La Maestra Foundation | 2003October 1, 2003
As La Maestra Family Clinic’s non-medical services continue to grow, including access to nutritious food, safe affordable housing, self-supporting jobs, job training and continuing education opportunities, staff and board members start a separate nonprofit called La Maestra Foundation in 2003. La Maestra Foundation, Inc. is incorporated as an independent nonprofit in 2005. As part of furthering its mission, La Maestra Foundation also provides small grants to ethnic and community-based organizations to support infrastructure development and needed services which no other organization provided.
Healthy Food Choices | 2007July 1, 2007
La Maestra Family Clinic, in collaboration with La Maestra Foundation, expands Food Pantry Services with a grant from the Allen Foundation, providing nutritious food to patients twice weekly with culturally appropriate healthy recipes and nutrition education. Through grants from the San Diego Women’s Foundation and Cardinal Health, the Healthy Food Choices Program expands to provide culturally competent community outreach, health education classes, coaching and support to empower patients with tools to improve nutrition and exercise habits, prevent obesity and manage chronic disease.
Microcredit Program for Women | 2008July 9, 2008
To further achieve its goal of helping the underserved become self-sufficient community members, La Maestra Foundation becomes the first organization in San Diego to have a Microcredit Program for Women. Through this peer microlending program based on the Grameen model, low income women in 10 areas throughout San Diego County receive financial literacy, business planning assistance and small loans ranging from $250- $1,000 repaid in weekly installments. Weekly meetings provide a forum for peer support and mentoring. Speakers are invited to the meetings, sometimes to talk on small business or financial literacy related topics, but also to talk about issues that affect women in the group, such as cancer and chronic disease, domestic violence, or immigration issues.
Jardin de la Vida | 2009July 1, 2009
With a two-year grant from the Tides Foundation and The California Endowment, La Maestra Family Clinic and La Maestra Foundation collaborate to establish the Jardin de la Vida, a community garden in City Heights where women from the Microcredit Program and their children can grow fresh produce. Through the grant, hundreds also participate in health education classes, zumba aerobics classes, recycled crafts classes, healthy recipe sharing and creation of a Healthy Choices recipe calendar.
La Maestra Blossoms | 2010July 9, 2010
Building on a vision developed since 2004, La Maestra Foundation launches the floral microenterprise La Maestra Blossoms with a new website, floral arrangement and décor services for corporate events, and pop-up flower stands for holidays. The goal of La Maestra Blossoms is to cultivate economic empowerment and overall wellbeing among under-served women in San Diego County, most of whom are recruited through La Maestra Foundation’s Microcredit Program for Women. This goal is achieved through creation of employment opportunities for women who face multiple barriers to finding employment; floral design skills and retail job skills training in a healing and supportive environment; and case-managed integration of the program with financial literacy, health, legal and social services.
The Soul Speaks | 2010July 10, 2010
La Maestra Foundation, under La Maestra Publications, publishes its first book, The Soul Speaks, to share real-life stories from refugees and immigrants from around the world to open readers’ eyes and hearts to different cultural experiences and challenges that populations face in their countries of origin, refugee camps and the US. The Soul Speaks is a collection compiled by Zara Marselian as told by people from City Heights who share their experiences of suffering through oppression, poverty, and tragedy; living in survival mode; and finally finding the will to escape, start over and thrive in a new community. Over 120 guests attend the launch. La Maestra Foundation, with funding from Bravo Foundation, develops Cultural Diversity Awareness Training for universities, teaching hospitals and corporations so students, medical staff and others who serve diverse populations understand challenges and benefits of diversity in relation to community health and social determinants.
La Maestra Foundation gets Funding! | 2010November 8, 2010
La Maestra Foundation, with funding from Bravo Foundation, Develops Cultural Diversity Awareness Training for Universities, teaching hospitals and corporations Diversity Awareness Training for universities, teaching hospitals and corporations so students, medical staff and others who serve diverse populations understand challenges and benefits of diversity in relation to community health and social determinants. La Maestra &HCDC launch the I Choose Recovery! (ICR) program to offer affordable bridge housing and integrated services necessary for men in recovery transitioning from rehab programs or jail to re-enter society with a clean start. ICR is designed to be more than just a sober living environment, providing a variety of integrated services including medical, dental and mental/behavioral health, transportation assistance, and more in collaboration county Mental Health Services, Parole Board, Veterans Village of San Diego, and San Diego American Indian Health Center. In its first year, ICR asses over 230 men and links to services, providing housing to 83, 30% of whom are veterans. Residents of ICR work in microenterprises run by La Maestra Foundation, to develop their skills in professions including building security, landscaping, green janitorial services, laundry/linen services, construction cleanup, hauling, parking attendant and valet services, a flower shop and a secondhand boutique. These Microenterprises follow a unique model – the job supervisors work with housing managers, mental health and medical providers, and case managers to guide each trainee/employee in addressing needs along the road to self -sufficiency which include improvement of physical and emotional health; proper hygiene and appearance; self-esteem and healthy relationship…
Art Installation | 2011January 1, 2011
La Maestra’s Culture and Healing through Arts (CHA) program flourishes with major art installations in the City Heights health center. In July 2011, “Rising Star” by artist Terry Hansen, a talented San Diego resident and longtime La Maestra patient renowned for his woodworking ability, is installed in the lobby. The star is made of repurposed exotic wood from around the globe, steam bent to fit the curve of the wall. In December 2011, local teens paint animal-themed murals in the pediatrics exam rooms.
Generations Center | 2012January 2, 2012
La Maestra’s Generations center opens in the former amnesty center and clinic buildings on Fairmount Avenue, with start-up funding from The California Endowment and an intergenerational program grant San Diego County Aging and Independence Services. Older adults and youth in City Heights are offered a growing range of programs designed to guide them toward overall wellbeing and greater opportunities in health, lifestyle, education and their future careers. Services include self-esteem and leadership development, academic support, Culture and Healing through Art classes, physical exercise and healthy eating, computer, STEM and job skills training, field trips and exposure to enrichment and career opportunities.
Legal Advocacy | 2012July 1, 2012
The Legal Advocacy Services department is established in the City Heights health center as a partnership between La Maestra Family Clinic and La Maestra Foundation, serving 330 clients in its first year. The department provides assistance to people who face rights violations or who are victims of crime, issues that too commonly affect the health and wellbeing of La Maestra’s low-income, culturally diverse service populations. Collaborative partners include the US Committee on Refugees and Immigrants, National Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program and Casa Cornelia Law Center. The majority of clients are victims of domestic violence and trafficking. Staff offers presentations to service providers on recognizing signs of domestic violence and trafficking; how victims qualify for assistance programs; and steps that a victim can take to transition from an abusive situation to finally achieving independence.
Arts & Culture | 2013January 10, 2013
In March 2013, the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture unveils “Grandmother’s Kitchen/Grandfather’s Garden”, a digital sculptural installation showcasing a culinary visual history of the City Heights community, presented through the shared experiences and culturally specific stories of food. The installation, created by local community artist Lynn Susholtz funded by a gift from artist Niki de St. Phalle through Niki Charitable Art Foundation, is the first partnership of the Arts Commission with a nonprofit for long-term placement of a City-owned public artwork.
Floral Enterprise | 2016April 1, 2016
La Maestra Foundation launches the floral microenterprise “La Maestra Blossoms” in February 2016 with a new website, floral arrangement and décor services for corporate events, and pop-up flower stands for holidays. The goal of La Maestra Blossoms is to cultivate economic empowerment and overall wellbeing among under-served women in San Diego County, most of who are recruited through La Maestra Foundation’s Microcredit Program for Women. This goal is achieved through creation of employment opportunities for women who face multiple barriers to finding employment; floral design skills and retail job skills training in a healing and supportive environment; and case-managed integration of the program with financial literacy, health, legal and social services.
Transparent People | 2017August 16, 2017
Zara Marselian publishes her second book, Transparent People. The book illustrates the real-life experiences of nine individuals who have risen from a life of addiction into a life of recovery. It is a glimpse of what life events led to their addictions, their lives in addiction, and what prompted them to emerge from that cycle.
Surviving in the Shadows | 2018September 12, 2018
Zara Marselian publishes her third book, Surviving in the Shadows. The book illustrates the real-life experiences of people who have escaped from trafficking, domestic violence and political oppression. Through the collection of stories, as told by the people who have been trapped in these forms of modern-day slavery, the book provides an authentic and hopeful look into overcoming these injustices.