by MATT VILLANO
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
June 26, 2021
Vaccination clinics. Mental health awareness. Care for the unhoused. Grants for grassroots groups.
In Healdsburg, one nonprofit has spent the better part of the COVID‐19 pandemic managing all these important programs.
The nonprofit, the 20‐year‐old Healthcare Foundation of Northern Sonoma County, now finds itself at the center of a series of collaborations with health care providers all over the north county — partnerships that are having major impacts on county residents who need services most.
This newfound approach is all by design; it’s part of a new strategy from Kim Bender, the organization’s new executive director. Bender joined the organization in March 2020, with a plan to focus health care philanthropy on the people who need it most and channel the efforts into health care access and mental health.
In her first year, this has meant launching an emergency fund to support nonprofits on the front lines of the pandemic. For Bender, the goal is simple: to eliminate health inequities in Sonoma County.
“So many in our region have great fortune and wealth. Others don’t have the same resources and find themselves struggling, sometimes with life‐threatening conditions and situations,” said Bender, a native of Los Angeles. “The pandemic shined a light on dramatic health disparities in our area. We need to focus our efforts in an intentional way on people who don’t have as much; people who are on the margins of our society and need better access to mental health services and health care.”