Uplift Empathy

This month, we're pleased to welcome Marquis + Farwell Real Estate Group as Healthcare Hero Community Partners. We also have a conversation with SRJC HOPE student Mia Valdez, and local winegrower Barbara Grasseschi shares her thoughts on how to improve farmworker health.

Kim Bender

Hello Friends,

As we approach year’s end, I invite you to read our newly published 2023 Impact Report and 2022 Annual Report.

Not only does it allow us an opportunity to look back on all we accomplished with your support, and in collaboration with all of our outstanding community partners, but it suggests key areas where we must continue to put our collective efforts to keep moving our region in the direction of greater health equity. 

As you’ll see in the Report, one of the programs we support under our Health Education & Professional Development area of focus is Santa Rosa Junior College’s HOPE scholarship program. Below we speak with an extraordinary HOPE student, Mia Valdez.

In our Community Resilience, Engagement & Support area of focus, we continue to look for ways to bridge the gaps in access impacting underserved communities in our region. Just this summer, we began canvassing the perspectives of our grantees—community-based organizations serving vulnerable populations—to learn about effective ways to increase health equity for our region’s farm laborers and their families. The response was eye-opening as well as helpful to us in our strategic grant-making and programmatic development. 

As part of this continuing dialogue, we share below the perspective of Barbara Grasseschi, our former Board Chair and, with her husband Tony Crabb, a longtime Dry Creek grape farmer.

I’m also pleased to share the following words from our state Senate Majority Leader and next State Senate President Mike McGuire, underscoring the importance of this focus on uplifting the health and wellbeing of our region’s farmworker families:

“Farmworkers are the backbone of our agriculture economy here on the North Coast. Especially in this era of climate change and vast income inequality across America, we must continue to advance more equitable policies and worker protections for farmworkers here in the Golden State.

“Safe and secure working conditions and housing, living wages, unfettered access to immigration services and healthcare coverage are all vital to the wellbeing of millions of farmworkers and their families.

“We must break the cycle of poverty for so many of these hard-working women and men and I look forward to partnering with the Healthcare Foundation on advancing these commonsense policies that will help build a stronger California.”

We thank Senator McGuire for his partnership.

We also celebrate a new alliance with Healthcare Hero Community Partners Marquis + Farwell Real Estate Group. Below you’ll find our recent conversation with founders and agents Samantha Marquis and Linda Farwell, two passionate businesswomen and exceptionally engaged members of our Healdsburg community.

The Healthcare Foundation is deeply grateful to all of you who, in numerous ways, are helping us move toward health equity and greater community wellbeing here in northern Sonoma County. 

With gratitude,

Kim Bender
Executive Director

P.S. We are currently in our Year End fund drive and I have some good news: Thanks to the generosity of Mary Ellen Smith, Sharon and Robert Roper, Steve Deas and Jane Rosenberg, all gifts up to $25,000 received by December 31 will be doubled. Thank you for supporting health and wellbeing in our community.

Spotlight on HOPE: Meet Scholarship Recipient Mia Valdez

Mia Valdez

Mia Valdez is a single mother and re-entry student at Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC). A Sonoma County native who left in her teens and returned as an adult, Mia has long wanted to be a nurse. As her daughter neared graduating from high school, Mia found she had the chance to pursue her dream and enrolled in the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Program at SRJC. It was there that she heard about the HOPE program, applied, and got in the following year.

HOPE (Health Occupation Preparation Education) exists to ensure the success of underrepresented, low-income and first-generation students pursuing healthcare careers. HOPE scholarships, which were partly underwritten this year by a grant from the Healthcare Foundation, offer stipends to cover unanticipated costs, emergency funds, workforce development workshops, and more. HOPE is built on intervention strategies, support networks, and proven evidence-based models for student success, helping to make sure that participants persist and complete their certificate or degree or transfer to a four-year institution. 

Mia kindly spoke to us recently about her experience with the HOPE program and the wide-ranging support she has received from counselors, staff and fellow students at the campus’s HOPE Center.

Full Article (5 min read)

Local Perspectives on Improving Health and Wellbeing for Farmworker Families in Northern Sonoma County: Barbara Grasseschi

Tony Crabb and Barbara Grasseschi

Barbara Grasseschi and her husband Tony Crabb are the owners of Puma Springs Vineyards, an organic farm in Healdsburg that grows premium Bordeaux grapes, which they sell to some of Sonoma County’s finest wineries. They have been actively farming for over 23 years on 25 acres in the Dry Creek area. Barbara served on the Healthcare Foundation board from 2016 to 2021, and as Board Chair from 2017 to 2019.

How would you describe the general situation with respect to health and wellbeing for farmworker families in northern Sonoma County?

Challenging. While we are lucky to have FQHCs [Federally Qualified Health Centers] in Northern Sonoma County, access and fear are often the largest barriers to obtaining care. In addition, farmworkers rarely have access to paid sick time or other benefits. The work conditions for farmworkers vary widely and the amount of inspections are basically nonexistent. Workers that complain are blacklisted.

Full Article (2 min read)

Healthcare Hero Community Partner Spotlight: A Conversation with Samantha Marquis and Linda Farwell of Marquis + Farwell Real Estate Group

Samantha Marquis and Linda Farwell of Marquis + Farwell Real Estate Group

Healthcare Hero Community Partners are businesses who sponsor the Healthcare Foundation through an annual commitment. As mission-aligned contributors, our Healthcare Hero Community Partners support our vision of eliminating health inequities in northern Sonoma County. 

We are very pleased to welcome this year a new Healthcare Hero Community Partner in Marquis + Farwell Real Estate Group, serving Sonoma County and beyond with a focus on residential properties, luxury estates, wineries, vineyards and ranches. 

Founders and agents Samantha Marquis and Linda Farwell, in addition to heading a flourishing women-run operation, are full-time working moms who are actively engaged in their community and have made Marquis + Farwell Group a proud supporter of many local philanthropic causes.

“I’m deeply impressed by the strong spirit of philanthropy that thrives in our small town,” says Linda, who has lived in Sonoma County since 1988 and settled in Healdsburg in 1996.

Linda relates in a recent conversation that she makes it a point to support as many nonprofit organizations as possible. That includes everything from assembling gifts for new mothers with Corazón Healdsburg to gleaning or driving for Farm to Pantry, in addition to supporting organizations like Healdsburg Jazz, the Children’s Museum, the Healdsburg School, and Career Technical Education. “The remarkable quality and generosity of giving in our small town inspires me to stay actively involved,” she says, describing life in Healdsburg as “a warm embrace.”

Full Article (3 min read)

Kim Bender, Courtney Cochran, Dra. Daniela Domínguez, Katie Wetzel Murphy, Dawnelise and Ari Rosen

Our huge thanks to everyone who joined us for the Wetzel Awards on November 2, and a special thank you to our event sponsors Alexander Valley Vineyards, Eddinger Enterprises, Healdsburg Running Company and Costeaux French Bakery. It was a memorable gathering of community members there to celebrate our 2023 honorees Dawnelise and Ari Rosen and Dra. Daniela Domínguez. We were uplifted by each of our speakers, not least the honorees and their family members. You can enjoy the photos of the event by going HERE.

As Kim shared in her closing remarks, “To make a real difference, we believe we must align resources and deepen collaborations with community partners, including On the Margins and Corazón Healdsburg, and dozens of others who share our vision of health equity for all.”

If you would like to contribute to these efforts by making a one-time gift or by becoming a Healthcare Hero at ANY AMOUNT, we invite you to do so by pressing the donate button below.

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