Come celebrate Cesar Chávez on Friday, March 31st from 4pm to 8pm at East Palo Alto Academy (1050 Myrtle St, EPA, 94303). Cesar Chávez was one of the most inspirational labor leaders of the 20th century, with an influence that stretched far beyond the California fields. Join us for free food, raffles, resource connection, speakers and entertainment. Special guest Joaquín Jiménez will be the keynote speaker.
On Saturday, February 18th, San Mateo County Supervisor, David Canepa, hosted a “Caffeinate and Conversate with Canepa” event in Daly City, creating a space for a community conversation on mental health. Following the Half Moon Bay shooting and the recent storms in the Bay Area, it was great having the opportunity to learn from fellow mental health providers andadvocates on accessing and improving mental health resources within San Mateo County.
San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) Director, Dr. Maria Lorente-Foresti and Program Coordinator, Nicoletta Kelleher had the honor of presenting about BHRS services and resources. The presentation focused on Prevention and Early Intervention programs, youth and adult Mental Health First Aid, Workforce Education Trainings, Health Equity Initiatives and more. Throughout the presentation, attendees were referred to BHRS ODE’s program brochures and resources in order to ensure community members could easily access our services. The event also included contributions and resources from valued partners including Christi Morales-Kumasawa and Stephanie Garma Balon from KAPWA Kultural Center and Café, Virginia Chang Kiraly from National Alliance and Mental Illness (NAMI), and Fan Li from North East Medical Services (NEMS).
BHRS ODE is extremely appreciative to have had the opportunity to inform our community of our programs and services. We are grateful to Supervisor David Canepa and his team for inviting us to speak at this event, as well as creating a space for the community to voice their concerns and struggles following the recent traumatic events within our county. We look forward to participating in more events to help build community connections and the opportunity to amplify the voices of our underserved communities in order to make accessing behavioral health services more equitable and inclusive for all.
To learn more about David Canepa’s past and upcoming events, visit his social media pages:
Alternatives To Suicide is a new approach to sharing about our experiences without the fear of judgment or coercion. Originally created by the Wildflower Alliance, this group is a safe non-clinical space for individuals who are personally experiencing suicidal thoughts and/or have attempted suicide.
The first in-person group will meet on Thursday, March 16, 3:30 – 5:00 pm at Heart & Soul’s Community Drop-In Center (1633 Old Bayshore Hwy. Suite 258, Burlingame, CA 94010).
The group will be offered on the 1st Thursday of the month on Zoom and on the 3rd Thursday of the month in person at Heart & Soul’s Burlingame location.
All participants must agree to respect and apply the Alternatives To Suicide Charter provided at the beginning of the group meetings.
The Parent Project Spring 2023 semester is officially here! As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Parent Project classes have been strictly virtual for the past three years. For this reason, we are excited to be transitioning back into in-person classes. This semester, our first in-person class is facilitated by Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center’s (PCRC), Evelia Chairez, alongside the Community Alliance to Revitalize Our Neighborhoods’ (CARON), Jose Luis Aguirre. Our first class was quite the success as we had numerous parents and caregivers join us at the Redwood City Library for our first in-person Spanish class since Spring of 2020. Our second in-person class is hosted by StarVista’s, Eddy Caldera and Mario Vargas, who are hosting another in-person Spanish class at Fiesta Gardens International school.
For virtual classes, we have one virtual Spanish class being hosted by StarVista’s Lilia Quezada, alongside Ara Vazquez and Gaby Berber. Our virtual English class is hosted by Peninsula Conflict Resolution’s Center and the Pacific Islander Initiative’s co-chair, Brittany Tonga.
“I am very happy to have the Parent Project classes in person again. It is very motivating for me to see that parents want to learn more tools to educate their children. Each week they return with new experiences and feedback on how they are applying what they learn in the classroom at home. I have always said that today’s parents have a harder job to do, since they were educated in an analog world and now they have to educate in a digital era, often unknown to them. The fact that they attend the classes every week speaks volumes about their role as parents who always want to be better for their kids.”
Jose Luis Aguirre, Parent Project Facilitator
“Estoy muy feliz de tener nuevamente las clases del Proyecto de Padres en persona. Es muy motivador para mi ver que los padres quieren aprender más herramientas para educar a sus hijos. Cada semana regresan con nuevas experiencias y comentarios de cómo están aplicando en casa lo que aprenden en el salón de clase. Siempre he dicho que a los padres de hoy en día les toca una labor más fuerte, pues ellos fueron educados en un mundo análogo y ahora tienen que educar en un mundo digital, en muchas ocasiones desconocido para ellos. El hecho de que asistan cada semana a su clase habla muy bien de su papel como padres que siempre quieren lo mejor para sus hijos.
Jose Luis Aguirre, Facilitador del Proyecto de Padres
Thus far, this semester has allowed us to rebuild connections with our community members. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are aware that there are added obstacles associated with rebuilding familial relationships. For this reason, we are implementing practices to better assist parents in an era that has been more anxiety inducing for both parents and children. ODE’s Community Program Specialist, Charo Martinez, will be working in collaboration with her fellow Health Ambassadors to educate parents and caregivers on the Health Ambassador Program. We are beyond thankful for the outstanding contributions of our partners Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center and StarVista. We are looking forward to what the future of the Parent Project has in store!
In honor of Black History Month, please join Heart & Soul for “Lunch and Listen”, an Intimate Conversation About Mental Health with Officer Leon Jackson. Officer Jackson, a Black police officer with lived experience, will share his experiences of being both Black and Blue during this unique time in history, and his daily struggle to safeguard his mental wellness.
No registration required. Join via Zoom here or learn more about the event at their website here.
Please join Heart & Soul for in-personand online wellness activities!
Our groups and activities are free of chargeand are open to all residents of San Mateo County.
New in February:
Every Thursday starting February 8th, Mindful Movement will be led by a yoga instructor in-person at the Drop-In Center. We will offer a hybrid live/virtual class via zoom for remote attendance.
Friday Night Movies are returning live on the 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month, in-person at Friends of Hope at North County, Daly City.
Heart & Soul will host our February Open House on Wednesday, February 15, 3:00 – 6:00 pm at our Burlingame Drop-In Center, with a special program honoring Black History Month.
HealthRIGHT 360’s Pioneer Court is celebrating its grand reopening by holding an open house event.
Pioneer Court has served San Mateo since 2015 and has become a staple in the behavioral health community. Despite the unprecedented pandemic, their doors stayed open for anyone who needed their services. Today, they are proud to be a beacon of hope and continue serving the community youth and adults virtually and in person. The team at Pioneer Court looks forward to welcoming attendees to the grand reopening of its facility.
The event will be on Friday, 1/27/23 from 2pm to 5pm. Look forward to guest speakers, raffle prizes, and learning more about their youth and adult programs. More details are located on the flyer pdf below. Looking forward to seeing you all there!
As we kick off the Holiday Season, I am reminded of the importance of community and how I was recently surrounded by the Pacific Islander community. As a member of the BHRS Office of Diversity & EquityPacific Islander Initiative, I did my first 5K at Samoan Solutions 12th Annual Turkey Trot for Charity at the Brisbane Marina in South San Francisco. Despite the bone chilling morning air, many made their health a priority by running and walking the 5K event.
This year’s beneficiary was Soup 4 the Soul which is a family led effort to provide for the needs of San Francisco’s homeless community. 2022 is Soup 4 the Soul’s 8th year of offering hot soup and necessities for those less fortunate during the Thanksgiving holiday. Samoan Solutions is giving a portion of this year’s proceeds to support this local effort of paying it forward.
To learn more about our Health Equity Initiative, visit here. To learn more about our Pacific Islander Initiative, visit here.
