Rotary Club of Ventura South

Club Executives & Directors

Past President
Club Service
Community Service
International Serv
Vocational Service
Membership Chair
RYLA Coordinator
New Generations
Rotaract Chair
Public Relations and Programs Chair
Rotary Foundation Chair
Youth Service Chair
Liaison to District 5240
Family of Rotary
Awards Chair

Club Information

Welcome to our Club!

Ventura South

Service Above Self

We meet Mondays at 12:00 PM
Wedgewood Banquet Center
5882 Olivas Park Road
Ventura, CA  93003-7673
United States
District Site
Venue Map

Home Page Stories

Bonaventure Wakam Takes Members
On a Virtual Tour of the African Continent
Ventura South member Bonaventure Wakam gave a fascinating presentation on Africa to our Club members on Monday, May 15. He noted that the African continent remains one of the least understood by most people, partly due to its massive size and partly on account of its diversity. Bob noted that 55 separate countries make up the whole of Africa, each with its own culture, resources, opportunities, and challenges.
In terms of resources, Bon explained that rubber, gold, wheat, copper,and cotton are plentiful in various locations throughout Africa. And, oil is an increasingly important trade resource as well, with considerable exports to the U.S.
In terms of tourism, Bob explained that the most popular destinations are in Kenya and Tanzania, primarily for safaris. "There are, however, plenty of beautiful and exciting spots to visit in other parts of the vast continent, including South Africa and Cameroon."
Thanks, Bon, for a terrific presentation!

Kevin Clerici Updates Rotary Ventura South
On Activities of Ventura Downtown Partners
Our speaker on Monday, May 11, was Kevin Clerici, Director of Ventura Downtown Partners, a city improvement district whose mission is "to produce a healthy retail center, a diverse cultural district, an attractive visitor destination, and a livable neighborhood."
Kevin shared with our members and guests the organization's recent efforts to enhance the visitor experience at the two downtown parks, as well as initiation of the new Downtown Trolley that picks up riders at several downtown locations and shuttles them to the Ventura Harbor area. His group is also responsible for the new "Clean and Safe Streets" program, which includes staff members in the downtown area to assist visitors with directions or other information, as well as providing a watchful eye on the area for enhanced security.
"Downtown is an amazing destination for so many reasons," said Kevin. The goal of Downtown Ventura Partners is to continue making it even better.

1 Family 1 Restaurant Reaches Out
to Food-Insecure in Ventura County
Our speaker on Monday, May 4, was James Panagoti, co-founder of 1 Family, 1 Restaurant, an innovative new program that aims to help food-insecure individuals and families enjoy the special pleasure of dining out in area restaurants. "One in six people are food-insecure across the country," said James. 1 Family 1 Restaurant brings them together with participating restaurants and people wishing to donate the needed funds to make that happen.
Using a streamlined online system (, people can donate one or more meals through their favorite participating restaurant. Food-insecure individuals can then redeem a donated meal through a "reservation" that allows them to visit the restaurant and enjoy a meal with their family. "For many," said James, "going out to eat is like a trip to Disneyland. That's how special the experience is."
The 1 Family 1 Restaurant organization is an official partner with 200-plus food banks across the country, and it is James' vision to expand the program nationwide. "In the U.S., 46.5 million people are food-insecure. We want to bring the simple pleasure of dining out to them."

Writer Anneke Green Gives Insights
on Washington DC Journalism
"Work hard and by savvy." Those are the words of advice Anneke Green had for anyone considering a career in politics or journalism in the nation's capital. Anneke was Ventura Rotary South's featured speaker on Monday, April 20, and she regaled the members and guests with  variety of stories from her extensive career that began as a Congressional intern.
After serving as an aide in Senator Mitch McConnell's office, Anneke landed a spot as a speechwriter in Pres. G.W. Bush's administration. "I was passionate about finding stories of extraordinary Americans that President Bush could use in his speeches," said Anneke. Much of her time was spent in the West Wing of the White House, "which never ceased to be awe-inspiring."
Anneke left the administration side of politics to go into publishing. One of her first significant projects was editing rocker Ted Nugent's book, "Ted, White, and Blue." Anneke confided that Nugent "got after me" when she thought she was correcting typos in his manuscript, which turned out to be "Nuge-isms."
Annika is now assistant editorial page editor of the Washington Times. Her stories appear in additional publications including USA Today, and she can be heard weekly on several radio outlets with her commentary.

