Thursday, December 27, 2018

Family House Volunteers in 2018

Family House Volunteers Rock! We are grateful to the more than 4,000 volunteers who supported the Family House community in 2018. To put it simply, we couldn’t do it without you!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Family Stories: Felicita and Maria

Felicita has been coming to Family House since 2006, when she first traveled from Guam to the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco for medical treatment for her infant daughter, Maria. Hear how they are doing now, and why the bonds they form at Family House are so important for healing.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Volunteer Stories: XO Bakes

We love Becca Jones from XO Bakes! She hosts “Cookies for a Cause” cookie decorating classes at Family House. This airbnb “social impact experience” raises money for Family House and introduces the Family House mission to our community. The class is educational, fun, and delicious! Hear from Becca why she got involved, and what Family House has meant to her.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Family Stories video: Natasha’s Journey

Natasha looks back at the 14 years that she’s been coming to Family House since her successful cancer treatment in 2004 at the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. Hear what Family House has meant for her recovery.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Rockstar Volunteer: Ashley Frolich

Ashley Frolich is an excellent volunteer who continually shines at every instance while at Family House. As a student at the University of San Francisco, Ashley majors in psychology and wants to eventually become a child and family counselor, and she is off to an incredible start.

Both inside and outside of Family House, Ashley has displayed extraordinary leadership. She is dependable, friendly, outgoing, and motived, with a strong desire to help families. These attributes truly shined through her work at the Family House Fall Fest Gala. She proved to be indispensable as a volunteer leader, directing and managing other volunteers and making it an unforgettable night.

Ashley has been a remarkable asset to the Family House volunteer team. She understands the essences of the house and how the families and team function. When families or staff need additional support, Ashley is always able to bring her extraordinary skills to the table. She can work independently, yet at the same time, she can skillfully manage individual volunteers, volunteer groups, and volunteer activities. We are so fortunate to benefit from her enthusiasm, kindness, and abilities. 

Thank you so much, Ashley, for your determination, your creativity, and the care you give to the families and staff. Family House sincerely appreciates you. We look forward to seeing you succeed in your future endeavors, and you continue to make a valuable impact on all of us at Family House. 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Fall Fest Gala Recap

The 37th Annual Family House Gala, Fall Fest, held on October 27, 2018 at the Westin St. Francis Hotel raised more than $1 million to help families of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses! Co-chaired by Nancy Grand and Susan Mall, and honoring Okta for Good, Fall Fest was the most successful Family House Gala to date, and will help Family House serve its mission of providing free, temporary housing for 4,000 children and families as they undergo treatment at the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in the coming year. Special thanks to all of our committee members, sponsors, and donors who helped make this an amazing night!

Watch the video to re-live all the excitement:

Monday, October 8, 2018

Family Story: Natasha’s Fight

Four days before her 12th birthday, Natasha Anderson was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – a bone cancer – in her right leg. 

 “It was hard, watching all my friends doing their hair and their eyebrows, and I didn’t have any eyebrows OR hair, and it was sad and embarrassing, and I felt ugly at times. But you just stay strong and do the little things that make you feel good. You’ve just got to keep moving forward, and stay positive, and try to be surrounded by positive, supportive, motivating people. 

“Family House made my cancer experience (which was horrible and sad and depressing) that much better. How can something like Family House make this better?  It was really cool to have a place like Family House to come to. When you come here, you’re not judged. And being a part of Family House, it’s like a family. We’re not related, and everyone’s different, but everybody has a good heart. It’s great to come here, and feel comfortable, and know that you’ll be alright. If you need some help, there’s somebody here who will help you.

“We basically had to live in San Francisco for a year and a half while I was going through chemo. My mom had to quit her job and stay with me in the hospital every single day. We couldn’t have done it without Family House.

“And now, 13 years later, I’m thankful that I’ve made it through cancer, I beat it, and I was able to have 2 kids of my own. I’m thankful to have my life, and thankful to have Family House a part of it.”

Learn about how you can help fighters like Natasha at

Monday, September 17, 2018

Volunteer Stories: Boswick the Clown

Boswick isn’t kidding around when it comes to his volunteer service at Family House - he takes clowning very seriously. He’s been entertaining kids and parents at Family House for over a decade with his goofy jokes, amazing tricks, and beautiful balloon animals. Hear from Boswick about all the ways he makes kids laugh, and why Family House is so important to him.

