Artists in Residence

work by Willie

By Safe Harbor Shelter Clinical Case Manager, Julia Parmer

I was in my office, trying to seize on a small window of opportunity to tackle a pile of paperwork, when a client came running through my door. “Julia! You have to see this. Willie built an easel!” I knew, or rather, I had heard, that my client Willie was an artist. A likeness of Janet Jackson, almost eerie in its uncanny resemblance to the pop star, had floated for many years from office to office at Safe Harbor, left long ago by Willie after a previous shelter stay. But I had never seen his current work, nor had I seen him in action. I went outside where, indeed, Willie had, using two chairs, some posterboard, and other odds and ends, fashioned himself a makeshift easel and was hard at work, charcoal pen in cramped, blackened hand. I joined the gathered group of spectators who stood in silence, eagerly watching as Willie put pen to paper and the shape of a face began to form.

We soon decided to move Willie’s art supplies upstairs into our second floor Learning Center; a new room at the shelter, designated for onsite programming. In this room, we offer a host of courses for our residents, such as financial literacy classes and resume workshops. These classes are meant to help our residents make the most productive use of their time at the shelter; to further assist them in their goals of self-sufficiency, employment, and permanent housing. But this room also serves a second, and equally important purpose; to build life skills, to expand creative abilities, strengthen social emotional and physical well-being. To that end, we’ve offered yoga, nutrition, color therapy, arts and crafts, knitting, and, of late, Willie’s fine arts studio.

Artists in Residence by Julia Parmer 061517 3

In March, one of our staff members started a weekly women’s group in that same Learning Center. The group is not therapy; it’s a safe space to explore and navigate the challenges of living in a shelter as a woman, as well as a place for women to express their creative sides. Recently, they put together vision boards; empowering artistic collages to express ones’ dreams, goals, and hopes for the future. They made these using simple materials that we’ve had donated; old magazines, colored markers, stickers. The results were extraordinary. Sometimes I leave work feeling powerless, nearly hopeless at the homeless situation in our County. How is it, I thought to myself, as I looked at each finely crafted board, that our residents, despite the hardships, the heartache, the struggles, were able to draw on such inner strength and creativity to produce such things of beauty? And why is it that I ever doubted they could?

Earlier this year, a formArtists in Residence by Julia Parmer 061517 2er client emailed me to ask for a recommendation letter as she was putting together an application for an MFA program in creative writing. I had not seen this client since she left the shelter more than two years ago, but she felt that it was during her time at Safe Harbor that she experienced the personal and artistic growth to propel her to reach for this long-held dream of hers to go back to graduate school. I was deeply moved that she had found her experience at the shelter to be so transformative, and, more importantly, that she was taking these brave steps (at the age of 50 no less) to fulfill this goal of pursuing a career and a life in the creative arts.

So often I am surprised by the imagination and the thirst for knowledge that I witness on a regular basis at work. We’ve had guitarists, sculptor, painters, writers; so many creative and capable individuals. It is so easy to stigmatize that which we don’t know or which we fear. The concept of homelessness, of a homeless shelter, does not necessarily immediately lend itself to the notion of the creative arts. So we make assumptions and snap judgements, as we are naturally all prone to do.

But on that day, watching Willie begin to sketch out a future masterpiece in the front parking lot of our 90 bed facility, surrounded by his fellow residents, I had to simply take a moment to reflect and to remind myself that there is so much beauty in the world, if only we open our eyes to it.

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charcoal on paper works by Willie

Health Partner Profile: Dr. Diana Baker, California Advanced Imaging Medical Associates


Dr. Diana Baker_2

Samaritan House Director of Development, Mary Dunbar, recently sat down with Dr. Diana Baker of California Advanced Imaging Medical Associates (CAIMA) to talk about CAIMA’s commitment to the health and well-being of our neighbors in need. CAIMA donates upwards of $90,000 worth of imaging services to Samaritan House each year, so that the volunteer doctors at our two free healthcare clinics have the tools they need to adequately diagnose and treat the patients in their care.

Mary Dunbar: Diana, I’m so glad that you’re here.
Dr. Diana Baker: Thank you for having me.
MD: Tell us a bit about CAIMA and how long have you been partnering with Samaritan House?
DB: I’m a partner at California Advanced Imaging Medical Associates, which is a group of radiologists in the Bay Area. We work with several hospitals in the Bay Area including Mills-Peninsula Medical Center, San Mateo Medical Center and Sequoia Hospital among others! Between Mills-Peninsula and Sequoia Hospitals, we donate $90,000 of professional services to Samaritan House each year. We’ve been working with Samaritan House and donating free professional services for as long as any of us can remember, it’s probably close to 25 years.

