Contributed photo. Lisa Holt of PADs for Parkinson’s and volunteer dogs demonstrate the PADs training program at the Women’s Fund luncheon.

Contributed photo. Lisa Holt of PADs for Parkinson’s and volunteer dogs demonstrate the PADs training program at the Women’s Fund luncheon.

Women’s Fund awards grants celebrates 16 years of giving

  • Mon Jul 8th, 2019 10:49am
  • Life

Submitted by the San Juan Islands Women’s Fund

The San Juan Island Women’s Fund members voted to award $5,000 to four local nonprofits during the most recent SJICF grant cycle. Compass Health Friday Harbor received support for therapy materials for families with special needs; the San Juan Island Family Resource Center received funds for two programs — Island Neighbors and College Mentoring; and the San Juan County Economic Development Council received funds for an electrical basics training course.

The Women’s Fund celebrated 16 years of giving at their annual member luncheon held at Brickworks on June 20. Ninety women and girls attended this traditional gathering, organized by Michele Gosinski and emceed by Gay Graham.

At the luncheon, Lisa Holt and a team of volunteers — human and canine — from PADs for Parkinson’s gave a riveting, educational and entertaining demonstration of how the trained volunteer dogs can identify a unique odor of a person with the disease, distinguishing them from people without Parkinson’s. PADs dogs contribute to Parkinson’s research, helping identify the molecular markers of Parkinson’s and, hopefully, leading to a cure. Parkinson’s is a neurological disease that can lead to the loss of the brain’s ability to control the body, including, in the long run, swallowing and breathing. To learn more about PADs for Parkinson’s, visit The Women’s Fund has provided $3,800 in support of the PADs program in recent years.

The SJI Women’s Fund was formed in 2003 as a collective giving model to help women participate in philanthropy and make a greater local impact by pooling their funds. It is structured as a donor-advised fund held by the San Juan Island Community Foundation. Membership is $100 per year and is tax deductible. Members vote to award grants three times annually to local nonprofits submitting proposals to the foundation. More than $235,000 in funds have been granted by the Women’s Fund since its inception.

To learn more, or to join the Women’s Fund, visit or contact Susan West, the coordinator, at

Joyce L. Sobel award

The Joyce L. Sobel Achievement Award was created by the Women’s Fund to honor Joyce Sobel’s legacy of service to the community. Sobel started many programs for those who had a need, most notably the island’s family resource center, and she spent countless hours supporting children and families of the island. It was a true loss to the island community when she passed away early last year.

Dr. Carolyn Haugen, recipient of the first annual Joyce L. Sobel Achievement Award, presented the second annual award to Dr. Mariluz Villa.

Mariluz graduated from Stanford University’s School of Medicine with an M.D. in 1986. She dedicated her entire professional career to the fields of geriatric medicine and hospice care. For many years she has managed Hospice of San Juan and served as the medical director of fire station 37. She has also held leadership positions in the San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild, the SJI Women’s Fund, Brown Island’s Homeowners Association, the Community Health Improvement Consortium and the Community Health Board of Peace Island Medical Center.