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Mail: P.O. Box 6383, Ventura, CA 93006
 
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Welcome to our Club!

Ventura South

Service Above Self

We meet Mondays at 12:00 PM
The Tower Club
300 Esplanade Drive
22nd Floor
Oxnard, CA  93003-7673
United States
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Home Page Stories
 
Rotary Ventura South Donates More Than
300 Dictionaries to Local Third Graders
 
Members and guests of Rotary Ventura South participated in the 2018 Dictionary Donation Program, visiting eight third-grade classrooms at three Ventura Elementary Schools and handing out more than 300 dictionaries. The annual program was delayed this year by the Thomas Fire, but our volunteers made sure to complete the donation before the end of the school year.
 
Pictured above is Bonaventure Wakam, making the presentation to a classroom at Portola Elementary School. Presentations were also made at Junipero Serra and Will Rogers Elementary Schools. Those making the presentations included Bob & Mary Davis, N.K. Khumalo & guest Debbie Senate, Bonaventure Wakam, and Sandy Warren. Those helping out with organizing and labeling the books included Bob & Mary Davis, Ed Keay, Sal Saldana, and Marilyn Scott.
 
KEYT Anchorman Joey Buttitta Talks
About Journalism and The Amazing Race
 
Joey Buttitta, our meeting speaker on Monday, April 9, is a familiar face to thousands of people in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties. Joey is the morning news anchorman on KEYT-TV in Santa Barbara. During his visit to Ventura Rotary South, he shared insights on modern broadcast journalism, particularly in the coverage of local news.
 
"We like to be in the middle of what's happening," said Joey, "although to stay safe when covering stories like the Thomas Fire and the Montecito mudslides we keep the motor running in the news van." He noted just how frightening those two tragedies were from the perspective of a field reporter. "It's scary to see what Mother Nature is capable of doing."
 
A native of Ventura County, Joey noted that he was very fortunate to be able to land a news job in the area where he grew up. "I love to tell stories," he said, "and we bring local coverage of stories in the tri-county area to the L.A. regional market."
 
Joey also spent some time talking about his adventure on the CBS television show The Amazing Race, which he and his then-girlfriend, now wife Kelsey Gerckens won a couple of years ago. "Covering 10 countries on five continents in 21 days was the experience of a lifetime," said Joey. "Kelsey and I often ask each other, 'did we really do that?'"
 
Kelsey joins Joey on KEYT each morning, working as the weather reporter on the daily broadcast. "We're both very fortunate to be working where we do," said Joey. 
 
Library's Adult Literacy Program
Enriches the Lives of Hundreds
 
Our speaker on Monday, April 2, was Club member Carol Chapman, Manager of the Ventura County Library's Adult Literacy READ Program. Carol shared with members and guests the significant impact that illiteracy has on society in general, noting that one out of four English speaking adults in California is reading below the fifth grade level. In correctional facilities, that statistic jumps to 70 percent.
 
"Learning disabilities are the number one reason for difficulty in reading," said Carol, "followed by trauma, illness, and truancy." Learning disabilities create a barrier for learning in a group environment, which is where the one-on-one tutoring provided by the READ program comes into play. "Our program is very flexible in terms of when we begin with a student and at what level. It is really tailored to the individual's specific needs."
 
The READ program has sites throughout Ventura County, each of which is overseen by a credentialed teacher. The tutoring is provided by trained volunteers and begins at the pre-kindergarten level, teaching everything about phonics and English that a student needs for reading.
 
Carol noted that Rotary Ventura South has been instrumental in its support of the READ program through the annual Trivia Challenge event, which typically happens in November. Funds raised from the event enabled the Library to purchase the Barton System, a 10-level literacy instructional program.
 
"Literacy is debilitating," said Carol, "and the READ program is transforming." Click here for more information on the READ program, including details on how to volunteer as a tutor.
 
