Join us for SV Gives – May 6th

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On May 6, 2014, with the help of our supporters, we will be raising $15,000 to help fight hunger in our community.

Mark your calendars and join us for #SVGives – a regional, online day of giving hosted by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and aimed at inspiring and uniting our community to support local philanthropic causes. Visit Samaritan House’s donation page for the event today, where you can schedule you contribution for the event, and help us meet matching grants for the event. Make sure to join us for the 1st ever #SVGives!

http://bit.ly/SamaritanSVGives

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Thank you, VITA Volunteers!

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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:

Emergency rental & deposit assistance helps move San Mateo couple into a new home

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Every month, our client service department helps provide emergency rental assistance to help 23 low-income individuals and families experiencing financial hardship maintain a stable living situation. Last month, our client service and finance department staff went above and beyond to ensure that a client was able to pay the deposit and 1st month’s rent for a new, more affordable apartment just 2 days before her move-in date.

“My partner and I are both people living with disabilities, specifically wheelchair users, and we are on a fixed income. We both work very hard to make ends meet every month…” reports Ligia. When the opportunity arose to move into a Below Market Rate (BMR) apartment nearby, she turned to Samaritan House for help. “[Our case manager] Christiana Weidanz worked hard to make sure that our new property had a check that same Friday. Everything worked out wonderfully! We moved in, they received their deposit and first month rent, and now we can finally breathe.”

BMR Availability

Many Americans struggle to afford a decent, safe place to live in today’s market – especially in Silicon Valley. According to the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan policy think tank that researches the topic of housing affordability and homelessness, “For every 100 extremely low-income renter households, there are only 19 affordable and available rental units in San Mateo County.” In addition, over the past 5 years, average rental prices in the area have skyrocketed while the number of renters who need moderately priced housing has increased.

These pressures make finding affordable housing even tougher for low-income households in San Mateo County, and make the need for Samaritan House’s safety-net services and emergency assistance programs a precious resource for families in our community.

In a thank you note to our client service department, our client Ligia expressed her appreciation for having this rental assistance service to help out during her time of need: “This all could not have been possible without Christiana being so proactive, understanding, and compassionate. We are so grateful for her assistance, and the assistance we received from Samaritan House.”

Agency History Pt. 2 – John Kelly “Father of Samaritan House”

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“If there is a serious need in the community that no one is currently meeting, then Samaritan House will address it.” John Kelly, Exec. Director from 1985-1999

In honor of Samaritan House’s 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 1985, John Kelly assumed the role of Executive Director of Samaritan House and through his leadership, helped transform the agency. A San Francisco native, John earned a Master’s Degree in Theology from the University of Notre Dame and a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union. Prior to coming to our agency, John spent 25 years as a Catholic priest (thus earning the name “Father of Samaritan House”) and nearly two decades teaching at Serra and Menlo Atherton High Schools.

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Ground breaking ceremony in 1987 for a new location at 401 N. Humboldt St. (left to right: John Kelly, ED; Evelyn Taylor, Board President; Mary Griffin, SM Cty Supervisors; Paul Gumbinger, SM City Council; Russ Pitto, Building Advisor)

Under John’s guidance and in response to the growing needs of the community, Samaritan House widened its breadth of services and transformed from an agency that provided referrals to an agency that provided services. Upon his retirement in 1999, John recounted his time with our organization and spoke of his philosophy for providing service to the community, which was simply: if there is a serious need in the community that no one is currently meeting, then Samaritan House will address it.

During this time, Samaritan House also became a Core Service Center for San Mateo County, helping bridge the gap between the needs of the community and public and private aid. Today, we continue to work with this network of Core Agencies that provide San Mateo County residents with information and referrals, emergency assistance, case management, food and clothing vouchers, and many other services.

 

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!

 

 

In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month…

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“I am very thankful for the Breast Clinic. I have learned the appropriate way to examine myself…Thank you very much for all your help provided to us as women.” Samaritan House Breast Clinic patient

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – According to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, approximately 1 in 8 women (12%) will be affected by breast cancer in her lifetime.

The Samaritan House Breast Care Clinic was started in 1999 by a group of female physician volunteers at the Free Clinic of San Mateo who were concerned that low-income women, without access to healthcare, were not aware of the importance of routine breast screenings. Our Breast Care Clinic exists today to provide breast cancer prevention, education, and screening services for low-income women in San Mateo County.

The Breast Care Clinic reduces barriers to providing uninsured women with access to high-quality and timely breast health care services. Many clients in our target population are unaware of the risks they face and the importance of regular self-examination, clinical breast exams, and early detection. This program is particularly important in getting clients to change their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors about regularly performing a breast self-exam and screening mammograms.

Dr. Lynn B. Rosenstock, a volunteer physician at Samaritan House’s San Mateo Clinic, spoke recently about the breast care clinic and the importance of education about breast cancer.

Show your support for our Breast Care Clinic – Your donation helps provide education and screenings for women in need. Make your secure online donation today.

Community Collaborations at Safe Harbor Shelter

Staff at our annual Employee Appreciation Luncheon in January
Staff at our annual Employee Appreciation Luncheon in January (From Left – Kat, Eric, Precious, Laura, Salina, Gerald, Kenny, Cory, & Anje)

Samaritan House is committed to providing programs and services at Safe Harbor to meet the critical needs of those most at-risk in our community. As the 2013 San Mateo County Homeless Census and Survey illustrates, the problem of homelessness in our area continues to grow even as the local economy recovers.

Since 2011, the number of individuals living without shelter has risen 12%, according to a report released by the county’s human services agency. (view the report here) The January census counted 1,298 people living on county streets, inside vehicles or in makeshift encampments. That’s 136 more people than the 1,162 tallied just two years ago.

Sign-(web)It is this need for emergency shelter and transitional support that make the need for our Safe Harbor Shelter so profound.

Samaritan House is truly an organization of Neighbor Helping Neighbor, and we could not operate without our community’s support. We appreciate the partnerships and relationships we share with the many faith-based organizations, professional associations, schools, clubs, government, and community organizations who generously provide donations and volunteer in our shelter throughout the year.

A number of organizations and businesses have donated their time, talents, and resources to our shelter in the past year:

• The County of San Mateo’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services continues to provide weekly intake assessments and ongoing case management services for Safe Harbor clients.

• Safe Harbor clients receive free, weekly, on- site dental services from the Mobile Dental Clinic run by the San Mateo Medical Center.

• The Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County conducts once-a-month sessions educating clients about various public health and assistance programs.

• Around the holidays this past year, several local organizations – including First Presbyterian Church, Millbrae Bible Church, Lion’s Club, the South City Fire Department, and United Airlines – held special events and conducted drives to benefit the shelter.

Are you or your community service group interested in volunteering or organizing a donation drive for our shelter? Please contact us to see how we can assist. With your help, we can continue to provide a safe and supportive environment where our shelter residents can focus on building brighter futures.

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.

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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!

Dinner at the Westside Church

According to a report by Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business and Second Harvest Food Bank, 1 in 4 individuals in San Mateo County is at-risk for hunger. This figure is higher than the national average of 1 in 6. (San Mateo County Hunger Index).

Our dining room located in downtown San Mateo is our attempt to address the missing meals that confront families in our area. In this video, our Dining Hall Manager, Mario Cousenes, talks about who visits our dining hall and what this service means to the individuals he sees every week.

Your donations make a difference! A contribution of $100 will provide 35 meals for families in need at our dining room. Make your secure online donation today.  

Asha’s Story: “Samaritan House was the lifeboat that saved me”

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Asha * never envisioned being on public assistance and seeking help for her family prior to coming through the doors of Samaritan House. Everything changed for her last year when, at the age of 58, she was laid-off from the banking job she had had for over a decade.

Residents of the Peninsula for almost 30 years, Asha and her husband immigrated to the U.S. from India in the 1980s. After a series of unforeseen circumstances, suddenly her family was faced with the decision of whether or not they could afford to keep living in the area that had called home for so many years.

“It was like being in an avalanche happening in slow motion,” Asha explains of the financial situation that she and her family found themselves in just a few months ago. Her husband experienced a back injury many years ago which rendered him unable to work, and he does not qualify for disability. Her daughter, who just graduated from college in India and moved back to the U.S. to live with her parents, is also struggling to find employment in a challenging job market for new grads. Asha was receiving unemployment and continuing to look for work when both she and her husband suffered health issues, which saddled them with medical debt.

Asha was always an exemplary employee, and before being let go of her previous job, she received several awards from her work for outstanding performance and sales. After she was laid off, she found herself struggling to find another job in the banking industry, despite her years of experience. Asha feels her age was held against her in many situations, and she became discouraged and very depressed.

“There were nights where I lay awake until 3 in the morning, going over in my head bills that were due and trying to figure out how we were going to make it through to the next month,” Asha recalls. Then, for the first time in their lives, she and her husband were late paying their rent. Having no family to turn to for assistance and having exhausted their resources, a friend mentioned that they should visit Samaritan House to look for help.

Asha came to Samaritan House reaching for a lifeline to get them through a troubled time. “The first time I met with my case manager, Julio, I was going through the worst time in my life,” Asha explains. “During our first meeting, Julio talked to me and put me at ease. I was no longer filled with dread, and I found myself feeling hopeful for the first time in months.” After Julio evaluated her case and assessed her income and expenses, Asha was given rental assistance and vouchers for Samaritan House’s food pantry for the next two months to help stabilize her family’s financial situation.

She and her husband also gave up their car several years ago to cut costs, but this left Asha relying on public transportation to get to and from job interviews. Unable to afford this expense, her case manager was also able to provide Asha with bus passes, which Asha said was invaluable in helping her find her current job.

Things are much brighter now for Asha, and she is proud to report that she received a job offer and began working as a customer service representative at a local bank in April. She and her husband continue to pay-off medical debt and look for ways to improve their financial situation, but she talks of feeling far more optimistic about their future and their ability to stay in the area, which they have called home for so long.

Asha feels an undying gratitude for everything that Samaritan House provided her family during the most challenging time of their lives. As Asha states, more than just the tangible support from Samaritan House, the kind and supportive words and listening ear from her case manager Julio touched her heart and gave her hope.

In the future, Asha says she would like to be able to give back to Samaritan House by volunteering there. “I always tell people that one day I want to be able to become a major donor! I can’t thank them enough for all they did for us.” As Asha explains, “…at the time, I felt like we were surrounded by sharks. Samaritan House was the lifeboat that helped save me and my family.”

*At the request of our client, the above name has been changed in order to maintain confidentiality.