The Rotary Club of Ojai West has many charitable interests locally and throughout the world. The vast majority of those interests are funded by the Ojai Wine Festival, a non-profit event sponsored by the Rotary Club of Ojai West’s Foundation, a 501 C (3) entity. Anyone interested in helping sponsor any of these projects can provide a tax deductible donation to the Rotary Club of Ojai West Foundation,

P.O.Box 1501, Ojai, CA 93023.


Shade Sail for Libby Park

Our club is spearheading the installation of a shade sail cover for Libby Park to protect the children’s play area from getting so hot during the summer. At times, the metal parts of the playground equipment is so hot it could potentially burn children who come in contact with it. The cost is high and our club has committed $15,000 towards the total cost. Rotary International is contributing $5,000. We are hoping the other Rotary Club in Ojai will contribute and the rest has to come from the community. If you wish to donate, a tax deductible donation can be made to the Rotary Club of Ojai West Foundation and mail to the address above.

Disaster Preparedness

The Rotary Club of Ojai West has long been recognized for its work in Disaster Preparedness. In 2007, Rotary West came up with the idea of filming the national volunteer disaster preparedness training known as C.E.R.T.  (Community Emergency Response Training). Holding the class during the filming allowed community and Rotarian involvement with certification after three weeks and over 18 hours of study and exercises.  The training was then edited for a 77 minute presentation of chaptered highlights on each area and a 12 minute preview.  Rotary Club of Ojai West invested the $10,000 for the film “People Like You” (www.walk your and helped in its exposure to the community, state and nationwide.  The DVD continues its run on our community t.v. access channel each week for the benefit of our citizens. 

Updating the community with preparedness information through local events, is done several times a year. The annual “O.K.” drill held in Ojai on the third Wednesday of September is supported by Rotary West with monies totaling ($1,000) and with neighborhood Rotarian volunteers.

In 2012, the first Teen CERT class was held in Ojai. Seven public and private high schools participated. Organizational help, Advertising and food was provided by Rotary West‘s Disaster Preparedness committee. 

Rotary Club of Ojai West will continue its support of upcoming C.E.R.T. classes having members certified as well as making sure local announcements are made. For more information on this program, go to the Club website at


Youth Programs

Girl’s Empowerment Workshop

In 2012 we sponsored a Girl’s Empowerment Workshop at Matilija Junior High school, where all aspects of being a girl can be discussed and girls are encouraged to think independently and be more respectful of themselves and value themselves more. This program has been taught by Tobi Green for many years, but lately, with budget cuts, the Sheriff’s department has stopped their financial support. For a cost of $1,500 dozens of girls can be shown that they matter and that they can be more assertive in an attempt to heal some of the societal stereotypes that often confuse and discourage young girls and women. Go to for more information.

Nordhoff High School Student of the Month

A student is chosen by the counselor staff at Nordhoff who best represents a student that has achieved, even if the odds against it were high.  Since 2001, 100 students have received a total of $15,000 in scholarships to help cover future college expenses.

Nordhoff High School Service Above Self Scholarships

Since 2002, we have selected several outstanding graduating students to receive scholarships. Last year $8,000 was given and scholarship amounts are increasing. Over $50,000 in total have been given since 2002

Floating Classroom

In 2011, the Foundation of the Rotary Club of Ojai West acquired a pontoon boat that we use as a floating classroom school children. For more detailed information, pictures and a video, go to our club’s website at

Lake Casitas Rowing

A group of young people train at Lake Casitas and have quite a bit of success in rowing events. Many of the young people cannot afford the costs associated with rowing training or the cost of traveling to and entering events. Our club helps with donations each year.


Local Schools

Over the years our club has been a strong supporters of the local schools and the students they are responsible for.

Some of the projects we have supported are:

Grad Night at Nordhoff

Nordhoff Music Program

Nordhoff Science Program

Matilija Junior High Gear Bags

Dictionary Project for all 3rd graders in the Valley, More information below and on the main club web site.

