May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which urges us to take the time to reflect on the role of mental health services in healthcare and to insist on simple and equitable and de-stigmatized access to mental health services in the support of individual and community well-being.
On an auspicious note, the month happens to coincide with the graduation of several of our Mental Health Talent Pipeline scholars. We wish them wholehearted congratulations! Most of the aspiring bilingual and bicultural mental health professionals who receive a MHTP scholarship are the first in their families to achieve an advanced degree. As MHTP scholars, their pursuit of a master’s degree comes with a commitment to train and serve in northern Sonoma County, thereby helping to address the great need for accessible mental health services among our Latinx neighbors. As of this month, the program has graduated 12 bilingual, bicultural therapists who are now working professionals, with three more students entering their second year of studies, and a new class entering USF in the Fall.
Two people who were instrumental in the establishment of our Mental Health Talent Pipeline are Jeanie and Marc Kahn. In addition to being so much more, they are also generous sponsors of our Noche de Amor gala—an annual celebration that in addition to raising critical funds in support of our mission is truly the expression of this month’s theme: a foundation of friendship. Below, in this month’s sponsor spotlight, Marc and Jeanie reflect on the impetus behind the Mental Health Talent Pipeline and on their attachment to the region they call home.
We are also delighted to feature this month an interview with Karissa Moreno, executive director of the Center for Well-Being, a Healthcare Foundation grantee and community partner. Karissa has a crucial perspective on healthcare in general and the role of community health workers, also known as promotores de salud, in particular. We think you’ll agree that her perspective and the good work of the Center for Well-Being could not be more timely or urgent.
We’re very grateful to acknowledge a technology grant from Exchange Bank Foundation that supports our local community health workers by equipping them with iPads which will greatly enhance the critical work they do as health navigators and health messengers for some of our most underserved and marginalized neighbors.
Finally, below we also spotlight a member of our small but mighty staff, webmaster extraordinaire Joel Lewis. Joel is responsible for many key functions behind the scenes that keep our public face and communications up to date and relevant—including the layout and delivery of the newsletter you’re reading now—and we are very pleased to be able to recognize him this month with our warm-hearted thanks.
Grantee and Community Partner Spotlight
A Conversation with Karissa Moreno of the Center for Well-Being
The Healthcare Foundation is proud to be a supporter of the Center for Well-Being (CWB), which has been advancing health equity in Sonoma County and beyond for the last 25 years. CWB serves 25,000 people annually with nutrition services, cardiac rehab, and more. CWB also employs community health workers, or promotores de salud, as health liaisons and navigators for underserved and marginalized communities, while providing training, support, and technical assistance at a time when the importance and value of community health workers have never been greater.
To share more about CWB’s work, and to get further insight on the critical role played by community health workers, we spoke recently with Executive Director Karissa Moreno. Karissa joined CWB in 2018 with a decade of experience in federally qualified health centers across California, including at Santa Rosa Community Health, and more than 15 years of expertise around community health workers in particular. The following conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Exchange Bank Grant Puts iPads to Work for Local Promotores
We are thrilled to acknowledge a grant from Exchange Bank Foundation for technology hardware that will support the crucial work of local promotores de salud (also known as community health workers) in their capacity as community health liaisons in northern Sonoma County.
The grant of $5,000 equips local clinic-based promotores with iPads that will allow better, more efficient and coordinated outreach in predominantly low-income and Latinx neighborhoods. The iPads will be used for social determinants of health (SDH) needs assessments and linkages to critical resources such as food, housing, transportation, childcare, elder care, legal aid, financial aid, PPE, vaccine testing sites, vaccination sites, and more.
Promotores are bilingual and bicultural public health workers who act as trusted health messengers and navigators for their communities. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, promotores have proved vital to outreach efforts in our region’s most vulnerable and marginalized communities. This outreach includes education and support with access to care, resources, and vaccinations. The close relationships promotores have with their communities makes possible this targeted outreach.
Noche de Amor Sponsor Spotlight: Marc and Jeanie Kahn
Our 2022 gala, Noche de Amor, takes place on July 9 in the beautiful courtyard of Healdsburg’s Bacchus Landing. A night of good friends, soulful music, and delicious foods and wine, Noche de Amor is a major event for us. As our annual fundraiser, it’s a critical generator of the funds that keep alive our vision of eliminating health inequities in northern Sonoma County. And as an opportunity to gather together with members of our remarkable community, in celebration and appreciation, it’s truly a night of love.
Noche de Amor is made possible by the support of our event sponsors, generous community members like Jeanie and Marc Kahn. The Kahns are longtime philanthropists with a special interest in the health and well-being of our region. Marc is also a new member of our board. Jeanie and Marc were also instrumental in the establishment of the Mental Health Talent Pipeline, the Healthcare Foundation’s scholarship program for aspiring bilingual, bicultural mental health professionals in north county, which will be the subject of the fund-a-need portion of July 9’s festivities. We thank Marc and Jeanie for all their support—and for kindly agreeing to answer our questions below. We look forward to seeing them, and you, at Noche de Amor!
Saluting Our Webmaster Extraordinaire, Joel Lewis
Joel Lewis initially came to the Healthcare Foundation in a temporary role in 2015 to help with online and in-person support of our Wine Women & Shoes fundraiser, but our executive director was so impressed with his work that she offered him a permanent position. In 2019, Joel became the organization’s webmaster, taking on the technical aspects of keeping our website fresh and up-to-date. Although operating behind the scenes — or screens, as it were — from his home in Oregon, we could not do what we do without the skill, professionalism, and good cheer Joel brings to his work and the Healthcare Foundation’s mission. Here’s some more about Joel, in his own words, and with our sincere gratitude for his commitment as a valued member of the Healthcare Foundation’s small but mighty staff.
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“My parents gave a large gift to the Healthcare Foundation and Denny and I want to do the same to honor the important work that the Foundation continues to provide for our entire community. Legacy gifts can be the best gift to an organization that is established for a future of great work.”Katie and Denny Murphy, Legacy Circle Donors