Power of Purpose – May 29, 2020

 In Newsletters

A Letter from our President & CEO


Dear Ventura County Community Foundation Family,

Last evening, I read a heartwarming message from James Head, President & CEO of the East Bay Community Foundation, one of our sister community foundations in Northern California. In his note to his community, James spoke of the resilience we have all been collectively demonstrating as we adapt to the presence of COVID-19 in our lives, and of the heroic actions of our community’s healthcare workers, medical researchers, teachers, grocery workers, and so many others. What captured my attention was his additional emphasis of the strength, resilience, and continued commitment of community service being demonstrated throughout our nonprofit sector as well.

In that same spirit, it is with tremendous enthusiasm that the VCCF Board of Directors is announcing an additional $693,827 in grants to local nonprofits serving our community. (See list of grants awarded below.) This accounts for 100% of the remaining funds raised to-date, and it is because of you that this has been possible! We will continue to raise additional dollars and it is inspiring to know that our community of support has already contributed over $4.5 million in COVID-19 relief efforts. Thank you!!

I’m so grateful to our local nonprofit leaders and to the thousands of community volunteers and donors stepping forward to support our neighbors during this challenging time. Your commitment to the safety and well-being of our neighbors demonstrates the compassion that we are all capable of and helps to remind us all that we are only going to make it through this time together.

One such group that comes to mind is Epic Lemonade. Epic Lemonade was formed by a group of kids and their parents in November 2018 after the tragic Borderline shooting and the Woolsey and Hill fires swept through Ventura County in the space of 24 hours. The Most Epic Lemonade Stand Ever was created as a way to keep kids busy in service to others when schools were suddenly closed for a few weeks and everyone felt the need to help but didn’t know how. Their lemonade stand evolved into a drive-thru and walk up event on Thousand Oaks Blvd where thousands poured in from the community, donating lemonade, baked goods, supplies, and money and they ended up raising an astounding $70,000 to support those impacted by the mass shooting and wildfires.

With COVID-19, and the shelter-in-place measures in effect, Epic Lemonade stepped up to the help make a difference, yet again. While maintaining social distance, and using social media, this group of community members has raised another $18,000 for the VCCF’s Rapid Response Fund, AND has also found other ways to address the needs they are seeing in their own neighborhoods.

They have started holding drive-thru, “socially-distant safe,” food drives every other Friday for local families and food banks who are struggling to make ends meet! And are volunteering with Harbor House to help with their packed lunch program which is serving almost 300 lunches a day.

Their original lemonade stand was created as a way to make a difference that one day back in 2018, but has now become a movement for our entire community!

This is only one of so many stories that have been shared this past week that have been such an inspiration to me and to our entire VCCF team. We continue to be amazed by the support that is pouring in.

I am in awe at the ingenuity and tenacity of our Ventura County residents as we work to rebuild and reopen our lives. Your continued support ensures that Ventura stays strong through this together.