Rotary Clubs Purchase a Kiln for Nordhoff

The Rotary Club of Ojai-West and the Rotary Club of Ojai have purchased a new $3,000 electric kiln for the ceramics and pottery classes at Nordhoff High School.   The old kiln had been in heavy use for over 10 years and was becoming dangerous.  The lid was in disrepair and the coil channels were broken in many places allowing the elements to fall out.  A new kiln was desperately needed for the program.

Annually, Instructor Gray Duncan’s ceramics and pottery program has more than 150 students.  In addition to thanking the Rotary Clubs, Mr. Duncan would like to thank the Ojai Education Foundation, Ojai Studio Artist and Ventura County Potters Guild who also provided funds to purchase other equipment for his program.

The Rotary Club of Ojai-West’s “Ojai Wine Festival” funds projects like this and their floating classroom. The Rotary Club of Ojai gets the funds for projects like this from the “Taste of Ojai”.   Both Rotary Clubs are proud to be supporting our excellent schools.




 Rotary Leadership Awards

This is a worldwide program to expose young people to inspiring adult teachers and speakers in the area of leadership. The students spend a long weekend in isolation with peers and teachers/speakers/chaperones to interact in small groups to learn leadership skills. Graduates of the program commonly speak of life changing experiences during the event. Our club commonly sponsors several young people each year.

Interact Clubs.

Both Nordhoff and Villanova schools have active Interact Clubs, where high school students work together to earn funds to help various needy people/groups. Some examples of projects are: sending money to provide a basic animal group to a village, which they can use to produce more animals for sale or to consume; provide manpower and funds to help various orphanages in Mexico, etc. These students are the leaders of their schools and promote  the Rotary ethic of “Service Above Self”

Youth Exchange

Since 1992, when I became the Youth Exchange Officer for this club, after my daughter had spent an exciting and informative year in Spain as a Rotary exchange student, our club has hosted students from all over the world. Students have come from Spain, Italy, Zimbabwe, Japan, Thailand, Germany, Argentina and Brazil to name a few. We have hosted a total of 16 students so far in all. In 2012-2013, we will host another student (a young lady) from Italy. 

We are responsible for finding host families where the students are treated like family members, attend school locally, and commonly become involved with music and sports programs. Room and board are provided by the host families and our monthly stipends of, usually, $125.00 per month, are used by the students to go to movies, by junk food and pay for cell phone charges(a basic necessity, apparently).

Our club spends an average of $2,000 each year to support these students, plus often around $500 to help them go on the year end train trip that travels all over the country and typically lasts about 30 days.

One of the most common statements made by the exchange students as they get ready to travel home is that they had negative impressions about the United States before coming here and now have very positive feelings about Americans. Most are very unhappy about leaving and often express hope that they can return in the future to visit with all the friends they are leaving behind. Several have actually done so. 

This Rotary program was started around 1960 as a way to improve cultural awareness for our students traveling to other countries and for students coming here from other countries. World Peace, one person at a time, is the goal of Rotary, and over the years, we have been able to do our small part towards that goal!  The students we send to other countries are made well aware that they are cultural ambassadors representing our country to other cultures and they are expected to make us proud of their influence on the people they meet, showing them that not all (not even most) Americans are Ugly Americans.

This program sends from 8,000-10,000 students around the world each year from many countries.

Following is a letter from a recent student, Miguel, who is now in medical school in Spain: (typos and language errors not corrected)

Hi, I’m Miguel Martín Arroyo, from Spain, and i was an exchange student last year (2011-2012) in the nice, lovely and awesome little town of Ojai, California.

In the period of time i was spending there i met people that i think about now as family, but not everything was an easy way. It is true, as my experience says now, that the first days in a country thousands of miles away from your home are, a little bit weird, cause everything is different and it takes a while to get used to the different language, differnt traditions and different lifestyle, but past those two first weeks of adaptation, everything went really, really great (and even in the beginning, so i was pretty lucky).

So in the beginning i spent the first six months with a great family, the Shouses.With them I lived a whole bunch of exciting situations, as that one wedding in Mexico, or the trips we did to a cabin they had in the forest, kinda close to Sacramento.

