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Remembering Robert Brorby (1925-2018)

Remembering Robert Brorby (1925-2018)

To live out a vision of vocation where lay people actively shape the social implications of their faith: This is how Bob Brorby lived his life. Following graduation from the School of Law (Boalt Hall) of the University of California at Berkeley in 1951, Bob practiced civil litigation for 47 years.  That was his profession.  His vocation was to relate the social concepts of his Christian faith not simply to his professional life but to the whole of life.  The Lutheran Church and Vesper Society became the vehicles for that deeper and wider engagement. Bob’s commitment to the institutional church included service at the local, regional and national levels.  He worshipped at Grace Lutheran Church in Richmond, California for 56 years, where he sang in the choir and served on the church council and in other ways.  He served 24 years on the board of directors of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary where he chaired the board during the 1970s.  Bob served on the Executive Board of the Pacific Southwest Synod of the Lutheran Church in America and the Executive Council of the national denomination and he served on the Commission for a New Lutheran Church which formed the current Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. However, it was through Vesper Society that Bob’s primary interest – the ministry of the laity in daily life – was most satisfied.  “It allowed me to get outside of my workday world and really be a part of trying to effect policy in government and institutions,” he said. Bob crossed paths with the two late Vesper co-founders, Gene Heckathorn and Bob Cummings, long before 1965 when they came up with the idea of Vesper Society – a concept and network that would involve a community of lay persons dedicated to apply their financial and... Read More

Modoc Medical Center Breaks Ground on New Hospital

Modoc Medical Center Breaks Ground on New Hospital

Vesper Society believes in a simple idea: a just society begins when everyone is well. To improve the health and well-being of a community, we partner with community hospitals and clinics and support their programs. Located in the rural northeastern portion of California, Modoc Medical Center (MMC) serves the residents of Alturas and the surrounding area, covering about 4,500 square miles. The geographic reach of the hospital district is significant, and MMC represents the only local option for hospital services in their frontier community. Vesper supports MMC’s efforts to provide telehealth services for residents in this remote area and has funded care coordinators focused on reducing health disparities within the community related to socio-economic makeup and age-related chronic conditions of patients. We celebrate MMC on their new facility project that will replace their current hospital. Many community members, hospital staff, hospital partners, and collaborating agencies attended the June 2018 groundbreaking ceremony and celebration. The new hospital will replace the current hospital, built in 1949, that is located within the 100-year flood plain. It will be seismically compliant and designed to accommodate effective and efficient delivery of healthcare. The new facility will be 47,000 square feet and will include an eight-bed critical access hospital, operating room, emergency room, hospital pharmacy, radiology department, laboratory, clinic, retail pharmacy, ambulance garage, maintenance shop, and space for support services and administrative offices. The project will unfold in two phases: Phase I, preliminary site work, is underway and will be completed in Fall 2018. Modoc Medical Center CEO Kevin Kramer shared that they are excited to work with White Bear Construction on Phase I and that using local resources is important to the administration. Phase II will begin in Spring 2019 with Swinerton Builders beginning construction. The anticipated completion date is Fall 2020, and MMC... Read More

The Urban Foundation’s annual “Ultreya!” celebrates college graduates

The Urban Foundation’s annual “Ultreya!” celebrates college graduates

Vesper Society is committed to improving the well-being of youth. As a child in a single-parent household, Rodrigo Gonzalez wanted to get a job to help his mother pay rent. He was too young to work, so his dream was to graduate from college, get a job, and buy his mother a house so that she would no longer have to over work. Sadly, Rodrigo’s mother passed away during his senior year in high school. Rodrigo’s plans could have crumbled. (Photo caption:  Kid City alumna Frances Melchor (UCLA, 2017) with honoree and VIP volunteer Herley Jim Bowling. Photo by Ashley Kruythoff.) Thankfully, the Los Angeles United Methodist Urban Foundation’s Kid City Hope Place program (Kid City) recognizes the problem of educational inequity and severe economic hardship among the communities it serves in downtown and south central Los Angeles. With programs in leadership development, music and arts, college access, and college completion, Kid City provides mentoring, college knowledge, high-level math tutoring, and guidance through admissions and financial aid applications. With support from Kid City, friends, and family, Rodrigo says he “managed to go through the pain and continue hitting the books. I was also able to finish my college applications during that time. I never gave up because I want to honor my mom. The way she had to struggle on a daily basis taught me to never give up.” Rodrigo graduated from California State University, Northridge in May 2018. Graduations are family events. The first-generation college-bound and college-going students at Kid City Hope Place refer to the program as a “second home” or “second family,” so it’s natural to mark their college graduations with ceremony and celebration, and to offer words of encouragement and wisdom. The Urban Foundation’s annual “Ultreya!” celebration honors the difficult journey traveled by Kid City’s... Read More

La Clinica Oakley Specialty Mental Health Moves to New Site

La Clinica Oakley Specialty Mental Health Moves to New Site

Vesper Society is committed to improving the health and well-being of youth and families. One way we do this is by supporting La Clínica de La Raza in Contra Costa County. Throughout its 47-year history, La Clínica de La Raza, Inc. (La Clínica) has delivered health care services in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner to most effectively address the needs of the diverse population it serves. In 2017, La Clínica served 86,884 patients and provided 360,570 patient visits in 35 sites in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Solano counties in California. La Clínica’s behavioral health department was founded in 1973 in response to the community’s need for culturally appropriate behavioral health services for the Latino community and offers three levels of mental health services: Prevention and Early Intervention, Integrated Behavioral Health, and Specialty Mental Health. La Clínica’s behavioral health services have expanded considerably over time. La Clínica’s Casa del Sol, located in Oakland’s Fruitvale district, was once La Clínica’s sole Specialty Mental Health site. In 2012, with the support of Contra Costa Behavioral Health Services, La Clínica opened the Oakley Specialty Mental Health Clinic. Originally housed within Oakley Medical, clinicians at Oakley Specialty Mental Health Clinic often had limited space to see clients. In early 2018, Vesper Society supported their move to a new site just across the street from their previous location, which allowed for more time and service offerings. The new site, Casa de Luz (House of Light), was named in honor of the spirit that La Clínica’s late Behavioral Health Director, Leslie Preston, brought to La Clínica’s Behavioral Health Program and her instrumental role in establishing an independent site for Oakley Specialty Mental Health. Leslie was always a bright light to the clinic staff and the children and families of Oakley Specialty Mental Health, and over... Read More

First 5 Humboldt Coordinates Response to Childhood Trauma

First 5 Humboldt Coordinates Response to Childhood Trauma

Vesper Society is committed to finding long-term solutions that help leaders and organizations in rural areas improve the well-being of their children and communities. In November 1998, California voters passed Proposition 10, the “Children and Families Act of 1998” initiative. The act instituted a tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products to provide funding for early childhood development programs. Revenues generated from the tobacco tax must be used to enhance the early growth experiences of children, enabling them to be more successful in school and ultimately to give them an equal opportunity to succeed in life. When voters passed Proposition 10, they launched a new model of responsive public agencies. In each of the 58 counties, the First 5 Commission was formed—made up of local community leaders, experts, and advocates. Complementing First 5’s efforts, the California Children and Families Foundation (CCFF), a nonprofit public benefit corporation, conducts regional and statewide projects that assist county commissions and the children and families they serve. With support from Vesper Society, CCFF funds First 5 Humboldt ACES/Resilience Project. Adverse childhood experiences (ACES)— stressful traumatic experiences and household dysfunction—are one of the greatest public health crisis facing Humboldt County.  Growing up with family members with substance abuse disorders, witnessing domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect are some examples of ACES. Research shows that when children are exposed to chronic stressful events, their ability to cope diminishes and this can lead to substance abuse and behavioral problems. Humboldt and Mendocino counties have the highest percentage of residents in California with four or more ACES. Research shows that a person who has experienced four or more ACES is 12 times as likely to attempt suicide, ten times more likely to use injection drugs, five times more likely to suffer from depression, and twice as likely to have a... Read More

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