Family Harvest – April 2016 (Revised)

Let’s face it, the food we eat affects us in almost every aspect of our lives. For children, a healthy diet is even more important. Their food correlates not only to their health, but to their development and learning, overall happiness and ability to thrive.

For that reason, on the 3rd Friday of each month, Samaritan House hands out fresh food at Family Harvest food distributions in front of Shoreview Methodist Church. “April’s Harvest was wonderful. Nearly 80 families walked away with 120lbs. of food,” says Robyn Fischer, Client Services Manager. “There are so many parents who tell me this food has changed their family’s lives. They’re seeing their children become not only healthier, but happier people too.”

Samaritan House is thrilled to partner with Second Harvest Food Bank to make these types of wonderful programs available to low-income residents. In San Mateo County alone, more than 29,213 children live in food insecure households, according to a study by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health. These children lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

Family Harvests are dedicated to families with small children and adult children under the age of 26 who are still living at home. New families are welcome to register. Please call Samaritan House’s Client Services Office at (650) 347-3648 for more information.

*Correction: An earlier version of this story had misinformation about the details of Family Harvest and Produce Mobile distributions. This has been corrected.

Worker Resource Center Participates in 2015 California Coastal Cleanup Day!


To help keep the Bay Area’s stretch of the coastline clean, a few of the hard workers from our Worker Resource Center participated in the 2015 California Coastal Cleanup Day!

The guys loved representing the Samaritan House Team and they were happy to pitch in for California Coastal Cleanup Day. The cleanup and restoration activities happened in San Francisco, Marin, and Pacifica.

Together we can keep our parks, neighborhoods, and shorelines clean, safe, and healthy for everyone.

About the Worker Resource Center:

Samaritan House’s Worker Resource Center is a collaboration of Samaritan House and the City of San Mateo. It provides a safe and legitimate location for day laborers and potential employers to meet. Workers are encouraged to participate in ESL classes and are offered nutritious food to prepare them for their day of work. For more information, visit

About California Coastal Cleanup Day:

California Coastal Cleanup Day is one of the nation’s premier volunteer events dedicated to the marine environment. For more information, visit the official website for California Coastal Cleanup Day.



Beyond Compassion Weekend


The 9th annual Beyond Compassion Weekend at our Redwood City Free Clinic was a huge success! Volunteers from the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church (MPPC) join our team at the clinic to help provide medical & dental services to members of the community in need.

MPPC’s goal for compassion weekend is to extend the good feelings from serving others throughout the year. Here are a few suggestions from MPPC to help you move towards a lifetime of giving:

  1. Be a Regular
    Eat and have coffee at the same places each week. Get to know the staff by name. Ask questions and listen to their stories. Tip generously. Hold meetings and celebrations in those places.
  2. Be a Neighbor
    Take a walk around your neighborhood at the same time each day and get to know your neighbors. Welcome the newcomers. Hang out often in your front yard or front porch. Organize neighborhood get-togethers.
  3. Be a Servant
    Find a place to volunteer regularly in the community at Keep a supply of food gift cards or bus tokens for the homeless folks you encounter. Help elderly and disabled neighbors.
  4. Be an Inviter
    Be on the lookout for people who are a good fit for where you volunteer, and invite them to join you. Get neighbors and co-workers involved in the ministries you serve by organizing food, clothing, or book drives.

Thank you to everyone who took part in serving at Compassion Weekend 2015! Your gift of time and energy was a tremendous blessing to others that will carry on throughout the year.

A-Lot to be Thankful For

As part of our Holiday Program, this year Samaritan House celebrated Thanksgiving at the King Center with a delicious, traditional holiday meal and a cheerful place for people to go.  Staff and a plethora of volunteers spent the day serving dinners to over 300 members of the San Mateo community and handing out an additional 100 takeout meals.  Even more, Samaritan House served Thanksgiving dinner for 40 at St. Matthew’s Hotel, a subsidized hotel for low income and disabled folks.

Volunteers spent the morning decorating tables with seasonal flowers donated by local markets and they festooned the walls with posters and paper turkeys made by school children. Then, people sat down to a hot meal of turkey, ham, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, stuffing, rolls and pie.

Samaritan House’s Dining Room Manager,  Mario Cousenses spoke with one family of five at the Thanksgiving dinner who had just arrived from Mexico about a month ago. “They don’t have a steady home or steady jobs yet but they found out about the free Thanksgiving Dinner through the Worker Resource Center (WRC). They were very grateful to have a happy place to go,” says Cousenses. The WRC is another Samaritan House program that offers a safe location for temporary laborers and employers to meet for work.

After the community dinner wrapped, Ruby Kaho-the Kitchen Manager at Samaritan House, personally delivered meals to her church and to the homes of people who couldn’t make it out to the event. The bustling Samaritan House Kitchen provides over 145,000 meals every year and they feed well over 3,000 hungry people every month, many of whom are children. Our kitchen, pantry and dining services fill the gap between the need for nutrition and the ability people need to thrive and move forward.

Meet Bart Charlow, Samaritan House’s New CEO

bart-pic-smThe Board of Directors of Samaritan House are pleased to announce the appointment of Bart Charlow as the agency’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) effective June 1, 2014. Mr. Charlow will attend and meet with Samaritan House’s supporters and guests at the agency’s annual fundraiser dinner, The Main Event, on Saturday, May 3, 2014.

Charlow is a seasoned health and human services CEO, who manages and consults in nonprofit, business, health care and human relations markets. He is also a practicing Licensed Marriage, Family & Child Therapist and currently serves as the Executive Director of Peninsula Volunteers in Menlo Park.

Samaritan House’s appointment of Charlow concludes a year-long search to fill the executive director position vacated by Kitty Lopez in May of 2013.

“After a national search of formidable candidates,” says Patty Hsiu, Samaritan House Board Chair, “Bart emerged as our next leader because of his extensive experience and his work in various nonprofit roles in our community over the last 30 years. He is an established local leader, an effective organizational builder, and a strategic and innovative thinker. As we celebrate Samaritan House’s 40th anniversary in 2014, Bart is ideally suited to lead our agency forward as we continue to provide comprehensive support to those in need.”

“Samaritan House is the great heart of a great community,” Charlow shares of his new position. “I’m thrilled to join this vital organization and humbled to be chosen to lead it into its fifth decade of service. As the gap widens between the privileged and the poor, Samaritan House is needed more than ever. I hope that those who have made the organization so effective – and any who want to help – will join with us in making a difference here in our community.”

In Charlow’s 39 years as a San Francisco Bay Area executive, he has held posts at several Bay Area nonprofit organizations: CEO of Easter Seals Bay Area, CEO of Adult & Child Guidance Center, President of Silicon Valley FACES (former Northern California National Conference for Community & Justice), and Executive Director of Peninsula Volunteers. He has also served as Interim Executive Director for several organizations, including: Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Coastside Children’s Programs, and Loaves & Fishes of Contra Costa. He has been an Instructor for the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospitals, St. Mary’s College, and at Notre Dame de Namur University.

Charlow has been a member or officer of numerous community boards and commissions. In 2007, he received the Award of Special Merit from the Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission for his Interfaith work.

Charlow holds an M.A.Ed in Counseling and a B.A. in Anthropology/Sociology from Wake Forest University. Over the course of his career, he has been quoted in Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and interviewed on the NBC Today Show.


Meet Bart Charlow at this year’s Main Event – May 3, 2014. Purchase your tickets for the event today!



Join us for SV Gives – May 6th


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!


Thank you, VITA Volunteers!

Tax Program Collage

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:

Diabetes Care Days at Redwood City Clinic

Pauline Chau, RD, CDE, a volunteer from Sequoia Hospital, speaks with one of our patients about the importance of nutrition as an essential component to diabetes management during one of our Diabetes Care Days.

Did you know: Uninsured individuals with diabetes have 79% fewer physician office visits, but also have 55% more emergency department visits than diabetic individuals who have insurance? (Source: American Diabetes Association)

It is for reasons such as these that Samaritan House is excited to begin offering monthly ‘Diabetes Care Days’ at our Redwood City Clinic. This exciting new program will help empower our patients with the self-management tools and educational resources they need to prevent and control a variety of diabetic issues.

“I love volunteering with Samaritan House because I get to spend more time talking with my patients. I enjoy being able to give individuals my full attention and help them with their issues.” Laura Blackwell, RN, FNP – El Camino Hospital.

At a special weekend clinic event in January, diabetic patients were screened for complications, provided with medications, and given flu vaccinations. Because individuals with diabetes are more prone to foot problems, a screening station was set up to identify potential issues and instruct patients about how to keep their feet healthy.

Educational classes were also provided by a volunteer dietitian from Sequoia Hospital, who provided one-on-one counseling about what to look for on food labels, how to plan meals, and how to exercise proper portion control.

