January 29, 2015
THE ACORN AGOURA HILLS - GROUP EFFORT - Above, girls from Region 5 District 3 of the National Charity League make blankets for children at Casa Pacifica during the 2015 Ticktocker Day in Camarillo on Jan. 24. At right, Oak Park residents Kathy Clarke, at left, and Kathleen Dryden, 13, fold a completed blanket during the event. Around 180 girls worked to make 400 blankets and bracelets for the children. Seven chapters of the NCL participated in the event with members coming from West L.A. all the way west to Santa Barbara.
January 26, 2015
Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival tickets are now live and available for purchase at www.cpwineandfoodfestival.com/tickets.
General Admission tickets are available for the best price of 2015 at $95 each until 500 are sold OR until midnight January 31st. VIP tickets are also available at best price of 2015 at $225 each until March 31st. The VIP Lounge is Presented by Wells Fargo featuring Plated Events, Malibu Family Wines and Anheuser Bush Belgium Beer Garden.
Voted both “Best Charity Event” and “Best Food & Drink Festival” of Ventura County in 2012, 2013 and 2014 the festival has become the premiere wine and food event in Ventura County.
The 22nd Annual Festival will showcase the finest restaurants, caterers, bakeries and specialty shops from Santa Barbara to Conejo Valley, renowned wineries and vineyards from throughout California’s rich wine-producing regions as well as several awarded micro-breweries.
The Festival is all inclusive and patrons may sample and sip as many delightful foods and beverages as they desire as often as they wish. The day also features continuous live entertainment and the largest silent auction in Ventura County.
Patrons can also watch as Executive Chefs from all over compete in “The Yummies Culinary Competition” - the action-packed culinary showdown that brings in Ventura County’s TOP restaurants and chefs. The winners are determined by a panel of Celebrity Culinary Judges comprised of television and print media personalities, food and wine editors and food and wine columnists, who select the top three entries and winners in both the “Savory” and “Sweet” categories.
All proceeds from the Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival benefit Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, which provides hope and help for abused, neglected or at-risk children and their families in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.
Last year the Festival raised over $410,000 (net) towards the $3.0 million Casa Pacifica needed to raise in private donations. Each year, as part of its public/private partnership, Casa Pacifica must raise 10-12% of its budget to fill the gap between what it receives from government service contracts and the actual cost of providing its wide variety of high quality programs and services to the most vulnerable children in our communities and their families.
January 20, 2015
FLASH SALE! Casa Pacifica Angels Wine Food Brew Festival tickets are NOW LIVE and available for purchase at www.cpwineandfoodfestival.com/tickets! GENERAL ADMISSION tickets are available for the BEST PRICE of 2015 at $95 each until 500 are sold OR until midnight January 31st! VIP tickets are also available at BEST PRICE of 2015 at $225 each until March 31st! (Note: Please refresh web page as needed to view 2015 information!) See you there! #cpwinefoodbrew
January 10, 2015
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. - It felt quite a bit like winter on Saturday in Westlake Village as the rain fell and children played in snow bundled up against the cooler temperatures. It was, in many ways, a fitting day on which to hold the annual Coats for Casa clothing drive at Three Springs Neighborhood Park, where folks could drop off donated coats, sweaters and other items for underprivileged children and families. “The fact that we’ve got some rain, it adds into the event,” said co-organizer Lydia Gabler of Keller Williams Realty. It’s the fifth year that Gabler and Rick Winters of Winters Financial Group have hosted Coats for Casa to benefit Casa Pacifica in Camarillo, which provides emergency shelter, medical and other community-based intervention for families in need and for at-risk children. In addition to inviting the public to drop off coats and other warm clothing at the park Saturday, the pair also put collection boxes at local businesses. It’s an event that has flourished since it began in 2011. Last year the drive collected 1,400 items of clothing.
“We’re just thankful for the volume of people that are coming out not just with one or two items but with bagfuls,” said Winters. “We went through every closet,” said Kim Richardson of Westlake Village as she dropped off a bundle of clothes. “They are items that are still in terrific condition. We’ve either outgrown them or we don’t have a need for them anymore and they’re going to a place where they’re going to be utilized and appreciated.” Michelle Scruggs of West Hills was one of the volunteers who helped to sort and bag the donations. “We’ve got sweatshirts, long-sleeved shirts, sweats and shoes and coats,” she said. “It looks like some people even just went to the store and bought stuff. There are things that are coming with brand new tags.” “It’s such a great thing to be a part of,” she said. Vicki Murphy from Casa Pacifica said the nonprofit serves about 560 children a day, many of whom arrive at their campus or shelters with nothing but the clothes they are wearing. “This says to them, the community hasn’t forsaken you,” said Murphy. “There are lot of people out there loving you and caring for you right now.” “This has been an enormous gift to us,” she said. “Everybody at Casa Pacifica is anticipating the arrival of the coats.” The Coats for Casa event, which provides snow for kids to play in and offers free coffee and smoothies for the adults, has been embraced by the local community.
Jack Dvir has supported the event since the start and said his sons Nathan, 6, and Noah, 10, always look forward to it. “We love it. It’s a great way for the community to gather together and do a good deed,” said Dvir. “I love snow and just playing in it and snowball fights and sledding and stuff,” said Noah as he took a breather. “I love this. It totally feels like winter today.” “I just think for me having fun and other people to have what they need is awesome,” he said.
December 31, 2014
Homemade cookies and cakes are a surefire way for folks to show love and good cheer during the holidays, but for children living in foster care facilities, the treats are especially welcome. Oak Park residents Sandy Phillips and Bev Futterman proved to foster kids that they have not been forgotten during the holidays through a yearly project called “Homemade with Love.” For the past four years, the women have rallied their community to bake cookies—by the thousands—and package them and deliver them to foster care facilities in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Phillips said the idea of sharing cookies during the holidays sprang from a talk with Futterman about their love of baking. Many charitable groups donate clothes, toys and gifts to children during the holidays, but cookies gave them a novel way to bring joy to children living in foster care facilities. Phillips said this year more than 5,000 cookies were baked and packaged for the six foster care group homes: Casa Pacifica and the Rain Project in Camarillo, Vista Del Mar in Los Angeles, Five Acres in Alta Dena and Penny Lane in North Hills. “They are so excited about it,” Phillips said about the children who receive the cookies. “They really are so appreciative.” This year a local Girl Scout troop participated in baking and packaging the cookies as well. Futterman said Oak Park Girl Scout Troop 60503 baked an array of cookies for distribution. Phillips said the a community effort was extraordinary this year. “(This) could never be done without everyone’s help,” she said.
December 18, 2014
PODS of Tri-Counties has teamed up with the Village Dirtbags, a local group of mountain bike enthusiasts, to provide its moving and storage logistics for the ninth annual “Christmas Bikes for Kids” giveaway on Saturday, Dec. 20, from 10 a.m. – noon at Bicycles Unlimited, located at 660 North H St. in Lompoc. Casa Pacifica is one of several recipients of the drive!
December 18, 2014
Acorn Thousand Oaks - CANDYCANE ARCHES - The decorated Orelli family home at 469 Highland Ave. in Simi Valley will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights between 6 and 10 p.m. for visitors to tour the house, make ornaments, donate to charity and drop off toys for children at Casa Pacifica.
December 11, 2014
For the second year in a row, Life of a Rock Star is bringing in an array of talented and gratuitous musicians to sing to the children at Casa Pacifica as they enjoy a Christmas party in their gymnasium transformed by AMGEN. Returning musicians Ari Welkom and Katy Cappella will be donating their time along with exciting additions to the 2014 Christmas music lineup that include Scott James and LAYNE.Imagine being a young child alone without your parents at the holidays. You can make a difference.
Donate to Casa Pacifica here or fill a Casa Pacifica child’s Christmas wish and do something charitable this season to spread some holiday joy!
December 11, 2014
Organizers said the benefit for Casa Pacifica raised twice as much money as last year. About $10,000 will go to Casa Pacifica in Camarillo. Since the early 1990s Casa Pacifica has helped 26,000 neglected, abused and at-risk children through its programs and residential treatment center. Guests at the Pierpont Inn Pavilion enjoyed lunch, a Cabi fashion show and a silent and live auctions plus a raffle. Many of the guests donated $40 to become Casa Pacifica angels. To donate go to www.casapacifica.org.
November 3, 2014
PizzaRev has announced its newest location in Camarillo at 660 E. Ventura Blvd. near the Camarillo Premium Outlets will open this month. The growing build-your-own pizza shop will host a “Pizzas for a Purpose” fundraising event Thursday at the new location’s grand opening where guests are invited to “pay-what-they-want” for a custom-built, personal-sized pizza. An $8 contribution is suggested and will benefit Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families, a nonprofit provider of children’s mental health services throughout Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
September 24, 2014
THOUSAND OAKS, CALIF. – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is awarding an $85,634 grant to Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families for the first year of its behavioral health workforce education and training program for professionals and paraprofessionals. For this three-year program, the recommended total federal grant support would be $312,014, pending the availability of funds and satisfactory progress.
“I am pleased that Casa Pacifica will be able to increase the number of American Psychological Association (APA) accredited internships it can offer to pre- and post-doctoral psychology students who work with foster youth,” said Brownley. “This program, which is unique to California, is one of the few residential settings for high-risk foster youth and those who have been diagnosed with major trauma or mental health needs.”
“This is fantastic news and will help us to develop a much-needed mental health workforce for Ventura County and the rest of the nation. These interns will be trained to work with vulnerable youth most at risk for complex mental health, medical and addiction problems,” said Myra Saltoun, Ph.D., Director of Campus Services at Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families.
Casa Pacifica provides culturally competent mental health, primary care, and educational services for children, youth, and Transitional Aged Youth who come from diverse backgrounds. Interns work within multidisciplinary teams and learn to manage the multiple and complex issues surrounding the mental health treatment needs of severely at-risk children and adolescents who have experienced trauma in their lives. Expanding this program will positively impact the lives of many children, youth, and families through the development of capable and knowledgeable clinical psychologists.
September 18, 2014
Casa Pacifica was voted first place in the “Best Food & Drink Festival” and “Best Charity Event” categories in VC Reporter annual awards Best of Ventura County! Casa Pacifica also placed first (in a tie) in the “Best Non-Profit” category! We are so grateful to everyone who voted and for their support of our kids!
August 17, 2014
SANTA PAULA, Calif. - With the booming voice of a sports announcer, gourmet chef Jason Collis was at it again Sunday, raising thousands of dollars for people in need. This time the recipients of his energy and largesse were the children of Casa Pacifica, a shelter and home for abused and neglected children. Calling out team names like Santa Barbarians, Collis, who studied under Wolfgang Puck, wielded a microphone to manage a full-blown bocce ball tournament that attracted hundreds of competitors.
Nearly 1,500 people attended the daylong event at Limoneira Ranch just outside Santa Paula, a turnout that raised about $20,000 for Casa Pacifica, according to Carrie Hughes, spokeswoman for the nonprofit. The event was part of a fundraising festival hosted by Collis’s Plated Events business, which holds four charitable benefits a year and maintains a busy catering schedule. Sunday’s event was a success, he said. At least 75 volunteers helped out, including many Plated Events staff members. Gourmet food trucks — and in one case a pastry hearse — also were on hand. “This is a great way to give to the community,” said Deb Dawson, pastry chef for Desserts to Die For and owner of the hearse. Portions of food truck sales were donated to Casa Pacifica, which provides counseling and shelter to 600 children and families a day at its Camarillo campus and community centers, Hughes said.
Sonja Heritage and Jim Wiggins, who run a farm nearby, attended Sunday’s event. “We’re neighbors and liked the sound of this festival” and its purpose, Wiggins said. Janisha Tye, 19, “grew up” at Casa Pacifica, she said. She plans to go to Ventura College in the fall and most likely pursue a career that involves helping foster children. On Sunday, Tye staffed a ticket booth and did other volunteer duties. “The people and staff at Casa are like a family to me,” Tye said.
August 7, 2014
The day Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families opened its doors to abused and neglected children was one CEO Steve Elson won’t easily forget. It was 20 years ago July 19 that the first six children arrived at the newly opened Casa Pacifica, near what is now (CSU) Channel Islands. Elson recalls the staff feeling a mixture of excitement and anxiousness. It was, after all, a new public and private venture financed by $10 million in donations, and success at that point was only imagined. It didn’t take long for staffers to realize how much Casa Pacifica was needed. Within the first month, another 65 children who had been removed from their homes or had unmanageable behavior problems joined the original six. Elson recalls the words of one boy who said, on his second day at Casa Pacifica, “I can’t believe people care about us this much.”
FOR THE KIDS—A picture from 1994 shows the Casa Pacifica administration building under construction. The nonprofit is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and raising money for a campus expansion. Courtesy of Casa Pacifica Casa Pacifica grew out of the concern of local residents that the needs of children removed from homes by Ventura County Child Protective Services were not being met. In the beginning, the organization only worked with children who lived full time on the campus, which provided emergency shelter and offered a residential treatment program and a nonpublic, special education school. Two years later the school was opened to day students. In the early years, Casa Pacifica served about 325 children a year, all on its campus. Today, it delivers services to about 4,900 children annually throughout Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The number of programs it offers has grown from four to 17; its staff has quadrupled to 390 and volunteers tripled to 1,250; and its budget has grown from $4.5 million to $30 million.
The need for its services doesn’t seem to abate - Casa Pacifica’s newest program is aimed at helping children who age out of the foster care system. “The biggest question we were asked over the years was, ‘What happens when they turn 18?’” said Vicki Murphy, chief advancement officer and director of alumni services. So, two years ago, two old houses that were once part of the Camarillo State Mental Hospital were deeded to Casa Pacifica. They have been rehabbed to provide housing for youths who age out of the foster system. Murphy said the residents, from 18 to 21 years old, have to attend school full time, work full time or a mix of school and work. They also pay rent and buy their own food. Murphy, who has worked at Casa Pacifica for 14 years after serving as a volunteer for two, said the organization has recently acquired a house in Ventura that will be able to house about 11 residents. >> read more
July 25, 2014
KEYT Ch. 3 VIDEO - Reporter Kelsey Gerckens interviewed CEO Dr. Steve Elson and Casa Pacifica Youth Advocate Erick Alvarez about Casa Pacifica’s 20th Anniversary. Casa Pacifica served 324 children the first year opened and now serves 5,000 children annually.
KEYT Report: A home for children separated from their parents due to abuse or neglect celebrates its 20th anniversary this July. Casa Pacifica is a sprawling facility in Camarillo. It serves children from both Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. “Our primary purpose is to work with kids who are removed from home because of abuse or neglect,” said Casa Pacifica CEO Dr. Steven Elson. The first year the facility was opened they served 324 children, now they serve close to 5,000 children every year.
“We meet kids and families at the most challenging times of their lives and our goal is too try and help them through those challenges and to move into adulthood with success,” said Elson. Erick Alvarez is one of more than 25,000 children who have received help from Casa Pacifica in the last 20 years. “I was an illegitimate conception. I was an unwanted child and through the pain, neglect and abuse I ended up in foster care at the age of 8,” said Alvarez. Alvarez says walking through the doors of Casa Pacifica forever changed his life.
“I was allowed to take a shower, then I was given a warm meal and immediately following that I was tucked into bed with clean sheets for the first time,” said Alvarez, “It was a turning point for the positive, they supported me, they gave me resources, they loved on me and it was an unconditional kind of love and that built hope and mustered this strength within me.” Ten years later Alvarez is now working at Casa Pacifica to help the kids that are in this same position he once was. “I wanted to give back and be a part of that now,” said Alvarez.
July 12, 2014
Chad Brooks, 18, dug into his second bag of Goldfish crackers. Lizzy Clews, 19, cradled her newborn son, Ezra. Janisha Tye, 18, sat the end of the table, thumbing her smartphone. At the other end of the dining room table on this cool June evening was the chair where Michael Stevens, 18, used to sit. Stevens was asked to leave a few months before because he didn’t follow the rules of Vicki’s Place, a transitional home for young people who have “aged out” of foster care by turning 18. With “Law and Order” reruns playing on the TV in the adjoining room, Ray Franco, the program manager for Casa Pacifica “CITY” — Coaching Independence in Transitional Youth — began the regular Monday night check-in meeting. “O.K., what worked for everybody this week?” Franco asked. “Lizzy?” Clews smiled down at Ezra, looked up and said: “Ezra’s working for me.” The highlight for Brooks that week was a new video game. And for Tye, her impending graduation from high school June 11.
The Monday night meetings are part of the agreement for those in Vicki’s Place, two renovated homes on the grounds of Casa Pacifica in Camarillo designed to house selected youths who have aged out of the foster-care system. Many grew up at Casa Pacifica, which celebrates its 20th anniversary on July18. “You guys aren’t my roommates, you’re my brothers and sisters because we grew up in the system,” said Tye during one of the Monday night meetings.
Vicki’s Place is bricks and mortar, but it’s also a multipart program that is essentially extended foster care for those 18 to 21. The program is a substitute for those who don’t have a stable family to act as a safety net as they launch themselves into adulthood. “Whereas most people can go home to Mommy and Daddy, they’re really on their own when it comes to coming of age as adults,” Franco said. “It is our goal to get them out on their own as soon as they’re ready. To have their own apartment, to be responsible for their own bills so that when they do turn 21 and the support ends, they are ready.”
The need for a program like this seems evident judging by the statistics. According to a foster child advocacy group called Children’s Rights, when foster children turn 18 and strike out on their own, they are at high risk for homelessness, joblessness, illness, incarceration, welfare dependency, early childbearing and sexual and physical victimization. Various studies across the country show that 12 to 30 percent of aged out foster youth were homeless, 40 to 63 percent don’t complete high school, 40 to 60 percent of young women became pregnant within a year to a year and a half of leaving foster care and 18 to 26 percent were incarcerated. To put a dent in these statistics, California Assembly Bill 12 — the California Fostering Connections to Success Act — was passed in 2010 and went into effect in 2012. The Federal Fostering Connections to Success Act was passed in 2008 and states could participate on a voluntary basis. California’s law allows youths to remain in foster care a few years longer, and get financial assistance. As of January of 2014, youths could stay in extended foster care until age 21.
In 2012, Casa Pacifica raised enough private donations to renovate two abandoned homes and a detached garage on the property and create a yard and landscaping. “The houses had been sitting there for 17 years,” said Casa Pacifica Chief Advancement Officer Vicki Murphy, for whom “Vicki’s Place” is named. “Before that we were placing (aged out) kids in apartments in scattered sites throughout the county.” Vicki’s Place can house eight young adults at a time, as long as they agree to certain rules designed to transition them into independence. There are also accommodations for young mothers, so one of the residents can be a baby or toddler. “What makes Vicki’s Place unique is that these kids are surrounded with services,” Murphy said. “We are with them. They have a youth advocate, they have a clinician, they have a case manager.”
June 7, 2014
If you’ve been to Tierra Sur restaurant at Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard or watched its executive chef work the grill at the annual From Field to Fork Dinner at The Walnut Grove in Moorpark, you know Gabe Garcia. More often than not, he’s the guy wearing a blue Brooklyn Dodgers cap with his black chef’s coat. The man who appeared on stage Sunday to accept Tierra Sur’s first-place award at the 21st annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival was no Gabe Garcia. He was the chef from another restaurant entirely, holding Tierra Sur’s winning, Yummie Top Chef Culinary Competition certificate over his head in triumph after an unfortunate series of events that involved language barriers and perhaps more than a dash of opportunism. (Owners of the chef’s restaurant later posted a photo of the awards ceremony on its Facebook page).
If it was difficult for the crowd of about 4,400 people to determine who won what, consider the job facing the judges as they tasted their way through the competition’s 24 entries. Celebrity judges William Bloxsom-Carter, executive chef at the Playboy Mansion, and Masa Shimakawa, master sushi chef at ONYX at the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, led a panel that this year included Paul Delagnes of Bread Basket Cake Co. and Karl Holst, executive chef at Birnam Wood Golf Club. Returnees included Sarene Wallace of Edible Ojai & Ventura County and yours truly. After two rounds of judging, the first-place results were nearly identical to those of 2013.
The top “sweets” prize again went to Anastashia Chavez, who represented Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Co. of Calabasas last year and now is the pastry chef at Barrelhouse 101 in Ventura. Her entry this year was a stacked confection of cake and balsamic vinegar-infused cheesecake, held together with chocolate ganache and berry preserves spiked with red ale. Similar desserts are available on the Eat Your Beer dessert menu Chavez offers at the restaurant. As happened last year, the “savory” prize went to Garcia and Tierra Sur, this time for an elegant plating of cold-smoked hamachi served with beet butter, fresh and dried citrus, and sweet-and-sour leeks. The dish is a variation on similar combinations featured on Tierra Sur’s tapas menu. Taking second and third place in sweets, respectively, were Ali Davis, owner and pastry chef of The Sugar Lab, for miniature Key lime pies in cinnamon-graham cracker crusts, and Ernie Borjas, executive chef at The Yacht Club at Channel Islands, for his tropical take on baklava. In the savory category, second and third place went to executive chef Rachel Main of Main Course California for cherry-smoked short ribs and crisped kale, and to the team from Market Broiler for seared scallops and a pear-mixed green salad.
Yummie Top Chef Dinner
The festival netted more than $400,000 for Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families. Adding to the coffers and to the schedule this year was the Yummie Top Chef Dinner, which took place May 30 in the festival’s VIP tent on the CSU Channel Islands campus in Camarillo. Featuring nine courses by 11 chefs, the dinner was not for light eaters. Tim Kilcoyne, who took first place in the inaugural Yummie competition in 2009 and now is the chef/owner of the food truck Scratch, served braised pork meatballs with mole, pickled cherries and smoked almond purée. The dish was paired with a maple brown ale called Restraint, made in Camarillo by Institution Ale Co. and the winning entry in the festival’s first Best-in-Fest Brew competition. Nic Manocchio, now the chef for University Glen Corp. at CSUCI, presented crispy wontons layered with marinated seaweed and alfalfa-smoked octopus. Luis Martinez, executive chef at C-Street Restaurant at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel, countered with potato-crusted roasted salmon atop herbed baby turnips and vanilla beurre blanc. Formerly of the Pierpont Inn and Blue Stove at Nordstrom, executive chef Oscar Ledesma took time out from preparing for the opening later this month of Mastro’s Ocean Club Malibu at the former Chart House. His pho was the most interactive course of the evening: Diners poured broth from individual porcelain sake bottles into bowls of herbs, noodles and whisper-thin slices of Wagyu beef.
As the VIP tent’s resident chef and Top Chef Dinner coordinator, chef Jason Collis of Plated Events by Jason prepared spice-salted grilled flat iron steaks with fig-fennel-onion jam, served with glasses of Franknvine, a red blend from Cantara Cellars of Camarillo. Collis also served cold cucumber-yogurt soup in shot glasses with caviar lime pulp clinging to the rims. The latter proved too adventurous for one of my table mates, who mistook the pulp for fish caviar and wiped it away before taking a sip. Somewhere, a foodie angel lost its wings. Many of the same chefs would face off in the Yummie competition less than two days later, but you wouldn’t know it from the mood in the outdoor kitchen behind the tent. “I cried three times just watching the camaraderie back there,” said Carrie Hughes, director of development and public relations for Casa Pacifica. “All you heard was ‘chef, chef, chef’ as they asked each other what needed to be done. The person who did course one stayed and helped with course nine.” Attended by about 120 people this year, the Top Chef Dinner will return next year, Hughes said. Mark your calendars: The festival will make its 22nd annual appearance on June 7, 2015.
June 1, 2014
Amid a campaign to raise money for a growing campus, additional services and more beds, Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families held a wine, food and brew festival Sunday at CSU Channel Islands. The event, which has become a who’s who of Ventura County food and wine culture, is a cornerstone benefit for Casa Pacifica, whose services in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties have become more crucial to a growing population of foster children.
“There are more children coming into the child welfare system,” said agency CEO Steve Elson. “We’re not always able to accommodate everyone, and we have waiting lists.” Elson said the Camarillo campus is undergoing a renovation and that with a recent gift of $3 million from the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, additional permanent buildings will replace temporary structures and a medical clinic and therapy services will have new office space. There will also be new space for outpatient services and a vocational training facility.
“We’re working with Haas Automation, and they’ll have a machining and equipment training facility, and we’ll also have a commercial kitchen added to train kids for culinary skills,” Elson said. The campus will also add training facilities for the 400 full- and part-time employees. The wine, food and brew festival, however, is not part of the capital campaign, instead providing money for Casa Pacifica’s annual budget of about $30 million.
“It’s our signature event,” Elson said. “It is our single largest fundraiser, and it helps heighten community awareness about the important work we do with the highest-risk children and families in our region. It has also proven to be a unique way to introduce us to folks who wind up becoming significant supporters.”
Officials said more than 4,500 people attended the festival. “It’s a real Sunday picnic atmosphere,” said Rose Petrinic, of Camarillo. “It’s festive and fun, and it’s for such a great cause it’s hard to pass it up.” “I’m here for my second year,” said Thousand Oaks resident Mark Wasserman, owner of Vinemark Winery. “Last year, though, it was only the second event I’d been at of any kind.” Wasserman said exposure for his wines is the key reason that events like this are important to him. “It’s a great way to not only sell wine, but also be part of something larger in the community,” he said.
Bill Lokker, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Camarillo, said the event is one of his favorites. “Casa Pacifica works with some of the most challenged kids in our community who need the most care and support. Being at this event helps fill in the gaps created through the year for them.”
Jim McGee, CEO of the Central Coast Region of the American Red Cross and his wife, Wendy, attended for the first time. “This is what community is all about,” he said. “People are here because they’re volunteering for an important cause and to help the most vulnerable in our community.”
Photo Troy Harvey/VC Star
June 3, 2014
On June 3, 2014, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved a recommendation from the County Executive Officer, Michael Powers, to invest $3 million into Casa Pacifica’s campaign. The investment was in response to a request by the Casa Pacifica Board of Directors for a contribution to its $21 million capital campaign to “build out” the campus and enhance and expand both services and infrastructure.
In evaluating the request, Mr. Powers stated that County staff had “looked to the 20 year partnership with Casa Pacifica and the services provided for Ventura County” noting that Casa Pacifica has served over 18,000 children and youth and their families. Additionally, he noted that Casa Pacifica has raised more than $32 million in private funds over the past 20 years to support their important work.
After listing eight programs Casa Pacifica provides in the community, Mr. Powers stated that “the County of Ventura recognized the magnitude and the quality of the services offered by Casa Pacifica and the unique role of the emergency shelter and residential program in Ventura County. We hope that your Board’s action will motivate other members of our generous community to likewise contribute to this important capital campaign.”
The Board of Supervisors meeting was attended by many Casa Pacifica supporters. The Board of Supervisors heard from Casa Pacifica’s CEO Dr. Steve Elson and former Casa Pacifica Board Presidents William Kearney, Charles Cohen, and David Wood. They also saw the video developed especially for the campaign which left no dry eyes in the hearing room. This significant investment from Ventura County brings the capital campaign funds raised so far close to two-thirds of the $21 million goal! For more information about Casa Pacifica’s Building New Foundations of Hope Capital Campaign please call (805) 366-4011.
May 10, 2014
Four beer judges walk into a brewery ... What sounds like the opening line to a bad joke was dead-serious business as the judges in question — one of whom is ranked second nationally — gathered in the tasting room at Institution Ale Co. in Camarillo. Kevin Pratt holds an entry up to the light May 3 while judging the inaugural Best in Fest Brewery Competition organized by the Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival. Pratt is a Grand Master Beer Judge V and brewmaster for the Santa Barbara Brewing Co. Lisa McKinnon/ Star staff
Their mission: choose which of the seven entries from local breweries should receive the inaugural Best in Fest Brewery Competition award presented by the Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival when it takes place on June 1. They sniffed. They sipped. One cleared his palate by swishing water with the vigor of someone trying to cure gingivitis with mouthwash alone. After individual scores from the quiet-as-church first round were tallied, the judges pulled their chairs together to debate “sessionability,” or the qualities that bring someone back to a particular beverage for more. Only after reaching a unanimous decision did they learn the identity of the winner: Restraint, a maple-aged American brown ale made by ... Institution Ale Co.
“That’s how you win; host the competition,” cracked Shaun Smith, sales director for the microbrewery he and family members opened in September. But the blind tasting was just that. Organizer Curtis Taylor, a Certified Cicerone who blogs as Hop Head Said and produces a podcast called Pints & Pairings, stepped behind a closed door before pouring brews into identical plastic cups. “The next beer is entry No. 5 and it is an American IPA,” Taylor announced as volunteers carried one set of cups out to the judges.
May 1, 2014
On a blustery Saturday afternoon, dozens of families gathered at Mission Oaks Park in Camarillo for a picnic. As some barbecued and others participated in sack races and other activities, Casa Pacifica’s Director of Community-Based Services Dr. Jody Kussin was thrilled by the turnout. “It was incredible,” said Kussin. “It was one of those days where you just go, ‘God’s in heaven and all’s right with the world.’ It was that touching.”
The Family to Family picnic brought the families of children and teenagers together for a meet-and-greet for those who have received assistance from Casa Pacifica in the form of a Wraparound service, in which teams from Casa Pacifica visit the homes of troubled children or teenagers in order to do “Whatever It Takes” (WIT) to assist the individuals in overcoming their issues. For the families attending the picnic, the Wraparound Team has been actively involved. For some of these families, and especially for the young people who receive the counseling and assistance, it can be easy to feel isolated from their communities.
April 25, 2014
Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival is excited to announce the addition of a special behind-the-scenes pre-festival dinner entitled “The Yummies Top Chef Dinner” that will take place on Friday evening, May 30th as a kick-off to Casa Pacifica’s largest annual fundraising event. The one-of-a-kind dinner will bring together, for the first time ever, several of our region’s top chefs, all of whom are former winners of the festival’s annual culinary competition The Yummies Top Chef Awards. The chefs will present an incomparable nine-course feast to 150 guests. One course will be specially paired with the winning handcrafted ale from this year’s inaugural “Best in Fest” brew competition taking place prior to the Festival.
The Yummies Top Chef Dinner will take place in the VIP Lounge tent on the Festival grounds at California State University Channel Islands. In addition to dinner, guests will enjoy live music and a special cocktail stirred up specifically for the dinner by Twenty88 Restaurant & Bar. A highlight of the evening and an exclusive treat, each of the chefs participating in The Yummies Top Chef Dinner will be on hand to talk about their recipes and share some professional techniques.
Expert culinary master chefs (and their current affiliations) who will be participating include: Three-time Yummies winner Chef Nic Mannocchio of University Glen at California State University Channel Islands; Chef Jason Collis of Plated Events by Chef Jason; Chef Gabe Garcia of Tierra Sur Restaurant; Chef Tim Kilcoyne with Scratch Food Truck; and Chef Ernie Borjas of The Yacht Club of Channel Islands Harbor. A trio of delicious desserts will be provided by former Yummies Sweet category winners Barry Davis, owner of Cold stone Creamery Camarillo; pastry chef Anastasia Chavez of Barrel House 101; and Yvonne Drayton-Benado, owner of Missy’s Cupcake Creations.
If you would like to be a part of this one-of-a-kind extraordinary experience, tickets are on sale for $200 per person or seating for eight (8) guests can be purchased for $2,000. Guests will be seated long-table, family-style and dinner guests must be 21 years of age and older; seating is limited.
To purchase tickets for The Yummies Top Chef Dinner please contact Amber Landis-Stover at (805) 366-4021. All proceeds from the dinner will support Casa Pacifica’s programs serving vulnerable children and families.
The Wine, Food & Brew Festival will take place on Sunday, June 1st from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at California State University Channel Islands. General Admission tickets are on sale for $125 until sold out. Food and beverages are included in the price of admission. V.I.P tickets are available for $225 each until sold out and offer Festival-goers early admission at 12:00 noon, V.I.P parking and exclusive access to the V.I.P. Lounge presented by Wells Fargo. Casa Pacifica encourages all Festival-goers to participate responsibly. Roundtrip reservations are available thru the Roadrunner Safe Ride Program by calling (805) 389-8196, or visiting http://www.cpwineandfoodfestival.com/tickets.
April 15, 2014
The new therapy dog wagged his tail and sniffed his way through the campus as kids crowded around the newest arrival at the residential facility for abused and neglected children. Otis joins canine ambassadors, Baker and his uncle Archie, Casa Pacifica’s first therapy dog. Though his role at Casa is still being defined, Otis will provide a warm and calming presence to the staff and children who live at the center, said Josh LePore, the clinical supervisor for Casa Pacifica’s transitional housing. LePore will be caring for the dog. “He will come with me for individual and group therapies and meetings,” LePore said. “Above all, he will bring joy to the children and staff every day he is here.”