I started school by the end of August and, at first, I was the new guy, so for the first couple or days I didn’t know who I should go with, or where i should go. School is so different there in America than in Spain… You guys have a lot of activities and sports, and I had so much fun playing there for Nordhoff high school. And there I go. I’m the foreigner, the spaniard, so I decide to join some sport. Football? No way, those guys have been playing all their lifes and i don’t even know the rules, plus I always loved water, so waterpolo is my choice. Correct decision. There i met some of the best friends a person can have, i seriously loved that sport and people there, tat was my place, so finally i had a “gang” and felt like that town was gonna be good for me.

Time went by, and I met so many people, most of them were always nice to me, as I said, Ojai is a lovely place with kind people. I realized people in the US are more caring about fundraising stuff, and they go to school events, I liked it. I have also always been a musician, I play the saxophone, so the first thing I did was joining the marching band. At first I didn’t even know what a marching band was, and i used to play alto saxophone but here I was Baritone… So many changes! So i go to practice and everyone is doing weird stuff with their feet “they are all crazy” That’s what i thought, but then i joined them and it was fun!

Weeks passed and I was getting pretty buffed thanks to waterpolo and weightlifting, and an expert in tv series thanks to my host dad, Bill Shouse, who is the person that follows the biggest number of shows at the same time i have ever known.

So with the band we played at UCLA, we swam in Malibu, I got to surf several times with my friend Duncan, I went to Homecoming (we don’t have those in Spain) And most important, I learnt about a lifestyle that is different to mine, but I loved it, and i learnt how to communicate pretty good in English.

We also did several activities with Rotary: I went to several meetings of my Rotary club, “Ojai West”, where I learnt what Rotary was, cause before my exchange I didn’t really know exactly what it was, and I loved their meetings. I also joined Interact, where I met good friends and did some fundraisings. With the other exchange students we did several activities, as going surfing in Huntington Beach, Skiing to Big Bear (where we also got to speak about to our home countries in BB High and attend winter dance), and we went to district 5240 Conference there in Carpinteria.

So, by January I was an expert English speaker (I even thought everything in English) and I had so many good friends, I played varsity in waterpolo and I loved my host family. I was certainly enjoying my exchange.

Then i had to change families (there’s a rule that says that) and what a pleasant surprise was that I was gonna live with my friend Alex Tally and his family!! So I already knew them and that made change way easier. In that family they are also great and nice people and, again, I felt like being at home. That is other of the best things I had in my exchange year: I pretty much didn’t feel homesick at any point, cause I knew I was coming back to Spain, and I used to speak with my family by Skype each two weeks or so, so everything was alright.

With the Tallys I also did lots of things as going around California, going with the band to San Francisco (which was pretty much going with my family: Alex was there, so it was Lilian, my host mum) or even I got to pilot an airplane with Brian (who is a pilot) and Alex!!! I also changed sport to swimming for the spring season, and loved it even more than waterpolo! I kept hanging out with the same group of friends, I went to prom where I had a great time, went to the beach, hiking, to the hot springs… Ojai has it all!

I also went to RYLA with Rotary, which is a leadership camp, where I learnt a whole bunch of things and had a great time (it is a once in a lifetime experience) and then all the exchange students went in a trip around the USA, where I got to see some of the best things you guys have there. I personally loved Chicago. We, the exchange students also became family as we learnt how to manage in a different country, different language and different situations that we found every single day of the year, starting in day 1.


Then the hard time arrived: saying goodbye. I didn’t want to leave, and I cried a lot saying good bye to all my people: The Shouses, the Tallys, people in the school, the other exchange students, my whole pack of friends,even the teachers and coaches!

I cried saying bye to Ojai, that beautiful town in between the mountains and close to the sea, that town with a unique pink moment and a special charm, where I even graduated by second time. I still miss those days, and almost a year has passed, but i’m not sad, cause it wasn’t a good bye, it was a “see you later”.

Some things I regret having done there? None. Some experiences I would skip? None. Cause the year goes as it goes, things happen for a purpose, happy and melancholic moments are part of every exchange student’s day  during the process. Some tip coming from my experience? Just be yourself, live as you’d do at home, don’t worry about being weird or not knowing how to speak properly at the beginning. If you’re yourself during the year, you will have the greatest experience of your life. It worked for me, and it will for whoever wants to live this experience. Are you in? I dare you to try, I double dare you, you won’t regret.


