In December of 2020, CommunityHealth lost long-time staff member Sara Villanueva. Her absence in the clinic is felt every day, but the warmth of her memory is alive and well.
Sara worked at CommunityHealth for 13 years, overseeing the Front Desk before becoming the Office Manager. Having experienced the struggles that come with immigration and lack of health insurance in the past, Sara had an exceptional understanding of the problems many of our patients face. She was known for the empathy she showed to everyone who walked through the clinic doors. Sara also maintained lots of beautiful plants around the clinic, and in commemoration of her green thumb, visitors can find El Jardín de Sara in CommunityHealth’s staff/volunteer break room. The garden will remain in the break room as a living memorial to Sara (photos below).
Members of the CommunityHealth staff share the following remembrances about Sara:
“Sara cared very much about CommunityHealth. She was always looking to perfect the physical environment of the clinic (no papers hanging with scotch tape on the walls!) and make different areas as beautiful as possible. She even brought plants and flowers to decorate different areas, with this goal in mind. Sara knew that these ‘small touches’ made a world of difference as patients, volunteers, and staff walked down the halls of the clinic.
Sara didn’t just stop there, in addition to caring about her ‘community’ at CommunityHealth- she was also engaged in local politics in her community (particularly with Chuy Garcia and others), to further improve her area’s access to much needs services and resources. Sara was a true advocate, in every sense!
Though we no longer see her coming in on her bike, organizing the lobby area, or help to set up the conference room, we know she’s still here and always will be a part of CommunityHealth.”
Sara was simply put one of the best people I’ve ever known – kind, warm, wise, caring. She always brought a positive outlook to every situation and lived out the passion that she felt for the mission of CommunityHealth. She spoke often of her family and how proud she was of her children and the fact that she had been able to instill a passion for justice in them. She was an avid biker, often riding to work and back each day. I still think of her fondly when I look at our memorial to her.
Sara was more than just a co-worker. Sara was/is part of the CommnunityHealth Family. Coworkers and patients adored Sara. Sara’s heart was pure and genuine, and she believed in CommunityHealth’s mission. Sara went above and beyond for staff and patients alike. Sara was near and dear to all of us who got a chance to meet and work with her. Sara was a good friend to all of us and we were very lucky to have her.
I remember Sara would often come into my office and sit down and just ask how my day was going and we would sit there and have conversations about family (non-work-related Conversations.. Ssshhh!) and it felt good she really cared and gave the best advice. I really miss her.
I just wanted to share that Sara was so detailed and thoughtful in all that she did. Working with her was always a pleasure because I knew things would get done – she was a joy to talk to, and I could tell what a wonderful mother she was to her family. She took great pride in the accomplishments of her children and was a role model to all of the staff at CommunityHealth and to her family.
Sara was such a kind, dedicated, and warm-hearted person. She had the heart of a matriarch and brought that with her everywhere. Sara worked many roles at CommunityHealth over the years, and she kept them all with her. I have many memories of patient calls accidentally being routed to her once she was serving as Office Manager, and she’d take as long as needed to talk them through what they needed with all the knowledge and compassion she had. She was deeply involved in her community, and 100x more so with her family. Over the years, I believe I met nearly every member of her immediate family, and by the time I did, already knew several reasons Sara was proud of them. 🙂 Sara was good to everyone. She always made delicious pozole for the staff potluck. She stayed calm in so many situations I couldn’t dream of staying level – one of many things I really admired about Sara. I know we all miss her very much.
I knew Sara for more than 20 years; she was my friend. We used to work at Institute for Latino Progress and our kids played together. Even when I stopped working, Sara used to visit me and bring me plants or flowers. She introduce me to CommunityHealth, and I started volunteering in the lab as a Phlebotomist in 2010.
Sara’s favorite color was blue. She was a good person, someone you can trust, a good mother, always thinking about her kids. She was kind and humble. She fought her illness as the very strong woman she was. I miss Sara; I am always going to remember her in my prayers.