Spotlight on Genentech!

Genentech has exemplified true generosity – doing something nice for someone who will never find out. This year, Genentech has gone above and beyond in more ways than one!
First, Samaritan House is thrilled to be the recipient of a $50,000 grant from Genentech to support our Free Clinic of San Mateo!

Second, our friends at Genentech volunteered their time to create created hundreds of toiletry bags for our shelter clients IN ADDITION to donating coats, gift cards for teens, and three barrels of new toys!

And last but certainly not least, several Genentech volunteers generously spent their time hand-painting dozens of rocking horse for children who come through our Toy Shop!

These contributions are sure to make the holidays brighter for hundreds of children and families. Thank you Genentech!

Community Connections – Celebrating Howera’s Milestones

Written By: Mental Health Case Manager, Julia Parmer, MSW
Howera is small and slight, perhaps all of 95 lbs. Her eyes are warm and bright and her smile is infectious. She is sitting across from me in my office, and we are on the phone with the Human Service Agency of San Mateo. She speaks almost no English but has given me permission to advocate on her behalf. Howera has been in this country for just a little over a year. Before that she spent her entire life in a small town in Ethiopia.

This has been a big week for Howera. On Monday, she and I met with her immigration attorney from Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto. The attorney, whose services are free of charge, came bearing good news. After months of delays and endless paperwork, Howera’s work permit finally arrived; the first in what will be a series of steps towards her self-sufficiency. The lawyer also came with a thick sheaf of official looking papers indicating that Howera’s Violence Against Women Act Visa has been filed. Howera wasted no time this week in firing off job applications to countless retail shops and local grocery stores. On Tuesday, Howera met with a primary care doctor at our Samaritan House Medical Clinic after many months without health care. Soon she will qualify for County medical coverage, but in the interim she will utilize our comprehensive services.

Howera came to us from IVSN’s Maple Street Shelter. She had fled an emotionally and physically toxic marriage. Her husband (who is also originally from Ethiopia but has been living in California for several years) had been introduced to her through a mutual friend. They had spoken on the phone several times but had met only once. For Howera, who lived in a small impoverished war-torn village with her grandparents, the opportunity to come to California was a dream come true. But soon after coming here, the marriage steadily declined and she decided she had to get out. With the help of a counselor at Kaiser and a friend from her local church, she was able to get into Maple Street. Once timing out there, she came to us, where we hit the ground running to create a case plan and follow through on her many goals.

After waiting patiently on hold, we are finally patched through to a case worker. I read off Howera’s case number, and a moment later, we are told that Howera has qualified for CalFresh, formerly known as Food Stamps. She can pick up her EBT card tomorrow. Instinctively, Howera and I both nearly leap out of our seats rejoicing. $195 will be deposited on her card, and she will finally be able to bring food for lunch while she attends San Mateo Adult School. I have never had to think about where my next meal will come from; food is a luxury that I take for granted every day. But since the day she came to Safe Harbor, Howera has constantly voiced to me (through the help of an interpreter) her distress at not having money for food and the feeling of utter helplessness that it has given her. For the rest of the day when I see Howera around the shelter, we both burst into joyful smiles, savoring this victory that seems so small, but means so much.

There is much more for Howera to accomplish on her road to self-sufficiency. Next will be filing for divorce, then tackling the issue of housing. But for this week, for today, we will celebrate this milestone.

Community Connections is comprised of narratives from the people who know Samaritan House the best- our staff, clients, and volunteers! To submit a story, please email it to

San Mateo High School Canned Food Drive!

SMHS_Food Drive (2)As of Monday, November 30, 2015, the students at have collected 150,000 pounds of food! The food drive is a storied part of San Mateo High’s history. In 2005, students set a world record by collecting more than 300,0000 pounds of food.

On Friday, November 20, 2015, San Mateo High School was honored as Outstanding Philanthropic Youth Organization at this year’s Silicon Valley Philanthropy Day. San Mateo High School was nominated for this award by Samaritan House and Second Harvest Food Bank to honor their that dates back to the early 1980’s when the students started collecting about 20,000 pounds of food on an annual basis.

Their drive soon achieved phenomenal expectations and is now nationally recognized as one of the largest in the country. In 2005 San Mateo High was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for holding the World’s Largest Food Drive over a two week period, even breaking the record twice!

Every holiday season, the focus of the High School’s Leadership Class becomes the community, and student leaders galvanize their school spirit into action. For three weeks every fall, the 1,400 plus students who attend San Mateo High School raise awareness of hunger in the local community, and volunteer their time to help raise money and food for San Mateo County’s low-income families.

The students of San Mateo High School have received numerous awards and community recognition from Samaritan House, Second Harvest Food Bank, the Jefferson Awards,, San Mateo County School Board, and the City of San Mateo Chamber of Commerce among others.  The success of their efforts has been widely publicized in the local media, including local newspapers and television stations.

The San Mateo High School Bearcat Spirit is incredibly powerful!  Year after year, the students put in a world class effort on behalf of hungry families in need across the Bay Area.  We are so pleased to celebrate their extraordinary spirit of generosity at this year’s Silicon Valley Philanthropy Day!

Check this out!

The bearcats get licious in this promo for the magical San Mateo High School canned food drive.


Lyrics by Michelle & Laura Saxton and Jessica Churchill.

Sung by Jessica Churchill with backup by Michelle Saxton and Alex Ewald.

Extra solo sung by Alex Ewald.

Today is Giving Tuesday!

#GivingTuesday is a simple idea. Just pick one of the many ways for you, your family, your community, or your organization to come together to support Samaritan House. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.Giving Tuesday 2015 Final

President Obama recognize ‪#‎GivingTuesday‬ in his Thanksgiving address. He said “On this uniquely American holiday, we also remember that so much of our greatness comes from our generosity. There’s the generosity of Americans who at food banks and shelters, making sure that no one goes hungry on a day when so many plates are full. There’s the generosity of Americans who take part not just in Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but Giving Tuesday — recognizing that in the holiday season, what you is as important as what you get.” You can hear the President’s address here:…/weekly-address-thanksgiving-re…

Samaritan House relies on the compassion, power, and generosity of those looking to give back to deliver our humanitarian mission. From delivering food and clothing to teaching news financial skills or healthier lifestyles – Samaritan House supports local people who need our help. We preserve dignity, promote self sufficiency, and provide hope for real families, individuals, and children in our community.

On Giving Tuesday, help support Samaritan House’s mission – to mobilize the resources of our community to help those among us who are in need.

How to Help:

## NOW





Visit for more information on how you can support Samaritan House.

Support Samaritan House for #GivingTuesday – A Global Day Dedicated to Giving Back

We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.
Participate in GivingTuesday by supporting Samaritan House any way you choose. Donate your time, toys, gift cards, new kids clothing, cash or non perishable food items. For more info on how you can support Samaritan House, visit:
Did you know:
Studies show giving back makes you happier and live longer, too Come together with people around the world to celebrate generosity and to give.

Community Connections – Humanity at its Best


Last week, Samaritan House’s Annual Giving Manager, Jessica Mitchell, put a call-out to her friends and family on Facebook to try and secure 100 $25 gift cards – one for each resident at Safe Harbor Shelter, Samaritan House’s Homeless shelter.

She wrote:

“I’m collecting 100 $25 Target gift cards to give to the residents at Safe Harbor Shelter for Christmas, because I think everyone deserves a present during the holidays. Jess [her husband] and I are personally contributing eight gift cards, which means I need 92 more to make every resident’s holiday a little brighter.

When I came to Samaritan House it was because, ever since I was a little girl, homelessness has bothered me more than any other social issue. I remember my mother taking me into downtown Pittsburgh to see The Nutcracker when I was 5 years old and crying when I saw a homeless man for the first time. I couldn’t understand then how we, as a society, could let someone fall through the cracks like that, and I still don’t. Of all of Samaritan House’s programs, the closest to my heart is Safe Harbor Shelter- it provides more than 32,000 nights of safe, warm sleep every year to people who have nowhere else to go.

Please help me reach my goal of 100 $25 Target gift cards by December 10th. Thank you so much.”

Jessica thought she might have to do several call-outs like this to reach her goal in time for the holidays. However, she reached it in 19 hours. Within minutes of her posting, she had pledges from friends and family from all over the country, even people she hadn’t seen in years. By 8:00 PM that night, she had commitments for half the gift cards. Then, the next morning, she received a text message from an anonymous donor, saying they wanted to contribute the rest.

