June 6, 2013
Kari Rodems, OVN correspondent
The Rotary Club of Ojai has a long-standing tradition of honoring men and women in our valley. Each year, local residents are nominated as Living Treasures for their commitment and spirit of giving to their community. This year, Gary and Brenda Farr are among the honorees.
For the better part of two decades, the Farrs have called the Ojai Valley home. Enamored with everything that makes Ojai destination-worthy, the couple moved inland from the coast and quickly became involved in the heartbeat Ojai.
The Ojai Valley Community Hospital Foundation and Guild is one the list of organizations that have benefited from the Farrs volunteerism.
According to Rotarian and Living Treasure chair, Fred Fauvre, “The Farrs have been instrumental in the founding and effectiveness of the Ojai Valley Community Hospital Foundation.”
Hospital Foundation Executive Director Chris Rock explained that Gary “proposed the need for a group to be formed to increase awareness in the community of the vital role the hospital plays, and suggested that group would also hold an annual black-tie event to raise much-needed funds to sustain OVCH’s mission.” The Foundation was established in 2000, when the hospital became a not-for-profit organization.
The hospital’s Guild was formed soon after.
The Farrs organized and chaired the first Nightingale Ball, which raised $75,000. Since that time, the Ball, held each December, along with the Guild’s annual spring event, “Have raised more than $1.5 million for the hospital” noted Brenda.
“The Farrs are invaluable and cherished not only for what they have done on behalf of the hospital but for the enthusiasm and passion they infuse into every project and event they have either spearheaded or attended,” added Rock.
Brenda is a past president of the Guild and has served on a number of its committees. She and Gary celebrated the hospital’s 50th anniversary a few years back by chairing the Guild’s Spring Event and raised $45,000 for the hospital.
But that’s not all they’ve done for the hospital. The next time you visit, take a moment to check out the cactus garden. The Farrs decided to take a formerly overlooked outdoor space and transform it into a tranquil cactus garden for all to enjoy.
When asked what inspires her to get involved, Brenda simply replied, “It’s fun!” She admitted to being “almost embarrassed” to be awarded with a Living Treasure honor, saying, “It’s not like it has been a chore to do what we have been awarded for doing. I enjoy entertaining. I love throwing parties and feel blessed to have such great friends to enjoy spending time with. So the fact that we can raise money for worthy causes while doing what we love to do makes it that much more fun! It is something I truly am happy to get to be a part of in this community.”
To that, Gary added, “We have been blessed with so much in this life, we should share. It is our honor to give back.”
In addition to their work in support of the hospital, Brenda has served with the Ojai Music Festival Women’s Committee in a variety of capacities for the last 16 years. She also serves as a docent at Lotus Land in Santa Barbara, and is currently part of the Ojai Garden Tour Planning Committee. Both Brenda and Gary continue to be active members of the Ojai Valley Community Hospital Guild.
Gary is currently a vice-chairman on the Foundation Board at the Ojai Hospital. He was also the founding president of the Channel Islands Maritime Museum, where he continues to serve on the board, and is a former board member of Casa Pacifica (where he now serves as an advisory board member). He is also a past chairman of the Ventura County UCLA Chancellors.
Aside from all they have happily done for the benefit of others, family is priority for the Farrs, who are proud parents of five grown children and enjoy spending time with their seven grandchildren.