Fashion show fundraiser to benefit homeless
Lighthouse aims to put heads in beds
Published in the Ventura County Star - Saturday, October 5, 2013
Ventura County’s 2013 Homeless Count and Survey identified 1,774 homeless people, with 1,074 living without a permanent roof over their heads. “That’s a lot of families out on the streets, living in cars, living at campsites or doubling and tripling up at friends’ and families’ homes,” said Cassie Sorenson, director of the Lighthouse for Women & Children.
To help area homeless people, the Oxnard-based charity will present a Rags to Riches Fashion Show from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Poinsettia Pavilion in Ventura. The Lighthouse provides emergency shelter, transitional housing and other services for women, women with children, two-parent families and fathers with children.
Organizers of the fashion show said they hope the event raises at least $30,000 toward reopening 22 emergency shelter beds. The beds, operated by The Kingdom Center of Oxnard, were eliminated because of a lack of funding, Sorenson said. A reopening would add beds for women and women with children in Ventura County, she said. Sorenson said that because of the partnership, the Lighthouse can focus on the reopening while Kingdom Center sets its efforts on supporting the beds. At the point they are ready to take over the beds again, Kingdom Center will have finished remodeling its facility. Without the fundraiser, the Lighthouse couldn’t help the overwhelming number of people in need, she added.
“It is fundraisers like this that not only help us keep our doors open but help us increase the number of people we help,” Sorenson said. “We offer a continuum of care from just off the streets to independent living through our many programs.”
Rags to Riches will feature a live auction, raffle and boutique. Designer clothing from local thrift stores will be modeled by volunteers as well as women and children in the Lighthouse Life Recovery Program. “The fundraiser is not only an opportunity to raise additional funds ... but to increase community awareness about the incredible work going on at the Lighthouse and all the opportunities to volunteer and provide support,” said Barbara Grant, community outreach committee chairwoman.
Originally, the Lighthouse operated independently, but it is now part of the Ventura Rescue Mission Alliance. “Many of its past donors have not known to earmark their ongoing donations specifically for the Lighthouse, and so those donations are now only partly allocated to the Lighthouse based on an internally specified percentage,” Grant said. “This event will allow our many donors and supporters to participate and learn more about the work the Lighthouse is doing.” As the nonprofit is the only year-round provider of these services, leaders know the need is immense, Sorenson said.
The county survey opens with a statement that this year is the first year the number of homeless people has decreased, Sorenson said. “This is wonderful,” Sorenson said. “Yet there are still 1,074 people without a home, a bed or a roof to sleep under.” (Download a PDF version of this article)
Mission Gets the Boot
Hundreds of leather boots, a remnant of the days inmates worked at an honor farm outside Ojai, will finally be put to use. The 226 pairs of golden-brown boots have been stashed in a closet at the county Juvenile Justice Complex in El Rio for eight years, stiill wrapped in tissue in cardboard boxes. They got a new home Thursday when the Ventura County Rescue Mission picked them up and delivered them to needy people.
“It’s like Christmas,” said John Saltee, director of the Oxnard mission that serves homeless and drug-dependent people. He called the gift from the county Probation Agency amazing because the adults who got them have rarely had such quality boots. Some walk on flat shoes with no support, but their feet always hurt, he said. It appears the Sheriff’s Office bought the Redwoods work boots for inmates at the honor farm, a work camp and jail that closed in 2003. The Probation Agency inherited them around then and gave them to charges in work furlough programs.
Adult inmates freed from confinement to work during the day got some of the bigger sizes, handy for the jobs many held as manual laborers, probation Director Mark Varela said. Others were worn by low-level juvenile offenders in a now-defunct community-based work program, he said. As practices for treating juvenile offenders changed, the need for work clothes and shoes declined.
The number of juveniles in county institutions has dropped significantly as youths have been sent to preventive, community-based programs, Varela said. The number incarcerated is about 115, half of what it was four or five years ago, he said. Those in the juvenile complex are serious offenders unsuited for work furlough programs, he said.
The juvenile wards would not be allowed to wear the boots in the complex. The boots have steel toes and would be a security risk, said Gina Johnson, a division manager who oversees housing at the complex.
Also, the wards’ feet are too big for the size 5 and 6 boots that apparently were intended for the women held at the honor farm. “We’re talking 14- to 15-year-olds, and their feet turned out to be much bigger,” Johnson said. Johnson said she’s happy to see the boots in the hands of the Rescue Mission. “They’re taking up space, and we’re not using them,” she said.
Fred Perez, who supervises corrections employees in the juvenile facility, called the Rescue Mission several months ago and arranged the donation. Their value has declined even if they look brand-new. The boots originally were valued at $50 a pair, but probation officials now estimate their worth at $20, putting the total donation at $4,520. Probation officials said the Ventura County Board of Supervisors had to authorize the transfer because it was a gift of county property.
The board approved the donation in late February, and the Rescue Mission delivery truck arrived to pick them up Thursday. Varela called the match between donor and recipient a good fit.
“The Probation Agency has worked closely with rescue missions over the years,” he said. “We know people at the rescue mission are trying to get on the right path.”
(Download a PDF version of this article)
Haas Foundation Donates More than $1 Million to Charitable and Education Based Programs
Posted May 14, 2013 in the Ventura County Star
OXNARD, Calif. — The Gene Haas Foundation today announced $200,000 in additional grant recipients, bringing total donations to Ventura County nonprofits in 2013 to $249,000, and totaling more than $1 million nationally.
The funds benefit a variety of programs, large and small, with a focus on educational scholarships, youth development and helping organizations that serve the most needy. Most recent Ventura County grants included a $50,000 to FOOD Share for a hybrid truck, $35,000 to Ventura County Rescue Mission to purchase a new oven, $25,000 in scholarships to Casa Pacifica’s former foster youth to attend college or trade school, and $25,000 to RAIN, a transitional living center to help alleviate homelessness. Read entire article (PDF)
Rescue missions see rising demand for assistance
By Rachel McGrath
Posted December 21, 2012 in the Ventura County Star
The number of newly homeless people in Ventura County is up this holiday season from a year ago, with 35 percent of those seeking help at gospel rescue missions having lost housing within the past six months.
Other results of the just-released 2012 Snapshot Survey show that half of those looking for assistance at the Ventura County Rescue Mission and Lighthouse for Women & Children, both in Oxnard, are homeless for the first time and almost half of those have been the victim of physical violence in the past 12 months.
"It has significantly changed," said John Saltee, director of the Ventura County Rescue Mission at 234 E. Sixth St. "We are in miserable times for people who were once housed and are now homeless.
"We know people are barely hanging on from paycheck to paycheck due to the lack of quality jobs and the high cost of rent. People who once had a place to live and a car are struggling to find somewhere to go. Desperation leads to anger, and more desperate times lead to more violence. It's going to get worse before it gets better." Read entire article (PDF)...
Retailer collecting coats, blankets
Posted December 22, 2012 in the Ventura County Star
Retailer Buffalo Exchange will work with Ventura County Rescue Mission to collect coats and blankets for the needy. Individuals are encouraged to drop off coats and blankets at 532 E. Main St. Business hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday through Saturday.
Items will be collected through Jan. 13. For more information, call 648-6873.
At toy giveaway in Oxnard, volunteers fulfill mission of making Christmas brighter
By Mark Storer
Posted December 22, 2012 in the Ventura County Star
Edith and Ricardo Mendoza braved the low 40-degree weather and lined up with other like-minded children and parents at 5 a.m. Saturday morning at Faith Community Church in Oxnard.
"They had a lot of energy, and they're not sleepy yet," said the 12- and 8-year-olds' mother, Martha. "They came with our neighbor, and then I came and met them here."
Edith and Ricardo were among the children who had registered within the last month for the Ventura County Rescue Mission and Lighthouse for Women & Children's annual Christmas celebration and toy giveaway. The event, which didn't open until 9 a.m., was designed to help families who otherwise might not be able to provide Christmas gifts for their children.
"Things are pretty tough right now," Edith and Ricardo's mother said. "After rent, food, bills and everything, it's hard to buy presents."
The mission aims to make Christmas brighter for families like these.
"Our goal is that every child gets a toy free of charge," said John Saltee, director of the mission. "We get donations and we use a portion of our budget to buy the toys, and then we register families starting just after Thanksgiving. They have to prove that they're on assistance of some kind, and then each child gets a ticket and they bring that to the event." Read entire article (PDF)...
30 volunteer at rescue mission
By Andrea Howry, Lighthouse editor
Posted November 28, 2012
Thirty Sailors from Naval Base Ventura County, including Chief Staff Officer David Sasek and Command Master Chief Thomas Cyr, were among the 150 volunteers who showed up at the Ventura County Rescue Mission in Oxnard Wednesday, Nov. 21, to serve 800 meals to county families who wouldn’t otherwise have a Thanksgiving feast.
“We are so appreciative that the military is willing to give up a day and come help the community,” said John Saltee, director of the rescue mission. “We are so pleased with the turnout.”
Sasek and Cyr were among several local dignitaries at one buffet table serving food onto plates that were then taken to the families seated at picnic tables all over the rescue mission property.
Another buffet table was staffed by Sailors in their khaki uniforms, while more Sailors shuttled steaming plates of food to the hungry families.
While serving didn’t begin until noon, several volunteers came as early as 10:30 a.m. to help with behind-the-scenes work, from wrapping plastic tableware in napkins and tying them with orange yarn to setting out drinking cups filled with ice.
A dozen other volunteers from the base visited the rescue mission the day before to help set up for Wednesday’s feast.
“It’s important to help out,” said Construction Electrician 3rd Class Bryan Sheridan of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3. “We all need to give something back.”
Added Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Ivy Jane Ibarra, also of NMCB 3, “We have a lot of things to be thankful for. We need to give, too.”
Five volunteers came from Naval Branch Health Clinic, including Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Starleen Whitaker.
“I wanted to help support the needy,” she said. “I like reaching out to the community.”
Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Han, base chaplain, said the Religious Ministries Team organizes several volunteer opportunities at the rescue mission every year.
“This is important because it’s Thanksgiving,” he said. “But it’s important to volunteer the other 364 days of the year as well.”