Written by Twila Dependahl (she/her), BHRS Office of Diversity & Equity
Saturday at noon, the radiant sun, and hundreds of people ready to experience an LGBTQ+ celebration for the first time. Not just any celebration, but the 10 year anniversary of San Mateo County’s PRIDE Celebration!
Volunteering at the 2022 San Mateo County Pride Celebration this past June was a group of BHRS’ Health Ambassadors, accompanied by their children. Joined by BHRS’ Office of Diversity & Equity, the Health Ambassadors helped collect demographic data of attendees to learn which communities were represented at the event. Along with volunteering, the Health Ambassadors were ready to make a special connection with their children and learn more about the LGBTQ+ community.
“[At the Pride Celebration] my 14-year-old daughter seemed very happy, very open, like she was in her world. It was very natural for her to go with me around the park asking attendees each of the 6 questions of the questionnaire. We found happy people, dancing and enjoying their acceptance,”
BHRS Health Ambassador, Lourdes Briseño, who had not attended a PRIDE celebration prior and, inspired by her experience at the festival, shared her story for the first time.
“When my daughter came out she was between 8 and 9 years old, but I feel that I did not listen to her… At age 12 she came out to her older brother. Luis clarified/educated me that my daughter is a lesbian and demanded that I never reject her. I could had avoided 4 years of her suffering…”, said Lourdes. “When we arrived at the park, my husband looked very uncomfortable, but at last he said that he wanted to attend a support group for parents with LGBTQ + children… Having attended this event was a way of supporting my daughter. She is very young and needs the support of her family and then the support of society, because we don’t live alone as a family, she must make her life safer and happier for herself. Also, I learned the term ‘Queer’*”
During the event, the community enjoyed local artists on stage, information booths breaking stigma around the LGBTQ+ community, and the playground for children and adults. While gifts were raffled and folks enjoyed the sun, it seems that the same balm of joy and freshness transforms minds and moves hearts.
“For me it was nice to see that people fight to feel comfortable with who they are and that they find freedom along the way. At my daughter’s age -14 years old- she is already clear that all people should be accepted as they are, and we don’t have to judge anyone. We weren’t taught that where I grew up”.
BHRS Health Ambassador, Angelica Zamora, originally from Mexico
BHRS Health Ambassadors collected a total of 826 demographic surveys from an estimated total of 2,400 attendees from various parts of the Bay Area and other states across the country. The Spanish speaking community was the second largest group of attendees after the English speakers.
You can find the Health Ambassadors continuing their support for LGBTQ+ communities at TransACTION Day of Change this Friday, 11/18 in Redwood City.
The African American Community Initiative (AACI) proudly hosted their annual Black History Month Program on Saturday, February 26, 2022. The audience was greeted with a musical interlude by The Glide Ensemble singing “Say Their Names” chanting “Black lives matter- we matter.” This poignant song was followed by Dana Johnson (they/them), Pride Initiative Co-Chair, honoring our ancestors by reciting the Sankofa African Ancestral acknowledgement. Lee Harrison (he/him), AACI Co-Chair, gave an introduction to the national theme for Black History Month: Black Health and Wellness.
Doctoral student from Palo Alto University and AACI intern, Chika Ofodu (she/they) gave a well received presentation on Healing Centered Engagement (HEC), a framework for engaging with youth of color that embraces a holistic and strength- based approach to trauma that involves culture, spirituality, civic action, and collective healing.
Dr. Kim Rhoads (she/her) told us that the highest rate of COVID infection and deaths are still occurring in Black and Latino communities. Social determinants drive these disparities that are common among all other diseases. Although the total numbers of people with COVID has declined, Dr Rhoads emphasised that Black and Brown communites need to continue to follow precautionary guidelines to reduce our high infection rates:
Masking matters: It is most important to block the aerosol spread from the mouth and nose.
Protect yourself by getting vaccinated despite community conspiracy theories to the contrary.
Omicron is a variant of COVID, there will likely be new variants.
We must act accordingly to protect ourselves from this airborne disease.
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