In the News

Get the latest news from Casa Pacifica – including highlights from our Camarillo Headquarters, Santa Barbara office, and Santa Maria office.

Every year, Casa Pacifica works with 2,100 of Ventura and Santa Barbara County’s most vulnerable children and their families through a full spectrum of on-campus and community-based programs. Learn below how we’re helping improve lives and heal families, along with what’s new. For tips on how to identify and cope with behavioral issues in children and adolescents be sure to visit our blog.

Casa Pacifica Announces New CEO

May 20, 2020

Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, Ventura and Santa Barbara County’s premiere institution for serving the area’s most vulnerable children, today announced a transition in its leadership.

Chief Executive Officer Steve Elson, Ph.D., a fixture at Casa Pacific even while it was under construction in 1994, will retire after 25 years at the helm. Last year, Elson had announced his intention to retire to the board of directors and staff, and the board hired the firm of Morris & Berger, an executive recruitment firm, to perform an exhaustive national search for his replacement.

The board of directors has hired Shawna Morris, President and CEO of Phoenix House of California and Texas, as the new CEO at Casa Pacifica. She will take over in mid-July.

“We are confident we have picked a talented leader in Shawna Morris for our next chapter. Shawna is the ideal person to take over the reins from Steve,” said Board President William Powell.  “We searched the nation for the best CEO and found her right here in our own backyard.”

Elson will stay on at Casa Pacifica for a year on a part-time basis to participate in the transition.  “We are so grateful to have had the leadership and vision of Steve Elson for our first 25 years and we will have opportunity to celebrate his legacy when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted,” said President Powell.

“I am quite humbled and blessed to be taking over from Steve,” said Morris, a resident of Simi Valley.  “When I Interviewed for the job with board members, I asked each one of them a question: ‘Why are you here?’ All of them said we are here to advance the well-being of our youth. Every single board director said, ‘I am here for the kids.’ I said, that’s where I want to be.”

Elson described his successor as “bringing with her the kind of passion, commitment and heart we need and that has been characteristic of our leadership team over the years.”

Morris is a native of Kansas who earned her MPA at the University of Kansas. She was senior vice president and chief operating officer at the Menninger Clinic for 18 years before taking over as president and CEO of the Phoenix House California and Texas. The Menninger Clinic is an internationally known psychiatric hospital that treats adults and adolescents with complex mental illnesses, and Phoenix House California is a non-profit that is a nationally recognized and accredited behavioral healthcare provider, specializing in the treatment and prevention of substance use disorders and co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.

During her time at Phoenix House she was overseeing a chain of six in-patient facilities along with a number of outpatient addiction and mental health treatment programs.  During her tenure with Phoenix House she improved financial performance dramatically, reduced staff turnover and developed a strong, positive corporate culture.  She also lead an effort to separate from the national Phoenix House Foundation based in New York City, the Texas and California “branches,” now established as an independent corporation.

Over 17 years at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, KS, she worked her way up to become Senior Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer.  She managed a successful merger with Baylor University College of Medicine, relocating the Menniger Clinic to Houston, Texas, in 2003.  Amid the economic downturn in 2008, she led a team to complete a $50M capital campaign to build the current Menninger Clinic 50-acre campus.

She is a half-marathon and marathon runner.  Her husband, Andrew Morris, moved to Simi Valley when he was 7 and grew up in the city attending Simi Valley High School.

Source: Citizen's Journal

Casa Pacifica Appoints Shawna Morris as Chief Executive

May 19, 2020

Camarillo-based Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, a crisis-care and residential treatment facility for foster or at-risk children, announced Tuesday a transition in its leadership.

The board has hired Shawna Morris as the new chief executive. She will take over from Chief Executive Steve Elson — who has served Casa Pacifica since its nascent days in 1994 — in mid-July.

Currently, Morris is chief executive at Phoenix House of California and Texas.

“We are confident we have picked a talented leader in Shawna Morris for our next chapter. Shawna is the ideal person to take over the reins from Steve,” said Board President William Powell. “We searched the nation for the best CEO and found her right here in our own backyard.”

“I am quite humbled and blessed to be taking over from Steve,” Morris, a resident of Simi Valley, said in a statement. “When I interviewed for the job with board members, I asked each one of them a question: ‘Why are you here?’ All of them said we are here to advance the well-being of our youth.’”

Elson will stay on at Casa Pacifica for a year on a part-time basis to participate in the transition.

“We are so grateful to have had the leadership and vision of Steve Elson for our first 25 years and we will have opportunity to celebrate his legacy when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted,” Powell said.

During her time at Phoenix House, Morris oversaw a chain of six in-patient facilities along with a number of outpatient addiction and mental health treatment programs. At Phoenix House, she has been credited with improving the facility’s financial performance, reducing staff turnover and developing a strong, positive corporate culture. She also led the charge to separate the California and Texas branches from the national Phoenix House Foundation in New York City into independent corporations.

Source: San Fernando Valley Business Journal

Casa Pacifica hires new CEO

May 19, 2020

Camarillo-based Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families has hired Shawna Morris, president and CEO of Phoenix House of California and Texas, as the new CEO at Casa Pacifica starting in mid-July.

Current CEO Steve Elson will retire after 25 years at the helm of Casa Pacifica, a crisis care and residential treatment facility for foster or at-risk children in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Elson announced his plan to retire last year to the board of directors and staff, and the board hired the firm of Morris & Berger to perform a national search for his replacement.

“We are confident we have picked a talented leader in Shawna Morris for our next chapter. Shawna is the ideal person to take over the reins from Steve,” said board President William Powell in a news release. “We searched the nation for the best CEO and found her right here in our own backyard.” 

Elson will stay on at Casa Pacifica for a year on a part-time basis to participate in the transition.

“We are so grateful to have had the leadership and vision of Steve Elson for our first 25 years and we will have opportunity to celebrate his legacy when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted,” said Powell. 

Morris, a Simi Valley resident, said she is proud to be taking the reins after Elson.

“I am quite humbled and blessed to be taking over from Steve,” said. “When I Interviewed for the job with board members, I asked each one of them a question: ‘Why are you here?’ All of them said we are here to advance the well-being of our youth. Every single board director said, ‘I am here for the kids.’ I said, that’s where I want to be.”

Morris, who has a master’s degree from the University of Kansas, was senior vice president and chief operating officer at the Menninger Clinic for 18 years before taking over as president and CEO of the Phoenix House California and Texas.

Source: Pacific Coast Business Times

SLATE Bistro + Craft Bar donates hundreds of meals to families of Casa Pacifica

May 15, 2020

Vince Pillard, owner of SLATE Bistro + Craft Bar in Camarillo teamed up with his bartender and owner of Sweetwater Outpost, Justyn Varvais to deliver more than 900 individual meals to Casa Pacifica families in need. Families from Casa Pacifica’s Wraparound Program, Therapeutic Behavioral Services (TBS), Foster Families Programs, and Nonpublic School all received meals. “We want to make sure that we’re able to help others who are suffering if we’re doing okay,” said Pillard.

Pillard was one of many local business owners who found themselves scrambling to adjust in the face of COVID-19. “We’ve been pretty quick to adapt and be proactive,” he said of the recent shift. Varvais started a “Community Meal Fund” on GoFundMe with the goal of raising $2,500 to distribute meals to those in need, no questions asked. Pillard called longtime friend Carrie Hughes, Chief Development Officer of Casa Pacifica, to see if there were any families in need of meals. Casa Pacifica serves 500 children and families daily, most of whom are in the community.

“Initially, we were going to provide one take-and-bake meal for four people, but then we decided to do three meals. Since we’re doing it, we might as well do more,” said Vince about the plan to give meals out. Each meal is different and is ready to put in the oven. Chicken, green beans and mashed potatoes, chicken curry and rice – these dishes and more were on the menu for the thankful families. Vince’s staff, including Justyn and his mother, along with volunteers took routes to drop off the food. Don Harper, owner of Sessions at The Loft in Camarillo was among the volunteers. Casa Pacifica’s Nonpublic School staff added the meals to their weekly deliveries of school work and supplies to the kids. The special deliveries were received by thankful families and their children, eager for the treat of restaurant meal.

At the end of the day, several meals were not delivered because of wrong addresses – worried about the families who didn’t receive their anticipated meals, Vince and Carrie tracked down the correct addresses and Vince delivered the meals himself. “I ended up at a house in Fillmore and rang the doorbell. The woman who answered was so grateful and as she turned to go back inside, a little girl ran out the door, hugged my legs, and said ‘thank you,’ – that was probably the best moment of all of this. If I can put a smile on someone’s face, that’s all that matters,” said Vince.

One TBS family said, “Thank you so much for thinking of us and providing us with the resource. We are so grateful to Slate for being so generous during this time. There was so much food and we loved all of it.” Another child’s grandmother said she “really appreciated the meal and was touched that someone thought of her.” There was such an abundance of food she was able to freeze some for another day. And yet another family was thankful just for the relief from coming home and not having to cook after a long day of work.

The children and families of Casa Pacifica are just some of the many struggling with financial, food, and job insecurity during this difficult time. Community members like Vince and Justyn, who give generously even during uncertain times, make us proud to call Ventura County home.

Source: Citizen's Journal

Four recognized by Casa Pacifica during National Volunteer Appreciation Week

May 6, 2020

Four were recognized by Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families during National Volunteer Appreciation Week. Tamiann Cook received the Angel of the Year award. Sonny Grenier received the Seraphim Award and Stefanie Wennes received the Amigo of the Year award. PODS Tri-Counties received the Community Volunteer of the Year award. Casa Pacifica acknowledged the award recipients with special deliveries in lieu of the annual award luncheon.

Source: VC Reporter

TURNING THE TABLES | Local restaurants look for new business models to survive the lockdown

May 6, 2020

The impact of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry can’t be overstated. With no dining onsite allowed for the time being, eateries are struggling to find some way to keep the doors open until they can get back to business as usual — which may ultimately look dramatically different from what it was before the pandemic. Pared-down menus, reduced staff, discounts and specials have been the key to survival for many local institutions. We look at the strategies some Ventura County restaurateurs are using to stay in the game while everyone tries to stay safe at home.

Capriccio Inc. owners Jojo Ramirez and Justin Ramirez wanted to do the right thing. After a meeting with the Downtown Ventura Organization back in mid-March, the duo decided to temporarily close the Italian restaurant they have owned for two years. “It was best to close for a while to show the community that the money didn’t matter the most, it was for the safety of our customers and employees,” Jojo Ramirez said.

On April 12, the restaurant reopened for takeout business with six employees; 18 more are on unemployment. According to Jojo, there has been a huge decrease in service, averaging about 15 to-go meals per day.

“There are a lot of the loyal customers who have stepped forward to make an effort,” Jojo said. “I constantly get from them, ‘we are doing this [to-go orders] because we want to continue to see you stay open.’ I thank the loyal customers who continue to support us.”

With a variety of starters, pizzas, pastas and specialty dishes, prices range between $7 to $20. Purchase two meals to receive 20 percent off a bottle of wine. Capriccio currently offers a 20 percent discount for healthcare workers, which makes sense for many reasons — not least of which is that both Justin and Jojo are nurses as well as restaurateurs. Jojo works for a primary care physician clinic in Oxnard; Justin is in administration at Community Memorial Hospital.

“We are prepared to deal with anything,” Jojo said.

Owner Lorenzo Nicola has been open about a year and said business has stayed the same since the public health order, averaging 100 to 120 orders per day. “I’ve been here banging it out with my staff,” Nicola said. “We started off slow but it’s been pretty consistent since day one.”

Specials are posted on Instagram, and run around $16 for items such as rotisserie pork shoulder or Lebanese chicken. “It’s really important that we do this right now; we have a concept that’s good with to-go food,” Nicola said. “It’s a Lebanese-French picnic.”

Ojai Rôtie also offers a variety of soups, plus chicken and beef bone broth. Customers can receive a 20 percent discount off a bottle of wine with a food purchase.

“Right now I’m trying to give people value and good food; keep it fresh,” Nicola said.

Nicola is able to staff eight to nine employees out of the previous 25 to 30. “Most are kids from the neighborhood and it’s their first job, they all have families,” Nicola said. “I am still able to pay the [working] employees.”

He’s also teamed up with the World Central Kitchen (WCK), a nonprofit that provides meals during natural disasters, by supplying 100 meals every day to nurses and doctors at the Ojai Valley Community Hospital. “I always wanted to be a part of that organization,” Nicola said. “[Celebrity chef and WCK founder José Andrés] is my hero. I mix it up so they [frontline workers] have a variety.”

Ojai Rotie also aims to help people in Ojai facing food insecurity by allowing customers to easily purchase menu items for donation to HELP of Ojai, a nonprofit that supports vulnerable residents with healthcare, food and housing. To date, Ojai Rôtie has donated more than 100 rotisserie chickens and 150 loaves of bread. “We receive donations for HELP of Ojai every day,” Nicola said. “We are all giving back to the community.”

Nicola encourages residents to continue supporting local businesses, farmers and community members during the pandemic. “Let’s rock through this thing and get to the other side!”

The Camarillo-based Basil and Mint, perhaps best known for its pho, is offering (in addition to its regular menu) a one-stop package of food and drink. The Friday Happy Hour Basket is $48 and includes three appetizers (various options to choose from) and one cocktail: old fashioned, whiskey smash, Paloma, sidecar or Southside.

“Throughout the course, we’ve stayed steady thanks to our regular customers and solid local following,” said Daniel Kelley, general manager. “Our food is pretty to-go friendly from the beginning and people have us in mind already.”

Kelley said the eight-year-old café averages 60 to 100 meals per day. He is also operating with 10 people on staff; the rest are collecting unemployment.

“We are providing meals to the staff at half price so that they can come in and pick it up,” Kelley said. “I told them, if you’re in a situation, just call me and we will do everything to take care of you.”

Kelley is another restaurateur working with WCK, providing 200 meals per day to healthcare workers in local hospitals. He credits his chef, Jerry Santos, for helping prepare the meals.

“They [hospitals] don’t have emergency funding to feed themselves,” Kelley said. “The goal is to provide them with a hot, homey and healthy meal. They are the frontline to COVID-19.”

Kelley said safety protocols will be intense when the café reopens its doors to the public. “Everyone will get masks, gloves, temperature checks and wash their hands constantly,” Kelly said. “There was a curve to understanding how extreme we had to be with sanitation that everyone is going to have to learn when we get back into business.”

Owner Makis Mikelatos said he has seen a dramatic decrease in business since the public health order, estimating that the Mediterranean institution at Ventura Harbor is currently averaging 10 to 25 orders per day. “I would say 10 percent [decrease],” Mikelatos said. “Customers support us as much as they can.”

To encourage business, The Greek provides a 20 percent discount for online alcohol and food orders, with dishes such as gyro pita, Greek salad, souvlaki kabobs, moussaka and baklava. Prices range from $2.50 to $39.

With 25 employees all on unemployment, Mikelatos is mostly a one-man show, save for one employee who carries food to customers’ vehicles.

“Nothing can get paid like the rent or taxes, it’s very minimal,” Mikelatos said. “I pay some bills but it’s not enough.”

Mikelatos said when the public health order gets lifted, reopening the business will be different. “With new regulations, it will be interesting on what the county will tell us to do and what’s enforced between customers and servers,” Mikelatos said. “All of those questions come to my mind.”

“It’s a family affair,” said Joby Yobe, who owns Barrelhouse 101 and 2686 Kitchen in Ventura and Ojai Beverage Company with his father, Jose, and cousin, Jorge Alem.

Yobe decided to close Barrelhouse 101 due to health concerns for his staff and customers. Forty-eight of his employees are currently on unemployment.

“It’s such a social and gathering place that takeout didn’t make sense,” Yobe said. “There wasn’t enough money to keep it running and it wasn’t going to add up.”

He is waiting to hear back from the Payroll Protection Program regarding loans to help re-open the restaurant.

2686 Kitchen, however, is open, with Yobe and his cook running the show while 18 staff members are unemployed. A limited menu is currently being offered, which includes Naan grilled cheese, a variety of pizzas, loaded lasagna and a dozen chicken or beef empanadas. Prices range from $5 to $29.99.

“We’re working on family-style food,” Yobe said. The two-year-old restaurant averages about 10 to 30 meals per day and is seeing an increase with third party delivery businesses.

“It’s an impersonal way of doing business but it’s the new way of doing it,” Yobe said. “Takeout is a great way to support everyone and that’s all we can offer; we appreciate that.”

Yobe is also participating with WCK and has made 1,200 meals for frontline workers.

At the Ojai Beverage Company, orders are even higher, averaging between 20 to 40 per day. Food items include the tri tip panini, Western drunk burger, Baja fish tacos and pulled pork sandwiches. Prices range from $5 to $15. Alem and a cook run OBC alone; 20 staff members are unemployed.
“We just recently started doing food to go and margaritas and cocktails,” Yobe said. “There’s an unlimited menu with a lot of favorites and you can pick up supplies at the front to go.”

Yobe is looking forward to the day he can see his restaurants full of customers, but wants to do it at the right capacity. “I feel conflicted because I want things to get back to normal but don’t want us to rush,” he explained. “My businesses are dependent on people socializing and depending on happy hour.”

Yobe also has a lasting message for Ventura County residents. “Please be good now so we can have fun again,” Yobe said.

For those who own a boat, Waterside offers dockside service, where customers can park their boats in guest docks and pick up their food. An interesting concept, to be sure, but not wildly popular.

“We’ve had below 10 orders like that, most people come in the door,” said Tony Dybeku, partner and general manager. Generally, the Channel Islands Harbor restaurant averages 10-30 orders per day.

Waterside has bumped up its to-go specials with roasted chicken, chicken Marsala, pasta, fish and chips and more. Dinner and Docktails for two goes for $50 and features four options (New York steak, lasagna, grilled salmon or chicken Marsala), mashed potatoes and vegetables on the side plus tiramisu for dessert and a bottle of red or white wine.

Dybeku said he has been able to employ two of his staff while the remaining 34 are on unemployment. “They can come in and pick up a meal like pasta or sandwiches for them,” Dybeku said. “I keep in touch to make sure they are okay.”

Waterside is also focusing on catering to local businesses, along with donating meals to local nonprofits such as Casa Pacifica (75 meals every Friday) and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme, for whom the restaurant has prepared 500 meals.

“We would host the fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club at the end of April and because we closed, we couldn’t host it,” Dybeku said. “This was a way for us to say, here is something to help the families and the kids.”
Dybeku recently purchased Honey Cup Coffee and Kitchen next door.

“Breakfast items are made daily,” Dybeku said. “There are going to be many surprising changes and we invite the locals to check it out.”

Source: VC Reporter

Angels fest is canceled

April 23, 2020

For the first time in 27 years, Casa Pacifica will not hold the Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food and Brew Festival nor its companion event, The Yummie Top Chef Dinner, due to the pandemic.

The dinner was scheduled for June 5, and the festival for June 7, both to take place on the Cal State Channel Islands campus. All proceeds raised at the event go to operating funding to support the programs and services for the children, young adults, and families Casa Pacifica serves.

To support the local exhibitors— restaurants, bakeries, caterers, wineries, breweries and specialty shops—that have contributed to previous festivals, find a listing of the vendors at www.cpwinefoodbrewfest.com.

The 2021 Wine, Food and Brew Festival is scheduled for Sun., June 6, and the Yummie Top Chef Dinner on Fri., June 4, both at CSUCI in Camarillo.

Casa Pacifica is working with Eventbrite to contact all early ticket purchasers to discuss refund or donation options.

Source: The Acorn

Longtime Venturan, Casa Pacifica supporter Greg Finnerty dies at 56

April 23, 2020

Greg Finnerty, a longtime Ventura resident who turned working at his family’s lighting business as a teenager into a career in the special-events industry, died unexpectedly at his home on April 17. He was 56.

The cause was a heart attack, said Finnerty’s sister, Linda Finnerty.

Born in Van Nuys, Finnerty was about 6 years old when he and his family moved to Ventura in 1970. He graduated from Buena High School in 1981 and went on to launch Premier Event Productions, which he ran for more than two decades. He also worked for his parents’ business, Variety Lighting Supply, from the time he was about 15 until December 2018.

In recent years, Finnerty specialized in creating special themes and decorations for the VIP tent at the Casa Pacifica Angels Food, Wine & Brew Festival and the Yummie Top Chef Dinner that precedes the gala fundraiser. The events are presented annually as benefits for the Camarillo-based Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families. For a Hollywood Glam theme in 2016, Finnerty covered the Yummie Top Chef Dinner tables with glittering runners and framed movie-star photos, adding Hollywood Walk of Fame-inspired cookies as place cards for the 100 or so guests. Last year’s Elegant Evening in the Garden theme included green-and-white patterned linens on the tables with floral chandeliers and hundreds of Edison light pendants hanging overhead.

The 2020 festival and dinner scheduled for June 7 and June 5, respectively, have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Finnerty was saddened by the circumstances of the cancellation, which was announced about a week before his death, said Carrie Hughes, chief development officer for Casa Pacifica.

“Greg had a tremendous spirit of creativity and hospitality. He could take a blank canvas and turn it into something sensational,” Hughes said. “His vision, imagination, laughter and kind and generous heart will be greatly missed.”

Heidi Whitcomb met Finnerty in high school and remained friends with him through adulthood. His work as an events planner and her role as a second-generation owner of Ventura Rental Party & Events put them in frequent contact. Whitcomb described Finnerty as kind, outspoken and fiercely loyal to his friends.

“Anything I asked, Greg had my back,” said Whitcomb, recalling the time she told Finnerty her son needed a costume for a Halloween party in just a couple of days. “Less than 24 hours later, Greg shows up with this boat costume that Ryan could step into, with two straps hanging off his shoulders and a steam pipe for a hat,” Whitcomb said, laughing. “He would always, always give to others,” she added. “And it was always so fabulously extra.”

Casa Pacifica Adds Melissa Livingston from Ventura’s Human Services Agency to Board of Directors

April 15, 2020

Casa Pacifica is proud to announce and welcome Melissa Livingston to its Board of Directors. Melissa Livingston is the Acting Director of the County of Ventura’s Human Services Agency. The Board is comprised of 23 individuals bringing together various fields of expertise – including legal, financial, insurance, education, business, and community advocates.

Melissa Livingston began her career as a public servant in 1980 and has since grown into her role with the Ventura County Human Services Agency. She oversees social services, support services, administrative services, and eligibility program operations and service delivery – in directly alignment with the Agency’s mission to strengthen the health, safety, and well-being of the community. Melissa is also very active with other community organizations including Red Cross Ventura Chapter, Ventura County Community Health Center, Food Share, and Habitat for Humanity, among others. In her free time, Melissa enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, volunteering and cooking.

Source: Citizen's Journal

Casa Pacifica Cancels 2020 Annual Festival Due to COVID-19 Crisis – New Date in June 2021

April 12, 2020

Casa Pacifica is sad to announce that for the first time in 27 years, the Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival – the premier wine, food and brew event in Ventura County – will not be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns for the health and safety of our community. Along with the Festival, its companion intimate event – The Yummie Top Chef Dinner – will not take place as well. The Dinner was scheduled for Friday, June 5th, and the Festival for Sunday, June 7th, both to be held on the California State University Channel Islands’ campus. The Festival has been voted “Best Charity Event” and “Best Food & Drink Festival” by VC Reporter readers for the past eight years.

Casa Pacifica has been indebted to the amazing, talented, and generous restaurants, bakeries, caterers, wineries, breweries, specialty shops – all the wonderful and integral-to-the-day exhibitors, along with our dedicated sponsors, selfless volunteers, incredible entertainers, and eager fun-loving attendees who make the Festival the wonderful and unforgettable experience it is each year. With their kindness, enthusiasm, and most of all passion for the cause the Festival benefits – Casa Pacifica – 100% of the day’s proceeds raise significant and essential operating funding to support the vital programs and services that bringing life-changing healing to the children, young adults, and families Casa Pacifica serves. We are grateful to our sponsors, many of whom have chosen to shift their sponsorship funds to vitally needed operating support as Casa Pacifica addresses this difficult time.

Our exhibitors have been there for us for more than a quarter century, and now we ask that the community support them – our valued friends – during this difficult COVID-19 crisis. Visit our Festival website at www.cpwinefoodbrewfest.com to find a listing of our terrific vendors, who you can return the favor of ensuring a great Festival each year, through a take-out order, or two, or ten.

Carrie Hughes, Casa Pacifica’s Chief Development Officer explains, “It was such a hard decision to cancel the Festival this year. But with the financial hardships placed on our friends – the restaurants, bakeries, wineries, breweries and all the exhibitors due to the COVID-19 “Social Distancing” and “Safer at Home” restrictions, as well as the general safety and wellbeing of our attendees – it was just the right thing to do. We are grateful for all our special Wine, Food & Brew Festival family and pray they all stay safe and healthy. We look forward to seeing everyone again at next year’s event!” The 2021 Wine, Food & Brew Festival will take place on Sunday, June 6th, and the Yummie Top Chef Dinner on Friday, June 4th, both at CSUCI.

In the meantime, Casa Pacifica is excited to be planning some special offers and unique experiences in the upcoming months.

Source: Citizen's Journal

How Casa Pacifica is helping Ventura County’s most vulnerable in the age of coronavirus

April 12, 2020

Sheltering in place at home with a family is difficult enough as it is, but what do you do when you can’t stay with a family? At Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, the youth residents are finding out every day.

The Camarillo nonprofit, which works as part foster care program, part residential treatment facility, assists an estimated 45 juveniles at its residential campus on Lewis Road. It is the largest provider of children’s mental health services in the Ventura County. As the coronavirus spreads, group homes such as Casa Pacifica can become a nexus of infection because of the close living quarters, putting the lives of both the residents and staff at risk. Casa Pacifica President and CEO Steve Elson said the organization has scrambled to shift its practices to accommodate the public health orders.

“We’re working really hard not to cause any spread. We want to be very careful to keep the virus off campus,” Elson said.

Body temperature is now checked twice a day for every resident and staff member who steps foot on campus. All staff members are required to wear masks, which Elson said are well stocked at the organization despite shortages elsewhere. However, some of the transition factors have proved harder to acclimate to than others.

“A big adjustment certainly for the kids has been eliminating visitation,” Elson said.

Fortunately, many rooms on the campus have been equipped with video chat technology which has allowed the residents to keep in touch with those who would visit them.

“I would say that clients and families and youth are receptive and appreciative of the services that we can provide,” Elson said.

Beside the estimated 45 residents on the campus, the organization serves roughly 400 cases a day in the community throughout the Southern California region. With at-home visits no longer allowed by the state, the organization has had to switch completely to a telehealth operation outside of emergency situations.

Fundraising has also taken a hit as a result of the pandemic. Before the stay-at-home orders from the state and Ventura County, the organization was going to celebrate its 25th anniversary with a major fundraising gala at the Four Seasons in Westlake Village. It also had the annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival lined up to take place at CSU Channel Islands in June. Both events have since been canceled.

Despite the circumstances, admission to Casa Pacifica remains open on a case-by-case basis and includes a screening process.

“We are an essential service provider and will keep meeting the needs of the community while keeping our kids and staff safe,” Elson said.

Although no youth has come down with symptoms yet, plans have been made to deal with it should the issue arise, according to Elson. A cottage on the campus has already been deemed the quarantine cottage.

“So far, we feel we’re very lucky and trying to get everything in place for when we have a youth who is positive,” Elson said.

Source: VC Star

Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival canceled

April 10, 2020

The Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival will not be held this year for the first time in 27 years, organizers announced April 10. The annual charity fundraiser on the California State University Channel Islands’ campus in Camarillo had been slated for June 7 but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A companion event — the Yummie Top Chef Dinner — was also cancelled. The dinner was scheduled for June 5.

The 2021 Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival will take place on June 6, and the Yummie Top Chef Dinner on June 4, both at CSUCI. All festival proceeds go toward funding programs and services for children, young adults and families Casa Pacifica serves.

Source: Pacific Coast Business Times

Carrie Hughes Named Top 50 Women in Business

March 27, 2020

From her first part-time volunteer role in the Casa Pacifica Angels 21 years ago, Carrie Hughes has risen to become Chief Development Officer for the children and family services non-profit, which is celebrating its 25 anniversary.

That’s meant growing the organization’s signature Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival from a few hundred attendees to more than 4,500, with 150 vendors, and closing a $16.6 million capital campaign to construct two new buildings to expand its programs. The five-year campaign funded the expansion of the Casa Pacifica campus to include residential cottages for youth in therapy and a new vocational education center.

“I have a strong belief in the value and importance of building relationships with people,” Hughes said.

Since the onset of the coronavirus crisis, maintaining those relationships has become even more critical, she said, including frequent check-ins with donors and community partners, running errands for them and staying connected on social media.

It’s also meant some differences in the day-to-day services Casa Pacifica is able to deliver.

“It’s a big change on campus, because normally we take the kids out into the community,” Hughes said. With the restrictions, the organization has had to switch gears, including bringing an ice cream truck, activities and a movie night to them.

The job has given her a chance to mentor kids she has worked with, including a brother and sister, Blake and Mary, who are living with cystic fibrosis. “From the moment I met them, they tugged at my heart in a way I’d never experienced before,” she said. With the help of donors she was able to grant them their last wishes before they died, including attending a Lakers game and taking a flight in an airplane.

“I think the point of this is to encourage people to take a chance and be there for these youth,” Hughes said. “They need so much, but you receive so much more in return.”

Source: Pacific Coast Business Times

Longtime Casa Pacifica executive retires from nonprofit

March 27, 2020

It’s hard to say goodbye to something you love. Vicki Murphy is heartbroken about leaving her job as chief operating officer of Casa Pacifica, a nonprofit treatment program for at-risk youths in Camarillo.

“It’s bittersweet. It’s ‘bru-tiful,’” Murphy said while on a short medical leave. Her retirement is happening earlier than she had planned due to a chronic medical condition that flared up. Her doctor told her to slow down.

“I’m retiring because I’m well,” Murphy said, adding that she and her husband, Dennis, have bought a ranch near Bishop that they are considering turning into some kind of retreat for at-risk youths. For now, the Murphys are traveling between their Westlake Village home and their ranch as they firm up plans for the future, which will include Casa Pacifica, she said.

Murphy became involved with Casa Pacifica as a volunteer in 1999. Previously, she had taught second grade for 10 years in Bel Air, where the students were from affluent families.

The kids were so radically different and yet so radically the same because they’re kids,” Murphy said. “I have come to learn neglect isn’t economically based. Some of these kids had luxurious lives. Their nannies would come to parent conferences or show and tell. The kids at Casa have a different experience but the same problem. (The parents are) working two jobs so they can eat, and their kids are running wild. It’s never good if anyone has too much time on their hands.”

While volunteering, Murphy started speaking at various events and fundraisers at the behest of Casa Pacifica CEO Steven Elson.

Elson, who is planning to retire June 30, has nothing but the highest praise for Murphy, who was hired full time as development director and chief advancement officer in 2001. In 2017, she was named COO of Casa Pacifica, which offers services to more than 2,100 children and families at offices in Santa Maria, Santa Barbara and Camarillo.

“I would say Vicki has had the most impact on our agency and culture of any staff since we opened almost 26 years ago. No one has impacted our agency and culture as she has,” Elson said. “She, in many ways, was sort of a mom figure to many of the youth who came through our doors. She launched, advocated for and developed a program for transition-age youth—the 18- to 21-year-olds, which we have due to her efforts.

“She brought us a therapy dog, Archie, who was world famous in his lifetime. She has made great community connections and helped to highlight the Casa Pacifica profile in the community. Generally, her spirit, enthusiasm and faith in what we do has been inspirational for staff and kids.”

While losing two top executives at once can be daunting for an organization, Elson said he thinks the staff is prepared.

“I announced my retirement a year ago. We have had a long transition opportunity,” Elson said. “The board has asked me to stay on half-time for a year. And I think Vicki has developed a strong team. We’ve got some really great next-generation leaders ready to step in and take on this really amazing task.”

Murphy said she will miss working with the young people who come to stay at the Casa Pacifica facility on Lewis Road. The youths who come to stay at the facility, which houses about 70 kids in cottages at any given time, are usually in the foster care system or other difficult situations.

She acknowledged that dealing with troubled youths can be a challenge. But it’s a challenge she faces head-on. “It requires trust. These kids have been let down by all the adults in their lives who claimed to love them. It’s no wonder they’re a little crabby. We build relations with them. It is not the programs, it’s the people. It’s the no-matter-what-ness,” said Murphy, who describes her work with kids as a calling she has no plans to leave behind.

She will also be kept busy by her family, which includes her husband’s three children, her three children, two adopted children and nine grandchildren.

Casa Pacifica is well-equipped to face the future in Ventura County as it continues to support families in crisis, Murphy said. “Casa Pacifica is very nimble for such a big organization. We’re able to keep pace with the counties and their needs as we learn how we can be of service. We’re the best provider for mental health services that I’ve experienced. And this is all due to the dedication and love of the people who work there.”

Source: Acorn Camarillo

Please help us support those, that have always supported us.

March 24, 2020

Over the past 27 years, we have been blessed by a huge community of supporters, some of the most dedicated being the vendors that attend our annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food and Brew Festival. With their generous participation, these amazing restaurants, wineries, breweries, and specialty shops make Casa Pacifica’s largest fundraiser possible each year. All proceeds of the Festival directly impact our communities’ most vulnerable youth and their families and enables us to continue to provide much needed high-quality programs and services.

They have always supported us.
And now, we are asking you to join us in supporting them.

During this challenging time, please consider patronizing these wonderful businesses. Their support has benefited Casa Pacifica in so many ways, and now we’d like to return the favor. We encourage you to place an order over the phone or via their website. Many offer delivery or pick-up. Buying a gift card to use later, purchasing a bottle or case of wine online, or joining a wine club would also help our friends through a difficult time.

As we come together as a community, we want to say THANK YOU to our sponsors, donors, and volunteers who continue to support Casa Pacifica and the Festival – especially our family of vendors. We look forward to coming out on the other side of this challenging time a stronger and even more tightly-knit community.

We hope you and your families appreciate this time to spend together as we all stay safe and healthy.

With gratitude,
Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food and Brew Festival Team and Committee

Click HERE for a full list of Festival vendors.

Source: Citizen's Journal

Casa Pacifica adds new members to the Board of Directors – representative from Union Bank and former

March 17, 2020

Casa Pacifica is proud to welcome Patrick Nygren and Brad “Brick” Conners to its Board of Directors this year. Comprised of 22 individuals, Casa Pacifica’s board members offer a wealth of experience and expertise in a wide range of areas, such as the legal field with several lawyers; in financial services with representatives from a number of banks, investment, and insurance services; in business with a variety of industries from the medical field to construction to agricultural management to equipment rentals; in the field of education with the retired superintendent of the Moorpark Unified School District; as well as several community advocates.

Patrick Nygren – Union Bank Regional President, Los Angeles and Central Coast. Nygren joined Union Bank in 2018, overseeing branch banking activities of 87 branches, which includes branches in Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Monterey counties. Patrick has more than 17 years of experience in consumer and small business banking. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from UC San Diego, and received his Graduate Level certificate in banking from the Pacific Coast Banking School at University of Washington, Seattle. Patrick enjoys traveling with his wife and two children.

Brad “Brick” Conners – Chief Executive and Owner of Pharos Leadership, a veteran-owned leadership consulting business. Conners is also the author of Fighter Pilot Parent, a leadership guide for both parents and managers. Conners brings his leadership experience from being a commanding officer in one of the U.S. Navy’s largest and most strategic bases which included: two airports, three runways, a deep-water port, an island, retail stores and 17,000 employees. Most recently, Conners became the City Manager for Port Hueneme.

Source: Citizen's Journal

Casa Pacifica hosts gala

March 13, 2020

Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families’ 25th anniversary Hope Gala is slated for Sat., March 14 at the Four Seasons Westlake Village. The formal event will celebrate alumni transformations and successes from Casa Pacifica’s last 25 years of service and usher in the next 25 years of hope for children and youth. The gala will also include a VIP reception for sponsors, a live auction and a performance by The Company Men.

Casa Pacifica was started in the late 1980s to address a lack of services in Ventura County for children entering the foster care system. Without these services, children were often cared for outside the county, far away from family and school.

Tickets are on sale. For more information or tickets, visit 12732.thankyou4caring.org/events/25th-anniversary.

Source: Acorn Camarillo

Tickets on sale for wine, food, brew festival

February 28, 2020

Tickets are on sale for the 27th annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food and Brew Festival on Sun., June 7 at California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo. The all-inclusive festival was voted Best Charity Event and Best Food and Drink Festival by VC Reporter eight years running.

All proceeds from the festival benefit Casa Pacifica, which provides programs and services to the community’s foster and atrisk children and their families.

Guests can sample food and drinks from over 150 exhibitors including restaurants, caterers, bakeries, specialty shops, wineries and breweries. A large online silent auction offers guests and people not able to attend the chance to bid on baskets and experiences.

The Best in Fest competition winners will show off their winning recipes, and the Yummie Top Chef competition will crown winners in two categories: best savory creation and best sweet creation. The main stage will host live entertainment throughout the day.

A new ticket level this year, Admission Plus, grants early admission to the general festival area at noon. If you want to get a start on sipping and supping, this is, literally, just the ticket. Admission, Admission Plus and VIP tickets are available at cpwinefoodbrewfest.com.

Source: Acorn Moorpark

Casa Pacifica Promotes Carrie Hughes to Chief Development Officer

February 27, 2020

Casa Pacifica is proud to announce the promotion of Carrie Hughes to Chief Development Officer. Ms. Hughes has been with Casa Pacifica since 1999, with all her 21 years spent as a member of the Development Department. She has held several key positions over the years, each with increasing leadership responsibilities. Since 2013 she has served as the Director of Development & Public Relations.

Ms. Hughes contributions to Casa Pacifica over the years have been many. Her leadership has blossomed the annual Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival into a premier event in our region – from a few hundred attendees and a handful of exhibitors in its early years to 4,500 guests and over 150 vendors in its most recent iteration – supported by her composition of a strong events team. The Festival raises important and significant funding each year to support Casa Pacifica’s programs and services.

Ms. Hughes was an integral part of the planning and completion (2018) of the agency’s $16.6 million “Building New Foundations of Hope” Capital Campaign which expanded Casa Pacifica’s facilities to accommodate new programs and serve more youth and families.

Ms. Hughes has also been a leader in helping the Development team grow over the years – putting together an excellent, dedicated, and highly capable team – along with its success in meeting its fundraising targets each year. Because of her accomplishments in Casa Pacifica’s fundraising strategy, she was named the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Santa Barbara/Ventura Chapter’s 2018 “Fundraising Professional of the Year.” She served on the Board of the AFP chapter for 10 years, including as its President in 2015. Under her presidency, the chapter was awarded the “Diversity and Inclusion” designation and the chapter’s first-time Ten Star Gold Award. Ms. Hughes is also a member of the Camarillo Rotary Club, a graduate of the Ventura County Leadership Academy, and was named a Top 50 Woman in Business by the Pacific Coast Business Times in 2019.

A sincere and true passion for caring for and helping kids was Ms. Hughes original motivation for seeking employment at Casa Pacifica 21 years ago, and it continues to be so.  In her position as Chief Development Officer, Ms. Hughes will lead the strategic direction of fundraising for the agency, with the goal to cultivate and instill a culture of philanthropy with current and prospective donors, as well as ensure the Development team continues to thrive and succeed in furtherance of Casa Pacifica’s important mission to meet the vital needs of our community’s most vulnerable children, young adults, and families. Ms. Hughes shares, “I am honored to fill this important role at Casa Pacifica and inspired by all the opportunities ahead. I look forward to continuing to build important relationships with members of our community, to cultivating a passion for philanthropy in support of Casa Pacifica’s important mission, and to help lead and ensure Casa Pacifica’s success for the next 25 years in healing and changing for the better the lives of those in our community in the greatest need.”

Source: Citizen's Journal

Tickets On Sale for Casa Pacifica’s Award-Winning Angels Wine, Food and Brew Festival

February 9, 2020

Tickets are now on sale for the 27th Annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival which will be held on Sunday, June 7th, 2020, at CSU Channel Islands! Voted Best Charity Event and Best Food & Drink Festival by VC Reporter eight years running, the all-inclusive Festival is a County favorite. All proceeds from the Festival benefit Casa Pacifica – Casa Pacifica provides vital programs and services to the community’s most vulnerable children and their families. The Festival always sells out so get your tickets early for best pricing – a new ticket level on sale this year, Admission Plus, offers guests the chance to make the most of their afternoon by granting early admission to the general Festival area at noon, creating an enhanced Festival experience. Admission, Admission Plus, and VIP tickets are available at www.cpwinefoodbrewfest.com          

Casa Pacifica is excited to welcome back to their generous hosts: Conico Oil/MacValley Oil; Mission Produce; Nevers, Palazzo, Packard, Wildermuth & Wynner, PC; SDI Industries; The Van Huisen Family; and The Zarley Family. The Festival offers a chance for guests to sample food and drinks from over 150 exhibitors including: restaurants, caterers, bakeries, specialty shops, wineries, breweries, and specialty beverages. A large online silent auction offers guests and people not able to attend the chance to bid on must-have baskets and experiences. The “Best in Fest” competition winners will show off their winning creations, and the Yummie Top Chef competition will crown winners for the best “Savory” and the best “Sweet” chef’s masterpiece among the participating exhibitors. Live entertainment throughout the day on the main stage will keep the festival-goers dancing all afternoon.

Source: Citizen's Journal

Eat, drink, be festive

February 07, 2020

Tickets are on sale for the 27th annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food and Brew Festival on Sun., June 7 at Cal State University Channel Islands in Camarillo. All proceeds will benefit Casa Pacifica, which provides programs and services to the community’s foster and at-risk children and their families.

Guests can sample goodies from over 150 exhibitors including restaurants, caterers, bakeries, specialty shops, wineries, breweries, and specialty beverages. A large online silent auction offers guests and people not able to attend the chance to bid on baskets and experiences.

The Best in Fest competition champs will show off their winning creations, and the Yummie Top Chef competition will crown winners for best Savory and best Sweet chef’s masterpieces among the participating exhibitors. The main stage will host live entertainment throughout the day.

The festival always sells out. A new ticket level for this year, Admission Plus, grants early entry to the general festival area at noon. All tickets (general admission, Admission Plus and VIP) are available at the website cpwinefoodbrewfest.com.

Source: Acorn Simi Valley

Tickets On Sale for Casa Pacifica’s Award-Winning Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival

February 06, 2020

Tickets are now on sale for the 27th Annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival which will be held on Sunday, June 7th, 2020, at CSU Channel Islands! Voted Best Charity Event and Best Food & Drink Festival by VC Reporter eight years running, the all-inclusive festival is a county favorite.

All proceeds from the festival benefit Casa Pacifica, which provides vital programs and services to the community’s most vulnerable children and their families. The festival always sells out so get your tickets early for best pricing. This year, a new ticket level, Admission Plus, is on sale, offering guests the chance to make the most of their afternoon by granting early admission to the general festival area at noon and creating an enhanced festival experience. Admission, Admission Plus, and VIP tickets are available at http://www.cpwinefoodbrewfest.com.

Casa Pacifica is excited to welcome back to their generous hosts: Conico Oil/MacValley Oil; Mission Produce; Nevers, Palazzo, Packard, Wildermuth & Wynner, PC; SDI Industries; The Van Huisen Family; and The Zarley Family. The festival offers a chance for guests to sample food and drinks from over 150 exhibitors including: restaurants, caterers, bakeries, specialty shops, wineries, breweries, and specialty beverages. A large online silent auction offers guests and people not able to attend the chance to bid on must-have baskets and experiences.

The “Best in Fest” competition winners will show off their winning creations, and the Yummie Top Chef competition will crown winners for the best “Savory” and the best “Sweet” chef’s masterpiece among the participating exhibitors. Live entertainment throughout the day on the main stage will keep the festival-goers dancing all afternoon.

Source: Benzinga

Celebrating 25 years of Changing Lives

February 2, 2020

Tickets are now on sale for Casa Pacifica’s 25th Anniversary Hope Gala slated for Saturday, March 14th, 2020 at the Four Seasons Westlake Village. For tickets and sponsorship information visit https://12732.thankyou4caring.org/events/25th-anniversary – ticket prices go up February 8th. The formal event will focus on alumni transformations and successes from Casa Pacifica’s last 25 years of service and excitedly usher in the next 25 years of hope for children and youth to come. The Gala will also include a VIP reception for sponsors, a live auction, and a performance by The Company Men.

Top level cash sponsors for Casa Pacifica’s 25th Anniversary events (as of January) include: Dreamer: Susan Burgos; Inspirers: Al Lowe Construction, The Cassar Family, and Shealen & Rob Wynner; Believers: Stefanie & Timothy Wennes and Elise & Bill Kearney; Encouragers: Heidi & Mike Whitcomb, Coast General Insurance Brokers, Barbara Meister, Bill & Jewell Gerald Powell, The Hainer Foundation, Clay & June Paschen, The Tesoro Family, Community Memorial Health Systems, Steve Elson, Ph.D., Harrison Industries, Michael Hogan, M.D. & Rosalind Warner, M.D., Barnes & Thornburg, LLP, and Montecito Bank & Trust; Supporters: Enterprise Holdings Foundations, Patricia Cordover & Richard Thomas, Ventura County Community Foundation, Oilfield Electric & Motor, The Hopps Group at Morgan Stanley, Nancy Pidduck, Terri & Dick Goodrich, and BB&H Benefit Designs; Helpers: Madeline & Marc Sattler, Carrie Hughes & David Paneiko, Susan & Ken Bauer, Michelle & Greg Paschen, Cheryl & John Broome, Terri & Tim Wolfe, Patricia & George Jones, Monette & Richard Stevens, Barbara & Wayne Davey, Monetta & Mark Williams, Five Star Bookkeeping, Cohen Begun & Deck, LLP, and Lori & Bryan Silvey.

Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families was conceived of in the late 1980s in direct response to a lack of services in Ventura County for children entering the foster care system – the lack of local services was resulting in out-of-county placements, far away from family, school, and all that was familiar. A public/private sector steering committee formed which raised the $10 million needed to build Casa Pacifica, which opened in 1994. Since then, Casa Pacifica has expanded its services, now serving both Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. Their 15 nationally-accredited programs serve approximately 400 children and families daily and encompass everything from intensive residential treatment to in-home services in schools and the community.

Source: Citizen's Journal

Cedar Financial ‘Collects’ Wishes for Kids in Need

January 23, 2020

For the last three years, employees at ACA International member company Cedar Financial’s offices in Calabasas, California, have ended the year by giving back to the local community, helping children and families in need through a nonprofit organization, Casa Pacifica. Cedar sponsored a family of five in 2018, providing them with needed items such as clothes and toiletries. In 2019, the agency elected to fulfill individual kids’ wishes, donating a total of 65 gifts for boys and girls, ages 8-18.

“This cause is dear to my heart. Every community needs a safe and prosperous home to protect children from neglect and abuse and provide them a transition place to a brighter future,” said Cedar Financial CEO Amir Erez. “Casa Pacifica has been committed to that cause and is local to our community. We are happy to help.”

In line with its mission to build open, honest and positive relationships, Cedar Financial regularly participates in company-led community charity events. Earlier in April 2019, the Cedar raised money for Strength United in the LA Big 5K Marathon. Employees also pooled their resources to donate clothes and other needed items in November 2019, when the family of an employee’s friend lost their home and all their possessions in the Simi Valley Easy Fire.

“It’s great to have a work family that cares,” said Kaitlin Lindros, who works in public relations at Cedar Financial. “I know that if something happened to me, my coworkers would be there to help until I got back on my feet. And that means a lot.”

Source: ACA International

10th and final Casa Pacifica winter clothes drive set for Saturday

The 10th and final Coats for Casa Pacifica charity event will be held Saturday in Westlake Village. The annual event collects winter clothing for Camarillo-based nonprofit Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families and offers family activities such as sledding and playing in 30 tons of vendor-supplied snow.

Casa Pacifica provides adolescent and family services in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The services are designed to treat youths who are victims of abuse and neglect, substance abuse, homelessness, and other behavioral and mental health issues.

Saturday’s event will be held at Three Springs Park, 3000 Three Springs Drive, Westlake Village, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., said the event’s hosts, the Lydia Gable Realty Group and the Winters Financial Group. Attendees are asked to donate new or slightly used winter clothes of all sizes, including coats, sweaters, hoodies, gloves, hats and scarves, to benefit Casa Pacifica’s youths.

At last year’s drive, more than 5,000 winter clothing articles were donated, up from 3,000 the year before, the hosts said. More than 20,000 items have been donated since the event began in 2010, they said.

Saturday’s event will also feature complimentary coffee, smoothies and kids’ crafts.

“Coats for Casa Pacifica has definitely grown over the years compared to when we first started 10 years ago,” hosts Lydia Gable and Rick Winters said in a news release. “This event continues to be about helping local children in need and their families so that each and every one of them has a warm coat this winter,” they said. “We are so thankful to our amazing community for their generosity during the last 10 years.”

“We feel 10 years is a long time to produce this event, which is very costly to put on,” she said. “It’s been an amazing run and we’re very pleased and we want to go out on top.
“We also think that maybe now it’s time for us to find other charities to support,” she said.

The drive is planned as a rain-or-shine event, but if weather conditions threaten, updates will be posted at coatsforcasapacifica.com and https://www.facebook.com/CoatsforCasa.

Source: VC Star

It’s a wrap with Coats for Casa

January 02, 2020

Lydia Gable Realty Group with Compass and Rick Winters of Winters Financial Group Inc. will host the 10th annual Coats for Casa Pacifica charity event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sat., Jan. 11 at Three Springs Park in Westlake Village.

This will be the final year of the popular community event.

The coat drive will also have 30 tons of snow for sledding and playing, as well as complimentary coffee, smoothies and kids’ crafts.

Participants are asked to bring and donate new or gently used winter clothes of all sizes, including coats, sweaters, hoodies, mittens, gloves, winter hats and scarves. The donations will benefit the children and youth of Casa Pacifica in Camarillo, a facility that offers residential treatment, medical and psychological assessments and services, and other programs to foster youth removed from their homes.

The agency also provides community based interventions for youth struggling with mental health challenges and their families.

Last year, over 5,000 articles of winter clothing were donated, up from 3,000 the year before. In total, over 20,000 items have been donated and distributed since the Coats for Casa Pacifica event started in 2010.

The event will run rain or shine. If weather conditions are threatening, updates will be posted at coatsforcasapacifica.com.

Source: The Acorn

People to Watch in 2020, Carrie Hughes

January/February

Carrie L. Hughes
Director of Development and Public Relations
Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families

An immense passion for children first drew Carrie Hughes to Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families 20 years ago. She felt completely aligned with its mission to serve the most vulnerable children and youth in our community. After two decades, this dedicated director of development and public relations continues to promote the agency’s powerful work with foster and at-risk youth.

Hughes currently oversees all of Casa Pacifica’s fundraising efforts, from donor and community relations to public relations and marketing. The ability to forge relationships with staff, donors, youth, and volunteers is key to her success. She recounts one of her most meaningful relationships. “I mentored two youth who Casa Pacifica cared for, a brother and sister who both had cystic fibrosis. From the moment I met them, they tugged at my heart in a way I’d never experienced before. I loved them both as my own.” While their lives ended way too soon, they taught her, and hopefully others, to “always take a chance and be there for these youth. They need so much, but you receive so much more in return. It is priceless.”

Another highlight of her career at Casa Pacifica is growing the Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival from a small event at the Pierpont Inn to an incredible community affair with 4,500 guests, 150 vendors, and an all-day lineup of entertainment. All the proceeds support their programs and services, helping to fill the immense annual gap between revenue and actual costs.

Hughes was also instrumental in the planning and execution of Casa Pacifica’s $16.6 million “Building New Foundations of Hope” capital campaign, completed in 2018. This enabled them to expand programs and serve more youth and families. Hughes adds, “I am also proud to have been a part of growing our development department over the years, helping it achieve its annual fundraising goal each year I have been here. In my 20-year tenure with Casa Pacifica, over $60 million has been raised by the development team, an amazing feat which has benefited the lives of well over 40,000 youth and their families.”

Named 2018 “Fundraising Professional of the Year” by the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Santa Barbara/ Ventura Counties Chapter, Hughes also served on the board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for Santa Barbara/Ventura Counties Chapter for 10 years and as president in 2015. She is a member of the Camarillo Rotary Club, and also named Top 50 Women in Business in 2018.

Source: Calabasas Style

Mentorship turns teen’s life around

December 26, 2019

When Brandy Olalia arrived at Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families eight years ago she was 15 years old and struggling with depression and anxiety after staying at 10 foster care placements over the span of three years.

Now 23, Olalia said she was “shut off to everyone and everything.” She had behavioral problems, breaking windows and furniture out of frustration and anger. But things started to turn around when she met Robert Van Gundy, Casa Pacifica’s facility manager. The 25-year employee offered her an internship to repair the damage she had done.

“It started out as restitution for some of the damages she did, but her work ethic was amazing,” Van Gundy said. “We just had an instant rapport and got along great.” Olalia said the internship gave her the freedom to feel like a normal teenager as Van Gundy gave her more responsibility. “It showed me that he trusted me and I learned to trust him. I realized that I wouldn’t want to do things that would make him not trust me anymore,” Olalia said.

After graduating from Adolfo Camarillo High School, Olalia went to college to study for a degree in psychology, but she knew it wasn’t her passion. “I realized I wanted to pursue doing hair and makeup and beauty. . . .” she said. “Because I was in the program with so many girls, I got the experience of doing makeup on so many different faces, and that’s when I started doing people’s hair and styling it.”

Olalia graduated from Paul Mitchell’s cosmetology school in September and is waiting to take her final licensing exam. She hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to school to finish a psychology degree. “I would love to somehow fuse therapy with beauty and have a practice where I can have an hourlong therapy session where I do their hair and makeup,” Olalia said.

She is still in touch with Van Gundy, who she talks to regularly and sees on holidays.

Source: Acorn Thousand Oaks

Residents gather to sing holiday favorites

December 05, 2019

The City of Westlake Village will host its fourth annual Holiday Sing-along from 3 to 6 p.m. Sun., Dec. 8 at The Shoppes at Westlake Village, in the Fountain Courtyard next to Tifa. The event will also have an unwrapped toy drive for Casa Pacifica along with a canned food drive for Manna Food Bank. Drop-offs are welcome throughout the event.

Free activities, while supplies last, include a cookie and cupcake decorating area, craft and tattoo station, ornament making station, braid bar and special giveaways from participating shops. Families can take pictures with Santa and Disney’s “Frozen” sisters, Anna and Elsa. The sing-along will feature the Lindero Canyon Middle School Jazz Band, Agoura High School Choir and Westlake High School Choir.

A different community group or organization, including the Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce, Yarrow Family YMCA and Westlake Village City Council, will each lead a song. The event will occur rain or shine.

Source: The Acorn

Casa Pacifica Center for at-risk youth welcomes a Newfoundland dog

December 2, 2019

Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families welcomed a new canine staff member to help reach the foster and at-risk youths who get crisis care through the Camarillo-based nonprofit. Intake Supervisor Kelly Myers picked up the fluffy Newfoundland therapy dog named Pearl on Oct. 28.

“She just fits right in. It’s like she’s always been here – she’s doing great,” Myers said. “We are excited to introduce Pearl to the team at Casa Pacifica.”

Pearl is the fifth Newfoundland to come to the program, said Clinical Director Dr. Josh Lepore. The center began using therapy dogs when it received another Newfoundland, Archie, who was donated by Mary and Tony Tesoro in 2007. Archie was eventually joined by Baker, donated in 2011 by Dianna and Sean Baker, and Tess, donated that same year by Cheryl and John Broome.

Archie and Baker have since died, so the center was short on canines to help youths suffering from anxiety, depression and trauma, Lepore said. The Perlman Family Foundation recently granted Casa Pacifica with a fund to help individuals struggling to overcome life’s obstacles. In honor of the foundation, Casa Pacifica named the canine newcomer for the Perlman Family.

As the Casa Pacifica staff members continue to use therapy dogs, they aim to boost the human-animal bond and promote resilience and healing, according to Lepore. Nicknamed gentle giants, Newfoundlands are not only used as working dogs but also as rescue dogs who can latch onto someone’s jacket and pull to them to safety. More importantly, they’re good with small children and have a very gentle disposition, Lepore said.

The canines can be used in a crisis situation when someone is having a tough day or feeling suicidal or like hurting themselves. Pearl can help bring down a youth’s arousal level and take them to an emotional state where they can think or talk about what they are feeling, Lepore said. “I have had clients who have had depression. They wake up in the morning and we set up a plan to groom the dog,” he said. “It is getting them up in the morning and activating them.” This helps bring the youth to experience empathy to help end the depression, Lepore said.

Source: VC Star

Casa Pacifica welcomes new puppy

November 15, 2019

Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families recently welcomed Pearl to the family, continuing the tradition of using Newfoundland dogs as therapy dogs on campus. Pearl arrived at Casa Pacific at 10 weeks old and weighing 23 pounds. She is adjusting to her new surroundings, primarily living in the intake department with her handler, intake supervisor Kelly Myers. Pearl will greet and provide kids with comfort as they enter and leave campus, both residential youths and students of Casa Pacifica’s nonpublic school, and she will provide therapeutic support for the kids.

“Pearl is the fifth Newfoundland to come to Casa Pacifica to carry on our tradition of offering animal-assisted therapy. As we continue to bring Newfoundlands onto campus to work with our youth, we strive to learn new ways to increase the human-animal bond and promote resilience and healing in nontraditional formats,” said Dr. Josh Lepore, clinical director and handler of Otis, Casa Pacifica’s other Newfoundland therapy dog.

Casa Pacifica’s tradition of using Newfies started with the original therapy dog, Archie, who was donated by Mary and Tony Tesoro in 2007. Archie was joined by Baker and Tess, donated in 2011 by Dianna and Sean Baker and Cheryl and John Broome, respectively.Longtime Casa Pacifica supporter Bettina Chandler gave the nonprofit Otis Chandler Bing in 2014. Archie died in 2015. Earlier this year, Baker died due to health complications. With Otis’ full schedule of meetings and therapy sessions, another dog was needed.

The Perlman Family Foundation recently granted Casa Pacifica with the Perlman Angel Fund to help individuals who are struggling to overcome obstacles with targeted interventions. Casa Pacifica named Pearl after the Perlman family.

Source: Acorn Camarillo

In style for youth services

November 14, 2019

The Casa Pacifica Angels Spotlight on Style Fashion Show will return Sat., Nov. 23 to the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, Two Dole Drive. The 18th edition of the runway fashion show will feature high-style fashions from the collections of Kevan Hall. A champagne reception will open the festivities as guests peruse a variety of boutiques selling unique accessories, clothing and gifts. A silent auction will have baskets filled with entertainment packages and personal pampering opportunities. Auction items include: at-home car detailing, tickets to “The Nutcracker,” a baking class with baker Allison Kenis of Sugar Lab Bake Shop and a local helicopter tour for two. Lori Silvey and Elsa Phillip are the chairpersons of the 2019 Spotlight on Style.

All proceeds from the event support Casa Pacifica’s therapeutic programs and services for children and youth struggling with mental health issues due circumstances that placed them into foster care, and youth whose mental health challenges are disrupting their family homes. Fashion show tickets are advanced purchase only; no tickets will be sold at the door.

Source: The Acorn

Casa Pacifica welcomes Pearl the puppy

November 13, 2019

Meet Pearl, a 10-week-old Newfoundland puppy who is joining Camarillo-based Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families as a trainee in its therapy dog program. Currently she weighs about 23 pounds but when fully grown will be 100-120 pounds.

Known as “gentle giants”, these large, usually black dogs have a calm nature and were originally bred for water rescues and other work requiring swimming in the icy waters surrounding Newfoundland, a large island off the East Coast of Canada.

Pearl is spending the first part of her training with handler Kelly Myers in the center’s intake area, greeting kids as they come and go and providing therapeutic support as needed. Myers said Pearl is settling in well, “It’s like she’s always been here.” Pearl is the fifth Newfoundland at Casa Pacifica, a trend that started in 2007 when Mary and Tony Tesoro donated the first therapy dog, a “Newfie” named Archie.

“As we continue to bring Newfoundlands onto campus to work with our youth, we strive to learn new ways to increase the human-animal bond and promote resilience and healing in non-traditional formats,” said Dr. Josh Lepore, clinical director.

Pearl is named after The Perlman Family Foundation, which recently provided funds to Casa Pacifica, some of which were used to purchase Pearl.

Source: VC Reporter

Casa Pacifica Announces Dates for Award Winning Festival and Yummie Top Chef Dinner

November 12, 2019

The 27th Annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival will be held on Sunday, June 7th, 2020, at CSU Channel Islands! Voted Best Charity Event and Best Food & Drink Festival by VC Reporter eight years running, the all-inclusive Festival is a county favorite. All proceeds from the Festival benefit Casa Pacifica – which was also a VC Reporter winner of Best Non-Profit for the past eight years. Casa Pacifica provides vital programs and services to the community’s most vulnerable children and their families. Tickets for the Festival will go on sale early 2020.

Casa Pacifica is excited to welcome back to their generous hosts: Conico Oil/MacValley Oil; Mission Produce; Nevers, Palazzo, Packard, Wildermuth & Wynner, PC; SDI Industries; The Van Huisen Family; and The Zarley Family. The Festival will once again offer an unbeatable array of exhibitors presenting delicious food samples from restaurants, caterers, bakeries, and specialty shops, to the palette-pleasing tastes of fine wines, smooth brews, spirits, and specialty beverages from throughout the region and California. A large online silent auction offers guests and people not able to attend the chance to bid on must-have baskets and experiences. The “Best in Fest” brewery competition winner will show off their winning creation, and the Yummie Top Chef competition will crown winners for the best “Savory” and the best “Sweet” chef’s masterpiece among the participating exhibitors. Live entertainment throughout the day on the main stage will keep the festival-goers dancing all afternoon.

The 7th Annual Yummie Top Chef Dinner will be held the same weekend on Friday evening June 5th, 2020. The intimate dinner features past Yummie Culinary Competition winners from the Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival who create a special seven-course dinner for the guests with wine pairings and the 2020 champion “Best in Fest” Brew. Dinner tickets will also be on sale early 2020.

Source: Citizen's Journal

Casa Pacifica Welcomes New Therapy Dog Pearl

November 9, 2019

Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families excitedly welcomed Pearl to the family – continuing their tradition of using Newfoundland dogs as therapy dogs on campus. Pearl arrived on campus at 10 weeks old and weighing 23 pounds. Pearl is happily adjusting to her new surroundings, primarily residing in the Intake Department with her handler Kelly Myers, Intake Supervisor. Pearl will not only be greeting and providing kids comfort as they enter and leave campus – both residential youth and students of Casa Pacifica’s Nonpublic School – but providing therapeutic support for the kids.

She just fits right in. It’s like she’s always been here – she’s doing great,” says Myers. “We are excited to introduce you to Pearl, our newest addition to the team at Casa Pacifica. Pearl is the 5th Newfoundland to come to Casa Pacifica to carry on our tradition of offering animal assisted therapy. As we continue to bring Newfoundland’s on to campus to work with our youth, we strive to learn new ways to increase the human-animal bond and promote resilience and healing in non-traditional formats,” says Dr. Josh Lepore, Clinical Director and handler of Otis, Casa Pacifica’s other Newfoundland therapy dog.

“Casa Pacifica’s tradition of using “Newfies” started with their original therapy dog Archie who was donated by Mary and Tony Tesoro in 2007. Archie was joined by Baker and Tess, donated in 2011 by Dianna and Sean Baker and Cheryl and John Broome respectively. Longtime Casa Pacifica supporter Bettina Chandler gifted the nonprofit Otis Chandler Bing in 2014. Archie passed away in 2015 and earlier this year, Baker also passed away due to health complications. With Otis’s schedule full of meetings and therapy sessions, the need for another dog was apparent. The Perlman Family Foundation recently granted Casa Pacifica with a generous ‘Perlman Angel Fund’ to help individuals who are struggling to overcome life’s obstacles with targeted interventions. Casa Pacifica was honored to name Pearl after the Perlman Family. She will bring joy and comfort to the kids of Casa Pacifica for years to come.

Source: Citizen's Journal

Four individuals were added to the Casa Pacifica Board of Directors

November 6, 2019

Four individuals were added to the Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families board of directors. Gary Gorian is the president and founder of Colton Lee Communities, LLC; the company focuses on developing all facets of housing stock including affordable housing, master planned communities, apartments, and self-storage. Narimon Honarpour, M.D., Ph.D., is board certified in internal and cardiovascular medicine and serves as the translational medicine head at Amgen, Inc. John W. Mallett is the president and co-founder of MainStreet Mortgage in Westlake which specializes in residential lending. Adam Thunell is the senior vice president and chief operation officer at Community Memorial Health System in Ventura.

Source: VC Reporter

Yuri Gomez & her Lompoc Youth Connections group are 7th nominee for Valley of Flowers Peace Prize

November 2, 2019

Yuri Gomez and her classmates, known collectively as Lompoc Youth Connections, are the seventh nominee for the 2019 Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.

Gomez and her colleagues were spending their Saturdays in Ventura taking classes for their master’s degrees in social work. All five of them worked in Lompoc for different nonprofit agencies and they had seen a lot — too much. A graduation project loomed. “You know what, [the project] is not just for school,” the friends said they began to think. “It has to be sustainable. It has to be a community movement, and we want this movement to be infectious.”

So the final report morphed into a blueprint for action that Gomez remembers well. “As human beings, we all need social connections to thrive,” she said. “If we can connect young people to people who care, they won’t be lonely and fall into the wrong hands.” The movement would be led by the youth themselves. “These kids have the energy and the hope,” Gomez said. “They just don‘t have the channels to guide them.”

Gomez and her group knew of opportunities, so it became LYC’s plan to link youth to them. “From our work we knew what was missing, so we developed a schedule for the spring,” she said. In April 2019, LYC teamed with In His Hands Ministries, Lompoc food trucks, and nonprofit agencies such as Goodwill Workforce Services and Casa Pacifica to support a vigil for Lompoc youth who died due to violence or just too soon. At the Spring Arts Festival, LYC offered free carnival games, prizes, and community resources. In May, LYC, Goodwill and In His Hands Ministries joined forces to sponsor an ice cream social with games and prizes, along with mental health awareness exercises and resources.

Suddenly, Lompoc Youth Connections seemed to be everywhere. Yuri Gomez’s Peace Prize nomination was preceded by those of immigration counselor Guadalupe Perez; restaurant owner Jose Trejo; Yasmin Dawson, who spurred a Sept. 20 community march and vigil; AAUW coordinator Pam Buchanan; 8-year-old philanthropist Boss Brockett; and pastor Eric De La Cruz.

Source: Lompoc Record

Fashion show supports foster youths

November 1, 2019

The Casa Pacifica Angels Spotlight on Style Fashion Show will return Sat., Nov. 23 to the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, Two Dole Drive. The 18th edition of the runway fashion show will feature high-style fashions from the collections of Kevan Hall. A champagne reception will open the festivities as guests shop a variety of boutiques offering unique accessories, clothing and gifts. A silent auction will have baskets filled with entertainment packages and personal pampering opportunities. Auction items include athome car detailing, tickets to “The Nutcracker,” a baking class with baker Allison Kenis of Sugar Lab Bake Shop and a local helicopter tour for two. Lori Silvey and Elsa Phillip are the chairs of the 2019 Spotlight on Style.

All proceeds from the event support Casa Pacifica’s therapeutic programs and services for children and youths struggling with mental health issues due circumstances that placed them into foster care, and youths whose mental health challenges are disrupting their family homes. Fashion show tickets are advanced purchase only; no tickets will be sold at the door. For more information or to buy tickets, call Anna Coulson, Casa Pacifica special events manager, at (805) 366-4023 or email acoulson@casapacifica.org.

Source: Acorn Camarillo

‘Peaceful House’ celebrates expansion

November 1, 2019

California law requires facilities serving juveniles who have mental health issues to have 24- hour security and each bedroom to have a window in the door and a lock that bolts from the outside. While they had to comply with the state’s institutional mandates, officials at Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families also made sure the agency’s two newest housing units for foster children had comfortable central living spaces with leather chairs and shuffleboard courts.

Both of the new 10-room cottages that recently opened at Casa Pacifica’s 25-acre campus just outside city limits will house children from Ventura and Santa Barbara counties who are at risk of or are returning from psychiatric hospitalization because of mental illness and substance use issues.

Each cottage has a communal kitchen and dining area, and furniture can be pushed back to allow space for yoga classes and group therapy. Halloween decorations hang from the white walls.

“We wanted to give it a hometype feeling,” Casa Pacifica spokesperson Karisa Lim said last week. Linked to the nonprofit agency’s mental health treatment program Camino a Casa, the new cottages are unique not only in the county but also in California, county Supervisor Linda Parks said at a ribbon-cutting on Oct. 24.

“These extra 20 beds you have added to your capacity, unfortunately, they will be filled,” she said. “This is one of the only places in the state . . . for children with co-occurring disorders. Not only are they having substance abuse issues but also mental illness, and to be able to serve them is excellent.”

After the ribbon-cutting, Lim and other Casa Pacifica officials led visitors on tours through the new residential cottages and Founder’s Building. The buildings were funded by a $16.6-million expansion campaign called Building New Foundations of Hope. Officials broke ground on the projects in 2017.

The Founder’s Building includes a training center for foster care professionals and children’s mental health workers who come to the agency from throughout the county, state and nation to continue their education, Lim said.

The new building also provides more room for Casa Pacifica to expand its vocational center for older youths who are aging out of foster care and into the adult world. With the addition, the 25-year-old nonprofit foster care agency will close its second administrative center in Camarillo and move those operations into the Founder’s Building, she said.

Both projects represent the first major expansion at Casa Pacifica since the nonprofit opened in 1994. Residents and the county provided $10 million in donations and funding to build Casa Pacifica, which sees over 400 children walk through its doors daily.

Steve Elson, the agency’s CEO, recalled the first day Casa Pacifica opened.

“The first kids that came through the door went, ‘Wow, is all this for me? You mean the community cared enough to build all of this for me?’ That’s what they would say, and that’s what they continue to say,” Elson said.

Today, the residential facility is the central service provider in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties for foster children whose behavioral problems make it difficult to place them with relatives or foster families.

With the addition of housing for children with mental health and substance use problems, the agency has taken an even bigger role as a key provider of foster services, Elson said.

“We think this campus has been a wonderful gift from the community and such a wonderful tool to provide the kind of therapies and interventions that the youth that we serve need,” he said.

Source: Acorn Camarillo

Casa Pacifica Youth Services To Unveil New Building, Cottages

October 24, 2019

Nonprofit Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, a crisis-care facility for foster and at-risk youth, will formally unveil a new multi-purpose building and two new residential cottages at its Camarillo campus Thursday. The ribbon-cutting, which will also include the official unveiling of an existing, repurposed building, will be from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 1722 S. Lewis Road. The new building and cottages, which cost about $16.6 million to construct, actually opened their doors earlier this year, Casa Pacifica officials said. But their formal unveiling wasn’t scheduled until now, the officials said. (Harris, 10/23)

Source: California Healthline

Casa Pacifica youth services to unveil new multi-purpose building, residential cottages

October 23, 2019

Nonprofit Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, a crisis-care facility for foster and at-risk youth, will formally unveil a new multi-purpose building and two new residential cottages at its Camarillo campus Thursday. The ribbon-cutting, which will also include the official unveiling of an existing, repurposed building, will be from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 1722 S. Lewis Road. The new building and cottages, which cost about $16.6 million to construct, actually opened their doors earlier this year, Casa Pacifica officials said. But their formal unveiling wasn’t scheduled until now, the officials said.

“Twenty-five years ago we began an incredible journey that has reached more than 40,000 of our region’s most vulnerable, yet valuable, children and their families,” Casa Pacifica CEO Steve Elson said in a statement. Casa Pacifica, which opened in 1994, offers adolescent and family services in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Those services are designed to treat youths who are victims of abuse and neglect, substance abuse, homelessness and other behavioral and mental health issues. Casa Pacifica is also a foster family agency, which recruits and trains families for potential placement with a foster youth.

Elson said Casa Pacifica is “pleased and proud to thank the original ‘prime movers’ who made Casa Pacifica possible by naming the new 24,000-square-foot building ... The Founders’ Building.” It houses vocational educational programs, Casa Pacifica’s training institute and conferencing and (administrative) office space, he said. The two new cottages house the residential treatment component of Casa Pacifica’s Camino a Casa program, which treats youth at risk of or who are returning from a psychiatric hospitalization. Each cottage can accommodate 10 youths.

The $16.6 million to construct the new building and cottages, plus pay for related expenses, was raised through Casa Pacifica’s Building New Foundations of Hope Capital Campaign, which was completed in 2017, the nonprofit’s officials said.

Also to be formally unveiled Thursday is an existing building that has been repurposed. The building previously housed Casa Pacifica’s administrative offices and now houses a health clinic, family therapy meeting space, clinical offices, intake, family visiting rooms and more. The structure is named after Dr. William and Susan Burgos, who Elson thanked for their long-time financial support of Casa Pacifica. William Burgos died in 2016.

Elson also thanked the Otis & Bettina Chandler Foundationfor its financial support.

“We are also grateful to Wells Fargo for their significant contribution to this campaign and are naming one of the two new cottagesthe Wells Fargo Cottage,” Elson said. “The other cottage is named for Archie, our famous therapy dog” who died a few years ago.

The Founders Building opened in January, while the cottages opened in April, said Morgan Piehn, Casa Pacifica’s Community Engagement Coordinator. So why is the ribbon-cutting happening only now? “We have been working on different signage and slowly moving in, and now we’re in a place where it’s looking good and we’re ready for our donors to come and see it,” Piehn said.

Source: VC Star

Casa Pacifica Spotlight on Style Runway Fashion Show Set for November 23rd

October 14, 2019

One of the finest fashion events in Ventura County, the Casa Pacifica Angels Spotlight on Style Fashion Show, will return to the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village on Saturday, November 23rd, 2019 from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM, for another afternoon of fabulous fashion, fine dining, and unique boutique shopping. The hosts of the 18th edition of the runway fashion show, Susan & Ken Bauer, and the Casa Pacifica Angels are excited to be back at the Four Seasons and partnering with Carin Holmenas Productions, who will produce the runway fashion show featuring high-style fashions from the collections of Kevan Hall.

A champagne reception will open the festivities as guests peruse a variety of fabulous boutiques offering a wonderful collection of unique accessories, clothing, and gifts to satisfy their own desires, or provide the perfect one-of-a-kind gifts for their friends and family for the holidays.

A wonderful silent auction will offer baskets filled with amazing entertainment packages and personal pampering opportunities. Your time is precious! Bid on an at-home car detailing and take the hassle out of your weekend! Enjoy a night at the theatre and bid on tickets to the holiday classic The Nutcracker. Savor a one-of-a-kind experience in a baking class with Sugar Lab Bake Shop’s talented baker, Allison Kenis. Fly high with the helicopter tour for two, see Ventura County’s coast or in-land and grab a delicious lunch at Waypoint Café. These and many more great opportunities will be up for grabs!

Lori Silvey and Elsa Phillip, chairpersons of the 2019 Spotlight on Style, and their Spotlight on Style Committee have worked diligently to create another fantastic fashion show and boutique event at the Four Seasons Hotel. Top level fashion show sponsors include:  Hosts – Susan & Ken Bauer;  Spotlight Sponsors – The Cassar Family and Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village;  Haute Couture Sponsors – Susan Burgos, Bill & Jewell Gerald Powell, Porta-Stor, Frank & Betty Hiji, and Procter & Gamble; Couture Sponsors – Michael W. McCarthy, D.D.S., City National Bank; Designer Sponsors – Lori & Bryan Silvey, The Hopps Group at Morgan Stanley, Oksana & Kim Zussman DDS, Traci & Ron Salter, Bonnie & Don Carlton, Tamiann & Chris Cook, and Beach, Cowdrey & Jenkins, LLP.

