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HUMBOLDT, DEL NORTE, MENDOCINO, CA (May 4, 2022) – Humboldt Area Foundation and Wild Rivers Community Foundation are standing with Tribal communities in the Pacific Redwoods region to mark Missing and Murdered Indigenous People’s (MMIP) Awareness Day.
Click here to learn more about supporting the Pacific Redwoods Missing & Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) Crisis Action Fund
Humboldt Area Foundation and Wild Rivers Community Foundation are standing with Tribal communities in the Pacific Redwoods region to mark Missing and Murdered Indigenous People’s (MMIP) Awareness Day.
Homicide is the third leading cause of death for Indigenous women and girls. In some Tribal communities, indigenous women face murder rates that are more than 10 times the national average.
These rates are disproportionately high in the Pacific Redwoods region, which accounts for two-thirds of California’s MMIP cases. California is home to the nation’s fifth-highest number of MMIP incidents.
MMIP Awareness Day, which takes place on May 5, is a national effort to draw attention and resources to address this devastating pattern of violence and injustice.
The Foundations, which are supporting Native leaders’ efforts to end this tragedy, today announced that they are launching The Pacific Redwoods Missing & Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) Crisis Action Fund with seed funding from individual donors and the Foundations’ discretionary fund.
The fund will support regional research, policy advocacy, crisis response and recovery, and will aim to close technical assistance gaps. It will also allow for the Foundations’ continued partnership with Tribal leaders and Indigenous experts to facilitate community support and address the root causes of this public safety threat.
“The national tragedy of MMIP has been all but ignored by philanthropy,” said Bryna Lipper, CEO of the Humboldt Area and Wild Rivers Community Foundation. “These are our girls, our friends, our community. Their absence is devastating to us all. Today, and every day until it is no more, we are called to face the crisis that is Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons. We can do something to end this now.”
California’s most populous Tribe, the Yurok Nation, has developed internationally recognized MMIP justice efforts, working with the region’s Inter-Tribal Court to advocate for public and philanthropic resources, elevate research, and help bridge barriers to services. Some of those barriers are a result of legal and jurisdictional issues arising from a 1950’s era Congressional Act known as Public Law 280 (or PL 280), which applies to California and five other states. Tribes were neither consulted nor consented to the sweeping change.
This law has been used as justification to deny law enforcement funding to Tribes and has “dramatically altered criminal justice in Indian Country,” according to the Department of Justice’s Institute for Justice.
"We, all of those who are left behind, are failing. Our people are going missing. They are being trafficked and murdered," said Judge Abby Abinanti, Yurok Tribal Court Chief Justice. “We will not stop fighting for a fair and reasonable share of resources for our region, for our people, and our justice partners. Failures are mounting and we must unite and ensure justice as the right of all.”
You can help by getting involved in Missing and Murdered Indigenous People’s Awareness Day on Thursday, May 5. Community members are invited to:
“The Foundations will continue to support and partner with Tribal and community leaders to advocate for awareness and healing. We will also champion efforts to advocate with our elected leaders and educate the public about the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous victims,” said Paula (Pimm) Tripp-Allen, Senior Advisor to the Humboldt Area Foundation. “With sustained efforts of philanthropic support and public action, we can begin to work together to forge a path of healing and prevention of this national and local crisis.”
For more information on how to support Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Awareness Day and the Pacific Redwoods Missing & Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) Crisis Action Fund, please visit the HAF+WRCF Giving Page.
About Pacific Redwoods Missing & Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) Crisis Action Fund
The epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous people (MMIP) is a national humanitarian crisis, with California ranking fifth in the nation for incidents of MMIP, and the far north of the state accounting for most cases. The Pacific Redwoods Missing & Murdered Indigenous People’s Crisis Action Fund supports prevention and response to violence against Indigenous people in our region. Your investment in the Pacific Redwoods Missing & Murdered Indigenous People’s Crisis Action Fund supports regional research, policy advocacy, crisis response, recovery, and more. Funds allow for our continued partnership with Tribal leaders and Indigenous experts to facilitate community support and address the root cause of this public safety threat.