Monday, September 10, 2018

YPAC's Childhood Cancer Awareness Fundraiser

The Family House Young Professionals Advisory Council is raising funds for Family House in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Every two minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer - about 300,000 kids worldwide are diagnosed with cancer each year. Family House provides a no-cost home away from home for families of children battling cancer at the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. Watch their video at or make a donation today

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Family House was founded by Dr. Art Ablin, one of the fathers of pediatric oncology. His vision to create a compassionate, supportive home away from home for families of children fighting cancer is a reality thanks to private donations from supporters like you. Make a difference today:

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Volunteer Spotlight: Mike Wong

Volunteer Spotlight: Mike Wong

Family House heavily depends on volunteers, and when our weekly volunteers are able to stay connected to help out week after week, it is a huge benefit to the organization. Mike Wong has been volunteering consistently as our of our Office Volunteers for over a year. He first volunteered with Family House as an employee at Salesforce through New Hire Training & Orientation in 2016. He felt so connected to the mission that he came back as an individual volunteer to help with events and back office data entry. With his knowledge, skills, and abilities he is able to help improve efficiency and overall effectiveness in thanking our wonderful donors.

Mike has even gotten his kids involved, and they donated stocking stuffer gifts for our families during the holiday season. His son Sean joined the 2018 Summer High School Program to have a deeper engagement and understanding of Family House.

Thank you, Mike, for all you have done over the past 2 years and we hope that you continue to volunteer with Family House for many years to come!

Learn more about volunteering at Family House at

Monday, August 20, 2018

Family Stories: Veronica’s Story

Family House Family Stories: Sharing the brave and inspiring stories of families of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. When baby Tucker was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, he was rushed to the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital for treatment. Tucker’s mom, Veronica, shares how Family House has helped her family cope with a life-threatening illness, and how our supportive community keeps them going.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Summer High School Volunteer Program Wrap-up

Each summer, Family House hosts a group of 15 high school volunteers who participate in activities and complete projects benefiting our families. We had students this year from George Washington, Lowell, Marin Academy, Lick-Wilmerding, Abraham Lincoln, Mercy, San Ramon Valley, St. Ignatius, Design Tech, and Oceana high schools - what a great mix! During each weekly session, in their activities in the house, students meet families and other volunteers. On the first day of the program, students met a family and heard their touching story, and were able to ask questions about treatment, travel, and life at Family House, all to better understand the people who would benefit from their service throughout the summer.

Every week, students also had the opportunity to interact with Family House staff from each department, hearing them speak about their roles within the organization, and how their department supports the overall functions of Family House. These presentations might help guide students as they consider their own future careers.

This year’s students (Ella, Madeline, Olivia, Mimoh, Jake, Shannen, Fion, Hailey, Nathan, Riley, Zoe, Dante, Lucy, Crystal, and Sean) were outstanding, and accomplished numerous fun projects for the families, including: decorating the house in preparation for the 4th of July festivities; hosting a pizza party and game night, including Bingo (with prizes for everyone); and hosting a cupcake baking & decorating activity. Each activity provided enjoyment and entertainment for the families going through a very difficult time.

The Summer High School Volunteer Program is so important to Family House: these young, service-minded, focused students use their talents to uplift our kids and families, while giving volunteers the opportunity to serve their community and those in need. One participant said, “It’s honestly just very humbling to see that small actions of love and care can make such a difference in somebody’s life.”  And we want to thank all those who participated this year!

From all of us at Family House, thank you! 

Karen Banks, Director of Volunteer Programs
Tarence Dixon, Volunteer Coordinator

Monday, July 16, 2018

Staff Spotlight: Luis Gay

 Name: Luis Gay

Where did you grow up?
San Diego in a town called Point Loma.

Position at Family House:
Hospitality Services Coordinator

Reason for working at Family House:
The reason I work here is because I love interacting with families, listening to their different stories and experiences, and helping them feel comfortable through what might be a difficult situation.

Favorite thing to do in San Francisco:
Picnics at Golden Gate Park, Dolores Park, and Baker Beach

What makes you special?
When I was in marching band, I played the saxophone and spun rifles in the color guard.

What's the story behind the picture?
This is a picture of me hiking at Glen Canyon. My classmates and I were catching dragonflies.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Staff Spotlight: Cait Spitek

Name: Cait Spitek

Where did you grow up? 
I was born and raised in Woodland, CA

Position at Family House: 
Hospitality Services Coordinator

Reason for working at Family House: 
I love working with children and families from all different backgrounds and creating a positive environment for them to call home away from home.

Favorite thing to do in San Francisco:  
I love exploring the array of food in the city and finding new breweries. I also love going to the beach and practicing yoga!

What makes you special? 
I am a master at driving stick shift in the city! Hehe A real talent I never thought I would excel in.


