A message from Chet Hewitt
As 2017 begins, many of us are simultaneously reflecting on the past year while planning for the months ahead. Each year at Sierra Health Foundation and The Center we engage in a similar process. This new year our reflections are focused on a number of achievements we are especially proud of. These include the inspiring policy and system change work being led by 58 nonprofit partners in the San Joaquin Valley, the launch of the next phase of our juvenile justice reform work that will support community advocates in 11 communities across the state, the creation of seven community coalitions committed to lowering the disproportionate black child mortality rate in Sacramento County, and the completion of a yearlong rebranding effort that powerfully presents our approach to health equity and social justice.
See our video. We believe they collectively represent the breadth of our commitment to advocating for and demonstrating the efficacy of health interventions that have empowered communities at their core.
What has been most challenging is the second act in this process: planning for work we expect to do in the months ahead. In a typical year, our planning primarily would focus on advancing current initiatives. However, this is not a typical new year. The changed political environment, which has fostered uncertainty and fear in many communities, is forcing institutions of every stripe to question the basic assumptions under which they operate. We, too, are experiencing this. After many years of having an imperfect wind at our back, those of us who have worked to promote health equity and social justice are now experiencing headwinds. I’ve been asked more times than I can count, “What is the foundation planning to do?”
After a conversation on the changed political environment that took place at our board meeting in December, we have a plan for how our path will continue. We will stay the course, emphasizing policy and systems change, and will maintain our focus on the social determinants of health as our primary strategy for achieving health equity for all. We will continue our commitment to supporting efforts to ensure all children, families and communities that call Northern California and the San Joaquin Valley home have access to all basic rights, such as healthy food, clean air and water, education, housing and safe environments. We will continue to focus our investments in communities that experience the greatest disparities in health. We will support juvenile justice reform, access to health care for all regardless of legal status, and fair and thoughtful immigration reform. And we will
prepare to appropriately respond to policy changes we believe will impede our ability to achieve these goals regardless of their source. Most importantly, we will continue our mission by vigorously pursuing a healthful life for all and we will do so in partnership with you.
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Join San Joaquin Valley advocates and leaders at Equity on the Mall
We invite you to join and raise your voice for an equitable California at Equity on the Mall, an empowering convening at the California State Capitol on Feb. 9 inspired directly by the voices of San Joaquin Valley Health Fund partners as they unite across issues, counties and races.
More than 1,000 San Joaquin Valley residents and leaders, advocates and elected officials are expected to participate in this event, which will shine light on a policy platform that reflects an all-in approach for racial and health equity on some of the most pressing issues facing the Valley. Those issues include health care access, domestic violence, immigration, access to safe and affordable drinking water, pesticide exposure, education, environmental justice, housing, community safety and sustainable agriculture.
Learn more and register to attend on the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund web page.
Smart Growth California last week published a blog by Sierra Health Foundation President and CEO Chet P. Hewitt, who encourages state leaders to focus on transformative change in the San Joaquin Valley. Read the blog.
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Black Child Legacy Campaign joins MLK Jr. marches in Sacramento
More than 400 people joined the MLK 365 March for the Dream and the North Sacramento MLK March on Jan. 16 under the banner of the Black Child Legacy Campaign. With representatives from Del Paso Heights-North Sacramento, North Highlands-Foothill Farms, Oak Park, Fruitridge-Stockton Blvd., Valley Hi, Arden Arcade and Meadowview, the Black Child Legacy Campaign walked boldly in honor of Dr. King.
The Black Child Legacy Campaign is raising visibility and strengthening collective impact efforts of the Steering Committee on Reduction of African American Child Deaths to reduce the number of black mortalities in Sacramento County. Learn more on the Steering Committee web page.
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Chet Hewitt receives Metro Chamber award
Sierra Health Foundation President and CEO Chet P. Hewitt received the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s Al Geiger Memorial Award on Jan. 27. He was among 13 leaders and organizations that were recognized at the Chamber’s 122nd Annual Dinner & Business Awards.
The Al Geiger Memorial Award honors those who have been a role model to the community, specifically to motivate people to serve the community as a mentor or motivational force to minority or disadvantaged populations.
We congratulate Chet and the other awardees! Learn more about the awards on the Sacramento Metro Chamber web site.
Photo: Darrell Teat, President of The Nehemiah Companies (center) presented the Al Geiger Memorial Award to community activist Dennis Mangers (left) and Chet Hewitt (right).
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Throughout 2017, we will highlight the work of our partners within our programs, including the Conference and Education Center, through which we have an opportunity to appreciate the great number of initiatives and people dedicated to creating an equitable California. We are pleased to lift up their change-making efforts in a campaign called #PeoplePursuing.
Look for these glimpses into the lives and work of our partners on our Facebook and Instagram pages. We hope their words will inspire you, provide resources for collaboration and innovation, and remind you of the powerful work happening throughout California.
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