AHF in the Community – January Recap

From Nancy Sasaki, Executive Director – We hope that your 2018 is off to a great start. As you’ll see in this month’s recap, we’re already hard at work doing everything we can to advance the health and wellness for the most vulnerable in San Diego and Imperial Counties—those under 250% of the federal poverty level, un/underinsured people, children, and the homeless. Our collaborative efforts to serve these populations in the month of January are highlighted below.


Jan 2: Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Many times people pick one that is related to health. A good friend of mine wanted to move more, so this morning we met up at Rose Canyon and went for a short hike. Everything they say about the health benefits of spending time outside and being with friends is TRUE! As we work to improve the health and wellness of underserved communities in San Diego and Imperial Counties, it’s important for us to walk the walk…literally! We hope your new year includes movement, friends, and plenty of time enjoying the outside world.

Jan 8: Homelessness is a complex issue to solve and though we’ve understandably been focused on ending chronic homelessness in our region, especially among our veterans, a special effort needs to be made to end youth and family homelessness as well. Though we have made significant progress, there is still a tremendous amount of work to do! For two days, I spent time in Phoenix with other funders who are looking to be a resource for others who want to know about best practices and successful ventures for addressing youth and family homelessness. The discussion was coordinated by Funders Together to End Homelessness and especially CEO Amanda Misoko Andere and Network Program Manager Jennifer Olney. Along with Director Amy Denhart from Funders Together to End Homelessness San Diego, the group included Katie Hong and Casey Trupon from the Raikes Foundation; Aimee Hendrigan from the Melville Charitable Trust; Anne Morin from the Butler Family Fund; Sheila Babb Anderson from the Campion Advocacy Fund; John Kimble from Deutsche Bank; Kelli King Jackson from The Simmons Foundation; and Klare Shaw of Liberty Mutual.

Jan 10: Addressing the mental health needs of people where they are can bring us to places we wouldn’t anticipate. Today I met with Megan Lim Blair, Development Director of the San Diego Public Library Foundation, to talk about the funding changes for mental health services at the Central Library. Public institutions that invite all to enter can find it challenging to train staff how to appropriately interact with and balance the needs of a diverse array of patrons. These institutions know about these challenges anecdotally, but they would like to have data to refer to in support of their efforts. There have been other organizations that have recognized the need or have the desire to implement behavioral health services for their clients even when their work is non-clinical in nature. It is truly a challenge to anticipate how we, as a community, will address this growing need.

Jan 11: At the end of last year, Michele toured the Promise Zone, one of 22 federally designated areas (one of four in California), a 6.4 square mile area that encompasses portions of the East Village, Barrio Logan, Encanto, and Emerald Hills; areas which include some of San Diego’s most disadvantaged and underserved communities. To learn how AHF can partner with the agencies working in this area, Michele followed up with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) representative Jess Yuen today. Together they discussed how AHF might be able to partner or assist and supplement grant matches needed to earn or leverage federal or other grant funding associated with the Promise Zone.

Jan 12: In order to most effectively serve constituents in our region, we need to fully understand what their needs are. Did you know that hospitals are required to conduct a needs assessment of their community every three years? This work is done by the Hospital Association of San Diego & Imperial Counties (HASD&IC). Did you know you could have access to the data? HASD&IC Vice President of Public Policy Lindsey Wade is looking for your feedback to inform the next Community Health Needs Assessment. Today we talked about how AHF might help. RSVP today for the iEngageU event Community Health Needs Assessment: Inform The Process!

Jan 16: Refugees and immigrant-serving organizations have been the target of funding cuts and reductions in services recently. With tenuous budget situations for this vulnerable population, Michele and I wanted to learn more about the wider range of organizations serving the refugees in our community. Community philanthropist and volunteer extraordinaire Linda Katz introduced us to Amina Sheik Mohamed from UC San Diego and Sahra Abdi from the United Women of East Africa at lunch today. In addition to funding cuts, future construction on their current site will require them to find new space in the City Heights area. The cuts and the need to move have been impacting their ability to provide the full range of services the community is requesting. The AjA Project and the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA) will also be affected by this construction, so we are looking into what can be done to help these groups during this challenging time.

