As the date approached for our 20th anniversary Celebrate Our Future gala, alongside the increase in Delta variant cases around the country, the Healthcare Foundation staff and event committee met regularly to contemplate our options. In 2020, we held our first even virtual gala, which was wildly successful thanks to our very generous supporters. This year, however, we were looking forward to celebrating in person—but only if we could do so safely.
To achieve that goal, our team made the bold move of requiring every single person who attended, from guests, to caterers and performers, to submit proof of vaccination prior to the event. We began our outreach approximately one month before the celebration, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. People were more than happy to send in copies of their vaccination cards, and we received 100% verification from attendees several days before the event.
Among the 200 people in attendance at the iconic Mill District were 150 sponsors and their guests, plus 50 grantees and local nonprofit representatives. People were thrilled to reconnect under the old mill’s 30-foot- high shade structure and sip donated champagne, wine and beer amidst the old water tanks and giant metal fans. It was over 100 degrees that afternoon, but by evening the breeze had cooled it down enough for us to enjoy the Brazilian guitar duo Jive Samba, and later dance to the Josh Jones Latin Jazz Ensemble.
While we had raised a remarkable $364,487 in sponsorships and donations prior to the event, we raised an additional $47,400 between our live and online auctions, and an unbelievable $76,485 at our give-any-amount Fund-A-Need, for a grand total of $488,372! Our net income of $401,209 was the highest in the organization’s history.
Board Chair Scott Hafner recognized our many supporters, including our Healthcare Champions who have been giving to the Healthcare Foundation for over 20 years. Executive Director Kim Bender spoke about the importance of collaboration:
“This is an organization that not only depends on you, our donors and supporters, but on our grantee partners, also here tonight, who are on the frontlines, doing the work of protecting and enhancing the health of our community—physically and mentally, and in so doing, also spiritually. The nonprofits that we support through your dollars cannot do their good work alone if they want to make a real difference. Whether you give $50 or $100,000 to the Healthcare Foundation, you are expressing your belief in their work, and in our collective vision of health equity for all.”
We also heard from Mental Health Talent Pipeline participant Daisy Cardenas, who has completed her coursework at USF Santa Rosa in the Marriage and Family Therapy program and is now working at Side by Side counseling local youth. Daisy blew away the crowd with her story, and her heartfelt gratitude to the Healthcare Foundation for helping her become the first person in her family to obtain a Master’s Degree. Daisy said she cannot describe the relief that she feels every time she meets a new client, "when they see that I look like them, I speak their language, and understand what they are going through." You can read more of Daisy’s story here.
Please see this page for a full list of our gala sponsors and donors. We are so grateful to them and all our generous supporters for working together to build a future where everyone may enjoy healthcare as a human right—where everyone, not just those with privilege, has the same chance to live longer and better. Together, we can make northern Sonoma County an even better place to live, work and play, regardless of race, age, income, health or immigration status, gender, sexual orientation, preferred language, ability, or any other marker of identity.
As a result of the gala’s tremendous success, we look forward to announcing new grants to be distributed to deserving nonprofits later this year.