Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New Volunteer Opportunities: The Nancy & Stephen Grand Family House

As we look to the Grand Opening of the Nancy & Stephen Grand Family House at Mission Bay, we are excited about all the additional volunteer positions that we will need to fill to better serve our families.

Corporate Groups
Large groups of 50-70 people are needed to help us move into the new house at Mission Bay. Specific projects include setting up communal spaces (unpacking and organizing kitchen ware, setting up toys, games, and books in living rooms, etc.) and disinfecting surfaces before families move in. These projects will take place throughout February and March, and are extremely important!

After the move, we will continue to have volunteer opportunities for groups of up to 70 people for maintenance and disinfecting tasks, as well as event support at the house and at fundraisers.

The Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House will have a reception desk, and volunteers here will be the first point of contact for incoming families! We are looking for dedicated individuals who can volunteer for at least 4 hours per week, with a 6 month commitment. This will enable us to thoroughly train volunteers on all the situations which could arise, and also give some stability and a “familiar face” for our families.

This volunteer position will work closely with clients, in tasks such as giving directions; signing out passes, tablets, and video games; and generally making sure that families have what they need. In such a large building, the Concierge volunteers will ensure that everyone feels safe and welcome at Family House. We are looking for dedicated individuals who can volunteer for at least 4 hours per week, with a 6 month commitment.

Family Meals
We are excited to expand our Family Dinner program to serve dinners 7 nights a week for all 80 families! Volunteer groups can bring pre-made meals to Family House, or bring groceries and cook the meal on site. This is an excellent way to get to know families, and strengthen the Family House community. The meal program is great way to make a big impact with a single visit. Groups can come just one time, or can schedule a regular meal that is weekly, monthly, or quarterly.  Later in the year, we will look to expand the program to regular breakfast meals as well.

Food Drives
Community food drives are a key supplement to families who are able to cook at Family House.  We are always in need of non-perishable shelf-stable (non-refrigerated) food items including: canned food, rice, mac and cheese, top ramen, sugar, flour, salt, pepper, granola bars, breakfast bars, juice boxes, and kids snacks. A food drive is a great way to get your school, church, or community group involved with Family House!

Need more ideas? Contact Director of Volunteer Programs Karen Banks at or (415) 514-6663 for more information or to sign up for a new volunteer shift at the Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House at Mission Bay.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Donate a Vehicle

As the New Year approaches, don’t miss your chance to donate your car, truck or other vehicle to the Family House vehicle donation program. Your resolution of purchasing that new car you have been waiting can finally come true. The tax benefit alone will be worth it, and the proceeds will go towards helping families of kids with life-threatening illnesses at Family House.
Start the New Year off right. Donating is easy.  Call us at 1-888-543-7731 or donate online at, and we’ll take care of the rest. Donate today! 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

5 Tips for Supporting the Caregiver in your Life

“5 Tips for Supporting the Caregiver in your Life”
by Sona Mehring, the founder of CaringBridge

Stronger Together; Build a Support Team. Well-meaning friends and relatives may say: “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” But that doesn’t mean you have to handle it alone. Caregiving can be relentless, exhausting and overwhelming. For family caregivers like myself, there can be a sense of loneliness and isolation, which can affect your overall health and well-being. As a friend of a family caregiver, take the first step of building a short list of close family or friends who are able to help in anyway. 

2. Let It Go. How can you encourage caregivers to pace themselves to remain emotionally and physically strong? What helped me “let go” was a family member who took that short list from Step 1 and divvyed up daily tasks and errands by creating a schedule. Loved ones consistently delivered meals, purchased groceries, helped with yard and house work, attended doctor’s appointments, and much more. I found it helpful to ask friends and to use some of the many resources available online to help navigate the complexities of insurance, social services, medication and financial management.

3. Step Away and Find Humor. Regardless of how strong and positive caregivers try to be, daily life involves sadness and suffering. Friends would encourage me to step away and find the humor in life’s struggles. Whether it was time spent with a group of friends or watching a funny TV show or movie. Laughter can truly be the best medicine. Laughter can also help: reduce pain, drop levels of stress hormones, and release endorphins which can bring positive changes to your mindset.

4. Take Focus Off the Physical. Remind the caregiver to focus on more than just physical care. A typical day is focused on physical needs and limitations, which can be degrading and frustrating for both the loved one and caregiver. I connected with my mother (the patient) by making our time together as enjoyable as possible. This could be anything from sharing stories, trying a new hobby or finding a new favorite TV show to watch. Caring for my mother was one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life, but it was also the hardest.

5. Share with Those Who Care. Encourage caregivers to openly share and communicate hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, and everything in between. Putting words around the things you’re experiencing and feeling will not be easy, but it will be cathartic. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, take a little time each week to record your feelings in a journal or through a CaringBridge website. I started my mother’s CaringBridge website when she was first diagnosed in 1998 and again in 2001 when she was stricken with liver cancer. The advantage to capturing your story in this way is the ability to garner strength and support from those who love you and want to help. I also have a permanent record of my time with my mother that captured my thoughts and feelings, but also the love people had for my her.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Meet Quincy

Meet Quincy, a Family House client and CONQUEROR OF CANCER!

Without Family House, Quincy's family would have had no place to stay for months when she needed intensive outpatient chemotherapy. Without Family House, Quincy's mom would not have felt the loving arms of a "family" that knows what it's like to have a child with cancer. Without Family House, Quincy would be an isolated, sick little girl without the companionship of new friends she has made staying here. Without Family House, Quincy might not have beaten cancer. Congratulations Q on your first day of kindergarten this year, and cheers to many, MANY milestones in your future!

Donate today to help kids like Quincy beat cancer:

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Be Part of a Movement

It’s #GivingTuesday - be part of a movement - make a difference in the life of a child with cancer today!

Family House is on the brink of its greatest growth in our 35-year history, and we need your help today to make sure our ability to house more families is successful!

The new Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House in Mission Bay will open on March 2, 2016 to house 80 families per night, more than double our current capacity. To ensure that families can be as close to the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital as possible, we must raise the funds to run the new house, and we can only do that with your support. 

Without your support of the Grand Family House, our families would sleep in their cars or hospital waiting rooms for days and weeks at a time.

Please join us in keeping families together by providing care, courage, and a comforting “home away from home” completely free of charge. It’s the best holiday gift you can give.

Donate now: