Were it not for the Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital Foundation (SYVCHF), it's unlikely patients at the Valley's only hospital would have the benefits of portable digital ultrasound and X-ray machines, an InTouch Robot for telemedicine diagnoses and consultations, or a TeleStroke program.

SYVCHF brings in an average $500,000 to $700,000 a year, up from $100,000 in 2007 when June Martin arrived on the scene. Her official title is Foundation Administrator. Unofficially, she's a master juggler. 

Martin is responsible for fundraising for the hospital through donations, grants, events and planned giving. She coordinates the annual Community Health Fair averaging 1,000 attendees and the annual Holiday Gala for donors. She coordinates the SYVCHF Board of Directors meetings and those of the Board's seven committees. She assists in managing Hospital Auxiliary volunteers at events.

"Ten years have gone by fast," Martin said. "I can't believe how far we've come in a decade."

The numbers tell the story. In 2007, SYVCHF was asked to contribute $100,000 to the hospital's budget. Now it brings in between $500,000 and $700,000 annually.

Martin's multitasking skills deserve some of the credit.  It's a skill set she may have inherited - along with the importance of philanthropy - from her parents.

John Bishop was a school teacher who decided to get into the restaurant business. At a trade show, he met Glenn Bell who had owned a series of hot dog, hamburger, and taco stands, and was about to launch Taco Bell as a franchise chain.

"My dad built the very first Taco Bell in the U.S. in Santa Barbara in the '60s," Martin said. "My mom did all the accounting and payroll. She was in labor with me at Cottage in Santa Barbara finishing payroll, so the joke is I was born with a burrito in my hand."

Taco Bell made everything fresh in those years, Martin recalled, and she was slicing tomatoes when she was four years old. After opening multiple locations in Santa Barbara, Bishop did the same in Bakersfield.

"When I was 12, I spent the whole summer in Bakersfield working in Taco Bells then. I was slicing tomatoes and olives, and working the line making burritos. I worked the cash register a little," Martin said.

Bishop wanted June and her two sisters to know every aspect of the business including how you treat employees.  Martin recalled when he bought a new washer-dryer for one employee and personally delivered it to her home. Every year, he delivered 20-pound turkeys to every employee for Christmas.

"My parents were very philanthropic," Martin said. 

Martin eventually chose to leave the food industry for the nonprofit world, but the former led her to the latter. In their post-Taco Bell years, her family owned the Good Earth restaurants in Santa Barbara with Martin running the catering division.

Catering functions for nonprofit organizations proved to be a mainstay and Martin ultimately decided to make the leap. She was with the Rape Crisis Treatment Center, Waldorf School of Santa Barbara, and the Elings Park Foundation, all in Santa Barbara. She joined SYVCHF at a critical time for the facility it serves, during the campaign to raise funds for the hospital's top-to-bottom make-over which included state-mandated retrofit requirements.

According to Martin, without the support from the community, the hospital would have had to take on massive debt or close. 

"It was a $12 million project. The foundation funded over $7 million of it," she said.

On an ongoing basis, the foundation plays a critical role in funding patient care.

"Anything that touches the patient - equipment and programs like Cardiac Rehab - fall under patient care," she explained.

Typical is the $50,000 portable digital ultrasound machine purchased in 2014 and the $80,000 portable digital X-ray machine bought in 2015. 

"We're providing support for the TeleStroke program in the emergency department. We just started last year with an onsite CT tech. We have an InTouch Robot. Now we can treat a stroke patient here and know what's going on prior to transferring them to Santa Barbara. A neurologist can come on the screen, zoom in on the patient's eyes and actually do an evaluation in conjunction with the CT and blood tests. That's a big program we're funding. We've just had that since 2016," Martin said with noticeable pride. 

"On the horizon, we're raising money to replace the CT scanner. That's about $650,000, and a new MRI," she said.

Keeping the community informed of the hospital's needs and the critical role it plays in the Valley is constantly on Martin's mind. The foundation does an annual appeal every fall and puts out a newsletter each spring. Both have proven successful in bringing in donations. She called the holiday gala a "key event' in donor relations. It brings in about $25,000 each year.

It's an intently busy calendar for Martin, who lives in Buellton with her husband (they have two adult children), and is active with Solvang Rotary, PEO Chapter TX, and other volunteer affiliations.

And she's still making tacos - in her own kitchen, of course.

"To this day I cut tomatoes the way I did then. My husband laughs at it," she said with a broad smile and happy memories of working with her parents all those years ago. 


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