Samaritan House patient Jeanine Ortiz was one of the individuals taking part in the nutrition classes offered that day. According to Jeanine, she came to Redwood City Clinic a few years ago for help maintaining her high blood pressure, but was informed during her initial visit that she was exhibiting elevated glucose levels and was at-risk of developing diabetes.

“I had no idea that anything was wrong,” says Jeanine. “I was unemployed at the time and didn’t have the money to afford any extra medications, so I knew that I had to do whatever I could to avoid becoming diabetic.”

Fortunately, through weight loss and watching her diet, Jeanine has been able to maintain a normal glucose range. She feels great and is so thankful for the help she received from Samaritan House.

A special thank you to all of our program volunteers for helping provide these very necessary screenings and classes and to Stanford Hospital and Clinics for their financial support! As always, we also extend our sincere appreciation to the Sequoia Healthcare District, which over the past ten years has contributed more than $5 million dollars in support of our Redwood City Health Clinic, and has continued to help us serve a very vulnerable group of residents.

If you are a physician interested in volunteering with the Diabetes Care Program or in either of our medical clinics in San Mateo or Redwood City, please visit our volunteer page to see how you can help!



Holiday Program Highlights – 2013

2013 Holiday Highlights

With the help of our volunteers & donors, we were able to help over 1035 families have a brighter holiday season!

Some highlights to come out of the holiday program this past year:

FoodFood Distribution: special food distributions during November & December provided groceries – like fresh fruits & veggies, canned goods, hams and turkeys- to 3,894 individuals







Toy Shoppe: 1,422 children picked out stuffed animals, games, educational toy, and books that were donated from groups, service clubs, and individual donors from around the community






FamilyFamily Sharing Program: 110 family sharing program donors – including individuals, families, church and civic groups, businesses, Scout  and after school programs – provided food and gifts for 193 families and seniors





All of this was made possible with the caring and sharing of so many donors in our community and the 1,179 volunteers who came together to hand out toys, food, and help clients pick warm coats. Thank you to all those who support our holiday program every year!

Serra High School Padres Bring Christmas Cheer through the Adopt-a-Family Program


Every year, Samaritan House’s Adopt-a-Family program connects individuals, corporations, and community groups with local, low-income families for the holiday season. This year we were pleased to work with students and teachers at Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, connecting the group with 10 client families for the holidays as they purchases needed clothing, food, and toys for them.

Thank you to by Antonia Ehlers, Communications Manager at Serra High School, for sharing the following blog post with us!


Every December, twinkling lights transform neighborhoods, halls are decked and Christmas trees are adorned with ornaments. Excitement fills the air, as children and adults look forward to the traditional comforts of the Christmas season. However, not all families are able to enjoy the busy weeks leading up to Christmas. Money is tight. Parents are between jobs. Presents are few.

That’s why the Samaritan House Adopt-a-Family Program is so important – it supports families in need while showing them that the local community cares. This week, Serra students brought Christmas cheer to 10 San Mateo families.

“The entire school was involved,” noted Campus Ministry Christian Service Director Jackie Schroeder. “Upper division student government students collected gift cards, and lower division student government students collected cans. Campus Ministry organized the Kmart shopping trip, and many other students helped with food sorting and deliveries. It was a school-wide event.”

This year, Samaritan House’s Adopt-a-Family Program provided gifts, food and clothing to 190 local families during the holidays.

“We are so glad that the Serra boys partner with us to provide this wonderful holiday experience for the less fortunate in our community,” said Samaritan House Client Services Manager Robin Fischer.

Each year, Samaritan House assists more than 12,000 low-income residents in San Mateo County. The organization provides food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, worker resources and counseling services – all free of charge. In addition, Samaritan House volunteers deliver more than 145,000 nutritious meals and 14,000 bags of groceries to people in need.

“All the Serra guys who came together for Adopt-a-Family were really fun to work with,” said senior Alex Adamis. “This was my first year getting involved – it would have been great to start freshman year!”

Senior Ben Kusber agreed, “Adopt-a-Family provides an excellent opportunity to give. Being able to give gifts to those who are underprivileged is a great thing.”

In San Mateo County, one in 10 receives food assistance, and one in six is “food dependent,” meaning that he or she sometimes receives help.

“Adopt-a-Family is a fantastic way to get the entire school involved in a charitable act of giving at Christmastime,” Schroeder said. “The students really have fun with it, especially knowing that they are volunteering their time to families in need. The work involved with making this happen reminds us of the power of giving, and how the ripple effects can be felt by everyone.”