September 2016
Issue: 36
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VFA Co-Founder Lawrence Parkhill to Speak at the September 28 Program Meeting
Veteran Farmers of America-Connecting Veterans to Agriculture
VFA's mission is to connect veterans to agriculture as a viable occupation in order to assist with their successful reentry into civilian life. Mary Maranville, Founder and Executive Director, recognized a growing need in the regional industry for a technically-skilled, younger workforce while experiencing the food system through the agricultural relationships she cultivated while developing SEEAG. Farm partners conveyed concern over the aging workforce and the challenge of finding employees who were capable, dedicated and hard working, while also being skilled and potential leaders.

VFA Co-Founder, USMC Veteran Lawrence Parkhill, was experiencing difficulty with finding direction in his life as a civilian after registering to fight for his country at 17 following 9/11. Parkhill served 5 years in the Marines, including 3 tours in Afghanistan. After transitioning, he took advantage of his GI Bill and enrolled in courses, but had no idea what occupation to pursue. Parkhill knew he was just one of many who were struggling with reentering civilian life and the civilian workforce for the first time as adults. 

Knowing Parkhill's service experience and his need to find employment, Maranville connected him with a variety regional farms, ranging from small organic farms to the largest lemon producer in the country, so that he could experience agriculture as a possible vocation. These internships were impactful and instructive, and also served to enlighten the farms to a highly-employable population demographic. 

The success of the internships lead to the founding of VFA on July 4th, 2013 in order to link two community needs, and to further SEEAG's mission. Ultimately, Parkhill became the first VFA success story, as he found employment at a major agricultural producer who partners with VFA today. 

While Maranville oversees VFA, Program Coordinator Julie Sardonia executes program implementation and development. Sardonia is a certified therapist, and is the Founder of Reins of H.O.P.E., a nonprofit serving active duty military, veterans, and their families utilizing Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning. She combines her therapy background and experience with veterans in order to realize program outcomes and goals.

VFA connects veterans to agriculture as a viable occupation in order to assist with their successful reentry into civilian life. VFA does this through paid vocational internships and advisement programs at various local agricultural facilities throughout Ventura County. This 80-hour internship offers veterans the opportunity to explore agriculture as an optional immediate vocation or as a specialty to pursue in higher education. In its 3 years of operation, VFA has already successfully enrolled 13 veterans in internships and placed 8 in jobs. Many veterans currently enrolled in local colleges also express interest in the program as a way to determine whether agriculture is a career pathway they wish to apply their GI Bill to pursue. The program also educates regional agriculture employers about veteran employment and its many benefits.

The program is open to all veterans from all branches of the military. The majority of participants are Post-9/11 veterans, with some who served in the Gulf War. VFA welcomes veterans with a variety of physical and mental challenges, and pairs participants with internships and eventual placements that are conducive to their needs. The program and internships are offered within Ventura County, however veterans from throughout the nation have participated in the program.

The veterans served by VFA face a variety of challenges, particularly those recently separated from service. They are used to working in physical conditions, in close teams, and with a clear purpose to their work; which rarely occurs in civilian life. This sense of pride is lost, which can make facing civilian work discouraging and un-motivating. 

Veterans often struggle with mental and physical challenges, which they do not look forward to discussing with their employer and coworkers. They may need accommodations to their work schedule, demands, and conditions. These conflicting variables and can lead to unemployment, as veterans are challenged to find employers who understand these difficulties, don't stigmatize PTSD, and don't confuse them with a
lack of work ethic. This can further contribute to existing mental health difficulties, thus exacerbating the initial challenge. The agricultural industry is poised to accommodate many of the employabil ity challenges veterans face, as it offers unique flexibility and a workplace that is devoted to the higher purpose of feeding America. Furthermore, the hands-on experience of farming helps to decrease, and potentially   all eviate, some of veterans' mental health issues. Being outdoors and in touch with the  soil is restorative.
For more information about Veteran  Farmers of America please visit

If you are interested in attending this meeting please call Sandy Masiel at 805-278-3607 to RSVP by Monday, Sept. 26. The cost is $15.  

18th Annual Camino Real Region Fall Workshop is October 1

The 18th Annual Camino Real Region's Fall Workshop will be held on  Saturday, October 1 from 8:30 am - 3:00 pm. The cost is $40 per person which covers lunch and snacks. The sponsoring club is SI Alhambra/San Gabriel/San Marino and the location will be the First Baptist Church of Alhambra, 101 S. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra 91801.

