Health and Home at 1500 Capitola Road

Building a Healthy Community in Live Oak

“No one should ever have to ask themselves ‘do I pay the rent this month or take my kid to the dentist?’” says Cory Ray, a life-long Santa Cruz county resident and Community Foundation donor. “But for so many in our community, this is what families grapple with on a daily basis. Food or utility bill? Gas or doctor’s check-up?” A healthy community, says Cory, “means that people have safe, affordable housing and access to health care without living on the precipice of financial catastrophe.”

Construction is underway on the Health & Home campus.

A Solution You Can Point To

“In a community where nearly 15 percent of Live Oak Elementary School students are homeless, 15,000 people do not have a doctor, and 78 percent of adults on Medi-Cal do not have a dentist, the need for integrated services is great,” says Laura Marcus. She’s the CEO of Dientes, the nonprofit organization that provides oral health care to local people that live at or below the poverty level. “Too many of our community’s most vulnerable are facing risks and adversities that pose lifelong threats to health, school success, and overall well-being,” says Laura.

1500 Capitola Road, also known as Health & Home is a joint project between Santa Cruz Community Health (SCCH), Dientes, and MidPen Housing. Construction is well underway on the 3.7-acre health and housing complex in the heart of Live Oak. It will soon be providing healthcare for 10,000 patients annually, along with affordable and permanent homes for up to 265 individuals.

It’s this connection between health and housing that Ashley Schweickart, MidPen’s senior project manager for the project, says is key. “A lack of stable housing often acts as a barrier to wellness and recovery. To combat this, MidPen has set aside 15 units for individuals experiencing homelessness and suffering from acute mental and/or physical health issues. These individuals are often the highest utilizers of the health care system..”

For Leslie Conner, the CEO of SCCH, Health & Home is driven by the “the best of what science and human compassion dictate. That means evidence-based clinical care, responsive, respectful services that honor the needs and values of our patients, and a warm, inclusive, and welcoming space people can call home. That’s what builds a healthy community.”

Laura Marcus, CEO of Dientes & Leslie Conner, CEO of Santa Cruz Community Health at the groundbreaking ceremony in March 2021. Photo: K. Painchaud/Lookout

Helping Community-minded People Make a Lasting Impact

Cory has long been impressed by the effective leadership and compassionate holistic services of Dientes and SCCH ever since her mom was a patient back when SCCH was still called the Women’s Health Center.

“These organizations provide direct service and treat people with dignity. This kind of respect is so necessary in a time when health insurance is either because you have a job that provides it or you have the ability to pay the very expensive premiums.”

Our community’s profound need, along with the fact that it’s three top-notch leaders at three respected and effective organizations, has driven Cory and her husband to help make Health & Home become a reality.

In addition to supporting SCCH and Dientes with direct donations, Cory and her husband also worked with the Community Foundation to direct his Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from his retirement account to the project’s capital campaign fund that the Foundation stewards. “Using his RMD as a qualified charitable distribution was a really tax-smart way to give since it’s not treated as taxable income. This way, we could make the most of our gift to the project.”

Solving Community Challenges Together

At the Community Foundation, we bring together local nonprofits, caring donors, and community leaders who have ideas to benefit the people of Santa Cruz County, now and in the future. And it’s easy to see how Live Oak has earned its reputation as a place that rises up to meet the needs of its residents--from the new Simpkins Soccer Fields and Leo’s Haven where anyone can go to play, to Habitat for Humanity building new homes for middle-class families, to the Santa Cruz County animal shelter growing to support more families who care for animals.

SCCH still needs to raise $500,000 and Dientes has $65,000 more to go to cover project costs. Money donated over and above this will go towards reducing the amount of their loans to finance the project.

Health and Home at 1500 Capitola Road

Learn More & Give Today

To direct charitable funds to Dientes & SCCH, please contact Sam Leask