Rotary Ventura South Donates $1,000
To Thousand Oaks Special Needs Playground
Ron Block (pictured above), member and past president of the Rotary Club of Newbury Park, visited Rotary Ventura South on Monday, April 13, to give an overview of the DreamCatcher Playground, an ambitious project coordinated by multiple Rotary Clubs in the Conejo Valley. The playground is designed to serve children with a variety of mobility and developmental issues such as autism, cerebral palsy, and Down Syndrome.
"Special needs children will be able to play side by side with others on accessible play pieces, rubber surfacing, a tandem swing, and teeter-totter," said Ron. "Umbrellas, shade structures, and cooling mists will provide support to those unable to monitor their temperature needs, or with increased sensitivity to sun." Ron noted that disability affects approximately 12% of the U.S. population.
"We've raised about $268,000 toward our budgeted goal of $500,000," said Ron. With that, Ventura South President Sandy Warren added a correction, stating that, thanks to a unanimous vote by the Ventura South Board, that number would be $1,000 higher. "We're delighted to be able to partner with Play Conejo and support this vital project," said Sandy.
The DreamCatcher Playground is located at Old Meadows Park in Thousand Oaks. Phase 1 will officially open in July conjunction with the Special Olympics. For more information, or to make a donation, visit

Kay Urban Discusses
"Pediatrics on Steroids"
Kay Urban of the Landon Pediatric Foundation was on hand at Rotary Ventura South's April 6 meeting to tell members about the Pediatric Diagnostic Center at Ventura County Medical Center. The facility, developed over the last 20 years by the Foundation, is designed to enable critically ill children to obtain world-class medical care right here in Ventura County. "It's pediatrics on steroids," said Kay.

The Diagnostic Center has three pediatricians and 14 sub-specialists on staff. Together, they offer a medical "one-stop shop" that integrates multiple specialties, social work, behavioral health, an infusion center, and support groups for kids and their families. Kay noted that the Center also serves special needs children. "Our goal is to give every child in Ventura County the specialized care they need."
In addition to its day-to-day care of children with a wide range of diagnoses, the Center is also involved in research activities into such diseases as cystic fibrosis.


Rotary Ventura South Buys Computers
For Boys and Girls Club of Greater Ventura
On Monday, March 30, Patti Birmingham, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Ventura, came to our regular meeting to accept a check for $6,000 from the Rotary Club of Ventura South Foundation. The money will be used to replace 10 computers at the Boys and Girls Club's LeFevre Center on Johnson Drive. Pictured above with Patti is Sandy Warren, current president of Ventura South.

Patti noted that the existing computers are approximately eight years old and are rapidly nearing the end of their useful lives. "These computers are in use five days a week, year round," said Patti. "They are the backbone of our homework program, and they have greatly contributed to the outcome of 97% of our members being on track to graduate from high school. We are extremely grateful for Rotary Ventura South's generous donation."
Sandy noted that Ventura South has long supported the Boys and Girls Club with financial donations and hands-on projects such as painting and refurbishment of Club facilities. "We're always delighted to be able to help this wonderful organization."

Rotary International Garners
Extensive Media Coverage in 2014
According to General Secretary John Hewko, Rotary International received extensive media coverage throughout 2014, with more than 375 news organizations in 20 countries featuring our humanitarian efforts. Of those, roughly 50 stories appeared in top-tier international news organizations, including seven out of the 10 most influential ranked by Forbes, such as the Associated Press, BBC, CNN, Reuters, The Washington Post, TIME, and Wall Street Journal. Highlights include:
TIME Magazine - Rotary's National PolioPlus Chair for Pakistan, Aziz Memon, was quoted. The story also called Rotary "the point-organization for the eradication of polio for more than 25 years.
Newsweek - Rotary's National PolioPlus Committee Chair for Pakistan, Aziz Memon, was quoted in the story, which offers an in-depth look at the history and current status of the polio program.
NPR (National Public Radio) - Rotary's Director of PolioPlus, Carol Pandak, was quoted. The story explores how well-established polio eradication programs prepared Nigeria to fight Ebola.
To view a compilation of the media highlights with links to the coverage, click here.

Members of Ventura Rotary South
Present Dictionaries to Local 3rd Graders
In a favorite January tradition, members of Ventura Rotary South participated in the annual Dictionary Give-away Program, purchasing and distributing over 300 student dictionaries to 3rd graders at three Ventura elementary schools.
Rosanna Colin and Melody Thurman visited Junipero Serra Elementary School on January 13; Marilyn Scott and Kendall Mattina took care of the give-away at Will Rogers Elementary on January 15; and Dennis Longwill and Sandy Warren visited Portola Elementary that same day. (The photo above shows Dennis addressing one of the five classes that he and Sandy visited.)
A big thank you to Marilyn Scott for coordinating the project once again. Thanks also to the members who came together to put Rotary Ventura South labels in the books, including Rosanna Colin, Dennis Longwill, Lee Ann Luongo, John and Kendall Mattina, Marilyn Scott, Jerry Spencer, Melody Thurman, and Sandy Warren. Kudos also to Bob Braitman and Monty Clark who volunteered to serve as "stand-by" presenters.

Manny Pacheco Shares Little-Known Facts
About Stars of Hollywood's Golden Age
On Monday, December 22, members of Ventura Rotary South enjoyed a trip back in time to the Golden Age of Hollywood. Manny Pacheco, author of two books about "Forgotten Hollywood" spoke to the Club and shared fascinating anecdotes and little-known facts about some lesser-known stars of classic films. "There are plenty of books about people like John Wayne and Clark Gable," said Manny. "I decided to concentrate on actors that people recognize but may not immediately be able to recall their names." Examples included Van Heflin, Peter Lorre, and John Barrymore. Additionally, Manny's criteria for including a star in one of his books was a connection of some sort to U.S. history.
Manny's presentation included a video clip of the documentary he is currently working on, and he autographed copies of his two books for members who wished to purchase them. Manny has made the presentation to more than 50 Rotary Clubs - we're delighted to be the most recent of those!


Ventura South Donates Funds and
Builds a "Can-Tree" for FOOD Share

Members of Ventura Rotary South gathered at The Collection shopping center in Oxnard on Saturday afternoon, December 6, to help build and decorate a "tree" out of canned food that the Club donated to FOOD Share, Inc., Ventura County's regional food bank. The Club donated $500 for this year's event, which consisted of a "forest" of more than 200 trees, stacked and decorated for the holidays.

Pictured in the photo above are (l to r) Sandy and Anne Warren, Bob Braitman, John Mattina, Monty Clark, Stacy Zaruka, Nils Johnson, Marilyn Scott, and Kendall Mattina. (Standing with Kendall is Maxwell, our official job supervisor for the day. Maxwell is the Mattina's grandson.)

For additional photos of the event, check out the link on the "Photo Album" section of our home page.

Thanks to all who turned out to lend a hand with the tree building and decoration!




Mayor Cheryl Heitmann Presents
"State of the City" to Ventura South

On Monday, November 10, Rotary Ventura South welcomed Ventura Mayor Cheryl Heitmann as our lunchtime speaker. Mayor Heitmann presented a comprehensive "State of the City" overview, complete with a PowerPoint presentation of images, charts, and descriptive data.

"These are exciting and challenging times for Ventura," said Mayor Heitmann. She described the City's efforts to help new businesses get started with an "entrepreneurial zone" at City Hall. She noted the recent increase in sports tourism in Ventura with marathons, water sports, and bicycle racing at the new BMX track at Community Park on Kimball Avenue.