Monday, June 25, 2018

Incredibles 2 Screening at Family House

Thank you to Disney Pixar for screening the just-released Incredibles 2 at Family House, and to Google for throwing an awesome movie party so we could all get in the Super spirit! Check out the photos on 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Black Tag Bags Fundraiser

Veronica Coleman is a Family House mom and the proprietor of Black Tag Bags, and recently organized a fundraiser (one of several she’s already done!) for Family House.

What is your connection to Family House?
Family House has been my second home since Jan 2017, while our 20 month old son, Tucker, received cancer treatment at UCSF.

Tell us about your most recent fundraiser for Family House.
Black Tag Bags are handmade all-purpose bags (shopping, lunch, and handbags). Each bag is unique and I try to use reclaimed fabric as much as possible. I started making them just before Tucker was diagnosed and it was put on hold until last month. I started making and selling the bags to friends and family, then started a facebook page where bags can be purchased. I release new bags each week, and take custom orders. The bags are still in high demand and I was excited to sell out my first few weeks.

Why did you decide to help raise money for Family House?
I decided to give $2 of each bag sold to Family House simply because I can not repay Family House enough for what they have done for my family. I plan to donate $2 of every Black Tag Bag sold forever.

Do you make anything in addition to bags?
I use the wrappers from a years worth of broviac flush supplies to make crinkle squares for UCSF Pediatric Units. (Yes, I saved them, I’m BIG on recycling and the waste of medical supplies drove me nuts, so I came up with an idea to repurpose.) I have a goal to make one for every bag I sell.  (Watch the video to see how crinkly they are!)

What would you say to encourage others who are thinking of doing a fundraiser for Family House or another charity that they care about?
Every dollar counts. Facebook and social media sites make it easy to set up fundraisers. Or if you see a need, just put it out there, ask, and people will help. (Sometimes an ask for specific items, like kitchen supplies, as some people feel more comfortable donating a needed item, rather than just cash.) I think most people would rather donate to a cause that they can see the immediate results of, and our friends and family have seen first hand what Family House has done for us. 

From all of us at Family House, thank you, Veronica!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Family Stories: Brayden and Ashlee

When he was just a baby, Brayden and Ashlee stayed at Family House for months so he could receive a bone marrow transplant at the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. Seven years later, the transplant failed and Brayden had to have a second (and third) transplant. Hear from Ashlee how Family House helped save her son’s life.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Albert Schweitzer Fellowship 2017-18 Leadership Award

Congratulations to Board Chair Steve Goldfarb and Board Member/Family Services Committee Chair Linda Goldfarb on being recipients of the 2017-18 Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Leadership Award for Outstanding Community Service for 15 years of service to Family House.

Steve Goldfarb is the current Board Chair, and was instrumental in securing the land in Mission Bay upon which to build the 80-bedroom Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House, which opened in March, 2016. Linda Goldfarb is also on the Board of Directors, and is Chair of the Family Services Committee – a group of dedicated community members who identify areas of support for the parents and children staying at Family House.

Most recently, the Family Services Committee coordinated a Mother’s Day Celebration, which included local businesses contributing to a day of pampering for the moms at Family House. The Mother’s Day Celebration is just one of many special events where volunteers and donors come join together to lift the spirits of help families and help them live with dignity live in dignity during the most difficult time of their lives. In addition to their Board service, Linda and Steve volunteer at Family House with their 4PAWS therapy dogs, Fozzy and Ollie. They conceived of Fozzy’s Toy Room and helped see it through so that every child who comes to Family House can choose a new toy to call their own, and in turn be more comfortable at Family House. As the owners of Anomaly Vineyards in St. Helena, they have also participated in Cabernet for Connoisseurs, Family House’s largest annual fundraiser.

The Leadership Award for Outstanding Community Service is presented to individuals who, like Albert Schweitzer, have “made their lives their argument” by adopting Schweitzer’s Reverence for Life as the cornerstone for giving their time and resources to people, institutions, and causes that serve the neediest among us.

We thank them for their many years of service to Family House families, and congratulate them on this much-deserved award!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Brewtastic Bash is Coming Up!

The 6th Annual Family House Young Professionals Advisory Council’s Brewtastic Bash is coming up on June  23rd at the SOMA StrEat Food Park. What is Brewtastic Bash? San Francisco Bay Area home brewers that are part of the Sirwisa Brewing Collective pour tasty beers that you can’t get anywhere else, while judges from some of the Bay’s top beer purveyors use their expertise to pick their favorites. Your entrance ticket gets you unlimited tastings and access to a silent auction, all at our favorite Brewtastic venue. The entire event benefits Family House! Get your tickets now at

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Meet & Greet with Buster Posey from the San Francisco Giants

Thanks to our friends at the Community Relations team at the San Francisco Giants, some very lucky Giants fans got to do a meet and greet with Buster Posey and his family at AT&T Park! More than 30 guests from Family House spent a little pre-game time with the Poseys, asking questions, taking pictures, and getting autographs - and then got to watch the home team Beat LA! Thank you to the Giants for this hats-off once in a lifetime experience! More photos at

Friday, April 13, 2018

National Volunteer Week 2018

National Volunteer Week is April 15-21st!  This year, we 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 have hosted more meals, celebrated more birthdays, spent time with more therapy dogs and disinfected our communal spaces more than ever before to support our 4,000 families. We absolutely could not provide all of our support services without each and every one of you.

We are coming up on two years of supporting families in our Mission Bay home and 3,277 of you were instrumental to that in 2017. 
Volunteer Week is 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
Tarence Dixon, Volunteer Coordinator

Monday, April 2, 2018

Family House Impact

Watch the latest Family House video - Family House Impact -

Monday, March 26, 2018

Volunteer Spotlight: Taylor Epstein

One of the ways Family House is able to secure funding is through our annual Cabernet for Connoisseurs and Gala events each year. A critical component to these events are our volunteers. We heavily depend on our Captain volunteers to help our staff run an efficient event with over 100 volunteers supporting. Once such incredible Volunteer Captain is Taylor Epstein. Taylor has been volunteering with Family House since 2013 and the majority of the time is spent at our events.

Taylor is a Pro at managing volunteers to work the silent auction and to bring in much needed funds to Family House. Coming from the nonprofit world she understands how important volunteer engagement is and its effect on fundraising. Even though Taylor has a full time job, she still finds time to help and volunteer on weekends for Family House. She has become an integral part of the Volunteer Program by supporting volunteer group activities on a regular basis.

Thank you, Taylor, for all you have done over the past 5 years and we hope that you continue to volunteer with Family House for many years to come!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

23rd Annual Cabernet for Connoisseurs

Can we just say WOW?! The 23rd Annual Cabernet for Connoisseurs was our most incredible event yet, and our most successful! A huge thank you to event co-chairs Jeff Smith and Scott Miller, and our amazing event committee (Carolyn Duryea, Steve Goldfarb, Susie Heller, Kimberly Jones, Lorcan Kearney, John Kugler, Adriel Lares, Kim Murphy, Bob Nibbi, Bill Shea, Dan Toney, Alex Virgilio, Spencer Wang, Faith Wheeler, Michelle Yoshinaka, Debbie Zachareas), for putting together such an outstanding event! We absolutely could not have done it without all 41 pouring vintners - representing the best of the best of Napa and Sonoma wines. Thank you to our lead sponsors, The Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation and Pamela & George Hamel, Jr.,  to all who sponsored the event, donated, attended, and volunteered - it was indeed a night to remember!

More photos available at

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Feelings Cards

Sometimes, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can be hard to use your mental energy to help resolve your feelings. We created a set of “feelings cards” that are in every guest room at Family House. They may not fix everything, but sometimes a simple reminder can be enough to help you on a path to feeling better.

One mom asked if we have any cards for when you go home... Family Services Coordinator Elan Slavin came up with a few ideas that someone can use from anywhere!

I’m Feeling Lonely
You Can…

- Call or text a friend… “just to say hi!”

- Reach out to your trusted support network
- Ask for a hug

I’m Feeling Creative
You Can…

- Gather a few art supplies (even a piece of paper and a pen will do), walk outside, and find inspiration in nature around you

- Do a five minute writing exercise:
    - Define Love
    - Normal is…
    - List 5 things you expect in a good friend
    - List 3 things you DIDN’T do this weekend
    - Name one food you will never give up

I’m Feeling Frustrated
You Can…

- Take 3 deep, slow breadths and count to 10

- Reach out to someone you trust, who is a good listener - and vent!

- Create a “pros and cons” list of what’s frustrating you

- Visualize your HAPPY PLACE

I’m Feeling Happy
You Can…

- Start a Gratitude journal!

- Start by listing the top 3 things in your life to be grateful for

- Play! Go outside & enjoy some fresh air

- Find some “me” time - do what you love to do most

- Pay it Forward - do one thing kind for someone else

Have more ideas? We’d love to hear them!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Staff Spotlight: Araceli Guerrero

Name: Araceli Guerrero

Where did you grow up? In El Salvador

Position at Family House: Housekeeping

Reason for working at Family House: I love the families, I love my job, I like all the staff in Family House - everyone is very nice.

Favorite thing to do in San Francisco: Walk, enjoy the weather, visit friends.

What makes you special? I am a very simple person and I feel special because I am a mom of four wonderful kids. 2 girls - 18  and 17, and two boys - 13 and 7, who are in El Salvador.