Health Trust celebrates winners of Phil Rather Awards

(Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust CEO Caitlin Brune (right) presents flowers to Betty Rather, Phil Rather's widow, during the 2018 Phil Rather Awards ceremony on May 16. Contributed photo)

WATSONVILLE — The Board of Directors of the Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust honored two winners of the 2018 Phil Rather Award for Leadership in Healthcare during a reception at the Health Trust on May 16.

Dr. Michele Violich, medical director for the Watsonville Health Clinic for nearly 20 years, and Second Harvest Food Bank were celebrated during the ceremony that was attended by 50 guests.

Instituted in 1999 and named for the late Phil Rather, a healthcare advocate who led two major capital campaigns for the original Watsonville Community Hospital, the Rather Award for Leadership in Healthcare annually recognizes one individual and one organization that have made outstanding contributions to health and quality of life for Pajaro Valley residents.

“Dedication, vision, creativity, adaptability, compassion and humility are the qualities of great leaders," said Health Trust CEO Caitlin Brune. "Those honored this evening use these leadership qualities to make our community a healthier, more vibrant and equitable place to call home. They deliver nourishment and quality primary healthcare that support realization of the Health Trust’s vision of good health and quality of life for all residents of the Pajaro Valley, especially the most disenfranchised.”

Violich graduated from University de Oriente Nucleo de Bolivar (Venezuela) in 1988 and has been in practice for 30 years. She began working at the Watsonville Health Clinic in 1995, becoming medical director two years later and serving in this capacity ever since. 

“I feel a little self-conscious being awarded for something that I love doing, that brings me great joy daily,” she said.

The oldest food bank in California and the second oldest in the country, Second Harvest Food Bank's nutrition programs annually reach more than 7,000 county residents and distribute more than 2.2 million pounds of food throughout the county at 75 different sites.

Its Passion for Produce program, established a decade ago, delivers healthy produce in a farmer’s market-style, individual choice food distribution coupled with lessons in nutrition and healthy eating.

In addition to Rather Award certificates, honorees received proclamations from the offices of Congressman Jimmy Panetta and Assemblyman Mark Stone, presented by Maureen McCarthy of Stone’s office. Watsonville Mayor Lowell Hurst presented each honoree with a City of Watsonville proclamation.


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