Otis was purchased and donated by Westlake Village philanthropists Anthony and Mary Tesoro and was named after Otis Chandler, for former publisher of the Los Angeles Times. Chandler’s wife, Bettina Chandler, has been a member of Casa Pacifica’s board of directors since May 1991. The Chandlers helped with the fundraising campaign to open Casa Pacifica in 1994, according to Vicki Murphy, Casa Pacifica’s chief advancement officer. Murphy said that starting with Archie, Casa began bringing in therapy dogs to help the kids feel at home. She said Casa chose Newfoundlands because they are a gentle breed and know how to interact with troubled kids without overreacting to them. “They are one of the best dogs to work with emotionally troubled youth,” said Murphy, who cares for Archie. “Otis came from a litter of six, and five are going to be therapy dogs.” At a cub-like 29 pounds, Otis is only one-sixth the size he will be as an adult.
More than a dozen children from the center’s cottages stepped outside to greet and hug the dog, whose arrival had been advertised for weeks on walls and doors via posters that read “Otis is Coming April 14th.” “One of the kids who greeted Otis commented that the pup must be really sad because he was taken from his family,” LePore said. “Another kid said he will be OK because he’s going to meet some people. Through Otis, they’re already connecting their circumstances with him and forming a bond.” Aaron Neal, a youth development specialist at the center, said the therapy dogs will make the kids feel more comfortable at Casa. “At home, we have animals and appreciate the loyalty and love that they bring,” he said. “So even though the kids here may feel on edge for not being with their own families, they know we care about them and want them to have that sense of family.” Z Arata, a 22-year-old who transitioned out of Casa two months ago, said the dogs shaped some of the most pleasant experiences at the center. “I was 13 when Archie arrived, and I remember how quickly he became this comforting gentle giant for us kids,” she said. “Archie made Casa Pacifica feel more like a home and a family, and it’s exciting to see this puppy, who looked like Archie first did, come in here and offer that same kind of support.” Photo by Troy Harvey, Ventura County Star
February 21, 2014
A 2-year-old Newfoundland dog who works as one of three therapy dogs at Casa Pacifica in Camarillo is recovering well after undergoing surgery to save his life. Baker, a nephew of the organization’s famous black Newfoundland Archie, joined Casa Pacifica as a puppy and recently was diagnosed with a congenital defect that was causing his heart to fail. Veterinary cardiologist Mari Waterman performed open heart surgery on the dog Thursday at the Advanced Animal Care Center in Lawndale. “He’s had a pretty good response to the procedure,” she said Friday morning. Baker was 9 weeks old when he arrived at Casa Pacifica, a nonprofit that serves abused and neglected children and adolescents. Baker spends his evenings with the young adults who live in transitional housing on the organization’s Lewis Road campus and during the day he’s in the intake center where he welcomes everyone who comes through the doors.
Josh LePore, the clinical supervisor for Casa Pacifica’s transitional housing plus foster care program for 18- to 21-year-olds, says the work Baker does is priceless. “He greets all the kids who come onto campus and all the parents and social workers who come on visits,” LePore said. “A lot of our youth on campus have grown very attached to him and rain or shine, he’s there for them.” The first indications of something wrong with Baker came when he started to have severe trouble breathing. “He was gasping all the time, having trouble breathing and panting intensely over long periods of time,” LePore said. “A month or two back, it looked like he wouldn’t survive for much longer.”
Baker was diagnosed with severe pulmonic stenosis, a condition that causes the flow of blood between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery to be blocked because of a thickening and narrowing of the valve. The backup of blood caused by the heart not working properly leads to a buildup of fluid around the lungs. Casa Pacifica Chief Advancement Officer Vicki Murphy says veterinarians told them Baker could die at any moment. Like Archie, the organization’s first therapy dog and well-known ambassador, Baker is big and fluffy. He weighs 150 pounds, something Waterman said provided a significant challenge for her and her team. He’s the biggest dog she has ever operated on and the procedure lasted more than four hours and involved four veterinary cardiologists. “We used a vein to feed a balloon 4 centimeters long and about 2 1/2 centimeters wide into the heart then across the pulmonary valve and inflated it to open up the valve. It breaks up some of the fibrous tissue to relieve the pressure and get more blood flowing,” Waterman said. Waterman said 40 to 80 percent of cases respond to this type of surgery, and Baker’s prognosis is good. “This could improve him enough that he won’t need medication. It will enhance his life and that’s why we took the risk of doing this procedure,” she said.
Baker will return to Camarillo on Saturday and is expected to resume his duties Monday. “We are very grateful to the doctors, and we’re looking forward to him coming back to work,” Murphy said. “The kids are waiting for him.” The Advanced Animal Care Center discounted the cost of treatment, but Casa Pacifica still must pay thousands of dollars in medical bills. Murphy says money from will come from Archie’s Fund, which provides money for unexpected things Casa Pacifica clients need, and hopes donations from other sources may be forthcoming. - By Rachel McGrath
January 31, 2014
The Casa Pacifica Angels and the Zarley and Van Huisen Families announced the inclusion of the first brewery competition to be held in the 21st annual fundraiser for Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families. Due to rising interest in specialty brews across the nation, this year’s Festival will hold the first-time brewery competition for micro, craft and independent brew exhibitors. All judging will take place before the event and the winner will be highlighted with special distinction during the Festival. The festival has officially been renamed Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival.
Voted both “Best Charity Event” and “Best Food & Drink Festival” of Ventura County 2013, the popular fundraiser will be held at California State University Channel Islands on Sunday, June 1st, 2014. All proceeds from the Festival benefit Casa Pacifica, which provides hope and help for abused, neglected, or at-risk children and their families in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. The Festival showcases creations of the finest restaurants, caterers, bakeries and specialty shops from Santa Barbara to Conejo Valley. The event also features many renowned wineries and vineyards from throughout California’s rich wine-producing regions, as well as several awarded breweries. Tickets will be available for purchase online beginning February 1st at http://www.cpwineandfoodfestival.com/tickets. General admission tickets will be on sale for a limited time at $95.00 each until midnight February 14th. VIP tickets will be on sale for $200 each also for a limited time. For additional event information contact Kristin Palos at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cpwineandfoodfestival.com.
January 30, 2014
Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families has announced early ticket sales and prices for their 21st annual fundraiser the Casa Pacifica Angels Wine & Food Festival. Voted both “Best Charity Event” and “Best Food & Drink Festival” of Ventura County 2013, the popular festival will be held at California State University Channel Islands on Sunday, June 1st, 2014. Tickets will be available for purchase online at http://www.cpwineandfoodfestival.com/tickets.
General admission tickets will be on sale for a limited time at $95.00 ea. until midnight February 14th. VIP tickets will be on sale for $200 each also for a limited time. The Festival showcases delectable creations of the finest restaurants, caterers, bakeries and specialty shops from Santa Barbara to Conejo Valley. The event also features many renowned wineries and vineyards from throughout California’s rich wine-producing regions, as well as several awarded breweries. All proceeds from the Festival benefit Casa Pacifica, which provides hope and help for abused, neglected, or at-risk children and their families in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.For further event information contact Kristin Palos at email@example.com.
January 28, 2014
A group of girls and their moms gathered for the fifth year at Casa Pacifica’s main gymnasium Saturday to make no-sew blankets for the residents of the nonprofit residential home for abused and neglected children and teens. The Ticktockers, girls age 12 to 18 who are part of the National Charity League, also stuffed bags full of baby necessities for Operation Homefront, an organization that provides necessities for expectant mothers through Fleet and Family Services at Naval Base Ventura County. About 200 girls and 75 moms and other adult club members participated Saturday in Camarillo and came from the league’s local chapters between the San Fernando Valley and Santa Maria. “It’s love expressed,” said Vicki Murphy, chief advancement officer for Casa Pacifica. “It gets bigger and better each year. The residents here see philanthropy taught in a tangible way. They get to meet with the NCL girls and talk with them, and it shows them that they are valuable, that they count.”
The National Charity League got involved with Camarillo-based Casa Pacifica five years ago when Pam Johnson, a league board member, reached out to the nonprofit residential program. Johnson said she wanted to introduce the girls to bigger issues. The league connected with a Los Angeles vendor for the blankets and took on Casa Pacifica as a partner. “We adopted Casa Pacifica as one of our partners, and we come here quite a bit each year with gift cards or supplies, whatever we can do,” she said. Johnson described the Camarillo residential home as a “great partner,” which is enhanced by its location in the middle of the league’s district. In addition to making about 300 blankets and creating the same number of baby bags, the National Charity League members and Ticktockers heard from speaker Lauren Cook, a graduate of Foothill Technology High School in Ventura and of UCLA. Cook and her mother, Marila, were involved with the league when she was younger. She’s written a book called “The Sunny Side Up: Celebrating Happiness” and spoke to the girls about leadership qualities and creating a happy life by giving back to others. Rachel McCormick, a 17-year-old Ticktocker from the San Fernando Valley, said she’d been in National Charity League since she was 12. “I love giving back to the community I live in and this is the third year I’ve been out to Casa Pacifica,” she said. “I was really touched by knowing some of the kids here are only here temporarily and they need love just like everyone does.” McCormick said that for her 16th birthday, she had friends and family buy gifts and give donations to Casa Pacifica.
For some members, participation in the National Charity League has introduced them to other charitable efforts. Ventura resident Madelyn Sickle, a five-year member, said she has done a lot of work with Special Olympics through the league. “It’s helped create a passion for me,” she said. “I got to work with Special Olympics and was really moved by it.” Sickle has since started her own water polo tournament for Special Olympics. Stacey Stephens, district philanthropy specialist for the league, said the biggest message Saturday’s event sends is that the girls are spending time and reaching out to the kids at Casa Pacifica. “I think the girls of NCL are grateful in a couple of ways. On one hand, they’re really grateful they get to serve others who are in need and who don’t have the opportunities that they have,” she said. “On the other hand, they’re more keenly aware of the opportunities they do have.” Photo: David Yamamoto/Special to the Star
January 23, 2014
Camarillo chamber names winners of community awards
Mayor Kevin Kildee named the winners of the Top 10 Community Awards selected by the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. Jennifer Wells, chamber president and CEO, gave Kildee the names of each winner during the public portion of the meeting and said the event has become one of her favorite jobs. “We get to celebrate these outstanding people and organizations, all of whom do amazing things,” Wells said.
The winners were:
- Sharon Hillbrant, secretary of the Ventura County Women’s Political Council, senior of the year;
- Jose Miguel Undurraga, a senior in the International Baccalaureate program at Rio Mesa High School, youth of the year;
- Dale Jacobs, a board member for AYSO’s Region 68 and a chamber board member, volunteer of the year;
- Scott Matroianni, educational services director for Casa Pacifica, educator of the year;
- Deputy Joe Preciado, Camarillo Police Department, public servant of the year;
- Ventura County 99s women’s aviation club, based at Camarillo Airport, service organization of the year;
- Sharene Lewis, owner of Pi Design in Camarillo, entrepreneur of the year;
- Spanish Hills Country Club, business of the year;
- Priscilla Van Gundy, co-owner of Van Gundy Jewelers, woman of the year; and
- Al Lowe, owner of Al Lowe Construction and active in the Camarillo Noontime Rotary Club, man of the year.
The awards celebration and dinner will be from 6-9 p.m. March 28 at Spanish Hills Country Club.“We sell out every year,” Wells said, adding that the chamber expects about 200 people to attend. Pat McCollum, chamber board member and leader of the awards event, said the chamber seeks nominations from the community each year.“That’s the hardest part, honestly,” said McCollum, who owns Your Mechanic in Camarillo. “We try to get as much feedback as we can.” Preciado was at the board meeting after he received a phone call from Cmdr. Guy Stewart. “The commander told me if I had a chance to swing by the meeting, which I thought was odd,” Preciado said. “I was really surprised, and I’m honored, of course.” Preciado served as a youth services officer and led a program providing resources for homeless people in Camarillo.
January 2, 2014
Lydia Gable of Keller Williams Realty and Rick Winters of Financial Group will host their fourth annual Coats-for-Casa charity event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sat., Jan. 18 at Three Springs Park, 3000 Three Springs Drive, Westlake Village. This family event will feature complimentary snow play, coffee, smoothies and winter crafts. Attendees are invited to bring gently used winter clothes of all sizes, including coats, sweaters, hoodies, mittens/gloves, winter hats and scarves to benefit Casa Pacifica in Camarillo. Casa Pacifica provides emergency shelter, medical and other community-based interventions for families in need and for at-risk children in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Last year, more than 1,000 coats and sweaters were donated. For those who cannot attend but would like to donate, call Lydia Gable at (818) 383- 4335 or Rick Winters at (805) 497-1717.
December 13, 2014
December 11, 2014
November 27, 2013
Camarillo’s Casa Pacifica youth share their stories of struggle and survival
On a Wednesday afternoon, a 4-year-old little girl had just been admitted into the crisis care emergency shelter, along with her 2-week-old brother. She had come in with a broken nose — her father had hit her in the face and both she and her brother were taken to Casa Pacifica in Camarillo. Their home and parents were apparently deemed unsafe by Child Protective Services. This was an exceptionally hard day for Casa Pacifica employees (not to mention the children). While they often see cases of neglect, that kind of violent abuse is rare. But thankfully for both children, there was a safe place for them to go. Twenty years ago, however, Casa Pacifica wasn’t anything more than an idea of certain caring individuals in Ventura County who felt children in the area were lacking services after they had been taken by Child Protective Services. And so, with successful public-private partnerships and $10 million from fundraising, Casa Pacifica went under construction in 1993 and in July 1994 opened its doors to neglected, abused and the most at-risk youth in the area. Since then, Casa Pacifica has continued to broaden its scope of services, from emergency shelter and housing for transitional youth to onsite nonpublic education for children who aren’t able to continue with regular public education and in-home services for at-risk youth, even delivering services to families in Santa Barbara. Casa Pacifica serves local youth on its nearly $24 million annual operating budget, reaching 400 children and their families each day, and approximately 4,000 unique children every year.
With the growing population comes a bigger need for services to address neglect and other concerns for children. In order to meet these challenges, Casa Pacifica launched a $21 million capital fundraising campaign this year to improve and enhance services onsite, including adding new cottages, housing for transition-age foster youth, a therapeutic activities building, vocational education and training space, classrooms and a site for clinical services. Temporary buildings will also be replaced with new state-of-the-art treatment facilities. Currently, Casa Pacifica has raised $9 million and the goal is to reach $21 million by the summer and break ground in July 2014its 20th anniversary. While donations will clearly help in raising funds for the capital campaign, the need for volunteers to participate in any number of activities on campus and with the youth is ongoing and prominent. To get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (805) 445-7800. Along with each child who receives services, there is also a story to tell. One current resident and two former residents who are all now in Casa Pacifica’s Coaching Independence in Transition-age Youth program (CITY program) came forward to share their stories of struggle and survival and Casa Pacifica’s role in their lives. (Continued - Due to the sensitive nature of their stories, the writers asked only that their first names be used.)
October 29, 2013
Until three years ago, California had a cold-turkey policy for dealing with foster children upon their 18th birthday. At best, these kids who had no family support to help usher them into adulthood might get a birthday cake, a handshake and a heartfelt wish that they have a good life.That changed with the passage of a state law, AB 12, which established a transitional period during which foster children can continue to receive living assistance for another three years as long as they are working and attending college or training for a career.
How important is it to have that sort of softer landing into adulthood? Last week, I had the chance to put that question to a trio of experts: three young women who proudly assert their status as alumni of Casa Pacifica, a nonprofit residential treatment center in Camarillo for abused or neglected children. All were too old to have benefited from the new law, but all had been blessed by having maintained connections with a place that had been their home in times of childhood crises. Cristina Miranda, 26, is a graduate of California State University Channel Islands and now a graduate student at California Lutheran University. She is in the process of reconciling with her biological family, but her enduring familial connection is to the place that sheltered her when she was 15. “Once you’ve been a part of the Casa Pacifica family, you will always be part of Casa Pacifica,” she told me. “You come back for the holidays.” Z Aratta, 22, attends Oxnard College and also holds down a job at Chipotle restaurant. She is living at a transitional home on the Casa Pacifica campus, where she spent time when she was 12 and again at 17. She drifted away before returning. “I had to do my own thing, but eventually I would come back,” she said. “They love you. This was one of the best decisions I’ve made.” When Dominique Martinez, 21, first arrived at Casa Pacifica she was 12, and refused to unpack. Her foster parents had dropped her there, saying they’d be back in a day or two. They never returned. Now Martinez, who wants to pursue a degree in psychology and whose “dream is to work for the FBI,” works with children who live in the same shelter cottage where she once lived. “I had a lot of issues trusting people when I moved here,” she says. “The first people I started trusting were here.”