Our Samaritan house patients are seen during our regular hours, alongside all of our other patients. The Samaritan House clinician orders whatever imaging study they feel is important for that particular patient’s care, whether that is a chest X-ray, CT scan, MRI, ultrasound etc. The professional services for that exam is then donated by us for free.  Each of us participates.

MD: Wow. First of all, that’s incredibly generous. Thank you.
DB: It’s our pleasure.
MD: The partnership with the CAIMA doctors is so important, because radiology alone is quite a major expense when you think about it.
DB: It is so important for people to be able to get the imaging studies that they need, whatever they may be. Imaging studies are expensive but they can be incredibly important.
MD: I heard a story that the doctors at CAIMA were donating the pro bono services and it comes out their bonuses, is that true?
DB: It does come out of our personal salary which includes bonuses. We split it evenly among the partners.
MD: That’s incredibly generous when you think about how it impacts the doctors financially. That makes it an even more special and unique gift to the community.
DB: Certainly, and we are thrilled to do it. We all live in this community. We all are really happy to help and it is a valuable service that we can uniquely provide.
MD: Your expertise is obviously something that’s highly needed. Have you had any personal experiences with the Samaritan House patients you see? Is there one story that stands out?
DB: Several Samaritan House patients come to mind! I remember a few years ago there was a patient who had been experiencing episodes of severe abdominal pain for several months but had not had the time to see a doctor. The episodes were so severe that she was often unable to work. She finally sought care at the Samaritan House, and the clinician ordered an abdominal ultrasound.  We found that she had gallstones and had even developed a serious complication from them.  She had surgery and has fully recovered!
MD: What inspired you to get into radiology?
DB: In medical school, at first, I thought I wanted to be a surgeon, and I did a lot of surgical rotations and research. I found myself in every single one of those rotations most interested in going down to the Radiology department and looking at the patients’ images.   I realized “wow, when I am working in OB/GYN I’m most interested in looking at the ultrasound pictures. When I do surgery I’m most interested in looking at the CT …“ That is how my interest in radiology began.  I signed up for radiology rotations and fell in love with it!

The other thing I love about radiology is that we see everything. We can help to diagnose a brain tumor one minute and the next moment we may be looking at an ultrasound of an unborn baby to be sure that is developing normally. The following day we may be reading mammograms. We are involved with every aspect of healthcare from beginning to end, and I love that. I love the images. I’m a visual person.

