In March, the Healthcare Foundation announced grants totaling $100,000 to three local organizations that provide mental health services and resilience training. The recipients of the grants are SOS Community Counseling ($25K), Side by Side ($25K), and the Integrative Medical Clinic Foundation (IMCF) for its Imagine You initiative ($50K).
These funds will support increased access to mental and behavioral health services for vulnerable and underserved populations across northern Sonoma County. The grants to SOS and Side by Side are each for general operating expenses, providing these community-based nonprofits with the flexibility to determine for themselves where to direct the funds to do the most good.
The grant to Integrative Medical Clinic Foundation is to translate the organization’s Imagine You Resilience Skills curriculum into Spanish, in a process involving two northern Sonoma County partner organizations to make sure the content, concepts, and delivery are truly culturally responsive.
SOS Community Counseling provides free and low-cost services across northern Sonoma County through a variety of programs and partnerships, including community clinics, school-based therapists, and mental health assessments and interventions for youth in the justice system. SOS is also a training facility for Associate Marriage and Family Therapists and Trainees.
SOS has indicated that it will use its grant to expand its services in Windsor, including group and individual counseling and its innovative “Team Success” mental health and early intervention program. By doing so, SOS will strengthen the relationship between its youth diversion program and the local Windsor school system.
“We are committed to North County and collaborating with other community-based organizations to bolster the mental health of all our students,” said SOS Executive Director Becky Ennis. “We plan to add a physical site in Windsor, which will act as a home base for our clinicians, who work with the whole community to support school students and their families to live healthy, productive lives.”
Side by Side serves at-risk youth and their families in northern Sonoma County and across the Bay Area. Side by Side’s critical services span behavioral and mental health, early intervention in schools, LGBTQIA+ support, transitional housing for foster youth, and special education.
“These last years have added tremendous stress and life challenges to our youth, particularly our BIPOC youth,” said Side by Side Program Director Denisse Mendoza.
“These additional resources come at an extremely important and opportune time to be making the early mental and behavioral health interventions that can ensure the young people of our region can grow and thrive. Side by Side’s services are both community and school-based and focused on supporting the most marginalized and under-resourced youth in our community. In addition to funding critical but non-billable case management services, this grant will help us attract and retain more bilingual and bicultural licensed therapists.”
Integrative Medical Clinic Foundation (IMCF) cultivates resilience and well-being in the face of adversity by supporting its partners in the social services, healthcare, and disaster response sectors.
As mentioned above, IMCF’s grant will support the development of a much-needed Spanish-language version of the organization’s Imagine You Resilience Skills curriculum.
Since the 2017 wildfires and the pandemic onset in early 2020, local mental and behavioral health resources have been stretched thin in meeting the increasing demand for local staff support and retention, as staff and volunteers of organizations serving the Latinx community in Sonoma County have experienced tremendous burnout and compassion fatigue. The Imagine You training aims to protect and enhance these community assets by boosting their resilience, increasing their capacity, and mitigating the vicarious trauma they absorb.
“We are thrilled and grateful to receive this endorsement of the work we are doing in the community,” said IMCF Executive Director Cynthia Calmenson. “While many disaster case workers, home caregivers, Promotores, early learning providers, and other staff serving our Latino community are bilingual, presenting the Imagine You curriculum in Spanish relieves them of the additional burden of code-switching when working with clients.”
Remarking on these new grants, Healthcare Foundation Executive Director Kim Bender called the efforts of the grantee organizations “critical work being done at a critical time,” adding that all three “are making an outsized contribution to the mental health of our region and particularly for our most vulnerable residents.”