Samaritan House All Staff Event

All Staff Meeting

All Samaritan House staff members, from more than five locations, were brought together today for a wonderfully productive All Staff Meeting at the Sobrato Center for Nonprofits!

The meeting focused on department updates, the amazing immersion of volunteers within the organization and new marketing and branding efforts.

The staff was also introduced to a newly revised Employee Handbook. This included a new and exciting Annual Employee Performance Review. The Review will enable staff to continue learning and refining their methods to lead our San Mateo County neighbors in need out of poverty to hope and opportunity!

Great work today Samaritan House Staff!

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.

 

Back-to-School Shoes Needed!

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We have had a successful backpack and school supply drive — resulting in more than 400 fun, fashionable , along with ! A huge thank you to everyone who helped to collect so many supplies!

We still need new or $15.00 Payless Shoes gift cards.  Donations will be gratefully collected from now through July 23rd for our annual Back-to-School Giveaway on July 24th. Please drop off donations at our main office, 3rd floor M-F from 9 – 5 pm. Donation receipts are available.
Together we can help all children start the school year on equal footing with new shoes, clothes and a sense of confidence!

We thank you in advance for your support!

Foster City Rotary Donation!

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We are thrilled to announce the receipt of a $3,000 donation from the Foster City Rotary!

Stephanie Masten, Mary Lou Griffin, Mike Hoffman and Ed Grohe (pictured above), presented the check yesterday afternoon before taking a tour around the Pacific Boulevard headquarters.

“WOW!  I’m totally impressed with the tour!!  and from what I hear…there is more to see!!  It was so interesting for me to see and hear what all you do!!  Puts a lump in my throat,” says Masten. “You all seem so passionate in what you do! Our motto in Rotary is ‘Service before Self’  and I see that all around Samaritan House!”

Thank you so much, Foster City Rotary, for your wonderful generosity and all the ways you join in and help Samaritan House serve our community. 

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/

The Main Event – Knock Out Hunger

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The Main Event 2015 – Knock Out Hunger by Slidely Slideshow

Nearly 400 guests joined the fight to end hunger at our 23rd annual Main Event Fundraiser. This year’s theme was Knock Out Hunger!, which provided an opportunity for Samaritan House supporters to celebrate the remarkable achievements of our robust food assistance program.

The evening began with dynamite drinks, five unique silent auctions and a photo opportunity for the premium ticket holders with Celebrity Master Chef, Martin Yan. As the emcee, Yan ran the action packed program from center ring. Festivities included an elegant dinner, a live auction including a fund-a-need paddle raise for the food program and even a surprise cooking demonstration from Chef Yan himself.

Samaritan House CEO, Bart Charlow, thanked everyone who contributed to making the event possible. The impact of the Food Program shined with the help of a client speaker who shared her personal story and inspired discussion of the real struggles that low-income families face every day.

The live auction was led by auctioneer Alison Lustbader of KLM Auctions, and offered everything from a Maui vacation in paradise to an Ultimate Sports Fan Package with all access tickets to several of the most famous San Francisco sporting events. Guests finished off the evening in style, dancing to the swanky sounds of the Bay Area’s own Pure Ecstasy, others stepped out to the lobby where Chef Yan was signing a selection of his recent cookbooks.

All proceeds from the event will benefit Samaritan House’s Food Services Program which provides over 156,000 hot meals and 40,000 bags of groceries annually to families in need in our community. http://samaritanhousesanmateo.org/main-event-2015/.

Community Connections – Julia Parmer

the harbor overlooking shelter at sunset

the harbor overlooking shelter at sunset

Written By:  

Samaritan House Staff Member, Julia Parmer 

John has been sitting by the window overlooking the SamTrans parking lot for two days now. He is steadfast in his vigilance, barely moving a muscle, back straight, hands in his lap. He is watching something, but I do not yet know what. Towards the end of the second day, he cautiously approaches the front desk, where I am filling out some paperwork. “Miss Julia?” he asks hesitantly. “There’s a dog in that truck by the window. I think his owner must have forgotten about him and I’m worried.” Following John’s lead, several clients run to the window, and for the first time they observe what he has been keeping a close watch over. A small dog is sitting in the driver’s seat of a large Chevy truck. The dog is completely still. Immediately, we all spring into action. Anje calls the police and the SPCA. Gus, an outreach case manager from San Mateo County Behavioral Health who happens to be here runs outside and taps on the car window, hoping to awaken the dog. The car window is slightly open. With some help from another client, Gus drops some food inside. The dog stirs; he is ok.  John continues to oversee the action from his perch, silent and steady. All hands are now on deck to save this neglected animal. I am smiling, laughing at the controlled chaos.

            Every day, the residents of Safe Harbor amaze me. John has little more than a backpack to his name. Yet there he sits, day in and day out, keeping watch over another life, protecting this small creature that cannot protect itself. It is these moments in which I feel so privileged to work here and it is these moments that make the other, often heartbreaking moments bearable. I am so thankful to know people like John, and to be a part of this community at Samaritan House.

**This post was written for our Community Connections Blog. There you will find stories, ideas, opinions and other narratives from the people who know Samaritan House the best, the staff and volunteers! you have a story you would like to tell, please email it to rebecca@samaritanhousesanmatao.org. 

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.