All proceeds from the Spotlight on Style Fashion Show support Casa Pacifica’s therapeutic programs and services that bring healing and hope to vulnerable children and youth struggling with complex mental health issues due circumstances that placed them into foster care, and youth whose mental health challenges are disrupting and destabilizing their family homes.

Fashion Show tickets are advanced purchase only – no tickets will be sold at the door. For more information about the Spotlight on Style Fashion Show, contact Casa Pacifica Special Events Manager, Anna Coulson, at 805-366-4023 or acoulson@casapacifica.org.

Casa Pacifica Welcomes New Members to Board of Directors

October 10, 2019

Casa Pacifica is proud to welcome Gary Gorian, Narimon Honarpour, M.D., Ph.D., John Mallett, and Adam Thunell, to its Board of Directors this year. Comprised of 24 individuals, Casa Pacifica’s board members offer a wealth of experience and expertise in a wide range of areas, such as the legal field with several lawyers; in financial services with representatives from a number of banks, investment, and insurance services; in business with a variety of industries from the medical field to construction to agricultural management to equipment rentals; in the field of education with the retired superintendent of the Moorpark Unified School District; as well as several community advocates.

Gary Gorian– Gary Gorian is the President and Founder of Colton Lee Communities, LLC – a company focused on developing all facets of housing stock including Affordable Housing, Master Planned Communities, Apartments, and Self-Storage. Prior to starting Colton Lee Communities in 1998, Gary served as Vice President for Dale Poe Development Corporation, one of the largest privately held real development firms in California. Gary is a lifelong resident of Ventura County and holds a double major in both Urban and Regional Planning, as well as in Public Administration from University of Southern California. Gary was previously on the Casa Pacifica Board of Directors from 2004-2010.

Narimon Honarpour, M.D., Ph.D. – Narimon Honarpour is the Translational Medicine Head at Amgen, Inc. – board certified in Internal and Cardiovascular Medicine. Over his 8 years at Amgen, Narimon has held various positions: Senior Medical Scientist, Clinical Research Medical Director, Global Development Lead and Executive Medical Director, and Global Product General Manger. Prior to joining Amgen in 2011, Narimon was a clinical instructor at UCLA’s Division of Cardiology, the same place he did his Residency in Internal Medicine as well as his Clinical Fellowship in Cardiology. Narimon obtained his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas in 1996.

John W. Mallett – John Mallett is the President and Co-Founder of MainStreet Mortgage in Westlake Village which specializes in residential lending. Prior to co-founding MainStreet Mortgage in 1997, John was a loan officer at Five Star Financial where he excelled and was the top selling agent in loan production for four years running. John brings strong entrepreneurial and strategic skills to the table, along with skills in feasibility analysis and leadership. He obtained his MBA from USC in 1999 with an emphasis in finance and entrepreneurship. His book, “Buy Your First Home Today!” is available on Amazon.

Adam Thunell – Adam Thunell is the Senior Vice President and Chief Operation Officer at Community Memorial Health System in Ventura. Thunell’s focus at the Health System includes long-term strategic planning, daily operations, physician relations, community interaction, as well as oversight for the System’s building projects which encompass the construction of a new hospital in Ventura and the modernization of another in Ojai. Adam received his B.A. in Business Management at Brigham Young University and his M.H.A. in Hospital Administration from the University of Minnesota. He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a current board member of Health Executives Association of Southern California.

Source: Citizen's Journal

A Family of 4 Became a Family of 9!

October 6, 2019

Every year, Casa Pacifica’s Wraparound Program hosts Strengthening Families – a seven-week curriculum geared at helping families in the community gain skills needed to successfully navigate life with children who have experienced complex trauma. The course is offered to all families participating in the Wraparound Program, a community-based service whose goal is to keep children in their home and communities by building on the family’s strengths and utilizing natural and community connections for support.

This year, we had three families complete the program, one of whom never missed a session. This particular family was a young couple with two small children – overnight they became a blended family of NINE by taking in a cousin’s five children ranging from toddler to teenager. The children were placed in the care of their cousins after they witnessed their father shoot and kill their mother. These young parents felt compelled to step in and care for the family; however, as you can imagine they also felt very overwhelmed.

Wraparound was introduced to help the instant family of nine ensure they could get the support they needed. The family quickly jumped on board, loading up their family of nine every week and making the 30-minute trek to our Flynn Rd. office. Together, family and staff ate dinner together and built rapport. Following dinnertime, childcare was provided by staff for the young children and the teens were invited into their own teen group led by staff. Meanwhile, the parents separated into their own group, learning new parenting skills in a session designed just for them.

The dedication of this truly marvelous and loving couple is underscored by their sincerity in participating and learning all they could to help their now very complex, very large family. The teens took a bit more time to open up, taking several sessions before they were willing to participate and engage, which they finally did over a few games of table tennis. Watching this new family grow and bond together over the 7-week process was amazing. With hungry, motivated caretakers and the reluctant but willing seven children in tow, the family built new skills, the caretakers got ideas from other families and from staff and practicum students leading the sessions.

At the end of the program the youth left feeling more supported and the caretakers left filled with hope. Mom expressed she had learned skills to help her stay calm even when she was upset, which allowed her to make better decisions and communicate better with the family. Dad expressed that he learned how to communicate with the children, and how he could change his communication style to help meet the needs of all the children better. In the end, the family was grateful for all the support they had received, they thanked all the staff who kept late work days to make it happen. When we asked them for feedback on what we could do to improve, they said to simply keep offering the program.  After 12 years of working for the agency it is still humbling, an honor, and a privilege to watch families put in the work day in and day out to come together and better themselves…it is also my privilege to watch as our team of staff graciously come along side those families and give them their all, so they might have all the tools they would ever need to be successful.

Source: Citizen's Journal

Goleta Lemon Festival Heading to Girsh Park for 28th Year Celebrating Citrus

September 24, 2019

The Goleta Valley’s largest community event is returning over the weekend.

The 28th annual Goleta Lemon Festival, hosted by the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, will offer plenty of citrus-y fun in Girsh Park Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It celebrates the region’s agricultural heritage, which dates back to when Sherman Stow — builder of Goleta’s Stow House — planted about 600 acres of lemon orchards on his ranch in 1875. The gathering offers live entertainment from local performers and bands, people-powered activities in the kids’ zone, lemon pie eating contests, merchandise vendors and lots of treats.

If life gives you lemons, use it in absolutely every dish possible. This year’s festival will include offerings of lemon cotton candy, lemon meringue pie, lemon bars and lemonade with chia seeds. Carnival food favorites like hot dogs, funnel cake, kettle corn, popcorn, churros, fries, ice cream and more will also be sold.

​“People love the tradition of it and the community feeling,” said Kristen Miller, president and CEO of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce. The Goleta Lemon Festival is the only time some of the local lemony confections are available, she noted. Admission to the festival is free, and pre-sale wristbands for unlimited access to children’s activities are available online for $25. Advance wristband sales end Friday. Guests 21-and-over can sip refreshing ale brewed by Hollister Brewing Company and Santa Barbara Cider Company. The outdoor “Lemon Lounge” is a spot for adults to relax in a shaded area with chairs and tables.

The Goleta Fall Classic Car show takes place 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Vintage automobiles and motorcycles will be on display. Safety Street will display Santa Barbara County fire, law enforcement and emergency service vehicles.

New this year is the Sheriff’s Mounted Enforcement Unit and the Sheriff’s Department’s K-9 unit. Chop, a 2-year-old male shepherd, and his handler, Deputy Shane Moore, a six-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, will be in attendance. “Safety Street is always popular,” Miller said. “Everybody likes to walk through it.”

Other booths at Safety Street include the American Red Cross, Casa Pacifica, California Highway Patrol, Goleta’s Community Emergency Response Team, Goleta Police Department, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, Goleta Prepare Now, Immigrant Hope Santa Barbara, Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County, LISTOS, Santa Barbara Response Network and the U.S. Forest Service.

Source: Noozhawk

RECREATION | Best of Ventura County 2019

September 19, 2019

CHARITY EVENT

1st Place: CASA PACIFICA ANGELS WINE, FOOD & BREW FESTIVAL, 1 University Drive, CSU, Channel Islands, Camarillo, 805-366-4011

2nd Place: VENTURA MUSIC FESTIVAL, venturamusicfestival.org

3rd Place: AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY, RELAY FOR LIFE OF VENTURA, relay4lifeventura@gmail.com

Source: VC Reporter

Teen Chefs Compete at Maritime Museum Sustainable Seafood Cookoff

September 15, 2019

In recognition of the growing interest in sustainable seafood, cooking shows, and competitions, as well as the emphasis on skills-based programs for teens, Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (SBMM) invited two top teen chefs to compete in a locally sourced seafood cookoff which was performed in front of a live audience. Cookoff teen chefs were Carson Peterson of Ventura and Rogers Mathews, Jr. of Corona, both 14 years old who have competed on Top Chef Junior.  The event was held on Sunday, Sept. 8, at SBMM, 113 Harbor Way at the Santa Barbara Harbor and was sold out immediately. Over 110 guests, including the families of the competing chefs, enjoyed beautifully presented appetizers from C’est Cheese with beverages prior to the start of the Chef Cookoff.

Competitor Carson Peterson, a 14-year-old freshman at Ventura High School, started cooking with Nonna, his Italian grandmother when he was about 5 years old. “I remember making pasta dough with her and making our family’s pasta sauce that takes all day,” he recalled this inspired his love for cooking, which got more serious when he was 11. “I started spending most of my free time in the kitchen, and I’ve just been getting better and more knowledgeable every day.”

Upon studying the careers of chefs such as Curtis Stone, Julia Child, Alton Brown, and Thomas Keller, Peterson gravitated toward French cuisine. “French techniques and flavors can be found all over Europe and northern Africa,” explained Peterson, who enjoys making poisson en papillote, coq au vin, and croque madame. “French food has implemented itself into many cuisines, and I really find that interesting.”

Peterson, who hopes to attend Stanford for college says “there is always an unknown, whether it’s an unfamiliar pantry, an unfamiliar kitchen appliance, or a wacky challenge, Top Chef Junior was definitely no walk in the park. While being hard, it brought out the best in me as a chef and as a person. Not only was I able to improve my culinary skills, but I was also able to create relationships I will keep forever.” Carson Peterson is a professional chef known for his take on classic French cuisine. He appeared on Top Chef Junior Season 2, was featured on the Today Show, competed in the 2019 Strawberry SmackDown and judged the Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food and Brew Festival. His signature dishes include Poisson en Papillote, Coq Au Vin and Croquembouche.

Rogers Mathews, Jr. is a very charming little guy known for making it all the way to the semi-finals and taking third place in this season’s Top Chef Junior competition. In his freshman year at Santiago High in Corona, Mathews was introduced to cooking when his family decided to make homemade pizza and let him pick the toppings. “After that I was hooked,” he explained. “Cooking was so much fun!” By age 10, he was learning techniques and flavor profiles and looking up to chefs like Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, and Curtis Stone.

Though challenging, his experience on Top Chef Junior taught valuable lessons. “In the beginning, it was very stressful to have to cook with a time constraint,” said Mathews. “As a result, I learned to be very efficient in managing my time in the kitchen.” He dreams of writing his own cookbook one day and opening a small restaurant. “My restaurant would focus on the artistic side of cooking and showcase food seasonality,” said Mathews, “or maybe utilizing forgotten parts of vegetables like stems and leaves in a creative way.”

The judges panel including Bonnie Carroll, founder, and editor-in-chief, Bonnie Carroll’s Life Bites News; Emily Cosentino, marketing and promotions manager, Santa Barbara Independent; Jake Hagen, assistant pastry chef, Newhall Refinery; Krista Harris, editor/co-publisher, Edible Magazine; Chef Kayla Norton, pastry chef, Old Town Junction, Newhall; and Chef Daniel Palaima, Tyger Tyger had a difficult time determining the winner. The plates prepared by both chefs were outstanding. Rogers Mathews, Jr. won 1st place prize, but It was very close. Both Carson and Masters did an amazing job, answered questions and shared detailed information on each step of their preparation and presentation.

Sustainable seafood is seafood that is either caught or farmed in ways that consider the long-term vitality of harvested species and the well-being of the oceans, as well as the livelihoods of fisheries-dependent communities. It was first promoted through the sustainable seafood movement which began in the 1990s. This operation highlights overfishing and environmentally destructive fishing methods. Through a number of initiatives, the movement has increased awareness and raised concerns over the way our seafood is obtained.

Congratulations to Maritime Museum and Museum Deputy Director & Curator Emily Falke on this inspiring and educational event on sustainable seafood, and congratulations to two great teen chef competitors. Each guest was given a Monterey Bay Aquarium Seawatch Watch Westcoast Consumer Guide as a gift to take home. For upcoming Maritime Museum event or membership information visit Visit sbmm.org.

Source: edhat Santa Barbara

Local PODS® Announces Winner of Tools for School Drive

September 10, 2019

The first ever Tools for School drive along with local PODS® moving and storage, Cumulus Media and General Mills has awarded a fourth grade class at Rio Del Norte school as the winner of school supplies that were collected over the course of a month.

The drive was an effort to provide local classrooms with much needed school supplies for the upcoming year. Individual classrooms were nominated for the chance to receive a full school years’ worth of supplies. In addition, PODS donated $1 for every PODS® container rented through during the duration of the drive.

“School supplies are such a critical piece to an education, and we are just delighted to help the class at Rio Del Norte get these much-needed school supplies, and we look forward to working with the radio stations of Cumulus for this to be an every year drive.” says Steve Yapp, owner of local PODS® moving and storage.

Steve Yapp is the owner of three Tri-Counties PODS® franchises that serve residents and businesses in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.

Dedicated to the local community, Yapp’s franchises have donated over 1,500 PODS containers to nonprofit and charitable organizations throughout Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, San Diego and Los Angeles counties since opening their doors in 2005.

A partial list of recipients include: Boys & Girls Clubs, FOOD Share of Ventura County, Casa Pacifica, Toys 4 Tots, California Strawberry Festival, Ojai Music Festival, Relay for Life, C.H.P. Holiday Toy Drive, Salvation Army, Santa Maria Good Samaritan, Oxnard Downtown Management District, Boy Scouts of Ventura County, California Visitors Center, Simi Valley Days, the Oxnard Salsa Festival, and Catholic Charities.

PODS® offers moving and storage the way you need it done, with unlimited time, space, and control. When PODS® pioneered portable storage in 1998, they introduced the world to a brand new, flexible way to move and store. Now an industry leader, PODS® currently provides residential and commercial services in 46 U.S. states, Canada, Australia, and the UK. To date, the PODS® network has completed more than one million long-distance moves, has nearly four million initial deliveries, and has over 220,000 PODS containers in service.

For more information, go to: www.mylocalpods.com.

Source: Patch

Ventura swimmer to take on Lake Tahoe to raise funds for nonprofit Casa Pacifica

September 4, 2019

Thomas Ball describes his attempt to swim the 21 miles across Lake Tahoe a “12-hour tightrope.” Nevertheless, he has challenged himself to make the swim for his 60th birthday as a way to raise $8,000 for Camarillo-based Casa Pacifica’s non-public special education school. The school serves children from first to 12th grades dealing with complicated issues, such as emotional disturbance, health impairment and specific learning disabilities.

“The fundraiser for Casa Pacifica is specifically to purchase multimedia access devices for the education department,” said Ball who teaches music and history at the school. “It’s a variety of apparatus and hardware that allows us to present curriculum in multimedia form.”

The Lake Tahoe swim is the third of three marathon swims known as the California Triple Crown, an open water swimming competition. On Friday, Ball will take on Lake Tahoe, “the most difficult of three swims.” Ball, 59, of Ventura, has already finished the two other swims, which are sanctioned by the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association. “I’ve done Catalina, which is 21 miles. I’ve done Anacapa to the mainland, which is 12.5 miles,” he said.

The Lake Tahoe swim is the most challenging, he said, because it’s in fresh water with less buoyancy, at a high altitude of 6,200 feet, and the water is chilly at around 60 degrees, meaning he must swim at an aerobic rate so he doesn’t suffer hypothermia. He’s not allowed to stop as part of the rules of the swim, which he hopes to finish in around 12 hours, “give or take.”

“It’s going to be a 12-hour tightrope walk,” he said. “It’s nonstop marathon swim. I can only wear a cap, Speedo and goggles. I may not touch any human or boat during the swim. All I can do is stop and catch a bottle thrown at me that has carbohydrates to drink.”

Ball has worked at Casa Pacifica for 21 years, specializing in music instruction and history. The nonprofit helps children of abuse and neglect and more. “The kids I work with are the last in line to receive this developing technology…and if I can expedite that through my swimming, to me that’s the perfect goal,” the educator said. Ball said he believes the lessons learned through both music and history benefit children through the process of self-examination, genuine ownership of actions and a realistic sense of timeline of and for the human experience.

“The challenges facing many of our at-risk students make the goal of graduation and the development of coping strategies…much like a cold and dark channel swim,” said Ball. “The student faces uncertainty, fear, fatigue and often doubt along the way.”

Ball was a competitive swimmer who reaped some success in high school and college. He later worked as a lifeguard for Santa Barbara County for a decade, and through that experience, dabbled in the sport of open water swimming. At age 48, he underwent reconstructive back surgery and started to reengage in open water competition as a way to recuperate.

Since then, he has completed the Santa Barbara Semana Nautica 10K ocean swim competition four times and was a member of a six-man team that set a world record for the longest non-stop ocean relay of 202 miles along the coast from Ventura to San Diego. In other swimming accomplishments, he completed solo swims across the Anacapa Channel four times, finished a solo swim across the Catalina Channel and was a member of a record-setting relay that swam from San Nicholas Island to the mainland.

Ball currently coaches the Ventura County Masters under the auspices of Buenaventura Swim Club and serves as the assistant coach for girls’ water polo at Ventura High School.

When he swims 21 miles at Lake Tahoe, his position will be fixed on the lake through SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger. “You can log in and follow my progress to see where I’m at on the swim,” he said, adding that the public can make donations to his cause on Casa Pacifica’s Facebook. He has currently raised $5,260 of his $8,000 goal. “I hope people tune into SPOT Tracker and feel motivated to donate,” Ball said. “That’s my big hope.” To learn more, visit https://www.facebook.com/casapacifica.

Source: VC Star

Casa Pacifica kids & Board President cook gourmet lunch for live auction winner of “Yummie Top Chef

July 16, 2019

For the past two months, the youth of Casa Pacifica have been taking an Italian themed cooking class taught by Casa Pacifica Board President William Powell – affectionately known by the kids as “Chef Willy.” This weekly cooking class is part of Casa Pacifica’s Vocational Education Program, which includes the use of the brand-new Bauer Teaching Kitchen. The “final exam” of the class was to cook a gourmet four-course meal. The lucky recipients of the gourmet Italian feast was Sean Leonard and 10 guests. Leonard was the generous bidder and winner of the “Yummie Top Chef Jr.” luncheon which was auctioned off at Casa Pacifica’s 6th Annual Yummie Top Chef Dinner on Friday, May 31st. “We were so impressed with the entire event – from the enthusiastic youth that greeted us with hors d’oeuvres to the fantastic environment and meal they prepared and served us,” raved Leonard of the experience.

Leonard is President and CEO of S.L. Leonard & Associates, Inc., an Owner’s Representation, Project and Construction Management firm in Camarillo. Leonard and his company recently assisted Casa Pacifica in the management of the construction of their new Training Institute and Archie & Wells Fargo Co-Occurring Cottage on the Camarillo campus. Casa Pacifica’s new Career Technical Education (CTE) Program was created when Casa Pacifica identified a need for a quality college/career readiness program within a therapeutic environment for the foster and at-risk youth it serves. The CTE Program will have two programs – digital arts and culinary arts, which will help students, up to 150 youth annually, develop entry level occupational skills. Students will also develop increased self-esteem and confidence in their future, another important component for their success.


The menu for the luncheon included bruschetta, breaded swordfish medallions, duck with fig sauce and mushroom risotto, and homemade biscotti and ice cream. Powell’s interest in the culinary arts started at an early age after learning basic homestyle cooking techniques from his mother. After retiring in 2006, he decided he wanted to improve his skills to the level of advanced amateur. He attended the Enthusiast’s Program at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. “My experience with the youth at Casa Pacifica was great fun!” said Powell of his recent cooking venture. “The funniest line of the course was when one of the students was whisking Caesar salad dressing when she looked up and said, ‘This is very therapeutic!’ This led to a broader discussion between the kids and I about how cooking can be a creative endeavor, much like any other form of art. And it is, in fact, very therapeutic when we create things from our combination of skills and imagination.”

Source: Citizen's Journal

Café Society – Let’s do brunch

July 4, 2019

SLATE BISTRO + BAR in Camarillo: Unveiled by local restaurateur Vince Pillard in early December, Slate will introduce Sunday brunch on July 14, with service from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Pillard promises three flavors of endless mimosas, including a pomegranate, lime, elderflower and rosemary combination he’s calling Boujee Behavior. (For more about boujee as the intentional misspelling of bougie, which in turn is slang for bourgeois, go to https://bit.ly/2Xqej7L.)

Fresh from a first-place win in the savory category of last month’s Yummie Top Chef culinary competition at the Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival, executive chef Abdu Romero is planning an a la carte menu that starts with complimentary beignets. Diners can then choose from a range of dishes that include pecan-crusted French toast with maple-bourbon glaze and orange whipped cream and pork belly eggs Benedict with chipotle Hollandaise.

Brunch will be served in the lounge area and on the dog-friendly patio.

Source: VC Star

Biz Buzz – Casa Pacifica Received full re-accreditation

July 2, 2019

Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families received full re-accreditation for 10 years from the American Psychological Association (APA) Commission on Accreditation for its Psychology Internship program. The program focuses on residential treated with foster youth. Casa Pacifica first received APA accreditation for its internship program in 2006; the 10-year term is the maximum length of time obtainable. … CURE Pharmaceutical will collaborate with Canopy Growth Corporation to develop a new low-dose cannabidiol (CBD) oral thin film using CURE’s patented CUREfilm technology for global distribution. With CUREfilm, the delivery of CBD is easier and more effective because it offers increased bioavailability, ease and precision of dosing and greater palatability. CURE is registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to develop and manufacture cannabis-derived and synthetic cannabinoid-based products.

Source: VC Reporter

Open and shut

June 28, 2019

Missy’s Cupcake Creations wrapped up its move from Oxnard to Ventura in just over a week – a real feat considering owner Missy Drayton also added doughnuts to the menu before officially opening the doors Monday at 2950 Johnson Drive, Suite 119.

Drayton’s cupcake bakery previously operated for about seven years at Fisherman’s Wharf at Channel Islands Harbor.

Worried by the uncertainty of oft-delayed plans to redevelop the waterfront property, Drayton went looking for a new home for her business. She found it at the Northbank Plaza & Cafes, in a space previously occupied by a nutritional shakes business and a doughnut shop before that.

“There wasn’t a place to get coffee and a doughnut here anymore,” she said of the inspiration to add apple fritters, maple bars and glazed buttermilk treats ($1 and up) to the lineup.

Her daily offerings include vegan doughnuts, available in cake and raised forms. They are a surprise hit, Drayton said. The cupcake case features more than a dozen flavors daily, sold in miniature and regular sizes ($1.65 and $3). Gluten-free options are available.

Drayton and her cupcakes won first and second place in the sweet category of the Yummie Top Chef competition presented at the Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Look for the sauté-pan trophies on the wall at her new place. Hours are from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily (2950 Johnson Drive, Suite 119, 805-382-4852).

Source: VC Star

Cafe Society: YES, CHEF

June 27, 2019

Ventura County-based chef Alex Montoya has worked both the sweet and savory sides of menus during his recent post as executive chef under chef/owner Aaron Duncan at Fluid State Beer Garden in downtown Ventura, and as executive chef at The Cave inside Ventura Wine Co. just before that.

But his brand-new gig as executive pastry chef at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu gives him a chance to focus on the sweet stuff.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: New Year, who dis? 2 Ventura restaurants get new chefs for 2019

Montoya said his initial duties include creating desserts for events at the resort and for its on-site restaurant, The Malibu Café (327 Latigo Canyon Road, 818-540-2400, https://www.themalibucafe.com).

Those menus will eventually feature some of the same frozen-custard creations that have helped Montoya win awards at the Fork It Over contest organized by Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast and the Yummie Top Chef competition presented by the Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival.

“As I grow my team we can branch out and do the desserts for the other restaurants that are part of the group,” Montoya said. “It’s a large project with lots of creativity and upside for growth. Ultimately, it puts me on a better path to accomplish my goal of my own restaurant.”

The Fluid State crew wishes Montoya well as he embarks on this new chapter, said Duncan, who is reassuming the role of chef. Fluid State’s menu includes charcuterie boards, salads, pizza fries and pizzas made with dough from Duncan’s own sourdough starter (692 E. Main St., 805-628-3107, http://www.fluidstatebeer.com).

Source: VC Star

Foundation rewards healthcare nonprofits with grants

June 20, 2019

During the Livingston Memorial Foundation’s 2018-19 grant year ending April 30, grants totaling $411,500 were presented to 19 Ventura County nonprofit organizations for medical and health-related purposes benefiting residents of Ventura County.

