Bob Engler and Helene Ross have been named King and Queen of the 26th annual Mardi Gras Ball, which will be held the evening of Saturday March 3 at the Hyatt Regency Westlake Village Hotel. The Ball is Community Conscience’s largest fund-raiser and this year’s title sponsor is Union Bank. With the proceeds and other donations, Community Conscience provides space rent-free to thirteen local non-profits, enabling them to more effectively serve our community.
Each year, Community Conscience honors two individuals for their exemplary community service. This year’s honorees have contributed their time, energy, and resources to bettering our community for many years and in many ways. As such, they are truly deserving to be crowned King and Queen and reign over the festivities at the Ball.
King Bob Engler is a retired professional firefighter. His long and distinguished career culminated with his service as Fire Chief for the City of Redondo Beach. During his tenure there, he received the prestigious South Bay Medal of Valor and helped create that City’s local Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT).
After retirement in 2005, Bob and wife Sue stepped up their service to local organizations. Both are active with the American Red Cross, and Bob has been a local and national volunteer responder, helping to coordinate relief and response activities from hurricanes in the south to local wildfires, including the recent Thomas fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
Bob is very active in the Thousand Oaks Kiwanis Club, having served on the Board of Directors and as President in 2011-2012. Two years later, he was elected Lieutenant Governor of District 42, which includes 15 Kiwanis Clubs in Ventura and Southern Santa Barbara counties. As a Kiwanian, Bob has led or participated in many service projects, such as Meals on Wheels, graffiti abatement, Key Club advisor, Wheel to the Sea serving handicapped individuals, and many of the Club’s fund-raising projects of the Club. The Club has honored him for his service by twice naming him Kiwanian of the Year, and presenting him multiple Distinguished Service Awards.
Currently, Bob also serves as a Board member of Manna, the Conejo Valley Food Bank. He is actively leading its capital campaign to adapt and renovate a building recently acquired in order to provide larger and more suitable space for Manna’s growing needs. Other organizations that Bob has volunteered for include the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, Autism Society, Thousand Oaks Little League, and the Thousand Oaks High School Lancer Marching Band. He also has found time to serve on the Ventura County Grand Jury (civil) and the Conejo Open Space Trails Advisory Council.
Bob has been married to wife Sue for 35 years and they have lived in Thousand Oaks since 1990. They have two children and one grandchild.
Queen Helene Ross is an active volunteer and philanthropist with a record of service strongly connected to arts and culture. She is the founding President of the Friends of the Civic Arts Plaza, which supports programming at the Plaza through providing volunteer ushers at events and through fund-raising from its gift shop. This resource helps offset the cost of bringing school children to the theatres. When the Civic Arts Plaza opened in 1994, Helene was the chair of the Grand Opening Publicity Committee.
Back in the early days of our community, Helene helped found the Westlake Women’s Club, which will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. She is still an active member of the Club, serving on its Board of Directors and helping to plan and produce its fund-raising events. This Club supports many local charities, and provides college scholarships to deserving high school seniors.
Helene also serves on the Boards of Directors of the Conejo Symphony, the Conejo Symphony Guild, the Westlake Cultural Foundation, and the New West Symphony. In keeping with her strong support for culture and the arts, Helene volunteers for the newly-formed California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks.
In 1996, the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce honored her as its Woman of the Year, and she has also received the Certificate Award for Excellence from the Thousand Oaks Arts Commission. Helene has served the Military Order of the World Wars as a highly effective member of its Auction Committee, helping to raise funds to support military and veteran events throughout the Conejo Valley. In 2016, they honored her with their annual Patriotic Service Award.
Helene is widowed and has a son, two grandsons and two great grandchildren.
The 2018 Mardi Gras Ball will begin with a champagne reception and entertainment by the Riverboat Dixie Jazz Band. A wonderful dinner will follow, with dancing to Fifth Avenue Entertainment. There will be both silent and live auctions packed with many desirable items – all proceeds benefit local non-profits!.