Cohort Reflections


An Encouraging Day

Nick Sondergoth

Sr. VP - Investments,  Wells Fargo Advisors

During our most recent VCLA session, we had the opportunity to hear from a fantastic lineup of speakers that each held an impressive breadth of knowledge within their respective disciplines.  In particular, the front half of the day was particularly impactful, as the focus turned towards two of the most vulnerable populations within our county.
Our first two speakers focused on the homeless population within Ventura County.  Jenn Harkey (Cohort XXVII), Program Director for the Ventura County Continuum of Care, gave us a great overview of the statistics underlying the homelessness problem as it currently stands, and also gave us a great understanding of what her team is doing to combat this.  The CoC employs a very expansive, multi-pronged approach to not only assist the current homeless population with navigating a path back towards consistent shelter, but also identifying “at risk” individuals and attempting to divert their path towards homelessness in the first place.
Next, Jason Meek, Executive Director of Turning Point Foundation, continued the conversation on homelessness and explained how Turning Point specifically works with those in the homeless population that suffer from mental illness.  Founded in 1988, Turning Point currently has 17 locations, 130 staff, and services approximately 3,000 individuals per year – amazing!  Their Safe Haven shelter, Growing Works nursery rehabilitation program, amongst other offerings struck me as incredibly unique and impactful.
Our session then focused on the Family Justice Center in Ventura.  We were given eye opening context and statistics from Mike Jump, Chief Deputy District Attorney, about victims that suffer from a variety of violent abuse acts in our local area.  After a short ride on the local bus, our group was then given a tour of the Family Justice Center and we were able to see firsthand the resources and assistance that they were able to offer to those that in many cases are in the immediate aftermath of a violent event.
I must say, the facility itself blew away my expectations, and the staff at the facility was an absolute delight.  I could imagine that this was a place in which victims could truly feel comfortable and cared for as they navigated their individual circumstances.
Both of these vulnerable populations were areas that I had no prior experience with, and the most encouraging part of the day was seeing just how many caring people and resources are hard at work in our county to make a difference to those that need help the most.

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