April 14, 2024 at 3:00 pm. The performance takes place in Logan House, located at the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts in Upper Ojai. Tickets $35.00 at Audience members are invited to meet the artist at a lovely outdoor patio reception following the performance, while taking in a breathtaking view of Topa Topa Mountain.

Alongside the beauty of the Ojai Valley are many citizens in need of assistance. The Ojai Women’s Fund (OWF) is holding an educational event on April 11, highlighting two new trends. Megan Telfer and Jayn Walter, the co-executive directors of Help of Ojai, will speak. The talk and following discussion will be held at the Sane Living Center on April 1, 5:30 to 7 PM.

Ojai Women’s Fund welcomes all Ojai Valley residents to meet and converse about the various needs in our valley, what is being done, and what more is needed. Doors open at 5:15 PM, and refreshments will be served.

Come and be informed! You will be astounded at all our very beloved Ojai needs, most never seen by residents or tourists. Seating is limited so kindly RSVP at