About Humboldt Area Foundation and Wild Rivers Community Foundation
The Foundations serve the residents of Humboldt, Trinity, Del Norte Counties in California and Curry County in Oregon, along with 26 Tribal Nations and Indigenous territories by promoting and encouraging generosity, leadership and inclusion to strengthen our communities. We envision a thriving, equitable, healthy, and just region for the generations ahead.
Humboldt Area Foundation and Wild Rivers Community Foundation announce the addition of three new board of directors: Alex Ozaki-McNeill, Alan Nidiffer and Dr. Keith Flamer.
The three new board directors join current directors Raquel Ortega, secretary, Charlie Jordan, board chair, David Finigan, vice chairman, Judge Abby Abinanti, Christina Huff, Mary Keehn, Dina Moore, Marylyn Paik-Nicely and Dennis Rael.
“Bringing voices to the board from all of the communities we serve is essential for true representation,” said Board Chair Charlie Jordan. “Additionally, adding members with experience and skills that enhance the foundation’s ability to serve makes us a stronger organization.”
Alex Ozaki-McNeill, raised in Arcata and educated at Cal Poly Humboldt, is the current Director of the North Country Fair and works as a compliance manager and HR for the cannabis-related business Flower Co. in Arcata. Prior to that she led Brio Baking Inc.'s direct public offering in order to finance improvements through community investments. Past and present non-profit and community group involvement includes Equity Arcata, Cooperation Humboldt, Humboldt Asian and Pacific Islanders (HAPI), and Eureka Chinatown Project.
“Growing up in the Humboldt area fueled my love of nature, arts, and community involvement. I am a new mom and am eager to raise my daughter in the same community that helped shape me into who I am,” Ozaki-McNeill said.
Alan Nidiffer, a long-time resident of Brookings, Oregon, graduate of Oregon State University, is a New York Life Insurance Company agent who served on the advisory board of Wild Rivers Community Foundation for two years before joining the Humboldt Area Board of Directors. Previously, Alan served as executive vice president/chief information officer for C&K Markets Inc. and Ray’s Food Place. He also worked as a senior programmer for Weyerhaeuser and Willamette Industries.
“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to join the Foundation’s board because it is known to have a tremendous impact in our region,” Nidiffer said. “And I am excited to help contribute to its mission of supporting youth and families, healthy ecosystems, racial equity, and regional economic development, especially in Curry County.”
Keith Flamer, president and superintendent of College of the Redwoods arrived in Humboldt County in 2006 from Chicago, Illinois. He is a senior-level executive with a PhD degree in Educational Leadership and more than 25 years of leadership experience in higher education, including navigating the operational and political aspects of college funding, and experience with securing government and institutional funding. His community endeavors include being a member of the Eureka Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, board director for the Boys and Girls of Humboldt County, member of the League of Women Voters of Humboldt County, and the Rotary Club of Eureka.
“The opportunity to join the Foundation’s board provides me a way to give back to my community and serve with colleagues whose values and commitments reflect my own,” Flamer said.
Foundation CEO Bryna Lipper welcomed the new board directors, saying, “Since I arrived in this region, Dr. Flamer, Alan, and Alex have provided me personally with strategic counsel, guided about underserved and marginalized communities, and demonstrated brave leadership in their respective fields. I am confident that their appointment to the foundation’s board will amplify these values and our commitments to a just, thriving, healthy and equitable region.”
In 2021 The Foundation’s board announced a new region-wide strategy focused on building a “Just Economy, Healthy Ecosystems and Environments, Thriving Youth and Families, and Racial Equity.” The Board also affirmed the Foundation’s commitment to serving Trinity, Del Norte, and Humboldt counties in California, and Curry County, Oregon, as well as the 26 Tribal Nations and Indigenous Territories across this region. The Foundation’s board oversees affiliates such as the Humboldt Health Foundation, the Native Cultures Fund, the Redwood Region CORE Hub and other major initiatives.
