Dignity execs brave the cold to hand out checks to local nonprofits | News

Dignity Health executives in festive attire handed out oversized checks Friday as part of an annual philanthropic ceremony aimed at addressing Kern County’s health needs.

With a chill in the air and COVID-19 on people’s mind, this year’s event took place outside in a parking lot behind Mercy Downtown, leaving representatives of nine Kern County nonprofits to accept their money — and display their gratitude — in drive-thru fashion.

In all, officials with the San Francisco-based chain of nonprofit hospitals handed out $400,332, or about 3 percent more than last year.

The recipients were local organizations that have demonstrated effective collaboration not just with Dignity’s local properties — Memorial and Mercy hospitals — but also other organizations making a difference in the lives of people in need.

“We think that working together we can make a bigger impact,” said Donna Sharp, Dignity’s regional director of special needs and community outreach.

Holiday music, bright decorations and a bubble machine added cheer to the event as check recipients drove up one by one to receive money that will help finance their charitable efforts in the year ahead.

Dignity’s grants ranged in size from $25,000 to $75,000. Each aligned in some respect with the hospitals’ local health needs assessment, which federal requirements say must be updated every three years.

Sharp said the organizations receiving money Friday had to show they can deliver on the community’s needs in the areas of homelessness, substance abuse, nutrition, chronic diseases, maternal health or valley fever. She added that several of the recipients had never received grants from Dignity.

Here is a list of grant recipients, their programs and the amounts bestowed Friday by Dignity Health:

• Alpha House, the Alpha House Shelter Program — $40,792

• CityServe Network, CityServe Educational Collaborative — $40,040

• Grimm Family Education Foundation, Edible Schoolyard Kern County, Small Farm Ecosystem — $50,000

• Kern Partnership for Children and Families, Healthy Babies and Healthy Mothers: Reaching Toward a Better You — $29,500

• Mercy House Living Centers, Brundage Lane Navigation Center — $75,000

• St. Vincent de Paul, The Homeless Assistance Program — $25,000

• Teen Challenge of Southern California, Kern County Chapter — Residential and Substance Abuse Project – $30,000

• Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical, Improving Access to Valley Fever Care — $60,000

• Wounded Heroes Fund, Empowering Veterans of Kern County — $50,000

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