Improving the health and wellness of children in our region is one of the central pillars of the work we do. The monthly Child Abuse Prevention Coordinating Council hosted by the county is a great way to learn about current county strategy and visit with those providing services for vulnerable children. This month the discussion was on the county’s campaign for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) presented by Charisma De Los Reyes, Senior Protective Services Worker and Human Trafficking & Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Liaison for Child Welfare Services at the County. You may have seen their billboards and bus stop signs around town. This “industry” is hard to count, but it is estimated that 3,000 to 10,000 youth are sexually trafficked annually in San Diego, and it is the second largest underground economy after drug trafficking, representing an estimated $810 million in annual revenue in San Diego. The following links provide additional details about what sex trafficking looks like and how it can be disrupted:

Jan 17: Reducing incidents of bullying and violence in school is another way to improve the health and wellness of young people, and there are important efforts underway to build kindness and respect between students to meet that end. Rachel’s Challenge is an organization started by the parents of the first student to be killed at Columbine. Rachel had put a drawing of her hand on the back of her dresser with a message that said her hand would touch many hearts. To honor that wish, her parents started Rachel’s Challenge in an effort to spread not only the message of kindness and respect, but to teach young people how to change their thinking and how to spread kindness throughout their community. Today I got to see one presentation in action with a group of 2nd and 3rd graders at Maryland Ave Elementary. The age-appropriate presentation kept things lighthearted, but it was impactful for the kids to be able to roll play and recite messages of kindness.

Jan 18: One way to make sure that efforts to improve the health and wellness of the community are sustainable over time is to identify and develop the leaders of tomorrow who will continue this work. LEAD San Diego provides learning opportunities for people in San Diego County, so they will consider leadership roles in the future. IMPACT San Diego is one of their programs, where participants learn about several issues impacting our area over the course of several weeks. A part of their discussion today was on homelessness. I moderated a panel with Steven Russell, Executive Director of the San Diego Housing Federation; Andre Simpson, Executive VP & COO of Veterans Village San Diego; and Major Jessyca Carr from the Salvation Army. Each discussed the challenges they face addressing the homelessness crisis and what they see as potential solutions. Housing is most often the most critical need and each are doing their part to bring more affordable housing to San Diego County.

Though our primary focus is on San Diego and Imperial Counties, we like to learn about the health and wellness of those in our region on both sides of the border. The US Border Philanthropy Partnership (BPP), headed by Executive Director Andy Carey, continues to bring and develop resources, funding, donors, and events on topics of central importance to the border region. This evening, in conjunction with the International Community Foundation (ICF), Annie E Casey Foundation, and San Diego Grantmakers, BPP came together with Red por Los Derechos de la Infancia en Mexico and Children Now to discuss the latest data from California and Mexico on border kids, including details on San Diego and Imperial Counties.  A little bit of what we learned is that 37% of Imperial county kids live in poverty, where the state average is 17% and that in San Diego county 95% of kids in the welfare system have received a medical exam in the last year where the state average is 84%.

Jan 22: Continuing to network and keep in touch with people throughout the two-county area helps keep AHF connected to the community and to the needs of the people we want to reach. Talking with Keith Limberg, VP of Development at Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, was especially helpful this morning. As non-profits continue to feel stretched in providing services as they face continued cuts or threats of cuts, competition for the dollars needed to serve will also increase.

Collaboration is essential to the work we do, so today we sat in on a webinar about collaboration hosted by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and San Diego Grantmakers. Many groups want to learn more about how to form collaboratives, how to manage effective collaborations and how to maintain and grow them over time. Steve Eldred, Program Manager for The California Endowment and I were guest speakers while CEO Nancy Jamison from San Diego Grantmakers served as the moderator. With close to 50 people on the webinar, we had a great discussion about collaborations and learned more about the work of others around the country.

Jan 23: The ability to scale a good innovation can be difficult primarily because of a lack of seed capital to get organizations over each hump they encounter. Some great ideas don’t succeed primarily because of funding! The San Diego Impact Investors Network (SDiiN) is working to bring this network of people together to learn about what everyone is doing and to connect to the best investments in our community. David Lynn from Mission Driven Finance and I met with Deborah Higgins today to talk about their investments and potential interests in becoming a part of SDiiN in the future. Deborah was interested in attending one of the upcoming educational sessions to make more connections.

Jan 24: ReThink Health held a Financial Sustainability Workshop with people from around the country. As mentioned above, making work financially sustainable over time is a challenge faced by just about every organization. Through the work of the Accountable Community of Health (ACH) led by Kitty Bailey, our group explored the options presented as both short-term and long-term possibilities. Will San Diego County be able to build a Wellness Fund that supports a culture of health and wellness? Through the work of the ACH, there are many great minds exploring the options!

When trying to address issues locally, it’s important to be able to collaborate with national organizations working on these same issues. This morning Michele met with Amy Meyers, the new Director of Major Gifts for the American Cancer Society (ACS). Amy started at the beginning of the year, and shared with Michele the role she is taking on and what she is learning at the ACS. Since AHF works in both San Diego and Imperial Counties, Michele was curious about the Cancer Society’s work in Imperial County specifically, since we often hear less about this region. Mostly known for their walks and larger fundraising events, Michele was interested to learn about the work they do with primary care systems and community health centers to reach populations that face the greatest barriers to care, focusing on HPV vaccinations and cancer screenings.

Jan 30: Since AHF focuses on children and the homeless as vulnerable populations in San Diego and Imperial Counties, it is essential for us to learn as much as we can to understand where and how the needs of these groups intersect when it comes to youth homelessness. Determining the root causes, best practices, and solutions to ending youth homelessness can pay substantial health dividends over time. The findings of Chapin Hall’s national survey called Voices of Youth Count were announced today. “Results show that approximately one in 10 American young adults ages 18 to 25, and at least one in 30 adolescent minors ages 13 to 17, endures some form of homelessness.” The survey also showed that the longer young people are homeless, the harder it is for them to end their homelessness and to develop strong families, communities, and financial stability in the future.

Teen pregnancy can create health challenges for mother and child alike, and Power to Decide is exploring ways to expand their current app “Bedsider” to better meet the full range of needs young women have, especially when it comes to accessing birth control. Finding ways to address transportation and childcare issues in their app is also being looked at. Power to Decide is also looking at how providing the exact type of contraceptive and pregnancy counseling could impact health disparities. The question is whether or not the outcomes of maternal mortality and infant mortality are impacted by the type of counseling a woman receives at her initial appointment. Definitely two interesting projects to discuss with CEO Ginny Ehrlich and Chief Development Officer Scott LaGrand!

Jan 31: If you haven’t heard the acronyms CACHI (California Accountable Communities for Health Initiative) or SDACH (San Diego Accountable Community for Health), I am sure it will only be a matter of time. Kitty Bailey, heads up CACHI grant recipient Be There San San Diego and as the only non-public health entity awarded funding to build an Accountable Community for Health, their organization is one of only six grantees awarded a portion of a total of $5.1million to improve the health of Californians. As they build the ACH, there are three work groups and a stewardship group that have been established to implement the organization’s three-year work plan. Michele was recently asked to join the Collective Action Workgroup and is looking forward to being a part of the workgroup to fulfill their purpose of informing and supporting the linkage and integration of programs and activities that impact and advance health and wellness. While I serve on the Stewardship committee that will advise and guide this effort.

And last but not least, we also welcome new committee member Dr. Ilene Klein to our Program and Wellness Committees. Dr. Klein has served on our blue ribbon panel for the Innovation Initiative and will be expanding her role with our organization. Today, Michele and I provided an orientation for her first meetings in this new capacity. Welcome, Dr. Klein!

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