Update From Ventura County Community Foundation Regarding Distribution of Funds

Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF) President Vanessa Bechtel has provided an update regarding distribution of funds thus far in connection with the recent tragedies in our area.

Conejo Valley Victims Fund

The first two rounds of support to the victims and survivors of the Borderline shooting have been distributed. VCCF awarded an immediate $70,000 in $500 pre-paid Visa cash cards so immediate basic needs could be met through the Thousand Oaks Victims Assistance Center.

VCCF also awarded a total of $240,000 to help cover memorial costs to families who lost loved ones. Chief of Police Tim Hagel personally delivered the funds to the families during this devastating time.

Hill Fire and Woolsey Fire Sudden & Urgent Needs Effort

Over $500,000 in funds have been distributed thus far in connection with relief from the recent wildfires in the area:

  • $150,000 to the Pacific Coast and Ventura County Chapter of the American Red Cross for an Emergency Response Vehicle

  • $115,000 to the Red Cross for Ventura County Recovery Coordination

  • $146,250 to the Red Cross for General Operations Support

  • $5,000 to 805 Help to support their immediate response to bring online access to our community during the fires

  • $15,000 to Senior Concerns for adult daycare, meals and support for our community’s seniors who were evacuated and need care

  • $5,350 to Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association to help cover costs associated with evacuations of those on hospice

  • $7,000 to the Camarillo Boys & Girls Club to cover costs associated with emergency childcare needs due to school closures

  • $9,500 to the Southeast Ventura YMCA to cover costs associated with emergency childcare needs due to school closures

  • $1,827 to Mark Watring Stables for the evacuation of 43 horses, hauling of feed and water supplies and overtime

  • $25,000 to the Economic Development Collaborative for General Operations Support as they serve business owners impacted by the fires

  • $21,500 to Cal State Channel Islands Foundation to feed and house students evacuated by the fires

  • $500 to Cal Lutheran University’s Center for Nonprofit Leadership to sponsor a free webinar entitled “Fundraising in Response to a Community Crisis” (contact nonprofit@callutheran.edu for details)

VCCF is working to award funds as quickly as possible to nonprofit organizations serving those in need during this challenging time. The organization is particularly interested in supporting organizations who are assisting in housing and basic needs, animal welfare, business and resiliency support for our community and medical needs of individuals as a result of the fires. The application is very short and should take no more than 15 minutes to submit at www.vccf.org.

805 Undocufund

This is a collective effort to ensure undocumented individuals and families impacted by natural disasters have the support they need. Please join us in helping support our neighbors during this challenging time at www.vccf.org.

VCCF Scholarship Program

VCCF has launched its 2019 Application for College Scholarships and thanks to local generosity will be awarding $1.147 million in scholarships to local students this year – more than ever before! The deadline for applications is January 30, 2019 at 10 p.m. PST.

How You Can Make A Difference

Applications for Support: Massive wildfires that cause severe displacement make connecting and supporting fire victims challenging. While VCCF has received some organizational applications for support, FEMA has received a modest number of applications for direct fire victim support. Please encourage those impacted by the fires to apply with FEMA as soon as possible and to also open a case with 2-1-1 who can help connect resources to those in need.

Fundraising for the Conejo Valley Victims Fund: VCCF is in the final stages of raising funds to support the families of victims and survivors of the Borderline shooting. We are working with Ken Feinberg, Special Master of the US Government’s September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, who has volunteered to help advise us during this time. Please encourage all you know to donate now and offer support to those impacted by this tragic event at www.vccf.org.

Support Services: Please help spread the word that Kaiser Permanente is offering free support groups in Woodland Hills, Thousand Oaks, and Ventura for the Borderline tragedy and fires. Please contact them directly at (805) 449-3442.

Las Virgenes Fire Relief Raises $30,000 for Woolsey Fire Victims in First Two Days

Las Virgenes Fire Relief Raises $30,000 for

Woolsey Fire Victims in First Two Days

Parent-Run Relief Organization Partners with Local Businesses to Serve Impacted Families

D isplaced residents "shop" at LV Fire Relief's donation center.

