Ken Grossman and
Katie Gonser

A Perfect Match

Community Partners with Enloe for Vaccinations

When Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Founder Ken Grossman and his wife, Katie Gonser, were trying to figure out how to best help people through the COVID-19 pandemic, it didn’t take long before they settled on the idea of vaccination.

“Our company and the community and the globe have been so impacted by having to quarantine and having to change how we live our lives,” Grossman said. “We thought the quickest way to get the community back on its feet was to try to make sure everybody who wanted to get vaccinated could have easy access, and we wanted to support that effort any way we could.”

They worked with the Enloe Foundation to establish a matching grant in the amount of $750,000 to help Enloe Medical Center run vaccination clinics. For every dollar raised, the couple would match up to $750,000.

While the shots are provided for free, the clinics still had administrative costs, including staffing. “We wanted to put it out there that, you know, we’ll cover the first shot for the community, and hopefully the community will step up and cover the second shot,” he said.


 We wanted to put it out there that, you know, we’ll cover the first shot for the community, and hopefully the community will step up and cover the second shot," said Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Founder Ken Grossman.

Answering the Call

And step up it did. In all, 85 donors — 12 organizations and 73 individuals — contributed more than $1 million in response to the grant to support the vaccination effort.

The first to answer the call was Mark Francis, President and CEO of Golden Valley Bank, who donated $75,000. “We knew that getting vaccines into arms was the fastest way to open up our local economy, and we wanted to help make that happen quickly,” he said.

Another $75,000 came from Dan Gonzales, owner of Fifth Sun and developer of Meriam Park. Gonzales also donated the space that housed the first community vaccine clinic in Chico.

Tri Counties Bank contributed with a donation of $100,000. President and CEO Richard Smith said he was inspired by the matching grant and wanted to help the community recover. “I felt it was the right thing to do, because vaccination not only protects the health of our community but also helps us on the path toward recovery,” he said.

As of mid-June, Enloe had helped administer more than 80,000 vaccines — a number equivalent to about 40% of Butte County’s population.


 We knew that getting vaccines into arms was the fastest way to open up our local economy, and we wanted to help make that happen quickly" said Mark Francis, President and CEO of Golden Valley Bank.

Looking to the Future

As more people get vaccinated, Grossman is starting to see the light at the end of the long tunnel that has been COVID-19. His family and business weren’t immune to the challenges.

“We did not socialize. We didn’t get together. We didn’t see our kids — two of them live in Chico — our grandkids,” he said. “And when we did see them, it was outside and masked up, so it was very difficult on our family.”

While brewery production was able to continue for most of the pandemic, closing the restaurants and canceling events led to nearly 400 Sierra Nevada workers being without jobs in a matter of days. Most, however, were able to stay employed and work in different capacities. In May, the Chico Taproom reopened for in-person dining by reservation. And after being vaccinated, Grossman’s family has been able to get together more regularly.

The matching grant and subsequent donations have been critical to helping protect the community and working toward a sense of normalcy.

“We couldn’t be more grateful for the generosity of Ken Grossman and Katie Gonser, and everyone who contributed,” said Jolene Francis, Enloe’s Director of Advancement & Communications. “Their support made a difference for thousands throughout Butte County, and every day, as more people are vaccinated, we can all feel more hopeful about the days ahead.”

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