Samaritan House Holiday Program

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Every year thousands of children and adults receive food, toys, books and warm coats in November and December, all donated by the community through Samaritan House. Last year, Samaritan House gave more than 5,000 toys and over 500 new coats to more than 1,000 children in our community at our Holiday Toy Shop. This year our goal is to give every child who comes to our Holiday Toy Shop, a new coat.

Samaritan House’s 2016 Holiday Program is in full swing. If you’d like to be a part of the magic, here are ways that you and your family can help out:

DONATE TOYS  New, unwrapped toys such as dolls, Legos, craft kits , action figures, and sporting equipment sportswear are great! We especially need large toys for girls ($50). Visit our Amazon Wish List and send a toy donation directly to Samaritan House with the click of a button!

RUN A CHILDREN’S COAT OR TOY DRIVE  Use our Holiday Drive Toolkit to run your very own Community Donation Drive to benefit Samaritan House. Check out the PDFs and other templates we’ve put together for you to use during your drive.

FAMILY AND SENIOR SHARING PROGRAM  Once you fill out an application, you’ll be matched with a family or senior/s and you will provide them food and toys/gifts for the holidays. You will deliver the items directly to the people’s homes.

RUN A GIFT DRIVE  The holidays are not just for children. More than 1,000 of our adult clients are in need of clothing, toiletries, work clothes and more.

DONATE MONEY   Donate to Samaritan House online, right now and even choose what you want to support.

—-GIFT CARDS FOR TEENS—- We have 330 teens registered for our Toy Shop. Teens are past their toys phase, and many parents are unable to afford gifts. We need 170 more $20 Target gift cards so our teens can pick out something special for themselves.

—-COATS FOR ALL AGES—- We need NEW coats for children, size toddler through teen. We accept clean, nearly new coats for adults that are not more than five years old.  This Winter could be an especially wet one, and Samaritan House has a shortage of new (or nearly new) coats to keep our clients warm.

Donations can be brought directly to our headquarters; 4031 Pacific Boulevard, San Mateo, CA 94403. For more information on our holiday program, visit HOLIDAY PROGRAM

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Family Harvest – April 2016 (Revised)

Let’s face it, the food we eat affects us in almost every aspect of our lives. For children, a healthy diet is even more important. Their food correlates not only to their health, but to their development and learning, overall happiness and ability to thrive.

For that reason, on the 3rd Friday of each month, Samaritan House hands out fresh food at Family Harvest food distributions in front of Shoreview Methodist Church. “April’s Harvest was wonderful. Nearly 80 families walked away with 120lbs. of food,” says Robyn Fischer, Client Services Manager. “There are so many parents who tell me this food has changed their family’s lives. They’re seeing their children become not only healthier, but happier people too.”

Samaritan House is thrilled to partner with Second Harvest Food Bank to make these types of wonderful programs available to low-income residents. In San Mateo County alone, more than 29,213 children live in food insecure households, according to a study by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health. These children lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

Family Harvests are dedicated to families with small children and adult children under the age of 26 who are still living at home. New families are welcome to register. Please call Samaritan House’s Client Services Office at (650) 347-3648 for more information.

*Correction: An earlier version of this story had misinformation about the details of Family Harvest and Produce Mobile distributions. This has been corrected.

Safe Harbor Shelter’s Monthly Birthday Bash!

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Safe Harbor Shelter residents had an awesome birthday party this month, celebrating the 10 residents who have an August birthday!

This is the second time Safe Harbor Shelter has had a birthday bash. The first one happened last May and was orchestrated with the help of a former Safe Harbor Shelter resident and her church, Central Peninsula.

“I must tell you, it feels so glorious to be back there and be with the residents,” says the former resident herself. “Not only did the residents have a fun time, we (volunteers) had so much fun spending time with them too.”

Carol Laughlin, Samaritan House’s Director of Volunteers, says they plan to continue putting on this event as long as it as it makes the residents happy.

Safe Harbor Shelter is Samaritan House’s 90 bed emergency homeless shelter located in South San Francisco. Homeless individuals 18 years and older and from San Mateo County are permitted to enter the shelter on a first-come, first-served basis. The shelter is operated in collaboration with the County of San Mateo Human Services Agency.

