Change of plans at Kingdom Center
Pastor Sam Galucci of the Kingdom Center, the transitional living facility at the former City Center Motel in Downtown Ventura, announced last month that plans to relocate the daily services for the homeless from Harbor Church in Midtown have been canceled. The relocation of Operation Embrace, which currently provides breakfast, lunch, showers, clothing and job resources for 60 to 80 people per day, had been a contentious issue amongst neighbors of the Kingdom Center, who said it was not the appropriate place for such a program. Concerns had died down about the issue over the last year, and now, officially, the Kingdom Center will be centrally focused on its transitional living element.
“Having become better acquainted with the needs of our growing resident population, the need now arises to reclaim the entire space to accommodate additional areas for the children that are being reunited with their families,” Galucci said in a letter to the city.
The Kingdom Center, which was slated to have 30 rooms available for families in transition, will now have 27 rooms, with some spaces formerly intended for occupancy now converting into office space for the program.
“This reduction in rooms is being made in an effort to remain well within our original population estimates, which we submitted during the planning process,” Galucci stated.
The Kingdom Center opened in spring 2010 to provide needy families with temporary shelter, food and services with the goal of helping them get from the streets into permanent housing.
— Michael Sullivan
Sky Savers program rewards eco-minded consumers, merchants
Consumers are being offered the opportunity to “go green and save some green” with coupons and promotional discounts from a variety of eco-friendly and green businesses throughout the county. Sponsored by the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District, the Sky Savers Program is an eco-friendly public awareness campaign.
“The Sky Savers program aims to raise awareness that choices we make as consumers can have a positive effect on our air quality and environment,” said Barbara Page, public information manager of the district. The program encourages Ventura County residents to keep the environment in mind by supporting local merchants who are dedicated to running eco-minded businesses.
Coupons can be downloaded and printed from the Sky Savers website, www.skysavers.org/. All participating merchants meet specific environmental criteria, which are listed on the website.
Some of the 30 local merchants participating in this program include Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach, Petropolis, Bark Em Pet Supplies, Otto and Sons Nursery, Global Encasement Inc., A&F Country Market and McGrath Family Farm.
— Christine Carlson
5K walk fundraiser for mental illness April 30
For anyone whose life has been impacted by the effects of mental illness, the opportunity to help has arrived. The Ventura County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness is gearing up for its seventh annual NAMI Walks for the Mind of America on Saturday, April 30. This year’s 5K event anticipates bringing in upward of 1,000 walkers whose aim is to raise funds to educate the public and to help those in need. The NAMI Ventura Chapter currently consists of around 500 members who helped raise $80,000 at last year’s event.
“NAMI members are volunteers whose mission is to provide help to people with serious mental and emotional illnesses and their families,” said Ratan Bhavnani, executive director of NAMI Ventura County. “NAMI Walks is a blast and a chance to do something positive and fun.”
He also added that “the walks have a very uplifting and inspiring atmosphere.” This is the largest annual event advocating mental illness awareness and support in the county.
The proceeds from the Ventura County walk will fund local NAMI programs, including emotional support, education and advocacy involving a wide range of mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic depression), major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and severe anxiety disorders. This year, NAMI Ventura County hopes to use some of the money raised to establish a new program entitled In Our Own Voice. This program will give two individuals the opportunity to share their personal stories and paths to recovery with the community in a public venue.
This year’s honorary walk chair is Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean. The walk takes place at the Ventura Beach Promenade, 450 E. Harbor Blvd., Ventura. Registration is at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 10:30 a.m. There is no registration walk fee for individual participants, but they are encouraged to collect donations.
For more information regarding NAMIWalks, to register for the walk or to become a sponsor, visit www.nami.org/namiwalks/ca/ventura or contact the NAMI office at 641-2426.
— Christine Carlson