County Honors 15 Individuals, Organizations for Achievements in Public Health

And the award goes to…

Fifteen individuals and organizations were honored by the County today for their achievements in improving the health and well-being of San Diego County residents.

The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency presents the honors during its annual Live Well San Diego Public Health Champion Awards Ceremony, the County’s signature event in recognition of National Public Health Week.

Established in 2002, the awards recognize public and private collaboration of individuals and organizations that have made contributions that advanced the region’s health and the overall well-being of San Diego County residents. The recipients embody Live Well San Diego, the regional vision for healthy, safe and thriving communities.

The 2017 Live Well San Diego Public Health Champions Awards recipients are:


Neighborhood House Association
Neighborhood House Association (NHA) is the largest multi-service agency in San Diego County, with 103 years of experience, 13 vital programs, and 850 employees. NHA provides services to pregnant/parenting women, early childhood education, youth development, mental health services, and senior services.


Ellen Hohenstein, B.A., M.A.
Hohenstein has decades of experience improving the health of vulnerable people in San Diego County. She created and directs the Academy for Health and Healthier Communities, a College Career Technical Education program that prepares high school students to pursue post-secondary education in the health care field. In 2005, she became the Health Center Director at Hoover High School and secured a La Maestra satellite clinic at the site to provide medical and dental care, not only for students and their families, but also for the community. The clinic sees about 7,000 people per year.


San Diego Food Bank
Founded in 1977, the San Diego Food Bank serves about 370,000 people on a monthly basis, through various programs such as Senior Food, Emergency Food Assistance, Food 4 Kids Backpack, and Food to Non-Profit programs. The Food Bank is San Diego County’s main safety net for hungry people and provides fresh, frozen, canned and boxed food to those in need.  In 2016, the Food Bank distributed approximately 20 million meals through their various partners.


Schade’s motto is “Be More Alive, Dance and Exercise!” and has been teaching fitness classes for older adults for several decades. She has authored three movement education/fitness books and was a consultant for the California Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports for four years. Presently, she assists in the Aging and Independence Services Feeling Fit trainings.

Sirius Fitness offers free to low-cost classes and programs, including boot camps at Malcolm X Library every Saturday, fitness classes at Project Access at Meadowbrook Apartments every Wednesday and weekly fitness sessions for all ages at Jackie Robinson YMCA & Copley YMCA. Sirius Fitness is a local ambassador of the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K, which attracts over 16,000 runners annually and has led warm-up exercises to promote fitness at various 5K events countywide, including the Live Well San Diego 5K in 2014 and 2015.

EAST REGION—Heaven’s Windows
Heaven’s Windows provides emergency assistance to families, refugees, homeless people, and anyone in need of help.  Services offered include summer meals and after school meals for youth, and the Seasoned with Love Hot Meals program that serves free cooked meals weekly to homeless people and families. The Heaven on Wheels program provides cooked meals that are delivered weekly to homebound seniors and disabled individuals at no cost. In addition, Heaven’s Windows also provides “soup to go” for the Spring Valley Community Center Senior Lunch each week. Heaven’s Windows serves as a food distribution site collecting and purchasing food that is distributed to families, individuals, other nonprofits and social service agencies.

The Meals on Wheels organization is the only San Diego County agency providing meals seven days a week, including holidays, to individuals who are homebound. The organization covers the entire county, including rural and unincorporated areas. Frequently, Meals on Wheels volunteers may be the only person the senior sees all day, thus providing human contact and a safety net, particularly for those seniors living alone. In 2016, Meals on Wheels had 3,255 clients and served 450,241 meals.

Yanez, management analyst for the City of Oceanside’s Neighborhood Services Department, is a champion for bringing many different resources into the Oceanside community, specifically those that engage and empower youth. Yanez is very active in gang prevention, intervention, and suppression efforts. She is involved with the North County Gang Commission, and chairs the Oceanside Community Safety Partnership.

NORTH INLAND REGION—Community Alliance for Healthy Minds
Community Alliance for Healthy Minds (CAHM) was founded over 10 years ago in response to the suicide of a young man with mental illness. CAHM helps to engage the community in raising awareness of and support for mental health issues and suicide prevention, particularly among youth and young adults. Since 2006, CAHM has hosted an annual Forum for Healthy Minds for San Diego County residents in memory of the founder’s son. In 2016, over 600 individuals participated.

SOUTH REGION—Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood Resident Leadership Academy Graduates
The Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood is one of only seven Promise Neighborhoods in the nation. It was modelled after the Harlem Children’s Zone and established to improve education in underserved communities. The Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood implemented the Resident Leadership Academy to empower residents to improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods by implementing changes that promote physical activity and healthy food choices. Thirty people have graduated from the Resident Leadership Academy.


Since 2012, the Health and Human Services Agency Director Nick Macchione has selected awardees for the Live Well San Diego Public Health Champion Awards Ceremony. The recipients are honored for their outstanding contributions to public health and their collaborative efforts to Live Well San Diego vision.

The 2017 recipients are:

Escondido Police Department
The Escondido Police Department has fostered strong working relationships with the County businesses, schools and community groups. The Department plays a role in establishing positive environments for teens and is committed to the need to establish and strengthen community collaboration to support local efforts to prevent youth substance use. The Department has also been heavily involved in a community coalition focused on community safety and the reduction of gangs and gang activity in Escondido.

San Diego Family Justice Center
Established in 2002, the San Diego Family Justice Center is a public safety initiative launched by the City of San Diego to assist victims of family violence. It is a “one-stop shop” where more than 25 agencies provide consolidated and coordinated legal, social, and health services to women, men, children, and families in need.

San Diego Health Connect
San Diego Health Connect (SDHC) is the region’s health information exchange. SDHC enables the secure sharing of appropriate client clinical data between key members of San Diego healthcare delivery system. SDHC securely connect providers, patients, private health information exchanges and others to improve the quality and cost of care in the region.

Scripps Health
Scripps Health is a private, non-profit, integrated health system committed to providing the highest quality care to those living in and visiting San Diego County. More than 15,000 employees and 2,600 affiliated physicians provide care at Scripps, which has made the Fortune magazine “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for eight consecutive years and in 2013 was named by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of the 100 Great Places to Work in Healthcare.

St. Vincent de Paul Village
St. Vincent de Paul Village is the largest homeless services provider in Southern California and prepares up to 3,000 meals and provide a continuum of care to nearly 1,800 individuals every day — from infants and adolescents to adults and seniors. Of those served, more than 780 are children and over 200 are military veterans.


José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact