Kids gathering to help cut the ribbon

A Blossoming Partnership for Kids

In 2017, the collaboration between NorthBay Healthcare and The Leaven flourished.

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.

A community center created by NorthBay in a once-troubled neighborhood adjacent to its Fairfield hospital celebrated its first birthday. It accommodated up to 20 youngsters from the neighborhood, offering them a safe place to go after school when parents are still at work.

The City of Fairfield was a partner in establishing the center, funding renovation of half of the duplex that NorthBay donated. In its first year, the health system donated a van so the youngsters could enjoy field trips, including a NorthBay-sponsored day at Rush Ranch, an open space preserve that hosted a kite-flying festival.

In total, NorthBay has supported The Leaven and the neighborhood center to the tune of nearly $100,000.

Group of kids put together new toys

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.

In April, NorthBay Healthcare sponsored the Great Race at Drive Raceway, a go-cart competition fundraiser to support The Leaven.

The 2017 event got underway as veteran NASCAR racer Jim Inglebright put in a few “hot laps” on the track and set a time for others to beat.

Inglebright, who serves on the Board of Directors of NorthBay Healthcare Foundation, said he wouldn't miss the event. “This is a great local program and it's all about the kids,” he said. “As a parent, we all want our kids to succeed and be better than we are and it is programs like The Leaven that help make that happen.”

Mark Lillis, director of The Leaven, had nothing but praise for the event.

“Events like this are exceptionally important,” he said. “This keeps our center operating and doing great things for children.”