MD: Oh, that’s great. So it’s not just about diagnosing people with illness. It’s also about preventative care.
DB: That’s right. Much of what we do is preventative care.  A great example is screening mammography.  I also love developing relationships and interacting with patients. Many people think that radiologists sit behind a computer screen and never see patients! People are surprised to hear that we perform many of the exams ourselves, including breast ultrasound and interventional procedures such as biopsies, etc.
MD: Great, so you get a little bit of both. Just out of curiosity, how do you learn to become a doctor of radiology? You go through medical school like everybody else, but what’s the actual specialty?
DB: You do medical school which is four years and then you do a one year internship, typically in internal medicine, or surgery. That is followed by four more years of dedicated radiology, including night and weekend call.  In our group we have all also done an additional one or two year fellowship to specialize within the field of Radiology. Fellowships might be in Neuroradiology, Body Imaging, Breast Imaging, Ultrasound etc. My fellowship was in Ultrasound.
MD: Do you sometimes feel a bit like an investigator or a detective?
DB: Absolutely. Every day and every patient is different too, so you start looking at a case you never know what you’re going to find. It’s interesting. It’s never boring.
MD: Were you raised here on the Peninsula?
DB: No. I’m from North Carolina and I came out here when I was 17 to go to Stanford.
MD: Wow, 17!
DB: I came here and fell in love with the Bay Area. I went to Stanford for undergrad and I got a master’s degree there, stayed for medical school, and then I went to UCSF for residency and fellowship. I settled between the two in San Mateo at Mills-Peninsula with California Advanced Imaging, so here I am.
MD: That’s great. After you did your residency at UCSF and your fellowship, where did you go?
DB: Straight to work with CAIMA! This was my first job out of fellowship and I have been here for 14 years!
  Personally, I know all of us, including myself, have roles that we play in our community outside of work. I work with my daughter with National Charity League and I work with my son with Young Men’s Service League, outside of my professional world. The CAIMA radiologists do a lot of community service outside of donating our professional services, each one of us in our own way.
MD: You mentioned that you were here for something to do with a drive of some kind?
DB: Yes! My daughter and her friends got together and did a coat drive years ago. We collected coats and brought them all in. We then toured the facility and were amazed. It’s I think incredible for our kids to see what is happening in our community and to help.
MD: That’s powerful.
DB: All of us at CAIMA try to serve our community outside of work as well. Personally, I have three children who are 11, 13 and 15 years old. We are very involved in National Charity League and Young Men’s Service League. In fact, I am the incoming VP of Philanthropy for our National Charity League chapter. Of course, the kids also have their own schoolwork, sports and activities and I love to exercise and read in my spare time.
MD: That’s a lot. I don’t know how you manage that.
DB: It’s busy. It’s very busy but it’s fun.
MD: That’s good. But do you sleep?
DB: Yes, sleep is so important!
MD: It is! I don’t know if you’re aware, but both NCL and YMSL are both huge supporters of Samaritan House.
DB: Yes, we are so thankful for this partnership and absolutely love working with Samaritan House
MD: What inspired you to be so civic minded and philanthropic?
DB: I have always been involved in community service and I feel it is so important for young people to give back and serve their community. I wanted to share those experiences with my kids. I personally found it difficult as a working parent.  That is why I am so happy to be able to donate my professional services to Samaritan House.  Also, working with NCL and YMSL with my kids has been a wonderful and meaningful experience.
MD: And so you get to do a little bit of everything.
DB: Yes. I try to get the kids involved in many different kinds of community service. I hope they will develop a lifelong commitment to our community.
MD: Wow, that’s neat. You truly are a community leader then, leading by example for your children.
DB: It’s happened organically, just as a result of wanting them to get involved.
MD: Is there anything else that you’d like to share about CAIMA, your group, and the good works that you do in the community, about your practice?
DB: California Advanced Imaging like I said before is separated into divisions at different hospitals in the Bay Area. Each division is like a family. It’s nice for us to, as a family, feel like we’re helping and doing things for our own community. We’re a very close knit group of equal partners, so for us it’s definitely a community within a community.
MD: After learning more about what you do for the community, I think you qualify as one of our health heroes.
DB: Thank you. I think I can speak for my partners at CAIMA when I say that we really value our relationship with our Samaritan House patients and are so happy that we can contribute our specialized expertise!
MD: And your superpower is radiology.
DB: Ha! Thank you!

Health Partner Profile – John Skerry, M.D., Physician in Chief, Kaiser Permanente, South San Francisco Medical Center With Mary Dunbar


Over the past few months, Samaritan House has been featuring our Healthcare partners as we approach The Main Event on March 24, 2017 – Health Heroes Unmasked, What’s Your Super Power? We hope you will join us to celebrate volunteer physicians, dentists, nurses and other volunteers who have kept our Free Clinics in operation for decades. It is through their individual and collective support that tens of thousands of uninsured, low income patients have received quality, primary and specialty healthcare.

Mary Dunbar: Samaritan House is grateful for the years of support from Kaiser Permanente and for all the volunteer physicians who’ve supported our Free Clinics. How did you first become involved with us?

Dr. John Skerry: Each year our medical staff gathers to plan and prepare for the coming year. When I became Physician in Chief here five years ago, I decided I wanted to devote a chunk of that time towards getting our doctors out into the community. Now we spend time each year doing volunteer activities within the community. It was our anesthesia department that got involved in serving meals at Safe Harbor Shelter.

JS:  We also come together every March to celebrate National Physicians Day and I realized that we would get these little tchotchkes to recognize our doctors and I couldn’t believe how much money we were spending on them. Now, instead of buying tchotchkes, we make a donation to an organization where our doctors are volunteering. And so, Fan Xie, Jamila Champsi, Jerry Saliman, and Sid Rosenburg, both active and retired, were working at Samaritan House. So, we honored their work by making a donation.

