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Welcome Ancestral Guard!

Welcome Ancestral Guard!

Vesper Society believes that a just society begins when everyone is well and respected as a human being. We have linked arms with Ancestral Guard in Del Norte County (north of Humboldt County) to create long-term solutions for a healthy future. Ancestral Guard is an indigenous organizing network focused on youth empowerment and environmental advocacy.  We interviewed its co-founder, Samuel Gensaw. (Photo credit:  Ancestral Guard.) We love the name Ancestral Guard.  Where did the name come from and how did it all start? When I was sixteen years old, a group of us were known as the “smokehouse boys” because we regularly smoked the fish we caught. Then someone asked, “what about the girls?” In response I wrote “ancestral guard” in my notebook. At the time I was thinking that we need to protect our children who will someday become someone’s ancestor.  We are making sure our future ancestors will be strong and healthy. Food sovereignty is essential for your community because it is difficult to access healthy foods. What are you doing to solve that problem? We were determined to create victory gardens for expectant mothers so they would have access to fresh foods.  We secured property to build the gardens, cleared the location using heavy machinery, contracted with a nursery to start the seeds, and consulted with a master gardener along the way. Now we are producing cabbage, snow peas, green and purple beans, squash, pumpkins, arugula, lemon cucumbers, carrots, dino-kale, and broccoli. Ancestral Guard members are taking fresh produce boxes to families living in Yurok tribal housing in Klamath and Crescent City. One family said “Before they began delivering veggies to our family, we didn’t have any access to fresh produce in our area. Now we get fresh meats and vegetables delivered right to our house.... Read More

Clinical Laboratory Services at United Indian Health Services

Clinical Laboratory Services at United Indian Health Services

Vesper Society believes that a just society begins when everyone is well and respected as a human being. We have linked arms with United Indian Health Services (UIHS) in Humboldt County for the past five years to serve the Native American community. Vesper Society extends its gratitude to the health care providers and clinic employees who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Deploying essential medical equipment is an important part of delivering quality health care and we are thrilled that Vesper Society was able to support the expansion of laboratory services at UIHS. We interviewed John Reeves, CEO, and Kristie Madden, Laboratory Manager. What challenges was UIHS facing with the clinical laboratory services? UIHS outsourced its laboratory services to a third party where specimens were flown to southern California for analysis. Providers had to wait an average of three to five days for results. On some occasions the sample had to be retaken and it was hard to get patients to come back. At other times we had to wait over two weeks for the results which is too long if a patient needs immediate attention. We wanted to improve the turnaround time for laboratory results to provide same day or next day diagnosis, treatment, counseling, and medication adjustment. This is important for our rural community where some patients live in remote areas and transportation is difficult. How did you expand the clinical laboratory services? We installed instruments for hematology, immunochemistry instrument, urine culture, and molecular sexually transmitted disease. In addition, we upgraded the laboratory information system to accommodate more complex testing. We were so excited about the new analyzers that we nicknamed them “Big Momma” and “Bob.” What was the impact of installing this new lab equipment? In one quarter, we performed 3,800 tests. We... Read More

Street Level Health Project responds to COVID-19

Street Level Health Project responds to COVID-19

Vesper Society believes a just society begins when everyone is well and respected as a human being.  We have linked arms with the leaders of Street Level Health Project to create a healthier, more sustainable future for migrant communities in Oakland, California. Street Level Health Project is an Oakland-based grassroots organization whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of urban immigrant communities in the Bay Area.  Since 2002, they have been responsive to the needs of day laborers, low-income to no-income, uninsured, under-insured, and recently arrived immigrants.  Many day laborers have no social safety net to fall back on, and Street Level Health Project provides an array of vital resources to the immigrant community. The circumstances of COVID-19 have exacerbated the well-being of day laborers in California.  Due to the nature of their work, issues of food insecurity, intensified health issues such as chronic illness, anxiety, and depression are on the rise in the immigrant community.  During the beginning of the shelter in place that began in Alameda County on March 17, workers reported that jobs decreased by as much as 90% at the six hiring sites throughout Oakland. In Alameda County, COVID-19 is impacting people of color the most.  Street Level Health Project is located in zip code 94601, Fruitvale which has the highest number of cases in the county, particularly among Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. As a grassroots organization, Street Level Health Project has been guided by the community’s needs.  The organization immediately pivoted its programming to create a support hotline that fields calls. They have conducted community outreach and wellness checks for over 600 community members. Staff and volunteers distributed food bags, reusable masks, sanitization resources, diapers, hot meals, clothes and other essentials on a weekly basis. Over 2,421 support bags have been... Read More

Welcome K’ima:w Medical Center!

