Category Archives: Community Education

Health Ambassadors Reflect on the Importance of SMC’s 10th Annual PRIDE Celebration

BHRS Health Ambassadors supporting 10 year Anniversary of San Mateo County’s PRIDE Celebration

Version en Español abajo

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.

Read more

Samaritan House Financial Resources

The Journey of Samaritan House

Could you use a financial boost? Have you needed financial assistance in the past just to get by? Do you struggle to make ends meet? Would an extra $500 or $1000 come in handy to deal with financial challenges?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, consider applying for The Journey at Samaritan House.

The Journey program will help you and your family improve your financial future. Work with a personal financial coach for eight (8) months and receive detailed financial health assessments. Also attend monthly webinars and financial trainings, while earning cash and incentives along the way!

For more information, call (650) 294-4323 or email feprogram@samaritanhousesanmateo.org.

Take Control of Your Finances!

This program is an easily accessible and fun way for you to increase yoru personal finance skills. Must have internet access and an email to participate.

Learn more at bit.ly/shfirststep. Sign up at (650) 294-4323 or email feprogram@samaritanhousesanmateo.org.

10/26- Heart & Soul Open House at New Location

Heart & Soul joyfully invites you to celebrate the opening of their new Community Drop-In Center in Burlingame! Join to learn what’s new, meet their team, have fun, be inspired, and celebrate their San Mateo County Mental Health Peer Support Community!

Free Admission! No advance registration or RSVP is required. All are welcome

Happy AAPI Heritage Month: Updates from the Pacific Islander Initiative

PII Co-Chair, Brittany Afu

This year, BHRS ODE’s Health Equity Initiative, Pacific Islander Initiative (PII) welcomes a returning co-chair, Brittany Afu, who is currently working with long-time partner, Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center. Luci Latu and Brittany have been focusing on rebuilding past partnerships and cultivating new ones to strengthen PII’s membership base.

Some of the initiative’s focus this year has been on COVID outreach – raising awareness around COVID testing, vaccines and linking families to COVID relief programs and services. Other focuses include outreaching for partner events and community classes, sharing information about services and completing community presentations to raise awareness on critical issues affecting the PII community.

Recently, the PII co-chairs presented to a class at UC Berkeley discussing Pacific Islander health disparities and how the initiative and other partnering agencies are developing strategies to address community needs. It is an ongoing effort, and we hope to make community impacts by filling future Parent Project courses, hosting Mental Health First Aid trainings and getting more families connected to needed care.

Blog written by Brittany Afu
Co-Chair of Pacific Islander Initiative of San Mateo County, 


To learn more about Pacific Islander Initiative and other health equity initiatives, visit SMCHealth.org/HEI.

The Health Equity Initiatives are funded through BHRS’ Office of Diversity and Equity. For more information click here.

To learn more about Pacific Islander Initiative, visit smchealth.org/pacific-islander-initiative.

AACI Black History Month Event | Thank you and Highlights

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.

Lastly, a cultural cooking demonstration of a Healthy Gumbo recipe was offered by Chef Opal of Daly City. Through-out the event there were presentation polls and raffles. A Black History Trivia Game and raffle ended the day on a high note. All event raffles were funded by the SMC BHRS’ Office of Diversity and Equity.

Written by Pamela Ward (she/her), African American Community Initiative Co-Chair

February 7: Familias con OMICRON: Historias y Recursos

San Mateo County’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) invites you to join us for our Spanish-speaking Livestream event: Families with OMICRON: Stories and Resources, on February 7th @ 6:30 pm.

This event will feature San Mateo County Latinx community members and their stories of how OMICRON impacted their entire family, how they coped with difficulties, the support received, and the positive outcome they experienced navigating the OMICRON surge! Also, hear the voice of a medical expert on OMICRON updates, and learn about San Mateo County Resources.

Join us on Monday, February 7 @ 6:30 pm, via Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook @CountyofSanMateo, @SMHealth.

**Interpretation in English will be provided.

 Watch our promotional videos here: 1 & 2

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La Oficina de Diversidad y Equidad (ODE) de BHRS (por sus siglas en Ingles, Servicios de Salud Conductual y Recuperación) del Condado San Mateo, los invita al evento virtual en Español:

Familias con OMICRON: Historias y Recursos -Febrero 7 @6:30pm.

La comunidad Latinx del condado San Mateo comparte historias de cómo OMICRON afectó a toda su familia, cómo enfrentaron las dificultades, el apoyo recibido y el resultado positivo que aún experimentaron durante la oleada de OMICRON. Además, escucha la voz de un experto médico sobre las actualizaciones de OMICRON, y los recursos del condado de San Mateo.

Acompáñanos este lunes 7 de Febrero a las 6:30 pm por las redes sociales del Condado San Mateo vía Twitter, YouTube and Facebook @CountyofSanMateo, @SMHealth

**Interpretación en Ingles disponible.

Videos promocionales aquí: 1 & 2

Join the OCFA Advocacy Academy

The Advocacy Academy is for individuals with behavioral health challenges and their family members who want to learn skills to be an effective advocate within BHRS and beyond.

Learn the skills to bring your voice to Behavioral Health and Recovery Services committees, particularly to the MHSA Health Equity Initiatives and all other workgroups. Learn to advocate for positive change, social inclusion, consumer and family education and outreach, and much more.

The next training session starts Thursday, February 3 and continues for a total of six consecutive Thursdays (February 3, 10,17, 24, March 3 and 10).

See the flier and application (PDF, Word). Applications are due by January 21, 2022.

For more information, contact the Office of Consumer and Family Affairs at ocfa@smcgov.org or call 800-388-5189. Learn more about the academy.

Parent Project Spring 2021 All Class Flyer

The Parent Project® is a free, 12-week course that is offered in English and Spanish to anyone who cares for a child or adolescent. The classes meet for three hours each week. Parents learn parenting skills and get information about resources and other support available in their communities. Parents/caregivers learn and practice skills such as:

  • appropriate ways to discipline
  • preventing or stopping alcohol, drug and tobacco use
  • improving communication skills
  • improving grades and school attendance

For more information about Parent Project visit smchealth.org/ParentProject.

Two Parent Project Spring 2021 Courses Starting 2/23 & 2/24

We are excited to share two of our confirmed Parent Project courses for Spring 2021. Facilitated by StarVista, both courses will be offered in Spanish and virtually. Please see the attached flyers for more information about schedule and how to register. Contact Kristie Lui at kflui@smcgov.org for any questions.

For more information about the Parent Project, please visit smchealth.org/ParentProject.

11/13 – Race & Coronavirus 3rd Town Hall

Please join us for our third Race & Coronavirus Town Hall event on Friday November 13th from 11am-1pm. You can register for event here. The focus of this town hall will be on CBOs/community organizations and their experience during pandemic. In preparation for this event, we sent out a survey to hear from community organizations, the finding from survey will be presented at Town Hall. Additionally, we will be hearing from SMC leadership on COVID-19 recovery plan.  We will have the opportunity to hear directly from community organization representatives during a panel discussion. Attachment includes event flyer in English and Spanish, please support us by sharing this with you community. 

Thank you so much, I hope to see you all on Nov. 13th!

In Community,
DEC Co- Chairs & Town Hall Planning Committee 

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