Ventura Botanical Gardens Recovering
After Devastating Thomas Fire
 
First, the bad news: When the Thomas Fire swept across the hills above Ventura last December, the Ventura Botanical Gardens, currently under construction, lay in its direct path. Much of the 109 acres that are the focus of the Gardens' master plan were burned. Now the good news: Restoration of vegetation, trails, signs, and other components is underway, and many of the plants themselves are slowly regenerating.
 
Nicole Horn (pictured above), a landscape architect with Courtney Jane Miller in Santa Barbara, provided details on the recovery efforts when she addressed members and guests of Ventura Rotary South at our March 26 regular meeting.
 
According to Nicole, debris removal was first among the many tasks that will need to be completed in the restoration process, followed by mulching of the remaining vegetation to ensure its continued growth. Hillsides have already been hydro-seeded to stimulate new ground cover that will aid in erosion control. Replacement plants for those that were completely destroyed are currently being purchased. Additionally, the fire revealed some additional existing walls and structures that will be incorporated into the renewed design of the Gardens.
 
Nicole also shared illustrations of several of the planned features of the Gardens, including the Welcome Center, nursery, amphitheater, and the Rotary Plaza, a viewpoint and seating area that will be constructed with the financial support of multiple area Rotary Clubs.
 
If you would like to donate time or money to the Gardens' restoration and development, please visit venturabotanicalgardens.com. Thank you, Nicole, for an encouraging look at the process that is underway to surmount the setback of the Thomas Fire and bring the Ventura Botanical Gardens to reality!
 
 
Club Member N.K. Khumalo: Lessons Learned
From South Africa to the United States
 
At our meeting on Monday, March 19, Rotary Ventura South member Nkosi Khumalo, better known to his fellow members as "N.K.," told the inspiring story of his personal and professional journey from his homeland of South Africa to his current home and business location in Ventura. Along the way, he applied many of the basic life-lessons his mother taught him, and added to those with guidance and input from friends and mentors.
 
One of those lessons from N.K.'s mother can also be attributed to Ben Franklin, to whom is attributed the adage of "early to bed, early to rise." N.K. noted that he gets up every morning at 5:30, thanks to a pattern his mother set for him at an early age when the family operated a chicken business. "I hated getting up for those chickens," said N.K., "but I love those early hours now. I can catch up on emails and hit the gym before the day gets started."
 
N.K. related the story of his early years as a partner in an information technology business that he and his brother created in South Africa in 1999. "We went through tough times for over a year with a handful of employees," he said, "but with persistence, we managed to grow quickly." The brothers eventually took the company public and tripled the share price, finally selling the business that then employed more than 500 people. It is now the largest information technology business in South Africa.
 
N.K.'s entrepreneurial spirit is still going strong as he creates a private equity business to purchase baby boomer companies. His advice to others? "Focus on people," he said, "especially those who have given you a leg up along the way." N.K. is also focused on giving back. He has started a program of scholarships at two high schools in Ventura, beginning with four $5,000 scholarships in the initial year, then doubling the number of awards each year thereafter until the goal of 100 scholarships per year is met.
 
Thank you, N.K. for sharing your inspiring story!
 
 
Rescuing Thousands of Pounds of Produce
That Would Otherwise Go To Waste
 
On Monday, March 12, members and guests of Ventura Rotary South learned the remarkable story behind Food Forward, a non-profit organization that rescues 300,000 pounds of surplus produce each week from fruit trees, farmers markets, and the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market. Jill Santos (pictured above), the Ventura County Branch Manager of Food Forward, explained that 100% of these fresh fruits and vegetables is donated to over 300 hunger relief agencies across eight counties in Southern California.
 
"In the United States," said Jill, "one in six people lack access to nutritious food. Those below the poverty line frequently rely on inexpensive, high-calorie fast food that lacks nutritive value." That's where Food Forward steps in.
 
Jill stressed that the organization relies on volunteers who are willing to harvest and/or pick up surplus produce from public and private properties, including backyard fruit trees. Farmers wanting to help fight hunger make their unsold produce available, and it is also groups of volunteers who pick up and help distribute these fruits and vegetables.
 
