Monday, December 18, 2017

Family House 2017 Yearbook

2017 was a banner year, thanks to our incredible community! More than 270 volunteer groups and 3,000 volunteers helped us provide services to over 3,000 families! We had lots of special guest visitors from San Francisco and beyond, helping to make Family House more than just a place to stay. Sharing our heartfelt thanks to all of the donors, volunteers, and community members who help make Family House a home away from home!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Family Stories: Shasta's Girls

Family House Family Stories: Sharing the brave and inspiring stories of families of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. This story features Shasta, mom to Ireland, a cancer survivor, and Mia, a transplant recipient. Shasta and her family have stayed at Family House while both girls have undergone treatment at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Hear from Shasta what Family House means to them, and how they get through the challenges of having two children with life-threatening illnesses.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Giving Tuesday Success

Thank you to the many caring individuals whose generous #GivingTuesday gift to Family House helped us exceed our fundraising goal by 76% - we raised over $17,500 in just one day! And thanks to our Matching Gift Challenge, those dollars will be doubled, and even tripled in some cases (for gifts made by Family House volunteers).

We know that there are many great organizations you could choose to support, but as our founder, Dr. Art Ablin, always said: We believe there are none better. Your gift will make a huge impact for all the kids and families who stay under our roof, and help to provide a safe, comfortable, supportive home away from home for nearly 150 families.

Thanks again for being a partner in our efforts, and best wishes from our family to yours for a very happy and healthy holiday season.

With Gratitude,

Joanne Gold
Chief Development Officer

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Giving Tuesday 2017
What is Giving Tuesday?

#GivingTuesday kicks off the holiday giving season on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (right after Black Friday and Cyber Monday) - encouraging people to give back through gifts of your time, donations, goods, or your voice.

Celebrate Giving Tuesday this year on November 28, 2017 by giving to Family House. Here are some ways you can help:

Donate! We rely on the generous support of individuals, corporations, and foundations to make sure that our services are always free to every family. We receive no government funding, and need you to help us meet our Giving Tuesday goal!

Volunteer! There are so many ways to volunteer at Family House - click here for inspiration, and fill out the Volunteer Application today to get started.

In-Kind Gifts! From gas cards to gift cards to canned goods for our pantry and toys for Fozzy’s Toy Room, your in-kind gifts round out the support we give our families. Visit our wish list on Amazon Smile for ideas.

Spread the Word! If you tell just 5 of your friends about the Family House mission to provide free, temporary housing for families of sick children undergoing medical treatment at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, we will dramatically increase our reach.

Thank you for all you do for Family House families for Giving Tuesday and year round!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Holiday Volunteering Opportunities at Family House

Are you feeling festive this holiday season and looking for a way to give back? Family House has several ongoing volunteer opportunities, and we need your help to make our Home Away from Home merry and bright, especially for those families who are separated from their own families and community this season.

Host a Family Dinner
This is a great opportunity for groups of 10 to 15 people. Cook a meal or have it catered, and make the evening complete with fun holiday activities like arts and crafts, games, or music. The big holidays are already booked, but we would welcome your talents on another weeknight in November, December, and beyond! Sign up at

Host a Family Breakfast
Monday through Friday year round, we offer breakfast to all of our families. Help serve the meal and get to know our families! Perfect for volunteer groups of 15 to 20 people. Sign up at

Host an Afternoon Holiday Party
Any day can be a holiday at Family House! Bring arts and crafts, a baking activity, board games, or a fun holiday movie to Family House. Your positive spirit will make our families smile! Perfect for groups of 4 to 8 volunteers.

Host a Toy or Gift Card Drive
Support our Secret Santa program by volunteering in your community! Collect gift cards, toys for children of all ages, and fun stocking stuffers that we can give to our families staying with us at Christmas. Learn more at

Host a Canned Food Drive
Help us keep our communal pantries stocked by organizing a canned food drive. We always need pantry staples like pasta, soup, beans, baby formula, granola bars, and more. Visit our Pantry Wish List for ideas or to send directly to Family House:

Monday, November 6, 2017

Happy Anniversary CFO Jessica Creager!

Everyone at Family House is delighted to celebrate our CFO, Jessica Creager, on the occasion of her 20th anniversary at Family House. Jessica is the hub of our wheel, making sure that our business/administrative office runs smoothly and efficiently. Far more importantly, Jessica’s sweet spirit of kindness and inclusion toward ALL who she encounters is the embodiment of our wish to make everyone feel welcome at Family House. 
Her professional achievements from HR to finance and management all things related to our business office have only increased over the past 20 years, and we look forward to the next 20 years of her leadership and guidance in many ways. Jessica, thank you for your stellar work (it hasn’t been easy!), and for making us all better people by your example of calm, warm, and professional demeanor.  You mean so much to everyone at Family House that we couldn’t be successful without your experience and expertise. On behalf of the Board of Directors, the families, volunteers and especially the staff, we mark this anniversary with gratitude and joy for our amazingly wonderful colleague.

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!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Remembering Dr. Arthur Ablin

We at Family House mourn the loss of Dr. Art Ablin, beloved Co-Founder of our organization and a true visionary.

Art was Professor Emeritus at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, where he served as Chief of Pediatric Oncology, and was a leader in his field. Art was both a general pediatrician and pediatric oncologist who treated scores of young patients since the 1950s, as well as a friend and mentor to countless folks lucky enough to know him. Among his many good works is the creation of Family House in 1981, which started because of his vision and commitment to all families whose children face cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

Out of a desire to provide family-centered care in partnership with UCSF, Art’s vision was to provide free housing and basic needs for the families of seriously ill young patients. In the 1980s, Art noticed many of his young patients’ family members sleeping in their cars or in hospital waiting rooms, unable to pay for a hotel. “Family House was set up as cost-free place for families to stay, but also as a center based very much on communal experience, so these families could share with each other what they were going through,” Art said.

In 1981, Art and others raised nearly $500,000 to buy housing from the Mormon Church that sat adjacent to the UCSF Children’s Hospital (later UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital), with the intention of providing housing for patients’ families. With the opening of the new Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House, Debbie and Art Ablin have ensured that families will always have a home to turn to when patients need medical attention in San Francisco.

While Art was a highly regarded physician and internationally sought-after speaker on the topic of pediatric hematology, his compassion and unwavering dedication to children and families at Family House for the past 36 years has produced a model of community that we celebrate this day and every day of the year. Those of us who had the unbelievable pleasure of working with Art since Family House was founded 36 years ago know that his talent, passion, wisdom, humor, and loving spirit infuse every aspect of our organization and the work we do for kids and families. Art’s inherent talent for nurturing what is best in us will live on as we are inspired by his values and humanity.

From all of us and the thousands of families that have stayed at Family House, we will remember Art with the great respect and love that he gave so freely to others.

We are so lucky to have known him and will miss him deeply.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Summer Carnival 2017

Our second annual End of Summer Carnival at the Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House was a blast! We had so many great volunteers who pitched in with donations, decorations, hosting carnival games, prizes, entertainment, food, and so much more! All of the parents and children in attendance had a great time! Thanks to everyone who helped give our families such a fun and special afternoon! Special thanks to Gina Gorman and friends, including residents, staff, and business partners of The Madrone Residences; Canine Companions for Independence therapy dogs; Boswick The Clown; Suzy Q face painting; San Francisco Fire Department/ SFFD Station 4; photographer Jillian Gorman Photography; summer high school volunteers; and regular weekly Family House SanFrancisco volunteers - we could not have provided such a wonderful experience without each and every one of you! See photos at

Monday, July 31, 2017

Welcome Joanne Gold, Chief Development Officer

Please join us in welcoming the new Family House Chief Development Officer, Joanne Gold! Joanne comes to us with a wealth of development experience, and we’re so excited that she’s part of the team!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Family Stories: Ja'Ceon and Dannie - Opening Doors

When Dannie was offered an experimental new treatment option to save her nephew, Ja’Ceon, she said, “If there’s a chance to save another kid’s life, let’s do it.” Watch the video featuring this courageous family.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Rockstar Volunteer: Hailey Koh

Hailey Koh encompasses what it means to be an extraordinary volunteer! As a new resident of California, Hailey decided that volunteering would be an excellent way to connect with the local community. 

Hailey sought out to make a positive impact through her volunteerism, and Family House has been the beneficiary of her incredible service. 
On three or four mornings a week, Hailey serves the Family Breakfast before she heads off to her fulltime job. She sets out the food items and coffee, and greets families with a warm welcome.

Hailey has the ability to work with people of all ages, especially in the most difficult circumstances, and is willing to help families however possible. No matter the task, she carries it out promptly and efficiently.

Hailey has, without exception, interacted with each family and every request with empathy and compassion. She believes in Family House’s mission and is willing to go above and beyond for families whenever possible. Hailey’s unwavering work ethic at Family House has demonstrated that she is a rockstar volunteer.  Thank you, Hailey!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Staff Spotlight: Karen Banks

Name: Karen Banks

Where did you grow up?
Born in Southern California, but raised in the East Bay.

Position at Family House:
Director of Volunteer Programs

Reason for working at Family House:
I absolutely love helping our families and seeing the joy on their faces. They are going through such an emotional time in their lives, and it means the world to me if we can bring them some joy, even just for an afternoon.

Favorite thing to do in San Francisco: 
I love running around the city and have run the full San Francisco Marathon.

What makes you special?
I try to have compassion for everyone I meet, and learning is an ever-evolving process. My favorite quote is, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't.” – Bill Nye

What's the story behind the photo?
In 2015, I took my first trip to Canada, and went to visit Butchart Gardens in Victoria. It was the most gorgeous and mesmerizing botanical garden that I have ever been to.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Rockstar Volunteer: Jillian Wong, Intern

Meet Jillian Wong, a recent Family House intern. Hear why volunteering at Family House is so important to her and her entire family, and about the difference you can make by volunteering at Family House.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Family Stories: Tauriel’s Family

Family House Family Stories: Sharing the brave and inspiring stories of families of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. This story features Tauriel G and her family, from Whiteriver, Arizona - they  have been staying at Family House in San Francisco for over a year while Tauriel undergoes treatment at the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. Hear how Family House helped keep their family together in a time of crisis.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Staff Spotlight: Anna Lark

Name: Anna Lark   

Where did you grow up?
Ceres, CA

Position at Family House:

Hospitality Services Coordinator

Reason for working at Family House:
My family stayed at Family House while my brother went through treatment for AML. I loved Family House and always wanted to give back. I feel really happy working in an environment with people from all over the world who all have amazing stories to tell.

Favorite thing to do in San Francisco: 
I love to draw random people on public transportation.  I love spending days walking through Golden Gate park and stopping at the botanical gardens, the Academy of Sciences and the DeYoung Museum all in one day.

What makes you special?

I often make art for the families who stay at Family House.
What’s the story behind the photo?
This is me with one of our clients, Joseph. He put the fire truck on my nose, of course.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Volunteer Spotlight: 7-Eleven Bay Area

It’s clear that the 7-Eleven Golden Gate Market team is a family, and they really work together to make a difference in the Bay Area. Market Manager Robert Young encourages the hard work of Community Relations Leader Mindy Layon, and together, they work magic for Family House. They champion Family House at every turn, and do their best to rally the support of approximately 100 Bay Area 7-Eleven stores.

Robert’s team of Field Consultants (Mark Kwasigroch, Tim Lankford, Jamaal Brown, Khae Alvarado-Poblete, Nicole Wyatt, Don Hayden, Janae Dominguez, Trina Metoyer, Jim Rasmussen and Mindy Layon) are all very involved, and there is a core group of Franchisees (Harry Brar, Destiny Nguyen, Jasama Patel, Raj Uppal, Amar and Raman Johal, Sindy Singh, Basel Aldabyani, Kuljit Matharu, Phyllis Shideler, and Neil Khoury, just to name a few!) that help with donations and volunteering, as well.  “Its important that our stores are involved with the communities they serve, and it’s a lot of fun”, says Layon.

It all began four years ago when Young, Layon, and a group of 7-Eleven franchisees volunteered at the Family House on 10th Avenue. “It’s the right thing to do. It’s a good partnership for us, it gets us involved with the community, and it gives us a way to give back to the less fortunate,” recalls Mark Kwasigroch. The group helped by disinfecting toys and organizing donated items - when they saw the impact they were having, they were hooked.  “There is a certain amount of reward to giving back. In some ways it’s kind of selfish because it makes you feel good. It’s really rewarding,” admits Tim Lankford.

Since 2013, they have contributed to Family House in a huge variety of ways: they’ve donated product (coffee and pizza are the biggest hits); set up kiosks in stores to collect cash donations and pantry food items; hosted fundraising drives to purchase gifts for the Family House Secret Santa Program (10 families so far!); volunteered doing projects around the house; hosted parties for Halloween and the Super Bowl; and made surprise visits to drop off all kinds of goodies for our families. Harry Brar says, “We love spending time with the kids and the families - letting them know that there are people out there who care about them. It’s just about caring, and sharing, you know?”

When the team heard about the Capital Campaign to build the Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House, they upped their game, and just had to see the progress for themselves. Jamaal Brown points out, “It’s not just the sick kids who go to the hospital - it’s the families, the parents, too - they need the support system - and Family House provides it all for no charge. These families come from all over, and it helps out tremendously. Even giving two hours of your time is a huge help - it makes the kids feel better and have a better day.”

Jasama Patel remembers the first time she volunteered at Family House: “It was a humbling experience for me, because it could be my kids [who are sick]. Don’t take things for granted; you never know when it could be taken away. I’m looking forward to bringing my kids here to volunteer. You see how everyone here cares.”

As we approached the one year anniversary of the Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House, Robert’s team couldn’t wait to help. They donated a ton of food for the party (200 hot dogs, sides, beverages, and more!), and even took turns manning the grill so everyone could have fresh dogs!

We appreciate all that the Bay Area 7-Eleven team does for our families, and we’re so glad they’re part of the family!

Watch the video we put together featuring 7-Eleven volunteers:

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Staff Spotlight: Alexandra Morgan

Alexandra Morgan

Where did you grow up?
San Francisco      

Position at Family House:

Reason for working at Family House:

Favorite thing to do in San Francisco:
Go to Golden Gate Park

What makes you special?
Family House does!

What’s the story behind the photo?
Photo taken by Kate Nagle, a very talented photographer and Family House mom!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Staff Spotlight: Allyse Culcasi

Name: Allyse Culcasi

Where did you grow up?
Half Moon Bay

Position at Family House:
Hospitality Services Coordinator

Reason for working at Family House:
Having the opportunity to help out in any way possible and being there for families (whether it is providing a smile or a shoulder to lean on!) is the reason why I work at Family House.

Favorite thing to do in San Francisco: 
My favorite thing to do in San Francisco is to spend a day at Ocean Beach with a good book, some yummy food, and great company.

What makes you special?
We are all special in our own special way!   (And I can juggle….Is that special enough??)

What's the story behind the photo?
The photo is of me and Suzy, who is like a second mom to me. I spent a year and a half living with Suzy and her two children in Sydney, Australia. This photo is when she came to visit me in San Francisco and we took a ferry and spent the day in Sausalito. It was a day filled with sunshine, love, and laughter!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Rockstar Volunteers: WorkLink California

WorkLink volunteers shine at Family House - due to their incredible work-ethic and dedication to serving our families.  Volunteers from WorkLink have aided Family House for nearly a decade, helping us 
to keep our house clean, tidy, and orderly.  WorkLink volunteers are contagiously positive and kind to each person they encounter, 
especially to our families. 

WorkLink is a transition and direct service provider that helps adults with disabilities find employment and other means of service.  Since 2008, WorkLink has contributed over 7,000 hours of service to Family House at both our original Inner Sunset locations, and now in Mission Bay.

