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 http://www.familyhouseinc.org/staff.html

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