George Koster

Episode 9: Poverty shortens lives by 20 years

From Bankruptcy to Reinvention –

The City of Stockton


Episode 9:
Poverty shortens lives by 20 years

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Barbara Alberson, Horacio Virramontes, Spanish Club, Benita Ortez

In this episode we feature the voices of Barb Alberson, Senior Deputy Director for Policy and Planning, San Joaquin County Public Health Services, Benita Ortez,community activist as well as Horacio Viramontes, IB Spanish Teacher and the Spanish Club Advisor along with students from the Franklin High School Spanish Club.

Barbara Alberson


Barb Alberson is Senior Deputy Director for Policy and Planning, San Joaquin County Public Health Services.  Barb leads the department’s strategic planning efforts both in-house and in working with community partners on ways to enhance collective impact.  Additionally, she directs the department’s Quality Improvement efforts, and provides programmatic oversight for the Health Promotion, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health, and WIC Programs.  Previously, Ms. Alberson was Chief of the Injury Control Section, California Department of Public Health. During her 23-year tenure, Ms. Alberson and her staff implemented the state’s comprehensive injury and violence prevention program. Prior to that, Barb worked for the California Department of Aging on initiatives to enable older adults to age in place.  Barb has served as a consultant to many federal agencies and national associations. She earned her BA from UCLA, and her MPH from CSU, Northridge. She loves cats and cheeseburgers.

San Joaquin County Public Health Services

The vision of San Joaquin County Public Health Services is that all San Joaquin County communities are healthy, safe, equitable, and thriving. San Joaquin County Public Health Services’ mission is to protect, promote and improve health and well-being for all who live, work, and play in San Joaquin County.  The goals of San Joaquin County Public Health Services are as follows:

  • Implement innovative, data driven, evidence‐based approaches to create equitable conditions for all County communities.

  • Maintain effective partnerships with a broad array of community leaders and organizations to promote health equity, maximize PHS reach and impact, and address community health improvement priorities.

  • Facilitate community members' active role in shaping environmental and policy changes that impact individual and community health.

  • Build ongoing, flexible funding streams to grow and sustain quality PHS programs and services that efficiently meet community health needs.

  • Cultivate recognition for PHS as the County leader for preventing disease and injury, and promoting and protecting optimal health for all.

  • Conduct continuous quality improvement to assure that PHS systems and workforce are effective and efficient in promoting and protecting health.

The San Joaquin County Public Health Services will accomplish these goals through executing their strategic health plan

To find out more about San Joaquin County Public Health Services, please see our list of health programs and services


Horacio  Viramontes


Horacio is both the IB Spanish Teacher and the Spanish Club Advisor. Viramontes has been teaching for 22 years at Franklin High School. This is the second club that he has advised since coming to teach at Franklin High School. The idea of the Spanish Club came from one of Horacio’s former students who brought the idea to him to start a club as a CAS  project around 2013-2014. The Spanish club has been going on since then to help others with their project and to serve our community in whatever way Horacio and the members of the Spanish Club can through performing community service. Horacio’s plan is to continue participating in a variety of community events to support the International Baccalaureate Program students, so that they can meet their yearly requirements of doing community service hours. For Horacio, teaching is a passion and he enjoys being able to help his students understand the importance of civic engagement. Horacio continues to be inspired and motivated to give back to his community through all of his work with both the Reinvent South Stockton Coalition and City of Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs along with his work with his students and Spanish Club members.

Franklin High School Spanish Club

Franklin High School Spanish Club was started in 2014-2015 by Margarito Meza who was the President of the Club. He is currently attending UCLA to be a doctor. The purpose of the club was to help students meet their community service  hours requirements for the International Baccalaureate Program. Most members during that time were part of the IB Program. Students in the IB Program are required to have certain amount of volunteer hours every year and a Creativity, activity, service (CAS) which is one of the three essential elements that every student must complete as part of the Diploma Programme (DP). Studied throughout the Diploma Programme, CAS involves students in a range of activities alongside their academic studies.

We had an active club in the community two years ago where once a month we went to parks to clean, paint benches and tables with colorful colors and inspirational quotes to attract children and their families. This was possible thanks to the Mayor of Stockton Michael Tubbs' Reinvent South Stockton Coalition.

That year my club was recognized for their countless hours of community service by Mayor Tubbs and by the San Joaquin Board of Supervisors.

Benita Ortez


Other links that may be useful:

The South Stockton Promise Zone Plan:

Funders Forum on Accountable Health South Stockton Promise Zone Case Study:

Franklin High School Spanish Club

Donation / Fundraising

SUSD 1852 Foundation

Stockton Unified’s charitable 1852 Foundation. This non-profit fundraising organization has joined Community Foundation of San Joaquin and refined its purpose to provide funds for academic advancement that fall outside the general fund. Please include a note that you want the funds directed to the Spanish Club at Franklin High School.

Donation checks and/or cash may be mailed to the SUSD 1852 Foundation at 701 N. Madison St., Stockton, CA, 95202. Please make checks payable to SUSD 1852 Foundation. If you have any questions please call the SUSD Community Relations Department (209) 933-7025. Thank you for supporting academic achievement

Medical Therapy Program Physical Therapy Services

Occupational Therapy Services

They spanked us they tossed us aside like we don’t know what we’re doing. Oh, they’re Hispanic, they’re black they’re Native American, they don’t count. Well, I’ll be darned we do count
— Benita Ortez

This has been an Alien Boy Production.


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