"The mission of Food Forward is very simple," said Jill. "It is to fight hunger and prevent food waste by rescuing fresh surplus produce, connecting this abundance with people in need, and inspiring others to do the same."
 
If you find yourself inspired by this story, visit foodforward.org or call Jill at 805-630-2728 to get involved or to learn more.
 
Dr. Brant Gerckens Shares His Knowledge of Vitamin K2
 
Our speaker on Monday, March 5 was charter Club member and longtime Ventura chiropractor Dr. Brant Gerckens. Over the years, Brant has shared his knowledge of many health-related topics, including nutrition, ergonomics, and chiropractic. On Monday, his topic was Vitamin K2, an important component for human health.
 
K vitamins, said Brant, are a group of fat-soluble vitamins that affect multiple factors of optimal well-being, including cardiovascular health, arterial function, and bone density. The two most important forms of vitamin K are K1 and K2. The former is found in leafy green vegetables but is poorly absorbed by the body. K2, on the other hand, is found in the traditional Japanese dish, natto (or available supplements).
 
Brant shared case studies of people who had been helped by taking K2, and he explained the emerging research that highlights the importance of vitamin K2 intake for optimizing calcium transport in the body. Thank you, Brant, for an interesting and valuable presentation!
 
Kimo Kildreth of Ventura County D.A.'s Office
Offers Insights into the World of Cyber-Security
 
"Cyber-crime has exploded." This was the simple and sobering statement that Kimo Kildreth used to begin his presentation to members and guests at our January 29 meeting. Kimo, an investigator with the Ventura County District Attorney's office, noted that no one who goes online with a smart-phone, tablet, or computer is completely safe from a potentially damaging cyber-attack. However, he stressed, there are ways to make oneself safer and less likely to fall victim to such a threat.
 
Kimo provided statistics on both corporate and personal cyber-crime. He noted that 60 percent of small businesses that have a major breach of their data security are out of business within six months. On the home front, he reminded everyone that it's not just cell phones and computers that can provide an entry into a person's data - many new appliances, such as refrigerators, have their own IP addresses and are thus vulnerable targets to a hacker.
 
What to do? The number one defense, according to Kimo, is a combination of vigilance and common sense, particularly when dealing with something as seemingly routine as email. Pretty much everyone knows to ignore those messages from distant foreign lands that offer to share millions of dollars if you just "click here" and provide a bank account where they can transfer your riches. But did you know that a smart hacker can cleverly disguise his message to appear as though it came from a trusted source, like your broker or mortgage lender, and offer up a link where you can conveniently take care of a planned transaction? Again, vigilance is key - if in doubt, call the person before you click on anything.
 
Lastly, said Kimo, protect yourself with strong passwords for your various financial accounts and other frequently visited sites. His recommendation is a minimum of 15 characters, and don't use the same password for more than one site. Also, back up your data onto an external source, such as a portable hard drive, then disconnect that source from your computer. That way, if you are hacked and it appears your data is gone, you've got a secure back-up from which to restore it.
 
Thank you, Kimo, for an eye-opening look at the potential perils that await on the information superhighway!
 
Rotary Ventura South Contributes to
Sri Lanka Early Childhood Education Project
 
In 2016-2017, 11 Rotary clubs in District 5240 helped fund a project ($50,750) to support early childhood education by improving preschool teachers' training in rural Sri Lanka. Rotary Ventura South was one of those clubs.
 
The Rotary Club of Goleta Noontime spearheaded the project, securing a Global Grant from Rotary International. It was the second such grant that Rotary Goleta Noontime has completed, and the project is now helping 450 preschool teachers (currently in training) to earn their diplomas.
 
Supporting education is one of the six key areas of focus of Rotary clubs around the globe. The other five are: promoting peace; fighting disease; providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; saving mothers and children; and growing local economies.
 
Click here to read more about the cooperative project that is benefiting 70,000 children in Sri Lanka annually!
 
 
New Year, New Meeting Location,
Same Great Club!
 
