Another Leaven Center, Thanks to NorthBay

NorthBay Healthcare President and CEO Gary Passama, left, and Mark Lillis of The Leaven, with the van the health care organization helped purchase.

On a warm August morning, NorthBay Healthcare joined the city of Fairfield and The Leaven to officially debut its latest after-school program site on Dana Drive, an effort aimed to reduce crime and rejuvenate the neighborhood just south of NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield.

Three newly enrolled students examine the children’s books donated by NorthBay employees.

“You are living in an area of transformation,” Fairfield Mayor Harry Price told the crowd, which included civic and political leaders alike, as well as neighbors whose children will be able to use the center. “That’s what happens when hospitals, paramedics and law enforcement get together to make things happen.”

The center can accommodate up to 20 youngsters from the neighborhood, offering them a safe place to go after school when parents are still at work. Funding to renovate half of the duplex came from the city. Operating costs to run the program will be covered by NorthBay Healthcare through the Community Benefit Program. Meanwhile, The Leaven will staff and operate the center.

One of the rooms features a bookshelf nearly filled with hardback and paperback selections, donated by NorthBay employees to encourage reading. The main room features a number of round tables where children can participate in art projects and play games. A small kitchen and freshly painted walls create a friendly environment.

“We’ve always tried to be a good neighbor,” NorthBay Healthcare President and CEO Gary Passama told the crowd. “In medicine, we’ve always looked to improve the lives of those we serve… so you easily understand why we are a partner… in creating this center.”

It’s better to make strong children than to fix broken adults.

—Jim Frazier,
Assembly member

A child’s overall health is a product of education, family values, social interaction and preventive and compassionate health care, Gary explained. “NorthBay Healthcare goes beyond the walls of our hospitals and outpatient clinics to restore health and wellness,” said Passama. “We hope to inspire neighborhood children to take their education seriously and follow their dreams. Maybe someday they will practice medicine in their home town, inside their hometown hospital.”

The Leaven is a growing nonprofit organization that works with members of the local community—businesses, police and fire departments, local government, school administrators and teachers, church groups and concerned neighbors—to bring after-school mentoring and tutoring programs to struggling neighborhoods.

The new center will be the sixth in Fairfield. Others are operating in Vacaville, Vallejo, Benicia and Napa. Target neighborhoods are those where drop-out rates are high and criminal behavior threatens the peace of the community.

“It’s better to make strong children than to fix broken adults,” added Jim Fraizer, Assembly member.

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