JS: That’s where I think it also dovetailed nicely with the fact that we’ve been a partner with Samaritan House for several years now. It’s part of our mission. We’re trying to improve the health of the communities in which we live and work. Sometimes it’s volunteering using your own clinical skills, however, I was just as pleased when our anesthesia department went and served meals at Safe Harbor because it gets us out in the community. I’m no longer operating, but as an ophthalmologist by training, I went on several medical missions to Guatemala. As satisfying as practice is when you’re doing it as a part of your career, when you get in the places where you’re actually really doing it out of the goodness of your heart, boy, it gives back tenfold.

MD: Tell me about some of the partnerships that Kaiser is really proud of in this community?

JS:  Healthy eating is one area where we partner; we work with the Food Bank and others. We have our farmer’s market every week. And we focus on getting people active because, again, obesity is one of the big risks in San Mateo County. Our pediatricians are great about getting out in the community providing education. If our goal is to try to improve the health of the communities in which we serve, Samaritan House is the epitome of the kind of causes we like to support.

MD: What inspired Kaiser to start offering farmer’s markets?

JS: Again, it dovetails entirely with our ethic about keeping people healthy and intervening when they’re ill…it started in Oakland and stemmed from the passion of one physician, Dr. Preston Maring. He realized the Oakland Medical Center was located in a food desert so he started a farmer’s market. That idea just spread like wildfire. Now we have farmer’s markets at virtually every medical center. The markets allow local growers to participate, and since medical centers tend to be busy places, you’re pretty much guaranteed good foot traffic. It’s worked out really well.

MD: What was your first inspiration to become a doctor?

JS: Here’s a funny story…I’m the youngest of four boys, Jim, Jay, Jeff, and John. And Jim’s an engineer, Jay is a lawyer, Jeff is an accountant, and I became a doctor. My dad said he wanted to buy land in Maine and start his own town. Right? He’d have all the professions covered.

MD: That’s funny! How’d you choose Ophthalmology? Ophthalmology is very specific.

JS: I always had an interest in medicine and then, interestingly, I thought I was going to be an internist or a neurologist but then, when I did my surgery rotation, I realized I liked surgery. So, then I did an ophthalmology rotation and it appealed to my attention for detail. I liked the precision of eye surgery. It’s been incredibly satisfying.

MD: When did you begin your career at Kaiser Permanente?

JS: Quite frankly, I sort of stumbled into The Permanente Medical Group – it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s an amazing group. I had grown up in the east coast, didn’t know much about Kaiser Permanente or The Permanente Medial Group. I took the job partly because it was an area of the country I wanted to live…The longer I’m here the more I’m impressed, you know? It’s been 23 years now as of December 2016, all of it at Kaiser, and all of it in South San Francisco.

MD: What do you think is unique and special about Kaiser’s South San Francisco Medical Center versus other Bay Area medical centers?

JS: There’s so many ways in which we’re unique, but I think one of the ways we really are different is that it truly is a group practice. The sense of collegiality is just amazing. It’s not something you necessarily get in every practice. What really does impress is our self-perception is that we are a local, community hospital. However, when you look at our performance, we match up against any hospital in the United States, if not the world. No joke. When you look at the rest of the nation, if someone has hypertension there’s about a 50/50 chance that it’s under control. But because of some of the leadership in this medical center, people like Dr. Mark Jaffe, we’ve embarked on a regional program to improve hypertension control. While the rest of the country is controlling hypertension at about 50%, within Kaiser Permanente Northern California it’s 85-86% controlled, that’s a huge difference. Here in South San Francisco, it’s closer to 90%. If you stacked up every medical center in the United States, you would not find many medical centers that control hypertension at a 90% rate.  I think what it shows is the power of group practice. There’s almost nothing that we accomplish based upon the heroics of any one person.

JS: Virtually everything we do is a team effort. Modern medicine is a team sport. A surgeon, Atul Gawande, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a writer for The New Yorker authored a great article a couple years ago about medicine moving from cowboys to pit crews. It’s a big adjustment for a lot of doctors. And we’ve had pit crews all along. That’s the secret sauce for us.

MD: In your role as Physician in Chief, you’re leading teams of doctors. What does it mean to you to have your peers acknowledge and recognize you by putting you in this role?

JS: I sometimes call myself the accidental Physician in Chief, because this wasn’t the role that I was really looking for. I joined the group and I was a general ophthalmologist and I think I did a good job at that, and then I became the chief of the ophthalmology department, and again, it wasn’t something I was necessarily prepared for but I really enjoyed it. It was great fun to see things change, to see things improve. The person who was in the role before me, Michelle Caughey, who is a great mentor to me, asked me if I wanted to become one of her assistants, and I did. Thinking that was probably as far as I was going to go with it, Michelle got promoted, the opportunity arose, it was now or never, and so I threw my hat in the ring. I was just fortunate enough to have people think well enough of me that I became the Physician in Chief. That’s what I’ve just loved about my career here is the sense that I’ve been here 23 years, yes, I’ve been an ophthalmologist, but I’ve had five different careers within that time.

MD: Thank you for sharing your story with me, Dr. Skerry. We hope you’ll join us for The Main Event this year so that we can recognize you and your colleagues for being our Health Heroes!

Dr. John Skerry received his undergraduate degree (Phi Beta Kappa, Magna cum Laude) from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and his medical degree (Alpha Omega Alpha) from Weill-Cornell Medical College in New York, New York. He completed his Ophthalmology residency training at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. He is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and is the Physician in Chief at Kaiser Permanente, South San Francisco Medical Center in South San Francisco, California.


Health Heroes: Keeping People Well

Laura BlackwellLaura Blackwell is a nurse practitioner at the Samaritan House Redwood City Free Clinic, and one of the many Health Heroes you will see if you come in to visit us there. She had originally worked as a hospital nurse, and changed paths out of a desire to work with patients long-term, in a more relaxed setting.

“Samaritan House gives me an opportunity to see patients, keep my skills, and I really enjoy it, so I continue to volunteer here over the years.”

One of the advantages of working with recurring patients is that it provides the opportunity to teach patients how to improve their diet, exercise regime, and self-care. She asks patients about the choices they make, and delights in witnessing improvements in diet, fitness, and weight loss. Medical providers usually have to have these conversations in the doctor’s office, in a removed setting away from delicious but unhealthy foods that may be tempting their patients. It’s one thing to say you will choose broccoli over cake, it’s another to remember that at a family gathering surrounded by your favorite foods. This isn’t the case at the Redwood City Free Clinic.

Laura had an opportunity to see these choices in action at a potluck thrown by the clinic. She noticed that following the year in which staff particularly stressed nutritional education, patients brought healthier foods, like vegetarian options and salads to the event. “You could see that people had incorporated this into their life, and you could see the example with things they brought in the following year.”

This type of prevention and education is necessary for long-term improvements in people’s health. In Laura’s words, “This is why the clinic is so crucial. By keeping people well instead of having them end up in an emergency room situation where they’re very, very sick, we can treat them before their illness reaches a point where they require emergency care and keep them healthy. I think it’s very important that people have this place to go.”

Thank You for Your #GivingTuesday Support


Today is ThankYouWednesday!

Samaritan House extends a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who participated in GivingTuesday yesterday! We appreciate YOU, for freely dedicating your resources and time, and embodying the true meaning of the Holiday Season with a full heart – “giving”. YOU have made a tremendous impact, inspiring others to give not only on GivingTuesday, but throughout the entire year – for that, we can not thank you enough! 

If you weren’t able to participate yesterday, it’s not too late to take part! You can still give to Samaritan House in many different ways. To learn about ways you can contribute, visit:

However you choose to get involved, we can not express our gratitude, so thank you for supporting Samaritan House and your neighbors in need. Now, here’s the fun part – the results!


THE RESULTS ARE IN! Over 98 countries participated in this global day of giving with over $168 million raised. For more info about GivingTuesday, visit:,.


A Message from CEO, Bart Charlow


Dear friends,

Our clients are afraid and this election has made them even more so.

Believe me, it doesn’t matter whether you voted for or against rent control, housing or school bonds, one presidential candidate or another – or even voted at all! What matters is that you care for the people in our community who need us the most right now.

Mothers are afraid that they cannot feed their children dinner each night.  Fathers are afraid that, as they shuttle between 2 jobs to barely survive, they might be picked up and deported leaving their kids alone. Grandmothers are afraid of being on the street, because their long term apartment rent just skyrocketed, while their Social Security stayed flat again. Solo business owners are afraid that their health care will be cancelled, while they have serious ongoing illnesses to heal.

Those are their everyday fears, now made worse by the rhetoric, rancor and rumors generated during and following this election.

You are reading this because somewhere along the line you demonstrated that you care about our community, whether it has been as a donor, a supporter, a volunteer, a board or staff member.

Please continue to care about and for them. Please remember that, as you see them in person or in your mind, their fears have merit and they need our help to survive and thrive again. Please remember to treat their worries with kindness and understanding. That is why we are here at Samaritan House.

They come to us for help, and at least as importantly, they come to us for hope.

Remember that those working the food line with you, those to whom you hand clothes at Kids Closet, that worker you employ at the Worker Resource Center – and ALL the people around you doing the same thing – are our neighbors. We have to keep being good neighbors in order for our own lives to remain livable.

Bart Charlow, Chief Executive Officer BIO   EMAIL
Bart Charlow, Chief Executive Officer BIO EMAIL

I always say that Samaritan House is the “Great Heart of a Great Community.” Prove me right!

Your friend and neighbor,

Bart Charlow

Ruby Kaho Honored with a Jefferson Award


Our own “magic chef”, Ruby Kaho, is being honored with a Jefferson Foundation Award this month!


Ruby is being recognized for all the amazing work that she does, not just through Samaritan House, but also in our community. She is widely known by our volunteers, all over our food rescue operations with the grocery chains, by the many centers for kids and seniors who enjoy her cooking, as well as being loved and respected in her own Pacific Islander community.

This is personally very gratifying for her, as Ruby joins her and our good friend John Kelly, who was honored several years ago. Ruby and John are very close, see each other daily, and John was thrilled to have her recognized in this way.

KPIX television, as part of their sponsorship of the Jefferson Awards in the Bay Area, has created a video of Ruby at work for public viewing. Her interview will also be aired on KCBS Radio and on all CBS Radio stations in our region, including Alice, Live 105, and 997 Now. They will have a viewable version on their website as well.

For your enjoyment (and we do hope you will share this with all your friends) here is the schedule of air dates and times:

KPIX Channel 5:

  • Oct. 26 on the KPIX 5 News at 6 p.m.
  • Oct 27 on the KPIX 5 News at Noon
  • Sun . Oct. 30 on the KPIX 5 News at 7:30 a.m.

All News 106.9 FM & KCBS 740 AM

  • Oct. 26 at 6:50 p.m., 9:40 p.m., 11:50 p.m.
  • Oct. 30 at 11:50 a.m., 3:50 p.m.

CBS Radio stations – Alice 97.3 FM, Live 105.3 FM, 997 Now 99.7 FM

  • Oct. 30 at 6 a.m.


My New Red Shoes


It’s October, which means that all of the kiddos have gone back to school in the Bay Area. A new school year usually means new clothes and shoes, but for many of our neighbors, this can be a challenge financially. In fact, a lack of adequate shoes and clothing is the biggest barrier to school attendance, performance and engagement. Samaritan House is grateful to partner with My New Red Shoes on their Clothing for Confidence Program to help low-income children in our community feel good on their first day of school.

Thanks to this program, Samaritan House’s littlest clients received a new pair of shoes and a $50 gift card to a major clothing store. This year, we were able to give out more than 150 pairs of shoes and gift cards to help our children start the school year off right.  Thank you My New Red Shoes!

Vernon’s Story

Vernon is a hardworking, responsible man, who works as a ramp attendant at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and lived in a room he rented at the Christie Hotel in South San Francisco. His world fell apart when the building he lived in went up in flames during an electrical fire. Everything he owned was destroyed by the fire. With no place to go and nothing but the clothes on his back, Vernon was thankful to be alive, but he knew he needed help.

Homelessness was a new concept for Vernon. He had always had a steady job and income, but the financial losses from the fire quickly rendered him without any savings. In partnership with local agencies, Samaritan House was able to place Vernon and other victims displaced by the fire at Safe Harbor Shelter.

Vernon lived at Safe Harbor for six  months while he continued to work and save money to find a new home and to provide financial support for his son who lives with his mother in New York.  Vernon says that of all the things he’s proud of in his life, his son is first among them.

Last month, Vernon’s case manager recommended him for a three year housing subsidy through the San Mateo County Housing Authority. The subsidy was quickly awarded and, with the help of his case manager, he was able to find an apartment he could afford.

He received financial support from Samaritan House for his move-in costs, and he recently received the keys to his new home. On Labor Day weekend, Vernon was filled with pride when his son flew out to visit him and stay with him in his new apartment.  They cooked together, visited the sights of the city and had wonderful time. With a renewed sense of optimism, Vernon is confident that, his future is going to be a bright one!