Ventura County Rapid Response Fund

New Grants Awarded

  • Boys & Girls Club of Greater Conejo Valley – $25,000 – To provide childcare for working families and essential workers, and cover the expenses for staff, technology, food, support and coaching, sanitation supplies, and PPE.
  • Boys & Girls Club of Greater Oxnard & Port Hueneme – $10,000 – To host virtual programming and provide food for the children they serve.
  • Boys & Girls Club of Moorpark & Simi Valley – $10,000 – To host virtual programming and distribute 300 breakfasts and lunches per day.
  • CAREGIVERS – $18,750 – to meet the increased demand for volunteers to support vulnerable home-bound seniors.
  • Casa Pacifica – $30,000 – To provide personal protective equipment, upgraded technology, general operating support, and an isolation cottage so they may provide services during COVID-19 including telehealth and isolation services.
  • Catholic Charities – $25,000 – to provide general support along with food and housing assistance
  • Economic Development Collaborative – $75,000 – To support staff and provide financial support for the businesses in Ventura County impacted by COVID-19
  • FOOD Share – $100,000 – so they may continue to provide food and distribute supplies to those who need it most.
  • Future Leaders of America – $27,002 – to support their staff as they continue to lift up and disburse funds from the 805 UndocuFund.
  • Give An Hour – $25,000 – To support staff as they provide a bilingual emotional health support hotline to those impacted by COVID-19.
  • Habitat for Humanity – $3,800 – To pay the mortgages for the Habitat homeowners.
  • Harbor House – $5,000 – to procure food and cover rental assistance and motel expenses for our unhoused neighbors.
  • Lockwood Animal Rescue Center – $5,000 – to provide 500 emergency kits for veterans in Ventura County
  • Lutheran Social Services of Southern California – $10,000 – To cover the costs of rent and utilities for people in Ventura County.
  • Mercy House Living Centers – $25,000 – To pay for the cost of staff, supplies, and client transportation needed to provide emergency shelter services for their homeless clients.
  • Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project – $40,000 – To support general operating costs related to increasing capacity and assisting with outreach and education about COVID-19 for indigenous communities.
  • Nyland Promise – $5,000 – To provide lunches for 200 children in their community.
  • Safe Passage Youth – $11,775 – To cover the costs for food and children’s diapers for those they serve.
  • Secure Beginnings – $10,000 – To provide diapers for the children and families they work with.
  • Senior Concerns – $25,000 – To cover expenses related to staff and provide food, delivery of food and pharmacy orders, and telephonic and online support for seniors.
  • The Kingdom Center (Gabriel’s House) – $2,500 – To cover expenses related to staffing, supplying food, and procuring cleaning supplies so they may continue to provide shelter for homeless women and children.
  • Turning Point Foundation – $15,000 – To increase supportive housing and homelessness prevention services for people with mental illness and the expenses related to staffing, food procurement, PPE and improved technology.
  • Ventura County Family Justice Center Foundation – $25,000 – To expand efforts directed to those impacted by trauma and interpersonal violence by increasing community awareness, assisting with outreach tools, expanding access to basic needs, and providing information materials.
  • Villa Esperanza – $10,000 – To provide technology, personal protective equipment, and general operating support so they may continue to assist Ventura County clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live independently.
  • Westminster Free Clinic – $75,000 – to cover costs associated with staffing, increasing mental health services, providing medical and program supplies, and assisting in food distribution.
  • Women of Substance Men of Honor – $5,000 – To provide help to maintain staff, to procure food, hygiene supplies and clothing, and mental health services to foster youth and formerly incarcerated youth.
  • Women’s Economic Ventures – $75,000 – To support the staff, provide needs assessments, improved programming, and technology to help support women-led businesses in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

Anonymous Donor Contributes $1 Million
to the 805 UndocuFund – COVID-19

805 undocufund logo

A $1 million anonymous gift to the 805 UndocuFund – COVID-19 will provide a major boost for undocumented workers in need of financial help during the pandemic. More than 7,000 people in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties have registered for aid after they lost jobs or work hours.

“We are thrilled by this generous gift which will allow us to help more than 800 families,” said Eder Gaona-Macedo, Executive Director of Future Leaders of America – one of several nonprofit groups that operate the relief fund. “This is the largest gift to the Fund since it was created in 2018!”

The anonymous gift brings the total raised for pandemic relief for undocumented immigrants to $2.6 million – with $3.4 million more needed to meet the $6 million fundraising goal. Applicants to the Fund have lost jobs at local restaurants, hotels, bars, farms, and other businesses. Many who earn their living cleaning houses have also been left unemployed due to social distancing mandates.

“Families have not worked since mid-March and are behind on rent and are feeling desperate about affording the basics including groceries and covering their utility bills,” Eder said. “The UndocuFund is now sending $1,200 checks to those who have lost jobs.”

Power of Community

Good News from YOUR Ventura County Community


As we continue to shelter-in-place together, we want to brighten your week by sharing some of the inspirational work that you make possible.

The following stories come from our Nonprofit Partners who are able to continue their vital work because they have received support from people like you. We will continue to share these impactful updates each week from our partners who are truly making a difference during these challenging times.

Southeast Ventura County YMCA

At the start of Shelter-In-Place measure, the Southeast Ventura County YMCA launched individual and family assistance grants to help several hundred residents receive funding in Ventura County that met the eligibility criteria as well as transitioned many of their programs to virtual experiences. Read below to learn more about their impact.

What the community is saying about YMCA’s online classes: 

“Watching the kids participate in your on-line classes is the highlight of my week. I can’t thank you enough. Thanks for giving them a little piece of their normal life back and providing an outlet of fun and dance! I love it so much!”
— Kathy Stephens

“I am incredibly grateful that we are given this online exercise option. Before the online classes started, I was doing my own workouts at home that were decent enough exercise, but very lonely! I so look forward to seeing my favorite teachers and classmates and some new faces along the way. The workouts have been effective and challenging, and all of my teachers have obviously been putting significant effort into coming up with new ideas to use during the sessions. I am able to attend several classes every week, and welcome this bit of normalcy in these highly unusual times. Seeing my Y community online is uplifting and energizing. There is no way my husband and I would have altered our membership during this time; we value the YMCA and support its mission. That said, the online options have definitely promoted goodwill for those of us continuing to pay our monthly dues, and are keeping us connected to one another. I hope you will continue to offer online exercise to us.”
— Christina Burg

Give An Hour

The Covid pandemic and related fallout has certainly required our team to “pivot”! We have adjusted our services to hopefully better meet the immediate needs in Ventura County as we all try to navigate this new normal.

Our first response included establishing a Coping through Covid support line that people can connect to by phone or internet. This warm line is staffed by a team of mental health clinicians, and is available six days per week in both English and Spanish. People can call in to connect, or get hints on how to stay emotionally well through this pandemic. This project is available because the Ventura County Community Foundation recognized the need, and quickly responded! We are happy to be partnering on this project and those who have accessed the help line are thankful for the connection, and for the helpful tips on how to stay healthy through this.

Our other “pivot” involved our Emotional Life Sills training series. In response, to Covid, we have created a 90 minute Coping through Covid/Emotional Life Skills web based training that is available to organizations and groups throughout Ventura. This short course allows groups to check in with each other, learn the signs of emotional suffering, and habits to stay healthy through the pandemic, and ideas to ensure we can stay emotionally connected even though we are isolated at home.

We encourage ALL to access the support line, more info about it is here.

And we encourage anyone interested in the web based training, reach out to Kirsti Thompson, Director, at kthompson@giveanhour.org

We are thankful to be serving our community through this time.
Do not hesitate to reach out!

Artist Auction to benefit 805 UndocuFund

A local Ventura artist has reached out to VCCF with the intent to donate proceeds from her recently completed piece, “COVID Juggler,” to the the 805 UndocuFund. This artwork is made of found and repurposed materials and symbolizes the complexity of impacts of the Coronavirus epidemic on our community and the world.

The piece is currently on display in the front window of the H Gallery & Studios in Ventura. Dimensions are 16″ x 36″.
Price is set at $850

About the Artist: Nova Clite is a self-taught mixed-media artist who integrates found, crafted, and recycled objects to create works that both intrigue and challenge. A life-long creative, Ms. Clite recently retired from a three-decades long career in environmental science, with a focus on pollution cleanup. Her scientific knowledge and deep experience inform her artwork with perspective on how the world works and the challenges before us. Yet playful imagination is the primary driver of her compositions in found materials, beads, clay, and paint. Gravity and light play significant roles in her work, including mobiles and free-hanging balance pieces. While still building her portfolio, Ms. Clite has won several awards for her work and continues to stretch both creatively and technically into her art practice. She creates and exhibits her work at her studio at H Gallery & Studios in Ventura, CA.

Inquire at www.novaclite.com | Studio Nova (#L5), H Gallery and Studios | 1793 W. Main Street, Ventura, CA. Email NovaClite.artist@gmail.com
or call 805-794-3773

New! Self-Care in the Nonprofit Sector
A New Video Series from Leading From Within

leading from within logo

We’re excited to share a new self-care video series from our friends at Leading From Within! Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing their videos outlining self-care for our social sector leaders. Check out their first video with Founder & President Ken Saxon below.

As we adjust to this strange summer, we are faced with setting new routines. One aid to your routine for June might be learning more about self-care. Our friends at Leading From Within are sharing one video a week with guidance on the topic. Watch Ken Saxon today in this video to outline what Leading From Within means when they say “self-care”, and why they keep talking about it.


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