WorkLink volunteers are devoted to making every visit count! They are always professional, encouraging, and committed to the work they perform. From disinfecting our play areas to tidying the kitchens, we can continually depend on the amazing volunteers from WorkLink.  We thank each volunteer for the many years serving Family House families.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Family Stories: Joseph's Family

It's been a month since Joseph and his family got to go home, after 3 years at Family House in San Francisco.

Learn more about the families we serve at

Monday, May 1, 2017

We Run with Kaitlyn: A Massive Success!

 Thanks to the incredible Shelly Burr and her amazing network of supporters, the We Run With Kaitlyn fundraiser for Family House was a massive success - blowing past Shelly’s $20,000 goal, with over $29,000 total funds raised!

Though they live in Texas, Shelly was part of the MOMS study at UCSF in 2009, and she and her family stayed at Family House for 3 months while Kaitlyn received in-utero treatment for Spina Bifida. The groundbreaking surgery was successful, and Kaitlyn is now 7 years old and exceeding all expectations.

The Burr family are all very active, and they decided to fundraise for Family House in this year’s Woodlands Marathon. In years past, the family fundraisers have been called We Run for Kaitlyn, but this year, Kaitlyn was running with the team!
Over 130 people donated to support We Run With Kaitlyn fundraiser - incredible!
We raised a total of $29,297 from 137 donors! We were also sponsored by several local businesses: Whitfield Design (a graphic designer who created our logo and hosted the website that sold all of the shirts), Edison McDowell & Hetherington, LLP (Kendall's law firm), Gustafson Dental, New Balance Houston, Hector's Mexican Restaurant, Global Academic Coaching, Tutti Frutti Park Lakes, Simply Baked Sweets, Kumon Fall Creek, and Smiles by Woehst.

Please share with us some of the events that contributed to the big goal:
* We had “Run with Kaitlyn” days at Persona Pizza, our local Tutti Frutti, and our local Chick-Fil-A, all making donations.
* We had several bake sales - my sister in Utah raised $510; my sister-in-law, niece, and nephews made cookies that sold at her mom's Soup Shoppe in Riverside, CA and raised $512; and my friend Dani sold customized Valentines cookies and raised a few hundred dollars.
* Jones Day, LLP - Dallas, TX office hosted a jeans day and raised around $750.
* Sales of our We Run With Kaitlyn shirts raised $1,551.

We also had some really wonderful donated items and raised over $2,000 at the fundraiser auction!
* Italiano's Restaurant donated around $1,000 worth of food
* One Block Over - a local band played free of charge
* Dynamic Events - Hosted a picture booth
* Golf Club of Houston - Donated a foursome of golf (worth $700)
* Fall Creek Showbiz Cinemas - Donated a gift basket and a one year unlimited movie pass to their theater
* Rising Sun Sushi - Donated two $25 gift certificates
* Nothing Bundt Cakes - Donated one 10" decorated cake certificate

* Friends also donated beautiful gifts and gift baskets, including Houston Rodeo tickets, handmade wooden cutting boards, a beach gift basket, Italy gift basket, handbag, and more! We also raised $550 at a bake sale from homemade desserts!

How was the experience this year compared to We Run For Kaitlyn fundraisers you’ve done in the past?
We had such a personal connection to Family House, and having first-hand experience with the amazing things they are doing every day for families - it was so easy to talk about the "why" of the fundraising.  Then, being able to promote it as We Run WITH Kaitlyn, and knowing she had come so far since we had done the prenatal surgery for her in San Francisco all those years ago, it was incredible.  Crossing that finish line with her, surrounded by friends and family was one of the best moments of my life.

Kaitlyn had a great time at the fundraisers and the races.  It was so much fun for her to see so many friends and family there to support her - especially at the 2K.  She said, ”Running across the finish line was my favorite part.  When I crossed I felt good, great, wonderful, amazing.  My friend Lily was there, and my cousins Bella, Micah, Joshua, and Faith."

