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Congratulations Yammilette Rodriguez!

Congratulations Yammilette Rodriguez!

We are thrilled to announce that Vesper Society board member Yammilette “Yami” Rodriguez was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to the California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees. Yami will serve an eight-year term at the nation’s largest four-year public university, with 486,000 students on 23 campuses. Created in 1960, CSU educates the most ethnically, economically, and academically diverse student body in the country that prepares its students to become leaders in our changing economy. A long-time Central Valley director at the Youth Leadership Institute, Yami joined the Vesper board in 2019 and currently serves as chair of the governance committee. We asked Yami about her experience with the CSU system. This appointment has great significance for me because my higher education experience was so meaningful. CSU Fresno gave me the opportunity to be engaged as a leader at a young age. One of the many things I valued most about CSU Fresno were the mentors, counselors, and professors who supported me as adult allies. They opened doors for me as a student leader and I became President of the Hispanic Business Student Association. What experience from your youth development work will guide you in serving as a CSU trustee? After working with young people for the past 20 years in the nonprofit and higher education sectors, I have seen firsthand the need that many students encounter throughout their educational journeys. I will pursue access to higher education which means equitable college enrollment for people from all walks of life which includes streamlining the process for transfer students. I want to make sure that pathways are opened for first generation, low income, and historically marginalized students. Student success is a top priority and all CSU students deserve a quality education with innovative programming to prepare them for an ever-evolving... Read More

Building Our Future Behavioral Health Workforce

Building Our Future Behavioral Health Workforce

Vesper Society links arms with leaders and communities to uplift through service, break down barriers, and elevate community voices. With long-term solutions in view, we are one step closer to realizing the potential for thriving, healthy communities. When the California Future Health Workforce Commission released its final report in 2019, the message was clear: the California health system is facing a crisis. “At the core of the challenge is the simple fact that California does not have enough of the right types of health workers in the right places to meet the needs of its growing, aging, and increasingly diverse population,” the report stated. At Vesper Society, we were hearing about this problem from our community health clinic partners, especially those serving the Latinx, Native American, and rural communities. Now, these staff shortages are becoming more acute because the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on existing frontline health workers, with 20-30% saying they are considering leaving the profession. Combined with retiring Baby Boomer physicians and nurses, we are facing a looming health worker shortfall. Vesper Society has partnered with the California Center for Rural Policy at Humboldt State University to figure out how we can support efforts to build a health care workforce that comes from the community it serves. Humboldt State University (HSU) is uniquely positioned to educate the workforce that we urgently need. In fact, its new Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program welcomed its first cohort last year. HSU announced last month that it is preparing to become the third Polytechnic University in California, with new academic programs beginning in fall 2023. This is an incredible opportunity to build healthcare workforce pathways from high school to community college to university. Working with HSU, we are particularly focused on behavioral health careers. Vesper Society has always... Read More

Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo Celebrates 50 Years of Health Care Excellence

Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo Celebrates 50 Years of Health Care Excellence

Vesper Society links arms with leaders and communities to uplift through service, break down barriers, and elevate community voices. We congratulate Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo in Imperial County, CA on their 50th  anniversary! Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo (CDSDP) was established in 1970 with one small medical clinic in Brawley, CA. It was a pioneer health center that launched a national movement to provide local access to health care for hardworking farmworkers and their families. CDSDP was one of the first two health centers designated as a migrant health center in the State of California. Starting with a staff of 12 employees and a budget of $300,000, CDSDP quickly became an integral part of the community. And as local needs changed, CDSDP expanded its health care services to the general population. Today, CDSDP operates 10 health centers and five dental clinics in Imperial and Riverside Counties in Southern California. This is a valuable service in this geographically-isolated area where social and economic disparities create many barriers to health care. CDSDP’s health centers are located in areas designated as Health Manpower Shortage Areas, Medically Under Served, and High Migrant Impact Areas. Given its proximity to the US-Mexico border, CDSDP’s expertise lies in its ability to serve and treat a large Latino, primarily Spanish-speaking population. CDSDP’s award-winning telehealth and outreach departments assist a hard-to-reach population in overcoming barriers to accessing quality health care. Transportation is provided for free for those patients that need it and health centers have been expanded or renovated to become one-stop shops where all services from dental to pharmacy and laboratory are offered in one facility. CDSDP’s Board Chair, Rosendo “Rusty” Garcia, takes “pride in Clinicas’ 50-year history and ties to the community. I am humbled to be part of an organization that goes above and... Read More

