Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon & 5K Fun Run Presented by Pamakid Runners

The Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon & 5K Fun Run Presented by Pamakid Runners has supported Family House for over 15 years. Family House is one of four charities that the organization supports each year. We receive over $20,000 from the race every year!

Family House supports the run by providing volunteer support at a water station. Volunteers come out at 6am to set-up, distribute and break down the water station at the Bowling Green Dr. in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Our dedicated volunteers are primarily University of San Francisco students in a club called Students for Cancer Awareness. Our amazing team leaders are Lorenzo Benedict (who has volunteered for 6 years), Lauren Horn (volunteered for 4 years), and our volunteer veteran of 8 years, Wai Har Lee. They are all managed by our Director of Volunteer Programs, Greg Mora. The whole Family House team runs the water station that provides water to 10,000 thirsty runners.

To get details about this year's race, visit:

To see photos from last year's race, visit:

Get involved with Family House! Learn more at

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Family House Staff Spotlight: Jessica Creager

Interview with Jessica Creager, Director of Finance and Special Events

How did you come to be at Family House?
When I first started at Family House in November 1997, as Assistant Administrator, there were only three full-time staff members. I heard about the position through the then-Executive Director, Cliff Berg, who was looking for someone who knew how to do Quickbooks, and I had that experience. I never knew about Family House before I was offered the job, but I've grown to love it!

How has Family House Changed since you first started?
When I first started, we housed 10 families a night, and now we house 34 families a night.  We had only one building; now we have two.  The annual budget has increased from $350,000 to $1.6 million. We were only three staffers, and there's eleven of us now.

What are some of your favorite Family House memories?
The Giants stadium AT&T Ballpark event! We got to celebrate Family House's 30th Anniversary with families from so many different years. It was great to see so many families that I've gotten to know while working at Family House, and to see the continuity.

Also, getting to know Nayiri Torigian, who was a young woman who battled cancer. She and her family, they were just so sweet.  She sadly passed away, but getting to know that family was really important, especially important for me, for when I later went through cancer treatment.  She was inspiring to me.

Working at Family house before my cancer diagnosis gave me so much insight to what was coming. Knowing all the kids and all the families that I'd met actually made me more brave in the face of dealing with the treatments. Treatment wasn't as scary to me because I had known personally, especially little ones, who had faced it with no problems.  So, I figured I couldn't be a total wimp about the whole thing!  [Laughs.]  The great acceptance I felt, having a personal illness, and coming back and being greeted with open arms…  not ostracized, not something strange, since at Family House, it's the norm. I've been cancer-free since 2002, and am now officially cured!

Another great thing about being at Family House has been getting to know Family House founders, The Ablins.  They've been so welcoming to me, kind of treating me like family through all these years.  It's been an honor to get to know them and hear their stories, and how they started Family House, but also how they've done so many other amazing things throughout their lives.

Learn more about the caring staff at Family House: 

Monday, January 6, 2014


A personal note from Joey Kotfica, Social Media Coordinator:

I'm still "the new girl" at Family House - I've only been on staff since February 2013.  I've grown so much this year - sharing the joys and sorrows of the families who stay here. Our offices are in the same building, and so, we will have morning coffee with parents, or take a little foosball break in the living room with some of the kids in the afternoon. I've gotten to know and admire so many people who pass through our doors: the families for their strength; the patients for their courage and optimism; the volunteers and donors for their generosity of time, talent, and treasure; and my amazingly compassionate co-workers.

The air these last few weeks here at Family House has been a little different - more energized. The phones and doorbells are ringing, we're getting emails, cards, and social media messages from so many people wanting to know how they can help.  We're getting messages of gratitude from our families in every form possible. Last week, a young couple who have been staying at Family House regularly all year came downstairs, and as one of them started to say thank you for the services we provide, she started crying, unable to speak her words of thanks. (So of course, I started crying with her.)

I've known for years what a special place Family House is, but it hasn't been until this year that I've been able to truly appreciate all of the love (really, just so much love) within our little family.  Thank you all for sharing that with me, and with each other.

Happy holidays to each of you, and best wishes for a healthy 2014.

Learn more about the caring staff at Family House: