May 2015
Issue: 20
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Soroptimist May 27 Program
Meeting Given by James Panagoti from 1 Family 1 Restaurant

The Ventura Soroptimist Club welcomes James Panagoti, co-founder of 1 Family 1 Restaurant, as our program speaker for our luncheon meeting on May 27 at 12 noon at the Ventura Marriott Beach Hotel on Harbor Blvd in Ventura. Below is a bio on James and some background information about 1 Family 1 Restaurant. If you are interested in attending this meeting please call Arlene Briggle at 658-2048 to RSVP by Monday, May 25. The cost is $15.


Brief of James Panagoti 

In 2010, James Panagoti and his brother Michael Bitola opened up RedBrick Pizza Café Ventura. It was their core mission to use the cafe as a vehicle to give back. Many awards and accolades resulted along the way. James has been involved with many non-profits and foundations, a few; the Ventura Green Task Force, the Ventura Chamber, Boys & Girls Club, Rotary/Rotaract club, The Kingdom Center of Ventura, Volunteer Ventura, Celiac Disease Foundation, FoodShare, Project Understanding, The Growing Home, and Ventura Aids Partnership. 


It was RedBrick Pizzas 1 year anniversary party benefiting FOOD Share, the local food bank, that started the conversation for 1 Family 1 Restaurant. "I learned about the facts of food insecurity in our own community when we began conversing with the local food bank... but what really struck me was when two different friends of mine were once food insecure and I had no idea until they shared with me," says James. 


The team began asking, "There are all of these restaurants and there are all of these food insecure individuals and families... How can we connect these and provide a memorable experience and possibly we might even solve the hunger issue along the way?"


1 Family 1 Restaurant 

Is a unique web based solution to help solve hunger. connects restaurants, people in the community, food banks, pantry partners to provide meals from restaurants to food insecure individuals in a unique sustainable manner. 


Restaurants sign up for free, create meals to be sponsored by others and have the option to donate meals directly. People in the community sponsor meals to their favorite restaurants. Food banks and pantry partners distribute meal reservations to the food insecure individuals and families to enjoy an unforgettable experience dining out. 


1F1R is an official hunger alleviation partner who is helping food banks and pantry partners in their efforts to close the mission meal gap. This extraordinary non-profit foundation is an additive to already what exists in the hunger alleviation space of providers. Together We Will. 


1 Family 1 Restaurant launch January 2015. Ventura, CA is the launchpad as this program spreads across the nation. As of April 2015, 17 restaurants are registered and those in Ventura County are; Anacapa Brewing Company, Fresh & Fabulous, Himalayas, RedBrick Pizza, Urbane Cafe Ventura & Thousand Oaks, Wayback Burgers, and Johnny Rockets.  


Go to to get started! 

SI Ventura's Scholarship Awards Luncheon was Very Inspirational


The Soroptimist Club of Ventura held their annual Scholarship Awards Luncheon on May 2 at the beautiful Ventura Yacht Club.  The attendance was great, the lunch was delicious and everyone was inspired by the wonderful award winners and speakers. 


We were privileged to have the following speakers at our luncheon: 

  • Cheryl Heitmann, Mayor of Ventura
  • Ben Unseth, Executive Director, Project Understanding
  • Veronica Garcia, Senior Case Manager, Salvation Army

The Violet Richardson Award had two winners this year. First place was given to Caitlyn Fastenau and her charity the Girl Scouts. Second place went to Alexandra Koreisz and her charity the AVID program at Cabrillo Middle School. 


The Live Your Dream Award was given to Christine (Chris) Quebbemann. This award will help Chris continue to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.


See below for some of the great photos that were taken at the event.

Soroptimists Learn How Interface for Children & Family Services Provides Support Through Many Programs in our Community


(L to R) Pam Pecarich, Erik Sternad and Kay Armstrong.

April 22, at the program meeting, Soroptimist members were heartened to learn about all the programs Interface has for children and family services in serving our region and county. Interface was founded in 1973 and Erik Sternad, their Executive Director, spoke about their focus on child abuse prevention and healing, domestic violence programs, and 2-1-1 - the 24 hour telephone helpline for support and referrals to those in need. Interface has the most comprehensive domestic violence program in the region, including shelter, support and counseling. Alarmingly, Ventura County has the number 1 ranking, along with Fresno County, in domestic violence incidents. Interface developed the 211 call system that now is used statewide to connect those in need with available support services.


Interface partners with other organizations, law enforcement and the schools to carry out their dual missions of prevention and support. Prevention is accomplished by raising awareness, teaching parents and students about abuse and its prevention. Their programs provide support to families in need through referrals from these partners in the community. Most recently, Interface established a program for runaway/homeless youth ages 12-17, including a home for short term shelter. The funding they planned for the first year has only lasted 6 months so their goal is now to raise $200,000 in order to sustain the program longer term.


Erik reported that their findings from the decades of work in this field and the research validate the importance of reconnecting children quickly with family, assisting parents in improving their parenting, and providing families support when they need it, not months later. They are also dedicated to sharing these "best practices" with other non-profits working in this field.


