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!