San Joaquin Valley Health Fund (SJVHF) COVID-19 Response Cluster Raises More Than $2.5 Million to Support Region’s Most Vulnerable Families and Workers

Fresno, Calif. – The Center at Sierra Health Foundation, through the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund (SJVHF), announces today that pledges to the SJVHF COVID-19 Response Cluster fund have reached $2,500,000. The rapid response fund was launched to provide immediate assistance to populations and communities most impacted by the current public health crisis. Donations to the fund since its launch on March 26 make it possible to release initial disbursements totaling $450,000 to nine community based non-profit organizations providing direct support to farmworkers, undocumented individuals, immigrants, families, unhoused community members, formerly incarcerated individuals, and other particularly vulnerable populations throughout the San Joaquin Valley.

The nine organizations receiving initial grant awards from the fund are California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Californians for Pesticide Reform, Center on Race Poverty and the Environment, Faith in the Valley, Fathers and Families of San Joaquin, Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries (FIRM), Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, Radio Bilingue and United Farm Workers Foundation. 

Early commitments to the SJVHF COVID-19 Response Cluster have come from Sierra Health Foundation, The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, Werner-Kohnstamm Family Giving Fund, an anonymous East Coast family foundation, the Grove Foundation, 11th Hour Fund – a program of the Schmidt Family Foundation, and numerous online individual donors through the fund’s website,  Additionally, an anonymous donor contributed more than $1.3 million to help the fund reach its initial fundraising goal of $2.5 million.

“Many in the San Joaquin Valley historically have experienced health and economic challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified these inequities, moving them from worrisome to acute, but these vulnerable community members won’t have to face them alone,” said Chet P. Hewitt, president and CEO of Sierra Health Foundation and The Center, which manages the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund. “We are committed to doing all we can – as quickly as possible – by connecting the generosity of our fundraising partners with the incredible reach and trust SJVHF community partners have with the communities they serve.”

As contributors prioritize and confirm their donations, grants will be issued to provide immediate relief like rental, food and utility assistance, essential supplies like toiletries, drinking water, over-the-counter medicine and toilet paper, and personal protective equipment essential for vulnerable farmworkers and immigrant service workers. Funds will also support the dissemination of accurate health information, and navigation and legal assistance for vulnerable community members so they can access other resources and supports.

“Constantly-changing news regarding this crisis can be overwhelming, and so many people are doing the very best they can to just keep themselves afloat,” said Hugo Morales, executive director and co-founder of Radio Bilingue. “We are grateful for the opportunity to use our experience and networks to reach thousands of Spanish and Mixteco speaking community members who need timely, accurate information to stay healthy, safe and connected to much-needed resources.”

As the SJVHF COVID-19 Response Cluster grows, grant dollars will continue to be disbursed through an invite-only grant process open to organizations within the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund, which includes nearly 150 partner organizations stretching from Kern County to San Joaquin County.  

This grant will support relief resources to the formerly incarcerated and their families and other vulnerable populations pushed to the margins. We will be providing culturally rooted healing for stress reduction, housing support and care packages to meet community members’ basic needs,” said Samuel Nunez, executive director of Fathers and Families of San Joaquin.

In addition to grant support to community partners, The Center at Sierra Health Foundation is providing five federally qualified health centers in the San Joaquin Valley with 1,300 plastic ponchos for their health providers’ use as disposable personal protective equipment.

“We are so appreciative of the donation of ponchos for our team as we brace for the upcoming weeks. We are continuing to see patients in need of care, completing virtual visits, working with our 3-county public health departments (Tulare, Kings, and Fresno) and providing COVID-19 drive up testing. Our health care workers and our entire organization are grateful that support like this can help protect us while we do our work to serve the community,” said Kerry Hydash, president and CEO of Family HealthCare Network.

Individual and institutions can continue to make donations through the website for:

  • Support for Farmworkers and Immigrants
  • Enhanced Health Education/Health System Navigation Resources
  • Support for Vulnerable Children and Families
  • Support for Homeless and Those in Over-Crowded Housing
  • Nonprofit Flexible Support
  • Support focused on other particular vulnerable populations (e.g., LGBTQ+, limited-English-speaking populations) or geographies (specified San Joaquin Valley county or counties)

Source: Samantha Garcia, (916) 996-8987

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