 

Julieta’s Story

Julieta Photo

Julieta Photo

Just two years ago, Julieta was at her annual check up at Samaritan House’s Breast Care Clinic when one of our volunteer physicians found a lump in her left breast. The staff at Samaritan House’s clinic referred her to Mills-Peninsula Hospital to get a free mammogram, but she put it off because she feared losing income from missing work and she didn’t want to disrupt her family. Sylvia Pratt, the Clinic Coordinator, and Eileen Lopez-Guerra, the Breast Care Clinic Coordinator, kept calling her, telling her how important it was that she get a mammogram immediately. When the shock of the news settled, Julieta remembered her sister, who died of breast cancer only three years prior. She went for her mammogram, which revealed what turned out to be a malignant tumor.

The hospital recommended that Julieta have the tumor removed immediately. However, Julieta, who was trying to hide her illness from her family so as not to worry them, put it off. She also didn’t know how she was going to pay for the surgery. Samaritan House clinic staff stepped in again, filling out all the paperwork she needed to qualify for a program that would cover it. Two months after finding out she had cancer, Julieta had the surgery to remove her tumor.

Unfortunately, her battle with cancer didn’t end there. Because the lump was very close to her heart, Julieta had to undergo chemo and radiation. The treatments made her very weak and she was unable to work. Her husband missed a lot of work as well, taking her to frequent doctor’s appointments, and their financial situation quickly declined. The kids were also worried about their mom and it showed in their school work.

Samaritan House was able to provide comprehensive support with the things the family needed to get through this difficult time, including produce and groceries, clothing for the children as well as toys during the holidays, ensuring  Julieta’s children could have a  joyful holiday season.

Today, Julieta is still recovering, but she says she’s getting stronger. Her doctor has said she can work up to four hours a day, so she is looking for ways to help support her family. In the meantime, Samaritan House continues to help, giving her family fresh produce and meat every month through the Family Harvest program.

Julieta is grateful for the support her family has received and wants to give back; she’s currently volunteering at a local high school and at a church afterschool program. Her kids are doing better too, “They can see Mommy is getting strong,” she says. When asked “What’s next for you?” she flashes a gorgeous smile and says, “Happiness.”

Because of you, we are able to make sure that hardworking families like Julieta’s get the essentials they need to live. And, because of you, we can provide crucial medical care and supportive counseling necessary to save lives like Julieta’s.

Make a gift today, and be the reason that we can keep saving lives, sustaining families, and supporting our neighbors in need on their path towards independence and a healthy, more prosperous  future.

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Design Tech High School Volunteers

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As part of our deep commitment to engage young people in our work, we recently had students from Design Tech high school with us, everyday for two weeks. They eventually produced an informational video that will be used to teach other classes about Samaritan House. They also created a redesign plan for our client waiting room and will continue working with us on redesigning our Kid’s Closet throughout the summer!

Check out one of their videos here:

A huge thank you to all of the Design Tech students who are working with us. Your creativity and hard work will travel far, and continue to connect people and help improve lives.

Design Tech High School helps students develop skills that are critical to success int he 21st century – skills like collaboration, creativity, self-management and communication. At Design Tech, students develop these skills by building deep content knowledge and learning important problem solving skills. For more information on Design Tech High School, visit: http://www.designtechhighschool.org/

San Jose Mercury News – Wishbook 2014

We are very honored and excited to be a featured nonprofit in the San Jose Mercury News Wish Book this year!

Read the full article below:

JORGE CASTILLO FUNEZ

SAN MATEO — By the time Jorge Castillo Funez was diagnosed with diabetes this past December, his condition was severe. Without twice-daily injections of insulin, he would soon die.

However, an obstacle blocked the young man’s path to recovery: an intense fear of needles that Funez traces back to a childhood trauma in El Salvador.

Unable to perform the injections himself, Funez relied on the staff of the Free Clinic of San Mateo, a health center run by nonprofit Samaritan House that provides care for people who lack adequate insurance. He visited the clinic every day for more than a month so medical assistant Yesenia Hernandez could administer the insulin, then teach Funez’s girlfriend how to do it.

“I have never been treated the way they treated me here,” said Funez, who works as a hotel housekeeper. “They saved my life.”

Funez, 32, is one of roughly 1,200 low-income people who visit the clinic every year. Many have slipped through the cracks in state and federal health insurance plans, failing to qualify for Medi-Cal or the Obama administration’s new insurance mandate. Others have insurance but still struggle to pay for medication.

“We’re the safety net for the safety net,” said Sharon Petersen, director of operations for Samaritan House, which runs a second Free Clinic in Redwood City. The clinics benefit not only the clients, she said, but the broader health care system: When people with chronic conditions get preventive care, they make fewer trips to the emergency room.

The clinics provide a wide range of services, from basic care to neurology and orthopedics, despite having fewer than a dozen full-time staff members. Most of the clinics’ several dozen doctors and dentists volunteer their time.