Bayside, Calif.—The Humboldt Area Foundation and the Wild Rivers Community Foundation are accepting applications for the inaugural Aawok Georgiana Trull Memorial Scholarship Award, with applications due by Oct. 29, 2021.
Administered by the Foundation’s Native Cultures Fund, Scholarships of $2,500 are available for California native students who are engaged in Indigenous language revitalization. Students from all academic backgrounds are encouraged to apply, including undergraduate and graduate students and those enrolled in trade school. Applicants must express a commitment to Indigenous languages to be considered for support.
The Aawok Georgiana Trull Memorial Scholarship Fund was established by her descendants to honor the work and life of Aawok Georgiana Trull. Aawok Georgiana’s family describes her as a multi-faceted being who was a single mother and welder, among many other things, but deeply committed to the language, culture and survival of the Yurok people. “Aawok Georgiana spent more than 40 years of her life dedicated to revitalization of the Yurok language, contributing to an alphabet and publishing a conversation dictionary. She mentored dozens of students and worked closely with linguists to ensure that the Yurok language was preserved,” says Virginia Hedrick, a descendant of Aawok Georgiana. In 2003, Aawok Georgiana published the "Yurok Language Conversation Book," available at the University of California Berkeley Archives, which contains over 30 sections ranging from daily routines to family and relations.
The Aawok Georgiana Trull Memorial Scholarship application can be found on the Native Culture Fund website. Video submissions are encouraged; however all applications will be considered. Applicants in need of assistance can contact the NCF team at email@example.com or (707) 267-9906.
The Aawok Georgiana Trull Memorial Scholarship Fund also welcomes support. To learn more about supporting the fund, please visit the Humboldt Area Foundation funds page. Contributions to the fund support California Native people actively engaged in Indigenous language revitalization.
The Native Cultures Fund serves the area from the Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation in the north, to the Paiute Nations to the east and down to Chumash territory in the south. Founded by California Indian leaders and Native led, the Native Cultures Fund has practiced community grantmaking and program development at Humboldt Area Foundation since 2002. The Native Cultures Fund has made over $2.3 million in grants to 315 community-based projects in more than 100 California Native communities. Learn more at https://www.hafoundation.org/Native-Cultures-Fund.
Broadband internet access remains out of reach for many. But during the last 16 months, the Humboldt Area Foundation and the Wild Rivers Community Foundation, have been supporting tech access throughout the region with more than $623,000 in technology grants from the foundations’ COVID-19 Regional Response Fund.
Getting more folks connected to the internet is critical. Why? Access to the internet means access to work, access to school, health resources, and so many other things. It’s so deeply integrated into our society that those without access are at an immediate sociological disadvantage. In fact, in 2016, the United Nations added the freedom to express oneself on the internet to its Universal Declaration of Human Rights to include human right,
Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center shared its findings from the 2021 Mobile Technology and Home Broadband report. While the report finds that the majority of Americans are connected to high-speed internet, still 38 percent of rural households remain without reliable broadband internet. Thousands of those folks are living in Curry, Del Norte, Humboldt, and Trinity counties without advanced internet connections as the on-going COVID-19 pandemic transforms school and work life for many. HAF and WRCF are committed to closing the technology gap among families in need of tech access.
Within a week of California and Oregon’s 2020 statewide shelter-in-place orders, HAF and WRCF created the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, which grew to $3,397,339 thanks to generous contributions from our donors and funders.
The response money also included a special COVID technology fund, designed to support the community as work and school shifted online. Since its inception, HAF and WRCF have partnered with local school districts, Tribal governments, nonprofits, and individuals, with more than 63 technology grants distributed as of this writing.
Two things became clear as the foundations distributed the funds. First, in rural areas, people can be hard to connect to for many reasons, whether that’s due to technology access, remoteness, or personal choice. Second, communities of color suffer the most and local health officials have collected ample evidence that Native American and Latinx communities were particularly hard hit with a disproportionate number of positive COVID-19 cases. It seems communities most impacted by COVID-19 are often the same people who lack access to suitable internet technology.