What were challenges around this fundraiser?
We were lucky enough to have so many donated items by the community that we were sort of forced into hosting a fundraiser in order to auction them all off.  I had many friends step up to help with the planning, and the more help I received, the bigger and more awesome the fundraiser became.  We coordinated a local band to play, donated pasta dinner, tables and chairs, a bake sale, an auction, a face painter, a balloon artist, a photo booth, and the New Balance mascot come along for all the fun.  It was amazing, but also very stressful, because there were just so many details to coordinate.  We also had two races this time (the 2K Friday night, and the marathon/half marathon/5Ks the next morning) instead of just the one day of races.  So, making sure everyone had directions/parking/and all the rest of the information was kind of insane.  But, we made it, and it was all worth it because we had made some incredible memories and raised money for our favorite charity!

Do you have any advice for someone that might want to undertake a fundraiser like this?

Go for it!  My favorite part about fundraising is that you get to see the best in people.  We reached out to so many businesses and friends, and the response was amazing.  People we didn't know very well donated thousands of dollars.  Companies who just heard our story and had no connection to us donated huge prizes for our auction.  Friends and family took on their own fundraising just because they love us and they find what Family House does so inspiring.  So many people offer to donate their time and services and want to be part of what you are doing.  I was incredibly moved so many in my community who got involved.

If you really believe in what you are raising money for, and tell your story - give the "why" behind what you are doing, people will respond to it. You can do it!

Do you have any advice for a parent who is just starting a journey of having a seriously ill child?
When we stayed at Family House after the prenatal surgery, there were so many unknowns. There were times we were crippled with fear about the future.  I think the best advice I would have is just to take these moments one at a time.  If you can make it through this period of time, you will be ready to take on the next.  Just like with any of your children, you wouldn't be ready to parent a teenager when you are still in the baby-stage - thinking too far down the road with illnesses or disabilities can just compound fears and worries without being able to do anything productive.  Cautiously optimistic is the phrase I tend to come back to.  And, these moments that you probably took for granted in your life - they become incredible memories that you would never trade for anything.  Because watching your child do things you were told they might not do - it's a gift I will always be grateful for.

Visit to watch the inspiring video featuring the Burr family!

Monday, April 24, 2017

National Volunteer Week

Dear Volunteers,

This year for National Volunteer Week I want to take a moment to truly thank all of you for your support.

We rely on the volunteers who donate thousands of hours each year to keep our doors open. Over the past year, because of you, we accomplished a huge undertaking - moving into the new Nancy & Stephen Grand Family House at Mission Bay. More than 2,700 volunteers helped us move supplies, install closets, make beds, and open our new home with as much efficiently as possible, making a seamless transition for our families.

Since moving to Mission Bay, we have had hundreds of family meals served by volunteers, many therapy dog visits, and hours of arts and crafts activities to help families going through one of the most difficult times in their lives. A special shout out to the volunteers who have cleaned and disinfected the many common areas throughout the house - keeping our house germ-free is absolutely critical for the health and well-being of our families.

Volunteer Week is all about celebrating you and all that you do! Without our community of dedicated individuals, we simply would not be able to serve our families as we do.

Thank you so much to everyone. Your volunteering makes a difference! Your support of Family House is the reason that we can positively impact the lives our families. We truly appreciate all of your efforts.


Karen Banks
Director of Volunteer Programs

Monday, April 10, 2017

Rockstar Volunteer: Kalmia Beets

Kalmia Beets has excelled as a Volunteer Leader at Family House these past seasons. In the summer of 2016, she was able to pursue her interest in volunteering at Family House.   As a student at University of San Francisco, Kalmia majors in Child Psychology/Pre-med.  Her interests are dancing, baking, cooking, sewing, and outdoor sports and activities.

 When Kalmia was young, she lived at a Ronald McDonald House.  As such, she has been able to give her unique awareness of what families face during treatment away from home.  Kalmia understands that having a system of support surrounded by a strong community and a “place to call home” is an essential part of recovery and the essence of Family House.