Of their annual budget of $7.7 million, only 2% comes from federal grants. More comes from state and county funds for programs that meet the requirements of legislated programs, 69%. Still, $2.2 million or 29% is raised each year from the community through donations, partnerships and other contracts. 98% of their services are provided free to clients.

SIV Members Enjoyed a Shopping Spree at the May 2nd Awards Luncheon 


SIV members and their guests were happy to find the beautifully displayed, handcrafted spring line of Elizabeth Koh Accessories at the May 2 Awards Luncheon. We would like to thank the Elizabeth Koh representatives for attending our function and enabling us to score the all important finishing touches to our spring and summer outfits. In case you missed out, our fundraiser is ongoing but don't wait too long or they may sell out of the item you have your eye on! 


Ventura Members Attend SIA Camino Real Region Spring Conference in Long Beach 

(Back row) Cyndi Damron, Trevor Summerlin and Lorie Balzer. (Front row) Peggy Ruesink and Kay Armstrong.

Four members of our Ventura Soroptimist Club, Kay Armstrong, Lorie Balzer, Sherry Cash and Peggy Ruesink, attended the full Camino Real Region Spring Conference weekend at the Long Beach Marriott Hotel April 24 - 26, 2015. The attendees were able to enjoy nice accommodations, excellent meals, opportunities to meet up with old friends as well as make new ones, conduct Soroptimist business and attend educational workshops including positive leadership, membership recruitment and retention, communication, and diminishing conflict and stress. They also attended a presentation on the new Dream it, Be it program that will hopefully clear up any confusion we all have been experiencing.

SIV members Cyndi Damron and Trevor Summerlin joined the group on Sunday for breakfast, the Memorial Program, the inspiring Live Your Dream Awards and the fun Purse Raffle (which, unfortunately, none of us won).


The goal of Spring Conference is to strengthen each member's commitment with renewed energy and enthusiasm to promote the Soroptimist mission - to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. Was it successful? Just ask Kay, Lorie, Sherry, Peggy, Cyndi or Trevor and they may share what they got out of it! 

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.

2015 Pledge & Inspiration Schedule 


 May 13  Meeting: 

Pledge - Gina Jaeger 

Inspiration - Cindy Daly    
May 27 Meeting:

Pledge - Dede Taylor

Inspiration - Kellye Patterson


Please email Karen Flock at if you would like to lead the pledge or inspire us at a meeting. 


May 13 - Business Meeting - Noon

May 27  -  Program Meeting  -  Noon

James Panagoti,
1 Family 1 Restaurant 


June 10 - Business Meeting - Noon


June 24 - Program Meeting - Noon  

Installation of
2015 - 2016 Club Officers 


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2015-2016 Board to be Installed at the June 24 Program Meeting

The Nominating Committee, Dorothy Prairie, Cyndi Damron and Ria Bover, have worked feverishly to come up with a great group of nominees for our 2015 - 2016 board. We will be voting for our new board members at the May 13 business meeting. The installation of the 2015 - 2016 board will take place at the meeting on June 24 at Noon at the Ventura Beach Marriott Hotel, Ventura.
Don't miss out!!!

Coming Soon! Annual Focus Meeting for all Members


We will soon be planning and scheduling our annual Focus meeting. This is one of our most important meetings as we will be establishing our goals and objectives for the 2015 - 2016 Club year. We also determine where and to who we will be disbursing the funds raised for this purpose during the past year. We will consider areas we want to concentrate our efforts, fundraising activities, etc.

Later in the month, you will receive a copy of the Program Plan, which is the document that outlines all the various activities in which SI Ventura is engaged. From this document, we will determine which areas we want to focus on for this coming year and establish objectives for each of these areas. As mentioned above, this is a very important meeting and all members are expected to attend. Specific location and times will be announced soon.


Lori Balzer mug shot

Presidents Message

Our 2014-2015 Club year is almost over.  This month we will be electing our new officers and soon will be gathering at our Focus meeting to chart our course for the 2015-2016 Club Year. Much has been accomplished this year, but much still needs to be done. (isn't that always the case?)  But, get done it will.  Soroptimists are can-do people.


It has been my pleasure to be your President for the past two terms and I value each and every one of you as friends, dedicated Soroptimists that work diligently to support and advance our mission of improving the lives of women and girls. We have seen positive direct evidence of our efforts and know as we move forward, we will accomplish much more. Thank you all for your support and all your hard work to make our events, activities and programs successful.
Lorie Balzer signature 

Lorie Balzer


SI Ventura 2014-2015 



2015 AXXess Books are Still Available


The 2015 AXXess Books are still available for $30.

If you are interested in either selling the books or buying a book for yourself, please contact Lorie Balzer for details and more information at 805-443-8757 or email her loriebalzer@
Support SI Ventura

Advertise your business here and reach over 200 people!!!
Only $10 per month.
For Information call Cindy Daly at 
805-647-1554 or email her at

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