Celebrate Community Voices

This month, we shine a light on Daisy Cardenas' powerful role in addressing health inequities, and share the good news about the recent change in the Public Charge Rule.

Kim Bender, Executive Director

Dear Friends,

Today we cautiously celebrate California opening up! As of today, 71% of Sonoma County residents ages 12 and older have received at least one shot, and 63% are fully vaccinated. The good news from the County is that if you are fully vaccinated, “you are golden.” Hospitals report that all of their Covid patients are unvaccinated people, and that most of those cases are 16- to 24-year olds, the group on whom we must focus our outreach. Please see below for a list of upcoming pop-up vaccine clinics and share with anyone you know who may need this information.

For the Healthcare Foundation, health equity means focusing our resources on underserved and vulnerable community members who, due to social determinants including racism, experience increased health disparities. We are currently completing our strategic planning process, during which we’ve clarified our core values of equity, community and compassion.

What this means in practice is that we want to listen to and celebrate community voices as we define our strategies for the greatest impact. In the last month, we’ve surveyed our donors, held a community listening session with ten nonprofit partner organizations, and asked their clients, “What is most needed?”

Donors, partners and client voices alike are calling for increased access to physical and mental healthcare, help destigmatizing mental illness, and a focus on families with young children who have suffered the most during Covid. We recognize the vital role the Healthcare Foundation can play in ensuring equitable access to high quality, culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate healthcare and mental health services. As we develop targeted initiatives in alignment with our values and in concert with our nonprofit partners, we do so with the knowledge that self-determination is a key to equity, so we continue to honor community voices.

Speaking of community voices, the Healthcare Foundation celebrates June as the month of LGBTQI Pride. We celebrate our brothers, sisters and nonbinary friends as representatives of Sonoma County’s rainbow of diversity: the beauty of the rainbow is that it includes all colors.

In this issue, we spotlight our friend and colleague Daisy Cardenas, a bilingual, bicultural mental health professional committed to working with trauma survivors. Daisy is also coordinator for the HOPE program at the SRJC, the recipient of a new Healthcare Foundation grant funded in part by Medtronic.

We also celebrate the positive change in the public charge rule that enables immigrants to receive medical care again without fear of deportation, and hope you’ll help us get the word out on this positive development.

And finally, please consider supporting community health by joining us for CELEBRATE OUR FUTURE, our 20th Anniversary Gala on Augusts 28, 2021. As you know, the Healthcare Foundation’s events are fabulous. This in-person, very special evening will take place at the Mill District, with live Latin jazz music, surprise guests, incredible food and drink, and the opportunity to socialize with friends: you won’t want to miss this one! Thank you to everyone who has already made your sponsorship commitment. We cannot do our work without you!

Looking forward to seeing you in person,

Kim Bender
Executive Director

Partner Spotlight: Daisy Cardenas

Daisy Cardenas

Few in the northern Sonoma County community have fought harder than Daisy Cardenas for equal representation and equal access to healthcare across ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Though she is just 26, Cardenas has quite a resume, and her voice has emerged as one of the most powerful in our community when it comes to addressing health inequities.

Currently she has two jobs. One is as a bilingual clinician at Side By Side, where she provides intensive, in-home support services for children with moderate to severe behavioral challenges. Cardenas also serves as program coordinator for Santa Rosa Junior College’s Health Occupation Preparation and Education (HOPE), which is a program that provides support to first-generation, low-income students pursuing careers in healthcare, and which just received a $15,000 grant from the Healthcare Foundation.

Before these endeavors, she served as program coordinator for Latino Service Providers, a nonprofit that aims to connect members of the local Latinx community with free public resources to improve their lives.

In this role, Cardenas coordinated monthly meetings, wrote a newsletter, and oversaw an initiative to train first-generation youth on how to provide mental health services across the community.

Cardenas also served on the Healthcare Foundation’s Wetzel Awards nominations committee in 2020, and on our emergency grant review committee in 2021, bringing her lived experience and strong, professional voice to both groups.

Cardenas may already be familiar to you because she is a participant in the Healthcare Foundation’s Mental Health Talent Pipeline Project, which aims to cultivate and retain more bilingual and bicultural mental health professionals in Sonoma County.

She is about to enter her third year in the program, and is applying her scholarship toward her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy at the University of San Francisco.

“Mental health services are desperately needed, and providing culturally sensitive services are especially important because we’re all facing mental health challenges,” she said recently. “By providing bilingual and bicultural skills, I can reach people in my community who are in great need, and help them overcome the stigma around mental health.”

Cardenas, the eldest of five children in a family from Guanajuato, Mexico, is the first in her family to go to college. She earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Sonoma State University in 2018, and became interested in public health after seeing how the system fails so many.

Ultimately, Cardenas said she’d like to work with individuals impacted by trauma, as well as combat the stigma around mental health, particularly in the Latinx community, so that more people get the help they need.

“I want to help marginalized communities and people who would not normally have access to these services,” she said. We at the Healthcare Foundation are glad she’s here, and we are honored to support her on her path.

Healthcare Foundation And Medtronic Award

$15,000 Grant To SRJC Hope Program

The Healthcare Foundation has awarded a $15,000 grant to support the Health Occupation Preparation Education (HOPE) program at Santa Rosa Junior College. The grant, made possible by a $10,000 gift from Medtronic, will enable SRJC to provide 15-30 scholarships for books and living expenses to low-income bilingual/bicultural students, easing the burden of pursuing a degree in the medical field.

For more information, read our press release here.

Good News About the Change in the Public Charge Rule

Photo by Elena Halvorsen

When Diana, an agricultural worker who lives in Healdsburg, learned she was pregnant, fear and anxiety about the impacts of the 2019 Public Charge rule on her immigration status prevented her from obtaining vital prenatal services for the first six months.

At our recent community listening session, Sue Labbe, Chief Medical Officer at Alliance Medical Center, said this story was all too common: hundreds of patients in their practice expressed similar fears about the ramifications of Public Charge. “Public Charge fears had a huge impact on our families,” Labbe said. “It meant many people deferred their medical care; in some cases this resulted in preventable ER visits, hospitalizations, and worse.”

Finally, mercifully, the Public Charge crisis that affected millions of immigrants across America over the last two years has come to an end.

Back in 2019, the Department of Homeland Security dramatically expanded the public charge definition enabling the agency to make green card and other visa applicants “inadmissible” for being “more likely than not” to use certain public benefits at any point in the future. As a result of the change in definition, millions of households in which any member was either undocumented or in the immigration process stopped obtaining medical care for their entire families out of concern for being arrested or, worse, deported.

This year, under the new administration, the DHS determined that “continuing to defend the 2019 Public Charge rule, pursuant to which the lawful receipt of Medicaid, public housing, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) could lead to a finding of inadmissibility, was neither in the public interest nor an efficient use of limited government resources.”

In other words, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has stopped applying this expanded public charge rule, reinstating rights for immigrants and their families that had been suspended.

Photo by Elena Halvorsen

The Healthcare Foundation and partners are working with local agencies to communicate that public charge rules have changed and it’s safe for people to return to their healthcare providers again.

Alejandra Torres, assistant director for immigration programs at Catholic Charities Santa Rosa, said her organization has helped nearly 600 individuals so far, and continues to sponsor advocacy work and awareness-raising campaigns designed to reacquaint North County residents with all the services they can receive.

“The public charge rule created a lot of damage in the immigrant community,” she said in a Zoom interview earlier this month. “In the end it made our community a lot poorer and hungrier.”

Looking forward, the Healthcare Foundation and many other partner organizations will continue to work toward raising awareness of the changes to the rule to get more members of the community comfortable obtaining medical and other services to which they have a legal right. Catholic Charities has set up a webpage with information for immigrants, and is hosting free classes that cover this information.

The Healthcare Foundation will continue its work to support partners such as Corazon Healdsburg, La Familia Sana, Latino Service Providers and others to help spread the word about this important change that benefits our immigrant community.

Upcoming Pop-up COVID Vaccine Clinics

6/19: El Mercadito, Roseland CBI, 12:00-3:00, SRCH Roseland Library vaccine site
6/26: Lincoln, La Plaza
6/27: Arlene Francis Center, Love and Light, 2:00-5:00

Why is vaccinating kids important, and what is at risk? What are our best strategies for reaching kids and their parents?

VIP Pre-Reception 6:00 – 7:00 PM

20th Anniversary Gala 7:00 – 10:00 PM

Become a Sponsor Today

Become an event volunteer, in support of community health, for our Celebrate Our Future Gala on August 28, 2021. Click HERE for volunteer opportunities and info.

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