The organizations include Cancer Support Community, Casa Pacifica, Catholic Charities, Conejo Free Clinic, Free Clinic of Simi Valley, Hospice of the Conejo Inc., Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association, Mary Health of the Sick Convalescent and Nursing Hospital, St. John’s Healthcare Foundation and Westminster Free Clinic.

The nonprofit foundation is in its 42nd year of awarding grants.

The foundation was formed in 1974 by the late Ben E. Nordman and Dr. Charles M. Hair and was established with funds from the estate of Ruth Daily Livingston in honor of her late husband, Dr. William R. Livingston.

Source: Acorn Thousand Oaks

Cafe Society: Chefs share details of Casa Pacifica’s Yummie award-winning dishes

June 6, 2019

As a competitor in the Yummie Top Chef culinary throwdown organized as part of the 26th annual Casa Pacifica Angels Food, Wine & Brew Festival on Sunday, Abdu Romero had a single directive: Win.

Mission accomplished.

Romero, who is executive chef at Slate Bistro & Craft Bar in Camarillo, took the top prize in the “savory” category on his and Slate’s first try (the restaurant opened in December). The dish was a whole-coconut-on-a-plate showstopper inspired not just by the competitive nature of Slate’s owner, Vince Pillard, but by the latter’s amazement over the purple Okinawan potatoes he saw Romero preparing as a special one day.

“He was ‘Holy ——! What is that? Dude! You gotta do something with that!”  Romero said, laughing.

The resulting entry arrived at judges’ table in the aforementioned coconut, carefully sawed in half to create a serving vessel with its own lid. Inside, a single coconut shrimp rested atop a kelp bed of scallions, with a whitecap of ginger-coconut cream and a pineapple-studded wave of purple potatoes — thickened with a dash of agar-agar — below.

“I knew it was a beautiful dish, and that it was tasty, too, which is more important. But I had no idea if we would win,” said Romero, who prepared more than 1,000 shrimp and three cases of Okinawan potatoes for the festival’s 4,000 attendees.

By the time the Yummie awards ceremony took place, Romero was ready to let off some steam. He celebrated the win by pretending to use his sauté-pan trophy to hit one out of the CSU Channel Islands quad.

Pastry chef Julia San Bartolome of Sweet Arleen’s in the Westlake Plaza also hit a culinary home run with her Mexican Hot Leche cake, the first-place entry in the “sweet” category.

The dessert featured tequila-infused chocolate cake sprinkled with micro churros and served atop a swoosh of jalapeño-lime sour cream sauce. Each slice arrived at the Yummies judging table with its own tiny squeeze bottle of warm condensed milk — a wink at the piping bag that accompanied San Bartolome’s second-place entry last year, when she competed for the first time.

“I’ve been a pastry chef for 20 years, and putting the final touch on a dessert never gets old. I like to give the judges and people the opportunity to do the fun part of the job,” San Bartolome said of adding the DIY flourishes.

More than 25 restaurants, caterers and other food purveyors entered the blind-tasting competition, five of them deciding to do so on the morning of the festival. The welcome additions had the eight-member judges’ panel creating scoresheets from scratch paper when the supply of official forms ran out during the second round of tasting.

Swapping tales of cooking under pressure were two judges with reality-TV experience: “Top Chef Jr.” season-two competitor Carson Peterson, 14, of Ventura, and “MasterChef” season-six contestant Olivia Crouppen, who graduated from Oak Park High School and now works as a holistic chef and culinary producer in Los Angeles.

Along with Carson, who was accompanied by parents Calvin and Kristine Peterson, first-time judges included Billy Koskoff of The Moveable Feast, which catered events ranging from the Emmy Awards to the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Denise Boutté — actor, “Southern Modified” cookbook co-author and CEO of the Weeziana Girl line of spices — wrapped up her inaugural stint as a Yummie judge before jumping onto the dance floor to participate in the men’s hula-hoop contest.

“I missed the ladies’,” she said.

Returning judges were Eric Kopelow, corporate executive chef for NBC Universal Studios Hollywood; former Yummie winner Nic Manocchio, now executive chef for University Auxiliary Services at CSUCI, Masa Shimakawa, chef de cuisine at ONYX at Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, and yours truly.

Oded Fehr, the Ojai-based star of the current CBS series “Blood & Treasure,” returned as emcee for the competition, which debuted in 2009. It has taken place annually since 2011.

Awards this year were given to a mix of new and repeat winners.

Second place “savory” went to Jeff Downey, executive chef at The Saticoy Club in Somis. His first Yummie win was for a Mediterranean salad of marinated and grilled octopus sautéed with garlic, Kalamata olives and heirloom tomatoes. The dish was topped with feta and basil and served with warm flatbread.

When Fehr joked that members of the non-golfing public wouldn’t be able to order it at the club’s private restaurant, Downey was quick to respond.

“We accept social memberships,” he said with a laugh.

Second place “sweet” was won by Anastashia Chavez, pastry chef for The 2686 Kitchen in Ventura and the Ojai Beverage Co. A past Yummie winner, Chavez competed this year with a lemon verbena-flecked cheesecake with mascarpone custard, citrus graham crust, salted honeycomb crunch and blueberry-ale compote.

The latter was made with Firestone Walker Brewing Co.’s SLOambic Wild Ale, a berry-infused sour aged on French oak at the brewery’s Barrelworks facility in Buellton. It won the festival’s annual Best in Fest Brewery Competition back in April, but the presentation of the trophy — a nameplate-style necklace with a hip hop-worthy heavy gold chain — took place Sunday on the festival stage.

After a three-year run as the savory-category champ, Alex Castillo, executive chef at Twenty88 in Camarillo, came in third with a combination of mashed fried plantain cake with chicharron and slow-cooked pork belly topped with blood orange-quince glaze. A small tower of pickled veggies wrapped in a cucumber ribbon separated the two, with drizzles of lemon grass-ginger pesto oil adding to the colors and flavors.

With previous Yummie wins to his credit, chef Alex Montoya returned to the competition this year to represent Fluid State Beer Garden in downtown Ventura, where he started working in January. He nabbed third place “sweet” for bourbon-butterscotch-oolong frozen custard “pops” dipped in gold-swirl chocolate and dusted with pecan and speck salt.

According to a post-festival media release, the event netted more than $550,000 toward the $4.1 million budget gap Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families must raise each year to support its programs for foster and at-risk youth and their families in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. For information, go to https://www.casapacifica.org.

The 27th annual festival will take place June 7, 2020. But first, look for winning chefs from this and previous years to participate in the Yummie Top Chef Dinner, which also benefits Casa Pacifica. It is scheduled for June 5, 2020. For tickets, menu details and other updates, check the website at https://www.cpwineandfoodfestival.com.

Source: VC Star

Casa Pacifica RFP-FSMC Contract 2019

June 5, 2019

Thousands Come to Support and Enjoy Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival

June 05, 2019

On Sunday, June 2nd, Casa Pacifica hosted its 26th Annual Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival. The sold-out Festival has established itself as Ventura County’s premiere Wine & Food event. Though the final numbers are still being determined, it is estimated that the Festival raised over $550,000 (net) toward the $4.1 million budget-gap Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families must raise each year to support its valuable programs serving Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties’ foster and at-risk youth and their families.

As always, the Festival offered an unbeatable array of exhibitors offering delicious food samples, sips of fine wines, and smooth brews. Over 160 vendors came to donate their food, wine, and brews to the cause. This year’s “Best in Fest” brew – SLOambic Wild Ale by Firestone Walker Brewing Company was on hand and available for attendees to sample. “Best in Fest” honorable mentions: MadeWest and Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. were also in attendance. The Festival main stage, emceed by DJ Bruce Barrios, featured live music throughout the day by Benise’s Band of Gypsies and N’Demand which kept the dance floor packed.

VIP guests were welcomed with champagne and small bites from Mastro’s Steakhouse. The garden themed VIP Lounge featured Magnavino Cellars, Plated Events by Chef Jason, The Anheuser-Busch Belgium Beer Garden, and The Cave who poured craft cocktails featuring Tito’s Handmade Vodka from the bar as well as their new Rocks & Drams vintage inspired trailer. Guests danced the afternoon away to music by Sound Effect and enjoyed photobooth fun by Conejo Photobooth.

Actor Oded Fehr returned as the emcee of the 9th Annual Yummie Culinary Competition, which showcased participating Festival exhibiting chefs’ dishes. The battle for the top prize was a delicious one – with over 20 exhibitors competing. Judges eventually crowned winners for the best “Savory” and the best “Sweet” chef’s masterpiece based on flavor, presentation, innovation, and quality. A wonderful Yummie panel of judges included Celebrity Chef Eric Kopelow; along with Chef Masa Shimakawa, Chef de Cuisine of ONYX at the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village; Master Chef competitor, fashion stylist, and creative consultant, Olivia Crouppen; Lisa McKinnon, food columnist for the Ventura County Star; Chef Nic Manocchio of University Auxiliary Services – California State University Channel Islands; Actress Denise Boutte, co-author of Southern Modified and CEO of Weeziana Girl Spices; Chef Carson Peterson, Top Chef Jr. Season 2 contestant; and Billy Koskoff.

The 2019 Yummie Top Chef Award Winners in the Savory category were 1st place – Chef Abdu Romero of SLATE Bistro for his Coconut Shrimp on Okinawan potato, ginger coconut cream, pineapple, Thai chili, and scallions; 2nd place winner, Chef Jeff Downey of The Saticoy Club for his marinated and grilled octopus lightly sautéed with garlic, heirloom cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese, fresh lemon juice and basil served with warm flat bread; and placing 3rd in the Savory category was Chef Alex Castillo of Twenty88 Bistro for his mashed fried plantain cake with chicharron topped with slow cooked pork belly, blood orange & quince glaze, pickled seasonal veggies, and lemon grass ginger pesto oil.

The Yummie winners in the Sweet category included 1st place to Chef Julia San Bartolome of Sweet Arleen’s for her Mexican Hot Leche cake – a tequila infused chocolate cake served on a jalapeno & lime sour cream sauce, drenched with a homemade Hot Leche over cinnamon sugar crunch.; 2nd place was Chef Anastasia Chavez of The 2686 Kitchen/Ojai Beverage Company for her Lemon Verbena Cheesecake with Mascarpone custard, citrus graham crust, Blueberry ale compote, and salted honeycomb crunch; and placing 3rd in the Sweet category was Chef Alex Montoya of Fluid State Beer Garden for his Bourbon Butterscotch Oolong Frozen Custard, gold chocolate hardshell, pecans, sprinkled with salt. All the Yummie winners, and the “Best in Fest” brewery winner – Firestone Walker Brewing Company were awarded their prizes on the main stage. 

Casa Pacifica and the Angels want to extend their gratitude to their generous Hosts, The Zarley Family; The Van Huisen Family; Nevers, Palazzo, Packard, Wildermuth & Wynner, PC; Conico Oil/MacValley Oil, Mission Produce, SDI, and Trans-Pro Logistics. And a huge thank you to everyone who attended, we appreciate your support - because of you we are able to help change the trajectory of children’s lives.

Source: Benzinga

Sold Out Casa Pacifica 5th Annual Yummie Top Chef Dinner Kicks off Big Weekend

June 03, 2019

‘An Elegant Evening in the Garden’ kicked off Casa Pacifica’s big weekend of events. The sold out dinner on Friday, May 31st, served as a lively prelude to the highly anticipated 26th Annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival on Sunday, June 2nd. The Dinner, set in the Festival’s VIP tent, brought together some of Casa Pacifica’s previous Yummie Culinary Competition winners to create an unforgettable epicurean event. Retired Sheriff Geoff Dean returned as emcee of the Yummie Top Chef Dinner, always a crowd favorite with his humor and passion for Casa Pacifica’s cause of helping foster and at-risk youth.

The showcased chefs cooked up some of their best dishes for more than 220 guests to enjoy. Yummie Top Chef Dinner chefs and Mark and Nicole Valdivia from The Cave, exclusive providers of the Dinner’s wine, were a highlight of the event when they joined the guests to share special insights and details of their contributions. Live music by Jack Benny was sprinkled throughout the night and kept the atmosphere lively.

A crisp evening provided the perfect backdrop as guests started arriving to the Yummie Top Chef Dinner. They were greeted with delicious lamb tartare hors d’oeuvres from Chef Tim Kilcoyne of World Central Kitchen. The hors d’oeuvres complemented the libations provided by The Cave. The cocktails were poured out of The Cave’s recently debuted vintage-inspired Rocks & Drams trailer: a delicious Strawberry Rhubarb Mule and a Blood Orange Spritz both featuring Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s SLOambic Wild Ale, winner of Casa Pacifica’s 2019 “Best in Fest” Brewery Competition was also on tap for guests to enjoy.

The garden area featured a silent auction including a gallery of kids art – all pieces done by kids at Casa Pacifica. All proceeds from the art went directly to Casa Pacifica’s recreation therapy department.

To kick-off the sit-down portion of the dinner, hosts Hugh and Keets Cassar of The Cassar Family, gave a warm welcome and led guests in a cheerful toast to Casa Pacifica.

The tasty appetizer led perfectly into the first course, which was a beautifully prepared Jasmine Brined Jidori Chicken presented by Chef Nic Mannocchio of University Auxiliary Services – CSUCI. The dish featured a sesame sticky rice crisp and lotus root slaw, ginger avocado coulis, and a sambal yuzu balsamic glaze. The Chicken was paired with J. Wilkes Pinot Blanc. Chef Ricardo T. Carreto of Water’s Edge created the second course, which was paired with Sbragia’s Home Ranch Chardonnay. The dish featured a perfectly Pan Seared Diver Scallop laid over a crispy seasonal polenta cake finished with a refreshing chimichurri sauce.

A quick intermezzo of lemon sorbet with a key lime and mint simple syrup by Chef Nic Manocchio gave guests a refreshing palette cleanser while participating in a lively live auction and listening to an update on Casa Pacifica given by Casa Pacifica CEO Dr. Steve Elson. The live auction gave guests the chance to bid on unique experiences like a Staples Center luxury suite, in-home dinners prepared by professional chefs, and the opportunity to the Rocks & Drams cocktail trailer come to your at-home party.

The third course was prepared by Chef Jason Collis of Plated Events by Chef Jason which highlighted a delicious Cioppino with a crushed garlic spread topped crustini. Curran’s Grenache Rose perfectly complemented the savory dish. The fourth course showcased Chef Alex Montoya of Fluid State Beer Garden who presented a honey-sesame peppered pork medallion, Shishito risotto, charred cherry gastrique, scallions, and microgreens. Ventura Wine Company’s Pinot Noir complemented the pork medallion flawlessly. The last of the savory courses, number five, featured a beautiful Beef Wellington by 3-time champion and reigning Yummie Culinary Competition winner Chef Alex Castillo of Twenty88 Bistro. The Beef Wellington featured a perfect piece of Filet Mignon and mushrooms wrapped in a puff pastry and baked, topped with a tri-color creamy peppercorn sauce, celery root mashed, and seasonal vegetables. This final savory dish was paired with Robert Mondavi’s Maestro Red.

The night ended with a sweet dessert duo; one dish by Chef Amanda Pritchett of Ragamuffin Coffee Roasters and another by the team of Chef Julia San Bartolome of Sweet Arleen’s and Chef Anastashia Chavez of The 2686 Kitchen & Ojai Beverage Company. The dessert duo included a Gluten-Free chocolate cake with strawberry filling and cream cheese frosting. The other part of the duo, by Chef Amanda Pritchett and Chef Anastashia Chavez featured an herbed cornmeal cake made with the 2019 “Best in Fest” beer, Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s SLOambic Wild Ale and citrus fruit caramel.

The Cassar Family hosted the Dinner for the sixth year running, and were joined by other Yummie Top Chef Dinner sponsors including Ventura Rental Party & Events; Roz Warner, M.D. & Michael Hogan, M.D.; Bill & Jewell Gerald Powell, Timothy Bradley & Kelli Stephens; Nevers, Palazzo, Packard, Wildermuth & Wynner PC; PODS; and Procter & Gamble.

All proceeds from the Yummie Top Chef Dinner directly support Casa Pacifica’s vital programs and services serving vulnerable children, youth, and their families.

Source: Benzinga

Raise a glass and toast this fundraiser

May 31, 2019

Local nonprofit Casa Pacifica is gearing up for its biggest fundraiser of the year, the 26th annual Angels Wine, Food and Brew Festival from 1 to 5 p.m. Sun., June 2 at California State University Channel Islands, Camarillo.

The festival has grown into one of the largest food and drink events in California and has been voted Best Charity Event and Best Food and Drink Festival by VC Reporter seven years running. The event will offer an array of exhibitors presenting food samples from restaurants, caterers, bakeries and specialty shops, including fine wines, brews and specialty beverages from throughout California.

VIP guests will be welcomed with champagne and small bites from Mastro’s Steakhouse. A large online silent auction will have vacations, dining experiences, wine tastings and jewelry. The event will have entertainment onthe main stage throughout the day and a dance floor.

Guests will have an opportunity to sample the winning Best in Fest brew. The competition winner will be crowned on the main stage during the festival.

The Yummie Culinary Competition will crown winners for the best savory and the best sweet chef’s masterpiece among the participating exhibitors.

Actor Oded Fehr will return to emcee the culinary competition. All proceeds from the festival benefit Casa Pacifica and their programs and services for children and families. Attendees must be age 21 or older.

Source: Acorn Moorpark

Cafe Society: Casa Pacifica’s Yummie dinner offers behind-the-scenes fun for diners, chefs

May 23, 2019

When the Yummie Top Chef Dinner takes place in a tent erected on the CSU Channel Islands campus in Camarillo, ticket-holding guests will be treated to fine wines, an appearance by retired Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean as emcee and decor in keeping with the event’s “Elegant Evening in the Garden” theme.

But for foodies, the real party will be in the back. That’s where diners will find at least 10 previous winners of the Yummie Top Chef Culinary Competition and their crews working together to produce the dinner’s seven-course menu on May 31 – a day and a half before the Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival. (Both events benefit Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families.)

“It’s fun for us as chefs, because it gives us a chance to catch up, to help plate and to taste each other’s food,” said Tim Kilcoyne, who took top honors during the festival’s first competition in 2009. He was co-owner and executive chef of the late SideCar Restaurant in midtown Ventura at the time, and “Leave it to Beaver” star Jerry Mathers and yours truly were among the judges who couldn’t get enough of his crispy Niman Ranch pork belly with blueberry-chipotle barbecue sauce and Tamai Family Farms creamed corn.

Kilcoyne now travels the globe as director of chef operations for World Central Kitchen, a non-profit organization launched by Nobel Peace Prize-nominated chef José Andrés. He first became involved with WCK as a volunteer just days after the Thomas Fire ripped through Ventura County.

There are parallels between some WCK missions and the Yummie dinner, which comes together in a temporary kitchen equipped with stoves and prep tables just behind the main tent.“It might be a little more luxurious, but it has the same feel: a tent with a lot of chefs working together to feed people,” said Kilcoyne. He plans to make the evening’s appetizer course.

Joining in will be Jason Collis, a fellow World Central Kitchen volunteer turned disaster-relief operations lead who also co-owns the Ventura County-based catering company Plated Events by Chef Jason. His course will feature cioppino and white-bean-and-crushed-garlic crostini.

With three years of back-to-back wins in the competition’s savory category, reigning Yummie champion Alex Castillo, executive chef at Twenty88 in Camarillo, said this week that his course will include medallions of beef Wellington with roasted baby carrots, celery-root mash and peppercorn sauce.

Also making a triumphant return will be baker Amanda Pritchett of Ragamuffin Coffee Roasters in Oxnard and Newbury Park. She won first place in the sweet category last year with a cold-brew-and-chocolate-brownie dessert that made competition history as the first vegan dish to take top honors in either category.

For the May 31 dinner, Pritchett and Jess Loose plan to serve a gluten-free chocolate cake layered with strawberry mousse, strawberry jam and fluffy cream cheese frosting. And that’s just one of the desserts.

Repeat Yummie winners Julia San Bartolome, pastry chef and co-owner of Sweet Arleen’s in the Westlake Plaza shopping center (more about her in a minute) and Anastashia Chavez, now the pastry chef for Ojai Beverage Co. and The 2686 Kitchen in Ventura, are collaborating on a dish that will showcase Firestone Walker Brewing Co.‘s SLOambic Wild Ale. The beer fermented with blackberries won the festival’s sixth annual Best in Fest Brewery Competition in April.

“We’re trying to keep everything local with this dessert, from the beer, to the produce to even the type of cake,” Chavez said. It will feature an herbed cornmeal cake with citrus caramel and SLOambic preserves made with herbs, flowers and fruits from King & King Ranch in Fillmore.

“That’s our basic description, but we’re going to use our crazy pastry brains and get very creative and artsy with the plating, textures (and) color,” she added.

Other participating chefs include Alex Montoya, a Yummie finalist in sweet and savory categories who in January moved to a new post as executive chef under chef/owner Aaron Duncan at Fluid State Beer Garden in Ventura. For the dinner, Montoya plans to serve honey-sesame peppered pork medallions with shishito risotto and charred cherry gastrique.

Nic Manocchio, who nabbed his first Yummie award a decade ago while working as executive chef at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel, will be back as chef de cuisine for University Auxiliary Services at CSUCI, where he’s been part of the culinary team since 2014.

And Ricardo T. Carreto, executive chef at Water’s Edge Restaurant & Bar in Ventura, is taking part after winning third place in the Yummie’s savory category last year, when the restaurant was known as Rhumb Line. His course will feature crispy polenta cakes topped with seared diver scallops and chimichurri.

The dinner will include the event debut of Rocks & Drams, a custom-built mobile craft-cocktail bar launched in April as the catering extension of The Cave at Ventura Wine Co. Tickets for the dinner, $250 per person, are available at https://bit.ly/2JY7hyU.

The 26th annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival will take place from 1-5 p.m. June 2. General admission tickets are $150 in advance or $175 at the door. VIP tickets, $275, include entry at noon and access to the VIP Lounge, which will offer food by Mastro’s Steakhouse and Plated Events by Chef Jason, plus a beer garden and craft cocktails from Rocks & Drams.

Source: VC Star

Wine, beer and food make fest a must

May 17, 2019

Local nonprofit Casa Pacifica will host its biggest fundraiser of the year, the 26th annual Angels Wine, Food and Brew Festival from 1 to 5 p.m. Sun., June 2 at Cal State Channel Islands, Camarillo.
The festival has grown into one of the largest food and drink events in California and has been voted Best Charity Event and Best Food and Drink Festival by VC Reporter seven years running.

Exhibitors will offer food samples from restaurants, caterers, bakeries and specialty shops, including fine wines, brews and specialty beverages from throughout California. VIP guests will receive champagne and small bites from Mastro’s Steakhouse. A large online silent auction will have vacations, dining experiences, wine tastings and jewelry. The event will have live entertainment from the main stage all day and a dance floor.

The Yummie Culinary Competition will crown winners for the best savory and the best sweet chef’s masterpiece among the participating exhibitors. All proceeds from the festival will benefit Casa Pacifica and their services for children and families. Attendees must be age 21 or older. Tickets are $150 general admission and $275 VIP. Admission includes all food and drink. Online tickets are charged a service fee.

Source: Acorn Moorpark

One of the Biggest Festivals in the Tri-Counties is Almost Sold Out

May 17, 2019

Local nonprofit Casa Pacifica’s biggest fundraiser of the year is almost here – and it’s almost sold out. The 26th annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival still has tickets available but not for long! This local festival sells out every year and this year will be no different. The Festival will be taking place on Sunday, June 2nd at CSU Channel Islands. Get your tickets today at cpwinefoodbrewfest.com before they sell out –  $150/Admission Tickets; $175/At-the-door Admission Tickets; $275/VIP Tickets (all prices subject to availability). All proceeds from the Festival benefit Casa Pacifica and their vital programs and services for foster and at-risk youth and their families.

The Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival has grown into one of the largest food and drink events in California and has been voted Best Charity Event and Best Food & Drink Festival by VC Reporter seven years running. This year’s Festival will offer an unbeatable array of over 150 exhibitors presenting delicious food samples from fabulous restaurants, caterers, bakeries, and specialty shops, to the palette-pleasing tastes of fine wines, smooth brews, and specialty beverages from throughout the region and California. Live entertainment throughout the day will feature DJ and Master of Ceremonies Bruce Barrios, Benise’s Band of Gypsies, and N’Demand. 

VIP guests will be welcomed with champagne and small bites from Mastro’s Steakhouse. The always popular VIP Lounge will feature Magnavino Cellars, Plated Events by Chef Jason, The Anheuser-Busch Belgium Beer Garden, and The Cave who will be pouring craft cocktails from the VIP bar as well as their new Rocks & Drams vintage inspired trailer. VIP guests will also enjoy live music by Sound Effect, photobooth fun by Conejo Photobooth, and cocktails featuring The Bloody Cure and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

Other highlights of the Festival include an opportunity to sample the 2019 “Best in Fest” Brew – Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s SLOambic Wild Ale. Honorable Mentions MadeWest’s Prospect Porter and Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.’s Point Conception West Coast IPA will also be available for tasting. Firestone Walker will be officially crowned “Best in Fest” on the main stage during the Festival. The Yummie Culinary Competition will also crown winners for the best “Savory” and the best “Sweet” chef’s masterpiece among the participating exhibitors. The Competition is expected to be fierce this year with returning Savory champion Chef Alex Castillo of Twenty88 defending his title for the fourth year in a row. The panel of esteemed Yummie Culinary Competiton judges will include: Olivia Crouppen, food stylist and culinary producer; Chef Masa Shimakawa, Chef de Cuisine of ONYX at Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village; Celebrity Chef Eric Kopelow; Chef Nic Manocchio, University Auxilary Services at CSU Channel Islands; Lisa McKinnon, food columnist at the Ventura County Star; Chef Carson Peterson, Top Chef Jr. Season 2 contestant; and Actress Denise Boutte, Co-Author of Southern Modified and CEO of Weeziana Girl Spices. Actor and Ojai local, Oded Fehr will be returning to emcee the culinary competition.

Can’t make it to the Festival? You can still join in the fun and support Casa Pacifica by browsing and bidding at their large online silent auction! Shoppers will be tempted with must-have vacations, dining experiences, wine tastings, jewelry, and more. Check out the silent auction and start bidding today by visiting hope4kids.givesmart.com. You don’t need to be at the Festival to bid or win!

Casa Pacifica is humbled to have the generous support of their Festival hosts: The Van Huisen Family; The Zarley Family; Conico Oil/MacValley Oil; Mission Produce; Nevers, Palazzo, Packard, Wildermuth & Wynner, PC; SDI Industries; and Trans-Pro Logistics. If you are interested in supporting Casa Pacifica by sponsoring or being an exhibitor at the festival, please visit www.cpwinefoodbrewfest.com. For further questions please contact Anna Coulson, Special Events Manager for Casa Pacifica at (805) 366-4023, or by email at acoulson@casapacifica.org.

Source: Citizen's Journal

A delicious fundraising fest for Casa Pacifica

May 16, 2019

Local nonprofit Casa Pacifica is gearing up for its biggest fundraiser of the year, the 26th annual Angels Wine, Food and Brew Festival from 1 to 5 p.m. Sun., June 2 at Cal State Channel Islands, Camarillo.

The festival has grown into one of the largest food and drink events in California and has been voted Best Charity Event and Best Food and Drink Festival by VC Reporter seven years running.

The event will offer an array of exhibitors presenting food samples from restaurants, caterers, bakeries and specialty shops, including fine wines, brews and specialty beverages from throughout California.

VIP guests will receive champagne and small bites from Mastro’s Steakhouse. A large online silent auction will have vacations, dining experiences, wine tastings and jewelry.

The event will have live entertainment from the main stage throughout the day and a dance floor. Guests will have an opportunity to sample the winning Best in Fest brew. The competition winner will be crowned on the main stage during the festival.

The Yummie Culinary Competition will crown winners for the best savory and the best sweet chef’s masterpiece among the participating exhibitors. Returning savory champion Chef Alex Castillo of Twenty88 defending his title for the fourth year in a row. Actor Oded Fehr will return to emcee the culinary competition.

All proceeds from the festival will benefit Casa Pacifica and their programs and services for children and families. Attendees must be age 21 or older. Tickets are $150 general admission and $275 VIP. Admission includes all food and drink. Online tickets are charged an additional service fee.

Source: Acorn Camarillo

Casa Pacifica honors volunteers at appreciation luncheon

May 10, 2019

In honor of National Volunteer Appreciation Week in April, Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families dedicated a luncheon to its volunteers. In addition to thanking all the volunteers and contributing organizations, Casa Pacifica singled out four for special recognition: Kevin Nunn, Volunteer of the Year; Mamba Sports Academy, Community Volunteer of the Year; Susan Bauer, Angel of the Year; and Julia Brankovic, Amigo of the Year.

Nunn is a longtime, active member of the Camarillo Noontime Rotary, and currently serves as co-chair of the Care for Kids Golf Tournament, one of the longest running local charity golf tournaments that benefits Casa Pacifica, among other local charities.

Over the last few years, Mamba Sports Academy has developed and implemented a weekly program for Casa Pacifica youth. Sports training, both at its facility and on Casa Pacifica’s campus, has offered youth an opportunity to work on not only physical fitness, but develop life skills like teamwork, patience, mindfulness and communication.

Mamba Sports has also hosted Casa Pacifica youth in its Full Circle Athlete Development Program, giving youth the opportunity for individual training sessions, coaching and mindset development.

Bauer has been involved with Casa Pacifica for more than 12 years. She has served on the Angels board, hosted Casa Pacifica’s Spotlight on Style fundraiser, worked on planning committees and hosted retreats.

In addition to being longtime supporters of Casa Pacifica, Bauer and her husband, Ken, were major contributors to Casa Pacifica’s recent capital campaign for a new training institute and co-occurring cottages. The Bauer Teaching Kitchen in the new Training Institute now offers youth the opportunity to learn important life skills.

Brankovic serves as the Amigos membership chair but is involved in all aspects of the auxiliary group. She spearheaded the revival of the Amigos newsletter, an important part of keeping the Amigos connected as a group. She also connects Casa Pacifica to her contacts in the community, spreading the word about its programs and services.

Source: Acorn Camarillo

Casa Pacifica picks county’s best brew…and the winner is…

May 03, 2019

Raise a pint and toast Firestone Walker Brewing Company, winner of the top prize at Casa Pacifica’s Best in Fest Brewery Competition. Firestone Walker, which is based in Paso Robles, was crowned Best in Fest thanks to its blackberry-infused SLOambic Wild Ale. According to the brewery, the beer’s fruity taste “gives way to a rustic funk and soft oak flavors, finishing with a mouth-watering acidity.”

MadeWest’s Prospect Porter and Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.’s Point Conception West Coast IPA earned honorable mentions at the competition, which was held April 28 at Bottle & Pint in The Annex at Oxnard’s Collection RiverPark shopping center. This was the second year the Best in Fest judging was open to the public.

The breweries vying for the title also included: 14 Cannons Brewery, Concrete Jungle Brewing Project, Enegren Brewing Company, Flat Fish Brewing Co., Ojai Valley Brewery, Poseidon Brewing Company, Red Tandem Brewery, Rincon Brewery, Seaward Brewing, Third Window Brewing, Topa Topa Brewing Co., Twisted Oak Tavern and Brewery and Ventura Coast Brewing Co. All 16 brews from this competition will also be available for tasting at the 26th annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food and Brew Festival on Sun., June 2 at California State University Channel Islands.

Proceeds from the Best in Fest Brewery Competition and the Angels Wine, Food and Brew Festival support Casa Pacifica and the services for foster and at-risk youth and their families that it provides.

Source: Acorn Camarillo

Out of 16 beers, this Firestone Walker brew came out on top in Casa Pacifica competition

May 3, 2019

The winner of a local beer competition is a brew you probably haven’t tried before.

Firestone Walker’s SLOambic Wild Ale, a brew fermented with blackberries, nabbed the top prize at Casa Pacifica’s “Best in Fest” event earlier this week. The two beers that received honorable mention were MadeWest’s Prospect Porter and Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.‘s Point Conception West Coast IPA.

The beer competition, in its sixth year, was held at Oxnard’s Bottle and Pint, located in The Annex at The Collection. Proceeds of the event, which was open to the public, will go toward foster and at-risk youth services for Casa Pacifica.

Sixteen breweries, most of them based in Ventura County, competed for the top prize.

Contestants were: 14 Cannons Brewery, Concrete Jungle Brewing Project, Enegren Brewing Company, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Flat Fish Brewing Co., MadeWest Brewing Company, Ojai Valley Brewery, Poseidon Brewing Company, Red Tandem Brewery, Rincon Brewery, Seaward Brewing, Third Window Brewing, Topa Topa Brewing Co., Twisted Oak Tavern & Brewery and Ventura Coast Brewing Co.

Last year, Topa Topa’s Chief Peak IPA took home the top prize.

A team of beer aficionados and cicerones judged the competition, including Jorge Alem, owner of the Ojai Beverage Company and Jason Hendricks, general manager of Barrelhouse 101.

The beers featured in the competition will all be poured at the next Casa Pacifica event, the Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival on June 2. At the CSU Channel Islands event, the winning beer from Firestone Walker will be officially crowned.

SLOambic is part of Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks series, or barrel-aged beers brewed in small batches. This beer that took the top prize is their Sour Opal brewed with marionberries and boysenberries and aged in French oak barrels. According to the Firestone Walker website, bottles of SLOambic are extremely limited but it is offered on draft at the brewery’s Buellton and Venice locations.

For more information about the next food and brew festival, visit www.cpwinefoodbrewfest.com.

Source: VC Star

Biz Buzz - Casa Pacifica rebrands START Program

May 2, 2019

Casa Pacifica rebranded its START program, now Camino a Casa, which means Way Home. The program offers therapeutic intervention for youth heading into or being discharged from psychiatric hospitalization. It provides access to Casa Pacifica’s cutting-edge mental health services through private insurance/private pay.

Source: VC Reporter

Café Society – Yummie Dinner

April 25, 2019

The Yummie Top Chef Dinner, a seven-course meal prepared by previous winners of the Yummie Top Chef contest, will be served from 6-10 p.m. in the VIP tent erected on the CSU Channel Islands campus in Camarillo in anticipation of the Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival on June 2.

The May 31 dinner will be paired with wines and the 2019 Best in Fest Brewery Competition-winning beer, which will be selected during a ticketed event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 28 at Bottle & Pint in Oxnard. Proceeds from each event will benefit Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families. For dinner tickets, $250, go to https://www.cpwineandfoodfestival.com.

Source: VC Star

Happenings – Best in Fest

April 24, 2019

CASA PACIFICA’S “BEST IN FEST” BREWERY COMPETITION 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The Best in Fest Brewery Competition 1st Place award goes to the best beer being poured during the Casa Pacifica Wine, Food and Beer festival, and guests will be able to sample beer alongside professional judges at this event. $50. Bottle & Pint, 550 Collection Blvd #160, Oxnard, www.cpwineandfoodfestival.com.

Source: VC Reporter

Arbys Sign Demolished Without Warning (Best in Fest)

April 18, 2019

More than a dozen craft breweries from Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties are expected to vie for votes when the ticketed Best in Fest Brewery Competition is tapped from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 28 at Bottle & Pint in Oxnard.

Members of the public can taste along with a judge’s panel of experts during the event, which is presented as a fundraiser for Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families. The winning brew will be featured during the Yummie Top Chef Dinner on May 31. The winning brewer will be awarded a wrestling championship-style belt trophy on stage during the Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival on June 2.

For Best in Fest Brewery Competition tickets, $50, click on http://www.cpwinefoodbrewfest.com.

Source: VC Star

Enjoy Tastings from the Best Local Breweries at Casa Pacifica’s “Best in Fest” Brewery Competition

April 15, 2019

The ultimate battle of the beers is almost here! Tickets are on sale now for Casa Pacifica’s 6th annual “Best in Fest” Brewery Competition held Sunday, April 28th at Bottle & Pint in The Annex at The Collection RiverPark. Get your tickets today at cpwinefoodbrewfest.com. The Competition has been a welcome addition to Casa Pacifica’s award-winning Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival – delighting beer lovers and local breweries alike. The top prize has become coveted among the breweries, along with the bragging rights that come with the victory.

The “Best in Fest” Brewery Competition is a more recent addition to the Casa Pacifica events mix, open to the public for only the second year even though the competition has been crowning a winning brew for the past six years. Last year, Topa Topa Brewing Co. took home the top prize with their Chief Peak IPA. Institution Ale’s Rx Pils and MadeWest’s Red Rye earned honorable mentions. At this year’s “Best in Fest” competition, guests will get to sample the brews alongside the judges and enjoy small bites from other Annex tenants: Seoul Sausage, Taqueria El Tapatio, and The Blend Superfood Bar.

Breweries in the running for this year’s Best in Fest title are: 14 Cannons Brewery, Concrete Jungle Brewing Project, Enegren Brewing Company, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Flat Fish Brewing Co., Institution Ale Company, Madewest Brewing Company, Ojai Valley Brewery, Red Tandem Brewery, Rincon Brewery, Seaward Brewing, Third Window Brewing, Topa Topa Brewing Co., Twisted Oak Tavern & Brewery, and Ventura Coast Brewing Co.

The judges charged with the task of determining which brew is “best in fest” are: Kevin Pratt, the nation’s second highest ranked beer judge; Erin Peters, also known as “The Beer Goddess”; Monie Wickenden, Beer rep for Wine Warehouse; Bec O’Neal, Sales Rep for Stone Distribution Company; and Zach Rosen, Certified Cicerone.

All proceeds from the “Best in Fest” Brewery Competition directly support Casa Pacifica and its vital services for foster and at-risk youth. For tickets and sponsorship information on the “Best in Fest” Brewery Competition, please visit http://www.cpwinefoodbrewfest.com. For further questions please contact Anna Coulson, Special Events Manager for Casa Pacifica at (805) 366-4023, or by email at acoulson@casapacifica.org.

Source: PR Web

Casa Pacifica Prepares for Biggest Fundraiser of the Year - The Award Winning Angels Wine, Food & Br

April 8, 2019

Local nonprofit Casa Pacifica is gearing up for their biggest fundraiser of the year – their annual Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival. Tickets are on sale now for the 26th Annual Festival which will be held on Sunday, June 2nd at CSU Channel Islands. Get your tickets today at cpwinefoodbrewfest.com. All proceeds from the Festival benefit Casa Pacifica and their vital programs and services for children and families.

The Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival has grown into one of the largest food and drink events in California and has been voted Best Charity Event and Best Food & Drink Festival by VC Reporter seven years running. This year’s Festival will once again offer an unbeatable array of exhibitors presenting delicious food samples from fabulous restaurants, caterers, bakeries, and specialty shops, to the palette-pleasing tastes of fine wines, smooth brews, and specialty beverages from throughout the region and California. VIP guests will be welcomed with champagne and small bites from Mastro’s Steakhouse. A large online silent auction will tempt festival-goers with must-have vacations, dining experiences, wine tastings, and jewelry. Live entertainment from the main stage throughout the day will keep the festival-goers rocking out and crowding the festival’s dance floor. 

Highlights of the Festival will include an opportunity to sample the winning “Best in Fest” brew - the competition winner will be crowned on the main stage during the Festival. The Yummie Culinary Competition will also crown winners for the best “Savory” and the best “Sweet” chef’s masterpiece among the participating exhibitors. The Competition is expected to be fierce this year with returning savory champion Chef Alex Castillo of Twenty88 defending his title for the fourth year in a row. The panel of esteemed Yummie Culinary Competiton judges will include: Olivia Crouppen, food stylist and culinary producer; Chef Masa Shimakawa, Chef de Cuisine of ONYX at Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village; Celebrity Chef Eric Kopelow; Chef Nic Manocchio, University Auxilary Services at CSU Channel Islands; Lisa McKinnon, food columnist at the Ventura County Star; Chef Carson Peterson, Top Chef Jr. Season 2 contestant; and Actress Denise Boutte, Co-Author of Southern Modified and CEO of Weeziana Girl Spices. Actor and Ojai local, Oded Fehr will be returning to emcee the culinary competition.

Casa Pacifica is humbled to have the generous support of their Festival hosts: Conico Oil/MacValley Oil; Mission Produce; Nevers, Palazzo, Packard, Wildermuth & Wynner, PC; SDI Industries; Trans-Pro Logistics; The Van Huisen Family; and The Zarley Family. If you are interested in supporting Casa Pacifica by sponsoring or being an exhibitor at the festival, please visit http://www.cpwinefoodbrewfest.com. For further questions please contact Anna Coulson, Special Events Manager for Casa Pacifica at (805) 366-4023, or by email at acoulson@casapacifica.org.

Source: PR Web

Tickets On Sale Now for Casa Pacifica’s Award Winning Angels Wine, Food and Brew Festival

February 18, 2019


Tickets for three highly-anticipated Casa Pacifica events are on sale now. The “Best in Fest” Brewery Competition will pick its winner on Sunday, April 28th; the 6thAnnual Yummie Top Chef Dinner will take place on Friday, May 31st; and the 26th Annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival will be held on Sunday, June 2nd. Visit www.cpwinefoodbrewfest.com for tickets and more information.

The “Best in Fest” Brewery Competition is a more recent addition to the Casa Pacifica events mix, open to the public for only the second year even though the competition has been crowning a winning brew for the past six years. The ticketed event will be held at Bottle & Pint in The Annex at The Collection RiverPark in Oxnard. Guests will get to sample the brews alongside the judges and enjoy small bites from other Annex tenants.

The 6th Annual Yummie Top Chef Dinner will be held on Friday evening May 31st. The intimate dinner features past Yummie Culinary Competition winners from the Wine, Food & Brew Festival who create a special seven-course dinner for the guests, paired with award-winning wines and the 2019 champion “Best in Fest” Brew.

The Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival has grown into one of the largest food and drink events in California and has been voted Best Charity Event and Best Food & Drink Festival by VC Reporter seven years running. The “Best in Fest” brewery competition winner will be crowned and show off their winning creation, and the Yummie Culinary Competition will also crown winners for the best “Savory” and the best “Sweet” chef’s masterpiece among the participating exhibitors. All proceeds from the Wine, Food & Brew Festival will benefit the vital programs and services Casa Pacifica provides to the community’s most vulnerable children and their families.

Casa Pacifica is excited to welcome back their generous Festival hosts: Conico Oil/MacValley Oil; Mission Produce; Nevers, Palazzo, Packard, Wildermuth & Wynner, PC; SDI Industries; Trans-Pro Logistics; The Van Huisen Family; and The Zarley Family. The Festival will once again offer an unbeatable array of exhibitors presenting delicious food samples from fabulous restaurants, caterers, bakeries, and specialty shops, to the palette-pleasing tastes of fine wines, smooth brews, and specialty beverages from throughout the region and California. A large online silent auction will tempt festival-goers with must-have, one-of-a-kind, and fun-focused baskets. Live entertainment from the main stage throughout the day will keep the festival-goers rocking out and crowding the festival’s dance floor.

Source: Citizen's Journal

Cafe Society: Scratch chef Tim Kilcoyne closes restaurant to focus on disaster-relief work

February 14, 2019

For the first time in 15 years, chef Tim Kilcoyne doesn’t have a restaurant, cafe, food truck or sandwich counter in Ventura County. In another first, he has no plans to open something new. “It came down to not being able to give 100 percent to so many different things,” Kilcoyne said Tuesday of his decision to close Scratch Sandwich Counter, the Oxnard bricks-and-mortar version of his former food truck of a similar name. 

Kilcoyne will instead focus on his work with World Central Kitchen, the disaster-relief organization founded in 2010 by James Beard Award-winning chef – and current Nobel Peace Prize nominee – José Andrés as a way to help feed people during natural and man-made disasters. The nonprofit has activated temporary kitchens across the globe, including a stint in Ventura after the Thomas Fire swept through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in December 2017. Kilcoyne joined fellow Ventura County chef Jason Collis, of the catering company Plated Events, in spearheading the Thomas Fire response, which saw hundreds of local volunteers working in the San Buenaventura Mission kitchen to create thousands of hot meals for evacuees and first responders.

Kilcoyne and Collis went on to oversee WCK efforts in Hawaii and Guatemala and, during the Woolsey and Hill fires, the kitchen at Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families in Camarillo. In November, they helped prepare 15,000 Thanksgiving dinners in Chico for survivors of the Camp Fire. Last month, they traveled to Washington D.C. to join Andrés and a cavalcade of local and visiting celebrity chefs to feed workers furloughed during the government shutdown. “In a single day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., we served 11,500 people. There was a line down the side and around the building and down the next block – on a day when it was, like, 7 degrees and snowing,” Kilcoyne recalled. “If you are willing to go through that to get a sandwich, you really need that sandwich.”

Kilcoyne acknowledged that his work with WCK hasn’t left much time for Scratch Sandwich Counter. The restaurant had been open for less than a month when the Thomas Fire struck the region, forcing Kilcoyne, wife Lisa Kilcoyne and son Arlo, then 6 months, to flee their home. On Tuesday, Kilcoyne said that, due to WCK commitments, he has spent fewer than 10 days total in Ventura County since the first of the year. “I’d hoped to be more hands-off with Scratch, because as I get older, it’s harder to stand in front of the stove for hours and hours. That turned out to be more difficult than I’d thought because I’ve always been so hands-on,” said Kilcoyne, who turns 41 next month.

In contrast, his duties with WCK are more clearly focused on his organizational skills. Kilcoyne travels to trouble spots to coordinate chefs, suppliers, volunteers and delivery teams, often working in tandem with local first responders. As the son of a retired Los Angeles Police detective who headed a task force to successfully capture a serial killer known as the Grim Sleeper, Kilcoyne said he feels a special kinship with those in law enforcement. “I care about people and I want to take care of them. Cooking is one way to do that. So is law enforcement. What I do now with World Central Kitchen melds those two worlds together,” he said.

The public announcement that Scratch Sandwich Counter was closing came after the fact, in a Feb. 9 post to the business’ Facebook and Instagram accounts declaring the date as its final day of service. In the post, Kilcoyne thanked staff and patrons alike, adding that he planned to “step forward in pursuit of crafting a life that is more thoughtful, healthy and sustainable for myself and my family.” Scratch is the third restaurant to close at The Annex since the public-market style complex debuted at The Collection at RiverPark in November 2017. Gasolina Tapas and Pancake, both operated by Woodland Hills chef Sandra Cordero, closed in May and September, respectively. Kilcoyne said he was not present for Scratch’s final day. As of Wednesday, would-be patrons were still greeted by a sign that read “Sorry we are closed. Please come back and try us tomorrow.”

Bags of sandwich buns could be seen atop a shelving unit near the grill, and cans from local breweries remained in a refrigerated display case. Pre-portioned containers of Scratch ketchup and ranch dressing were stacked in bins next to the paper-lined orange trays on which the restaurant once served its vegetarian-friendly Sabbich pita sandwiches and Smoked Pork PB&Js made with local strawberry jam. “I haven’t decided yet what to do with the space. We may sublet it, or do something like monthly guest-chef appearances. But I’m trying to make things simpler in my life, and organizing a schedule of chefs doesn’t sound all that simple,” Kilcoyne said.

He previously co-owned, and was executive chef for, The SideCar Restaurant, which opened in 2003 in a Pullman railway car parked at 3029 E. Main St. in midtown Ventura. The full-service restaurant known for its local, seasonal fare and Grilled Cheese and Jazz nights closed a decade later, when the Kilcoynes were unable to obtain a new lease from the landlord. (The building remains empty, with dueling “for lease” and “limited occupancy” signs posted near the front entrance by a commercial real estate firm and the City of Ventura’s Building and Safety Department, respectively.) Kilcoyne also championed seasonal ingredients at The Local Cafe, which he and Lisa opened at 1751 E. Main St. in 2010. It closed a year and a half later when the building was sold and turned into Palermo Italian. It is now undergoing extensive remodeling for future use by Native Pizza.

After hitting the road in July 2013, Kilcoyne’s Scratch food truck had essentially rolled into retirement by the time Scratch Sandwich Counter opened nearly four years later. The truck was destroyed by fire in August. (The Scratch-branded ketchup it helped inspire is still being made by Red Hot Foods in Santa Paula according to Kilcoyne’s recipe. Look for bottles at SpiceTopia in Ventura and Whole Foods Market in Oxnard.) “We’re not leaving Ventura County, and I may one day open something else,” Kilcoyne said this week. “It feels strange not to have a restaurant after all of this time, but, at the same time, World Central Kitchen is keeping me pretty occupied.”

Source: VC Star

Tickets On Sale Now for Casa Pacifica’s Award Winning Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival

February 13, 2019

Tickets for three highly-anticipated Casa Pacifica events are on sale now. The “Best in Fest” Brewery Competition will pick its winner on Sunday, April 28th; the 6th Annual Yummie Top Chef Dinner will take place on Friday, May 31st; and the 26th Annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival will be held on Sunday, June 2nd. Visit http://www.cpwinefoodbrewfest.com for tickets and more information.

The “Best in Fest” Brewery Competition is a more recent addition to the Casa Pacifica events mix, open to the public for only the second year even though the competition has been crowning a winning brew for the past six years. The ticketed event will be held at Bottle & Pint in The Annex at The Collection RiverPark in Oxnard. Guests will get to sample the brews alongside the judges and enjoy small bites from other Annex tenants.

The 6th Annual Yummie Top Chef Dinner will be held on Friday evening May 31st. The intimate dinner features past Yummie Culinary Competition winners from the Wine, Food & Brew Festival who create a special seven-course dinner for the guests, paired with award-winning wines and the 2019 champion “Best in Fest” Brew.

The Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival has grown into one of the largest food and drink events in California and has been voted Best Charity Event and Best Food & Drink Festival by VC Reporter seven years running. The “Best in Fest” brewery competition winner will be crowned and show off their winning creation, and the Yummie Culinary Competition will also crown winners for the best “Savory” and the best “Sweet” chef’s masterpiece among the participating exhibitors. All proceeds from the Wine, Food & Brew Festival will benefit the vital programs and services Casa Pacifica provides to the community’s most vulnerable children and their families.

Casa Pacifica is excited to welcome back their generous Festival hosts: Conico Oil/MacValley Oil; Mission Produce; Nevers, Palazzo, Packard, Wildermuth & Wynner, PC; SDI Industries; Trans-Pro Logistics; The Van Huisen Family; and The Zarley Family. The Festival will once again offer an unbeatable array of exhibitors presenting delicious food samples from fabulous restaurants, caterers, bakeries, and specialty shops, to the palette-pleasing tastes of fine wines, smooth brews, and specialty beverages from throughout the region and California. A large online silent auction will tempt festival-goers with must-have, one-of-a-kind, and fun-focused baskets. Live entertainment from the main stage throughout the day will keep the festival-goers rocking out and crowding the festival’s dance floor.

