Molina Healthcare of California (“Molina”) honored five compassionate heroes from the Inland Empire through Molina’s Community Champions Awards program. Due to the pandemic, Molina presented each awardee with a trophy and flowers in a socially distanced fashion in lieu of a ceremonial event. The Champions each received a $5,000 grant to pay forward to the organization of their choice.
“We are thrilled to continue our tradition of honoring heroes who have displayed an unwavering commitment to improving the health and lives of their neighbors in the Inland Empire,” said John Kotal, plan president of Molina Healthcare of California. “Although our Community Champions program looks different this year, the heart of it is the same – taking the opportunity to recognize selfless individuals who demonstrate the importance of helping others, especially during challenging times.”
This year’s Community Champions Awards honorees included:
Angelina Sabala of Rialto: For more than 8 years, Angelina Sabala has been a cherished member of the Pacific Clinics Fulfillment Unity Network (F.U.N.) Clubhouse in Rialto. When she first came to the Clubhouse, Angelina connected with fellow members recovering from substance abuse and mental health challenges, sought resources, and transformed into an exceptional leader, eventually serving two terms as the elected president. When members are experiencing homelessness or at risk of losing their homes, Angelina does all she can to help them find shelter. She also facilitates a bipolar disorder support group and leads weekly meetings. Angelina embodies the meaning of “recovery” and has substantially changed the Clubhouse culture. She is donating her grant to Pacific Clinics.
Christy Stewart of Yucaipa: When she’s not at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC) working 12-hour shifts in the Trauma Bay, Christy is usually volunteering. She uses her 17 years of expertise as a registered nurse to serve with the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue air team, treating severely injured patients. For the last three years, Christy has been a Stop the Bleed instructor, providing free courses on how to treat victims in the event of an active shooter or other attack. Whether caring for her patients or those she comes across when she volunteers, she gives her whole heart. The Open Door of Family Assistance Program will receive her grant.
Levi Deatherage of Riverside: When he was 15, circumstances left now 22-year-old Levi on the streets. Levi found safety in a youth shelter run by the Family Assistance Program known as Our House until he was a legal adult. He began traveling to Sacramento with the California Coalition for Youth (CCY) to advocate for other vulnerable minors and worked with elected officials on policies benefiting youth experiencing homelessness. He was elected as CCY’s Youth Advisory Board Chair as is now serving his second term in addition to sitting on the boards of several organizations. Levi also spends many hours distributing personal hygiene items and other resources to those in need. He aspires to one day be the youngest assemblymember of San Bernardino County. Levi is donating his grant to Family Assistance Program.
Lynn Heatley of Riverside: Lynn, a registered nurse, is a dynamic volunteer and a member of several organizations’ boards. In 2016, Lynn successfully launched Love Riverside, an annual day of giving back to the community. The initiative joined forces of local leaders in both the private and public sectors. Through the last 4 years, Love Riverside has completed a total of 114 community projects across the city with more than 2,500 volunteers and 10,650 volunteer hours. Lynn’s ability to bring the community together is remarkable. Healthy Leaders Thriving Cities will receive her grant.
Veronica Garcia of North Shore: Veronica helps members of the community navigate through the complexity of government and health insurance programs. Her heart lies in working in the field, boots on the ground. In the same day that she is assisting at a COVID testing event in Cathedral City, a few hours later she may be picking up bags of books and clothes in Palm Desert to bring to homeless shelters in Coachella, before going back home to do more volunteer work. Veronica has planned numerous community events and frequently serves with her church. She keeps extra clothes or canned food in her car in case she comes across someone who needs help. Veronica’s grant will benefit The Narrow Door.