Displaced residents "shop" at LV Fire Relief's donation center.

In the days during the devastating Woolsey Fire in Southern California, a group of parents in the Las Virgenes Unified School District founded LV Fire Relief (LVFR). LVFR raises money and collects physical donations to serve district-area families whose homes were lost or severely damaged. Nearly one hundred student and staff member families either lost their homes or have been displaced long-term following major damage.

“We believe in the power of community,” said Jenn Kurtz, involved Agoura Hills resident and parent group president with children in three LVUSD schools, who organized the swift creation of LVFR with the blessing of school district leaders. “Some of these families have lost everything. Can you imagine being 9 years old and knowing that your house and everything in it is gone?” Families can seek help at lvfirerelief.org.

LVFR accepts financial donations in partnership with the Southeast Ventura YMCA. “Donations will be distributed on a need basis, and 100% of the funds will go to the families,” said Kurtz. The group is also collecting physical donations of non-perishable food, household goods like paper and cleaning products, baby products, and housewares. Donations have come from businesses, Baby 2 Baby, and individual donors from all over Los Angeles, some driving from as far as Long Beach and Pasadena.

A vacant office space has been loaned to the effort by the Dale Poe Real Estate group and the Agoura Business Center. Volunteers made up of teachers, staff, parents, students, and other community members organize donations and walk fire victims through selecting much-needed items that will help them get through the next several months. The space was nearly filled within its first day, and displaced families came to “shop” for clothes, toiletries, and other items lost in the fire. One recipient broke into tears at the sight of such generosity. “I’ve been fine up until this point,” she said, “but this put me over the edge.”  

About LV Fire Relief

Founded in response to the destruction of the Woolsey Fire in November, 2018, LV Fire Relief raises money and collects goods for families who lost their homes or have been displaced long-term by severe damage to their homes. LV Fire Relief is a community effort by local parents, staff, students, and business owners, and is not affiliated with the Las Virgenes Unified School District. Donations are processed with support of the Southeast Ventura YMCA, and are tax-deductible. For more information about LV Fire Relief or to learn how to donate, drop off supplies, or volunteer, please visit lvfirerelief.org.

World Record LEGO Chain Event in Thousand Oaks on Saturday, September 27th

World Record LEGO Chain Event is taking place on Saturday, September 27th from 9 AM - 4 PM at Thousand Oaks City Hall.

We are attempting to break the Guinness Book of World Records by building the World Longest LEGO Chain. We need your help to do it.  We have over 100,000 LEGO bricks and need some families who love building with LEGOs to help us build it.

This charity event is a collaboration between the Conejo Recreation & Park District, Rotary International, and Play-Well TEKnologies to raise money to build a state of the art special needs playground at Old Meadows Park in Thousand Oaks.

By signing up to help build the world's longest LEGO chain, you will help bring this playground to the community.  To learn more and to register (only $5/participant), visit bit.ly/WorldLongestLEGOChainEvent

Team VFD to Participate in Scott Firefighter Stairclimb in Seattle on March 9th

Team VFD is a group of ten Ventura City Fire Department members determined to make a difference. Team VFD is preparing to participate in the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb in Seattle, a timed race up the stairs at the Columbia Center in Downtown Seattle.  They will dress in full fire gear and self contained breathing apparatus as they climb 69 flights of stairs, 1,311 steps and 788 feet of vertical elevation. The group is climbing to support two causes – The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) and 11 year old Ventura resident Emma Bowles.

LLS is dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education and patient services. The mission of LLS is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Every day, more than 347 LLS sponsored researchers come closer to the goal of finding a cure for leukemia and related blood cancers. Locally, LLS funds research in the Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo county areas. Your support and commitment to the mission of LLS enables us to continue this important work of saving lives and aids us in our ability to reach patients in our community

Honoree Emma BowlesEmma Bowles was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) in August 2013. Emma is a very enthusiastic and positive girl who always looks at the glass as half full. Her favorite color is pink and for the last year she has been taking classical guitar lessons. Together with your help and participation Team VFD will climb for a cure and help Emma and her family in this difficult time.