Here are some recent highlight grants that HAF and WRCF have made to boost tech access and ensure our community members could make the transition to online working and learning:
● A recent $12,500 grant to the Wiyot Tribe will help residents connect to SpaceX’s satellite-based Starlink internet service. This satellite-based internet service will connect Wiyot community members who are otherwise unreachable by other Internet providers.
● The foundation supported the Hoopa Valley’s Tribal TANF with $5,000 for iPads and internet connectivity so expectant parents could continue to take Motherhood is Sacred/Fatherhood is Sacred parenting classes when quarantine restrictions meant meeting in person wasn’t an option.
● Over the last 15 months, more than 250 Chromebooks, iPads and other computers have been given to individuals and nonprofits.
As part of the foundation's 10 year strategic vision, HAF and WRCF are committed to addressing the issues around broadband internet access, and technology grants are just one way to achieve that goal. The Foundations’ strategic plan envisions “a thriving, just, healthy and equitable region,” which is supported by four goal areas:
● Racial Equity
● Healthy Ecosystems
● Thriving Youth and Families
● A Just Economy and Economic Development
When youth and families thrive, we all thrive. That’s why supporting ‘thriving youth and families’ is one of HAF+WRCF’s goal areas. In the early days of the pandemic, HAF and WRCF granted more than $23,000 to the Humboldt County Office of Education, the Trinity Alps Unified School District, and the Fortuna Union School District to provide dozens of hotspots and tech supplies to families throughout the foundation’s service region.
For too long, our neighbors in the underserved remote communities in Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt, and Curry counties have been excluded from the current technology revolution because they can’t rely on a cellular phone, let alone a broadband internet connection. These disparities are even more drastic when it comes to access for Native communities. HAF and WRCF also consider addressing issues around racial equity as a top goal, and recent grants are ensuring underserved communities can close technology gaps.
Organizations like Central De Pueblo and the Seventh Generation Fund work closely with our BIPOC community members, but like many nonprofits, these groups saw many challenges as they grappled with COVID. HAF and WRCF helped these groups meet basic technology needs with a $9,000 grant for tech and office supplies to support this online transition. Other groups that serve historically marginalized populations have received funding for telehealth technology, remote work stations, and much more (Read more about the transitions and challenges these nonprofits faced during the pandemic in our State of the Sector Report).
Of course, the technology gap won’t close with the end of the pandemic. HAF and WRCF remain committed to addressing these technology and connectivity needs through innovative partnerships with our local community members, especially when closing the technology gap can help create “a thriving, just, healthy and equitable region.”
The program supports a broad spectrum of wellness efforts, from culture and family support to food and housing security, mental health, and more.
“These grants are especially meaningful during a pandemic, where community members more vividly experience challenges and barriers to health,” says Amy Jester, Program Director for Health & Nonprofit Resources for the Humboldt Area Foundation, which oversees the operations of the Humboldt Health Foundation.
The Humboldt Health Foundation seeks to fund projects that help reduce or eliminate structural barriers to wellness. This year, the majority of funding will be designated to programs that support the health and wellbeing of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other People of Color. “We recognize that BIPOC individuals are disproportionately affected by the pandemic and that racism is a critical public health issue impacting our region,” says Jester.
"The grant program is there to support organizations and groups that are creating opportunities for people to live healthier lives. There are so many awesome ways communities are supporting wellbeing. We're interested in partnering with organizations to make that happen" says Amy Jester, Program Director of the Humboldt Health Foundation.
In March, the Humboldt Area Foundation announced its new 10-year strategic vision, which explores how a community foundation can help grow a thriving, just, healthy, and equitable region. The Foundation has also laid out four goals to support that vision, with resources and programs being developed to address these areas over a 10-year period. The goals are racial equity; healthy ecosystems; thriving youth and families; and a just economy and economic development.
Community health grants from the Humboldt Health Foundation represent a 24-year legacy of supporting our community through investment and grantmaking and underscore the Foundation’s commitment to our region’s health and wellbeing.
To learn more about the criteria and download an application, please visit the HHF website at humhealth.org.
Humboldt Health Foundation was founded in 1997 and is an affiliate of the Humboldt Area Foundation. Since its founding, Humboldt Health Foundation has distributed nearly $4.7 million in grants. Over the past year, the Foundation has given grants for program and general operating support for organizations like HC Black Music and Arts Association, English Express, COVID-19 direct relief for Spanish-speaking and undocumented individuals from the McKinleyville Family Resource Center, as well as the Native Women’s Collective.
BAYSIDE, CA (APRIL 3, 2020) – The first grants from the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, totaling $195,920, are going to eighteen organizations in Humboldt, Trinity, Del Norte and Curry counties to help our communities deal with the effects of the coronavirus.
The COVID-19 Fund was launched on March 20, by Humboldt Area Foundation and its affiliate the Wild Rivers Community Foundation in Del Norte County. With additional support from The California Endowment and The California Wellness Foundation, the fund started with $150,000. During the first two weeks, over 55 individual contributions and donor pledges have grown the fund to more than $285,000.
“Every one of our board members has given to the fund,” said CEO Bryna Lipper. “We live in a generous community and think $1 million is within our reach. It will help thousands of people,” Lipper said.
To encourage giving to the fund, HAF is taking no administrative fees, with 100% of every gift going to grants.
HAF’s areas of focus in awarding grants from the fund includes seniors, people with compromised immune systems, homeless, first-responders and Native communities.
In making the grants, HAF is using a streamlined review process that does not burden area nonprofits during this difficult time with a lengthy application process.
Sara Dronkers, Director of Grantmaking and Nonprofit Resources said, “Our team is reaching out daily to area nonprofits, public agencies, businesses, civic leaders and Native communities from Garberville to Weaverville to Hoopa, Crescent City and Brookings, Oregon to help us target our grants to charitable organizations on the front lines of service.”
Grants from the COVID-19 Fund are just one tool HAF is utilizing to meet the current crisis. Other resources being mobilized include loans to nonprofits, grants from other funds, fundraising from partner foundations and community leadership activities to bring partners together for action.
The first grants made from the fund (as of April 2) are:
· United Indian Health Services, $18,200, to get food and meals to 1,300 elders in local Native communities during the coronavirus and during a gap in federal funding.
· The Wiyot Tribe, $1,000, for extra hygiene, cleaning and pet supplies for elders.
· The Yurok Tribe, $20,000, to provide additional hygiene packages, food delivery and firewood to tribal members, including 900 elders and 500 at-risk youth.
· 211 Humboldt, $2,000, to the Mother Women Rising Support Group for extra help for clients as a result of the coronavirus.
· Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives, $5,000, for additional general operating support for homeless services resulting from the coronavirus.
· Arcata House Partnership, $4,000, for facility improvements to maintain health, safety and physical distancing during the coronavirus.
· Cooperation Humboldt, $5,000, for their COVID-19 Response Coalition and $2,000 for the Humboldt Parent Hive Childcare Co-op.
· Del Norte Mission Possible, $10,000, for increased program and management support needed to address the coronavirus.
· Eureka Rescue Mission, $10,000, to help meet an increased demand for services resulting from the coronavirus.
· Family Resource Center of the Redwoods, $10,000, for its food pantry facing increased demands during the coronavirus.
· Food for People, $18,000, to respond to increased COVID-19 related demands on the organization.
· Gold Beach Senior Center, $10,000, to help with increased food distribution needs in Gold Beach and Port Orford, Oregon due to the coronavirus.
· Healy Senior Center, Redway, $15,000, to maintain and expand program operations and staffing for senior services during the coronavirus.
