Kids gathering to help cut the ribbon

The Leaven — Being a Good Neighbor

On a warm August morning, NorthBay Healthcare joined the city of Fairfield and The Leaven to officially debut an after-school program aimed at reducing crime and rejuvenating the neighborhood just south of NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield.

“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.”

Group of kids put together new toys

The center accommodates 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.”

Three children posing with their favorite books

A child's overall health is a product of education, family values, social interaction and preventive and compassionate health care, Passama explained.

“NorthBay Healthcare goes beyond the walls of our hospitals and outpatient clinics to restore health and wellness,” said Gary. “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 is the sixth in Fairfield.