This month, as we celebrate Black History Month and the vibrancy, resiliency, gifts and historic accomplishments of African Americans, it is particularly important to take to heart this year’s Black History Month theme, Health and Wellness. It could not be more apt or timely. As we cautiously emerge from a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted African Americans and other people of color, we in northern Sonoma County must continue to do our part to address those inequities in our systems of care.
To that end, listening to the diverse voices of our community has never been more urgent or meaningful. Below you’ll hear from Stephanie Malagon, a powerful local voice as a behavioral therapist working with autistic children and, more recently, a graduate student pursuing her master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy with support from the Healthcare Foundation’s Mental Health Talent Pipeline scholarship program.
At a time of polarization nationally and internationally, finding strength and taking pleasure in difference is a value we hold dear in our region. Indeed, the work we do at the Healthcare Foundation relies on much more than coordinating with our grantees and community partners. As former board member Malinalli López relates below in our most recent Healthcare Hero donor spotlight, it requires cultural humility, a willingness to open ourselves to and learn from the communities we serve and support.
An emergent strategy to address poverty and its negative impacts on health is Guaranteed Basic Income. Corazón Healdsburg, in conjunction with the City of Healdsburg, is launching a pilot guaranteed basic income program this year. This Thursday, February 17, at 6:00 pm, please join me, as one of several panelists, in the Community Conversation: Guaranteed Basic Income (Español) to learn more about how these programs work and the positive impacts they’re already having in other cities. We’ve included some background below on guaranteed basic income in general and this exciting local initiative in particular.
This month we also welcome a new board member, Dr. Gary Barth, whose vast local and international experience as a healthcare provider, advocate, and supporter of community empowerment programs has taught him the critical, central role of community voices in the development of local solutions for community health and wellness.
With deep respect and gratitude,
Spotlight on Stephanie Malagon, Mental Health Talent Pipeline Scholarship Awardee
Cloverdale native Stephanie Malagon is currently in the first year of the three-year program in counseling psychology at USF Santa Rosa, where she is pursuing a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Stephanie’s studies are sustained in part by a scholarship from the Healthcare Foundation’s Mental Health Talent Pipeline, which is designed to support local aspiring bilingual and bicultural mental health professionals who want to stay in northern Sonoma County to provide access to mental health services for the local community.
Stephanie’s first language is Spanish, which she spoke at home with her parents, who immigrated from Mexico. A little later at school she became proficient in English as well. As the first in her family to graduate from college, and now to be pursuing an advanced degree, Stephanie says she feels a particular responsibility to give back to her community.
“In Cloverdale, and in most of Sonoma County from what I’ve experienced, there are not a lot of Spanish-speaking therapists or mental health resources for the Spanish-speaking community,” she explains in a recent phone conversation. “Growing up I never had an opportunity to go to therapy, let alone my parents, who speak Spanish—they were never given the opportunity or the resources related to mental health. I always understood there was a need for that. It’s what has inspired me to, hopefully, be one of those resources for my community and to be able to provide therapy for those who speak Spanish or English or both. Just to help out.”
A Foundation for Change
A new pilot program in Healdsburg is testing the community power and individual potential unleashed by Guaranteed Basic Income
Last September, the Healdsburg City Council allocated funding from the American Rescue Plan Act toward the creation of a universal basic income program. The City of Healdsburg is partnering with Corazón Healdsburg to develop a pilot program. Corazón has been at work on the details of the program with hopes that it will launch in the summer. At its core, the pilot would provide $500 per month for two years to 50 local families, no strings attached.
Healthcare Hero Spotlight: A Conversation with Malinalli López
Malinalli López first became one of our Healthcare Heroes—sustaining donors who pledge at least three consecutive years of support—during her time on the Healthcare Foundation board from 2016 to 2019.
An award-winning film producer with a bachelor’s degree in Chicano Studies from the University of California Berkeley and an MFA in motion picture and television directing from the Academy of Art San Francisco, Malinalli is actively engaged in her Windsor community. She has served as Chair of the Public Art Advisory Commission and currently serves as a trustee on the board of the Windsor Unified School District. She accepted the invitation to join the Healthcare Foundation’s board to help support the resilience of northern Sonoma County’s Latinx community more generally, especially in the realm of access to healthcare and mental health resources. Born in Guanajuato, México, she moved to Sonoma County with her parents when she was two. Today, she is raising her own family in Windsor.
Malinalli spoke with us recently about her perspective on the changes in northern Sonoma County, and what inspires her to be a Healthcare Hero.
Welcoming New Healthcare Foundation Board Member Gary Barth
We are pleased to announce that Dr. Gary Barth joins the Healthcare Foundation Board of Directors this month. Gary is one of four new board members, including Montserrat Archila and Daisy Cardenas, who we profiled in a recent edition of our newsletter, and Marc Kahn, who we’ll introduce in next month’s edition.
Gary’s involvement with the Healthcare Foundation began in 2021 as a principal sponsor of our Gala. He has subsequently become a Healthcare Hero, although for many years now Gary has been quietly putting the Healthcare Foundation’s mission into action through his medical practice, both in northern Sonoma County and around the world. As an ophthalmologist, he has devoted the better part of his life to helping people worldwide improve their vision, heal from diseases of the eye, and go on with their lives secure in the gift of sight.
Gary did his academic training at Williams College, USC Medical Center, Oregon Health Sciences Center, and the University of California San Francisco Medical School. He played a central role in the development of a world-class ophthalmology community in the North Bay, helping to found the Eye Bank of Sonoma, Pacific Laser Eye Center, 4th Street Laser Surgery Center, and the Eye Care Institute. In 2020, he moved his practice to Healdsburg, allowing rural clients greater access to his services.
Gary has been the recipient of many local and national awards in recognition of his professional expertise and humanitarian service in Sonoma County and Southeast Asia in particular. He spent his junior semester of college studying in India, which was during the war between India and Pakistan, partaking in many silent meditation classes, all of which had a significant impact, informing his life since then. He and his wife of 43 years live in Santa Rosa.
Gary spoke to us recently about what attracted him to the Healthcare Foundation, and his hopes for the region he has called home since 1983.
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