Monday, April 27, 2020

Thoughts on Cancer & Covid Life

Post Written by Bob Drummond:

My fellow cancer survivors have noted that this forced quarantine feels familiar from our chemo treatments:  masks, gloves, super careful about germs, living in sweats.

It has occurred to me that our eventual reentry to post-COVID real life will be similar.   With cancer, there is no one moment when you can celebrate the end.  Even after chemo ends. It can take weeks for your body and mind to feel normal.  Even after you are done with treatment, there are still five years of follow-up tests, scans and doctor visits.  It was hard to know how to and when to celebrate.  So I learned to celebrate the little victories:  my first cup of coffee or taste of chocolate after chemo (both tasted terrible on chemo), the day I could get back to the swimming pool at the YMCA, my first beer, my hair growing back…all of these were small victories over time that were signposts that I was getting back to “normal” and I was mindful to celebrate each one of them.

I think our post-COVID life will be similar.  There will not be a moment-in-time when “it will be all over.”  There will not be a communal celebration, like the 4th of July.  More likely there will be a series of small victories over days and months:  returning to work, seeing friends and family in person, coffee in a real coffee shop, going to the mall to buy some pants, a return to the gym, worshipping together in the same space.

I think we better start emotionally and mentally preparing ourselves to recognize, appreciate and celebrate each small step toward normalcy, as they slowly come.  Then, one day, we may realize that our “normal life” has mostly returned.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A Message of Encouragement

To our Family House Family,

We want to reach out to first and foremost connect with you to let you know that we are thinking of you and holding all of you in our hearts.  We hope you are safe and taking care of yourselves and your loved ones.  These are unprecedented times we’re living in and we want you to know that we are still here, honoring our mission every day,  to keep families together while their child is fighting a life threatening illness.  As we cope with shuttered businesses, financial uncertainty,  school closures, shelter-in-place-orders,  and this virus, it is completely understandable to feel overwhelmed, anxious, or sad among a wide range of emotions as we navigate this confusing moment in time. During this time, taking care of your mental health is as important as your physical health, now more than ever. Please remember; it is completely normal to feel anxious as the uncertainty of this moment is clear and ever present in the news, on our screens, and in our conversations. It’s also normal to feel lonely; even if we’re all in our homes with our families 24/7! Now is the time to think out of the box, get creative and shelter-in-place guilt free.  Everyone’s days will look different.  Please just remember to be kind to yourselves.  There is no right way to get through this moment. 

Please know that you’re not alone.  We’re all attempting to find ways to connect It is so important now more than ever to reach out to family, friends, and your community for help and connection. Once we settle into a new normal and try to become less frustrated by our altered lives, we can make room for more positive things to come into focus such as deepening our relationships with our family, friends and even ourselves as we are forced  to slow down and reflect and focus on what’s most important.  

For now, be well, as always, take care of each other and know that your Family House family is holding you close and is here for you.

Elan Slavin, MSW
Family House Social Worker

Friday, March 20, 2020

Friends of Family House

*Family House continues to be operational to support the hundreds of people that stay every night. We are here doing our day-to-day job of supporting families in crisis and more than ever we are in need of support as we continue to open our doors and have capacity to house 80 families every night.

*Ways you can help: We are ensuring the safety of our families by cleaning daily and limiting visitors into Family House. This also means that we have suspended all volunteer activities for the immediate future. If you have ever volunteered at Family House you know how vital you are to our mission. You are the magic of Family House. We ask that instead of donating volunteer hours, you donate financially during this period at

As we struggle with the uncertainty that surrounds us, we are reminded of the uncertainty that surrounds a family experiencing serious illness at Family House. Please know that we are here and available for our families and we continue to carry out our mission with your support. We are here for one another. We will provide ongoing updates and are committed to staying connected.

Lots of Love from Family House

Monday, February 17, 2020

Volunteer Spotlight: Mary Kane

Mary Kane is one of our weekly volunteers - and she truly shines like the star she is. Mary is devoted to making every visit count and creates such a positive environment for families. She is always professional, encouraging, and committed to the work she performs.

Mary started volunteering November of 2016 and has given more than 100 hours to Family House!

"I always leave Family House with a full heart." – Mary

On behalf of the families and staff, we say THANK YOU to Mary for all that she offers and her help in making Family House a better place.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Wash Your Hands!

In the winter, there are many contagious viruses circulating, and they are especially dangerous for children with compromised immune systems. The best way to keep yourself and others healthy is to wash your hands frequently! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these 5 steps to keep your hands as clean as possible!

1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold is OK), and apply soap.

2. Lather your hands with the soap. Don't forget the backs of your hands, between  your fingers, and under your nails.

3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. (Tip: sing the song Happy Birthday twice!)

4. Rinse your hands under clean, running water. (If you can, turn off the faucet with a clean paper towel.)

5. Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry them.

Bonus: If you can use a clean paper towel to open the bathroom door, even better!

What about hand sanitizer?

Washing hands with soap and water is best, but if that's not possible, hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol content) will get rid of most germs. Apply the hand sanitizer to the palm of one hand and rub your hands together, over all of the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Clean = Safe

This bucket of cleaning supplies is so much more than meets the eye - every volunteer who helps clean common areas at Family House is helping to keep immune-compromised kids safe. That's one of the most important things about Family House - that it's not just a free place for families to stay, but that parents know that it's OK for their sick children to crawl on the carpet, to play with the toys, to touch and read all the books....

Click here to learn about how you can make a difference at Family House.

Monday, January 13, 2020

MLK Day of Service 1/20/2020

Did you know that the 3rd Monday in January, the observed birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is the only U.S. holiday that is also designated as a national day of service? If you have the day off from work or school, consider ways to give back to our community: volunteer, donate, or simply make a point of being kind to those around you. It’s easy to make a difference, and the circle of caring will continue to go around. Here are just a few ideas of ways to honor Dr. King and celebrate his contributions:

* Volunteer at a local nonprofit. (Family House is a great choice!)  Also look at resources like Volunteer Match or Hands on Bay Area

* Make a monetary donation. Every nonprofit requires money for overhead, and your donation ensures that no family will ever be turned away from Family House 

* Organize a drive for those less fortunate in your community - food, toys, and items like socks or toothbrushes for homeless shelters

* Random acts of kindness: buy someone a cup of coffee, let someone go ahead of you in the supermarket line, or compliment a stranger. Remember that there are lots of people with hidden struggles, and simply being kind can make a huge difference in someone’s day.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Family Breakfast

Every morning, Family House staff and volunteers prepare a healthy breakfast for families to enjoy together or take on their way home or to the hospital. Thank you to the donors who help make this happen! Special thanks to: Peerless Coffee and Tea, who have been supporting Family House since our old Inner Sunset days; The Fruitguys, who provide fresh fruit for every day of the year; Starbucks on 3rd Street for donating all kinds of tasty pastries (breakfast dessert, anyone?); and Neighbor Bakehouse on 3rd Street for donating amazing sweet and savory pastries. Combined with hot and cold cereal, yogurt, and juice options, we strive to make sure every family starts their day off right. Thank you to all who make it happen!