Monday, October 23, 2017

Staff Spotlight: Elizabeth Flores

Name: Elizabeth Flores

Where did you grow up? In El Salvador

Position at Family House: Housekeeping Lead

Reason for working at Family House: Everyone is very friendly at Family House, I feel a lot of peace working in here, and I love kids.

Favorite thing to do in San Francisco: Going for walks, going to see the views, and I love the weather.

What makes you special? The way everyone treats me here at Family House they make me feel like we are all one big family. And I feel special because and the mother of one beautiful smart girl.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Introducing The Arthur R. Ablin Award

Photo by Drew Altizer
In the memory of our co-founder, Dr. Arthur Ablin, Family House has created the Arthur R. Ablin Award for outstanding leadership and service to the Family House community. This is one of the many ways we will keep Art’s spirit alive for years to come.

The criteria for selection is simple:  the recipient must have demonstrated, over a significant period of time, Art’s passion for supporting sick children and their families at Family House through significant volunteerism and leadership.

Photo by Drew Altizer
The inaugural recipient selection was easy, in part, because we have achieved so much as an organization in the past five years with the new Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House. Congratulations to Scott Miller as the first recipient of the Arthur R. Ablin Award! He has shown devotion to our mission through countless hours of planning and meetings to help bring to life the Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House at Mission Bay.

Scott came to the Family House Board over ten years ago, jumped in with both feet, and took on the unforgiving task of leading Family House through a $43 million capital campaign, building design, construction, and opening. In his five years as the Chairman of the Board, he achieved all of this and more with a great deal of humor, patience, insight, wisdom, and exceptional leadership.

Please join us in congratulating Scott Miller in receiving the inaugural Arthur R. Ablin Award, as we thank him for all he has done for our families!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Canine Companions for Independence Volunteers

Canine Companions for Independence is a nonprofit that raises and trains service dogs to accompany individuals who need them. Part of that training is a socialization process for the puppies, which includes exposing them to many different environments, including meeting new people and being in large crowds. CCI volunteers and their puppies have been volunteering at Family House for several months, and volunteer Scott Hartman shared his story with us:

I am a symphony musician and a dog lover!  I do a lot of volunteer work mainly with non-profit musical and educational organizations. The first few weeks of raising a CCI puppy can be tough, as an 8 week old puppy is a baby and you lose a lot of sleep at first, but I love it. You make a lot of friends and see a lot of strangers smiling when you walk around with a dog. Imagine walking around with a cute puppy with a cape!

Our first puppy was Wakari, eight weeks old - raising her was incredible! I've had dogs for decades, but never one so trainable, so gentle. She went everywhere with us - museums, nice restaurants, the emergency room, every trip we went on, and to many Giants games. After she graduated from the CCI program, she was sent to meet her new, permanent owner, through a children’s hospital in Washington state.

Clarence III was our next puppy - a huge puppy with the sweetest spirit. At Clarence’s graduation ceremony, we met his future family, which included a 15-year-old boy with autism and Down Syndrome who had never had a friend. Whatever fun I’d had with Clarence was nothing compared to what he was going to do for my new friend Riley!

At first, I thought being a CCI volunteer Puppy Raiser was all about me and the joy I got from having a puppy (which is considerable), but after seeing how the puppies improve people’s lives, I realize that I am a tiny part of it. The real joy is realizing how much happiness and freedom the puppies give other people. The rewards greatly outweigh the time and effort put into it, and the time and efforts are joy in themselves.

Canine Companions for Independence is a great organization - every contact and experience we have had with CCI has been top notch, from the people at their incredible facility in Santa Rosa to the trainer we work with locally. There is a great deal of help and support from other raisers and the CCI community. I spent only a few hours at Family House but I could tell from the minute I walked in that it was full of caring individuals and the atmosphere was professional but very human and warm.

Monday, September 25, 2017

K-PAX Racing / Family House Day at Sonoma Raceway

Check out this great video about the K-PAX Racing/Family House partnership, and the awesome Pirelli World Challenge Championship race day at Sonoma Raceway!

See photos from the race day at

Monday, September 18, 2017

“Books for Sick Kids” Fundraiser

Thank you to Tise, Toyin, and Toyo Obembe for hosting a great book drive for Family House families! By reaching out to their community, they raised $550 which, in partnership with the Scholastic Literacy Program, was used to purchase 338 books for Family House. We asked their father, Olu, how it came to be:

“My kids were challenged last year by my wife to think of something they can do to help others.  Last year’s effort was a teddies for sick kids drive. They built ‘build-a-bear’ bears for kids at Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland. This year, I shared with them what Family House Director of Volunteer Programs Karen Banks had shared when she spoke to my corporate team at Salesforce. I was inspired. My kids were excited. That’s how it started. You can help others with just a little effort.”

Thank you for caring about our community!

Learn how you can get involved:

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Family House Family Stories: Gina’s Boys

Family House Family Stories: Sharing the brave and inspiring stories of families of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. This story features Gina, mom to four boys, two of whom have a rare genetic disease that requires treatment at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Hear from Gina about the positive impact that Family House has had on their family, and the ways that they try to pay it forward.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Staff Spotlight: Beryl Velasco

Name: Beryl Velasco

Where did you grow up? Guadalajara, Mexico

Position at Family House:
Hospitality Services Coordinator 

Reason for working at Family House:
I love helping others and I am so glad I can do it in a place so welcoming and amazing like Family House

Favorite thing to do in San Francisco:   
Having brunch at Art’s CafĂ© in the Sunset and soak up some sun at Dolores Park.

What makes you special? 
I can count to ten in 5 languages: English, Spanish, French, Japanese and Italian

What's the story behind the photo?
This is the time I went to Tomales Bay and I learned how to open oysters!