Not All Heroes Wear Capes

Blog Post 
By: Rachel Spencer ( )

Rachel Spencer (Edited)Traffic is miserable in the . It’s not because the highways are small or that traffic lights aren’t programed properly, but because people are flocking here. As the number of cars on the road continues to increase, the number of people looking for housing is also increasing at a high rate.

As the Bay Area’s population continues to grow, the supply of rental units is rapidly decreasing and the demand for them is increasing, which is causing rental prices to sharply incline year after year.  For the affluent, the high rental rates are often discussed as an annoyance. For the working class, the high rental rates are crippling. If you want to survive the cost of living in the Bay Area, a single household needs to make a minimum of$78,000/year. Most working class individuals are working hard at jobs that pay minimum wage.  Imagine: for one household to make $78,000/year, it would require 4.7 full time minimum wage jobs!

Despite working full time and doing all that is in their control working class families are struggling to scrape by and, just when it all gets to be too much to handle, Samaritan House swoops in to save the day.

The name Samaritan House reflects perfectly the nature of the good work that they do. It calls to mind the story of The Good Samaritan.  In short, the story depicts a man who was a victim to thieves during his travels, leaving him without any possessions and half dead on the side of the street. As he lay there, people walked past him and avoided him until another traveler from Samaria helped him by tending to his wounds, giving him a safe place to stay and being a true hero for this man in need. Samaritan House exemplifies the compassion for the needy in today’s San Mateo.

In San Mateo alone, there is not a shortage of people who need help meeting their basic needs. As they come to Samaritan House, they are treated like dignified human beings and helped to get a roof over their heads, clothing on their children’s backs and food in their stomachs.

On any given day, you can go to Samaritan House in San Mateo to find a 3 story building full of compassion, dedication, humility, kindness, and laughter working day-in and day-out to meet the basic needs of those who can’t do it on their own. In other words, you’ll find a 3 story building full of heroes, and remember, not all heroes wear capes.

Community Connections Blog Posts are comprised of narratives from the people who know Samaritan House the best- our staff, clients, and volunteers!

Everyone is invited to participate, please email your experience with Samaritan House to rebecca@samaritanhousesanmatao.org.

Volunteer Spotlight

In honor of our volunteer appreciation event, happening tonight, we would like to put the spotlight on one of our superstar volunteers, Joanne! She has been volunteering two days a week for the past six months with our development team.  IMG_3280

Samaritan House relies on volunteers in every aspect of our operations and program delivery. Volunteer service defines our core value of Neighbor helping Neighbor.

Director of Development, Mary Dunbar says, “she’s very smart, and brings a high level of professional expertise from her career in the education field. She approaches learning about development with a very open mind and a strong willingness and desire to learn. She’s warm, friendly, and joyful and accomplishes a huge amount of work for us. We are really grateful to have her on our team.”

On behalf of the everyone here at Samaritan House, and the entire community, thank you Joanne, for all of your hard work and dedication. To find out how you can help out at Samaritan House, visit our volunteers page: http://samaritanhousesanmateo.org/how-you-can-help/volunteer/

#Volunteer #Giveback #Dedication #SanMateo #VolunteerOpportunities #ThankYou

Design Tech High School Volunteers

Microsoft Word - Document4

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/

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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Full House

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.

Sergio teaching

Volunteer Recognition Event 2013 – Neighbor Helping Neighbor

Every year, we honor volunteers who have shown exemplary effort in support of Samaritan House’s programs at our annual Volunteer Recognition Event. This year, the Sammy Award winners were treated to a special gift from Ruby Kaho, Kitchen Manager for Samaritan House. Before the event, Ruby created handmade Hawaiian leis for each Sammy recipient. The leis were then handed out at the event by a local Boy Scout troop.

Sammy Awards in 18 program categories honored volunteers who have shown exemplary effort in support of Samaritan House’s programs and services:

• Administration – Louise Delafield

• Bread Basket – Trader Joe’s team

• Client Services – Mary Lynn Ruiz

• Dining Room – Chris O’Leary

• Finance/Development – City Auction Crew

• Food Pantry – Ana Maria Jackson & Paula Corona (Kelly Award)

• Holiday Program – Saia (George) Bourke

• Kids’ Closet – Susan Campo

Every year at our volunteer event, we present our highest honor, the Kelly Award, to an individual who has shown exemplary volunteer service to our agency. This year, the award was given to 2 volunteers – sisters Ana Maria Jackson and Paula Corona.

AnnamariaandPaula

Ana Maria and Paula have been volunteering with us for over 10 years, and can be seen 3 days a week handing out groceries to families in our Pantry. We recently interviewed the 2 about their experience (http://bit.ly/SH_Pantry).

Congratulations to our 2013 Sammy Award winners, and thank you for all you do!

Volunteer Spotlight – Pantry Volunteers

One of the many services provided by Samaritan House, our food pantry is a vibrant and highly utilized space which exemplifies our community’s strong support of our mission.

Over 21,000 bags of groceries are distributed through our pantry every year. The pantry runs efficiently with the help of our volunteers, who sort and help with food distribution 5 days a week.

In this video, Ana Maria Jackson & Paula Corona, volunteers for over 10 years in our pantry, talk about their experience with clients and the community.

Beyond Compassion Weekend at Redwood City Clinic

We had an amazing day on Saturday, July 27th at the Beyond Compassion Weekend at our free clinic in Redwood City. Volunteers from the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church joined us to help provide medical & dental services to members of the community in need.

We are proud to report that we served 57 medical and dental patients during this one event! A big thank you to all of the volunteer physicians who saw patients that day, and to those volunteers who helped support the doctors by interpreting, assisting patients, finding charts and doing the important stuff behind the scenes that keeps our clinic running.