Mashburn leaving Youth Employment Service

This article first appeared in the Wednesday, June 7, 1989 edition of the “Ojai Valley News” on Page A-3. It is reprinted here with their permission. The author is unknown.

Mashburn leaving Youth Employment Service

Arlou Mashburn, co-director of the Ojai Valley Youth Employment Service, is leaving the agency because of funding problems.

The problem came to a head earlier this week when it was learned the service’s funding request to the United Way for $18,000 would not be honored.

Instead, United Way decided to give the agency $9,500, the same as last year.

The employment service’s board of directors on Monday voted to accept Mashburn’s resignation as a cost-cutting measure. The resignation follows recommendations made by United Way.

Mashburn said her resignation is effective June 16 unless an unexpected funding source is found.

Mashburn has been with the service since the 1970s and was a longtime director.

She said one of her biggest fears is that the Ojai Valley residents may not be aware of the importance of the program to the community.

Mashburn said that not only do many young people need the money they earn on jobs provided through the agency, they need the work ethic and self esteem jobs provide.

Mashburn said she has no immediate plans for the future.

Her husband retired two years ago, but she would like to continue some form of work on a part time basis.

“I don’t think I can do for myself without doing for others,” she said.

Tim Sidoti, the other co-director of Youth Employment Service, will remain on the job.

The service makes some 1,400 job placements a year for the youth of the Ojai Valley. There is no charge to employers or job seekers for the service.

Sidoti said United Way’s low grant was unexpected.

Sidoti, who was hired in January to increase funding and recruit more young people and businesses, said he felt that the employment service has made several changes to comply with previous requests made by United Way, including the generation of funds and solicitation of help from individuals and local service organizations.

“We didn’t really expect the whole $18,000, but I really expected more than last year. I expected $12,000, or at least $10,000.”

According to Sidoti, since he took over, the agency has added five new board members, who either belong to local service organizations or are prominent business people. It has received funds from the Optimists Club and the Rotary Club and it is currently negotiating for funds from the city as well as the Lions Club. It also sent out 1,600 appeals to various businesses and private employers requesting donations.

In addition, the employment service also increased the hours it is open and has conducted a training workshop for youth on how to find work.

At Monday’s emergency meeting, the service’s board had four options — to operate with a full-time director but with no other paid staff, to have a part-time director and part-time job placement clerk, to have a part-time director with a part-time job placement clerk as needed or to close the agency’s doors.

Prior to the meeting, Sidoti had said any of the first three options would diminish the quality of service.

“Being the size of agency that we are, you have to have the personnel to put out a quality product,” he said. “I hate to use that term product, but when you are giving out that kind of expertise, it takes time and money. You just can’t do it half way. I just don’t feel it can be done half way.”


Women-of-the-Year give time, energy to help community

The following article was first printed in the WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 9, 1985 edition of the “OJAI VALLEY NEWS” on Page A-1. It is reprinted here with their permission.

Women-of-the-Year give time, energy to help community
by
Brenda Loree


When the OVN news staff chose Arlou Mashburn and Carmen Robertson as its 1985 Women-of-the-year, it was without the knowledge that the two of them not only knew each other, but have been great friends for 24 years, and that, their lives have dovetailed and coincided many, many times since they met in 1961.

“When I moved to Ojai in 1961, Arlou lived across the street,” said Robertson. “The day after we moved in, the doorbell rang and there was this beautiful glossy head of hair with a coffeepot. It was her. It was my welcome to Ojai.”

AND WHEN THEY showed up for a picture-taking session together on Monday, throwing their arms over each other’s shoulders, assuming a buck and wing position and announcing themselves as “The Pit Sisters,” we weren’t sure but what they had misunderstood and thought they’d won the Ted Mack Amateur Hour.

Such high spirits are but symptomatic of high energy these two human dynamos possess. Rare is the person in Ojai Valley who hasn’t been cheered by, but more to the point, helped by, one or both of these women.

Neither stands on much ceremony. Neither holds formal office nor chairs important commissions. What they both have is heart, “miles and miles and miles of heart. “They are both such lobbyists for the Ojai Valley and its people that if they took their act to Washington, D.C., they’d be banned for undue influence.

Officially, Mashburn is the executive director of the Ojai Valley’s Youth Employment Service (YES). Officially, Robertson is the Ojai Valley representative of the Ventura County Arts Advisory Council.

IT’S WHAT THEY DO unofficially that singles them out. The two of them combined have probably driven their and everyone else’s kids in Ojai Valley enough miles on field trips to go around the world twice. They’ve both been unofficial sympathetic ears to enough teenagers (and their parents) in the valley to qualify for master’s degrees in family counseling.

Mashburn

One of Mashburn’s bosses, Ginny Barrett, member of the YES board of directors, said it best about Arlou: “She’s done so much more than what she’s paid to do, put in so many more hours, that she’s still our best volunteer.”

“When you see Arlou coming, you know you’re going to have a good time,” said the Ojai Valley native, can’t remember a time when she wasn’t working with youngsters on a volunteer basis. “Arlou and I were PTA nursery school volunteers, elementary school on up.”

Being mother of six and working almost exclusively with children on her job only makes her want to do more with youngsters.

“There aren’t enough people who like kids,” she said as she sat in her cubbyhole YES office on the grounds of Chaparral High School. “Hiam Ginott, my idol said you should give your child a way out. Don’t come down on them all the time. We’d never talk to adults the way we talk to our kids.

“I wish there was an outreach program here for the kids, something like Interface,” she mused between calls; calls from people wanting to hire someone and calls from kids wanting to be hired.

AFTER AN hour and a half of trying to squeeze an interview in between calls and visits from youngsters, it became obvious that Mashburn is her own “outreach program.” She serves as a personal counselor as much as a placement director on the job. Her manner is so disarming, so non-threatening, that monosyllabic teenagers walk in and find themselves pouring their hearts out to her.

“See how I love this job,” she beamed after effecting a particularly difficult job placement by phone, one in which everyone was happy. “Isn’t this great?”

“What I most hope to do here is maintain the reputation of Evy Foyil. She was here before me and it’s easy for me because of her example,” she said.

Mashburn will also be honored later this year when she leads the annual Independence Day parade down Ojai Avenue on the 4th of July as its Grand Marshall. Barely five feet tall, Mashburn will probably have to sit in a booster chair so her fans can see her in the back seat of the convertible. She won’t mind, because from her standpoint, it will mean she’ll have a better view of all of her friends.

Robertson

“She works for the good of the artists in this community,” said Carmen Robertson’s longtime friend Diane Volz. “She serves them; she brings the public to them. That’s her joy.”

ANYONE acquainted with Robertson has been buttonholed at one time or another to at- [missing words] there. She worked with the Presbyterian Church youth group and others.

In recent years she has worked as an aide at all levels of the Ojai school system, particularly with the special ed children. “I’m best as helping kids feel good about themselves,” she says. “If you say anything, say I stand for the dignity of children.”

Asked about her supreme accomplishment she said, “I was cleanup hitter for the Topa Topa Elementary School baseball team.”

ROBERTSON HAS very nearly lead two lives in one. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she became a child actress literally at the age of six months. For the next 26 years she worked for the likes of W.C. Fields, Bonita Granville, Jane Withers and appeared in “Our Gang” comedies. As she grew up she worked with Clark Gable, was a stand-in for Lana Turner and swam for two years in Esther Williams movies. “I spent two years under water. I also dived for Ginger Rogers. I was a good swimmer.”

Once she and her friend Diane Volz worked in the movie “Ziegfield Follies” together; they only realized it years later when they met in Ojai. Robertson was in the water and Volz was on the stage in a lavish “smoke-flame water ballet number.”

Then Robertson met and married yacht skipper Jack Robertson; they started a family and moved to Ventura County. The family grew to include Nick, Drew, Cullen, Winslow and Sydney, now all grown and all distinguished scholars in one way or another.

The day she started her family, she retired from the movie industry; the nurturing of her (and other people’s) children became her career. She and Jack resisted temptations to leave because “we wanted our family to have the Ojai way of life.”

“I came home when I came to Ojai. This is a mystical valley. I have a mystical streak and I feel better here than anyplace else.”

WE’LL TRAVEL ALONG, singin’ our song, side by side.
ARLOU MASHBURN, executive director of the Ojai Valley Youth Employment Service, can squeeze a job out of a turnip if there’s a teenager in need of it. (Timothy Teague photo)
CARMEN ROBERTSON — Avoid her at all costs if you don’t want to be buttonholed into attending every cultural effort staged in the Ojai Valley. (Timothy Teague photo)

Ojai Valley Neighbors

This article first appeared in the August 24, 2001 edition of the Ojai Valley News. It is reprinted here with their permission. The photo of the Surf Shop was added by the Ojai Valley Museum.

Ojai Valley
Neighbors
by
Chris Wilson

Ojai runs thick in Neal Mashburn’s veins. The third-generation native has called this valley his home for all of his 31 years. And he’s been under the watchful eye of the community thanks to his well-known mom, Arlou.

Neal Masburn when he was owner/operator of the Beatched surf shop in Oak View.
Neal Mashburn when he was owner/operator of the Beatched surf shop in Oak View.

His mom was named Ojai’s Woman of the Year in 1989, was the grand marshal of the Fourth of July parade and ran the Youth Employment Service for a number of years. But since his father Harold’s death about three years ago his mom has been less active in the community.

“Now she just lays low, clips coupons and keeps out of sight,” he says.

When he’s not working at his Oak View business, Beatched, he helps her with yard work and has often thought of writing a book. He’ll call it, “Thoughts of Pop While Riding the Lawn Mower.”

“His most enjoyable time was taking care of the yard,” Neal says.

Neal’s grandmother moved to Ojai from Indiana. She worked at Rains for about 30 years, he says, and saved her money. When she died each of the half-dozen kids got a little inheritance. Since he didn’t want to work for anyone else, he decided the best way he could honor Grandma’s legacy was to start a retail shop, Beatched was born more than six years ago, and has grown each year.

“I make a living,” he says.

Neal admits that he’s a natural-born salesman. And he says that he can read his customers within seconds of waltzing through the door. He has built his successful reputation by offering what customers ask for. There’s T-shirts, grass skirts, skate and surf boards, stickers, sandals, posters, wet suits and vinyl record albums. And that’s a partial list of the inventory. Recently he’s begun offering one-on-one surf lessons. And he opens the parking lot to a free concert party every Memorial Day weekend.

Neal Mashburn standing in front of his surf shop, Beatched, on N. Ventura Avenue (AKA; Highway 33) in Oak View, California. Photo circa 1998.
Neal Mashburn standing in front of his surf shop, Beatched, on N. Ventura Avenue (AKA Highway 33) in Oak View, California. Photo circa 1998.

Neal too, proudly confesses his true love for Summer. Not only the season, but the adorable blonde who’s served at the Ojai Brew Pub since opening day and graces a lingerie ad that shows up regularly in the Ojai-Ventura Voice newspaper. They’ve been together for nearly five years.

“She’s made me better,” he says.

So with Beatched, Summer, surfing, skating, and a love for the warmth of the valley, it’s no wonder that Neal says, “Ojai has just been all about friends.”

It’s paradise. It’s home.