Your Region Board and Federation/Region Chairs have been working diligently to plan a workshop that will be meaningful for ALL members.
We will be working on creating our "Soroptimist Story" in order to Catch the Dream: One Mission/One Message.  As discussed at our Presidents' Leadership Summit just a few short weeks ago, we are a "Glocal" organization (global and local).  We are one Region with 719 wonderful members doing the work of SIA along with more than 30,000 other members in the 20 countries that comprise our Federation.  Globally, we are one Region, part of an International Body of 80,000 members in 132 countries and territories around the World. 
So, how do we Catch the Dream: One Mission/One Message?  This amazing workshop will begin a conversation that you will be able to take back to your Club and work to accomplish the 2016 Vision, the Mission, the Direction of Soroptimist! 
The Registration form can be found here.  All registrations are due no later than September 15, 2016. 
SI Ventura Partners with Simi Valley and Conejo Clubs in iMatter Girls Conference on Oct. 8
The first iMatter! Girls Conference was held October 3, 2015 and was a smashing success. 

This year's iMatter! will be held October 8, 2016 at  the Best Western Posada Royale Hotel.

  • 10:00 am Registration
  • 10:45 Breakouts begin
  • 11:45 Lunch and movie-
    The Empowerment Project:  Ordinary Women doing Extraordinary Things
  • 1:00 pm Breakouts continue
  • 2:15  Girls Above Society, Lauren Galley: 
    Discovering Dreams and Putting them into Action
  • 2:45 Conference Concludes
Breakouts include:
  • Balancing your Stress (Through Art)
  • Setting Achievable Goals (Be your own CEO)
  • Keeping yourself Safe:  Cyber and Beyond
  • I Am You (Rising Above Obstacles)
Registration forms will be posted when available.

Application for the  
Live Your Dream Scholarship
Now Available

Applications and information about Live Your Dream (formerly called the Women's Opportunity Award) is now available on our website at

Live Your Dream is a scholarship awarded to a local woman who is the primary wage earner in her family to assist with meeting career/educational goals.   Click here to download the application.   
Live Your Dream also requires two reference forms.   Click here to download the reference form.
The deadline for the application is November 15, 2016


Fidelity Ballmer Spoke about the
Girl Up Club at the August 24 Program Meeting
Fidelity Ballmer, winner of our 2016 Violet Richardson Award, graduated from Foothill Technology High School as the Class of 2016 Valedictorian. Throughout high school, Fidelity served women and girls through founding and leading a Girl Up club at Foothill. She spoke to our Ventura club on her experiences with the Girl Up program and her hopes to create a new club at Brown University where she will continue her education in the fall. 
Girl Up, a campaign of the United Nations, works to prioritize the health, safety, leadership and education of girls in developing countries. Fidelity's club raised awareness and funds through campaigns, movie screenings, fundraisers; advocacy with members of Congress; guest speakers; and initiating a campus conversation on women's empowerment.

Every person has the potential to make a difference in the life of a girl. For more information on Girl Up visit the web site 
Two Long Time SIV Members are Making Major Location Changes

DeDe Taylor (shown with Shirley Lorraine) has already made the move to Bakersfield but will continue with our club when she is in town. At our business meeting yesterday, DeDe accepted a check from our club on behalf of the Day Spring School in Uganda.

Penny Jarecke is moving to Connecticut. She came to the business meeting to say farewell. She brought some beautiful bags (handmade by her) to auction at our meeting.

Forever Found Receives Donations
Kay Armstrong  presented our club donation of $650 to Katie
Rhodes,  local Program Director of  Forever Found. 

Kay also took 13 Freedom Bags to Forever Found. These were done in conjunction with St. Paul's Episcopal church, Ventura.

(L to R) Kay Armstrong and Katie Rhodes
(L to R) Katie Rhodes, Kay Armstrong and Cathy Sexton
Why Not Use Amazon Smile for your regular Shopping Needs? Try the Subscribe and Save Service.
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Amazon gives you discounts on these items + free shipping and you can cancel at any time with no penalty. Subscribe and Save also gives you 15% off purchases when you add 5 or more items to your subscription plan for any month or 5% off for less than 5.

What is AmazonSmile?
AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at, you'll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to our Soroptimist International of Ventura.

How do I select a charitable organization to support when shopping on AmazonSmile?
On your first visit to AmazonSmile ( ), you need to select Soroptimist International of Ventura to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping. Amazon will remember your selection, and then every eligible purchase you make at will result in a donation.

How much of my purchase does Amazon donate?
The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases. The purchase price is the amount paid for the item minus any rebates and excluding shipping & handling, gift-wrapping fees, taxes, or service charges. From time to time, there may be special, limited time promotions that increase the donation amount on one or more products or services or provide for additional donations to charitable organizations.

AmazonSmile Donations to Charitable Organizations
100% of the donation amount generated from your eligible purchase on AmazonSmile will be donated. The donation amounts generated by your purchases are combined with the donation amounts from all other customers that selected the same organization, and each quarter the AmazonSmile Foundation makes donations to registered charitable organizations by electronic funds transfer. Donations are generally transferred approximately 45 days after the end of each calendar quarter.