“I’m so blown away,” Jessica says of the response to her call-out. “This is humanity at its best.”start_a_donation_drive_0

Samaritan House is so very grateful to everyone who hosts a drive during the holidays. The items donated make a huge difference in the lives of our clients who struggle to afford the basics in life. To run a drive of your own or learn about other ways you can help our neighbors in need have a joyful holiday season, please click here:

Community Connections is comprised of narratives from the people who know Samaritan House the best- our staff, clients, and volunteers! To submit a story, please email it to 

Samaritan House — Serving and Honoring our Veterans

Veterans Day

When thinking about homelessness, the elderly are not usually the first thing that comes to mind. Instead, homeless seniors tend to be a forgotten population, much in the same way homeless veterans often go unseen. According to the United States Census Bureau, there are more than 9.3 million veterans over the age of 65.

One of them is 90-year-old Jim, a World War II veteran, who was born and raised in San Mateo County. Jim loved the area and lived in the same San Mateo apartment for more 40 years until about two months ago. His landlords decided it was time to renovate their buildings, to raise rents and keep up with the Bay Area’s ever-increasing cost of living.homeless-veteran-sign1

Jim had until the end of September to vacate the apartment he had called home for more than four decades. Fortunately, a caring neighbor connected him with a Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF), but because Jim lacked the necessary paperwork, he could not receive help from SSVF’s housing program. They referred Jim to Samaritan House and he’s now a resident at our Safe Harbor Shelter. Over the next few months, Jim will receive support in getting connected to the benefits he deserves, including housing assistance, hot meals, access to health care and more. More importantly, he will be treated with dignity and respect and receive the support of a compassionate community as he works to regain stability in his life.

The brave men and women who serve and protect the U.S. come from all walks of life; they are parents, children and grandparents. They are friends, family, neighbors and coworkers, and Samaritan House thanks these brave men and women for the work they have done and continue to do for our country.

If you or anyone you know is in need of supportive services for veterans, please contact:



The #DreamBox Project


A huge thank you to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) and seventeen year-old Patricia Manubay, who volunteered their day and created 150 Dream Boxes for Samaritan House.

Jefferson Foundation Awardee, and pioneer of the ‪#‎ project, Manubay’s goal is to put an end to the vicious cycle of poverty with a positive solution — a dream. Her public service project, Dream Boxes – gives kids access to school supplies and empowers them to pursue their passions.

Manubay visit the SVCF headquarters yesterday, providing inspiration and support as SVCF’s staff created DreamBoxes, which will distributed to underprivileged teens through Samaritan House’s Holiday Program.

The goal for 2015 is to have 100,000 Dream Boxes distributed to kids across the country. Create your own Dream Box (using the handy instructions here) and share your contributions to Samaritan House. Don’t forget to use the hashtag DreamBox!

You can donate to Dream Boxes or learn how to make your own here


Hold Your Own Community Donation Drive!

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Thank you to Brian Fitzpatrick for sharing his daughter’s story, and inspiring others to do the same.

“Yesterday morning, my 10-year old declared that she wanted to sell lemonade and cookies and donate the profits to a homeless shelter.  I immediately sent her to your web site and she decided to support Samaritan House. By the end of the day, she had drummed up $30, which we plan to donate through your web site.” – Brian Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick and his daughter are a wonderful example of how fun it can be to involve the whole family in giving back – especially during the holidays. As we get closer to the Holiday Season and begin to think about gifts and giving, it is important to remind ourselves, and our children, how much we have to be grateful for. There is no better way to foster a child’s giving-spirit, than to show them how great it feels to give to others, especially to those who need it most.

For a fun way to get your entire family involved, use our Holiday Drive Toolkit to run your very own Community Donation Drive to benefit Samaritan House! Visit: for PDF’s and other templates we have put together for you to use during your drive.


Yahoo Employee Foundation Impact Grant

YEF Impact Grant Logo

Samaritan House was selected to receive a $50,000 grant thanks to Stephen Carlson, our champion with the Yahoo Employee Foundation (YEF), who recommended us, and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The $50,000 YEF Impact Grant will be used to support our Client Services department.

The Yahoo Employee Foundation provides Yahoo employees the opportunity to help an organization they care about to apply for a grant by acting as a YEF grant champion. The YEF grants committee, made up by Yahoo employee volunteers, evaluates the applications based on clearly defined criteria.

A huge thank you to the grant’s fiscal sponsor, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.