Published in the VC Star - August, 2015
The Little Caesars Love Kitchen rolled into the Ventura County Rescue Mission on Friday, delivering pizzas for about 350 people.
Clients of the Rescue Mission and about 50 clients of the Lighthouse for Women and Children benefited, said Suzanne West, community relations coordinator for the Rescue Mission.
Sean Harper, zone vice president for Little Caesars, said in a news release that the Love Kitchen was created to provide quality meals for people who need them.
“As a member of the area business community, it’s important for us to support people when they need it and help make the community stronger,” Harper said. “We’re excited to support this program with food and staff to provide a quality meal for people who otherwise may not get one.”
Since 1985, the Little Caesars Love Kitchen has fed more than 3 million people in 48 states and four Canadian provinces. It has also responded to disasters such as tornadoes and hurricanes, as well as the site of the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and the 1995 Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City.
Addicts Find Sobriety, Stability at Ventura County Rescue Mission Program
Published in the VC Star - August, 2015
At the height of his addiction to methamphetamine, Jose Naranjo was living on the streets in Ventura County.
The Ventura native, now 28, had been shown the door several times by friends and family.
“It was brutal,” Naranjo said. “I knew my life was in trouble, but the drugs had taken over. I felt possessed.”
Hope came when Naranjo’s older sister Maria Naranjo told him about the Ventura County Rescue Mission and its Life Recovery Program.
On July 28, Naranjo was among four men gathered in Faith Community Church in Oxnard for the recovery program’s graduation ceremony. Naranjo and the other men cradled their certificates of graduation, offered and accepted words of encouragement and hugged family and friends.
The free, 10-month rehabilitation program for men operates out of the mission’s facilities in Oxnard and puts participants in intensive, Christian-based study. Participants are offered behavioral programs to prepare them physically, mentally and spiritually for life as sober members of the community.
In February 2014, Naranjo toured the mission and learned about the recovery program. “I nodded my head but ignored most of what I had heard,” he said. “For most of the year, I came to the mission, 10 days in and five days out to sleep, eat and shower.” Naranjo would come to the mission in tattered clothes and smelled, but the residents and staff at the mission welcomed and treated him with dignity.
During the graduation ceremony, Naranjo, sporting a new suit and tie, stood with his head high and said he wanted to attend college, find work and make more time for his 7-year-old son Isaac and 8-year-old daughter Valerie. “For the majority of men who come here, it’s the end of the road,” said Suzanne West, the mission’s community relations coordinator.
“They feel desperate and hopeless. They burned their bridges with family and friends,” she said. “They’re done with being on the street. They’re crying out and we can offer them free help because of the support of the community.” West said that men recovering from addiction receive individual counseling and case management. They learn how to manage their money and anger, interview for jobs and stay sober through a Christian 12-step program. The men also receive support from other participants.
After Naranjo talked to a chaplain and completed the intake process, he entered the mission at mealtime and the other men stood up and applauded. Men come to the program under various circumstances and from all socioeconomic backgrounds.
Chris Burgess, 54, of Riverside, graduated with Naranjo. By the time Burgess first visited the mission 13 months ago, he had lost his home, his family and his job as a restaurant manager because of his addiction to alcohol. “Along the way, I lost a sense of purpose,”Burgess said. Before entering the program, he had run through his savings to pay for alcohol. He said he drank to quiet feelings of depression and anxiety.
Like others, Burgess has not fully restored his life. The recovery program encourages the men to stay at the mission’s transitional living apartments, where they receive support to stay sober, help seeking employment and have time to prepare mentally prepare themselves to return to society. Burgess considers his experience a second chance.
“My time in program has been full of struggles, doubts, hard-learned lesson and times of dark depression,” he said at the ceremony.“Looking back soberly on my life and the consequences of my actions has been enough to fill me with sorrow and regret.”
Still, he said he was not the same person who entered the program 10 months earlier. “I still stutter through his prayers, half with doubt, but I pray with sincerity,” he said. “For the first time in many years, I am filled with hope for future and hope of reconciliation and healing.”
Haas Foundation Awards Numerous Grants
Published in the VC Star - December, 2014
December 2014 - It’s been a good year at Haas Automation, which employs 1,400 people in Ventura County, so the charitable branch of the Oxnard company is giving back, representatives said.
“We like to help the community in general. When needs are taken care of, it makes Ventura County a nice place for everyone to live,” said Kathy Looman, administrator of the Gene Haas Foundation. She said that of the $6.2 million being given away this year, 80 percent will go to increasing
educational opportunities in manufacturing. The rest will be given to community groups, Looman said.
The latest grant cycle includes $100,000 each for FOOD Share, the Ventura County Rescue Mission and the Ventura College Foundation; $50,000 each for Casa Pacifica and the RAIN Transitional Living Center; $30,000 for the Rescue Mission’s Lighthouse for Women & Children; $25,000 each for CAREGIVERS and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Ventura County; and $20,000 for the St. John’s Healthcare Foundation.
John Saltee, director of the Rescue Mission, said its money will be put to good use. The mission operates faith-based programs to help men and women deal with substance abuse and mental health issues while learning a trade.
Company owner “Gene Haas graciously gave the Ventura County Rescue Mission $100,000 to be used for a new box truck, which we desperately need,” Saltee said, “and to finish other projects such as installation of security video cameras and updating our guest bathroom.” Looman said Haas remains committed to the area because “Ventura County is a wonderful place to live and work, and management would like to stay even if the state of California makes it difficult. We are defying the odds to stay here.”
Looman said business at Haas Automation is booming, with the highest number of manufacturing machines in the history of the company being shipped in September. Foundation grants across the United States include $1.5 million to build the Gene Haas Training Center, a 20,000-square-foot facility at Vincennes University’s Lebanon, Indiana, campus. An additional $293,592 in scholarship money was donated to the university to
provide funding for military veterans and civilian adult learners.
The foundation also focused on veterans by committing $500,000 in scholarships to Workshop for Warriors, a San Diego-based nonprofit group that provides free manufacturing training to veterans.
A donation of $230,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme will support science, technology, engineering and mathematics education programs, establish a new scholarship fund and provide general program support. Founded by Gene Haas in 1999, the Haas Foundation has awarded more than $22 million to charities and educational institutions.