At a conference not long ago, Executive Director Steve Elson was on a panel of shelter-home administrators who were asked to list outcome metrics that they might use to measure their programs’ success. Most cited educational attainment measurements such as high school graduation rates. Elson had a different vision. “I think the way to really measure success would be an active, strong, giving alumni association,” he told them. Elson notes that Casa Pacifica started its transitional program, using private donations, well before the state decided to begin providing support. “We said these kids are our responsibility. We’ve got to do something.” As part of a $21 million capital campaign launched this month to modernize and expand its campus, Casa Pacifica hopes to build two new transitional homes that would provide beds for 16 additional young adults. Those alumni who do have a chance to succeed, Elson knows, need all the help they can get — in part because not all troubled kids emerge from adolescence with such a chance. He notes that Casa Pacifica, now in its 19th year, has counted among its clients the children of children who had previously passed through its doors, the products of unbroken cycles of family dysfunction. Elson has seen his alumni not only in parent counseling centers, but also on street corners, panhandling for money. “It is not a perfect story,” he says. Yet, there is also this: a group of young people in their 20s and 30s who have started a Facebook page for former Casa Pacifica kids. And then there are people such as Cristina Miranda. After leaving the shelter, Miranda graduated from public high school, powered through community college by chasing after classes at all three Ventura County campuses, got her bachelor’s degree, began work on a master’s degree in public policy and made plans to become a lawyer to work in the area of child welfare. Five years ago, Miranda also gave birth to a daughter. Her child’s name is Faith.
October 24, 2013
October 21, 2013
Some of the most vulnerable children in Ventura County find life-changing help when they arrive at Casa Pacifica. Whether they were abused or neglected, come from a family in crisis or are emotionally disturbed, their situation improves dramatically at Casa Pacifica. Situated in a rural area near Camarillo, the residential care and treatment center provides many services including emergency shelter, mental health treatment, a primary care clinic, a school and a variety of community-based interventions to thousands of children and their families each year. Now, seeing an increasing need for Casa Pacifica’s services, leaders of the nonprofit organization plan to greatly enlarge its facilities on South Lewis Road in the next few years. First, they’re collecting funds in a capital campaign to pay for the expansion. They’ve raised about $9 million toward their goal of $21 million. That sum, they say, will be enough to add eight buildings and enlarge or renovate two others. The new space, totaling nearly 60,000 square feet, will house children and accommodate various services and activities, including one program not currently available in the county — treating teens for substance abuse.
The expansion also will add two buildings to house foster youths when, at age 18, they leave the foster-care system and start living on their own as independent young adults. Dozens of teens attempt that transition each year in Ventura County, and many need a helping hand to succeed at it. This will be the largest project at Casa Pacifica since it opened in 1994. The new buildings will serve a growing number of children in need, which officials trace partly to the state of the economy, the county’s poverty rate, substance abuse by parents and other factors. Casa Pacifica’s leaders hope the construction will start next year and reach its completion by early 2016. In our view, the capital campaign and the expansion are worthwhile undertakings for this beneficial institution, which other California counties see as a model of what can be done for at-risk youngsters. We hope Casa Pacifica receives a strong outpouring of support from the community in recognition of the good works the center performs for vulnerable children and their families.
October 20, 2013
More than 300 people looked back on and ahead to the future of Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families on Sunday during the nonprofit’s Founders Day event. At the Carl Lowthorp Field of Dreams on the organization’s campus on Lewis Road in Camarillo, leaders past and present reflected on the support the nonprofit has given to abused and neglected children since it opened in 1994. Casa Pacifica board member Sean Baker also announced a $21 million capital campaign to expand the organization’s campus. The project will mark the first permanent expansion at the campus said Baker, co-chairman of the committee responsible for the fundraising effort. “It’s not only time, but well past due,” he said. Casa Pacifica serves more than 500 children each day on and off campus in Camarillo, Santa Barbara and Santa Maria.
Last year, the nonprofit served one of every 85 children in Ventura County, Baker said. But it has increasingly had to turn children away. In the past three months, 11 of 55 children referred to the group’s s residential treatment program were admitted. “We are turning away children from the emergency shelter because it is full and a number of community-based programs currently have waiting lists,” he said. “This despite the fact that our fundraising efforts are robust.” Casa Pacifica has raised nearly $9 million, and construction is set to start next summer, officials said. The proposed plan would add eight buildings and two classrooms for about 16 more students. About 32 new beds would be available for teens undergoing substance abuse treatment and 18- to 21-year-olds moving out of foster care.
Ventura County Executive Officer Michael Powers said he was proud that the county and Casa Pacifica have partnered to help youths become self-sufficient and strive for excellence. One example is 26-year-old Cristina Miranda, he said. Miranda, a youth advocate at the facility, entered Casa Pacifica 11 years ago where the nonprofit “shed light on one of the darkest experiences of my life,” she said at the presentation. A graduate of California Lutheran University, Miranda spoke of many other youths who have overcome adversity because of the program.
Organization CEO Steve Elson recognized its roughly 20 founders as well as past board presidents and other people instrumental in its success. He emphasized the importance of expanding services to children and the relationships Casa Pacifica provides them to help them overcome the stressful situations that followed them onto the campus. “These youth have faced seemingly intractable experiences that rival those of our war veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. Casa Pacifica board member Reza Razzaghipour, the regional president of the Pacific Coast Division of Wells Fargo, gave the organization a $500,000 check. “One of every five children this year have gotten services from Casa,” he said. “But we have a lot of work ahead because for every kid who is admitted, four are turned away. We can’t be happy about that. But I’m really excited about this capital campaign.”
October 19, 2013
Vicky Murphy and her staff are accustomed to working in tight quarters.They make do with limited storage space and cozy offices amid the never-ending coming and going of children and teens who walk through their doors each week at Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families.It’s a setup that worked fine in the campus’ beginning nearly 20 years ago. Casa’s space issues — compounded by its willingness to take youths during their most difficult times from abuse, neglect or complex emotional and behavioral issues — have driven the organization to outgrow its campus. On Sunday, the organization will announce a $21 million capital campaign fundraising effort at Casa Pacifica’s Founders Day event. The nonprofit already has raised close to $9 million and construction is expected to begin next summer, CEO Steven Elson said. Elson noted that officials designed the facility at 1722 S. Lewis Road in Camarillo for the needs of the time, knowing it eventually would have to be expanded.
“The present buildings are just too small for what we need to accomplish,” Elson said. “I think this really will enable us to meet the growing needs of the community.” The fundraising campaign would help increase by 50 percent the number of children and youths who could be served annually on and off campus, officials said. Casa Pacifica’s 24-acre campus now includes seven residential units, nine classrooms, a library, a fully equipped music room, a gymnasium, a swimming pool, a student store, play fields, counseling rooms, training and conference space, a medical clinic and administrative offices. The planned project would add eight buildings and two classrooms for about 16 more students. The new buildings would replace modular buildings. They would be used for therapeutic activities, training, substance-abuse treatment for teens and clinical services for children enrolled in campus programs. About 32 new beds would be available for teens undergoing substance-abuse treatment and 18- to 21-year-olds transitioning out of foster care.
Those in transition age are considered at risk because they are moving from state custody or foster care to living independently. This population has increased about 60 percent in Ventura County, which puts more strain on organizations that provide assistance, according to Elson. Casa Pacifica also is one of the few places in the county that accept single mothers and men into their transition-age program. This makes the need to expand services that much more critical, officials said.
September 26, 2013
SHARING THE LOVE OF READING Members and parents of Girl Scout Troop 60772 including, from left, Rena, Morgan, Santana, Alienna, Michelle, Sami, Talia, Sara, Isabella and Suzie, collected books from Conejo Valley residents and donated them to Casa Pacifica (Centers for Children & Families) in Camarillo, which helps neglected and abused children. The Scouts were given a tour of the facilities and learned about the services provided by Casa Pacifica. Troop 60772 is based out of Thousand Oaks.
September 25, 2013
The Casa Pacifica Angels 12th Annual SPOTLIGHT ON STYLE Fashion Show scheduled October 5th has SOLD OUT!! pic.twitter.com/vs2kbEljBM— Casa Pacifica (@casapacificaorg) September 26, 2013
September 19, 2013
TRIPLE AWARDED! Angels Wine & Food Fest AWARDED 2013 BEST CHARITY EVENT, BEST FOOD & DRINK FEST & BEST NONPROFIT ORG pic.twitter.com/c37sWKYdNw— Casa Pacifica (@casapacificaorg) September 19, 2013
September 18, 2013
Wells Fargo Region President Reza Razzaghipour presents $1,000 check to CP Director of Development Carrie Hughes! pic.twitter.com/BqIJyl2UBT— Casa Pacifica (@casapacificaorg) September 18, 2013
September 12, 2013
CITY's Annual "Road to Independence" Sat, Nov 2nd, 2013! Info contact Ray Franco, Program Manager, Transitional Age Youth @ (805) 366-4141.— Casa Pacifica (@casapacificaorg) September 12, 2013
September 12, 2013
The Casa Pacifica Angels and hosts Susan and Ken Bauer will present the 12th annual Spotlight on Style Fashion Show on Sat., Oct. 5 at the Four Seasons Hotel, Two Dole Drive, Westlake Village. All proceeds will benefit Casa Pacifica’s therapeutic programs and services to vulnerable children and families in the area. Carin Holmenas Productions, in collaboration with Elizabeth Mason Couture and the Paper Bag Princess in Beverly Hills, will present “Fashion Icons of the 20th Century” featuring vintage couture from design houses such as Chanel, Dior, Valentino and Versace.
A champagne reception will open the festivities as guests peruse boutiques featuring vendors such as jewelry designer Vasant of Vasant Designs and Bloom Honey, a local vendor offering all-natural honey.The silent auction includes getaways for two to Hale Lani on the North Shore of Oahu; a one-week stay in a private home on Hollywood Shores beach; two-night stay for pets in a luxury suite at the Barkley Pet Hotel in Westlake Village; and a weekend retreat for two at the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village with champagne, breakfast and dinner. Meathead Movers employees will greet and direct guests as well as serve during the three-course gourmet luncheon catered by the Four Seasons’ kitchen.
An array of confections by local sweet shops will be served for dessert.Event tickets are $125 each and are advanced purchase only; no tickets will be sold at the door. For tickets, call Marilyn Stoddard, Spotlight on Style co-chair, at (805) 390-7124 or Kristin Palos, Casa Pacifica event specialist, at (805) 366-4014. For more information, go to www.casapacifica.org or call the Development Department at (805) 445-7800.
August 14, 2013
At nearly 7 feet long and 185 pounds heavy, it’s hard to miss him as he lumbers into the room. As soon as he enters, the change is apparent. “Archie! Archie!” the kids scream at the top of their lungs when they see him enter. “Archie is here!” The 8-year-old Newfoundland dog is a behemoth to behold, but is the gentlest of giants when it comes to the children who have become his family at the Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families. Archibald “Archie” RazzMaTazz has spent nearly his entire life at Camarillo-based Casa Pacifica, a 24-acre crisis care and residential treatment facility for abused, neglected and at-risk kids. It houses nearly 200 at-risk youths and provides a number of programs, including academic education, clinical therapy and recreational activities.
Archie has gained fame not just at Casa Pacifica but also in the national media. The fame has allowed Archie and Casa Pacifica to further help the children in their care through the recent launch of Archie’s website and the eponymous Archie Fund, a donation service through which Archie and Casa Pacifica can provide further assistance to residents in a number of ways. “People donate money for Archie to care for his children,” said Vicki Murphy, chief advancement officer at Casa Pacifica and Archie’s primary caretaker. Murphy said the money is used to pay for things that can’t be covered by the normal budget. The Archie Fund has been able to use donations from his fans to pay for services such as a soccer camp, travel expenses for trips, medical fees not covered by insurance, public school costs and family-finding projects.
Archie was brought to Casa Pacifica at 9 weeks of age to provide a comforting presence to young residents, many of whom come from broken homes and are struggling to find their way through an uncertain future. Archie quickly became a national celebrity. After he needed multiple surgeries for his hip and legs, the staff at Casa Pacifica decided to host a fundraiser to generate the required funds. Media were able to pick up on the story, which led to a widely recognized news syndicate doing a segment on Archie. The story soon thrust Archie into the national spotlight, with appearances on the “Today” show and KCAL-TV news as well as being featured on TV series and in books. Archie was awarded by Ventura County with his own holiday and a statue at Gardens of the World in Thousand Oaks.
“We didn’t set out for him to become famous at all,” Murphy said. “It was just a by-product.” A collage of Archie over the years adorns a wall outside the office of Vicki Murphy, chief advancement officer at Casa Pacifica and caretaker of the Newfoundland. She said he has brought awareness to Casa Pacifica in a different way. “It’s difficult sometimes to talk about the mental issues of kids or about abuse, but it’s easy to talk about Archie,” Murphy said. “So many people have come to visit Casa Pacifica and have gotten involved with the agency that otherwise never would have.”
Casa Pacifica Chief Executive Officer Steven Elson described Archie’s relationship with children as instinctual, a sentiment echoed by many other staff members who described a number of behaviors that Archie has learned, or arguably has always known, in a similar way. They say Archie knows to lie down next to a child having a bad day. They say he welcomes frightened newcomers. He roughhouses with kids who need to get out some aggression. All the while, he never barks, growls or runs away. “He is a terrific asset to us here at Casa Pacifica,” Elson said. “He is just amazing with the kids.”Source: VC Star
July 31, 2013
This past Sunday six community stars strut their stuff across the dance floor to raise much-needed funds for their charity of choice. The salsa-dance contest was patterned after ABC’s hit TV show, ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ The contest featured three men and three women who were paired up with some of the region’s best dance instructors to learn salsa moves and routines that were performed in front of the audience at the Festival this past Sunday, the 28th of July at Plaza Park in downtown Oxnard. Since its inception, the contest has raised over $300,000 for local charities. The 2013 contest sponsors are Ventura County Credit Union, Republic Services of Oxnard and Sugar Beets Restaurant and Bar.
The dancers competed for the coveted ‘Judge’s Choice Award’ for the best routine, while also competing for the ‘People’s Choice Award’, which was awarded to the star who raises the most money for their charity. Mary Pinto Casillas took first place among the women, and Juan Gonzalez won in the men’s category. Margie Cochrane, Regional Publisher/CRO for the Ventura County Star, danced for Casa Pacifica with instructor, Jesse ‘Chuy’ Rodriguez.
July 25, 2013
Montecito Bank & Trust’s Annual Music Program Hits Hahn Hall - Montecito Bank & Trust and the Music Academy of the West partnered to host the second annual musical outreach program “Up Close and Musical” for children at the Music Academy’s Hahn Hall. 300 children, age 7 to 18, from Casa Pacifica, United Way and the Boys and Girls Club were were in attendance. Janet Garufis, president and CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust, said the event “opens up a world of possibilities” for introducing children to both the Music Academy campus and the prospect of becoming a professional musician.
July 19, 2013
WHACK—Brenden Borck, 10, of Camarillo tees off on the 10th hole during The Rotary Club of Camarillo’s 21st annual Care for Kids Golf Classic at Spanish Hills Golf and Country Club in Camarillo on July 15. The tournament raised funds for the Camarillo-based Casa Pacifica, a shelter for emotionally and physically abused children.
June 20, 2013
A 13-year-old girl wishes to be adopted by a loving family. “I would love to have a big family, with a mom, dad, brothers and sisters who will play with me,” she wrote. “I really love animals and hope that my family has a dog. I especially want a family that likes to do outdoor activities like I do.” The girl is one of 13 children, some with special needs, who hope to find adoptive homes at the inaugural HOPE4Kids 5K Run/Walk and Ventura County’s first adoption and foster fair this Sat., June 22, at California Lutheran University’s Kingsmen Park, 60 W. Olsen Road in Thousand Oaks. The 5K run and walk will start at 8:30 a.m.; a one-mile run for kids will start at 9:45 a.m. The fair will follow at the finish line and will also include a silent auction, vendor booths, food trucks and a free kids’ zone. Event organizers Tamalani Barnett and Dawn Groom are also trying to raise $15,000 to help foster youth programs pay for sports equipment, camps, musical instruments, driver’s education courses and other expenses. Barnett is a lawyer for foster youth in Los Angeles County and a member of the Living Oaks Community Church, one of the event’s sponsors. “There is a foster home crisis. There are many more children who need homes,” said Barnett, who has a ministry at Living Oaks that raises awareness about the need.