On Monday, January 8, the Rotary Club of Ventura South celebrated the beginning of 2018 with the first meeting in its new location: the elegant Tower Club on the 22nd Floor of the Topa Financial Plaza (300 Esplanade Drive in Oxnard). With the dawn of a new year, it seems fitting to offer a few thoughts on who we are and what we do.
 
Rotary Ventura South is part of Rotary International, the global organization where neighbors, friends, and problem-solvers share ideas, join leaders, and take action to create lasting change, around the world and right here in our community. Our international involvement includes projects to promote peace, fight disease, provide clean water and sanitation, foster education, and help develop local economies.
 
Rotary International's signature project is the fight to eliminate polio from across the globe. Since 1988, we've seen a worldwide reduction in polio cases of 99.99%. The Gates Foundation has been a proud partner with Rotary in this effort for 10 years. Since 2013, they have matched every dollar that Rotary commits to polio eradication 2-to-1.
 
Here in Ventura County, our Club sponsors projects to support adult literacy, provide mental health services to the under-served, and feed the hungry, to name just a few. Our members also enjoy fun and fellowship at our weekly meetings and special social events.
 
Would you like to learn more? How about joining us for lunch on an upcoming Monday at noon. We promise warm food and fellowship to match. Rotary maybe just what you're looking for! If you'd like to visit or learn more, click here to send us an email, or just drop by the Tower Club any Monday at noon. We'd love to welcome you!
 
District Governor-Elect Sandi Schwartz
Previews the Coming Year in District 5240
 
Our program on December 11 was provided by Sandi Schwartz (Rotary Club of Bakersfield East), who will be the next Governor of Rotary District No., 5240. The District includes the Rotary Clubs in Kern, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties.
 
District Governor-Elect Schwartz Is a retired registered nurse. It was a somewhat emotional presentation, given the fact that large mountainous portions of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties were currently being consumed of threatened by the Thomas Fire.
 
Sandi's slide presentation spoke poignantly of the fact that "Rotary is a family" and we all are part of something larger than just our Club. She believes that "Stand Tall for Rotary" may be the Rotary International theme during her year.
 
She introduced the District 5240 officers for the coming year and spoke of the RI Conference which will be held in Toronto, Canada, from June 23-27. Rotary Ventura South President-Elect Melody Thurman indicated she would be attending the Conference and encouraged other members of the Club to do so also.
 
Members and Friends of Ventura Rotary South
Participate in Annual Can-Tree Event for FOOD Share
 
Members and friends of the Rotary Club of Ventura South gathered on Figueroa Plaza in downtown Ventura on Saturday, December 2 to participate in the 6th Annual Can-Tree Event to benefit FOOD Share, Inc., an Oxnard-based agency dedicated to feeding, nourishing, and educating the hungry of Ventura County. Rotary Ventura South joined dozens of non-profit organizations and private companies in donating money and building/decorating "trees" of donated canned goods, all of which will be distributed to those in need in the coming weeks.
 
Our Community Service Chair Sal Saldana organized the Club's participation. Joining Sal in the tree-building were Rosanna Colin (with her helpers Vincent Rivera and Ayden De La Rosa), Club President Bob Davis, Diane and Ed Keay (with Club mascot-for-the-day Kenzie), Larry Matheney, John and Kendall Mattina (and their grandson Max), Marilyn Scott, Melody Thurman, and Sandy Warren.
 
What a great way to get into the Holiday spirit of giving!
 
 
Sharon Daly Shares Her Work in Ethiopia
Toward Eradication of Mossy Foot Disease
 
Among the problems facing people in third-world countries, podoconiosis is perhaps not among those most familiar to others around the globe, but it is nonetheless serious. More commonly known as "mossy foot disease," the ailment is caused by walking barefoot on volcanic soil. A non-infectious type of elephantiasis, it manifests itself as a massive swelling of the feet and legs. It causes great pain and frequently prevents the sufferer from walking, working, and leading a normal life. As a result, many of those afflicted are treated as outcasts and shunned.
 
Enter Sharon Daly (pictured above), president of the Mossy Foot Project. Founded in 1997 by Doctor Nathan Barlow, the organization applies a holistic approach to the treatment and eradication of podoconiosis and the care of those afflicted. Sharon, a member of the Rotary Club of Ventura East, visited Ventura Rotary South on Monday, November 27, to share her passion for assisting Ethiopians who suffer from the disease.
 
"Mossy foot is easily preventable," said Sharon, "but many people in the affected areas cannot afford shoes, which leads to their feet becoming infected." She noted that special extra-large shoes can help those in the early stages of the disease and that her organization is involved with the manufacture of such shoes. Additional treatment includes regular washing of the feet and legs, instruction in foot hygiene, and the use of anti-fungal ointment.
 
Sharon travels to Ethiopia a couple of times each year to work with the 62-person staff in country. We're grateful that she "traveled" to Ventura Rotary South to tell us her story. More information is available at mossyfoot.com.
 
 
Members of Ventura Rotary South
Learn About the Ketogenic Diet
 
Our speaker at Ventura Rotary South on Monday, November 20, 2017 was Nick Peterson, a physics and calculus teacher at Oxnard High School. Nick related his personal story of a 100-pound weight loss through the Ketogenic Diet, combined with intermittent fasting and calorie restriction. Nick was involved in a serious auto accident earlier this year and "just wasn't recovering" at the pace he wanted. Part of the advice from his doctors was to lose weight.
 
"The Ketogenic Diet," explained Nick, "involves increasing the intake of healthy fats while drastically lowering carbohydrates." Moderate amounts of protein are also part of the plan, which has some similarities to the Atkins Diet. Nick noted that intermittent fasting was also part of his regimen. Currently, he eats just one meal a day: dinner.
 
As for daily energy, Nick explained that "the body will find and burn fat, whether it's already on the body or being consumed." The Ketogenic diet, when followed properly, helps the body burn fat more efficiently, said Nick. "And you don't feel hungry in the process," he noted.
 
As with any diet, of course, one's personal physician should be consulted first, but there's no denying the results that Nick has achieved (and maintained). Thanks for sharing your story with us, Nick!
 
Rotary Ventura South Continues Its Tradition
Of Supporting Adult Literacy in Ventura County
 
With the 29th Annual Trivia Challenge held on Wednesday, November 15, the focus at our regular meeting on Monday, November 13 was solidly on the subject of adult literacy. Carol Chapman, Club member and Program Manager of the Ventura County Library's Adult Literacy Program, reminded members and guests of just how important literacy is to the well-being of families and individuals alike.
 
"I had planned to show a PowerPoint presentation about the Library's READ program," said Carol, "but instead I brought a special guest." She then introduced Honorina Carrasco, one of the adult "learners" in the program. Honorina (pictured above) related her story of wanting to improve her reading skills and coming into contact with Carol, who found her a tutor in the READ program. "When I began," Honorina said, "I was reading at a grade school level. I'm now reading at the college level."
 
"Education is the key to success," said Honorina. Building on her own accomplishments, she convinced her husband to attend Oxnard College and a trade school, and she is committed to making sure that her children attend college as well. "I work hard on my dreams," she said, "and I never give up." Clearly, her persistence and determination have paid off. Thank you, Honorina, for sharing your story with us!
 
Opioid Epidemic Exists in Ventura County,
But Local Law Enforcement is Making Progress
 
The abuse of opioid-based narcotics, including commonly prescribed drugs such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet, has reached epidemic proportions nationwide. California, for example, recorded a 20-percent increase in opioid-related deaths year-to-year. For Ventura County, however, the outlook was not quite so bleak - deaths from opioid use actually decreased by 23 percent over the same period.
 
Sergeant Victor Fazio of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department was our speaker on Monday, November 6. He credits the positive results to his Department's collaborative approach in dealing with the problem. "We work with schools, community groups, and others to get the message out about the dangers of opioid abuse," he said. A 23-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department, Sergeant Fazio performs undercover work as part of his duties. For that reason, he asked that no photographs be taken during his presentation to Ventura Rotary South.
 
A portion of Sergeant Fazio's eye-opening remarks dealt with the history of opioid promotion by the pharmaceutical industry. In 1996, for example, sales of the popular drug OxyContin totaled $46 million. Just four years later, that figure soared to $1.1 billion. Early on in their promotion and advertising, opioids were characterized as non-addictive, an absolute falsehood.
 
With numerous questions from the audience, Sergeant Fazio was unable to present all of the information he had planned to share. By virtually unanimous acclamation, our members invited him back to a future meeting. Thank you, Sergeant, for a sobering look at one of today's most critical public safety issues!
 
Health Coach Kathy Murphy Offers Tips
On How to Feel Great and Excel in Life
 
"Our inside voice is where we get our best guidance," said Kathy Murphy during her presentation to Rotary Ventura South on Monday, October 23. Kathy, a certified Health and Life Coach, combines her love of the ocean and surfing with her passion for living life to the fullest. "The success ladder of life can be on the wrong wall if we don't pursue what really matters," she noted, "and we often need to slow down and take time to reflect on our life to determine what really matters."As part of her presentation, Kathy gave members and guests "seven things to think about":
 
  1. You are your greatest asset - love yourself.
     
  2. Live each day in gratitude - what we appreciate, appreciates.
     
  3. When we connect with what we really want in life, things begin to happen.
     
  4. Be fully present always. Life is busy, and focus is essential.
     
  5. Change your thoughts and change your life - choose "awesome."
     
  6. Slow down to take the needed time to reflect and concentrate on what really matters to you.
     
  7. Believe in the invisible - in what you haven't yet seen.
Kathy concluded, "Keep showing up for yourself and for others. There are no limits to what we can do if we believe it's possible!" More information can be found on Kathy's website, ignite-your-fire.com.
 
 
 
Darren Lee Updates Ventura Rotary South
On Exciting Plans for St. John's Hospitals
 
Darren Lee, President and CEO of St. John's Hospitals, visited Ventura Rotary South on Monday, October 2, to provide members and guests with an update on extensive upgrades underway at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard and St. John's Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo.
 
"We're bringing state-of-the-art medical care to St. John's," said Darren, who has spent 16 years of his career with the Dignity Health organization (parent company of the St. John's facilities), serving as President and CEO for the past three years. He oversees the work of more than 1,800 employees.
 
The $20 million project at St. John's Regional Medical Center includes a doubling in size of the emergency department and the addition of a dedicated X-ray suite to more effectively treat those needing urgent care. A new patient discharge area is also scheduled to begin construction in January. Women's services is slated for major enhancements, including a new private entry area, new labor and delivery rooms, and a new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where families will be able to stay with their newborns.
 
At St. John's Pleasant Valley Hospital, a budget of $80 million will feature 71,000 square feet of new space, including 50 new private rooms. Darren noted that the new facility will feature state-of-the-art construction with Styrofoam walls designed to flex in the event of an earthquake.
 
"At Dignity Health," said Darren, "we're all about care and compassion." He noted that no one is ever turned away based on their ability to pay. "We handle their care first and foremost," he said.
 
Thank you, Darren, for a fascinating look at the exciting plans for health care at St. John's hospitals!
 
Rotary Ventura South Members and Guests Enjoy
Social with Other Rotary Clubs on September 25
 
In recognition of District Governor John Weiss's visit to our Club on Monday, September 25 (see story below), members and guests of Ventura Rotary South, Ventura Downtown Rotary, and Ventura Rotary East gathered at the Ventura Yacht Club that evening for a social event. Pictured above from Ventura South are (l to r): Don Scott, Marilyn Scott, Kendall Mattina, Sandy Warren, John Mattina, Melody Thurman, Larry Bushey, and Peter Barry. A wonderful time was had by all!
 
