North Valley Health Education Foundation
What if you gave away nearly $400,000 to 589 students over three decades and virtually no one knew it? That’s the disadvantage under which the North Valley Health Education Foundation operates.
Founded in 1973 as the Community Hospital Foundation, the organization changed its name to the North Valley Health Education Foundation in 1998. The primary goal of the nonprofit organization is to educate people about health and to fund scholarships for medical, nursing and allied health students.
Part of its anonymity stems from the fact that the foundation is not a “bricks and mortar” organization. Aside from that done by a part-time secretary, all of the North Valley Health Education Foundation’s work is accomplished by its 25-member board of directors. What’s more, all of its efforts are used to provide direct help to people. It does not fund construction projects or equipment purchases.
While there is nothing wrong with funding medical equipment, the foundation’s board recognizes that it will take a trained medical professional to operate the equipment or interpret its data. So the foundation expends most of its resources on supporting students who have been accepted into medical school, nursing programs or other health education programs.
Earlier this year, the foundation gave away scholarships amounting to $29,500 to students at Butte College, Chico State, the UC Davis medical school and other medical schools. The funds were raised locally, with the medical profession being especially supportive of the cause.
“This is a wonderful response from our community to a need,” said Liz Fleming, foundation board member. “There’s tremendous medical need in our community—maybe not right now, but it’s coming. We have fewer nurses, we have fewer physicians.”
Norton Ernest, the foundation’s chief financial officer and one of its founders, noted with pride that past scholarship recipients have a nearly 100 percent graduation rate. Students who apply for scholarships must already be admitted to schools of medicine, nursing or allied health sciences, have a record of high scholastic achievement and need financial assistance.
Scholarship applications for next year will be available in January and may be obtained from the schools where the scholarships are awarded. Enloe Hospital employees interested in advanced medical training can pick up an application from the hospital’s personnel department.
The North Valley Health Education Foundation’s board is particularly interested in reaching out to Butte County residents who are studying at medical schools outside the area. A scholarship specifically for these individuals was reestablished a few years ago. Earlier attempts to award this particular grant ran into obstacles due to the difficulty in tracking down the students once they left the area. Individuals who believe they meet the criteria can call the foundation for a scholarship application.
Another project of the North Valley Health Education Foundation is Tel-Med, a collection of 300 recorded health messages available by phone free of charge, 24 hours a day. Tel-Med can be reached at (530) 898-0600 or (800) 698-5009. The foundation also sponsors Kids on the Block, a disability awareness program using puppets to teach children about handicaps. It also provides home medical equipment to housebound patients with limited funds.
The North Valley Health Education Foundation encourages others who share an interest in health education to consider making a donation or endowing a scholarship.