There are more than 1,000 children in the local foster care system and 150 kids waiting to be adopted, the attorney said. About 100 more kids are placed in foster care each month. Yet there are only 265 foster homes in the county. An estimated 50 foster kids turn 18 and leave the system each year. “I was drawn to helping these kids,” Bar- nett said. “Our church wanted to reach out to the community and unite the community for this cause.” Barnett said this is the first adoption fair in the county that will feature children who need homes. Photos and biographies of the kids, ages 5 to 16, will be distributed. Prospective adoptive parents may initiate the process of adopting one of the 13 children. Social workers will also be available to answer questions about adoption and foster care. Barnett said the 13 kids were chosen because they are on the adoption track and not trying to reunite with their parents or need an adoptive family in order to terminate their parents’ legal guardianship. And older kids are usually more difficult to place because of their age. After the adoption process, which includes training courses, background checks and a home study, county employees and the children will choose their adoptive families. “We would like to dispel the rumor that this is hard to do,” she said. Kids who do not find homes go to places such as Camarillobased Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, which serves Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Some kids are sent as far away as Kern County, which is difficult for them, Barnett said.
June 12, 2013
Amanda, alone and afraid, begins to cry. She’s just arrived at Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families, brought by a child protective services social worker after her parents were arrested for running drugs. Amanda is only nine. Suddenly a large, furry friend lumbers through the door and sits down next to her. As she cuddles up next to him, her fear subsides as she sits and chats with her newfound canine friend. This is a tale of Archie, Casa Pacifica’s first therapy dog.
Casa Pacifica is excited to announce the launch of Archie the Casa Pacifica Therapy Dog’s website. Casa Pacifica’s first therapeutic dog, “Archibald RazzMaTazz” is a Newfoundland dog that was chosen for the breed’s reputation of being gentle and comforting with children. Archie’s website features photos and information about Archie and the youth and will soon include an online store that offers Archie related products. The site also offers visitors the opportunity to donate to Archie’s Fund which supports extraordinary expenses such as travel for families to visit residential youths, a gym membership for an overweight diabetic youth or additional expenses for high school seniors such as drivers training and class rings. The new website can be viewed at www.archiethetherapydog.com and Archie’s Facebook page viewed at Archie the Casa Pacifica Therapy Dog. Archie’s arrival was greeted with much fanfare and press including a large article in the Los Angeles Times, a news spot on the Today Show and he was featured in a television segment on “Dog Tales” that aired in October 2009. On June 2nd, 2009 the Board of Supervisors of Ventura County proclaimed it “Archie Day”. Archie also had a statue created by sculptor Robert Cunningham that was commissioned by former Casa Pacifica Board Member Ed Hogan and is currently on display at the Gardens of the Worlds on Thousand Oaks Boulevard, Thousand Oaks, CA. Archie was recently selected as one of the featured dogs in a book launched last fall entitled “A Letter to My Dog”, a heartfelt ode from celebrity dog lovers to their companions created by Oprah producers Lisa Erspamer and Kimi Culp and renown photographer Robin Layton. This past March he was one of the star attractions at the Beverly Hills book signing.
Archie’s role at Casa Pacifica came about when staff recognized how therapeutic an on-campus pet could be for many of the youth. His primary mission is to provide warm hugs, a listening ear, and to be a gentle presence when children are in need. Many of the youth say they love to talk to Archie because he does not interrupt, they love to care for him and he makes them laugh. Some of Casa Pacifica’s youth from abusive backgrounds have experienced for the first time what it would be like to have a pet with Archie and even called years after leaving Casa Pacifica to check up on his welfare. In spring 2012 Archie was joined by two more donated Newfoundlands, Tess and Baker, who split their time servicing residents of the new Stepping Stone Houses for emancipated youths and visiting youngsters on campus during school hours.
June 6, 2013
A sold-out crowd of more than 4,000 guests enjoyed an afternoon of wine, food and music at last weekend’s Casa Pacific Wine and Food Festival, a must-do event each year on the Camarillo social calendar. Organizers expect the June 2 wine and food fest on the campus of California State University Channel Islands raised $400,000 on behalf of the Camarillo based charity. “It will be close to that, if not over,” said Carrie Hughes, Casa Pacifica spokesperson. “We got a lot of positive feedback, and everyone enjoyed the day.” Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families provides help for abused, neglected and at-risk children and their families in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. It relies on the annual festival to help meet its $2.6-million annual donations goal. With individual tickets costing up to $200, the afternoon didn’t come cheaply. But the cause is worth it, said Camille Sindell, an Oak Park resident and wine connoisseur who has attended the festival for the past four years. “It’s friends and families coming together for a good purpose,” said Sindell, who was accompanied by her husband, Gary. Each year the couple favors the booths offering Southern and Cajun cooking. “The food and drink are absolutely amazing,” Sindell said. This year the festival celebrated its 20th year.
“We’ve come a long way, and our service to the families and children in need has really grown,” said Steve Elson, Casa Pacifica’s CEO. “This year we’re especially proud,” he said.
From its beginning at the Ventura Pierpont Inn in 1994 until today, the festival has grown to become Ventura County’s premier wine and food gathering. More than 85 food vendors participated in this year’s festival. Featured were some of the top restaurants, caterers and bakeries from the Conejo Valley to Santa Barbara. And helping to wash down all the good eats were more than 150 wine and beer vendors. Winning the Yummie Top Chef award in the savory category was chef Gabe Garcia of Tierra Sur restaurant with his house-made pastrami and corn beef. First-place winner in the Yummie Sweet category was head pastry chef Anastasia Chavez of Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewery Company with a spice cake infused with Dunkelweizen brew, layered with a burnt-butter spiced frosting, and garnished with a beer toffee infused with Abbey Dubbel beer. It’s a mouthful, but delicious, too.
June 3, 2013
The signs along Lewis Road leading to the Casa Pacifica Angels Wine & Food Festival on CSU Channel Island’s campus said it all: “Event sold out.” The fundraiser celebrating wine and food marked its 20th anniversary Sunday with more than 4,000 people in attendance and sponsors from companies and organizations around the county. VIP guests who paid $200 a ticket lined up as early as 10 a.m. for a noon entry and a chance to sample the wares of hundreds of food, wine and beer vendors and bid on silent auction items. General admission tickets were $125 and those holding them were allowed to enter at 1 p.m. Steve Elson, CEO of Casa Pacifica, a home for abused and neglected children near Camarillo, said the event has grown from its humble beginnings and is its largest fundraiser of the year. “It’s surpassed the Angels Ball, which used to be our largest fundraising event of the year to become our premiere event. It’s grown enormously since the first one in 1994 in the back of the Pierpont Inn.” Elson said he’s grateful to CSUCI for the use of the quad area. “It sends the right message and emulates what we want to do. Not only has the event grown, but we have, too. We’re serving more and more children in the community, more now that live on the Casa Pacifica campus,” Elson said. “We’re about kids and families and the university helps us spread that message.”
Sonny Grenier, owner of Skating Plus in Ventura, was the operations co-chair for the festival. “To see all these people from the community who support this cause and care about the kids we serve is really heartwarming,” Grenier said. “These kids are dealt such bad hands and for these people to give back and to show they care is really amazing.” Bob Cress came from Newport Beach for the festival. “Any time you can eat and drink great food and wine and give to such a good cause and a wonderful charity, it’s great,” Cress said. Alyssa Lovato of Sweet Arleen’s bakery in Westlake Village said the baker made more than 2,000 cupcakes for the event, starting at 3 a.m. “We brought our port wine chocolate cupcakes as well as vanilla with candied orange.” Martha Zweifel, of Thousand Oaks, has volunteered at the fundraiser for the past two years. “My daughter grew up with a friend who came through Casa Pacifica and so we’re glad to be a part of it. The food, the wine, it’s all so great.” Vincent Pillard, owner of Twenty 88 restaurant in Camarillo, said the event is a must for area eateries. “It’s a chance to come out and see everyone,” he said. “It’s the event you want to be at because you learn what your neighbors are doing and they learn about you. It’s developed a life of its own.” This year the VIP tent included the Ventura Cigar Company, which offered cigar samples to a long line of interested patrons.
Elson said the community support has been fantastic. “We couldn’t do what we do without this community and they’ve really embraced us and they’ve embraced these kids, too.”
May 30, 2013
CASA PACIFICA ANGELS WINE AND FOOD FESTIVAL Sunday, June 2, 1-5 p.m. The annual event is one of the most popular festivals in the tri-county area, attracting thousands of food lovers, music aficionados, wine and beer connoisseurs, and raises money to benefit the programs and services of Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families. The event will offer continuous live entertainment, the largest silent auction in Ventura County, and mouth-watering food throughout the day. General Admission tickets are on sale for $125 each. Food and beverages are included in the price of admission. California State University, Channel Islands, One University Drive, Camarillo. For tickets and more information, visit www.cpwineandfoodfestival.com.
May 9, 2013
A group of real estate agents from west Ventura County wanted to make the lives of youths brighter and more colorful at Camarillo’s Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families. So from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, 91 volunteers from Keller Williams Realty offices sported red shirts and — armed with paintbrushes, shovels and a heavy dose of community pride — renovated the nonprofit’s playfield and finished pathways leading to a garden and a labyrinth. It’s the third time the west Ventura County branch has participated in RED Day, for “renew, energize and donate,” joining about 70,000 fellow employees worldwide. Locally, the agents chose to lend a hand at Casa Pacifica, a home for abused and neglected children on South Lewis Road.
Cindy Dombrowski, Casa Pacifica’s executive assistant, said the nonprofit’s board of directors was inspired by the donors to come up with the projects. “We really rely on our community and our donors to help us through times like this and make a better place for our youth,” she said. Nancy Amorteguy, CEO for the local Keller Williams Realty branch, said a special committee of volunteers raised more than $2,000 to purchase paint, swing sets, tiles and construction materials for the project. “We chose Casa because of their amazing need in our community,” she said. “They just don’t have the funding or ability to do this type of work, and we knew we could make a big difference in just one day.”
Realtor Kathy Ramirez and lender Chad Cockerel set a new border along the garden where spring flowers are expected to bloom. “The great thing about this is that you’re not just donating money,” Ramirez said. “You’re working to see the end result and the smiles on the faces of those who benefit.”
May 9, 2013
We made it through the weekend in great shape. Friday was very smoky and staff took the kids off campus for the day. Same on Saturday, though, much less smoke. Our activities folks and behavior specialists did a superb job planning and implementing activities that would serve both as a distraction and as an opportunity to talk about managing in times of crisis and stress. And all of our staff was terrific throughout the weekend. Thanks to all of you for your good thoughts and prayers. Special thanks to Sheriff Geoff Dean who not only helped us in returning to campus Thursday night (instead of going to an emergency Red Cross shelter) by intervening and garnering accurate and actionable information for us, but also by taking a second look at the campus on Friday morning and suggesting some additional preventative steps we could take in case the fire turned toward us again. Also, thanks to CSU Channel Islands President Dick Rush for offering whatever support we needed during the fire. Dick had more than enough on his plate to think about, but that gesture of support was greatly appreciated and, I believe is reflective of the way the community responded throughout this ordeal.
I also wanted to share a couple of Facebook posts from our alumni – posted on Thursday during the height of the fire:
One youth wrote: “I hope we don’t lose Casa Pacifica. For some it’s the only home we’ve ever had.”
Another youth responded: “So true, that’s the only place that took us when we needed a home.”
Steven Elson, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families
1722 So. Lewis Road, Camarillo CA
May 5, 2013
(Published in Elegant Magazine Fall 2012)
Anthony didn’t realize his trip to his uncle’s house to play with his cousins wasn’t going to be a typical visit. His father, after dropping him off, never returned again to pick him up. The five-year-old, taken in by his uncle and his family, became a member of the family and was treated the same as the other children in the house. Unfortunately, that treatment included physical abuse. Anthony was placed at Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families and lived in the Pre-K Cottage. He was bright-eyed, smart, agreeable, and displayed no negative behaviors from the trauma he had experienced. He seemed adjusted to his new surroundings and happy. Anthony was placed in a foster home in the community after three months, but, it wasn’t too long into this placement that the negative effects of his abuse began to surface. Anthony became aggressive with the other children in the home, both verbally and physically. He changed preschools three times because he displayed the same behavior at school. Though the foster mother did everything she could to help Anthony with his aggression, he was eventually placed back at Casa Pacifica.
Upon his return, Anthony’s negative behaviors decreased due to a sense of feeling safe, but it was obvious he needed help. Anthony was having trouble in his Kindergarten classroom. He would poke, kick, bite, hit, and pinch his classmates. Anthony was enrolled in Therapeutic Behavioral Services (TBS), a community-based program that focuses on providing individualized behavioral interventions for at-risk children to keep them out of placement in a high level group home. Though Anthony was living at Casa Pacifica, it was clear that the TBS services would be a great benefit in helping Anthony’s behavior change, thereby increasing his chances of a successful foster home placement in the future and improving peer relationships at school. Anthony’s TBS staff worked with him four days a week. Two behavior goals were set for Anthony: 1) decrease verbal aggression, and 2) decrease physical aggression. Anthony was taught coping skills to achieve these goals. For example, if Anthony was angry he had a box full of Playdough balls, which he could squeeze and manipulate in order to calm himself, or he could ask to go for a walk with a staff member, or he could push against a wall until he felt the anger subside. For his verbal outbursts, a chart was hung in Anthony’s room that allowed him to indicate the level of anger he felt. It also had words for him to point at to identify the emotions he was feeling – sad, frustrated, hurt, etc. The chart helped Anthony begin to distinguish his emotions and be able to share them verbally. The TBS staff also worked with Anthony on his peer level interactions, helping him learn to share, play harmoniously, and ask for help when he was having a problem or felt angry.
After a four-and-a-half month stay at Casa Pacifica a new foster home was identified for Anthony. The foster parents came to visit Anthony for a month and soon Anthony was able to go offcampus with them for day trips, and eventually for overnight stays. Anthony now lives full-time with his new foster family and is reported to be doing very well. He still continues with his TBS services and there are plans for him and his foster parents to start in Casa Pacifica’s Parent-Child Interaction Therapy in the near future.
Note: Anthony’s name and photo have been changed to protect their privacy.
May 2, 2013
UPDATE by CEO Steven Elson, Ph.D. - We voluntarily evacuated the campus based on information about a potential hazmat burn near by. We moved to our Flynn Rd building and prepared to house the children/youth overnight at the Red Cross temporary shelter at Calvary Church in Camarillo.
Sheriff Geoff Dean (Casa Pacifica board member) to the rescue. The Sheriff informed us that the “hazmat” alarm was premature and that the best move for us would be to “shelter in place” on campus. Over the next couple of hours children will be returning from their outings and we anticipate a quiet night on campus. The photo attached was taken at 7:00 p.m.
May 2, 2013
About 50 young people at the Casa Pacifica shelter for abused or neglected children left at midmorning, although staff members remained and are working by window light because the power is out, CEO Steven Elson said. Officials evacuated the facility voluntarily, he said. “It was getting close and the flames were pretty dramatic and spectacular,” Elson said. “We are surrounded by agricultural fields, so we do have a kind of a natural fire break, but we have seen a tree line on the other side of the fields go up.” Elson said it marks the first time a fire has forced an evacuation of the center that opened almost 20 years ago near CSU Channel Islands.
“There were a few anxious kids, but there was no panic or anything like that.” About 30 children who attend a special education school on campus were sent home, while staff took another 25 who reside at the shelter to the movies, he said. Officials are still discussing where to take another 30 who attend regular public schools during the day and would be returning to campus at midafternoon.
April 19, 2013
A student club at Adolfo Camarillo High School wants local businesses to help in its efforts to provide athletic equipment for youngsters at Casa Pacifica, a Camarillo-based shelter for abused and neglected children. The Camarillo High student organization Teenage Endeavors Elevating Neighboring Students Club, also known as the TEENS Club, is the sponsor of the upcoming “Chasing the Sun” 5K, fun run and family expo. Proceeds from the event will go toward Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families in Camarillo, which provides emergency shelter and counseling services to families in crisis.
The club’s goal is to raise $1,500 to provide the shelter with athletic gear such as running shoes, pants and socks. “Our club has always been geared to support Casa Pacifica because it’s in our neighborhood,” said Leann Pham, a Camarillo student and club board member. “ Our board came up with the combined idea to provide running equipment because we wanted to see what the money is being used for and that it is being put to good use.” ACHS student E.J. Morera, a member of the TEENS Club and a varsity football player, said he wants to share the positive impact of sports with the residents of Casa Pacifica. “It’s great to have a place like Casa Pacifica because they help with the emotional support, but we felt they also needed something to help them lead a healthier life through physical activities,” said E.J., a Camarillo High senior. “Football has been a great experience for me. It created a constructive new hobby for me, and I met a lot of great friends.” Sponsors who donate $25 or more will have their logos printed on the runners’ T-shirts. Corporate sponsors are also needed to provide gift certificates, coupons and other small prizes for participant goody bags, which will be distributed on the day of the event.
The 5K run is slated for 9 a.m., Sat., June 8 at La Mariposa School, 4800 Corte Olivas, Camarillo. A 1-mile fun run for children age 12 and under is planned for 10:15 a.m. A family expo, which will feature live entertainment and kid-friendly activities, will open after the races. Sponsors who donate $150 or more to the event will be provided with a booth for the family expo. For more information, email the TEENS Club at teensclub_ email@example.com.
April 11, 2013
“Mental health professionals called to counsel people who threaten to commit suicide may recommend hospitalization” said Jody Kussin, Ph.D., director of community programs for Casa Pacifica in Ventura County and coordinator for the Children’s Intensive Response Team (CIRT). “Suicide is 100 percent preventable,” Kussin said. “(And yet) there are three times the number of suicides than deaths from HIV and AIDS (nationwide).” Kussin said the 10-person response team, which works 24 hours a day, seven days a week and fields about 400 calls a month, receives requests for help from law enforcement and hospital emergency room personnel as well as young people, their parents and teachers. “Anyone who is having a mental health problem at the level of crisis,” said Kussin, a clinical psychologist. Most calls, about 60 percent, can be handled over the phone with a long series of science-based questions, Kussin said. Among those questions: Are you thinking of killing or hurting yourself or others? Do you have family support right now? Has someone close to you committed suicide recently? If the answer to that question is yes, the risk for suicide is increased, Kussin said. Callers are also asked how they would kill themselves and if they have access to the method of suicide. “Direct questions are more helpful for people in pain,” the director said.
March 25, 2013
The Casa Pacifica Angels Wine and Food Festival - Ventura County’s Best Charity Event - will celebrate its 20th year on June 2nd, 2013, from 1:00PM to 5:00PM at California State University Channel Islands’ campus in Camarillo, CA. The annual event is one of the most popular festivals in the tri-county area, attracting thousands of food lovers, music aficionados, wine and beer connoisseurs, and raises money to benefit the programs and services of Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families. The finest local wineries and breweries pour wines and brews, while local restaurants and catering companies from Santa Barbara to Conejo Valley serve a sampling of their finest dishes.
The Casa Pacifica Angels Wine and Food Festival is hosted once again by the wonderful Zarley and Van Huisen Families and will offer continuous live entertainment, the largest silent auction in Ventura County, and mouth-watering food throughout the day. Last year, the Festival raised more than $368,000 (net). The fundraising goal for this 20th anniversary celebration is to break the $400,000 (net) mark! Casa Pacifica hopes to help fill the $2.6 million gap between its government service contract revenues and the actual costs to provide critical help for abused, neglected, or at-risk children and families in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
“The Wine & Food Festival has grown substantially from its humble beginnings at the Pierpont Inn in Ventura twenty years ago. Without the generous support of our sponsors, the wonderful participation of so many quality restaurants, wineries, breweries and other food and beverage vendors, and ultimately the enthusiastic attendance of the community over the years, the Wine & Food Festival could not have grown to be one of Ventura County’s premier community events,” said Carrie Hughes, Director of Development & Public Relations at Casa Pacifica. “We are deeply grateful for all the support, past and present, which has helped us reach our goal to abundantly benefit the programs and services that Casa Pacifica provides to our community’s most vulnerable children and families.”
General Admission and V.I.P tickets can be purchased online at http://www.cpwineandfoodfestival.com! General Admission tickets are on sale for $100 each thru April 30th, 2013 and $125 each thereafter until sold out. Food and beverages are included in the price of admission. V.I.P tickets are available for $200 each, allowing festival-goers an early Festival admission at 12:00PM noon. V.I.P. ticket holders will receive V.I.P parking, and exclusive access to the V.I.P. Lounge presented by Wells Fargo. The Lounge will feature the Anheuser Busch Belgium Beer Garden, Plated Events by Chef Jason, Malibu Family Wines and more! V.I.P. guests will enter through the beautiful and historic CSU CI bell tower while being catered to by the world class Mastro’s Steakhouse.
Connect your name or business to this “Can’t Miss” Event by taking advantage of some great sponsorship opportunities! For sponsorship information, contact Casa Pacifica Event Specialist, Kristin Palos at (805) 366-4014, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Festival sponsor page at http://www.cpwineandfoodfestival.com. Casa Pacifica encourages all festival-goers to participate responsibly. Roundtrip reservations are available thru the Roadrunner Safe Ride Program by calling (805) 389-8196, or visiting http://www.rrshuttle.com/casapacificawinefestival.
We need numerous student and adult volunteers to help us put on Ventura County’s premiere wine and food tasting event. Students are eligible to earn community service hours by working the day-of event. Adults are needed and encouraged to help with event set up as well as 1-hour shifts on Sunday, the day-of event. Please note that volunteers who also plan to attend the festival will need to purchase tickets. Please join us as we try to raise much needed funds to help abused, neglected and at-risk children and their families. For more information and to register: View Casa Pacifica’s Wine & Food Festival Volunteer Registration
March 22, 2013
“Emerge! The Art Show”: The show, a benefit for Casa Pacifica, features photography by Christine Stahr, paintings by Ryan McGeary and woodwork by Jeff Carmi. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. March 22-23, The Lakes, 2200 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. casapacifica.org.
March 2, 2013
From its humble beginnings in 1994 at the historic Pierpont Inn in Ventura to its beachside home at the Mandalay Beach Resort in Oxnard (2001 - 2006) to the present surrounds of the beautiful and spacious California State University’s Channel Islands campus in Camarillo, the Casa Pacifica Angels Wine & Food Festival has become the premiere wine and food event in Ventura County.
Voted both “Best Charity Event” and “Best Food & Drink Festival” of Ventura County in 2012, the Festival showcases delectable creations of the finest restaurants, caterers, bakeries and specialty shops from Santa Barbara to Conejo Valley. The event also features many renowned wineries and vineyards from throughout California’s rich wine-producing regions, as well as several awarded breweries.
General Admission tickets are now available for PURCHASE ONLINE. Ticket prices March 1st through March 17th are $85 each; March 18th through April 30th are $100 each and $125 each thereafter until sold out. VIP tickets are available for $200 each. We encourage early purchase as this is the 20th Anniversary and last year sold out! Tickets can be purchased at http://www.cpwineandfoodfestival.com/tickets
For more information contact Casa Pacifica at (805) 366-4014 or email email@example.com
February 15, 2013
Surrounded by miles of rural farmland and the rolling hills of Camarillo, Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families has given sanctuary and hope to at-risk children and adolescents since 1994. “The original vision was that Casa Pacifica would become a one-stop shop for abused and neglected kids entering the welfare system and removed from home by law enforcement or child protective services,” said Dr. Steven Elson, CEO of Casa Pacifica. The nonprofit organization’s main headquarters at 1722 S. Lewis Road in Camarillo is tucked into a sprawling 24-acre campus located five miles from the Pacific Ocean, including branches in Santa Maria, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria that provide individual in-home crisis intervention and behavioral support services to more than 1,000 kids in Santa Barbara County and more than 4,000 clients annually. “One of our community outreach programs called Wraparound is fairly intensive,” Elson said. “A whole team of specialists comes together and works with a specific child and family, and the intent is to keep them together.”
The on-campus Emergency Shelter Care residential program is a safe refuse for children, and with 45 beds the shelter provides short-term housing for infants through age 18. Children at the shelter are evaluated by clinical staff to administer medical care and social and educational assessments aimed to assist Child Protective Services and dependency courts in Ventura and Santa Barbara County in steps determining the child’s future. On average, the length of stay at the shelter is 50 days, and most of the children at the shelter continue to attend school daily courtesy of Casa Pacifica shuttles. Once the term expires, about half of the children go home or to a relative’s home and a third will be placed in foster homes. Others with emotional, behavioral and social challenges or academic skill defects are transferred to the long-term Residential Treatment Services on campus with 28 beds. Under the 12-month experimental Residential Treatment program, adolescents ages 11 to 17 receive individualized, intensive therapeutic treatment by a team of psychiatrists, psychologists, teachers and nurses on staff.
Youths are taught cognitive development and social skills intended to help them build confidence and leadership skills in order to live fulfilling and productive lives at home and in the community. According to Elson, children in the program with health impairments and specific learning disabilities are referred by various school districts to attend Casa Pacifica’s on-campus, special-education Non Public School. “Our classrooms are very small,” Elson said. “We have about eight children in a classroom with a teacher and an aide, and there are behavioral specialists available.” The low student-to-staff ratio at the school ensures that students receive individualized instruction in various academic courses, including mathematics, reading, music, art, online courses, and vocational education and transition programs.There is also a primary care clinic on campus operated by physicians, nurses, kids residing on campus, and young adults who have emancipated out of the program. “We are now serving what we call the alumni kids,” Elson told Noozhawk. “Youths who have aged out of the program at 18 years old have come back to us, sometimes with their own children. So the clinic becomes a medical home for them and their family.”
Elson, the son of a missionary family, grew up in a foster home in Arkansas from fourth grade to high school, and explained that housing for emancipating foster youth is not only a national issue but also a local problem that is addressed daily at Casa Pacifica. Casa Pacifica’s Coaching Independence in Transitional Youth (CITY) program, coupled with the new housing facilities on the Camarillo campus, is structured to provide assistance to transitioning foster youths. The organization recently leased two acres of land adjacent to the Casa Pacifica campus and refurbished the three buildings on the property, with two of them having been converted to homes accommodating newly emancipated youth.
Stepping Stone housing is designed for newly emancipated 18- to 21-year-olds, including single mothers, who have left the program and are not yet ready to live on their own and require further development of independent living skills. During the 18-month residency, youths perform basic household chores as “rent” contributions and are encouraged and assisted with educational and employment goals. Casa Pacifica admits a child into one of the programs every three hours at the cost of $33 per day and child. “The public-sector funding we receive doesn’t cover the cost of services, especially on campus,” Elson said. “We rely heavily on private contributions to maintain the quality of care we provide to our kids, so every donation we receive helps to transform a child’s life.”
January 29, 2013
The sunshine coming through the skylights at Casa Pacifica’s gym picked up the flecks of lint coming off hundreds of blankets as more than 200 young women and their 40 chaperones prepared, designed and folded each one. Members of the National Charity League’s District No. 3, which includes Ventura County, were on hand preparing blankets for residents of Camarillo-based nonprofit Casa Pacifica and blankets and baby care bags for Operation Homefront, an organization that helps military families with young children. National Charity League’s Ticktockers, young women between ages 12 and 18, were on hand with their mothers or patronesses as part of a nationwide effort to perform service at the end of January. “This is the third annual event at Casa Pacifica,” said Stacey Stephens, District No. 3’s philanthropy specialist. “But this year, we’ve been able to add Operation Homefront as a beneficiary, and it’s a great opportunity for us to help.”
Jenn Madden, the league’s District No. 3 coordinator, said the organization is a group of mothers and their daughters who work together to strengthen their own ties and enhance the girls’ opportunities for leadership, culture and service. Pam Klieman, with Operation Homefront and the New Parent Support Program at Naval Base Ventura County, said the blankets and baby bags will come in handy for the families in the military with kids from birth to age 4. “What they’re all doing today will go a long way for these families and helps us reach out to them,” she said. Casa Pacifica volunteer coordinator Sara Hidalgo brought along Baker and Tess, Newfoundland therapy dogs. Both of the pups are related to Archie, the facility’s first dog, who has become famous since his arrival. “These blankets are so needed,” Hidalgo said as the dogs got to know the girls. “Most kids who come to us here do so at probably the worst times in their lives. The first thing they need is something warm and welcoming. Doing this shows that these ladies care about their community.”
January 19, 2013
Twenty tons of snow kept youngsters entertained Saturday at Three Springs Park in Westlake Village during the third annual Coats-for-Casa charity event. As the mercury climbed toward 80 degrees under sunny skies, there was a race against time to see how long the snow would last, but it added to the community feel of the donation drive that benefits children and families served by Casa Pacifica in Camarillo.
The event was organized by financial adviser Rick Winters and real estate agent Lydia Gable. From 10 a.m. onward, a steady stream of people came by the roadside collection point on Three Springs Drive to donate coats, jackets and other winter clothing.“We’re just thrilled,” said Gable, who’s with Prudential Realty. “The support from the community is growing every year.” Winters, the owner of Winters Financial Group, said the turnout was fantastic. “The first year, I think we collected 500 coats. Last year, it was about 600, and we’re easily over that now,” he said. “What we did differently this year is that for the past three or four weeks, we’ve had collection boxes out in about half a dozen different businesses in the area, and it’s just been creating some awareness and helped people who couldn’t make it to the event still be able to donate.”
Casa Pacifica serves abused, neglected and emotionally disturbed children and adolescents, offering emergency shelter care, residential programs, psychiatric and medical services, and community-based interventions and support for children and families. Sara Hidalgo serves as the nonprofit’s volunteer coordinator and was on hand to thank those who donated clothing. “It’s very heartwarming — it really is — just to see the community help the children and their families who so desperately need their help,” she said. “It’s so kind and so loving and we’re very, very happy to have such wonderful people in the community who care about Casa Pacifica.”
January 16, 2013
Casa Pacifica is proud to present the continuing education workshop “Core Psychotherapeutic Tasks of Working with “High-risk” Children, Adolescents and their Families” with nationally renown DR. DONALD MEICHENBAUM, Research Director of the Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and author of “Roadmap to Resilience - A Guide for Military Trauma Victims and Their Families.” North American clinicians voted Dr. Meichenbaum “one of the 10 most influential psychotherapists of the 20th century.”
Held on Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 at Spanish Hills Country Club in Camarillo from 9am to 4pm, registration is $129.00 until January 25th ($159 after January 25) and includes lunch, materials and continuing education certificate. For information and to register please contact Darlene Navarro at (805) 366-4064 or DNavarro@casapacifica.org.
December 28, 2012
Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families’ website recently received the Best in Class Award in the charity category by Interactive Media Awards. The CPCCF website, www.casapacifica.org, was honored with IMA’s highest honor for effectively delivering Casa Pacifica’s mission to provide help for abused, neglected or at-risk children and their families.
The site achieved the highest marks for its design, content, feature functionality, usability, standards compliance and cross-browser compatibility. A collaboration between Casa Pacifica staff and the Web development agency Mineral, the site was also awarded Best Nonprofit Website by the Web Marketing Association in September. For more information, call (805) 445-7800.
December 27, 2012
Lydia Gable of Prudential Realty and Rick Winters of Winters Financial Group will host the third annual Coats for Casa charity event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sat., Jan. 19 at Three Springs Park, 3000 Three Springs Drive, Westlake Village. The free family-oriented event will feature winter crafts, snow play, coffee and smoothies. Attendees are asked to bring gently used winter clothes of all sizes, including coats, sweaters, hoodies, mittens, gloves, winter hats and scarves, to benefit Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families in Camarillo. The centers provide emergency shelter, medical and other communitybased interventions for families in need. For information about Casa Pacifica, visit www.casapacifica.org. For information about Coats for Casa, call (818) 383-4335 or (805) 497-1717.
December 18, 2012
More than 200 teddy bears have been donated to children living at Casa Pacifica in Camarillo because of a holiday campaign led by Girl Scouts from Agoura Hills. Members of Cadette Troop 619 held a Build a Bear, Warm A Heart event Sunday at Build-A-Bear at The Oaks in Thousand Oaks, along with members of other troops from the Conejo Valley and western Los Angeles County. The girls also approached shoppers and invited them to donate to their efforts. By 4 p.m. Sunday, the Girl Scouts had collected 218 bears and 45 donated outfits for the soft toys. “People were extremely generous, and we had a lot more Girl Scout troops than ever,” said Troop 619 leader Dina Reisman. “I’m just very proud of my girls.”
Casa Pacifica provides residential care and services for abused, neglected and emotionally disturbed children and adolescents. As he stood in line clutching the “skin” for a bear and waiting for his turn at the stuffing machine, 5-year-old Charlie Cutting understood he was making a bear for children who didn’t have a loving home or toys of their own. He said he thought not to have bears or soft toys would be “kind of sad.” “We’re going to fill the bear with love,” said Charlie’s mother, Susan Emerson, a leader with Girl Scout Troop 60497 from Westlake Elementary School. About 12 fourth-graders from Girl Scout Troop 522 at White Oak Elementary School came to make bears, accompanied by Nicole Perry, of Westlake Village. “We told them it was for children who were displaced or didn’t have a family or had gone through a tragedy and they needed something to comfort them, something to show them people cared,” Perry said as the girls picked out bears.
December 5, 2012
Holiday ornaments for Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families kid wishes are available again this year at businesses, shopping centers and schools throughout Ventura County. To fulfill a child’s holiday wish this season, just select a Casa Pacifica Ornament and purchase that child’s wish or if you prefer, make an online donation at https://12732.thankyou4caring.org/casa-kids-holiday-wishes. Donation can be brought to the Casa Pacifica campus Monday through Friday between 9 am to 5:30 pm by Wed. December 12th, 2012 or call (877) 445-WISH (9474) to make other arrangements. For more information view the Casa Kids Wishes web site at www.casakidswishes.org.
Headquartered on a rural 24-acre campus in Camarillo, Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families serves abused and neglected children and adolescents, and those with severe emotional, social, behavioral, and mental health challenges. Our primary service area is California’s Central Coast, but referrals come from all over. We provide a comprehensive array of state of the art services to meet the varied and complex needs of children, youth and emerging adults in our care. Offices in Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, and Camarillo house our community-based staff, who deliver services in-homes and in-the-community. We work with more than 4,000 of our region’s most vulnerable, yet valuable children and their families annually.
November 28, 2012
You can make holiday wishes come true for Children at Casa Pacifica. Casa Pacifica is a Camarillo based residential treatment facility for children separated from their parents due to neglect or abuse. The children have made a list. And Casa Pacifica has placed their names, ages and choices on white dove ornaments that decorate flocked trees. Two of the trees are in the towers at the Oxnard Financial Plaza off Esplanade Drive. All you have to do is a take a dove and return it with an unwrapped gift. Present requests include video games, comforters, gift cards and clothing. For more information log onto Casa Pacifica’s website.
November 12, 2012
Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families’ web site has been awarded The Best in Class Award in the category ‘Charity’, the highest honor bestowed by the Interactive Media Awards (IMA). The web site www.casapacifica.org, collaborated on by Casa Pacifica staff and web development agency Mineral, was honored with the IMA’s Best in Class Award after successfully passing a comprehensive judging process and achieving highest marks in each of the judging criteria: design, content, feature functionality, usability, standards compliance and cross-browser compatibility. Judged by The Interactive Media Council, a nonprofit organization of leading web designers, developers, programmers, advertisers and other web-related professionals, the Casa Pacifica web site was recognized for effectively delivering its mission to provide hope and help for abused, neglected, or at-risk children and their families. This is the second award www.casapacifica.org has been recently honored with. The site was also awarded Best Non-Profit Website by the Web Marketing Association in September.
November 8, 2012
On Saturday, November 17th, 2012 Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families will present the workshop “Jack’s Brain, Jill’s Brain: Gender Differences and Why They Matter”. Did you ever know deep down that your girls and your boys learned differently? Are you frustrated with traditional limitations and constraints and yearn to teach each gender in the most effective way possible?
· This workshop introduces participants to the rapidly emerging research on how the brains of females and males are developmentally, structurally and functionally different. Based on these differences, participants will learn academic approaches customized to the distinctly different learning styles of girls and boys.
· Participants will become acquainted with the practical application of gender research to behavioral and emotional interventions with a focus on helping both sexes avoid high risk activities such as drug use, alcohol abuse and sexual activity.
· Participants will receive tools to help children and adolescents overcome adversity, depression, anxiety and stress.
· Participants will learn to effectively utilize new scientific research on happiness and how to nurture the childhood roots of adult happiness in the children and youth you serve.
Presenter: Meredith Hoffman, Casa Pacifica Training Specialist
Date: Saturday, November 17, 2012
Registration Cost: $49.00
Location: Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, 975 Flynn Road, Camarillo, CA
Time: 9:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
November 4, 2012
Consumer’s Title Company gave back to the community Oct. 17 when its staff set up a full harvest festival for all of the residents of Casa Pacifica to participate. The kids were able to bounce around for hours in the giant castle jolly jumper and had their faces professionally painted by Camille. The children also were able to choose pumpkins to decorate at the arts and crafts table where there was all kinds of paints and stickers to choose from, and enjoyed carnival games set up for a chance to win prizes and candy. Consumer’s also provided dinner for the children and staff of Casa Pacifica at the end of the exciting day. “For the past few years we have fulfilled some children’s wish lists during the Christmas holiday season but this time we really wanted to interact with all of them and create some great memories that they will never forget,” said Scott Mazza, sales manager.
The staff at Casa Pacifica provides services for children and families during challenging times of their lives, helping them overcome some of life’s most difficult circumstances — abuse and neglect, complex emotional and behavioral issues and family crises. The organization helps to restore hope, helps children find joy in daily living, improve families chances at making a better life and finding a place in the community where they can be successful. For more information about Casa Pacifica, phone 445-7800 or visit the website, www.casapacifica.org.
Consumer’s Title Company would like to thank A & F Country Market in Ventura, Thumbprint Printing in Simi Valley and Underwood Family Farms for adding to the success of the event. In May, Consumer’s Title will be creating a Water Park Summer Picnic at Casa Pacifica. CTC is at 4035 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Suite 260, in Thousand Oaks. For more information, visit the website, www.CTCsocal.com.
October 18, 2012
Casa Pacifica is seeking approval to expand its center for abused or neglected children on South Lewis Road near Camarillo over the next 10 years. The nonprofit wants approval to modify its conditional-use permit to add 62,605 square feet of space to its property. The expansion includes constructing eight buildings, bringing the total number to 22 from 14, officials said. The organization must renew the permit every 10 years. The facility is on county land, and the renewal will have to go through a public hearing process through the Ventura County Planning Commission, which will make a decision. If another party appeals the permit, the issue would go to the county supervisors. “We’re including our hopes for what we would like to do, to get that on the record and approved, so we have the ability then to raise money and complete the build-out of the campus,” said Casa Pacifica CEO Stephen Elson. Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families, at 1722 S. Lewis Road, serves young people who have been abused or neglected or have severe emotional or behavioral health problems. Its 24-acre campus provides emergency shelter, residential treatment, mental health services, a primary care clinic, a school and other services.
If approved, the plans would allow the group to replace temporary buildings used as clinical offices for staff, group therapy rooms and an activities center with two permanent structures to house the existing programs. Also added would be two eight-bed cottages, a classroom building, a multipurpose building, an administrative center and two houses for transitional foster youths, according to the organization’s permit application. One of the houses would accommodate up to 10 children and a house mother. The second would house up to four children.
October 18, 2012
Casa Pacifica in Camarillo, a center for abused and neglected youths, has two additions to its family, and they’re big in both size and heart. Tess and Baker, 8-month-old Newfoundland puppies weighing in at 98 and 85 pounds, are bringing acceptance and love to youths, visitors and staff members at the center.
The mild-mannered puppies are the center’s newest therapy pets and help the children to cope as well as provide a sense of security, according to Vicki Murphy, the center’s chief advancement officer. “A lot of the kids here have experienced not the best touch,” Murphy said. “A dog’s touch is healing and gives them the sense of safety.”
October 12, 2012
Casa Pacifica was featured on KEYT Channel 3 Newscast on Friday, October 12th for the website award.
KEYT Website text: Casa Pacifica just won a prestigious award. Casa Pacifica provides hope and help to abused and neglected and at risk children and their families. Out of more than two thousand entries, The Web Marketing Association gave Casa Pacifica the best non-profit website award for engaging visitors and sharing its mission. Dr. Steve Elson, Casa Pacifica’s CEO calls the site a team effort. Casa Pacifica is located in Camarillo but serves the Central Coast. To learn more or donate log onto www.casapacifica.org.
October 11, 2012
“I really feel like I have a home and many people who stand behind me and who are always ready to help,” says Jessica Sims, 20, a resident of Ventura’s transitional youth home, Alice’s House. According to VC Children and Family Services, more than 40 female foster youth are in need of such housing each year. Alice’s House gives a home to three such girls, and Camarillo’s Casa Pacifica has also just welcomed three young women, as well as one young man, with its newly launched program, Stepping Stones. “It provides hope. We’re not going to forsake you, we’re going to help you,” says Vicki Murphy, the chief advancement officer and director of alumni services at Casa Pacifica.
Without Alice’s House and Stepping Stones, which practices its CITY program (Coaching Independence in Transitional Youth), with a central focus of creating a “self-sufficient path toward adulthood,” many children would become lost within the numbers and statistics, with a great chance of continuing the cycle of foster care and neglect with their own children as, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, one-third of all individuals who were abused or neglected as children will subject their own children to maltreatment. And with the organizations relying partly on “public support through donations, job opportunities and mentoring,” as Cromartie states, it is important that the community participate. “It’s going to make a profound difference,” Murphy says. “You are trying to change the trajectory of their lives, and even if it’s just by a degree today, it will be huge over time. And helping them helps out the community.”
October 10, 2012
On Saturday, October 6, 2012, about 100 Alcoa employees volunteered with family and friends to clean and weed the garden and paint garden stones for the transitional youth housing of Casa Pacifica, a children crises care center. This volunteer activity was part of Alcoa’s Global Month of Service, which is a month long event where each and every employee is encouraged to take an active role in making our communities safer and stronger.
Alcoans participated in the event with a high altruistic spirit and collaborated in all activities enthusiastically. AFS Newbury Park provided a tasty taco lunch for all employees and Casa Pacifica children and staff. Everyone enjoyed the lunch and Casa Pacifica children kindly expressed gratitude for the food provided. Giving back to the community is one of Alcoa’s core values, which is embraced by all employees with their continues participation in many community volunteer activities throughout the year. In addition to providing the hands-on help, Alcoa Foundation will give Casa Pacifica a $3,000 Action Grant. The grant will be presented by AFS Newbury Park Plant Managers, Kristin March and Ali Motamedi, who actively participated in the volunteer event. For more information on Alcoa’s Month of Service and community programs contact Maria Calderas, HR Manager at 805-262-4210.
September 28, 2012
(Charity Event & Food & Drink Festival were for the Casa Pacifica Angels Food & Wine Festival) Thank you so much to everyone who voted!
September 21, 2012
Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families has been honored with the Best Non-Profit Website Award by the Web Marketing Association in its 16th annual WebAward Competition. The web site www.casapacifica.org, collaborated on by Casa Pacifica staff and an outside web development agency, earned high marks from industry insiders for developing an engaging site that effectively delivers its mission to provide hope and help for abused, neglected, or at-risk children and their families. “It really was a team effort to create a site that would be visually appealing, but also have meaningful content that represents the wonderful work we do here at Casa Pacifica,” said Dr. Steve Elson, Casa Pacifica CEO. “We were very fortunate to work with a talented group of people at the web development agency Mineral.”
The website was submitted into the award competition after a digital remodel that focused on illustrating the purposes of Casa Pacifica’s organization: to provide safe shelter, educational programs, therapy sessions and mobile crises response services to children and families with urgent needs. Including a method for fast, easy online giving was also a priority. More than 2,000 entries from 42 countries were evaluated in 96 different industry categories for the 16th annual WebAward Competition. The competition was judged by a panel of representatives from disciplines in the website development arena and included media and advertising executives, site designers, creative directors, corporate marketing executives, content providers, and webmasters. Entries were judged in seven categories: design, copy writing, innovation, content, interactivity, navigation, and use of technology. Casa Pacifica received a score of 69 out of the 70 points possible. Casa Pacifica is also currently developing another remodeled web site that will honor the organization’s famous “therapy dog” Archie, a Newfoundland who is very popular with the children and staff at Casa Pacifica and within the Ventura County community. The new web site will offer an online store.
September 20, 2012
Allison Bravo doesn’t know who her parents are. Now 19, Bravo has spent her life alternating between living in a group home and staying with a foster family that was not a good match. When she aged out of foster care, she became homeless. Fortunately for Bravo, Casa Pacifica offered her a steppingstone into the future. The nonprofit, which serves Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, provides care for abused and neglected youths. Earlier this month, Casa Pacifica opened the Stepping Stones Transitional Housing program in two buildings next to its 23-acre campus on S. Lewis Road in Camarillo. The program is designed to help young adults such as Bravo, who, because of their age, are unable to stay at Casa Pacifica. “It’s really confusing to be in foster care,” said Bravo, who graduated from Rio Mesa High School. “You don’t ever know what’s going on.”
In addition to the Casa Pacifica campus, Bravo has had two homes. She was placed with an aunt when she was very young but had to be removed. She said she developed anemia from improper nourishment while in the care of her aunt. At age 6, she was placed with a family she lived with on and off for the next 12 years. Bravo called it an “unhealthy environment” and said she fought with her foster family constantly. She enrolled in Ventura College this year and is taking classes to become a social worker.“I just want to work with foster kids and make sure they don’t have to go through what I did,” Bravo said. The pursuit of higher education is something Vicki Murphy, the chief advancement officer at Casa Pacifica, strove for with the Stepping Stones program. “We’re helping them gain some of the skills they need to get on their feet and transition out into independence,” Murphy said. Some of the basic life skills she hopes the members of the program will gain include how to manage a bank account and how to interview for a job. Murphy said the new homes, which at this point are occupied by three women and one man, sit on county land and took more than 300 volunteers and $500,000 in donations to build. There is room for more young adults in the program, which renovated old buildings into homes for the members of the 18-month program. Bravo said she’s lucky Casa Pacifica accepted her application for the program. “Life used to be really negative for me,” Bravo said. “But they’re not going to set us up for failure, and I feel really good about that.” Both Bravo and Murphy said many young adults immediately fall to homelessness after leaving foster care. Bravo said she hopes this program will shed some light on that problem. “People need to hear about this,” she said. “It’s not fair that we have nowhere to go. What are we supposed to do? “A lot of us want to be successful and know what we want to do; we just don’t know how to get there.”
September 20, 2012
Casa Pacifica Angels will present the 11th annual “Spotlight on Style” fashion show fundraiser on Sat., Oct. 6 at the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, Two Dole Drive. A champagne reception will open the festivities. Guests can visit boutiques to purchase accessories, clothing and gifts. Employees of Meathead Movers will greet and direct guests, and assist during the luncheon catered by the Four Seasons’ gourmet kitchen.
A runway fashion show produced by Carin Holmenas Productions will feature the latest styles from designers including Lourdes Chavez, Jessica Barkley and Edwards-Lowell Furs of Beverly Hills. A silent auction will offer baskets including a trip to a Princess Pelican beach home, Sunday brunch at the Ranch House Restaurant in Ojai Valley, a private wine tasting party for up to 15 guests at Vom Fass in Westlake Village and orchestra seating tickets to a New West Symphony performance.
This year’s “Spotlight on Style” honoree is the philanthropic group Girls on a Mission. The organization collects whatever is most needed by children at Casa Pacifica. All event proceeds will benefi t Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, crisiscare and residential treatment facilities for abused, neglected or at-risk children in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Tickets are $125 each in advance; no tickets will be sold at the door. For more information or tickets, call Kristin Palos at (805) 484-7144.
September 19, 2012
Runway style show, luncheon will be at Four Seasons Hotel, Westlake
A champagne reception will open the festivities. Guests can visit boutiques to purchase accessories, clothing and gifts.Employees of Meathead Movers will greet and direct guests, and assist during the luncheon catered by the Four Seasons’ gourmet kitchen. A runway fashion show produced by Carin Holmenas Productions will feature the latest styles from designers including Lourdes Chavez, Jessica Barkley and Edwards-Lowell Furs of Beverly Hills. A silent auction will offer baskets including a trip to a Princess Pelican beach home, Sunday brunch at the Ranch House Restaurant in Ojai Valley, a private wine tasting party for up to 15 guests at Vom Fass in Westlake Village and orchestra seating tickets to a New West Symphony performance.
This year’s “Spotlight on Style” honoree is the philanthropic group Girls on a Mission. The organization collects whatever is most needed by children at Casa Pacifica. All event proceeds will benefit Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, crisiscare and residential treatment facilities for abused, neglected or at-risk children in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. For more Casa Pacifica information, call (805) 445-7800 or visit www.casapacifica.org. Tickets are $125 each in advance; no tickets will be sold at the door. For more information or tickets, call Kristin Palos at (805) 484-7144.
September 5, 2012
Casa Pacifica held a ribbon cutting ceremony today. The non profit treatment center for abused, neglected and at-risk youth from Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties began a new chapter by opening Stepping Stone Houses. Thanks to donations of time and money, Casa Pacifica renovated two old buildings next to the Camarillo campus.
The buildings have been transformed into homes for former foster youth who are not ready to be out on their own. They are already providing a housing option for seven young women and one young man. It’s now part of Casa Pacifica’s Coaching Independence in Transitional Youth (CITY) Program.
September 5, 2012
Wednesday marked the official grand opening of the Casa Pacifica Transitional Living Center on Lewis Road in Camarillo. The center aims to give young people the skills and tools to thrive and lead a more self-sufficient path toward adulthood. At a ribbon-cutting, the center was named Vicki’s Place in honor of Casa Pacifica’s chief advancement officer, Vicki Murphy.
“Today, we get to celebrate permanence,” said David Wood, the nonprofit group’s board president. “We used to have to throw these kids into the deep end of the pool when they turned 18 and hope they learn to swim. Now we have a shallow end and a loving professional staff to teach them how to swim.”
September 1, 2012
At Casa Pacifica, she serves on the board of directors and as chairwoman of the Transition Age Youth Committee — a task force that unites nonprofits in helping young people in the foster care system transition successfully to adult life. “I love what I do at Casa Pacifica for foster kids,” said Warner.
August 15, 2012
Newbury Park’s Clean Up Comedy group performs with a promise to make you laugh right along with the rest of your family. “We want to spread the word that you don’t have to be vulgar to get a laugh,” said Tim Kanter, co-creator and creative director of Clean Up Comedy. The group’s mission is to perform comedy that is suitable for everyone. “There is so much to talk about that we can be funny with, we don’t have to resort to potty humor or foul language to get a laugh,” (creative director) Jeremy Zeller said. Community members who want to share laughs without vulgarity appreciate that. “It’s pretty hard to find clean comedy, especially to perform for our kids,” said Ingrid Cleffi, a recreation therapy supervisor at Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families in Camarillo. The center deals with abused and neglected children, many of whom haven’t had a lot of humor in their lives, Cleffi said.
August 7, 2012
About 200 foster youths from California and across the country gathered at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks to discuss the foster care system recommend policies they hope state legislatures will take seriously. The participants were California Youth Connection members representing 33 counties in the state and foster youths from states including Indiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska and Oregon. They were at the university for a leadership and policy conference.
“These are very complex issues that state legislatures have grappled with for years. You would be shocked by how simple some of these solutions are coming from a youth perspective,” said Jenny Vinopal, director of programs for the California Youth Connection. Ventura resident Dominique Martinez, 20, (Casa Pacifica Peer Advocate) is the co-chairwoman of the organization’s Ventura chapter and grew up in the foster care system. “I wasn’t happy with a lot of the experiences that I experienced through the foster care system, and I felt like this was a perfect organization to better the system for the youth that come after us,” said Martinez, who will present some of the recommendations to the state Legislature in January.
July 16, 2012
Watch as Casa Pacifica’s own Cristina Miranda, Youth Policy Advocate & Special Projects Liaison, is interviewed by NBC News during her internship at Capitol Hill!
View at: http://www.nbcwashington.com/shows/wednesdays-child/
July 12, 2012
Showcasing the culinary creations of restaurants and caterers from Santa Barbara to the Conejo Valley, as well as wineries, vineyards, and microbreweries from all over California, the 19th annual Festival raised money for Casa Pacifica, a Camarillo-based organization that provides help for abused, neglected, or at-risk children and families in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Each year, as part of its public/private partnership, Casa Pacifica must raise 10 to 12 percent of its budget to fill the gap between government funding and the actual cost of providing aid to neglected children.
July 6, 2012
Mary Kramer (center) celebrated her 70th birthday by throwing a party for residents at Casa Pacifica. The theme of the party was “Put a Smile on a Child’s Face.” When Mary Kramer recovered from a serious illness that left her in pain for three years, she decided she wanted to give back. The Camarillo woman celebrated her 70th birthday Friday by hosting a party for 45 children at Casa Pacifica in Camarillo in the hopes of bringing smiles to the faces of the youths who have been victims of abuse and abandonment. “I wanted to do something that the children wanted to do,” Kramer said. “I am all about fun and I want to see happy faces.” The children, who range in age from 4 to 18, requested McDonald’s Happy Meals for lunch, followed by entertainment from a Ronald McDonald clown.
Kramer also is raising money for the nonprofit’s summer camps, which allow children at the shelter to experience fun activities, such as going to the beach or an amusement park. “They get to do fun things that kids might normally do with their families in the summer,” said Ingrid Cleffi, Casa Pacifica’s recreation therapy supervisor. “We try to create memories for them, because a lot of our kids don’t have any good memories.” Children come to Casa Pacifica from the foster-care system, as well as juvenile hall and family homes. Many have lived through trauma and some have severe emotional, mental or behavioral issues. Kramer also solicited community donations to give the youths at the party a “lucky” penny, crayons, a stuffed bear and a backpack to hold their belongings.
June 23, 2012
Festival raises funds, brings together top area chefs
The 19th annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine & Food Festival drew more than 4,000 people and helped raise more than $300,000 for the center for abused children when it took place this month in Camarillo. “Top Chef” star Fabio Viviani was at the festival to help judge the Yummie Top Chef Awards and to unveil a line of bottled martini drinks that he and friend and business partner Jacopo Falleni plan to launch at the end of the year. Viviani, who already has restaurants in Moorpark (Café Firenze, 532-0048) and Toluca Lake (Firenze Osteria, 818-760-7081), confirmed plans to team with the owners of Public House and Bull & Bear to open a third location later this year in Chicago.
Accepting first place in the sweets category for their apple pie cupcake were Rhonda Santora and Lesley Bodwell of Frost It Cupcakery. Winner of second place with her “Three Meals a Day” collection of mini cupcakes was Missy Drayton-Bendado of Missy’s Cupcake Creations. Third place in the sweets category went to chef and stand-up comic Andres Fernandez and the cake bites he makes at Andy’s New York Deli.
In the savory-dish competition, Market Broiler of Simi Valley won third place with chef Robin Higa’s pairing of chipotle-mango caramelized Atlantic salmon with tropical salsa (1161 Simi Town Center Way, 210-7640). Second place went to Nic Manocchio, executive chef at The Tower Club, a members-only spot in Oxnard, for a dish featuring coconut-encrusted calamari with caramelized pineapple and a rum-and-chipotle spiked chutney (983-7777). And the big prize? That went to Luis Martinez, who holds Manocchio’s previous post as executive chef at C-Street Restaurant at Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach. His Kobe-style beef short ribs were braised in coffee and cabernet, topped with a mound of crispy leeks and served with garlic mashed potatoes infused with Maytag blue cheese.
June 6, 2012
A GOOD TIME — The 19th annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine and Food Festival drew a sold-out crowd of 4,000, including the dancers at left, to California State University Channel Islands for an afternoon of wine, food and music on June 3. Above, Peter and Kathleen Chmelir of Camarillo sample wine poured by Greg Moss of Woodland Hills and Weate Family Estates at the event, which raises money for Casa Pacifica, a Camarillo-based shelter serving children and families from throughout Ventura County.
June 6, 2012
Voted Best Cultural Festival in Ventura County for the last four years running, the annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine & Food Festival is one of the area’s premiere wine and food events, with all proceeds benefiting the Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families. The event features the finest restaurants, caterers, bakeries, and specialty shops from Santa Barbara to Conejo Valley and many renowned wineries and vineyards from throughout California’s rich wine-producing regions and award-winning breweries. Generously hosted by the Zarley and Van Huisen Families, the Festival was home to entertainment The Spazmatics and Professional Mobile Disc Jockey Bruce Barrios, 15-time winner of the Best Event DJ in Ventura County Award from VC Reporter. At the VIP Lounge presented by Wells Fargo, live entertainment included Sound Effect and Magic and Mayhem with Shawn McMaster.
Festival guests were also entertained by the Yummies culinary competition which showcased each chef’s entry which was judged based on flavor, presentation, innovation and quality. Entries were tasted by a panel of celebrity judges comprised of television and print media personalities, food and wine editors, and food and wine columnists based on which chef’s dish they feel is the “Yummiest.” The 2012 Yummie Top Chef Award Winners in the savory category include first place winner Executive Chef Luis Martinez of C-Street, Crowne Plaza Hotel with his Kobe style beef short ribs, and in second place was Executive Chef Nic Manocchio of the Tower Club with coconut encrusted calamari steak, caramelized pineapple, chipotle and Captain Morgan Spiced Rum chutney. Placing third in the savory category was Chef Robin Higa of Market Broiler with her fresh atlantic salmon caramelized with chipotle spices. The Yummie winners in the sweet category include first place winners Rhonda Santora and Lesley Bodwell of Frosted Cupcakery with their apple pie cupcake, and in second place was Chef Yvonne Drayton-Benado of Missy’s Cupcake Creations with her “3 Meals a Day” cupcake. Placing third in the sweet category was Chef Andres Fernandez of Andres Wine & Tapas Bar with his candy cakes cupcakes.
June 6, 2012
“Melt in your mouth” short ribs created by Luis Martinez, executive chef at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach, wowed the judges over the past weekend and took top honors at the 2012 Casa Pacifica Angels Wine and Food Festival’s culinary competition.
On Sunday, June 3, Martinez competed against chefs from 30 different central coast restaurants, caterers and bakeries in the festival’s annual “Yummies Competition.” In the end, a panel of celebrity judges that included “Top Chef” seasons five and eight participant Fabio Viviani and “MasterChef” season two runner-up Adrien Nieto deemed Martinez’s tender short ribs in a reduction of cabernet wine and natural juices to be the tastiest dish in the competition and awarded him the first place trophy.
“The Central Coast is home to so many wonderfully creative and talented chefs,” said Martinez. “It is especially gratifying to win the top prize when competing against such stiff competition.”
June 3, 2012
The festive atmosphere at the Casa Pacifica Wine and Food Festival on Sunday at CSU Channel Islands was a welcome respite for the staff and volunteers who work with broken families and abused and abandoned children. The agency’s biggest fundraiser has become a hallmark event for Ventura County, attracting about 4,000 people, some paying more than $100 to help fund Casa Pacifica services.
The residential program at Casa Pacifica has seen an increase in activity in the past year, with all 45 beds in the crisis care shelter full and most of the 28 beds in the long-term residential treatment facility full as well, according to Steve Elson, executive director. “This is our biggest fundraiser, during which we hope to raise about $300,000 toward out goal of $2.6 million in fundraising,” Elson said. “There are a lot of reasons why we’ve had the increase, including the economy. But we’ve been able so far to meet the needs of our clients, and that’s the ultimate goal.
June 1, 2012
The families of Leigh Jensen and Amy Van Wyngaarden know that, come April every year, the two women will retreat to the Jensen garage, subsist on candy and coffee from sunrise to sunset, and emerge in June with more than 200 baskets of items that will go up for bid at the annual Casa Pacifica Food and Wine Festival’s silent auction. The two women are part of more than 200 festival volunteers, some of whom begin working in October to prepare for the event that attracts thousands every year to California State University Channel Islands. “We are grateful for the time, treasure and talent of the dozens of volunteers that work to make this event possible,” said Carrie Hughes, assistant director of development for Casa Pacifica. “It’s inspiring to see them come together as a team to share their passion and love for the childen and families we serve.”
Proceeds from the food and wine festival, to be held this Sunday, help support the Camarillo based shelter for physically and emotionally abused children and families in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.The hope is to raise $300,000 at this year’s event, with $65,000 coming from the auction. For Jensen and Wyngaarden, putting the baskets together for the wine tasting event is a labor of love.
May 31, 2012
A woman calls the police for help with her boyfriend’s daughter. The woman has taken on the role of mother while her boyfriend is working as a trucker. The girl is 4 years old and the woman said the daughter is acting like a feral animal. The girl is physically aggressive, destroying objects and biting. Police arrive and contain the girl in the back seat of the woman’s car. The girl is biting and spitting on the officer. After they arrived at the hospital, a call was made to Casa Pacifica’s Children’s Intensive Response Team to do a mental health assessment of the girl and offer an array of supportive services to help the family. Casa Pacifica, a nonprofit based in Camarillo, provides shelter and services for abused and neglected children and adolescents, and those with severe emotional, social, behavioral and mental health challenges throughout Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.This is one of the hundreds of calls the Children’s Intensive Response Team receives throughout the year. It’s a sad story, but not a new one. And the number of mental health calls for children in crisis is rapidly on the rise in the county. “In the last six months, we have seen the biggest increase with the highest acuity,” said Jody Kussin, Ph.D., director of community programs for Ventura County.
The crisis team is only a small facet of all the services Casa Pacifica provides to the community. It has a residential treatment center and offers emergency shelter care. It has a therapeutic preschool, an on-campus non-public school for residents, and maintains school placement for students in the emergency shelter. It provides health services, parent-child interaction therapy, therapeutic behavioral services, supportive behavioral services and much more. Because of all of the services provided by Casa Pacifica, Chief Executive Officer Steve Elson, Ph.D. and his staff see Ventura County’s darker underbelly, where neglect and abuse remain common if not prevalent for many kids in the area. The shelter is almost at capacity, with 43 children currently versus around 30 kids in years past. The number of crisis calls is increasing. The severity of the crises is also on the rise. “Kids are just not being taken care of,” Elson said. “The family lost their home; they are living in a run-down apartment somewhere. A lot of it, drugs are involved…. It’s not an uncommon tale.” Elson also said everyone is being affected. “There are kids from every community, from the rich to the poor,” he said.
To continue to provide the same number of quality services, Casa Pacifica will be holding its annual Angels Food and Wine Festival on Sunday, June 3, 1-4 p.m. at the campus of California State University, Channel Islands, in Camarillo.
May 29, 2012
A Mix of Live Entertainment Including The Spazmatics will Perform at the 19th Annual Festival
The 2012 Casa Pacifica Angels Wine and Food Festival is proud to announce The Spazmatics will be returning to this year’s Festival main stage. DJ Bruce Barrios will also be returning as Master of Ceremonies. The exclusive VIP Lounge presented by Wells Fargo will feature Shawn McMaster of Magic and Mayhem and musical group, Sound Effect at the 19th Annual Casa Pacifica Angel’s Wine & Food Festival on Sunday, June 3, 2012 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The Spazmatics, Bruce Barrios, and a special surprise guest will entertain Festival wine and food enthusiasts. The Spazmatics is a four man band and a tribute to 1980s “nerds that rock”. The Kevin, Syd Sonic, Donald Wilkinson, and Ruben make up this eclectic 1980s new wave band with a sense of humor unlike that of any other band. They have covered songs at Los Angeles clubs including Playhouse, The Key Club, and Rolling Stone’s Hollywood and Highland venue. Known for their synchronized choreography, mini-mashup moments infusing riffs from current hits, and a high level of audience participation, The Spazmatics bring a whole new meaning to “nerds” worldwide.
Professional Mobile Disc Jockey Bruce Barrios, 15-time winner of the Best Event DJ in Ventura County Award from VC Reporter, will be the Master of Ceremonies and DJ for the Wine and Food Festival. Alongside The Spazmatics, DJ Bruce Barrios will announce the special surprise guest during the event. At the VIP Lounge sponsored by Wells Fargo, live entertainment includes Magic and Mayhem with Shawn McMaster and Sound Effect. McMaster offers a sophisticated, high-energy interactive program punctuated with astonishment and hilarity. He has appeared in clubs, campuses, and theaters across the country including Las Vegas, off-Broadway, the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, and most recently on the Fox MyNetwork TV’s Masters of Illusion. In addition to Magic and Mayhem with Shawn McMaster, the funk, R&B, and soul band, Sound Effect will be providing live music at the VIP Lounge sponsored by Wells Fargo.