Please tell all your family and friends to choose Soroptimist International of Ventura to support in their Amazon online purchases through the AmazonSmile program.
Advertise in Our E-Newsletter and Help Support Our Community Service Fund
For a donation of $100 to our community service fund, we will advertise your business in our e-newsletter every month for a year. That is a $20 dollar  savings  over the  monthly  rate of of $10 per month. 
Or, donate $50 to our community service fund and we will advertise your business in our e-newsletter every month for six months. 
Mail your donation check to:  Soroptimist, P.O.Box 6133, Ventura, CA 93066 -- Include your ad information and email contact -- or contact us at We will contact you to finalize the ad copy.
2016 Pledge & Inspiration Schedule 
September 14 Meeting: 
Pledge - Trevor Summerlin     
Inspiration - Kay Armstrong 
September 28 Mee ting :
Pledge - Cindy Daly 
Inspiration - Cyndi Damron 
Please email Cyndi Damron at  if you would like to lead the pledge or inspire us at a meeting. 
Soroptimist logo


September 14 - Business Meeting - 

September 28 - Program Meeting - 

October 1 - 
Fall Workshop - 
8:30 am - 3 pm 

October 8 - 
iMatter Girls Conference - 
10 am - 3 pm

October 10 - 
Business Meeting - 

October 26 -
Program Meeting - Noon

March 8, 2017 - 
Stop Human
Trafficking Event

April 21-23, 2017 - 
Spring Conference

SI Girls Night Out at The Painted Cabernet

Join us on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016 from
5:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
at The Painted Cabernet at The Collection at Riverpark in Oxnard in a fundraiser to benefit the 10th Annual Camino Real Region District 1 Soroptimist STOP Human Trafficking and Sexual Slavery Community Awareness Event

$50 includes wine, paint supplies, snacks,
fun, camaraderie, and your own Anacapa Island painting!!!

Register online at

For more information contact Debbie Gohlke at 805-320-5215

Pre-Election Events

Sunday, September 25 - 1:30 p.m. at the United Methodist Church on Santa Clara Street in Ventura:
  A review of the Pros and Cons on statewide ballot propositions by two jurists; hosted by the United Methodist Church and co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Ventura County.

T hursday, September 29 - 6:00 p.m. doors open at Cabrillo Middle School Cafeterium - 1426 Santa Clara Street, behind the Methodist church. Candidate forums hosted by the League of Women Voters of Ventura County.
  •     6:30 p.m. Candidates Forum for two open seats (no incumbents) on the Ventura Unified School District
  •     7:45 p.m. Candidates for three open seats (2 incumbents) on the Ventura City Council.


Book Sale and Auction Will be Held Quarterly

Book sales and auctions will be held at the business meeting during the months of October, February, May and August.

Don't miss out!!!

I have two major "themes" to this month's message. First, I promised a little more detail on the SIA (Soroptimist International of the Americas) Convention, held in Orlando in July.  The conference was held over four days, with a combination of plenaries and workshops.  I encourage anyone who can do so to attend one of these bi-annual events.  I learned so much about the international mission of our organization, and the unique nature of every club.  SIA rolled out the Big Goal for the future:  empowering women and girls through access to education.  This means that SIA will be focusing on the "Dream Programs":  Live Your Dream (scholarships for heads of household) and Dream It, Be It (programs to empower high-school aged girls).  And, for us in Ventura, the Violet Richardson Award (student volunteers). 
My second theme relates to the "code" we use in our Soroptimist meetings.  The code was flying fast and furious at the Convention - my head was spinning.  I was reminded at our September Board meeting that some of our members are new to the club (welcome, welcome!) and may
  • not understand the jargon (like what the heck is Dream It, Be it), or
  •  be uncomfortable about asking questions, assuming everyone else knows.
I thought about this afterwards and realized how easy it is for all of us to make assumptions that other people know what we know (like the difference between Live Your Dream and Dream It, Be It and what "SIV" means).  I am guilty of this:  sometimes I can stand in front of a group and assume that they can read my mind - big mistake since sometimes I have trouble reading my own.  I'll work on that and call me out if I'm slipping.  And I ask all of us to work on this - "code" is particularly difficult for our new Soroptimists, and I believe de-coding should be part of our pledge to the sincerity of friendship.  Here's a quote from Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements:  Don't Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama.

Ann Hewitt 
SI Ventura 2016-2017   

Vega Sankur  9/25

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Club Meetings
  • 2nd & 4th Wednesday of each month
  • Luncheon Meeting at 12 noon
  • Ventura Beach Marriott Hotel, 2055 Harbor Blvd., Ventura