Samaritan House, which gets most of its funding from private donors, will spend roughly $820,000 this year to operate the clinics. But there is still a critical need for medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, including the insulin provided to Funez and other diabetic patients. Wish Book readers can help by donating $6,000, which covers a month’s supply for both facilities.

Diabetes is the most common chronic illness among patients at the San Mateo clinic, Hernandez said, though most of the patients are not insulin-dependent. Many of the clinic patients are Latino, a group with higher rates of diabetes than the general population. Clients don’t have enough money to buy fresh, healthful food — fast food is much less expensive — and often face linguistic or cultural barriers.

Funez’s father was a diabetic, but his family didn’t know that until after he died. Doctors determined that his fatal heart attack in 2004 was brought about by untreated diabetes.

The information shocked and scared Funez, who came to America when he was 20 and speaks halting English, but he still didn’t understand much about the disease — or that he was genetically predisposed to it.

He continued eating fast food and drinking soda — “mas Coke,” he recalled with a sheepish smile. In October 2013, he developed a suite of diabetic symptoms: blurry vision, thirst, frequent urination and unintended weight loss.

Now, a year later, he is looking and feeling much better. He eats less fried food and more salads, and has eliminated his soda habit. Besides regular checkups with an endocrinologist, Funez has visited clinic nutritionists, optometrists and dentists.

But he’s still afraid of needles. Insulin shots make him cringe, and he faints every time his blood is drawn. Funez said he developed the phobia after he witnessed a needle break off in a classmate’s arm during a round of vaccinations at his elementary school. The boy’s arm later had to be amputated, Funez said.

To keep his diabetes under control, Funez will need to master his fear. Hernandez said she worries about what would happen if his girlfriend weren’t around. But she’s determined.

“My goal,” Hernandez said, “is to one day see him inject himself.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION

To learn more about Samaritan House’s free dental and medical clinics, go to http://samaritanhousesanmateo.org and click on “What We Do.”

Your donation to Samaritan House helps individuals like Jorge  receive the medical treatment needed to live a full and healthy life. Read his story in the Wish Book and please consider a donation to help patients like Jorge. Click here to make a donation.

Safe Harbor Shelter Increases Clients’ Access to Programming

A special thank you to communications volunteer Monica MacMillan for contributing the following blog post.

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Since 1987, Samaritan House has been providing beds to the homeless as part of its efforts to meet the immediate and basic needs of low-income individuals in San Mateo County.  In 2000, Samaritan House opened Safe Harbor Shelter, a ninety-bed shelter located in South San Francisco.  In addition to providing the homeless with emergency shelter, safety, warmth, and sustenance, Safe Harbor offers healthcare assistance, substance abuse counseling, and job search assistance.  Historically, Safe Harbor has offered its clients referrals to outside agencies for these supplementary services.  Increasingly, however, it is trying to bring programs in-house.

“We want to support our clients as much as possible” by improving their access to programming, says Julia Parmer, the Mental Health Case Manager at Safe Harbor.  Because many clients don’t own their own transportation, it can be difficult for them to travel to outside agencies to get the help they need.  Moreover, “there is a lot of downtime [at the shelter].”  Programs offered on-site give clients a productive way to spend their time if they are not working.  Parmer has been offering group stress management counseling, and art therapy is coming soon.  Alcoholics Anonymous and Bible study groups meet weekly.  A new learning center with computers is also planned for the near future.

Course Hero, a local start-up company that allows college students to share their academic resources with each other, recently came to Safe Harbor to offer a free resume-building workshop.  Knowledgeable volunteers offered tips on how to market yourself, how to write a personalized cover letter, and what to do and not to do in an interview.  For clients who brought their existing resumes and cover letters, volunteers offered one-on-one editing sessions.  Course Hero plans to return periodically to provide its expertise to Safe Harbor clients.  “I’m happy that we’re in a position to help,” says John Stacey, co-founder and VP of Campus Programs.

For more information about Safe Harbor Shelter, please contact  650-873-4921.

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ESL Classes at Worker Resource Center

A special thank you to communications volunteer Monica MacMillan for contributing the following blog post.

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According to a recent survey conducted by media organization Red Brown and Blue, “98.1% of undocumented Latino immigrants want to learn how to speak and write English.”  Yet, only a mere 11.2% feel that they can speak and write it “well or very well.”  Despite this strong demand, “cities across the country are experiencing severe shortages of English [as a second language] teachers, leaving long lines of would-be English speakers waiting outside their doors,” according to Businessweek.com.  It is with this backdrop that Samaritan House is thrilled to welcome Sergio Lua as its newest volunteer English teacher at the Worker Resource Center.

