Tag Archives: essential resources

Latest on School Reopening

In addition to the majority of the business sector permitted to reopen indoors with modifications earlier this week, most county public schools – bolstered by happy and tired parents and caregivers – reopened in early March. Montecito public schools, Montecito Union School and Cold Spring School, have been open for in-person learning since late September, after applying for and receiving a waiver from the County’s Health Officer. Both schools have since conducted the majority of in-person learning outside, modifying both campuses to accommodate outdoor, socially distanced curriculum. Both school superintendents report that there has been no COVID-19 transmission at either school, and all staff and teachers have tested negative. The majority of teachers at the two schools have had the first round of the COVID-19 vaccination. 

One805 helped local schools prepare for the reopening: Harding Elementary School principal Veronica Binkley and One805 CFO John Thyne during a mask distribution in February

Crane Country Day School has also been open since October, and Kristen Peralta, Assistant Director of Admission tells us vaccines arrived last week for Crane employees. “There was an immense sense of peace that they were one step closer to safety and would soon be relieved of the burden that had been upon them since beginning On-Campus learning last October.”

By the end of the week over 90% of Crane’s employees had received at least their first dose of the vaccine. “For a school that has been providing full-day, on-campus learning five days a week since October, as well as an online learning option, this is a significant step in the right direction,” Peralta said, crediting Crane’s Health Administrator, Nurse Savannah Aijian,for helping coordinate the effort. “Sharing vaccine information and availability became a group effort as chains of emails were sent among Crane employees, including 5 am messages to let others know that appointments were available,” Peralta said. “Teachers rallied to cover their colleagues’ duty stations so that they could get to their vaccine appointments. The glimpse of hope and sense of gratitude sparked camaraderie, and the vaccinations marked a milestone in the academic year and in the school’s history.”

In the five months that the majority of the Crane community has been on campus, students, parents, teachers, and staff have become accustomed to the safety measures implemented this year, including handwashing stations, a daily health questionnaire, a full-time school nurse, plexiglass at every desk, coyote badges around campus marking a six-foot distance, and 23 unique outdoor learning spaces. Experiential learning areas in the various quads and plazas around campus have allowed teachers and students to spread out, enjoy fresh air, and look at their education outside of the four walls of the classroom. “Teachers have been grateful to be offering their students an exceptional education whether they are on campus or at home. The school is grateful that its decisions and the precautions of Crane families have together successfully allowed for a 0% transmission rate of COVID-19 on campus. Finally, the entire community can now be grateful that the widespread vaccination adds another thick layer of protection to our schools,” Peralta said. 

Crane will continue to offer a slightly modified two-prong approach with the vast majority of families choosing on-campus learning, while a smaller set of families in third through eighth grades continue to rely upon Crane’s online learning option. “I am hopeful that if we continue to wear masks, and we continue to socially distance, we will be able to slowly return to a more normal school environment,” said Head of School Joel Weiss.

The nonprofit also donated disaster kits in Lompoc: pictured here are Mason Schmidt, Lompoc Police Chief Joseph Mariani, Angela Schmidt, and Captain Kevin Martin

Last month, in order to help prepare local school campuses in Santa Barbara for the reopening, One805, a local nonprofit, donated 1,000 masks and 50 disaster kits to Harding Elementary School. “The new double masking recommendations from the CDC combined with the community beginning to open up has increased a need for masks,” said Angela Schmidt, One805 Executive Director. “Never has it been more important to work together as one county to abide by all safety recommendations.” 

One805 was formed to create a way for all members of our community to support First Responders and contribute to the public safety needs of Santa Barbara County; the organization was formed following the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow in January 2018. “We are the only organization that supports multiple First Responder agencies. The One805 Advisory Council, which helps direct donations to where they are most needed, is comprised of the department heads of 11 separate First Responder agencies from Carpinteria to Santa Maria and throughout the county,” explains John Thyne, a founding board member. The group also recently delivered 300 disaster kits to the Lompoc Police Department; each hand-packed kit contained two masks, soap, sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues, and a note of encouragement.

“It’s remarkable to witness the impact One805 has had on the overall safety of our community” says Schmidt. “We established an emergency Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/One805sb to consolidate messages from multiple agencies during emergencies and we work on public safety initiatives county-wide.” 

One805’s slogan is Prepare, Equip, Support, and they do all three. To learn more visit www.one805.org.

Community Health Requires Healthcare for All

Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics is the south county’s firewall against communal public health threats. 

Every year, its eight clinics in Isla Vista, Goleta, and Santa Barbara serve more than 22,000 people, 91% of whom are low- income and often lack adequate resources to pay for care. The clinics’ physicians, physician assistants, dentists, and nurse practitioners provide a wide range of primary care from substance use treatment to managing chronic illness and behavioral health. 

“This is the best job I have ever had,” says CEO and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Charles Fenzi. “The folks we are taking care of are so grateful that we are here. And I get to rub elbows with such passionate and dedicated people.” 

Fenzi, a family medicine doctor, spends one day a week seeing patients in an effort to keep up with his highly qualified medical staff. 

All services are provided on a sliding scale, so that everyone who comes through the doors is provided “high quality, comprehensive, affordable healthcare… regardless of their ability to pay, in an environment that fosters respect, compassion, and dignity.” 

Without the neighborhood clinics – many of these patients wouldn’t have many other options for care other than the emergency room. 

“The ER is very expensive,” Fenzi says. “You have no continuity, and it’s not a place where you can provide care for people with chronic health conditions.”

Inasmuch, the role Neighborhood Clinics plays in helping the patients it does extends to the whole community. “If you can’t provide access to everyone in the community, you simply won’t have a healthy community.” 

For the first six months of 2021, Fenzi is focused on “a triple target to keep essential workers healthy”: managing chronic health conditions, ensuring children are vaccinated, and when a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, administering it to the thousands of patients he and his colleagues see. 

As the on-the-ground provider for so many uninsured, undocumented essential workers, Fenzi and the clinics will have to show people that it is safe to take a new vaccine and will be a lead agency administering the vaccinations themselves. 

Changing Course

For nearly 75 years, the aim of Santa Barbara’s Mental Wellness Center has been to help adults living with mental illness live their best life. By providing numerous practical services including affordable housing sites and a social center called the Fellowship Club, they provide a connection to essential resources.

Twenty years ago a major revelation led to the addition of a new way of addressing mental health and the aim to prevent the impact of untreated mental illness. The decision to address early intervention through education became an imperative when the CEO, Annmarie Cameron, learned a startling fact. Fifty percent of all mental illness has its onset of symptoms by age fourteen,” Cameron says. “Young people need to know that while mental illness can feel frightening, it doesn’t need to be. Like diabetes, asthma, or any medical issue, mental illness can be treated.”

Our mental health care system is built on a model that waits for a crisis to identify the illness. By giving young people basic facts about mental illness, and strategies for self-care of their own mental health we expect to improve the chances that a crisis is avoidable.

The Mental Wellness Center is betting on young people. Across three privately funded programs, the Mental Wellness Center is reaching thousands of local youth and their families.

Mental Health Matters is an original program developed by the Mental Wellness Center’s Education Committee. It introduces basic facts about mental health to elementary, middle and high school students. The underlying premise is that with understanding, youth will know to seek help should they or someone they know experience symptoms of a possible mental health disorder, knowing that early treatment tends to lead to better outcomes. In 2019, 18 trained volunteers delivered the Mental Health Matters curriculum in more than 50 classrooms throughout Santa Barbara County.

The positive feedback about Mental Health Matters received from students, parents, and teachers is reaffirming of this program. Parents report that their families are impacted by mental health issues and need a way to talk about them that isn’t scary or stigmatized. 

Ten years ago, the Mental Wellness Center joined a growing national and international movement to widely teach the general public basic skills for Mental Health First Aid. Targeted versions of this program reach those who work with young people and youth themselves.

In January 2020, the Mental Wellness Center participated in a pilot of teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA), the first of its kind developed for high school students in the U.S. tMHFA is designed for high school students to identify and respond to a mental health or substance use problem among their peers.“ My dream is that the teen Mental Health First Aid program is in every high school,” said Born this Way Foundation’s co-founder, Lady Gaga, who funded the national pilot initiative.

The Wellness Connection Council (WCC) is the newest program of the Mental Wellness Center. The WCC is a high school leadership program that educates, empowers and engages students who raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental health by promoting self-care, kindness through connection, prevention, education, and outreach amongst their peers. In fall of 2020, the WCC welcomed 60 local high school students to their leadership council from high schools throughout Santa Barbara County. 

“I see this as our future,” Cameron says. “We will always provide essential services for adults that live with mental illness and we will educate young people and empower a new generation to seek support and prioritize their own mental health.” 

1 in 5 youth and young adults live with a mental health condition and right now, mental health has never been more important. If you share in Cameron and the Mental Wellness Center’s youth-driving vision, donate today.