Kalmia has been a remarkable asset to the Family House volunteer team. She understands the workflow of the house and how the team operates. When the volunteer team needs support, Kalmia is always able to bridge the gap. She can work independently, yet at the same time, she can skillfully manage individual volunteers, volunteer groups, and volunteer activities - without hesitation. 

We want to thank Kalmia Beets for being an outstanding Volunteer Leader and being part of what makes Family House so special.

She continues to make a valuable impact on all of us at Family House. 
We appreciate her drive, her compassion, and her courage.

Learn more about volunteering at Family House at

Monday, April 3, 2017

Staff Spotlight: Monique Ngo

Where did you grow up?
San Jose

Position at Family House:      
Hospitality Services Coordinator

Reason for working at Family House:
I used to volunteer for Family House when I was an undergraduate student at the University of San Francisco, and remembered how much I loved working with the staff and how great it was to be a part of something that provided so much support and empathy to families with children with cancer or other serious illnesses. Considering my mom has been sick for a majority of my life (kidney failure, then cancer), I know how an illness can affect not only the one who is sick, but the entire family as well. I wanted to be a part of the staff at Family House in order to provide families the support and love they need in order to hopefully lessen some of the stress they may be facing.
Favorite thing to do in San Francisco: 
I love trying new restaurants around the city! There are just so many different places I want to go and try that my list just keeps getting longer! I also love exploring around the city. There are a lot of little gems around the city and whenever I have free time I like to go adventure to find them.

What makes you special?
I always have colorful hair! I enjoy dyeing my hair different colors and I have a tendency to change it up often. Having colorful hair just makes me feel happy and so far it seems to put a smile on other peoples faces, too, so that makes me even more happy!

What's the story behind the photo?
This photo was taken on my birthday this year when I was at the Academy of Sciences with my partner. I love being around plants and nature so when I saw this wall of plants it just made me happy so I wanted a picture with it. So my partner started to take pictures of me standing in front of it but instead of counting off or telling me he was going to start to take a picture, he just kept snapping picture after picture, during which I kept moving. This is one of the photos that resulted from the “photoshoot” my partner decided to have of me standing in front of a wall of plants. My friends and I also used to joke how I could just blend in with trees and plants because my hair was so green during this little “photoshoot” -  I kept joking how my hair was a part of the plants!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Staff Spotlight: Alison Blom

Where did you grow up?
Petaluma, California

Position at Family House: Development Associate

Reason for working at Family House:
I love seeing the smiling faces of families walk down the hall every day and spreading the word about all of the amazing things Family House does for people.

Favorite thing to do in San Francisco: 
Run through Lands End on a really nice day

What makes you special? 
I love, love, LOVE French Bulldogs (and all dogs, for that matter). And I have hiked the largest sand dune in the world!

What's the story behind the photo?
Manny the Frenchie came to Family House and it was terr-wooof-ric!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Staff Spotlight: Ung Ly

Where did you grow up? 
San Francisco

Position at Family House:
Maintenance Supervisor

Reason for working at Family House: It feels great to work at a place that helps others.   

Favorite thing to do in San Francisco: 
Running in Golden Gate Park, along the Embarcadero, in the Presidio, and across the Golden Gate Bridge.

What makes you special?
The willingness to help others before myself.

What's the story behind the photo?
Here is a picture of me with my family on the swings at the park. I am with my 11-month old daughter, Keira, and my wife, Chris, is with my 2-year old daughter, Jada. Both kids love to play on the swing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Staff Spotlight: Monica Rodriguez

Name: Monica Rodriguez

Where did you grow up? Born in San Jose, Costa Rica and moved to Oakdale, California when I was 3 years old. Grew up in Oakdale, and moved to San Francisco when I started college at San Francisco State.

Position at Family House: Hospitality Service Coordinator

Reason for working at Family House: I have a passion for helping others and being a support system to anyone who is going through a rough time. I have a big heart and want to spread love in any way I can!

Favorite thing to do in San Francisco:  Catch a Giants game and eat lots of Ghirardelli chocolate.

What makes you special? I’ve got red lips, a heart of gold, and deep love of Hispanic cuisine!