PD: I’d like to say thank you to everyone that made possible my exchange: Rotary Club of Ojai West, Rotary Club of Alicante Puerto, the two best families i could’ve had, Tallys and Shouses, to all my friends and people in Ojai for being so nice, to Linda Taylor, the “bestest” counselor, and thanks to Rotary for making so many people so happy by giving the chance of living what I lived there in California. I hope to see you all of you guys soon there in the US, and you’re welcome to come to Spain, a different country, as some say!


See you guys, Miguel Martín Arroyo (Spain) – Exchange student in the year 2011-2012


Dictionary Project

We started a dictionary project in 2004  and gave dictionaries to local 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders the first year. Since then we have been giving dictionaries to 3rd graders every year, for a total of over 3,000 so far. For more information on this program, go to the Club website at


Bar-B-Que Project

 Our club has a trailer and bar-b-Que unit that we provide for the use of various events. It is manned by our volunteers and we can provide a full meal when we are asked to do so. Examples are the Tennis Tournament and various schools in the Valley. We work out the cost to make the meals as affordable as possible and we do not make a profit on the project.



Ojai Band Concerts

The Ojai Valley has been blessed with a local band that gives free band concerts for several weeks each summer. In 2002 the primary supporters of this event were ready to turn over the reins and our club took over the responsibility for this project and have provided monetary and physical support to the band ever since. There are 300-400 attendees every concert and the children are specifically targeted with a special march each concert, balloons, balloon figures, popcorn, etc.


Ojai Community Park

Ojai has a community park at its entrance and our club was the moving force behind its conceptualization and implementation. We provided over $40,000 to the project and much man power and with community support it was completed. The Rotary Community Park is there for all to enjoy. For more information on this program, go to the Club website at


Other Community Projects


Ojai Valley Museum – $300 was given towards the purchase of new computers for their office use.  Last year we donated $399 towards a recording device so they could interview people in the community and compile a history of the Ojai Valley. Supporting the Museum has always been a priority of this club.


Turkey Donation – 110 turkeys were donated to the CAP program to provide Thanksgiving dinner boxes to families throughout the Ojai Valley.  This program is run by Help of Ojai and provides meals and other services to Ojai Valley residents who are in need.  Last year our club donated 100 turkeys to this program as well.


Little House Clean Up Project – Club members gathered to clean up the Little House Building and surrounding landscape.  Club members trimmed trees, power washed the outside of the building, sidewalks and decks, the gazebo lattice was replaced or repaired in certain areas, the trolly stop benches were repainted, and the gazebo also received a new coat of paint.  Weeds were pulled and miscellaneous items were disposed of.


Casitas Rowing – For the past two years, our club has donated $500 to Casitas Rowing.  This money is used to assist in scholarships, purchase equipment, and pay for contest entry fees.


Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation – $300 was donated to this organization to assist families with living expenses as their children are being treated for Cancer.


Dancing with the Ojai Stars – For the past two years we have donated $300 towards this program.  This program is a fundraiser for the Nordhoff High School Dance Department.  Dance students are paired up with someone in the Ojai Community and then perform at the fundraiser.


THE CREW –   We donated $500 for the past two years. This is a group of mostly teenagers who work on various projects in and around the valley, primarily in the area of brush control, trail upkeep and fire prevention projects. Donations help supplement any fees they are paid to do these jobs, and earning a wage and doing a job (mostly really hard work) is really satisfying to these young people who might not have had a job if not for the CREW.


Ground Operations – $1,000 was donated towards the production of a film focused on the engaging military veterans in organic farming to help them work through their PTSD and provide America with more farmers.


Nordhoff High School Grad Night – $650 was donated to Nordhoff to sponsor 10 students to attend Grad Night.  This is an event all seniors would love to attend, but some are unable to because of financial reasons.


Ojai Independence Day –   $500 donated this year and last year. We have been supporting this event for many years.



The Rotary International Foundation, from dues collected from the more than 1.2 million Rotarian’s worldwide, sponsors various projects for health, education and peace in the world. Some of our International projects have received funds from this source to help.

The Rotary Club of Ojai West has donated over $525,000 to the Foundation since 1984. Included in that total is $50,000 to the Polio Plus project.


Guatemala Water Project

One of our long time members is a retired plumber. His discussion of how he got involved in the project and what he does follows:

An old friend of my wife, who had become an ophthalmologist, approached me about helping in an area of Guatemala where she had a house and did volunteer work. The need for water, both in quantity and quality, was great. My first trip was to a village called Aqua Negra (Black Water). Because others before me had made promises and had not kept them, I found I needed to join with a Rotary group who had some credibility in the area. They were there on a Rotary Grant, delivering water tanks, and special roofing and gutters to collect rain water at their homes . Because these homes had thatch roofs and dirt floors these people were required to build structures with a platform and a roof area for rain collection and storage. I took a walk with the women of the village to the closest water hole, which was about a mile away. It was far from clean, but they would set a gallon of water on their head to carry it back. After years of this, you could see where it had deformed their bodies. Women had severe bowlegs and crooked necks. On the way home I was approached by a friend of the ophthalmologist,  a Spanish Nun who was running a children’s malnutrition center in a town called Rabinal. She had been told by my friend that I was a retired plumber and Sister Blanca wanted me to come to her center and help with the water issues they were having. After talking with my wife, I decided this was a project I wanted to be involved in, and called my friend to let her know I would be back to see what could be done.

I was able to locate an easily portable solar unit that would purify the water up to 99.9% and produce one gallon a minute. I took various tools and made use of another friend in Guatemala to help with the language. The school had many leaks in the pipes that were under concrete and another limiting factor was that the city only turned on the water twice a week. I repaired the leaks I could find and installed an electric 2 gallon water heater for doing dishes. A year later I returned with several friends to see what progress had been made and to install a water tank for storage and discovered that the solar filtering unit had not been used because the Nuns seemed afraid of it. The solar unit was then donated to the eye clinic where my friend worked and the water was used to clean eyes.

The following trip, I was asked to help at the village of Santa Rita by a friend who was a Maryknoll Brother and who has lived with the Mayan people since the 70’s. This village had a water tank that took two days to fill and one day to empty.  We were able to install a rain catchment system to help speed up the refilling of the tank.

We next went North to Santa Rita to install our first rain catchment panel. Next we installed a 22,000 liter water storage tank there and distributed water filters and solar lights. About this time, I teamed up with Safe Water International to improve the rain panel and design for better and cleaner collection of water and tried to come up with some kind of cleaner storage system.

Next we installed a rain panel system on a thatched roof in Los Flores with a 400 gal storage tank. We also located someone with a sewing machine to make rain collection panels locally.

In the village of Paxixil we created a mural with the help of local children and built a library with the financial help of this club and the Friday Rotary club in Ojai.

At the moment, we have meetings planned with the owner of Rotoplas to design, make molds and build water storage tanks locally, hopefully with the help of a grant from the Rotary Foundation.

My last rip was to Tanzania, Africa, to observe a water well drilling and education program there.


Nicaraguan Stove Project

In many 3rd world countries, cooking is by wood or other burning fuel that produces smoke and this is traditionally done inside the home with inadequate venting. This results in ocular and respiratory problems in the cook and those family members spending a lot of time inside (usually children). This project is building new stoves in the home with adequate outside venting which will result in those families being more healthy.


Polio Eradication Project

Since the mid 80’s, Rotary has teamed with WHO and other organizations to eradicate polio from the world. When the project started about 365,000 people each year were afflicted with the debilitating polio virus. With vaccination, the disease can be prevented, but getting the funds to purchase the vaccines and the vaccines delivered safely to the populations that need it is a daunting task. To date, the continuous efforts of Rotarian’s and others worldwide have narrowed down the countries with active cases of polio to 3 (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria) and only about 1,000 cases a year are now diagnosed. It is possible polio, like smallpox, can be eradicated in our lifetime. Rotarian’s worldwide have donated about 1 billion dollars to the project and tens of thousands of hours of volunteer efforts.

So dedicated are Rotarian’s to their causes and so much of every dollar donated goes to the projects we sponsor (since all Rotarian’s are volunteers), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in looking for a cause to support, chose to support Rotary in our effort to eradicate Polio.




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