To learn more and to donate to the cause, visit www.teamvfd.com. Team VFD will be hosting a fundraising event at Barrelhouse 101 in Ventura on March 1st and is selling wristbands and T shirts to support Emma. See video below to learn a bit more about Emma. Donate at www.teamvfd.com/donate.

Rotary Club of Thousand Oaks Sunrise Spearheads New Special Needs "Dreamcatcher Playground" Project

Old Meadows Park at 1600 Marview Drive, Thousand Oaks houses the Therapeutic Recreation Unit of the Conejo Recreation and Park District, which provides recreation programs for Conejo Valley residents with disabilities. There is an existing special needs playground at the park but the playground needs to be expanded and refurbished. The popularity of this playground has steadily increased due to expanding awareness of the playground and its special features, the steady rise in incidence of autism.

Currently, there is opportunity to increase the square footage of the playground at Old Meadows Park. The Rotary Club of Thousand Oaks Sunrise is spearheading the effort to improve, modernize and expand the playground. Through careful research and a survey of the special needs community, the Rotary DreamCatcher Playground will be designed with great sensitivity to the needs, comforts and inclusion of special populations and their families.

The playground will include active and passive play areas allowing children to engage in stimulating activities, and areas to which they can retreat and calm themselves after anxiety-producing experiences while remaining close by to other children, parents or caregivers.

The goal is to raise $500,000 through funding partners and fundraising activities with the project completed in phases by 2016.

Would you like to learn more about this effort and find out how you can support it? Visit www.rotarydreamcatcher.org.

Local Firefighter to Bike Across U.S. to Honor 9/11 Victims - Send Off on June 29th

Local Firefighter Who Will Bike Across the US to Honor 9-11 Victims to Get Community Send-Off at Miller YMCA


Jorge Ostrovsky, a Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACFD) firefighter and a Miller Family YMCA member, is joining other Los Angeles County firefighters as they bicycle across the United States to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of 9-11 and to honor those who continue to fight for our freedom and safety. This event, known as "Ride For 9-11," will start in Los Angeles July 24 and end in New York City Sept. 9. Money raised will go to the Leary Firefighters Foundation and the Wounded Warrior Project.

The Miller Family YMCA will hold a send-off breakfast for Ostrovsky and nine other LACFD firefighters on Wednesday, June 29, from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at the Y (320 Via Las Brisas, Dos Vientos portion of Newbury Park). The public is invited to this free event.

The Leary Firefighters Foundation (www.learyfirefighters.org) is dedicated to providing equipment and training to firefighters across the United States ensuring firefighters come home in the same condition they left for work. The Wounded Warrior Project, (http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org) provides various forms of support to wounded service members, aiding in their road to recovery. The program focuses on four main areas: Mind, body, economic empowerment and engagement.

For more information about the breakfast, call the Miller Y at 805-480-0309. For more information about Ride For 9-11, go to www.ridefor9-11.org.

Habitat for Humanity Cars for Homes Program Reaches $10 Million Milestone

Habitat for Humanity International’s Cars for Homes program reaches $10 million milestone nationwide

Habitat for Humanity’s Cars for Homes program has distributed more than $10 million to Habitat affiliates nationwide. 

The Cars for Homes program began in the state of Washington in November 2003 as a pilot program. In 2005, it was approved as a national program of Habitat for Humanity International. The Cars for Homes program was created specifically to assist Habitat affiliates by generating funding from the sale of donated vehicles. Revenue is distributed to affiliates based on the zip code of the donor. 

“Since this program began, our affiliate has received more than $45,000 through Cars for Homes,” said Stacy Swanson, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County.  “Those dollars go directly to help us build more homes for families in need right here in our community.  This is a creative way for people to be generous and address a critical need in Ventura County.”

Cars for Homes is Habitat for Humanity’s national vehicle donation program that provides donors a quick and easy process for donating cars, trucks, boats, RVs and other vehicles

Read More