Mayor Heitmann also described the City's efforts to maintain the quality of core services, despite budgetary challenges. Such services include street maintenance, water and wastewater services, fire protection, and law enforcement. The Mayor noted that violent crime has decreased nearly 10% and burglaries are down about 17%. She also described a renewed emphasis on senior services through the Ventura Council on Aging, including a focus on providing transportation to seniors in need.

"Ventura is a wonderful place to visit, live and work," said Mayor Heitmann. Her presentation to Ventura Rotary South certainly confirmed that!





Educator and Literary Agent Toni Lopopolo
Instructs Ventura South on Book Publishing

On Monday, October 27, members of Rotary Ventura South enjoyed a fascinating lesson in current trends in book publishing from local educator and literary agent Toni Lopopolo. With an extensive background in editing and publishing, including positions as executive editor with MacMillan and St. Martin's Press, Toni heads up her own agency which partners with authors in developing and editing their projects. She has created a unique series of fiction "bootcamps" and writers' groups that she has named "Tea with Toni."

"The world of book publishing has changed radically in the last decade," said Toni. "The explosion of electronic publishing via the Internet has created a huge new marketplace." She noted that, while the quantity of available literature has dramatically increased, the same cannot be said of the quality. Most beginning authors fail to perform a much-needed step in the writing process: self-editing. They get to the end of their first draft and decide it's ready for publishing. "Not true," said Toni, "The greatest writers in history have been relentless editors of their own work." She also noted how valuable a professional editor can be.

While the digital age has brought many innovations to the world of publishing, Toni still prefers the traditional bound book format. She noted that the vast majority of major publishing houses are now owned by European companies.

Summing up, Toni advised the aspiring novelists in attendance to avoid several common pitfalls: submitting a manuscript without thorough editing, failure to master the craft of plot development, setting, point of view, etc., poorly developed or boring characters, and the use of passive rather than active voice.

All in all, the members of Rotary Ventura South left Monday's meeting with a clear idea of the challenges and rewards of book publishing.




Rotary Ventura South Members Enjoy Club Social
Hosted by Dennis and Jeannette Longwill

On a picture-perfect late Saturday afternoon, October 25, some 50 members of Ventura Rotary South and their guests enjoyed a wonderful Club Social, hosted by Club President-Elect Dennis Longwill and his wife Jeannette at their beautiful beach-front home in Mussel Shoals, just a few miles north of Ventura. Tasty hors d'oeuvre, a catered Mexican buffet, and a range of tempting desserts formed a perfect menu for the casual affair, and most of those in attendance spent the majority of their time on the Longwills' spacious terrace, enjoying the warm sun and cool afternoon breeze.

Huge thanks to Dennis and Jeannette for hosting such a lovely event, and to Family of Rotary Chair Melody Thurman for her assistance in organizing the food and drink. As any Rotarian will tell you, the third element of our Four Way Test asks the question, "Will it build goodwill and better friendships?" The answer on Saturday evening, as the sun set slowly into the Pacific, was a resounding Yes!

For a look at photos from the event, check out the Photo Album box on our home page!




Jonell McLain Updates Rotary Ventura South
On Plans for Ventura Botanical Gardens

At our regular meeting on Monday, September 29, Jonell McLain, a Board member of the Ventura Botanical Gardens, provided members with an enthusiastic and comprehensive update on plans for the Gardens, currently under construction in the hills behind Ventura City Hall and adjacent to Grant Park. Jonell noted that, upon completion, the 107-acre garden will be significantly larger than the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

"This will truly be a new destination of choice for visitors to Ventura County," said Jonell. We have over a hundred acres of lush coastal hillside overlooking one of the historic mission cities of California. This is truly a unique opportunity to enhance the already stunning beauty of the Ventura hills."

Jonell explained that the Gardens will actually be a combination of five garden areas: Australia, California, Cape, Chilean, and Mediterranean. "The Chilean section will feature the largest selection of native plants outside of Chile, including a grove of native palms."

Jonell also noted that there's an app for iPhone and Android, narrated by Stephanie Edwards, that will lead visitors through an audio tour of the completed Gardens, pointing out important botanic and geologic features. The Gardens will also include a library and visitors center.

