Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Volunteer Spotlight: Marco Rodriguez

Marco Rodriquez first heard about Family House through the Psychology Practicum class at the University of San Francisco. He joined Family House as the an Operations Volunteer Leader at 10th Ave and worked to maintain the garden areas to provide a peaceful and well kept areas for the families.

He was drawn to Family House as he had helped at UCSF by volunteering to pass out books and magazines to critically ill patients. Marco has also volunteered in the St. Anthony’s soup kitchen preparing fresh meals for clients needing their services.

Marco was successful at completing his summer project at Family House which was to restructure the irrigation system to ensure the flowers and plants received the correct amount of water all year long.  On a day-to-day basis Marco also helped our Operations team with house projects, manage volunteer groups and even has been able to utilize his Spanish speaking skills at Family House.

When Marco isn’t volunteering or working on school work he enjoys spending time reading at home, cooking delicious meals and swimming. Thank you Marco for all of your help this summer at Family House!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

Staff Spotlight: Paul Goold

Interview with Paul Goold, Director of Operations
How did you come to be at Family House?
My wife, Megan, was the Resident Manager here at Family House and that was in September of 1997 or 1998. Then in 2001 I became a Weekend Manager. And in 2002 I became the Resident Manager.
How has Family House changed since you first started?
When I first started, Megan and I were living in the manager’s unit at the 50 Irving Street house – we had only 10 bedrooms available for families, and at the time, this was the only building Family House had to work with. It was light and lean; a wonderful small nonprofit serving families primarily in the oncology department. We had three rooms for patients receiving chemotherapy, three rooms for bone marrow transplant patients, and three rooms for radiation patients. There was an unfortunate limitation of families served due to our limited resources. Then in 2002, when we opened the new house on 10th and Irving, we were able to help house the entire out-of-town pediatric oncology patient population. We went from ten rooms to thirty-four rooms, and that was very exciting!  
What are some of your favorite Family House memories?
Definitely giving guitar lessons to kids, singing songs with the kids, and Christmases are definitely a highlight. I will always remember being Santa Claus on Christmas Eve - putting presents outside families’ doors and giving them just a little jolt of good Christmas cheer while they are all so far away from home. Nothing is as satisfying as being able to give these families a little bit of happiness while they are going through such a difficult time in life.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Why I Run by Karen Banks

A Full Marathon is one of the hardest physical challenges a person can do. I started my running journey about 3 years ago in August 2011 when I made a life change: I had an intensive surgery and lost weight to get healthy. I began running a single mile – which was painful, but over the course of a few months, I was up to 5 miles. I signed up for 5ks, 10ks, and any small runs I could handle. I started to get the so-called “runners high,” where I felt incredible and amazing after running. It gave me a feeling of freedom and accomplishment after completing each mile.

I successfully finished my first half marathon in July 2012, which was the 2nd half of the SF Marathon. I found out if I completed the 1st half the following year I could get an extra medal. I was hooked on “run bling!”

After doing both half marathons, the next obvious choice was the full marathon, but I was scared of not finishing. The fear caused me to be lax on training, to just will my way to the finish. The most I had ever run were the 7 half marathons before - I never made it over 13.1 miles.  I made excuses and told myself for months that I would train the next week, and then all of a sudden it was Sunday, July 27th, and the start line was staring me in the face.

I began to breathe very hard and I actually panicked and teared up and told myself, “I can’t do this. I can’t complete this. Who the hell runs around the city of San Francisco?” But I just went for it.

I got through the first half as easily as I had other half marathons. It wasn’t until the 15th mile that I thought I could go through with the whole marathon. By mile 20 however, I was in pain. Bad pain: every muscle in my body was sore; it felt like my toes were bleeding; my knees ached; my calves were swollen. I walked more than I wanted to, but it was because I felt like I couldn’t go on. I just kept pushing. Every single mile slowly went by and it felt like agony.  “When would this stop, why did I do this?  I can’t go anymore.”

But I did go; by mile 25 I could see the Bay Bridge and then the turns around the Embarcadero and again I started to tear up and be short of breath when I saw the mile 26 marker. It was the marker that told me, “You are here and there is no turning back. Who the hell runs around the city of San Francisco?” I do, apparently.

Why did I choose to fundraise for Family House? I choose to do this for the kids I meet at Family House who may never get to run, ever.

In my day-to-day I get to meet some amazing kids who have changed my life forever. Those that are going through tough struggles and sometimes do not get to see another day. It is because of these incredible superheroes that I choose to run and am asking for your support financially.

Family House is an amazing place where there is laughter, love, and a community to support 34 families while they are dealing with serious illness. There are so many families and hearing their stories and being there to help them through the toughest times imaginable is what drives me to run for them.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Volunteer Spotlight: 2014 Summer High School Volunteers

Summer is one of the best times of the year at Family House – the house is full of laughter, fun, and excitement! Part of the reason for this is the Summer High School Program. Each summer, 10-15 high school volunteers come to the house twice a week and provide house support, baking, arts and crafts, and other fun projects for the families at Family House. Our amazing high school volunteers can work up to 56 hours over the course of the summer. This year our amazing volunteers hosted a tie dye day as well as a circus day for the families complete with fun games, delicious treats, and a BBQ! Not only do these wonderful volunteers work at the house, but they also volunteer at our summer events, including the SF Marathon, the Raising Dough with Tony G event, and various other offsite opportunities.

Thank you Justin Azar, Lauren Cope, Waresa Hu, Clare Casey, Vince De La Cerna, Jennifer Ohmura, Theresa Driscoll, Elizabeth Vincent, Sara Ohalloran, Thomas Ohalloran, Gabriel Capili, John Salvemini, McRae Fried, Kiana Murray, and Maggie Morgan for all of your hard work! Family House wouldn’t be the same without you!

Click here to read about the program: http://www.familyhouseinc.org/summer-volunteer-program.shtml

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Healthcare Hospitality Week from July 20th-26th!

Family House is partnering with the Healthcare Hospitality Network (HHN) for a week of awareness about the work of healthcare hospitality houses. HHN is a national coalition of nearly 200 healthcare hospitality houses that do work similar to Family House across the country, providing a home away from home for thousands of families each year.

In celebration of Healthcare Hospitality Week week, Family House is pulling out all the stops, including a catered Sunday brunch for families, a staff personal development day, an Open House for UCSF doctors, social workers, and employees, and a special Board Member lunch.

We are proud to be part of the Healthcare Hospitality Network, and to be celebrating the work that our partners do nationwide!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Family Stories: Marisa's Story

Watch the latest Family House Family Stories video, featuring the parents of Marisa Shelton, an adorable little girl (and also the poster child for our friends at Giving Comfort):