Category Archives: County

1/18 – Heart & Soul Lunar New Year Open House

Join Heart & Soul in celebrating the Lunar New Year! Learn about their programs, meet their team member, and gather in community. Their Lunar New Year open house is Wednesday, January 18th from 3pm to 6pm at 1633 Old Bayshore Hwy, Suite 258, Burlingame.

Come hear from featured guest speaker, Erica Horn, Executive Director of California Clubhouse. The open house will also include a door prize raffle. Will the Year of the Rabbit bring you look? You may be a winner!

For more info visit heartandsoulinc.org or email info@heartandsoulinc.org.

2/11 – AACI Presents: A Black History Month Celebration

Please join San Mateo County’s African American Community Initiative (AACI) for their 2023 Black History Month Celebration. The event is on Saturday, February 11th, 2023 from 10am to 2pm. In-person location is at Cooley Landing Center (2100 Bay Rd, East Palo Alto, CA 94303).

This event will be hybrid with an in-person limited capacity of 75 people. Registration is first come first serve, and you don’t want to miss out!

Scheduled presentations and activities include Black Mental Health, COVID-19 and Health Care in the Black Community, raffle prizes, live musical performances and poetry.

RSVP for the event here.

If you are interested to volunteer for set up, clean up, ushering, door monitoring, etc, please email dpennix@smcgov.org.

The mission of the African American Community Initiative is to become a known resource for African American Community members facing challenges with finding and utilizing mental health services, while addressing inequalities faced by African Americans in our county. Our vision is to build a community driven support system for reducing mental health and substance use treatment disparities, and the stigma of mental illness. Learn more about AACI here

Latino Collaborative Co-Chair Honored with Extra Mile Award at Women in County Government

Pictured left to right: Yolanda Ramirez, Claudia Saggese, Melissa Ibarra, Sylvia Tang, Gloria Gonzalez, Maria Lorente-Foresti, Kristie Lui, Yahaira Ortega, Twila Dependahl, Regina Moreno

Each year our San Mateo County Women in County Government recognizes exceptional women working in our government departments. This year numerous nominations were received to honor the outstanding dedication and service women have made to serve our communities.

We would like to congratulate Gloria Cahuich Gonzalez, Co-Chair of Behavioral Health & Recovery Services’ Latino Collaborative and Community Program Specialist II with SMC Public Health, Policy and Planning. Gloria has shown her passion, commitment and compassion to our Latinx community in her work to lead two Sana Sana Colita de Rana Events and provide resources and supports to our marginalized communities. The work she and other nominees below have done emphasizes the importance of creating a positive impact in San Mateo communities by implementing a racial equity lens in the work we do.

Congratulations to all other BHRS nominees:
Rookie of the Year:
Dori Bailey, MD., BHRS Adult Psychiatrist

Development Champion:
Chummy Sevilla, BHRS Clinical Services Manager II

Public Service/Extra Mile:
Barbara Weissman, MD, BHRS Adult Psychiatrist
Linda Hildreth, BHRS Supervising Mental Health Clinician
Maria Lorente-Foresti, Ph.D., BHRS Director Office of Diversity and Equity
Tennille Tucker, BHRS Supervising Mental Health Clinician
Yolanda Ramirez, BHRS Senior Community Program Specialist

Please join us in congratulating these amazing women that make a difference everyday for our workforce and those we serve.

Written by Kristie Lui and Maria Lorente-Foresti, Ph.D., BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity

1/17 – Deadline to Submit George Culores Hall of Fame Nomination

2016 Recipient of the George Culores Hall of Fame Award, Yolanda Ramirez, receiving the award from MHSARC member, Rocio Cornejo

Every year the Behavioral Health Commission (BHC) honors individuals who have found their way to a path of wellness and recovery from mental illness and have been active in the consumer movement to better the lives of others in San Mateo County.

The George Culores Hall of Fame Award recognizes consumer/clients who have made contributions to better the lives of other consumer/clients; shown leadership in the consumer movement or have a personal journey of recovery that inspires and gives hope to others.  

Deadline to submit nomination is on Tuesday, January 17th, 2023.

Learn more about the George Culores Hall of Fame Award here.

Serenity House CRT Program Reopens

We are pleased to announce that the Serenity House Crisis Residential Treatment (CRT) program opened on Monday, October 3!

Serenity House is a 13-bed CRT program serving adults age 18+ with a diagnosis of mental illness, including those with co-occurring substance use disorders. In partnership with San Mateo County, the CRT will provide care to individuals aged 18 and above, 24-hours a day, 7 days per week.

The CRT will help people find relief from distress, maintain stability, and emphasize choice-making skills and harm-reduction techniques. Prior to arriving at the program, all referrals should call 650-539-0340 to access services.

Referrals may be generated through self-referral, local law enforcement, emergency responders, or being diverted from psychiatric emergency departments.

Learn more here.

Samoan Solutions 12th Annual Turkey Trot: Highlighting Community Care

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 & Equity Pacific 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

12/21- Heart & Soul Holiday Open House

Join Heart & Soul in celebrating the holiday season! Learn about their programs, meet their team member, and gather in community. Their holiday open house is Wednesday, December 21st from 3pm to 6pm at 1633 Old Bayshore Hwy, Suite 258, Burlingame.

Heart & Soul is also offering an in-person Holiday Wellness Project: 2023 Vision Boards. How will you nurture your wellness in 2023? Vision boards are creative tools to hep you focus your awareness and intentions for the new year. Materials will be provided to create a 15 x 11 inch Vision Board. An image bank of hundreds of clippings, quotes and pictures will be available for you to use in your collage. If you have favorite imagery or meaningful wording to incorporate in your Vision Board, bring them with you!

For more info visit heartandsoulinc.org or email info@heartandsoulinc.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

« Older Entries