· Humboldt Bay Firefighters Local 652, $15,300, to purchase reusable medical Personal Protection Equipment jackets for first responders needed to protect them and the public during the coronavirus.
· Humboldt Family Services Center, $6,000, for virtual counseling for struggling families sheltering in place during the coronavirus.
· Southern Humboldt Housing Opportunities, $12,420, for two weeks of motel rooms for homeless people made vulnerable during the coronavirus and additional meals for other homeless individuals.
· Transitional Residential Treatment Facilities, $20,000, to support the shelter in place operations for 25 mentally ill individuals.
· Trinity Community Food Outreach, $10,000, for an additional food storage unit for the county’s food bank in Weaverville, along with funds for seven pantries to purchase perishables not available through government programs.
Contributions, small or large, can be made to the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund online at hafoundation.org/Giving/COVID19 or by mailing checks to HAF at 363 Indianola Rd, Bayside, CA 95524. For more info call (707) 442-2993.
As the line for vaccine doses shrank, a group of participants started doing Zumba. The fair provided several activities, like dancing and face painting, to bring as many families as possible in to get vaccinated. Photo By Kris Nagel
More than most, Loleta resident Yohana Castillo, 36, has experienced unexpected and tremendous loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past eight months, she has lost four people. First her cousin, Esteban Gonzalez, of Esteban’s Mexican restaurant in Arcata, died of complications from the disease. Then another cousin, followed by a distant family member in Mexico City and, finally, her neighbor.
Seeing the effects the virus had on her family and wanting to protect their 4-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter, Castillo and her husband decided to get vaccinated.
“Now that I’m vaccinated, I feel safer going out, seeing my family,” she told the Journal in Spanish.
Since receiving her vaccination, Castillo has been on a quest to help as many people in her community get vaccinated by making sure they understand what the protection can do. She was able to help the rest of her family get their vaccines.
“I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through,” she said. “I want everyone to have the opportunity to feel safe the way I feel safe.”
Castillo likes to be involved in her daughter’s school activities and met True North Organizing Network organizing director Julia Lerma through a virtual event. They began talking about their lives and Castillo’s recent losses when Lerma told her about True North’s planned efforts to help the county’s Latinx population get vaccinated. Castillo jumped on board and quickly became a volunteer organizer for the Eureka-based nonprofit.
Humboldt’s Latinx population is still lagging behind in vaccination rates despite seeing disproportionate rates of infection. As of July 15, about 45 percent of Humboldt County’s Latinx population had received at least one dose of the vaccine compared to about 50 percent of the county’s non-Hispanic/Latinx population. Meanwhile, residents identifying as Hispanic and Latinx continue to make up 23 percent of the county’s positive COVID cases despite making up only 12 percent of the county’s population. Statewide, roughly 43 percent of the Latinx population has received at least one dose of the vaccine compared to 53 percent of the population overall, while Latinx residents account for 56 percent of COVID-19 cases despite making up 39 percent of the population, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Local efforts to reach the Latinx community with COVID-19 safety and vaccination information have been challenging, as has been the case statewide and nationally. Many Hispanic and Latinx Humboldt County residents have reported finding it challenging to find accurate information in Spanish, though public health has staffed its COVID-19 information line with Spanish speakers and has translated COVID information and social media posts hoping to reach non-English speakers.
There are a variety of reasons vaccine hesitancy may be more pervasive in the Hispanic and Latinx population than other demographics.
“Compared to white adults, larger shares of unvaccinated Hispanic adults say they are concerned about missing work due to vaccine side effects, that they might have to pay out of pocket for the vaccine (despite it being free), not being able to get the vaccine from a trusted place, or having difficulty traveling to a vaccination site,” states a recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Among Hispanic adults, the shares expressing many of these concerns are even greater among those with lower incomes, the uninsured, and those who are potentially undocumented.”
Humboldt County Health Officer Ian Hoffman has repeatedly said offering local employees time off to get vaccinated and even sick leave if they experience side effects would reduce barriers locally, though it’s unclear how many businesses are doing it.
