Love Ventura’s annual Serve Day

The Love Ventura event took place on Oct. 7, 2023 at Plaza Park in downtown Ventura. Companies and individuals gathered together to support the city of Ventura and volunteer at different locations.
The Love Ventura event took place on Oct. 7, 2023 at Plaza Park in downtown Ventura. Companies and individuals gathered together to support the city of Ventura and volunteer at different locations.
Taylor Schmidt

Early in the morning of Oct. 7, 2023, Plaza Park in downtown Ventura was bustling with activity. Dozens of volunteers dressed in white Love Ventura shirts, bunched around sign-up booths of various community service projects, while a Chick-fil-A breakfast, as well as Lovewell Tea and Coffee were offered at the side. Love Ventura is a non-profit organization that aims to give back to the community through acts of service. After a year of meticulous planning, grants, donations and collaboration, the second annual Love Ventura Serve Day was formed as the perfect opportunity for members of the community to show their appreciation for the city. From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., eager volunteers worked hard to serve their community.

Saanvi Joshi

At the information booth was 33-year-old Vinny Savvlich, who works for the City of Santa Barbara. As a Love Ventura County (VC) board member, he was one of the original founders of Love Ventura two years ago. He seemed positive about the growth and outreach of the program, stating, “Last year, just for some perspective, we had 10 projects, this year we have 16. Last year we had 170 volunteers, this year we have over 320.” All 16 of the volunteer projects for 2023 are the result of collaborations with other local non-profits. For example, Bike Ventura County led the Bike Build and Rehab project, while the Westside Community Development Corporation (WCDC) organized the Neighborhood Cleanup project.

Furthermore, a group of volunteers from the California Coast Bible College (CCBC) explained their motivation for being at the event. One of these volunteers, 23-year-old Mia Wunderlich, explained, “We just wanted to love on our city! Also, it’s really important to make sure you know your neighbor and make them feel seen and heard and valued.” 

Another group of volunteers, from the Rotary Club of Ventura East, elaborated on their experiences here at the annual Service Day. Nancy D’Attelio said, “It was a really positive experience last year, and participating in [the Serve Day] was what led me to join Rotary.” 

When asked about what community service they would be performing today, 57-year-old Dawn Knowles said with a smile, “We’re over at the YMCA helping plant trees.”

People arrived wearing the “Love Ventura” shirts in support of the event. The Chick-fil-A mascot also made an appearance, providing free drinks and breakfast sandwiches for the volunteers. (Taylor Schmidt)

WCDC Neighborhood Cleanup

The first booth we visited was the WCDC Neighborhood Cleanup. This organization travels through neighborhoods in Ventura to clean up or recycle the waste around houses, not only making Ventura a better place to live, but also improving the environmental aspect of the city. A  65-year-old volunteer, Alan Turner, who has been performing volunteer work for two years as of 2023, stated, “We just want to improve the conditions in Ventura […] and unite all the citizens together […] for good.” Turner, who is a retired airline pilot, believes in going above and beyond for the community to make Ventura a better place, and does this by choosing to spend his free time giving back to the community. 

City of Ventura: Environmental Sustainability

A very important station at the Love Ventura Serve Day was the environmental sustainability booth. Katie Munster, a 26-year-old environmental assistant of the City of Ventura Public Works organization, stated that the goal of the organization is to “engage with people about the different programs” they offer. The programs they offer include safe recycling, food waste, compost, hazardous waste collection and even clean up events. They hold these programs at their outreach events, such as Love Ventura’s Day of Service. These events and programs are a great and efficient way to educate the people of Ventura about the safest and least harmful ways to dispose of waste, as well as how to ultimately clean up the community. Munster states, “A lot can be done when we work together, and we’re making a big difference for the environment as well.” These kinds of acts are important to our community, as they keep Ventura safe and in good condition. 

After the morning rally started, companies set up tarps and provided information and supplies for the following day ahead of them. From then on, the organizations gave assignments to the volunteers who then dispersed to their locations to help clean up the city. (Taylor Schmidt)

Ventura Police Department

The Ventura Police Department’s booth served for outreach and to inform more people about the service of the department. Among the programs they displayed was the Explorer Program, through which high school students are able to shadow police officers in Ventura while they’re on patrol. A Ventura High School student Adeline Klatzia ‘25 stated, “This program really stands for trust in our community, and just a lot of integrity, [as well as] raising a generation of responsible teenagers … We really just stand for the love of our city.” Furthermore,  she went on to explain how being able to see what police officers encounter and how the city is run is important for the community to understand, as it shapes how we view our officers. 

Ronald Mcdonald Family Room

At this particular organization, volunteers work to create a safe space for families with sick children at the Ventura County Medical Center. The program director for the “Ronald Mcdonald Family Room,” 29-year-old Jaqualine Alexis Gargano, stated, “We provide free meals [and] snacks, [as well as] a safe place in the hospital for [kids] to come in and see their sick siblings.” Furthermore, this organization also hopes to alleviate the financial and emotional stress that some parents have while their children are in the hospital. Jacqueline is third-generation born and grew up in Ventura, expressing that because Ventura’s community is a vital part of her life, she wanted to give back to it. 

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