VCCF Power of Purpose – February 2024

 In Newsletters

Dear Ventura County Community Foundation Family,

Last month, we lost a beloved friend and esteemed past Board Member, Gary Erickson. His absence is deeply felt, and we miss him dearly.

For those who may not have known Gary personally, he was a dedicated advocate for the residents of Ventura County. His tireless efforts spanned a wide range of causes, from supporting local veterans to championing access to essential healthcare services such as breast and cervical cancer treatment, regardless of one’s ability to pay. Gary’s impact extended far beyond our community; he served on numerous nonprofit boards and played a pivotal role in raising hundreds of millions of dollars for access to higher education and nonprofits throughout our state.

Gary embodied VCCF’s core values, particularly those of compassion, equity, and authentic connection. I’ve never met a more genuine person, and I could always count on him to be there, no matter what. He is one of the few people whose phone number I could dial with my eyes closed.

As we reflect on Gary’s legacy, we are reminded of the power of kindness and a genuine sense of humor, which he demonstrated time and again to have the remarkable ability to move mountains.

Sending so much love your way, dear friend. Thank you for all you have done to make our shared world a better place for all.

In gratitude,


Vanessa Bechtel, VCCF President & CEO

Urgent Storm Relief Needed for Ventura County

A street flooded up to the fences of the homes lining the road

Ventura County residents are in need of urgent assistance following the historic, destructive flash flooding of December 2023. Over 400 homes and 650 vehicles have been damaged, and predominately senior citizens and low-income families are without insurance or FEMA assistance to recover. Support your neighbors by donating today.

2024 Scholarship Application Cycle Sees Record-Breaking Numbers

Congratulations to all our students who applied for the VCCF 2024 Scholarship Season! This year, we saw a staggering number of applicants at 1,476 students, a 50.6% increase in applicants since last year!

Awards will be announced in May, and if you are interested in helping these amazing students get connected with the support they need to achieve their academic goals, read below about our opportunity to volunteer as a scholarship reader!

Want to Volunteer? Become a Scholarship Reader!

Want to help Ventura Count students reach their educational dreams and connect them with over $1.4 million in scholarship awards? The VCCF Scholarship Program is recruiting local volunteers who are interested in reading and scoring scholarship applications for the 2024 season!

VCCF will help train and support you to read 25 to 50 applications virtually, taking place over a six-week period this spring, set at your own pace.

VCCF Welcomes Newest Team Members!

VCCF would like to welcome its newest team members! Sylvia Barron serves as Director of Accounting and Aiden Miner serves as Marketing & Communications Intern. Learn more about them below.

Rescue Mission Alliance

With National Human Trafficking Month this past January, Rescue Mission Alliance, and specifically the Lighthouse Recovery Program for Women and Children, continues to work tirelessly to protect and support trafficking victims. They are counting down the days to the spring opening of Angel House, their Oxnard facility that will make up more than 20% of the beds earmarked for women and children trafficking survivors in California.

For more information, or to support these efforts, please visit the link below. Partner with Rescue Mission Alliance today to change lives for good.

TOArts Youth Arts Leadership Academy

TOArts’s brand new program, the Youth Arts Leadership Academy officially kicked off with a fantastic first meeting!

Over the course of eight months, their group of 25 students will meet monthly to learn life skills such as financial, personal, and project management, while also getting arts-specific workforce development. They will then work together in different roles to create and run a capstone project that benefits the community at the end of the school year.

This program presents an inspiring mixture of what’s possible in the world of the arts and inherent skill-building, all anchored with real-world application.

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