True North, meanwhile, has worked to get translated health and safety information to Humboldt’s Latinx community, while also working with the vaccine hesitant and creating more comfortable environments for Latinx community members to get vaccinated in. And so the idea of the family friendly vaccine fair was born and the nonprofit started planning a festive event that would feel distinctly different than the mass vaccination clinics being organized by public health.
Before the fair, Castillo and True North spent time canvassing in Latinx communities at churches, mercados and neighborhoods, posting Spanish-language flyers about the vaccine fair with phone numbers — including her own — for those hesitant about the COVID vaccine to call for more information. Castillo told those who called about her story why she decided to get the vaccine and her experience getting her shot.
“They’re afraid of getting a reaction,” Castillo said. “We have a group of three people working to talk to people and I haven’t heard a different concern but that they’re all afraid to get a bad reaction to the vaccine. So, we always tell them to talk to their doctor — sometimes they begin to tell me what (medical conditions) they have, and I can’t answer that, but we give them the information we can.”
The day of the vaccine clinic last month was unusually warm and drizzly. In front of the COVID-19 vaccine clinic at College of the Redwoods gymnasium, Castillo and True North’s team of volunteer organizers set up a sound system for music and tables, one for snacks filled with pan dulce, water and juice, another with kids’ activities, like coloring books and markers, and a third for people to get raffle tickets and free tacos.
The rain didn’t dampen Castillo’s helpful demeanor. She was wearing a mask but smiled with her eyes as she greeted those walking up to the gym, asking them first in Spanish if they were there for their vaccination, then directing them to where they needed to go. If they didn’t speak Spanish, she used the bit of English she knows to direct them. But she was there primarily as a first point of contact for those who only speak Spanish, letting them know there were people there to speak to them in their language. At one point, she held a bundle of balloons that she passed out to kids.
She said she felt happy and emotional at the fair, pointing out that while the fair drew in some folks to get vaccinated, others showed up to get their shots totally unaware of the accompanying activities and free tacos.
Adding to the festive, inviting atmosphere was Jorge Matias, who works for St. Joseph Health and whom True North invited to put on a Zumba lesson. With an energetic charm, Matias got people dancing.
According to the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, a total of 109 people were vaccinated during the June 13 fair, 27 of them walk-ins. In comparison, the week of July 12 saw Public Health’s mobile team vaccinate a total of 97 people at the Humboldt Crabs game and clinics in Rio Dell, Fortuna and Samoa, according to a July 13 COVID update to the board of supervisors.
Public health officials have also said that even registering for a vaccine appointment can pose another barrier for those wanting to get their vaccinations.
During an April meeting with LatinoNet, Hoffman said Public Health’s goal is to ensure vaccine equity for the Latinx community and to guarantee that any Latinx resident seeking a COVID-19 vaccine feels comfortable and confident before, during and after their appointment, which is what True North was able to accomplish with its vaccine fair.
“People really enjoyed the event,” Castillo said. “They felt comfortable and like they were with family, and at ease because there were people there who spoke Spanish.”
True North held another vaccine clinic in Arcata similar to the one at the College of the Redwoods, with raffles, free food and Zumba, but won’t stop there. True North will hold more vaccine fairs in Fortuna and Eureka, continuing with the nonprofit’s mission of making sure everyone has an opportunity to get vaccinated in a setting that makes them comfortable, no matter the distance. Castillo, for one, is excited.
“I think [the future vaccine fairs] will go very well and we’ll be successful because we really want all people to get vaccinated and feel safer at work and at school, with their family and the simple fact of going outside,” Castillo said.
Iridian Casarez (she/her) is a staff writer at the Journal. Reach her at 442-1400, extension 317, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @IridianCasarez.
The Community Voices Coalition is a project funded by Humboldt Area Foundation and Wild Rivers Community Foundation to support local journalism. This story was produced by the North Coast Journal newsroom with full editorial independence and control.
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