Samaritan House Bike Giveaway!

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Bike Givaway 2

 

Our parking lot is always a busy place, but on April 1, instead of cars wheeling in and out, laughing children wearing brand new bright green helmets were wheeling bicycles around orange safety cones.

Wednesday’s event was the first in our new Closet children’s program, Books, and Backpacks.  The bicycle safety clinic and used bike repair and giveaway was the result of a partnership with two wonderful local agencies, the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition and the Bay Area Bike Mobile.

Laughter bubbled up from the nine children as they tried on the cool green helmets and mounted their newly refurbished bikes. Parents looked on with broad smiles as the children demonstrated safe riding skills under the instruction of Ernesto Lizaola, education programs manager for the bike coalition.

Mother of triplets, Ana Carolina Mendoza was so excited that the girls had bicycles that fit – she promised to their too-small bikes to Samaritan House to be donated to the next group of children.

Earlier in the day, the team arrived and got to work changing tires, replacing brakes, getting 16 bicycles back in shape in record time. And the bike coalition brought two boxes of new helmets, making sure each child received a safe, well-fitting helmet and a larger-sized donated bike.

Starting out with a half-hour classroom presentation for parents and children in our third floor conference room, the group then trooped down to the parking lot for the hands-on part of the program.

“This is the first time they have ever been taught anything about bicycles,” Ana Carolina said. She said she was really pleased they were learning the basics of bike safety.

Samaritan House plans to hold similar events in the future and welcomes the donation of youth and adult bicycles in good condition or a donation of $10, which will provide a safe helmet for a child.

About the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition: “Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition () exists to promote increased cycling in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. To accomplish this goal, SVBC advocates for improved and expanded bicycle infrastructure and other facilities, including bike lanes, paths, racks, lockers, accommodating traffic signals, capacity on transit, and more. Additionally, SVBC promotes bicycle culture through events and activities such as Bike to Work Day, Bicycle Friendly Workplace, and Valet Bike Parking at a variety of area events.

About the BikeMobile: “The Bay Area BikeMobile  hosts bicycle repair clinics at schools, libraries, recreation centers, and community events across the San Francisco Bay Area. At these events, we engage participants in a hands-on repair process so that they may be more confident making future repairs on their own. Additionally, we promote safe riding, teach beginners how to ride without training wheels, and give away refurbished bicycles. By partnering with Spare the Air Youth and  Safe Routes to Schools they are able to offer this as a free resource to the public, focusing on low-income communities that often do not have access to professional bike repair. The Bay Area BikeMobile helps keep youth rolling to school safely while reducing congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.”

 

 

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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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

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.

History of Samaritan House – Humble Beginnings…

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A community case worker meets with a family in Samaritan House’s early home.

In honor of our 40th Anniversary in 2014, a brief glimpse back at the people who made our role as a leading social service agency in the county possible.

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In 1974, Dr. Cora P. Clemons, R.N., M.F.C.C., M.P.H., Ph.D, had a growing concern. So many people needed basic social services but they had a hard time getting to her. “Isn’t there a way to bring services to the areas where the people in need live?” she wondered.

When Cora brought together some of her associates to talk about the problem, they came up with a creative idea to form a nonprofit agency and put its office in the heart of San Mateo in the community which needed the most service. In December 1974, Samaritan House opened its doors to provide ongoing information and referral to any San Mateo citizen experiencing basic need.

Samaritan House was originally located in a small, 2-bedroom house located in North Central San Mateo. Space – and privacy – were at a premium in this first location, which provided workspace for 3 Samaritan House case managers, a Salvation Army worker, a representative from the U.C. Department of Nutrition, and visiting staff from the County Health Department.

Over the years, Cora saw Samaritan House grow from a few case managers providing referrals to an agency with many programs providing food and nutrition, shelter, healthcare, clothing, counseling, worker resources, and holiday assistance. Amazing to think how far we’ve come and how many people we’ve been able to help thanks to such wonderful community support!

 

 

Use your IRA to make a charitable gift to Samaritan House – ends Dec. 31, 2013

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Your support helps Samaritan House continue to serve those most in need in San Mateo County – including through our annual holiday food & toy distributions.

If you are 70½ or older, you can make a charitable gift of up to $100,000 to Samaritan House from your Individual Retirement Account (“IRA”) to meet your 2013 annual minimum required distribution amount without having to include the transfer as income for federal income tax purposes. However, the law allowing this special charitable IRA rollover, or qualified charitable distribution (“QCD”) expires after December 31, 2013.

To complete your charitable gift, transfers must come from your IRA and be paid directly to Samaritan House. If you have retirement assets in a 401(k), 403(b) etc., you must first roll those funds into an IRA, and then you can direct the IRA plan administrator to transfer the funds from the IRA directly to Samaritan House. You cannot use the rollover to fund either life-income gifts (charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, or pooled income funds), or donor advised funds or supporting organizations.

If you have questions about completing an IRA charitable rollover to Samaritan House before its expiration on December 31, 2013, please contact Samaritan House’s Director of Development, Lynn Nawahine, at nawahine@samaritanhousesanmateo.org or 650-523-0825.

 

Holiday Donation Information

toy-webSome information for those interested in donating food or toys this month:

Beginning the week of December 9th, our donation center located in the parking lot of our main office will be open from 9am-6pm on Mon/Tues/Fri & 9am-8pm on Wed & Thur. A donation attendant will be available to accept donation items and issue a receipt.

 

In addition, we are in urgent need of toy to help us start out the holiday season. We are still in need of new, unwrapped toys for children from 0-13 years old along with gift cards for teens.

More of a cyber-shopper? Check out our Holiday Wishlist on Amazon and have your donations shipped directly: http://bit.ly/SH_Holiday2013

With your help, we will be making the holiday a little brighter for over 2,000 of clients’ children!

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