Uplifting Story Brightens Rainy Day Holiday Gathering | Self Reliance, Hard Work and a Dream

By Debra Tash

I’ve been fortunate to attend several of the annual holiday celebrations hosted by the Thousand Oaks Republican Women at the Lake Sherwood Country Club.  However one would have expected that this year’s gathering would be more somber than most. In 2017 Ventura County District Attorney Gregory Totten was to M.C. the gathering, and has been a past recipient of the club’s Beacon of Light Award. However due to the Thomas Fire, which was raging at the time, he couldn’t make it.  This year he did attend, though what happened last month was very much on the minds of all in attendance.  The community is still recovering from tragic events that could have easily overshadowed any yuletide festivities, the unthinkable happening at Borderline Bar and Grill, along with the devastation wrought by the Hill and Woolsey Fires.   

Today we were reminded, even with adversity, there can be hope.

The program started with the usual carolers, in harmony and delighting attendees with their renditions of holiday favorites.

Then Reverend Dr. Gary Alan Dickey lead everyone out to the terrace for the dove release, which was done by two of the four recipients of the Beacon of Light Award, Dr. Vishva Dev and Sallyy C, Pipes PhD.

Reverend Dickey gave the innovation, reminding all of the tragedy that struck too close to home. One of his congregants was numbered among the Borderline victims.











Rev. Dickey playing the bagpipes and giving the invocation

Dr. Pipes and Ms. Licata

The club’s Vice President, Rosemary Licata presented the awards while her sister, President Beatrice Restifo, ushered the program along.

Dr. Pipes was the first to be honored.  She was given the Americanism Award. Pipes serves as CEO for the Pacific Research Institute. She is an expert on health care issues. In her acceptance speech she advocated for freedom in health care driven by a market based system.

Dr. Dev was up next.  He grew up in a small village in India, dirt poor, his family of the lowest caste, untouchables.  The family, who had ten children, ran a small grocery store.  One day, with no water in their house, his mother did the unacceptable.  She went to the public baths. As an untouchable they were excluded from everything.  Because of her affront to what was allowed the family was striped of all they had, as little as that was.

His parents moved to another town, but Vishva remained in the village with his grandparents.  The grocery store reopened and life went on as usual, with a barefoot Vishva selling cigarettes in the street.  It went on until one day when a doctor came to their town. He treated the residents without charge, a selfless act that impressed this young boy. He would become a doctor, this from a family whose members had never even gone to school.  With hard work and a dream to drive him on, Dev was accepted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.  However, he couldn’t speak English and soon became discouraged.  A man who would become his mentor walked Vishva down a hall where he pointed out to the young student those who had won a place of honor commemorated with plaques hung on the wall to mark their accomplishments. He talked Dev giving the school three months to see if he could fit in and learn.

The young man from a small impoverished village did learn and won a place on those walls with his research which brought him to Cedars Sinai where he helped develop treatments for cardiovascular disease.  What he gleaned from his experience is the value of dreams.  That self reliance, hard work and having a dream is the core values he holds most dear.

The other two honorees weren’t in attendance.  Dr. Gregory Fontana, who is also in the cardiology department of Los Robles Hospital, will accept his award at a later date.  Sebastian Gorka PhD, former security advisor in the Trump White House sent a video message.  

It was a good day where we were reminded to go after that dream and with it there is always hope for a better tomorrow.  


Dr. Dev and Ms. Licata

Debra Tash is Editor-in-Chief of Citizensjournal.us, past president for Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, business executive and award-winning author, residing in Somis.

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