Hayward Named All-America City
Via East Bay Times
Hayward can now count itself among an elite group of cities nationwide recognized for the strides made by community groups and local governments to tackle key issues such as hunger, homelessness and health care access. The city was one of 10 picked this year by National Civic League panelists to receive the All-America City Award at the organization's annual conference last weekend in Denver. Sophia Espinosa, a recent Moreau Catholic High School graduate and former Hayward Youth Commissioner, also won the organization's All-America City Youth Award.
"I think this award is more than just putting up banners and flags, and calling ourselves all-American," incoming city Councilman Mark Salinas said in an interview Monday after returning from Denver, along with 33 other Hayward and community group leaders.
"This award is going to be a clarion call for us, and it'll be the challenge to us to really internalize and apply what being American is in this current cultural landscape," he said.
Mayor Barbara Halliday, who also went to Denver, said receiving the award was particularly special because it also marked the first time city's neighborhood services division applied for it.
"It was a wonderful great bonding experience for all of us," Halliday said. "Just the experience of going itself was a wonderful one for all of us and to then be announced as one of the 10 All-America cities at the end was just exhilarating, really. I think I am still walking on air a little bit," she said.
She praised the efforts of the Hayward Promise Neighborhood collaboration with Cal State East Bay and Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center's promotores initiative, a volunteer, community-based health education program that connects residents to medical resources.
"It has definitely made me more aware of the work that is being done in this community," Halliday said.
National Civic League judges particularly focused on the new Firehouse Clinic next to a fire station on Huntwood Avenue that connects vulnerable, low-income and uninsured residents with emergency medical services. Along with providing preventive and primary medical care, the Firehouse Clinic serves as a resource for health education, wellness checks, health insurance enrollment and referrals to specialty care. The clinic is built on city property and run by Tiburcio Vasquez through a contract with Alameda County.
"I think what the judges observed, and appropriately so, was that we have a culture of working together, and we have a culture of deep, substantive and collaborative work across agencies," Salinas said. "Through the Hayward Promise Neighborhood and Firehouse Clinic project, it clearly shows that agencies need to work together to get things done today in today's economic landscape," he said.
In many of the pictures posted on social media from the Denver conference, Hayward representatives were clad in green shirts emblazoned with a white "Made in Hayward" logo created by Hayward Unified Superintendent Stan Dobbs three years ago. Some carried "Made in Hayward" signs that were translated into at least three different languages: Tagalog, Mandarin and Spanish.
"When we went to the All-America City Award conference, people saw exactly what the power of Made in Hayward was for the city of Hayward and how we work as one big community to make sure our community gets everything it deserves and to give our children a competitive advantage so they can achieve their goals in life," Dobbs said.
One of the school district's programs that got attention was the school district's Let's Do Lunch Hayward initiative, which offers free breakfast and lunch services to all Hayward children up to 18 years old throughout the summer. The mobile service, which stops at 21 locations throughout the city, also provides free books to students through a collaboration with Hayward libraries.
"We're also building their library in these households for the kids just by them coming and getting something to eat," Dobbs said. "It wasn't just about feeding kids who may be hungry -- it's about feeding them and making sure we sustain their curiosity throughout the summer so they don't lose what they learned the year before and we can keep them engaged," he said.
Contact Darin Moriki at 510.293.2480 or follow him at Twitter.com/darinmoriki.