Source: Broadway World

Fire-scarred Ventura psych hospital opens more beds; need for additional care continues

February 11, 2019

A Ventura psychiatric hospital closed by the Thomas Fire opened 28 more beds Monday afternoon in a move observers say will address but not come close to ending a crisis-level need for in-patient psych care in Ventura County. Before flames raced across Ventura County in a December 2017 fire that was then the state’s largest ever wildfire, Vista del Mar Hospital operated 87 psychiatric beds. As many as 34 beds were available for adolescents 12 and older — the only such beds in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. The fire destroyed two of the hospital’s five buildings and triggered a last-minute evacuation of staff and 67 patients. The closure of the entire campus exacerbated an already severe shortage for psychiatric beds in Ventura County with only one other available hospital, a 30-bed unit at Ventura County Medical Center that accepts only adult patients.

Some adolescent patients with psychiatric needs have received care at a county crisis stabilization unit and a related short-term care unit. Others were transported to facilities outside of Ventura County or stayed in emergency rooms until beds were found. “We may have to be searching throughout Southern California and sometimes throughout the state,” said Steve Elson, CEO of Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, which offers residential programs but not hospital care for youths. He said kids younger than 12 were hit harder because of the lack of in-patient programs aimed at them.

In the fire’s aftermath, Vista del Mar staff immediately launched efforts to reopen beds in the buildings that escaped severe fire damage, projecting some beds could be available within six months. But the flames unearthed a Pandora’s box of needs, many involving identifying and replacing a myriad of damaged water pipes. “We had a best-case scenario and a worst-case scenario,” said Jenifer Nyhuis, CEO of Vista del Mar, noting the latter situation is the one that emerged. Hospital leaders opened 27 beds in October and focused on building up a staff that was laid off after the fire. As of Monday, the nursing staff was at 80 people and the total staff at 150. About one-third of the workers were employed at Vista del Mar before the hire.

The hiring boost enabled the opening of a second patient building at 1 p.m. Monday, bringing total beds at the hospital to 55. The care includes 12 beds designated for veterans or people currently in the military. All of the 28 beds available Monday are targeted for adults but allowed other beds to be opened for youths. Across the hospital, the capacity for adolescents rises from 10 patients to 17. “It’s an impact,” said Nyhuis, noting the new beds more than double the hospital’s capacity. “Is it enough? No.” Leaders hope to expand to 120 beds.

Plans to rebuild the entire hospital continue with leaders hoping to expand care to 120 beds. That construction project is in the design stage and even on an expedited track won’t be finished until 2021 at the earliest. Observers say the beds opened Monday will make a difference. “The fact that there’s going to be a reopening is news to my ears,” said Dr. Bryan Wong, chief medical officer of a Ventura County Medical Center that hopes to expand its psychiatric hospital from 30 to 42 beds. “We’re constantly at capacity… This was a problem even before the Thomas Fire.”

Wong and others said the shortage means adolescent patients end up in hospital emergency rooms because there’s no where else to go. “We have people who are sitting in emergency rooms literally for days,” said Jeff McGreevy, crisis intervention training coordinator at the Oxnard Police Department. “It’s really a sad situation when it’s juveniles.” The shortage also means people may not get the level of care they need. Nyhuis said she’s been told of an increase in suicides during Vista del Mar’s closure. “It’s devastating,” she said, noting the hospital is designed as part of a safety net. It’s a private, for-profit facility but Nyhuis said its patient mix is split evenly between people covered by private insurers and those in government programs like Medi-Cal and Medicare.

Ventura County Behavioral Health operates a four-bed crisis unit in Oxnard that often has space and can provide care for up to a day. Longer but still short-term stabilization services are provided in a related two-bed county residential program. Wong said the Ventura County Medical Center also has plans to start a 12-bed crisis stablization unit that would be dedicated to adults. Others push for more state funding for psychiatric care and cite a new California law that provides a licensing category to allow residential facilities to provide crisis stabilization treatment beds. “Any increase in capacity locally is going to have a significant impact,” said Elson, citing the new beds at Vista del Mar. “It’s a good thing.”

Source: VC Star

Facing new world in foster care, Casa Pacifica retooling to survive and thrive

January 31, 2019

The Casa Pacifica residential center for troubled children is facing some of the stiffest financial and operating challenges in its 25-year history, buffeted by changes in foster care, mental health funding and the increasingly intense needs of youths admitted to the facility. “These have been the most dramatic changes we’ve had to deal with since we opened,” CEO Steve Elson said. The unlocked center near Camarillo was established in the mid-1990s to provide state-of-the-art care, assessment and treatment for abused and neglected children from Ventura County. An estimated 6,000 children were admitted over two decades. Many spent a large part of their childhoods at the complex of buildings off Lewis Road, bouncing back to the 45-bed shelter between foster home placements. Others stayed in a 28-bed high-level group home on the 25-acre campus for a year or more.

That world has faded away in the wake of a state overhaul of foster care enacted by the California Legislature. Called the Continuum of Care Reform, the legislation emphasizes home-based care and seeks to end long stays in congregate residential centers. Casa Pacifica has adapted by opening a short-term treatment center for adolescents in foster care. Such programs are a key part of the state foster care reforms, but the one at Casa Pacifica is running at a loss. The program was expected to lose money in its early phases because of the time needed to get staff trained and clients enrolled, Elson said. By law, the lengths of stay are supposed to be capped at six months, which lowers revenues, and the youths are reportedly tougher and more expensive to treat. Elson doubts it’s feasible to run the program at the full capacity of 42 beds, which would generate a profit. Three dozen are enrolled now, which he considers a good spot. “How many challenging kids can we handle at one time?” he asked.

Bill Powell, president of Casa Pacifica’s board, said the state funding is insufficient for the seriously troubled kids coming to the facility now. “It is much more expensive to treat them properly and much more challenging for the staff,” he said. Casa Pacifica’s shelter closed at the end of 2017. The group home was converted into two programs: one was the short-term treatment center and the other a 20-bed mental health program for privately insured youths. More beds will be added after a program for substance-abusing youth is licensed, probably this spring.

Casa Pacifica leaders are analyzing their options in concert with Ventura County officials. Late last year, managers from the agency and Ventura County government formed a committee to review Casa Pacifica’s fiscal condition and performance. “The need for this joint financial committee is due to a downturn in Casa Pacifica’s financial outlook over the past few years,” County Executive Officer Mike Powers said in a Dec. 4 letter to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. “While we recognize Casa Pacifica’s efforts to dutifully work to reduce costs and expand revenues, this joint financial committee will assist Casa Pacifica in the goal of making Casa Pacifica financially sustainable looking forward.”

Ventura County Human Services Director Barry Zimmerman, a member of the financial oversight committee, said he’s “not negative” about the organization’s future. He sees Casa Pacifica as being in transition from a residential center to one offering short-term treatment. “I think there’s a pathway to stability,” he said.

The county and Casa Pacifica have partnered over more than two decades to provide services to abused children and their families. They also share financial and property interests: Casa Pacifica’s residential campus lies on county land and the agency has received more than $7 million in county funds for capital improvements. The financial committee is charged with reviewing all of Casa Pacifica’s contracts, developing scenarios for residential treatment programs that could be offered, benchmarking costs against those from other providers, and identifying cost-saving or revenue-generating options.

Elson said the agency is retooling and will be around for another 25 years. “We are responding to all the changes and the impacts of those changes that are coming down the pike,”  he said. Officially named Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families, the agency finished the last two fiscal years with deficits of $700,000 on annual budgets of $30 million. Those figures reflect spending for both the residential campus in Ventura County and the community-based services in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. That’s off 2 percent as deficits for residential services ran at historic highs over the past two to three years, officials said.

Under the Continuum of Care Reform, the goal is to place all foster children in homes with committed, permanent families. If youngsters’ behaviors are too extreme to safely place them with families, they can be placed in a short-term treatment program like the one Casa Pacifica started. It was the first such program to be licensed in Southern California, opening in the summer of 2017. It mainly serves seriously traumatized children from outside Ventura County. Officials speculate that has happened because Casa Pacifica has a statewide reputation. It also may be an indication of the slow rate at which other programs are being licensed, said Carroll Schroeder, executive director of the California Alliance of Child and Family Services. He said 2,767 licensed beds for the new offering — officially called a short-term residential therapeutic program — exist in California. But counties need at least 600 more, he said. Under an unintended consequence of state law, Ventura County is billed for the costs of the mental health treatment for the out-of-county youths. That is projected to cost an additional $500,000 in the current fiscal year, but officials said they expect the problem to be corrected.

Clinical Services Director Kelsie Tatum says these counties are turning to Casa Pacifica because they don’t have short-term treatment programs up and running, the youths have floundered in programs in their home counties, a family member may live in Ventura County or the youths may need some distance from home because of gang affiliations or sexual exploitation. By the time the short-term treatment program was licensed a year and a half ago, Ventura County social workers had already sharply reduced referrals to group care facilities. Only about a quarter of the 36 youths in Casa Pacifica’s short-term treatment program are from the county, a figure that includes both foster children and youths on probation.
The remaining 75 percent are from other California counties. Included are Sacramento, San Bernardino and Riverside counties and a number of small counties. The agency is getting 100 referrals a month from 40 counties, Elson said. These youths are a more diverse, older and needier group than the largely local group of youths who stayed in the shelter that closed a couple years ago. The shelter once served infants to 18-year-olds; the youths in the new treatment program are ages 12 to 19. Tatum said the youths often have been abused and neglected repeatedly and been in multiple foster home placements. They have histories of injuring themselves and being extremely physically aggressive, suicidal, abusing substances and running away. Residential care offers the advantages of safety, supervision and security around the clock, she said. That may have eluded them in home-based settings where the foster parents could not manage them or they represented a threat to other children living in the home, she said.

“They feel out of control,” she said. “They need space to express all the pain and hurt.” Casa Pacifica officials say relationships between staff and youths are a key part of their program. They use the PersonBrain Model, substituting a negative experience with a positive one to help the child heal. If a child has had repeated negative experiences with men, for example, that is replaced with a positive relationship with a man, Tatum said.

A 16-year-old girl from Northern California said in an interview that she has made progress that wasn’t possible in the foster home where she was living. The youth who has lost both parents said she became deeply depressed after her mother died of cancer when she was 14. “I was really sad,” said the girl, who is not being identified by The Star to protect her privacy. “I didn’t know what to do anymore.” She said the caregivers in the foster home where she was living couldn’t deal with her problems. But the clinical staff at Casa Pacifica helped her develop coping skills and focus on things she likes doing, she said. That’s “anything that helps you,” she said. “I like reading and hanging out with my friends.” She goes to high school off-site and expects to be transferred to a foster home soon.  The aspiring police officer has a modest goal. “To live my life, to be the person I needed when I was younger,” she said.

In the past, residents of Casa Pacifica were generally from Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, and had less intense problems, said Tone Reyes, director of residential services. Reyes said it’s hard on the out-of-county kids to be so far from home plus staff cannot make the usual connections because they don’t know about the places where the youths live.
“They are coming in with a lot more trust issues because they’re in a new environment,” he said. He said it’s still too early to know how well the program that just opened 18 months ago will do. “We are experiencing growing pains: how do we make this work, how do we best serve kids who need intensive treatment?”

Powell said failure is not an option. “If this were the for-profit world we might really be vulnerable, but we don’t have a choice,” he said. “Who is going to take care of these kids if we don’t?”

Source: VC Star

Casa Pacifica welcomes new board member

January 25, 2019

Attorney Daniel Friedlander has been appointed to the 24-member board of directors for Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families in Camarillo. Friedlander is the principal attorney and mediator of his own law office in Westlake Village. His primary areas of practice include civil litigation, land use, real estate, usury, environmental, landlord-tenant, commercial and business law, mediation and alternative dispute resolution.

Source: Acorn Camarillo

Westlake Village attorney joins Casa Pacifica board

January 23, 2019

image

Attorney Daniel Friedlander has joined the board of the nonprofit Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families.

Friedlander has his own law office in Westlake Village. His primary areas of practice include civil litigation, land use, real estate, usury, environmental, landlord-tenant, commercial and business law, mediation, and alternative dispute resolution.

The board of Casa, a Camarillo-based crisis-care and residential treatment facility for foster or at-risk children, is comprised of 24 people representing a variety of industries.

Winter wear comes to Westlake Village for Casa Pacifica kids

January 13, 2019

Two years ago, about 2,500 items of winter clothing — coats, hats, scarves and gloves —  were donated to foster and at-risk children and teens living at the Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families in Camarillo. Last year, it was 3,000 items.

In fact, over the past eight years, more than 13,000 items have been donated and distributed — and it all continued on Saturday as cold weather made its way to Ventura County. Organized by Lydia Gable and Rick Winters, the ninth annual Coats for Casa Pacifica event took place at Three Springs Park in Westlake Village. In addition to being the drop-off spot for winter clothing, the park took on a decidedly winter atmosphere, with 30 tons of snow hauled in for sledding and playing.

Source: VC Star

Happenings – Annual Winter Festival and Coat Drive

January 9, 2019

ANNUAL WINTER FESTIVAL AND COAT DRIVE Saturday, Jan. 12, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. With 30-tons of snow for sledding and playing, family fun will be had by all, with complimentary coffee and smoothies and kid’s crafts. In exchange for the free activities, participants are asked to bring new or gently used winter clothes of all sizes, including coats, sweaters, hoodies, mittens/gloves, winter hats and scarves, to benefit the foster and at-risk youth of Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, a facility that offers a host of programs to foster youth removed from their homes. Three Springs Park, 3000 Three Springs Drive, Westlake Village, www.coatsforcasapacifica.com.

Source: VC Reporter

Coats for cool kids

December 28, 2018

Lydia Gable Realty Group with Compass and Rick Winters of Winters Financial Group Inc. will host the ninth annual Coats for Casa Pacifica charity event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sat., Jan. 12 at Three Springs Park, 3000 Three Springs Drive, Westlake Village. The coat drive will have 30 tons of snow for sledding and playing as well as free coffee and smoothies, and kid’s crafts.

Participants are asked to bring new or gently used winter clothes of all sizes, including coats, sweaters, mittens, gloves, winter hats and scarves to benefit the foster and at-risk youth of Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families in Camarillo. The event will run rain or shine. Visit coatsforcasapacifica.com for updates.

Source: Acorn Moorpark

Express Employment Professionals holiday event helps victims

December 19, 2018

Express Employment Professionals offices in Ventura County hosted a client appreciation holiday party on Dec. 6 at Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen in Oxnard.

More than 200 clients attended and participated in supporting local charities by buying raffle tickets, engaging in silent auctions and choosing a Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families Holiday Wishes Dove. The raffle and silent auction generated $3,141.75 to be donated to funds to help victims of the Borderline Bar & Grill shooting and the Woolsey Fire. The funds are facilitated by the Ventura County Community Foundation.

The annual gathering allows the Express staff to thank clients for their business. This year, the Express staff felt the need to give back to the local community, as well.

“Raising money to assist the Borderline and the Woolsey Fire victims has become a high priority amongst the Express staff within the Oxnard and Thousand Oaks offices,” Neil McMillan, Ventura County Express offices owner, said in a news release. “Many of our clients and associates have been directly affected by both devastating situations.”

Source: VC Star

Annual Winter Festival and Coat Drive to Benefit Casa Pacifica to be Held January 12th

December 17, 2018

Lydia Gable Realty Group with Compass and Rick Winters of Winters Financial Group, Inc. will host their 9th Annual Coats-for-Casa Pacifica charity event at Three Springs Park in Westlake Village, on Saturday, January 12th, 2018, from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

With 30-tons of snow for sledding and playing, the Coat Drive is a great opportunity for family fun with complimentary coffee and smoothies, and kid’s crafts. All Lydia Gable and Rick Winters ask is that participants bring new or gently used winter clothes of all sizes, including coats, sweaters, hoodies, mittens/gloves, winter hats and scarves, to benefit the foster and at-risk youth of Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families in Camarillo – a facility that offers residential treatment, medical/psychological assessments and services, and a host of other programs to foster youth removed from their homes. The agency also provides community-based interventions for youth struggling with mental health challenges and their families. Last year, over 3,000 articles of winter clothing were donated – coats, sweaters, hats, gloves, and scarves – up from 2,500 items the year before. Over the past eight years, more than 13,000 items in total have been donated and distributed to date.

“The recent tragic events in our community have highlighted the compassionate and caring hearts of our fellow citizens who are deeply generous when it comes to supporting those who have suffered through difficult and traumatic experiences. Neighbors who we have previously watched give abundantly to Casa Pacifica’s youth through the Coats for Casa Pacifica event over the past eight years – generously giving bags and bags of coats and scarves and gloves each year to children and youth struggling through their own overwhelming challenges,” remark Lydia and Rick. “We are so proud that every single winter clothing item donated has been distributed to the network of children and families of Casa Pacifica. It is incredibly heart-warming to witness the smiles and gratitude on the faces of the youth and families as they ‘shop” for outwear to keep them warm during our chilly winter. We look forward to fostering more smiles this year by collecting even more articles of clothing than in the past.” If you are unable to share in the Winter Coat Drive fun but would like to donate, please contact Lydia or Rick to make other arrangements.

Source: Citizen's Journal

High-need foster homes program gives troubled Oxnard teen a mother

December 13, 2018

Sabrina Boyer admits it was an adjustment for both she and her foster daughter when they were paired in February. The arrangement is working for both. Angie had bounced through three foster homes in less than a year by the time she found Sabrina Boyer. Tensions had become so heated with her caregivers at the last one that she had to leave. And quickly.

“I was in desperate need of a new home,” said the slender 16-year-old Oxnard girl. “I was willing to try anything.” Boyer provides “intensive services foster care,” a rare placement for Ventura County kids who need more than regular foster care. These children have intense needs, often have moved through several foster care placements without success and may have endured sexual or physical abuse multiple times in their childhoods. The youths get the help they need while living with families and avoid group homes under the goals of the program established by state legislators last year. Foster children coming out of group homes can also be placed there as an in-between step before they go into a regular foster home.

The intensive services program is part of the Continuum of Care Reform, an effort aimed at placing foster children with nurturing families. Children in the program are paired with trained foster parents who are supported by specialists with experience in helping kids with serious emotional, behavioral and health needs. The youths receive services that may include mental health treatment, care tailored to their traumatic experiences and help in the transition to a permanent home, officials said. Officials at the state Department of Social Services say the program offers the opportunity for children to develop the positive relationships they need to heal from trauma. It can be difficult to form those bonds in a group home or other congregate setting, said department spokesman Michael Weston. The program may be cheaper than group care, too. And to some caregivers and children’s specialists, it just makes sense.

Children thrive in loving families, said Kimberly Bennett, who oversees the program at Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families that provided intensive services to Angie. And when children are traumatized by abuse, they “heal in loving families,” she said. Ann Ward, who has been providing this type of foster care for 15 years for the nonprofit Family Care Network Inc. in San Luis Obispo, is convinced. “I think if children are capable of being in a family and everybody can be safe in that environment, that is where some of the best healing and growth can occur,” she said. The journey should start with the right match, Bennett said.

After learning about Angie’s situation, she thought of Boyer, an outgoing woman who had done a good job caring for adolescent girls in foster care. The first step was a meeting to see if caregiver and teenager liked each other and felt they could live with each other. They got together at a Starbucks in Oxnard one Monday night in February, accompanied by a case manager for Casa Pacifica. As Angie sipped her chocolate Frappuccino and Boyer her iced coffee, they talked for an hour about what she needed and wanted in her life.

Angie, whose full name is not being used to protect her identity, recalls thinking Boyer was kind and a good person. Boyer says she saw the girl’s hope and desire for change. Two days later, they went to dinner and a youth group meeting at Boyer’s church. By Friday, the teenager had moved to Boyer’s home in a middle-class Oxnard neighborhood. Boyer, 41, walked into the assignment with a zeal for the cause and experience. She had never had any children of her own, but her mother was one of 11 children, so she grew up around plenty of cousins, nieces and nephews. She had worked with at-risk children for more than 15 years as a volunteer at her church and a nonprofit organization in Oxnard that dealt with gang intervention. And she had completed the 52 hours of training that Casa Pacifica’s foster family agency requires, more than the state minimum of 40.

It takes not just training but a clear understanding of the job, said Bennett, who directs community services for Ventura County at Casa Pacifica. “We have to paint a realistic picture,” she said. “It is hard work to have a young person in your home who has experienced complex trauma.” Angie was 15 when she moved to Boyer’s home in February. By then, she had lived in four foster care settings since entering the system at 13, she said. The teenager said her parents divorced by the time she was 2 and she has no relationship with a mother who has been absent most of her life. She moved out of her dad’s home because of rising tensions to live with relatives when she was 12, she said. But that did not work out, either, said Angie, who said she did not feel safe. So at 13, she asked to be placed in a group home in Santa Maria. Then it was on to three different foster homes in Ventura County, the last one for just weeks.

Boyer’s place was Angie’s next stop. The glow wore off after a couple of days. She wasn’t used to “all the rules” Boyer set, such as doing chores and staying off her cellphone late at night. “She was very defiant,” Boyer said. “You don’t know how to respond. It feels almost like a personal attack. Here you’re providing this home, this sanctuary.”

The first 60 days were the hardest but by April, things had calmed down. Boyer and Angie said they got over the rough spots with prayer, time and the help of their case manager from Casa Pacifica. The social worker mediated their disagreements, counseled them and mentored Angie. Boyer said she could call her 24-7 if she needed immediate help. For her part, Boyer said, she decided she would love Angie unconditionally. “It takes communication,” she said. “It takes consistency.”

While the program was working for them, it is only about a year old and still getting off the ground. Locally, demand has been lower than expected, said Jennie Pittman, a spokeswoman for the Ventura County Human Services Agency. When planning for foster care reforms began two years ago, management estimated that as many as 50 county youths could benefit from the program after leaving group care or to avoid it. But the number of kids in group care has fallen by more than half to roughly 30 with the aid of early intervention programs, Pittman said. Still, she said, there aren’t enough of these homes. Nine children had been recommended for intensive services at the end of September, but social workers had to try other strategies because no slots were open that were deemed appropriate for the children’s needs, she said. If the strategies work, some children may not need the intense higher level of care, Pittman said. Normally, they would stay in these homes for no more than nine months before being transferred to a regular foster home, move in with a relative, possibly be reunited with their parents or live independently.

Four Ventura County foster children are currently enrolled in intensive services programs. State officials said they don’t know how many foster homes in California are providing intensive services care, but that more than 80 foster family agencies qualify for funding to support and pay foster parents. The state has not set a goal for the number of homes that are needed, counties don’t have to open them and there is no deadline for establishing them. Finding foster parents is considered the biggest obstacle to implementing the initiative despite positive outcomes that have been reported.

Jim Roberts, who founded Family Care Network Inc. in 1987 to provide family-based treatment programs as an alternative to group home or institutional care, doubts enough caregivers can be found at the rate the state is paying. “The big issue is how do we attract families who want to work with very high-need, behaviorally challenged foster youth that might otherwise be in group homes,” he said. “I also believe that what we have done is create a professional parent model where you need one specially trained full-time parent in the home, but they did not match that with funding to support it.”

California pays $6,187 per month for a child receiving intensive services foster care, with $2,505 going to the foster family and the rest to foster family agencies that provide services and support. In contrast, the rate for basic foster care totals $960 per month, Pittman said. The state payment is adjusted for the cost of living based on necessities such as food, rent and fuel, Weston said. County agencies have the flexibility to supplement that amount, he said. Roberts supports the state’s plans to offer the intensive services program. He reports a success rate of 85 to 90 percent for foster youths in the network’s home-based treatment programs. Roberts said he bases that on improvements in their behavior and living situations. They move on to adoption, guardianship, living with a relative or becoming independent, he said.

The best-researched model of intensive services foster care is Treatment Foster Care Oregon, said Carroll Schroeder, head of the California Alliance of Child and Family Services in Sacramento. The results show the model is effective compared with group homes, but the conundrum is that it only applies to the demographics of the group studied, he said. “It’s difficult to generalize,” he said. Weston says the state program is not the same as the Oregon model and is not based on it. The program was developed based on the state department’s experience with other programs providing home-based services to foster kids, he said. Weston said it’s too early to judge the results of the new program, which is similar to another program that had been offered in Ventura County for a few years. Officials will be evaluating how the youths’ needs are being met and if their overall well-being has improved, he said. Pittman said she would expect to see a slowing of the rate at which children bounce from one foster care home to the next.

For Angie, the program was a turnaround. She has done so well she no longer qualifies for intensive services. The five hours of counseling and mentoring she received each week have been cut back to about an hour and a half every two weeks, Boyer said. She just brought home a report card stacked with A-pluses, has joined her campus’ color guard and went to homecoming in October. Boyer, who works part-time at a cleaning business she owns, received about $2,400 a month to provide intensive services care. She will probably receive $1,300 a month now because Angie does not need as much help. Boyer said she will have to “work a little bit more” to make ends meet, but that it was never about the money. She plans to stick with Angie, who calls her “Mom.” The affection between the two was palpable one day this fall as Angie rested her head on Boyer’s shoulder. Angie intends to stay, too. “I love my home,” she said. “I do feel safe. I feel a part of her family.”