District Governor John Weiss Visits Ventura South;
Encourages All Members to "Celebrate Rotary"
 
Our honored guest at our regular meeting of Monday, September 25 was District 5240 Governor John Weiss. Joined by his wife Christine, John updated members and guests on current happenings at the District level, as well as his thoughts about the future of Rotary.
 
"The primary reason people join Rotary," said John, "is for the opportunity to be involved with local service projects." As examples, he touched on Rotary Ventura South's Trivia Challenge event for adult literacy and the Club's major annual Mardi Gras fundraiser in support of Turning Point Foundation.
 
John also stressed the importance of projects that span international borders. He noted that as Rotary International winds down its polio eradication efforts (as a result of the success of the decades-long program), the organization will focus on peace building.
 
"The new generation of Rotarians wants to get things done," said John, "and Rotary's Avenues of Service provide the road map to do just that."
 
Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation
Assists Families Throughout the Tri-Counties
 
Among the most devastating news a parent will ever receive is the diagnosis of cancer for their son or daughter. In an instant the family's life is thrown into upheaval, and the single focus becomes how to help the child, often with little or no outside support. Fortunately, for families facing this daunting challenge in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura Counties, there is the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation. Development Director Eryn Shugart (pictured above) visited Ventura Rotary South on Monday, September 18, to provide an overview of the organization and its essential work.
 
"The mission of the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation," said Eryn, "is to provide families with financial, educational, and emotional support when they most need it." She noted that, nationwide, only four percent of money raised for cancer research is directed specifically toward children battling the disease.
 
For parents of a child with cancer, the financial burden is often second only to dealing with the disease itself. That's where the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation steps in, offering assistance with non-medical expenses such as mortgage/rent, utility bills, hotel accommodations during hospital stays, auto expenses, and home care services. The Foundation also offers families a wealth of emotional and educational support.
 
Joining Eryn at our Monday meeting was Lisa Hester, whose son Elijah is battling a rare form of cancer that affects the eye. She noted that the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation assists her family in a number of ways, including financial support that enables her to accompany Elijah to Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where treatment for his illness has better than a 90-percent success rate. The Foundation has also seen to it that Lisa's other children have had Christmas presents, and that the family's property tax has been paid.
 
The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation is supported by donations, and by the efforts of more than 700 volunteers who contributed over 7,000 hours of service last year alone. For more information, visit teddybearcancerfoundation.org. Thank you, Eryn, for telling us about the amazing work of the Foundation, and Lisa, for sharing your family's story.
 
Chip Fraser Discussed "It's My Life" Program
To Help Prepare At-Risk Kids for Adulthood
 
"If you want something, you have to come get it." That was Chip Fraser's opening message to members and guests of Ventura Rotary South at our regular meeting on Monday, August 28. To illustrate the point, he held out a $5 bill for anyone willing to come forward and grab it. "There are seven million students in 1,087 school districts on California," said, Chip, "and thousands of them are at risk for failure as adults if they aren't given the direction they need to make good decisions."
 
Chip, a recently retired educator, together with his associate Brian Jaramillo, a teacher at Pacific High School in Ventura, have designed a program called "It's My Life" to empower at-risk middle and high school students become happy and successful adults. Based on instruction in critical thinking, the program, Chip explained, acts like something of a compass to provide direction and guidance to students who, for one reason or another, are at risk for dropping out of the formal educational system.
 
"Public education continues to receive less funding than it needs," said Chip. As a result, many kids with behavioral, family, or other issues are at risk for failure befomre they've really had a chance to succeed, both in school and in life.
 
"It's My Life," noted Chip, "is designed to keep kids out of the 'JDGI Club' (Just Don't Get It)." Consequences of being in that Club include potentially being homeless, in jail, or suffering from a life-threatening addiction.
 
"Thomas Jefferson had it right," said Chip, "when he proclaimed that everyone is entitled to the pursuit of happiness."
 
For more information on It's My Life, visit itsmylifeprogram.com. Thanks, Chip, for introducing us to such a worthwhile and necessary program!
 
