HCF Raises Over $450,000 at Virtual Gala

Nonprofit hosts first-ever virtual gala, rallying notable political guests, musicians and community supporters to raise funds for greatest COVID-19 needs


Healdsburg, August 31, 2020 – The Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County (HCF) hosted its first-ever virtual gala on Saturday, August 29, raising $453,380 at the event and lead-up fundraising for various funding needs including its Emergency Healthcare Fund. Herman G. Hernandez, member of the Sonoma County Board of Education, hosted the live-streamed Believe in our Future virtual gala, which featured a diverse line-up of musical performances and special guests including U.S. Senator Kamala Harris. Hundreds of households from across the country tuned in to the free event to learn more about HCF’s focus areas of healthcare access, mental health and early childhood development, and about the Emergency Healthcare Fund, which provides emergency grants for frontline COVID-19 response in the area.

“Our community is really yearning for connection right now, so even though we couldn’t have a big in-person event as in past years, we knew we wanted to find a way to come together online,” said Kim Bender, HCF executive director. “Even in the midst of the COVID-19 and Walbridge challenges, we all needed an opportunity to celebrate the generous and resilient spirit of northern Sonoma County.”

Viewers tapped their toes and danced in their living rooms to performances from Grouplove, Charlie Musselwhite, Marcus Shelby, Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, Pete Stringfellow, Stanley Jordan, Congressman Jared Huffman and his band with Craig Anderson of LandPaths, and Cantares de mi Tierra, the youth mariachi ensemble of the Luther Burbank Center. The evening ended with a surprise performance by celebrated jazz singer Paula West.

Another unexpected thrill for attendees was a message from U.S. Senator Kamala Harris. “Black and Latino people are getting sick and dying at alarming and disproportionate rates, due in part to systemic barriers to quality healthcare,” Harris said. “The work you do every day is vital to protecting the people of our communities. It’s up to all of us to keep fighting for a country that invests in healthcare access, mental healthcare and a brighter future for our children.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has simultaneously eliminated traditional in-person fundraisers and dramatically increased the need for healthcare and other services in the community. Clinics like Alliance Medical Center in Healdsburg and Windsor and Alexander Valley Healthcare in Cloverdale lost substantial revenue after COVID-19 precautions reduced in-person and non-emergency appointments. Meanwhile, their patients, many of whom are Latinx, have been testing positive for COVID-19 at staggeringly disproportionate rates. Other grantees such as Corazón Healdsburg are also seeing increased need for services; Corazón has been distributing groceries and meals to hundreds of families a week since mid-March.

“COVID-19 threatens to upend the health and economic security of so many families in our community,” said HCF board member Esther Lemus. “With the support of our donors and partners, we’re doing everything we can to stop that from happening.”

Dozens of individuals, families and companies stepped up to sponsor the Believe in Our Future virtual gala, making the fundraiser a success even before it began. Those sponsors included: Barbara Grasseschi and Tony Crabb, Mark Freed and Talon Creek Farms, Marc and Jeanie Kahn, Douglas and Juli Muhleman, John and Kim Lloyd and Big John’s Market, Bob and Elisha Finney, Foley Family Charitable Foundation, Circe Sher and the Sher Family and Hotel Healdsburg, Medtronic, Redwood Credit Union, Vicky and Michael Farrow and Amista Vineyards, Battle Family Foundation, Cartograph Wines, Patti and Ray Chambers, Steve Deas and Jane Rosenberg, EandM, Evergreen Acres, Ariel and Tim Kelley, Peter McAweeney and Tod Hill, Donna and Eddie Merideth, Kathy Taylor and Terry Atkinson and many others.

VIP sponsors enjoyed a virtual “speakeasy” with Tara Jasper of Sipsong Spirits ahead of the event, learning to make and enjoying a Kaleidoscope Crush cocktail featuring Sipsong Gin and Revive Kombucha. California State Senator Mike McGuire shared a special address. Midway through the event, Mark Freed of Talon Creek Farms and Alan Baker and Serena Lourie of Cartograph Wines challenged viewers to contribute with a $10,000 match, which was met by the end of the evening, raising $17,350.

Viewers also showed their support for HCF and the Emergency Healthcare Fund with bids in an online silent auction and fund-a-need paddle raise, with proceeds totaling over $70,000. Several local businesses donated exclusive experiences for the auction, including SingleThread Farms, Journeyman Meat Co., Bricoleur Vineyards, The Matheson and Catelli’s Restaurant. An auction package offering a private dinner prepared by Chef Douglas Keane of the soon-to-return Cyrus paired with wines from Jesse Katz’s Aperture Cellars netted $7,000.

HCF has distributed $150,000 in grants from its Emergency Healthcare Fund since opening the fund in March, and HCF continues to raise money for the local fight against COVID-19. To learn more and make a donation to the Emergency Healthcare Fund, visit healthcarefoundation.net/emergency-healthcare-fund.

About Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County

The Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County is the only funder exclusively focused on health in the northern region of Sonoma County. It is the leading proponent for creating healthier communities and relies on donor contributions to fund its work. The Healthcare Foundation has three focus areas for its grantmaking: health access, mental health and early childhood development. Founded in 2001, the Healthcare Foundation has invested more than $26 million to build a healthier region for all who live, work and play here.

For more information, visit healthcarefoundation.net.

Media Contact: Kim Bender

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