Source: VC Star

Express Employment Professionals’ hiring drive is in progress

December 12, 2018

Express Employment Professionals of Ventura County’s annual Pay It Forward holiday hiring drive is underway. By joining Express in their hiring efforts, employers will gain qualified job seekers and give the gift of employment.

“Pay It Forward holiday hiring drive to us means working with local businesses to help find jobs for unemployed workers in our community so they can earn a paycheck during December to assist in providing for their families this holiday season,” said Neil McMillan, owner of the Express offices in Ventura County. “Our vision is to partner with businesses in Ventura County to bring hope to local families for the holidays.” For every unemployed job seeker hired during the campaign, Express will donate a portion of the proceeds to Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families.

Source: VC Star

And the award goes to …

December 5, 2018

Carrie Hughes received Fundraiser of the Year award; her efforts helped the Casa Pacifica Wine and Food event grow to the largest event in the county. Mike and Loretta Merewether received the Philanthropist of the Year award for their involvement with nonprofits. Heidi Whitcomb was named Volunteer for the Year for helping nonprofits raise money. Whitcomb is the CEO of Ventura Rental Party & Events.

Source: VC Reporter

My Cause My Cleats

November 27, 2018


More than 800 NFL players will showcase causes that are important to them with custom cleats during all Week 13 games, as part of the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats campaign.

As part of the collaboration between the NFL and players, players will represent hundreds of charitable organizations that focus on causes from youth wellness to sex trafficking prevention and support for single parents.

“Our players are passionate supporters of many charitable causes and serve as changemakers in their communities,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We are excited to build upon last year’s success and work with our players to expand this unique platform that enables them to raise awareness for causes they support.”

Source: Bleacher Report

Ventura restaurant steps up to help prepare food for fire evacuees, first responders

November 20, 2018

The World Central Kitchen continues to feed evacuees and first responders affected by the Woolsey Fire, but a local restaurant has stepped up to prepare the food that is being passed out. Lunchtime is always busy at The Cave in Ventura, but on Tuesday, the kitchen was extra packed. Employees and volunteers all busy preparing food for the evacuees and first responders.

“Today we have the World Central Kitchen operations out of The Cave,” said Nicole Valdivia, the owner of The Cave. “On Sunday they decided that they needed to downsize the need for the food and stuff that was going out and didn’t need to keep the operations out of Casa Pacifica, so we volunteered to have the smaller operations take place out of our restaurant.”

Nicole Valdivia owns The Cave and says her restaurant has worked with World Central Kitchen before. Nearly a year ago she helped feed those affected by the Thomas Fire. The nonprofit group provides meals in the wake of natural disasters around the world. It was founded by celebrity chef Jose Andres back in 2010 following the Haiti Earthquake.

“The biggest chunk of the meals today went out to Seminole Springs mobile home park that unfortunately burned down in the fire…there are over 300 volunteers over there going through the ashes with the homeowners trying to get that done before the rains come tomorrow,” said Valdivia. “And then the rest of the meals went out to the Ojai animal shelter, Camarillo animal shelter, and the Ventura fairgrounds.”

Nicole counts almost 500 meals prepared and sent out for lunch, and another 160 meals will go out for dinner. In all, the organization has served over 130-thousand meals to those affected by the Camp and Woolsey fires.

“We will do it as long as the need is here,” said Valdivia. “From what we know right now it’s kind of day by day because the numbers are changing so we will be here again tomorrow. As of right now, we will not be here for Thanksgiving, but that can change as well.”

Many volunteers have stepped up, not only to prepare food but also to deliver the meals where ever they are needed. “There are many many people from the community involved,” said Valdivia. “It is not about us or any one person. It truly is a whole group of people that have stepped up to make this possible.”

Source: KEYT

Casa Pacifica’s Fashion Show and Luncheon Raises Money for Borderline Shooting Victims

November 19, 2018

The Casa Pacifica Angels presented their 17th Annual Spotlight on Style fashion show and luncheon on Saturday, November 17th at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village. The runway fashion show produced by Carin Holmenas Productions featured collections from Robert Ellis. The long-historied event was hosted by Susan and Ken Bauer and emceed by recently retired Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean.

Guests enjoyed a champagne reception while shopping a fabulous selection of high-end boutiques offering everything from unique accessories to the perfect one-of-a-kind gifts. After enjoying a gourmet lunch catered by the Four Seasons, attendees heard remarks from Casa Pacifica’s CEO Dr. Steven Elson, Director of Development & Public Relations Carrie L. Hughes, and COO Vicki Murphy. A highlight of the afternoon was the Casa Pacifica Youth Fashion Show which preceded the main Robert Ellis fashion show. The youth brought everyone in the ballroom to their feet and reminded people why they had come to support Casa Pacifica in the first place.

An addition to the beautiful afternoon were the centerpieces created by The Growing Company in Ventura which were raffled at each table. Over $5,500 was raised for the Borderline shooting victims and will be donated to the dedicated fund established at the Ventura County Community Foundation. 

Lori Silvey and Parry Weet O’Brien, chairpersons of the 2018 “Spotlight on Style,” and their Spotlight on Style Committee worked diligently to create another fantastic Spotlight on Style at the Four Seasons Hotel. Top level fashion show sponsors included:  Hosts – Susan & Ken Bauer; Spotlight Sponsors – The Cassar Family, Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, and The Van Huisen Family;  Haute Couture Sponsors – Frank & Betty Hiji, Procter & Gamble, Neiman Marcus Topanga, and The Volk Charitable Foundation; Couture Sponsors – City National Bank, Bill & Jewell Gerald Powell, Sigrid’s Books, Michael W. McCarthy, DDS, and Porta-Stor; Designer Sponsors – Five Star Bookkeeping, Ed O’Brien & Parry Weet O’Brien, Home Helpers, Boskovich Farms, Susan Burgos, The Hopps Group at Morgan Stanley, and California Giant Berry.

All other proceeds from the Spotlight on Style Fashion Show directly support Casa Pacifica’s therapeutic programs and services that bring healing and hope to vulnerable children and youth struggling with complex mental health issues due circumstances that placed them into foster care, and youth whose mental health challenges are disrupting and destabilizing their family homes.

Source: Citizen's Journal

Fundraising group honors 2 from Casa Pacifica

November 16, 2018

Two people associated with Casa Pacifica were in the spotlight when the Association of Fundraising Professionals Santa Barbara/Ventura County Chapter announced its 2018 honorees for National Philanthropy Day.

Casa Pacifica Director of Development and Public Relations Carrie L. Hughes was named Professional Fundraiser of the Year and Heidi Whitcomb, Casa Pacifica board member and co-owner of Ventura Rental Party & Events, was named 2018 Volunteer of the Year – Ventura County.

Hughes was hired at Casa Pacifica in 1999, and over her 19-year career in fundraising, she and her team have raised more than $60 million. Recently, their efforts resulted in a $16.6 million campaign for a training institute, vocational education center and treatment cottages serving youths with mental health and substance issues.

Whitcomb is the second-generation owner and CEO of Ventura Rental Party & Events, has received honors within her industry, and was recognized as the National Association of Woman Business Owners Ventura County Chapter’s 2017 Woman Business Owner of the Year.

Other National Philanthropy Day honorees include:
•Judy and Jack Stapelmann – Philanthropists of the Year, Santa Barbara County
•Loretta and Mike Merewether – Philanthropists of the Year, Ventura County
•Peter Schuyler – Volunteer of the Year, Santa Barbara County
•Wilson Sherman – Youth Philanthropist of the Year

Casa Pacifica Spotlight on Style Runway Fashion Show Set for Saturday, November 17th

November 13, 2018

One of the finest fashion events in Ventura County, the Casa Pacifica Angels “Spotlight on Style” Fashion Show, will return to the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village on Saturday, November 17th, 2018, for another afternoon of fabulous fashion, fine dining, and unique boutique shopping. The hosts of the 17th edition of the runway fashion show, Susan & Ken Bauer, and the Casa Pacifica Angels are excited to be back at the Four Seasons and partnering with Carin Holmenas Productions, who will produce the runway fashion show featuring high-style fashions from the collections of Robert Ellis. Recently retired Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean will serve as the day’s emcee.

A champagne reception will open the festivities as guests peruse a variety of fabulous boutiques offering a wonderful collection of unique accessories, clothing, and gifts to satisfy their own desires, or provide the perfect one-of-a-kind gifts for their friends and family for the holidays.

A wonderful silent auction will offer baskets filled with amazing entertainment packages and personal pampering opportunities. Into sports? Opportunities include Kansas City Chiefs’ signed memorabilia, box seats to a LA Kings vs. the Washington Capitals hockey game, or a Suite for a sporting event at the Staples Center. You’d rather go to the theater? Bid on tickets to Cats or the Nutcracker. Get away packages include local stays at the Westlake Village Inn and the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village. Or enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience in a private baking class with Sugar Lab Bake Shop’s talented chef, Allison Davis. These and many more great opportunities will be up for grabs!

Lori Silvey and Parry Weet O’Brien, chairpersons of the 2018 “Spotlight on Style,” and their Spotlight on Style Committee have worked diligently to create another fantastic Spotlight on Style at the Four Seasons Hotel. Top level fashion show sponsors include:  Hosts – Susan & Ken Bauer;  Spotlight Sponsors – The Cassar Family, Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, and The Van Huisen Family;  Haute Couture Sponsors – Frank & Betty Hiji, Procter & Gamble, Neiman Marcus Topanga, and The Volk Charitable Foundation; Couture Sponsors – City National Bank, Bill & Jewell Gerald Powell, Sigrid’s Books, Michael W. McCarthy, DDS, and Porta-Stor; Designer Sponsors – Five Star Bookkeeping, Ed O’Brien & Parry Weet O’Brien, Home Helpers, Boskovich Farms, Susan Burgos, The Hopps Group at Morgan Stanley, and California Giant Berry.

All proceeds from the Spotlight on Style Fashion Show support Casa Pacifica’s therapeutic programs and services that bring healing and hope to vulnerable children and youth struggling with complex mental health issues due circumstances that placed them into foster care, and youth whose mental health challenges are disrupting and destabilizing their family homes.

Fashion Show tickets are advanced purchase only – no tickets will be sold at the door. For more information about the Spotlight on Style Fashion Show, contact Casa Pacifica Special Events Manager, Anna Coulson, at 805-366-4023 or acoulson@casapacifica.org.     

Source: Citizen's Journal

Nonprofit feeds firefighters and people affected by Woolsey Fire

November 13, 2018

Chefs and volunteers prepared food for evacuees and firefighters fighting the Woolsey Fire this weekend at Casa Pacifica in Camarillo. The effort was organized by “World Central Kitchen’ - a nonprofit that provides meals for people in the aftermath of a disaster. “We are providing all meals for Red Cross shelters in Ventura County and L.A. County,” said Chef Tim Kilcoyne, of World Central Kitchen.

World Central Kitchen is a nonprofit founded in 2010 by celebrity chef Jose Andres following the Haiti Earthquake. The group has responded all over the world including, including to Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico and Thomas Fire victims. Chef Tim Kilcoyne said people will be fed whenever and wherever there is a need. “We are also going to the front lines taking care of the firefighters through Malibu Canyon stations that are not easily accessible,” said Kilcoyne.

Volunteers say feeding others is a way to take action, instead of feeling helpless.
“Be of service to help our brothers and sisters. Everyone needs a little hand right now, and we have to pull together,” said volunteer Manny Salcido. Kilcoyne said during the Thomas Fire, World Central Kitchen prepared 40,000 meals in 10 days.

Source: KEYT

World Central Kitchen Provides Homemade Meals for Evacuees and First Responders Through Casa Pacific

November 11, 2018

World Central Kitchen – the nonprofit founded by celebrity chef Jose Andres has made a temporary home in the kitchen at Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families. World Central Kitchen is mobilizing in response to the need that has arisen from the extensive evacuations due to the Woolsey fire. Casa Pacifica’s commercial grade kitchen has provided the perfect home to pump out thousands of essential meals a day. Local Ventura County chef Tim Kilcoyne of Scratch Sandwich Counter is chef lead for World Central Kitchen’s response to the devastating Woolsey fire. “Right now we’re providing meals for all of the Red Cross evacuation centers in Ventura County as well as first responders,” confirmed Chef Tim.

Local businesses have also pitched in to help relief efforts. Three Trader Joe’s stores had to be evacuated because of the fire, but they had deliveries of fresh produce and food already in route. So they reached out to Tim and World Central Kitchen. “We usually do not accept food donations, we like to purchase all of our food – but since we worked with Trader Joe’s during last year’s Thomas Fire and they were kind enough to think of us, their trucks were rerouted and they were able to make that huge donation to us.” The Berry Man and Sysco also donated use of their refrigerated trucks to store all the fresh produce.

Volunteers from all over the county have showed up to help chop, package, and prep meals. “It has been a team effort. It’s great to see the whole community come together and we are honored to provide a space for them to do it,” commented Casa Pacifica CEO Dr. Steve Elson. “We are part of a great community – they have always supported Casa Pacifica’s children and families – it is our privilege to give back and contribute to a great cause.”

For residents fleeing Southern California fires, evacuation centers can be ‘jarring’ yet ‘reassuring

November 10, 2018

Several miles away from Thousand Oaks, more than a dozen people gathered at Casa Pacifica, a Camarillo-based nonprofit serving children and families, where they prepared food for evacuees and the first responders battling the Woolsey Fire. The effort was organized by World Central Kitchen, which prepares meals following disasters, including the December 2017 Thomas Fire, which destroyed 281,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Among the volunteers was Camarillo resident Julie Merrick, 49, who decided to focus her frustrations on helping others. That frustration had built up on the heels of this week’s wildfires, along with Wednesday’s mass shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks. “I’m taking action instead of being helpless,” Merrick said. “We can feel sorry for people and I can post it on Facebook. But for me, I want to take (that energy) and help others.”

Volunteers at Casa Pacifica in Camarillo make sandwiches for first responders dealing with the Woolsey Fire. The effort was organized by World Central Kitchen, which often assists victims of wildfires. Volunteers prepared sandwiches for first responders while others worked in kitchen to make warm meals for evacuees, said Tim Kilcoyne, a chef lead for World Central Kitchen. The warm meals are distributed to evacuation centers and Saturday’s lunch menu included chicken, mashed potatoes and mushroom veloute with salad. Dinner was pulled pork with steamed rice and roasted corn salsa.

About 500 lunches and 500 dinners were prepared Saturday, which was down from Friday when conditions were worse in the area. “The numbers keep fluctuating because of the fire,” Kilcoyne said. “We have enough food for about a week.” During the Thomas Fire, World Central Kitchen provided 40,000 meals over 10 days. It’s unlikely the Woolsey Fire will require as much food, but it’ll keep coming until it’s no longer necessary, Kilcoyne said. “The biggest thing is, we’re here to help, here to feed,” Kilcoyne said.

Source: Desert Sun

Association of Fundraising Professionals Announces National Philanthropy Day Winners Casa Pacifica

November 5, 2018

The Association of Fundraising Professionals Santa Barbara/Ventura County Chapter recently announced their 2018 honorees for National Philanthropy Day. Casa Pacifica’s Director of Development and Public Relations, Carrie L. Hughes was named 2018 Professional Fundraiser of the Year. While Casa Pacifica board member and co-owner of Ventura Rental Party & Events Heidi Whitcomb was named 2018 Volunteer of the Year – Ventura County.

Other honorees include:

Judy & Jack Stapelmann – Philanthropists of the Year, Santa Barbara County
Loretta & Mike Merewether – Philanthropists of the Year, Ventura County
Peter Schuyler – Volunteer of the Year, Santa Barbara County
Wilson Sherman – Youth Philanthropist of the Year

National Philanthropy Day acknowledges the entire spectrum of services provided by the nonprofit community and recognizes the profound impact that philanthropy has on the fabric of society. Each year, AFP chapters around the nation honor individuals and groups who, through their hard work and dedication, have enhanced philanthropy, their communities, and the world. The day provides an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of giving and all that it has made possible.

This year, the AFP Santa Barbara/Ventura Counties National Philanthropy Day luncheon will be held on Thursday, November 15th at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Ventura. The luncheon, led by Master of Ceremonies, KEYT News Anchors Kelsey Gerckens and Joey Buttitta, is expected to sell out. For tickets to the National Philanthropy Day luncheon visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/afpsbv-celebrates-national-philanthropy-day-registration-50091781868

For more information or inquiries regarding sponsorship opportunities, contact Molly Kemper, AFP National Philanthropy Day Chair at npdrsvp@gmail.com.

More about the honorees:

Volunteer of the Year, Ventura – Heidi Whitcomb

Casa Pacifica Board Member Heidi Whitcomb – Volunteer of the Year, Ventura County

Heidi Whitcomb is the second-generation owner and CEO of Ventura Rental Party & Events., where she has designed and coordinated countless events ranging from intimate family gatherings to corporate and non-profit events with thousands of guests. A consistent force in the event rental industry for over thirty years, Heidi has been recognized by her peers with awards such as the National Association for Catering and Events, Event Professional of the Year, Inspirational Member of the Year, and the coveted President’s Award. Most recently, Heidi was awarded the National Association of Woman Business Owners (Ventura County Chapter) 2017 “Woman Business Owner of the Year.”

Heidi is passionate about children in need and helping them have a voice in their communities. She volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, mentors mothers through her work with the City Center in Ventura, volunteers in the NPS at Casa Pacifica, and actively seeks opportunities that assist in the betterment of children and families. Heidi believes in advocating for community causes and partners with many other organizations, including Make a Wish Foundation, CMHS, Casa Pacifica, and Pier Into the Future. Heidi currently sits on the Community Memorial Healthcare Foundation board and the Casa Pacifica Executive Board, and volunteers on numerous other committees.

Heidi and her husband Mike have been happily married for 35 years and currently operate Ventura Rental as a team. They have raised three children who are now thriving young adults. In her free time, Heidi loves to tend to her organic garden, hike, travel, and, most importantly, spend time with her three sweet grandchildren.

Casa Pacifica Director of Development & Public Relations, Carrie L. Hughes – Professional Fundraiser of the Year

Professional Fundraiser of the Year – Carrie L. Hughes

Carrie Hughes is Director of Development & Public Relations for Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families. Carrie graduated from UCSB with a degree in Communications, and was hired at Casa Pacifica in 1999, five years after it opened its doors to foster and at-risk children. Over her nineteen-year career in fundraising, she and her development team have collaboratively raised over $60 million dollars.

Recently, Carrie and her team’s fundraising efforts resulted in a successful $16.6 million-dollar capital campaign for a new training institute, vocational education center, and treatment cottages serving youth with mental health and substance dependence issues. Carrie has also proven to be a skilled event planner, as she has grown the Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival into the premiere wine and food event on the central coast, raising millions during her tenure overseeing the Festival.

Carrie has served on the Board of Directors for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Santa Barbara/Ventura County chapter for ten years, serving as President in 2015. During her presidency the board achieved its first Ten Star Gold Award and Friends of Diversity Designation. She is also a member of the Camarillo Rotary, the Nonprofit Leadership Council, and a graduate of the Ventura County Leadership Academy. Carrie resides in Thousand Oaks with her family.

Source: Citizen's Journal

Casa Pacifica Participates in United Way’s Day of Caring

September 30, 2018

Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families participated in United Way’s Day of Caring on Saturday, September 29th. United Way’s Day of Caring connected hundreds of volunteers to community organizations like Casa Pacifica throughout Ventura County. About fifteen volunteers from Wells Fargo came to Casa Pacifica to complete the Day of Caring project – priming and painting the fence that surrounds Casa Pacifica’s Camarillo campus. “This is an annual thing for us, Wells Fargo always participates in United Way’s Day of Caring. Some team members even brought their family and friends to help too. It’s a nice day to spend together,” said Wells Fargo volunteer Renee Montiel.

Morgan Piehn, Casa Pacifica’s Volunteer Coordinator said, “We appreciate United Way creating this day of service and bringing nonprofits together with people who want to help. The Wells Fargo volunteers that came helped us maintain a beautiful home for our children. We couldn’t do it without our community.”

Source: Citizen’s Journal

Day of Caring volunteers plant trees, clean up sites in Ventura County

September 29, 2018

Trees were planted, walls were painted, food was sorted and books were cleaned as United Way put on its annual Day of Caring in Ventura County.

Hundreds of people volunteered Saturday to help beautify and improve sites all over the county, from the Turning Point Foundation, where a butterfly garden and labyrinth were cleaned up, to the Conejo Valley YMCA, where campfire seating was replaced and painted.

Other projects included cleaning books at the Oxnard and Simi Valley public libraries, trail maintenance at the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy and the Mountains Restoration Trust, painting a fence at Casa Pacifica and general cleanup at the Samaritan Center of Simi Valley and the El Centrito Family Learning Centers in Oxnard.

Source: VC Star

Burned hospital’s reopening aimed at life-threatening psychiatric care shortage

August 19, 2018

A Ventura psychiatric hospital that burned in the Thomas Fire is projected to reopen Sept. 10, alleviating a shortage that means suicidal teens sometimes go without needed help, according to the facility’s CEO.

Two of five hillside buildings at the 87-bed Vista del Mar Hospital in west Ventura burned to the ground hours after the massive fire raced across Ventura County on Dec. 4. Staff members and 67 patients evacuated in a convoy of vans as palm trees near the hospital burst into flames. The fire, which destroyed more than 1,000 structures and burned nearly 282,000 acres, shut down the hospital and with it the only inpatient psychiatric beds for adolescents in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

Vista del Mar CEO Jenifer Nyhuis said leaders have set a goal of opening 55 beds by mid-September in the buildings left nearly unscathed in the fire. She said meeting the goal depends on government approvals and the absence of more surprises in replacing parts of a decades-old water system. Administrators are also racing to hire 150 employees in 45 days — some of them former workers laid off a month after the fire and others new to the privately owned hospital. A job fair will be held Friday at an off-campus outpatient site that opened in April at 801 S. Victoria Ave. in Ventura. Nyhuis said there are no guarantees the Sept. 10 timetable will be made. But she said the rush to open the doors is triggered by an already existing shortage of psychiatric beds worsened by the closure.

Some patients are being placed in out-of-county hospitals. Others in crisis end up without the care they need, Nyhuis said, citing multiple cases of teen suicide but declining to offer details because of privacy concerns. “What people are going through because of the lack of beds is not right,” she said. “I’ve heard it from folks in Santa Barbara County. I’ve heard it from folks in Ventura County, as well.”

David Deutsch, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Ventura County, said he didn’t know of any suicides caused by the lack of care but had no reason to doubt the claim. “Unfortunately, I’d have to say she’s probably right,” he said. “When you have a shortage of inpatient psychiatric beds, that is the risk you always run.” Deutsch said he had hoped the hospital’s opening — once projected for as early as May — would happen this month. “Your biggest fear is that something will happen to set it back dramatically,” he said, expressing “a tremendous sense of relief” at news of the September timetable.

Of the 55 beds expected to open, 17 will likely be earmarked for adolescents, Nyhuis said, noting that the ratio could change. Before the fire, 20 beds were available for adolescents, with the number increasing based on need. Ventura County Medical Center in Ventura offers 30 psychiatric beds but stopped accepting children three years ago after an audit said the facility was licensed for adults and should limit its population to that group. “We welcome the additional and much-needed care,” VCMC CEO Kim Milstien said.

The reopening is huge, added Steve Elson, CEO of Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, which offers residential but not hospital care for youths. “Youth served by Casa Pacifica (who) needed a psychiatric placement wound up in hospitals as far away as Bakersfield or San Francisco,” he said in an email.

Nyhuis said Vista del Mar plans to rebuild the fire-destroyed buildings in construction expected to start in the next several months. The goal is to expand beyond the 87 beds provided before the fire. The minimal damage to three buildings offered a path to reopen part of the facility on a quicker timetable. Space was created in one of the buildings to replace the hospital pharmacy, which was destroyed in the fire. Patios were added. Modular buildings are being built as temporary administrative offices.

The Thomas Fire destroyed two buildings at the Vista del Mar psychiatric hospital in Ventura. Much of the work has centered on utilities, including the condition of water pipes buried under the hospital for decades.

Before the fire, the hospital employed about 200 people. The vast majority of them were paid for another month after the fire and then released. In July, the hospital began hiring again in pursuit of the ambitious goal of adding 150 employees in less than two months. Nyhuis said many of the hires are returning workers, but all candidates are going through the same process.“We have to make sure we post all of our jobs,” she said, citing legal requirements and referring to online listings at the hospital’s website and Indeed.com. “We have to be fair.” Positions include registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, mental health workers, assessment and referral counselors, call center employees, dietary staff and housekeeping. Before the facility reopens, approvals will be needed from California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, the California Department of Public Health and the city of Ventura Fire Department.

Nyhuis said the 55 beds will fill quickly, noting that the hospital gets daily calls from patients who need care. Some drive directly to the hospital only to be told by 24-hour security that they need to go to the emergency room because the facility burned. “The need is there,” she said. “That’s why we’re working so hard.”

Source: VC Star



© 2020 Casa Pacifica, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization incorporated in 1988. Tax ID #77-0195022. info
Casa Pacifica is a center for adolescent and youth, offering programs and services to treat the symptoms arising from abuse and neglect
  • California Alliance of Child & Family Services – Accredited Member
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges – Accredited Member
  • Council on Accreditation – Accredited Member
  • Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers – Accredited Member
  • American Association of Suicidology – Accredited Member
  • Top Rated 2018 Great Non Profits