Sergio Lua, ESL Teacher

Lua began teaching English at the Worker Resource Center a little over a month ago.  Classes are free, and the curriculum is determined largely by the students.  “I have them tell me what they want to learn,” says Lua.  In addition to basic greetings and grammar, participants often ask to learn vocabulary relating to their occupations, such as tools used in landscaping, carpentry, and painting.  Frequently, they practice pronunciation of the phrase “I am looking for a job.”

An immigrant himself, Lua came to the United States from Mexico in 2003 with very little knowledge of English.  Through adult education classes, he learned English very quickly, and started taking other classes.  He currently attends Notre Dame de Namur University and is working towards a B.A. in psychology.  He volunteers his time at the Worker Resource Center because he wants to give back to his community.

“I want to make them feel comfortable,” Lua says, referring to his students.  “It’s not a school, you can participate or not,” so long as you remain respectful.  Lua is also experimenting constantly to see what works best.  He is currently considering creating a curriculum and posting a calendar outside the classroom so that his students know in advance what he will be teaching from week to week.

In a focus group study conducted by the Migration Policy Institute, immigrants were insistent that learning English was “critical for their success.”  “Fully 85% [said] it is hard to get a good job or do well in this country without learning English.”  Reyna Sandoval, the Interim Volunteer Coordinator at Samaritan House, agrees: “I know that workers have been passed up by potential employers because they don’t speak English.”  Equally as important as finding employment, English-speaking immigrants are frequently more “well-versed in their rights and the laws protecting them,” notes Businessweek.com.

If you are interested in volunteering as an English teacher at the Worker Resource Center, please contact Reyna Sandoval, Interim Volunteer Coordinator at (650)523-0819 for more information.

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In honor of financial literacy month

jar2A special thank you to communications volunteer Monica MacMillan for contributing the following blog post.

As financial literacy month draws to a close, we highlight why Samaritan House’s newest program, the Financial Empowerment Program, is so important to low-income residents in our county.

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1 in 3 adults in America carry credit card debt from month-to-month, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. A staggering 61% of adults admit to not having a budget. In other words, many people – even those in the middle and upper classes – have work to do when it comes to establishing healthy financial habits.

For those with lower incomes, however, having a solid foundation on which to base their daily spending decisions can mean the difference between self-sufficiency and crisis. “Commonly, compared with middle class and higher income Americans, low-income persons save much lower portions of their incomes and accumulate fewer assets.” (1) That means that people with lower incomes must think more strategically about ways to save more than those with a larger monthly surplus.

Housing prices in the Bay Area make saving even more challenging than in other parts of the country. According to San Mateo County’s most recent survey, “more than 50 percent of owners with mortgages . . . and 47 percent of renters in [the county] spent 30 percent or more of [their] household income on housing” (emphasis added). For the approximately 46,000 people in San Mateo County who live in poverty (2), trying to pay the mortgage or rent and save strategically each month is no easy task.

Samaritan House created the financial empowerment program in order to give its clients the financial tools necessary to achieve economic stability and self-sufficiency, and to stay out of crisis. Services include educational classes and one-on-one counseling about topics such as budgeting, banking, credit, identity theft, and predatory lending. Certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteers also provide free tax preparation to households of limited means. Perhaps the most inventive aspect of the program is the Start2Save plan, where clients can save up to $500 of their own money and earn $1,000 in matched savings that they are encouraged to use as an emergency fund. To qualify, clients must attend ten hours of financial education classes and save at least $20 per month.

According to Harvard economics professor Sendhil Mullainathan, when people have difficulty saving for the future, it is not simply because they lack self-control. Rather, it is because they don’t have the proper savings tools in place. The Financial Empowerment Program gives the clients of Samaritan House the tools, techniques, and confidence they need to build a more secure future.

For more information about Samaritan House’s Financial Empowerment Program, contact us.

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1 National Coalition for Domestic Violence.

2 San Mateo County Nutrition and Food Insecurity Profile, 2010.

Thank you, VITA Volunteers!

Tax Program Collage

As we celebrate the end another tax season, we congratulate our staff & VITA volunteers for another amazing year. Volunteers prepared 304 tax returns for low-income families, returning $444,000 in refunds to our community!

Thank you to our outstanding tax preparers, greeters, & translators for all their dedication in helping our clients file their taxes for free this spring.

One of Samaritan House’s volunteer, Matt Rudnick, recently shared his experience with the VITA program and explains why he plans on returning to help next year: