Commentary from Angela Nardone (November 29, 2018)

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A few nights ago we piled the family into the car and drove around town to look at all the holidays lights put up at various homes. It is a bit early, so not everyone has decorations up yet. We made hot chocolate at home and brought it with. We played Christmas music in the car and visited neighborhoods we know have their lights up early.

The “oohs and ahhs” were abounding.

We all came back home with smiles on our faces and feeling like we all shared a special memory together by enjoying the works of so many people in the community. (Thank you to all those people putting up decorations. It was special for us to see)

Later that night, I flashed back to the day we received a call at around 4:00am telling us to evacuate from our home because of the nearby fires. Our bags were already packed. As I got the kids in my car, my son (who is 5) could smell the smoke and knew what it was. He asked me about it. I told him the truth but assured him we were going someplace safe. As I drove out of the neighborhood, I held his hand from the driver’s seat to his car seat behind me. His emotions ran high and he was scared. He held my hand tightly.

That memory will be etched in my mind for a long time to come.

As we all get back into our regular lives with memories that mark us in a certain way, we return to a time when holiday spirit encourages us to open our hearts to those around us and to love one another with grace and without condition.

This year may be your year of “The New Normal.” Difficult memories, loss of a loved one, loss of property.

Whether you feel ready for the holidays or not, perhaps this year more than previous ones will help remind us that the holidays are more than just about gifts and parties. It is about caring for others we may or may not know. It’s about helping those who may not be able to help themselves. It’s about being together and creating new memories and sharing our affections with those around us.

We weren’t thinking about anything else the other night except the holidays. It felt good.

Maybe the timing of the holidays after all this is perfect in a way.

How Can You Help?

Next week we will be distributing our printed special edition newspaper which will include a list of local charities for holiday and end of year giving. With recent events, many of the groups are more strained than ever. I encourage you to review the lists and see what you can do, whether contributing your time, resources or money.

One group that comes to mind is Lutheran Social Services, which supports our Thousand Oaks homeless and vulnerable population. Each year this group goes to Herculean efforts to ensure the most impoverished in our community can enjoy a holiday moment.

Ventura County Office – LSSSC

Our Thousand Oaks Community Care Center manages program services in Camarillo and the Conejo Valley. Our purpose is to meet human needs with compassion, by helping men, women, and families reach and sustain a higher quality of life by providing comprehensive assistance to achieve or sustain independence and become responsible members of the community.

Another group is Community Action of Ventura, which offers support to the Oxnard / Ventura vulnerable population including foods, showers, and even bike repair shops. This organization has been around for 50 years in our community.–vision

Helping people overcome poverty through advocacy, partnerships and services that promote dignity and self-sufficiency.

The Ventura County Community Foundation is also helping facilitate donation to victims of the Borderline shooting and has secured many corporate donors to help advance the giving by leaps and bound.

Conejo Valley Victims Fund – Ventura County Community Foundation –

Together We Mourn. Together We Stand. An unspeakable tragedy occurred with the shooting deaths of 12 of our community members, including a Ventura County Sheriff Sergeant, in Thousand Oaks.

For those impacted by the fire, the Red Cross is organizing donations for displaced residents–hill-fire-shelter-residents-to-re.html

Many more charities will be listed in the printed special edition, which we hope is helpful to you.

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