Past District Governor Wade Nomura
Highlights the Benefits of Networking
 
It's always a special treat when Past District 5240 Governor Wade Nomura addresses our Club, and Monday, August 14 was no exception. Wade came to Rotary Ventura South to talk about what he refers to as one of the most valuable ways to be a successful Rotarian: networking.
 
"Rotary is all about service," said Wade, "and you need to reach out and involve other members to achieve that goal."
 
Displaying photos from many of the dozens of local, national, and international projects in which he has been involved, Wade related story after story of how networking enabled him to cut red tape, rally volunteers, and basically "get things done." Wade has done just that in places near and far, including Belize, Canada, Thailand, Texas, Michigan, and Mexico, to name just a few.
 
"In my 15 years as a Rotarian," said Wade, "my goal has been to continually expand my global footprint." Clearly, Wade continues to achieve that goal.
 
Following Wade's inspiring presentation, Rotary Ventura South President Bob Davis noted, "the synergy of Rotary is the reason polio will be eliminated from the globe."
 
 
Ventura South Teams Up with Other Clubs
To Provide School Supplies for Needy Students
 
On Saturday, August 12, the administrative office of the Ventura Unified School District was a beehive of activity, as the three Rotary Clubs in Ventura (Downtown, East, and South), together with the Ventura Lions Club, teamed up to fill nearly 900 brand-new backpacks with school supplies for needy elementary, middle, and high school students throughout Ventura. Rotary Ventura South donated $2,500 to the annual project, spearheaded by Rotary Downtown.
 
More than 50 volunteers turned out to help fill brightly colored backpacks with notebooks, folders, calculators, paper, pens, markers, and other essentials for the start of the new school year. Representing Rotary Ventura South were N.K. Khumalo and his son Siso (pictured above), and Sandy and Anne Warren.
 
As volunteers holding open backpacks in each hand circled tables, other volunteers placed the various items in the packs. Still other volunteers checked each pack for completeness and grouped them in batches for the schools. Distribution was made on Monday, August 14, so the backpacks will be waiting for the students when the school year starts later this month.
 
Club Member Bob Keating Offers Insights
Into the World of Amateur (Ham) Radio
 
From a pleasant hobby to a potentially life-saving service, amateur radio offers hours of absorbing interest for young and old alike. Such was the message Club member Bob Keating brought to fellow members and guests at our regular meeting on Monday, August 7.
 
Using equipment as simple as a hand-held walkie-talkie-like device or a roomful of gear, Bob explained that "ham operators," as they are popularly known, can communicate with fellow radio aficionados around the block or around the world. "Radio waves travel at the speed of light," said Bob, "so a radio transmission can reach the other side of the globe in less than a second, bouncing off the ionosphere." He noted that is farthest contact has thus far been a fellow ham operator in South Africa.
 
Bob recently attained the highest of the three types of amateur radio license: "Amateur Extra." And, although ham radio is an enjoyable hobby, he is quick to point out that amateur radio operators are quick to offer their skill and equipment during emergencies such as natural disasters. He told the story of a young radio operator who stayed on the air non-stop for days when the St. Francis Dam in Santa Paula broke apart in 1928. "He helped lighten the load on the telephone switchboards of the day," said Bob, "broadcasting essential information that undoubtedly saved lives."
 
Bob also noted a number of well-known people who are or have been enthusiastic amateur radio operators, including Walter Cronkite, Priscilla Presley, King Hussein of Jordan, and guitarist Joe Walsh.
 
"When an emergency strikes," said Bob, "and the landlines, cell phones, and the Internet are down, hams are up!"
 
Thanks, Bob, for a fascinating look into the world of amateur radio!
 
 
Speakers
Dr. Annette, Pediatrician
Apr 23, 2018
Ugandan Medical Project
Club member Sandy Warren
Apr 30, 2018
Rotary Websites: 1-2-3 Go!
Past District Governor Wade Nomura
May 07, 2018
The Rotary Foundation
 
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