From ACEs to HOPE: First 5 Humboldt

From ACEs to HOPE: First 5 Humboldt

Vesper Society links arms with leaders and communities to uplift through service, break down barriers, and elevate community voices. As we emerge from the pandemic, we shine a light on First 5 Humboldt as they begin to weave together a new social fabric. First 5 Humboldt is devoted to championing the rights and needs of their county’s families. Together with the community, First 5 Humboldt’s mission is to promote comprehensive, integrated systems of services for early childhood development in order to foster secure, healthy and loving children eager to learn and develop their full potential. They have done a remarkable job raising awareness in the community about the harmful impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress on children’s life-long health. The pandemic increased challenges for communities who have historically been marginalized by our systems.  It furthered the stress of systemic racism, poverty, community violence, and historical trauma. These were layered on top of the traditional ACEs: physical/emotional abuse and neglect; sexual abuse; incarceration of a parent; parental substance use disorder; and parental divorce. Instead of being crushed by the situation, First 5 Humboldt adapted to meet the moment: they chose hope over despair to imagine the world they want to create. The most effective buffers to toxic stress are positive relationships. Tufts Medical Center articulated a model that melds the science of adversity with the science of resilience: HOPE (Health Outcomes from Positive Experiences). The four building blocks of the HOPE model are: Relationships with other children and adults through interactive activities Safe, equitable, stable, positive school and home environments Sense of connectedness through social and civic activities Opportunities for social emotional development, including playing with peers, self-reflection, and collaboration in art, physical activity, drama and music This model weaves together the threads of First 5 Humboldt’s... Read More

Asian Health Services Advocates for Language Access in COVID-19 Response

Asian Health Services Advocates for Language Access in COVID-19 Response

Vesper Society links arms with leaders and communities to uplift through service, break down barriers, and elevate community voices. As we emerge from the pandemic, we asked Asian Health Services to reflect on the impact of COVID-19 on the community. How did the pandemic uncover already-existing biases in our society? COVID-19 exposed our greatest vulnerabilities, exacerbating existing inequities within communities of color. Asian Americans were simultaneously blamed for spreading the virus and were ignored when it came to the needs of the community. Asian Health Services is a community health center in Alameda County, CA, that serves 50,000 patients who speak 14 different languages. We observed that many patients and community members were not coming out of their homes, even for grocery shopping. We suspected this was due to various barriers, including language access, fear due to the rising anti-Asian hate incidents, and lack of information. In June 2020, Asian Health Services launched a survey and found: Extremely low COVID-19 testing rates (3%) A lack of knowledge on where to get tested (49%) Reports of racial discrimination (6%) Job loss and/or reduced work hours (over 50%) Elevated mental health conditions (depression at 25% and stress at 75%) In response, Asian Health Services shared this survey with local governments. This led to the creation of the first three Asian American and Pacific Islander multi-lingual COVID-19 community testing sites in Oakland and Fremont, where 37,000 COVID-19 tests were conducted. How did Asian Health Services mobilize its resources to serve the community? We reorganized our staff to do the following: Launch a multi-lingual COVID-19 help line to set up COVID-19 testing appointments, provide social services (food and housing assistance), and mental health referrals. Establish a multi-lingual contact tracing team in partnership with Alameda County to assist in tracing over 2,000 cases and their... Read More

Resilient, Resourceful, and Ready in Imperial County

Resilient, Resourceful, and Ready in Imperial County

Vesper Society links arms with leaders in local communities that want to create a healthy future. Bordering on Mexico, Imperial County is one of the harshest economically disadvantaged regions in the country and the compounded impacts of COVID-19 have been many.  Over a year into this pandemic, we asked Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program (IVROP) to reflect on how COVID-19 has affected its students and what the coming year looks like. Families have suffered many losses, how has that impacted students? The COVID-19 outbreak was so severe in Imperial County last May 2020 that Governor Newsom brought in state resources to develop a unified command approach to decompress the hospital system. Positivity rates peaked at 33 percent and 650 patients had to be moved out of Imperial County. It has been traumatic for the community. Many families lost their loved ones and families have been destabilized. We have seen the achievement gap widen for younger students, vulnerable students, and students that lack family support.  However, time and again the community has shown its resilience by supporting each other. What did IVROP do to support its students? One of the earliest tools that we developed was the Virtual Calming Room. It is a space where students find resources and strategies to help navigate difficult times. Students said they enjoy the Creativity and Coloring activities. One student created his own desktop picture for his laptop. Others have said they love the live animal cameras. Teachers and counselors have made the Virtual Calming Room accessible to their students because it provides social and emotional support. As schools begin to reopen, IVROP knows that thousands of students and families will need to be supported by a holistic range of services and partnerships with community agencies. Academics, college, and career readiness are important and... Read More

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