Monday, February 8, 2016

Anna Lark, Family Services Coordinator

Interview with Anna Lark, Family Services Coordinator

How did you come to be at Family House?

I’m originally from the Modesto area, and actually first came to Family House in 2001 when my brother, Joshua, was being treated for cancer. I stayed at the original 50 Irving Street Family House with my parents and siblings.  (Joshua has now been cancer free for 10 years, and he lives in San Francisco, too, after graduating college.)

Years after staying at Family House, I came to San Francisco and attended San Francisco State University, studying Studio Art, Holistic Health, and Art History. I felt “disconnected” from Family House because I hadn’t been back for such a long time, and one day just felt compelled to knock on the door at the 10th Avenue house to ask about volunteer activities (which is kind of funny because I had never stayed at there!).

So that was in 2012 that I started volunteering once or twice a month, hosting arts and crafts activities. I later signed on as a Weekend Manager, and worked regularly in that position through 2013, while I was finishing college. I graduated from SF State in 2014, and decided to stay in the Bay Area after that. I feel like I’m really a “San Francisco girl,” and I attribute that to staying at Family House. I really fell in love with the city, with the people at Family House, the nurses… We were treated with so much love, and had so many amazing opportunities: we went to lots of Giants games - JT Snow (a first baseman from the Giants) would buy out a section for charity at each game; we were treated like movie stars at the Star Wars Episode 3 Premiere (in 2005).

How has Family House changed since you first started?

The staff has expanded by so much, but it’s maintained the same key players - [CEO] Alexandra Morgan, [Director of Finance & Special Events] Jessica Creager, [Director of Operations] Paul Goold…  When I first stayed at Family House, there were only 10 families a night, and now it’s 34 per night, which is incredible. And that’s going to change again to serve even more families, which is unbelievable!  I love the communication amongst all the staff - I’ve never had a job before where everybody claps for each other during a staff meeting. It feels like a team, like a family.

I love the amount of people we can help, and the connections that we build here. The one thing that’s stayed the same is how connected people become here: the families really work to create a family environment, and everyone is so willing to work together to do that. It’s a loving community, which is amazing when you’re going through something so difficult as having a sick child.

What are some of your favorite Family House memories?

[Director of Operations] Paul’s dog Sing! I didn’t like dogs, but I was super fond of Sing (and Paul, of course) - it was a pleasure to have her around. And [former Resident Manager] Kent Smith’s dog, too! One day, Paul and Kent got the dogs little paw mittens, and the two dogs were running around - it was so cute and charming.

I was homeschooled by my mom while we were staying on the third floor at 50 Irving. And it was amazing to be up on there doing arts and crafts volunteering with the kids. I remembered doing homework and writing reports in that room - so many fond memories.

Learn more about Anna and the rest of the Family House staff at

Monday, February 1, 2016

Countdown to the Opening of the Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House

Countdown to the Grand Opening of the Nancy & Stephen Grand Family House - just 30 days until March 2nd! #futureoffamilyhouse #missionbay

RSVP to the Grand Opening Ceremonies on March 2, 2016:

Friday, January 29, 2016

Rockstar Volunteer: Nichole Vasquez

As a student at the University of San Francisco, Nichole Vasquez has a lot on her plate with a full class schedule, being an active member as a Sorority Educator in the Delta Zeta sorority, and working as an Advocate for Community Engagement with Family House. Nichole works endlessly to recruit new student volunteers for Family House and presents to student classes on what Family House does. She has been a tremendous help for the 2015-2016 school year to reach new students with volunteer opportunities for the new Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House at Mission Bay. 

Nichole wants to continue her passion of service by becoming a pediatric occupational therapist after she finishes college.  In addition, Nichole works with a nonprofit organization called Generation Citizen which empowers youth in civic engagement, and works as a tutor through University Ministry in a kindergarten classroom. 

In her free time, Nichole likes to sail on the Bay, read, and explore the great city of San Francisco. On behalf of the families and staff, we say THANK YOU to Nichole for all that she offers and for her help in making Family House a better place.

Learn about how you can make a difference in the lives of families with seriously-ill children - volunteer today at Family House.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Volunteer Opportunity: Family Breakfasts and Family Dinners

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then we need your help to make sure our heart is full of love! Family House families are constantly on the go between the hospital and Family House, and making sure that the whole family is eating right is a challenge.

Providing a continental breakfast is an easy way to help ease the stress for families and start their day off right! In the evenings, Family Dinners are a gift to parents who may not have the energy to cook a healthy meal for themselves and their children. It’s a great way to give parents a night off and let them unwind and reconnect with all of the families at Family House. Bring board games or an arts & crafts activity to make it a fun time for everyone!

Family Breakfasts and Family Dinners are an excellent volunteer opportunity for a small group of volunteers. You can bring and serve a pre-made meal, or bring the ingredients and cook in our kitchen!

* Plan for 20-25 people
* Arrive at 8:30am to set up
* You are welcome to use the kitchens at Family House to prepare your meal or heat up food
* Buffet style breakfast from 9:00am-10:30am in all 3 kitchens
* Clean up at 10:30am-11:00am (pack and distribute leftovers throughout the house, and straighten up communal areas)
* Please bring: Coffee, creamer, sweeteners; juice; fruit; bagels or pastries, spreads for bagels; disposable cups, plates, napkins, and utensils; 6 large resealable containers for leftovers

* Plan for 20-25 people
* Arrive at 4:30pm to set up
* You are welcome to use the kitchens at Family House to prepare your meal or heat up food
* Set up tables and chairs for additional seating
* Buffet style dinner from 5:15pm-6:30pm
* Clean up at 6:30pm (pack and distribute leftovers throughout the house, straighten up communal areas, put away tables and chairs)
* Please bring: Beverages (wine is OK); ice; disposable cups, plates, tablecloths (for 2 6’ tables), table decor (optional); 6 large resealable containers for leftovers
* Menu ideas: tacos; chili bar with cornbread; soup, toasted cheese sandwiches, salad; breakfast for dinner (eggs, pancakes, sausage, etc.); baked potatoes with toppings (cheese, sour cream, broccoli, bacon); homemade pizza with toppings; sandwich bar; hot dogs with salads/sauerkraut; meatloaf and potatoes; vegetable/meat lasagna; sloppy joes; spaghetti and meatballs, salad, garlic bread; salad bar; soup and salad; stir fry

With your help, Family House families will be able to take better care of themselves during their time of crisis. For more details, or to sign up, please contact our Volunteer team: Karen Banks: or Tarence Dixon:, or fill out our Volunteer Application.

 Thank you for your support!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Portraits of Family House: Nancy and Stephen Grand

The latest Portraits of Family House painting by Seamus Berkeley is complete! This painting features Family House benefactors Nancy and Stephen Grand, and will be displayed prominently in the new Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House at Mission Bay. Mark your calendar for the Grand Opening on March 2, 2016!

Learn more about the future of Family House at

Monday, January 4, 2016

Welcome Tarence Dixon, Volunteer Coordinator!

Welcome Tarence Dixon, our newest Family House family member! Tarence starts this week as the new Volunteer Coordinator, working closely with Karen Banks. Tarence first started at Family House as a student volunteer, so he is well-versed in the Family House mission and operations. Please welcome Tarence if you see him at the 10th Avenue Family House!

Learn more about volunteer opportunities at