June is National Immigrant Heritage Month! Join San Mateo County’s Office of Consumer Affairs in the Makerspace on June 14th, Wednesday, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. as we explore innovative and creative ways to celebrate the history and achievements of our immigrant communities. Decorate Epilog Laser Cutter wooden bookmarks or tell your story using heart map magnets. Learners of all ages and experience levels are welcome.
The in-person location is at Ravenswood Family Health Network in the Juanita Duncan Conference Room (1842 Bay Road, E Palo Alto).
Lunch and refreshments will be served!
Please see the above flyer for more information and how to reserve your seat if you plan to attend in-person (seating is limited).
You will need to log in separately for each meeting if you plan to participate via Zoom. For Zoom Info, email Lee Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Both meetings will have brief presentations:
Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE)
African American Community Initiative (AAC) – Adult Protective Services Presentation (Cassie Villar) and AACI Introduction and Overview
Spirituality Initiative (SI) – Bishop, Dr. Cleveland Prince, Senior Pastor of True Light Missionary Baptist Church in East Palo Alto. A discussion about “Spirituality in the African American Experience, Overcoming Struggles, Faith and Fatherhood.”
Please plan to join us, and please share this information widely in your networks!
Also join AACI and Voices of Recovery for their Juneteenth celebration on Friday, 6/16/23. More info here.
San Mateo County PRIDE Parade and Pride Celebration is 11 days away!
We hope you can join us on Saturday June 10th for the San Mateo County (SMC) Pride Parade, and after the parade come over to the SMC Pride celebration and celebrate Pride with us!!
Friendly Reminder, if you are interested in having a contingent at the 1st Annual SMC Pride Parade, registration is currently open!! The SMC Pride Parade registration deadline is Friday June 2nd. Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to be a part of history and participate in the San Mateo County 1st Annual Pride Parade!
The 1st Annual SMC Pride Parade will be Saturday June 10th from 10am-11am, starting on 2nd B street and ending at San Mateo Central Park! The SMC Pride Celebration will be Saturday June 10th from 11am-5pm at San Mateo Central Park.
Registration to the Pride Parade is currently OPEN but will close at the end of the day on June 2nd. Register Your contingent today using the link below.
Please join us on June 17 for the 14th Annual Our Family, Our Future event. This is a free and open-to-the-public event to promote elder care, prevent elder abuse and address Asian hate attacks. The event is hosted by Alliance for Community Empowerment in collaboration with Positive Filipino, Philippines News Today, SMC BHRS, The Philippine Consulate General in SF, and the City of South San Francisco. Please share with our partners and communities.
As our country’s newest National Holiday, Juneteenth acknowledges and celebrates the final end of institutional slavery in the United States.
This year’s event promises to be inspirational, fun and educational, with a program that includes presentations from San Mateo County Supervisor Noelia Corzo, a Proclamation presented by City of East Palo Alto Mayor Lisa Gauthier, African drumming and storytelling, a panel discussion, cultural performances, health checks (blood pressure and glucose), a photo booth, music and dinner.
As a new Senior Community Program Specialist in the County, there were breath-taking moments that gave me hope in our democracy by seeing everyday heroes in action—and they look like me, and you!
Beginning with an act of solidarity, Supervisor Ray Mueller addressed a public comment that conflated COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” by holding accountability immediately and centering all of our humanity, including the community member who said it. As the meeting went on, HEI Chinese Health Initiative co-chair Alyson Suzuki, offered a concise, authentic message leveraging her perspective as an Asian American parent. Simply put, she said “words matter,” to further demonstrate the impact of the racist remark. It was a chilling moment.
Notably, another HEI Pride Initiative co-chair Dana Johnson (they/them), shared two public comments as someone who lives an intersectional life as a Black transgender non-binary activist. They called specifically for the Board to consider actions that would move beyond Proclamations.
Co-presenting with the BHRS Director Dr. Jei Africa, my teammate and Suicide Prevention Program Coordinator and Pacific Islander Initiative member Twila Dependahl stood in her power as she spoke of the hard work that HEI’s are doing in our communities. The preparation for this presentation took immense collaborative efforts with Community Health Planner Sylvia Tang generously sharing her wisdom, leadership, and support that was behind the scene yet still so critical.
On the other side of the room, there were beautiful exchanges of support and encouragement. For example, with genuine care and joy, Supervisor David Canepa elevated another HEI Filipino Mental Health Initiative co-chair Stephanie Balon, who embodies kapwa (Tagalog for “togetherness/shared self”). Throughout the meeting, Supervisor Noelia Corzo offered gratitude to community members for sharing their stories.
Shortly afterwards, I talked with another HEI African American Community Initiative co-chair, Delicia “Dee” Pennix who attended the meeting in person for the Juneteenth Proclamation and we shared mutual feelings of excitement for our work, for the connections we are making, and for what’s ahead in our communities.
We are all extraordinary, everyday heroes.
You can learn how you can get involved with our Health Equity Initiative Co-Chairs by visiting http://smchealth.org/hei.
The Tony Hoffman Community Mental Health Services Award recognizes individuals, professionals, businesses, and media who have made an extraordinary difference in the lives of individuals living with mental health challenges and the communities in which they live. This year’s recipients included a diverse group of individuals representing BHRS programs and staff, partner agencies, media outlets, peers and youth leaders. The Board of Supervisors recognized and honored each recipient of the Tony Hoffman Community Mental Health Service Award for making an extraordinary difference in the lives of people with mental health challenges and the San Mateo County community.
1. BHRS Prenatal-to-Three Program staff strive to provide trauma-informed care and resources that improve infant, children and family overall quality of life who often experience stressors associated with financial difficulties, difficult parenting issues, trauma, domestic violence, mental health disorders, and drug and alcohol issues. Regina Moreno, Clinical Services Manager, Dr. Lovella Caluya-Diaz, Adult Psychiatrist, and Ivette Huerta, Unit Supervisor accepted the award on behalf of the program team.
2. Charlotte Rosario is a student in San Mateo who organized an open-mic event at San Mateo Central Park after losing Felipe, an Aragon High School student, to suicide. She is the founder of the community photobooth, a group of young photographers and filmmakers that raise funds for film projects that support mental health. Charlotte is also a member of the Behavioral Health Commission Youth Committee, Youth Action Board.
“When I was 12 years old, I lost my dad to suicide… the more I say it the stronger I get… through this journey my mom has taught me that the way to get through these challenges is by helping others”
– Charlotte R.
3. Fatima Olivares is a BHRS Mental Health Counselor who works with the Homeless Outreach program. She supported the Half Moon Bay community after the tragedy earlier this year. She was part of the Crisis Response Team and spent countless hours assisting families whose primary language is Spanish and who were in need of services and assistance.
As we settle into this month of May, we recognize several celebrations that are important to us, our work, and our communities: Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Month and Mental Health Month (MHM)!
At BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity, we are working hard to increase the visibility of our AANHPI communities and destigmatize mental health. Our AANHPI communities make up over 30% of our County, and have invaluably contributed to the vibrancy of neighborhoods. From being able to taste delicious food spreads of pancit and haupia, and practicing resilient wellness remedies passed on from generation to generation, it is a special time to lift up our AANHPI communities, friends, and family members.
In that spirit, we have two EVENTS where you can honor our diversity:
Sat, 5/20- A Wellness Gathering, hosted by Pacific Islander Initiative and the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center at Sneath Lane Cultural Center in San Bruno. Please consider joining us and sharing this opportunity with those we serve. The event will be a wonderful opportunity to connect with our community, obtain resources, complete health screenings and COVID vaccines and boosters, and enjoy delicious food and fun raffles.
The Chinese Health Initiative (CHI) welcomes Jessie Ren and Alyson Suzuki as their new co-chairs. The Chinese Health Initiative, created by Behavioral Health & Recovery Services’ Office of Diversity & Equity, was created in 2007 as a way to join people together who are interested in working to improve the health and well being of our Chinese community. Together, they advocate for culturally appropriate services, educate the community about different health issues and services available, and work with the community to increase outreach.
About the Co-Chairs:
Jessie Ren (she/her) grew up in China and came to the Bay Area in 2003. She has been working with the San Mateo County Department of Health as a Benefit Analyst for the past 11 years and has helped many families enroll in a multitude of government health programs. Jessie is passionate about bringing resources and her professional knowledge to those in need, more specifically, vulnerable as well as underserved populations. She is also a Certified English and Mandarin Medical Interpreter. Jessie’s work deeply involves her in the Chinese community where having the good fortune of being able to speak Mandarin, Shanghainese and Cantonese is helpful. She also enjoys working with other community leaders to organize and facilitate community events. Past successful events include an annual Chinese New Year Gala serving the peninsula, Health Insurance & Immigration Forum, Bay Area Ballroom Club dance parties, as well as an Anti-Asian Hate Rally in San Jose.
For leisure, Jessie loves dancing, musicals, meditation and traveling with her family. She enjoy learning about different cultures and trying all types of food, and her dream is to travel around the world one day.
As a longtime member of Chinese Health Initiative (CHI), it will be her honor and privilege to serve as a Co-Chair. Jessie looks forward to helping raise mental health awareness and to improve the well-being of our Chinese community.
Alyson Suzuki (she/her) is from New York City (NYC) and worked to serve low-income families in the greater NYC area before moving to the Bay Area in 2000. Her work focuses on providing educational opportunities and culturally appropriate support to immigrant and low-income families and children. She has over 25 years of experience leading complex organizations, advocating for systemic change and delivering quality services to underserved communities. In addition to her professional experience, Alyson has also served on the boards of the YMCA of San Francisco and Marin, and Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS). She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Strategic Human Resources Management. Alyson was a recipient and honoree of the California Governor’s Scholarship for Women in Public Service, a graduate of the Redwood City- San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Program, a member of the Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute and the San Mateo County API Caucus.
Alyson is the Founder and CEO of Unitedly. Unitedly’s mission is to ensure that Asian families and communities have equitable access to resources and opportunities to thrive. Raised in a low-income household by Chinese immigrant parents, Alyson knows first-hand the importance of resources, access and community support. Through her experiences, Alyson understands the impact of societal inequities and strongly believes in enabling all families to have a voice. As the founder of Unitedly, Alyson’s vision is to create a central agency dedicated to supporting underserved families, so that they have equal opportunities to be successful.
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