In Brief

In Brief

Children with life threatening medical conditions across Ventura County are in need of assistance — wish-making assistance, that is. Come Oct. 1, the Make-a-Wish Foundation of the Tri-Counties reaches a deadline for volunteers that, as of yet, hasn’t been met.

The foundation needs 14 new volunteers in order to cover the projected number of cases to be handled in the coming year.

“The volunteers, once they’re trained, are placed in teams of two,” said Shanna Taylor, CEO of Make-a-Wish Foundation of the Tri-Counties. “Every month you get an email from us asking if you’re interested in doing a wish.”

Only 10 have enrolled in the class that begins Oct. 1, but the biggest challenge for the foundation is finding bilingual wish-granters. Of the 10 enrolled, only two are bilingual and only two are from Oxnard, a number too small to cover the 40 or more expected bilingual Wish Makers in the Oxnard area.

The foundation grants more than 80 wishes a year with half of those being in Ventura County. The skill-set required for a volunteer can make it difficult to find the right person for the job, however.

“We need people who have a pretty broad skill set. When you pick your kid, all you know is where they live, what language they speak and a little bit about their illness; you don’t know about their wish,” said Taylor. “It could be a very fast wish, or it could go on for a long time.”

Recently, the foundation worked in tandem with the wish-granters to build an electric off-road wheelchair that could be used on sand, a wish that took a considerable amount of time and effort, but other wishes aren’t so involved, as in for those who wish for a laptop or video game system.

The volunteers, regardless of difficulty level, are responsible for setting the scene and making sure the children enjoy their experience.

“We’re doing a lot of the detail, the wish granters do mostly the magic,” said Taylor.

If you would like to volunteer or to find out more information, visit

In Brief

In Brief


This month will see the end of three of Ventura’s landmark institutions with more than a combined 60 years of being in business.

Tat Tropical Illusion, Wild Planet and Blü Orkid will or have all closed their doors thanks in part to escalating rents and slow sales.

Wild Planet will either relocate or end business altogether after 26 years in business, citing a lack of cooperation with their landlord at the business on Main Street.

Blü Orkid, after revamping the Santa Clara location from its previous incarnation as My Florist, ceased operations last week. After expanding to include a bakery and subsequently ending that venture, Blü Orkid couldn’t keep up with the revamped downtown restaurant district.

Christina Li of Tat Tropical Illusion is sad to see her business go, having watched families grow up around her. After 29 years in business at the Ventura location, Li’s overhead was too much to overcome.

“Quite honestly, our lease is just way too high for what we can offer,” said Li. “The main thing I want to convey is to thank the community. Ventura County has been truly fabulous to us. We have so many good customers that really bit the bullet and helped.”

Tat Tropical Illusion’s sister store in Thousand Oaks will continue, but for now, Ventura’s inventory of tropical fish is partially drying up, with only Extreme Marine remaining as the only locally owned fish store.

As for the future of other downtown businesses, there are a spate of openings that seem to prove wrong the theory of a downward turn. Shanghai Beer Garden — a micro-brewery meets gourmet Chinese — is making ground on opening, and Retail Therapy above Ventiki Polynesian Dining and Cocktails on the former site of Bernadette’s are welcome additions to the area.

“That’s the unfortunate side of an improving market,” said Ventura Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ed Summers. “As leases mature, landlords are able to increase rent to a higher market level.”

Summers does not, however, see a downward trend; in fact, business has been booming elsewhere.

“Not seeing anything like a negative trend downtown,” said Summers. “There is a lot of positivity.”

“We’ve literally watched families grow up here. Myself and my husband grew up here,” said Li as she scrambled to assist last-minute customers. “I worked here as a teenager; our own children grew up here. I really want to thank the community for the support.”








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  1. Spiritual Bodies: Photography by Carlton Wilkinson

    January 10 @ 8:00 am - February 29 @ 8:00 pm
  2. History Lecture Series: Accommodation and Resistance

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