With the year nearing its close and the holidays on our doorstep, we’re naturally drawn to looking back and taking stock of what 2021 has meant, while considering what lies ahead. This annual exercise in reflection is typical, even if 2021 itself was anything but—and these circumstances inevitably invite us to seek out the bright lights more than we might in less turbulent times.
At the Healthcare Foundation, we join you in this collective year-end reflection, and consider ourselves fortunate for a great many reasons. Among the most poignant this year: to have experienced challenges that pushed us to learn, to have encountered opportunities that enhanced collaborations, and to have mobilized initiatives that helped transform and elevate our very approach to the work that we do.
Thank you for your participation in our ongoing work, however your support takes shape.
This month’s theme –Celebrating Extended Family – is apropos in light of the season and exemplifies the collaborative approach that defines the Foundation. As we continue to partner in support of addressing the greatest needs in our community, amidst an ongoing pandemic and other challenges, it has become clear that working together we do better, go further, and achieve greater outcomes for health and wellbeing for those who need it most.
In the spirit of working together and shining a light on extended family, I encourage you to read about this year’s Wetzel Award recipients, Edgar and Judy Deas, and the Deas family (Wetzel Community Leadership Award), and Montserrat Archila (Spirit of Wetzel Award), who epitomize the tradition of excellence in support of improving health and health equity in our community.
Mental Health Talent Pipeline scholarship recipient Bianca Pulido, also featured, traces her career from a turning point in the aftermath of wildfire disaster to access to education and new beginnings. Bianca is kicking off a traineeship at Corazón Healdsburg in collaboration with Side by Side, bringing much-needed bilingual and bicultural mental health services to our area.
Former board chair Mary Ellen Smith’s longtime devotion to the Foundation underscores her own singular tradition of trust and commitment, brought to life through decades of service and sponsorship. She reflects on the arc of the Foundation’s role in the community, marrying context with current-day reflections on what makes for a vital and connected community.
Mary Ellen might as well have been speaking for our entire extended family when she noted that northern Sonoma County is “the most wonderful community I’ve ever lived in.” We certainly agree, and wish you all a positive holiday season filled with warmth and wellbeing. I am already beginning to anticipate how we’ll go even further together for our community in the new year.
In gratitude for all of you,
Chair, Marketing Committee
2021 Wetzel Community Leadership Award:
Edgar and Judy Deas and Family
Each year, the Healthcare Foundation presents the Wetzel Awards to highlight individuals who demonstrate a commitment to improving health and health equity in our community. We could not be prouder to present this year’s Wetzel Community Leadership Award to Edgar and Judy Deas, and the Deas family, who through their many decades of philanthropic and volunteer efforts have contributed greatly to the wellbeing of their fellow Sonoma County residents.
Edgar and Judy Deas, along with their four sons Steven, Bruce, Paul, Mike, and their families, are all longtime residents of Healdsburg. Edgar’s parents, Mario and Dora, came to the U.S. from Cuba in the 1940s and traveled west to Albany, following the wartime work in the shipyards. They headed north of the Bay after the war, settling first in Willits, where Edgar and Judy met in high school.
The family relocated to Healdsburg in 1955. Edgar and Judy married in 1956, while both were attending Santa Rosa Junior College. After finishing their second year at SRJC, they began their married life together in Healdsburg in 1957 and have been there ever since.
2021 Spirit of Wetzel Award:
With the annual Wetzel Awards, the Healthcare Foundation is proud to highlight individuals who demonstrate a commitment to improving health and health equity in our community. We are thrilled to announce that this year’s Spirit of Wetzel Award recipient is Montserrat Archila, a brilliant and deeply devoted member of our Sonoma County community, and an inspiring example of local leadership that champions community voices in working for the health and wellbeing of our region.
Montserrat has worked at Providence St. Joseph Health for the past 16 years, collaborating with and serving the diverse communities that comprise Sonoma County. As the Mission Integration Manager for Petaluma Valley and Healdsburg Hospitals and Physician Enterprise in Sonoma County, her focus is to ensure that the mission and values of the Providence organization are integrated into every interaction with patients, families, caregivers, co-workers, and the community at large. In supporting her fellow caregivers, she is a resource for whole-person wellbeing whose work actively contributes toward a just culture within the organization.
Meet Bianca Pulido, Mental Health Talent Pipeline Scholarship Awardee
In the aftermath of the 2017 Tubbs Fire, Bianca Pulido applied for a job as a bilingual counselor for the California HOPE crisis counseling program, a state-funded initiative to support the emotional recovery of disaster survivors. In her role, which included helping to connect community members to therapeutic resources, she came to appreciate the full extent of the need for bilingual mental health services among a Latinx community hugely impacted by the devastation.
“I spent a lot of my time doing outreach in the Latinx community as part of a group called Esperanza,” explains Bianca. “There were about eight of us, who were bilingual/bicultural. We brainstormed how to find and reach the population we wanted to serve, because we knew that there were so many individuals affected that were either undocumented or unable to get the resources after losing their rental, with no insurance, and so on. I would go into the home with another crisis counselor and we would go over tools for psychological recovery and basic coping mechanisms and we would also connect individuals to resources.”
However, she and her coworkers found the necessary resources were in short supply.
Celebrating Our Healthcare Heroes
A Conversation with Former Board Chair Mary Ellen Smith
Healthcare Foundation has its origins in 2001 when a group of community members rallied together to save their local hospital. Among them were Dick and Mary Ellen Smith—originally a New Yorker and an Angeleno, respectively, who permanently relocated from San Francisco to their Healdsburg home in 2000. Dick was a recently retired investment banker, and Mary Ellen a fashion industry businesswoman. But they had a strong personal connection as well: In 1997, Healdsburg Hospital had saved Mary Ellen’s life.
By 2006, Kay Reed had recruited Mary Ellen for the board of the Healthcare Foundation. In 2008, she was elected board president, two years into a capital campaign that would ultimately raise some $14 million in pledges to keep the hospital open.
“We started originally just wanting to make sure we still had a hospital,” explains Mary Ellen in a recent phone conversation. “That’s when we started becoming donors. And then it evolved over the years. My time on the board, it’s one of the things I’m most proud of, perhaps in my whole life, the work I did there.”
Have you considered leaving a bequest to the Healthcare Foundation? A transformational gift ensures your legacy contributes to eliminating health inequities in our region, advancing us toward a future of maximum health and wellness for all northern Sonoma County residents.
A special opportunity: A generous, anonymous donor will contribute $5,000 for the first five new or newly disclosed commitments to the Legacy Circle in 2022. Contact us today and multiply your impact!
We are pleased to recognize our Legacy Circle members to date:
Barbara Grasseschi and Tony Crabb
Dr. Laura Kimbro Chechile and Tom Chechile
Kim and John Lloyd
Peter McAweeney and Tod Hill
Lisa and Bill Meisner
Donna and Eddie Merideth
Katie Wetzel Murphy and Denny Murphy