Welcome K’ima:w Medical Center!

Vesper Society links arms with local leaders in overlooked communities that want to create a healthy future. We warmly welcome our partnership with K’ima:w Medical Center to help improve the health of their community from the inside out. K’ima:w Medical Center is a robust ambulatory healthcare service located on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation in Humboldt County. Ninety miles south of the Oregon border, the Reservation is the largest in California at 92,000 acres. The Trinity River runs through the remote valley surrounded by forests and mountains. The Hupa people call themselves Na:tinixwe which means “people of the place where the trails return.” K’ima:w’s mission is to provide quality healthcare to the Native American people and all others who may seek or require its services in the valley and surrounding communities. The medical center is an Indian Health Service (agency of the Department of Health and Human Services) guided tribally governed facility and is currently the only Joint Commission accredited Indian health clinic in California. The clinic offers a wide variety of services including family practice, emergency medical services, laboratory, radiology, pharmacy, behavioral health, substance use disorder program, diabetic education, and dental services. Telemedicine specialties such as psychiatry, hepatology, rheumatology, ophthalmology, dermatology, and endocrinology are also available. Before our partnership, many patients had to drive long distances to the coastal cities to obtain sonograms. Vesper’s support has enabled K’ima:w to purchase a portable state of the art ultrasound machine, allowing patients to receive care in their own community. With this tool, K’ima:w can improve access to quality healthcare through perinatal care, screenings, echocardiograms, and other modalities as needed. The recent addition of two reproductive health care physicians from Eureka who visit the facility on a biweekly or weekly basis has also enhanced the perinatal care program. The physicians, along... Read More

Welcome Two Feathers!

Welcome Two Feathers!

Every day, Vesper Society links arms with leaders in overlooked communities that want to create a healthy future and supports their efforts to do so.  We warmly welcome our newest partnership with Two Feathers Native American Family Services (Two Feathers) in Humboldt County. Two Feathers seeks to empower and promote wellness for Native American families who have become the most disconnected from community in Humboldt County. Many agencies and programs are unable to reach these young people due to a range of complex factors. Meeting the needs of youth and families means creating a healing community rooted in local indigenous traditions, unconditional care, empathy, inclusion, fun and innovation in programming. A wide array of intensive services that aim to increase youth protective factors and change the environment that youth live in daily is reflected in all their programs. The Making Relatives Program aims to restore relationships by bringing meaning back to the idea of “being a good relative.” This approach assists youth through the creation of a team of relatives including family, community members, and professional service providers that mentor and support youth and families in the achievement of wellness.  With innovative components grounded in the “wrap-around” system of care model, the team works with youth and families to reconnect to cultural practices, including locally informed tribal child rearing, wellness practices and traditional life skills. The ACORN Youth Wellness Program is an early intervention and prevention program that aims to reduce mental health disparities for American Indians by reconnecting Native American people to traditional cultural practices that create hope for the future, mitigate historical loss and grief, improve mental health, and address substance use disorder issues. These cultural practices increase health and wellness by improving family relationships, building community, and strengthening intertribal connections and partnerships. Community members from Tolowa, Wiyot,... Read More

Message of Solidarity

Message of Solidarity

Vesper Society believes in a simple idea: a just society begins when everyone is well, and respected as a human being. That is why we believe Black Lives Matter. Our mission is to promote social justice and we know that health and justice go hand in hand. That is why racial justice is essential for building healthy communities, and dismantling systemic racism is necessary for a thriving democracy. Our vision is of a compassionate world which protects human dignity.  That is why we stand in solidarity with those who suffer, link arms with leaders to find solutions, and walk the path towards progress with marginalized communities. Vesper Society was founded in 1965 during the civil rights movement and many are comparing today’s social unrest to the chaos in 1968. As the sixties were filled with counter-cultural idealism and desire to change the world, this current moment in time is urgently calling us to transform ourselves, our institutions, our world.  The convergence of crises in 2020 – pandemic, economic, racism – is showing us how all of these issues are intertwined.  It will take a sustained level of commitment and long-term investments to bring about new policies and lasting reforms that will promote equity and systems change. With 2020 hindsight we recognize this country’s painful history of slavery, genocide, exploitation, and exclusion. With 2020 insight, we self-reflect and expand our capacity to understand how this history manifests today and identify our own role in creating a new path forward.  And with 2020 foresight, we envision a new future where those on the margins can fully participate in society, prosper, and reach their full potential.  It is a world where we love and treat our neighbors as we would want to be treated. In solidarity.  This is our life’s work. Miyoko... Read More

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