For more information, visit the Gardens' website at Thanks to Jonell for a terrific presentation!




Rotary Ventura South Welcomes New Member
During Visit from District Governor Loretta Butts

On Monday, September 15, our Club was honored by a visit from District 5240 Governor Loretta Butts and her husband, John. Loretta met with our Board members prior to our regular meeting at noon, then spoke to the general membership about current Rotary happenings at the District level, as well as her inspiring experience participating in a National Immunization Day (NID) in Nigeria some years ago. NIDs are an integral part of Rotary International's signature service project: the eradication of polio worldwide. When a member participates in an NID, he/she has the opportunity to actually administer the oral vaccine to children in an affected country.

Our September meeting was a doubly exciting event, as we welcomed Lee Ann Luongo as the newest member of our Club. Lee Ann works in fundraising for the Boys and Girls Club of Ventura. In the photo above, District Governor Loretta places a Rotary pin on Lee Ann, as Marilyn Scott, who recommended Lee Ann for membership, looks on. Welcome Lee Ann, and thank you Loretta for making our September 15 meeting so special and inspiring!




Professor Margaret de la M Offers Insights
On the Proper Use of Email for Business

At our regular meeting on Monday, September 8, Oxnard College Professor Margaret de la M treated members to a helpful "mini-class" in the proper use of email for business professionals. Among the many tips she shared were these:

  • When writing an email message, paragraphs should be short.
  • The best way to make several points in an email is to use lists with bullets or numbers.
  • If you know the recipient is often in a hurry, the best way to send a supporting document is in the body of the message, rather than as an attachment.
  • When sending a message, you should copy (cc) only those people who absolutely MUST know.
  • When writing a subject line, be specific and brief.

In addition to her work as a college English professor, Margaret is a business owner who trains people in Writing Skills for the Workplace. Judging by the number of comments and questions from our members, she did some fine training during her presentation to our Club!




Ventura Rotary South Supports
2014 Veteran's Stand-Down

On Saturday, July 26, members of Ventura Rotary South gathered at the Ventura National Guard Armory to provide support to the Annual Veterans' Stand-Down, a three-day event that provides a variety of assistance to homeless veterans throughout the County. Gerardo Sanchez, our Club's Vocational Service Chair, coordinated member participation, which included serving a barbecue dinner to more than 100 hungry veterans. Pictured above, from left, are Dennis and Jeannette Longwill, Don and Marilyn Scott, Nils Johnson, and Anne and Sandy Warren. Other Club members who participated, but are not pictured here included Gerardo and his wife Maria, Beth Lyons, and Bob Braitman. Check out the photo album in the menu on the right of the home page for additional pictures from the afternoon's event.



Recently, the members of Ventura Rotary South donated $500 for relief efforts in Valparaiso, Chile, where a devastating fire occurred in April. We received the photo below as an acknowledgement of the donation.





Sondra Briggs Explains the Power
of the Mastermind Technique

Our speaker on Monday, July 14, was author and facilitator Sondra Briggs. She introduced members and guests of Rotary Ventura South to the Mastermind Technique for Goal Accomplishment. Simply stated, Mastermind is a technique of gathering and consolidating resources necessary for attaining goals. It is applicable to individuals and groups.  For the latter, Sondra shared a number of effective meeting techniques that foster collaboration and synergy. She also shared her personal experience of applying the principles of Mastermind and achieving a long-standing goal of traveling and working in Japan.




Step Down Dinner for President Dante Honorico

Ventura South Rotary Club threw a Step Down Dinner on Monday night, June 30, to honor President Dante Honorico and thank him for a fantastic year (2013-2014).

The step down dinner was held at the Wedgewood Banquet Center.  After dinner, Dante reminisced on the year, and presented tokens of thanks to the many Club Members who contributed to the club's success.  As his final official duty for the year, Dante passed the gavel to incoming President Sandy Warren, who thanked Dante for his outstanding service to the Club.

Click here for a link for more photos of the event:

Ventura East Rotary Club threw a Picnic Bash on Sunday afternoon, June 29, to honor President Tim Hughes and thank him for a fantastic year (2013-2014). - See more at:



Ventura South's Jack Tingstrom
Is Salsa Dancing with the Stars!

On Saturday and Sunday, July 26 and 27, long-time Ventura Rotary South member and former Ventura Mayor Jack "Twinkle Toes" Tingstrom will e salsa dancing at Oxnard's Annual Salsa Festival to raise money for CareGivers, Ventura County's renowned senior service organization. In typical "Dancing with the Stars" fashion, fans can "vote" for their favorite dancers by making a financial contribution. Every dollar donated equals one vote. They's also looking for Club as well as individual sponsorships for this worthy group that trains volunteers to work with frail and needy Ventura County senior citizens.

For additional information, please contact CareGivers Executive Director Tammy Glenn at 805-658-8530 or email her at CareGivers is celebrating its 30th anniversary in the County this year (and Jack happens to be celebrating his 79th birthday as well!).





Ventura Rotary South Now Sister Club
With Rotary Club of Olmue del Valle, Chile

On Monday, June 9, members of Ventura Rotary South voted unanimously to accept the invitation from Julio Rocha of the Rotary Club of Olmue del Valle in Chile, to officially become sister Clubs. In the photo above, Ventura Rotary South President Dante Honorico and Julio hold the sister Club proclamation. Ventura South has participated with other area Clubs to donate a vehicle to help residents in the rural area of Chile gain access to medical facilities and other services. Dante and Julio pledged to continue working together as part of their Clubs' new "sister" relationship.



Ventura Rotary South Holds Annual Bake Sale
In Support of St. Bonaventure Interact Club

Among the various fund-raising events conducted by members of Ventura Rotary South is the annual Bake Sale in support of the Interact Club at St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura. Interact is the worldwide branch of Rotary designed for young people from 12-18 who want to make a difference in global and local issues they care about. The Interact Club at St. Bonaventure has supported such causes as Caregivers (a Ventura County senior care organization), community recycling programs, Rotary International's Polio Plus Program, and even Ventura Rotary South.

Each year, St. Bonaventure Interact students and their friends bake up plates of tasty treats, which are then auctioned off to the highest bidders at a Ventura South lunch meeting. This year, we had everything from fresh chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies to homemade brownies to red velvet cake. In the photo above, Ventura South member Dennis Longwill gets the bidding started on a plate of cookies held by Interact member Angelina.

This year's Bake Sale raised a total of $1,200 in support for the Interact Club. (As usual, the tasty baked goods expanded a few waistlines as well.)




Rotary Ventura South Welcomes Norbert Tan
Of Ventura College Foundation

Norbert Tan, Executive Director of the Ventura College Foundation, addressed members and guests of Rotary Ventura South at our regular meeting on Monday, May 12. Established in 1983, the Foundation provides financial support to the students and programs of Ventura College. It ranks among the most successful community college foundations in California, having raised more than $20 million for Ventura College and its students.

Norbert described some exciting developments at the college, including contruction of a new applied science center (scheduled for completion in 2015), the 50th anniversary of the College's nursing program, and the many academic alternatives open to students, whether they are looking to Ventura College as a springboard to a four-year school, or seeking out one of the many vocational learning opportunities. "At $46 per unit," said Norbert, "Ventura College is still one of the best values around in higher education."

He noted also that the Foundation provides financial aid to qualified applicants. Last year, the Foundation awarded more than $450,000 in scholarships.

For more information about the Ventura College Foundation, visit





May 25, 2015
No Meeting
(Memorial Day Holiday)
Jun 08, 2015
Offsite Meeting
Ventura Pediatric Diagnostic Center
Jun 15, 2015
Al Guillen
Novelist and Agricultural Expert
Jun 22, 2015
Wade Nomura
State of Rotary
Jun 22, 2015
Anthony Sands
Writer, Director, Producer
Jun 29, 2015
Club Step-Down Dinner
(No Regular Meeting)

Upcoming Events


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