Tag Archives: Health Equity Initiative

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

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

Samaritan House Transportation Resources

Community Transportation Benefits Program

What is the Community Transportation Benefits Program?
The Community Transportation Benefits Program (Program) is sponsored and funded by the San Mateo
County 101 Express Lanes. The Program helps qualifying San Mateo County residents cover some of their
transportation costs.

How do I enroll?
There are eight Core Service Agencies that work in close collaboration with the Human Services Agency of
San Mateo County to provide you and your family with basic emergency and support services. You can enroll
for the Community Transportation Benefits Program through any of the following Core Service Agencies either
virtually or in-person. Their contact information can be found below:

Commute.org

Commute.org is your go-to resource to improve how you get to work.
Visit Commute.org to learn more about rewards and resources to help with your commute.

Commute Resources
– Shuttles: Free shuttles to BART and Caltrain
– Trip Planning assistance: Send us a request or use our online STAR trip
planning tool
– E-news: Sign up to stay connected with us

Learn more at Commute.org.

11/18- TransACTION Day of Change

In honor of *Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), San Mateo County and San Mateo County Pride Center invites you to TransACTION Day of Change where they are providing the community the opportunity to commit to ending TDOR (#endTDOR).

TransACTION Day of Change will feature resource booths, an Allegiance Wall, Reading of the Names, and a Candlelight Vigil. Creating change is difficult; especially when we mourn those who have lost their lives simply for being themselves. The event want to honor those who have died and also create ways for our community to learn and take action to #endTDOR.

Amazing agencies from San Mateo County and the Bay Area have been invited to provide exclusive resources, services and practical information that support trans and gender-diverse community members and their friends and families. This is where “ally” becomes a verb and we all take part in creating inclusive spaces at home, at work, and at school.

This event is free, inclusive, and will feature an Allegiance Wall where you can sign your name and walk away with practical ways to build awareness and ways that allies can impact and create a safer community for everyone.

Additionally, we are proud to announce that there will also be a COVID-19 and MPX vaccination clinics will be joining us. Both clinics are open to the public and they encourage folx to make appointments via MyTurn while walk-ins are also welcome. Please see the second attached flyer below for more information!

Questions?
Email Tanya Beat, LGBTQ Commission Director, tbeat@smcgov.org or
Azisa Todd, SMC Pride Center Lead Trainer & Events Coordinator, azisa.todd@sanmateopride.org

For more information about TransACTION Day of Change, visit: https://www.smcgov.org/lgbtq/event/transaction-day-change

10/22 – 9th Annual Sana Sana, Colita de Rana

Please join us for our 9th Annual Sana Sana, Colita de Rana event that is co-sponsored by BHRS’ Latino Collaborative, ALAS, SMC Public Health, Policy and Planning, and the BHRS Office of Diversity & Equity. The event will be held on Saturday, October 22 from 11 am to 3 pm at Cunha Intermediate School, 600 Church Street, Half Moon Bay, Ca. This is a family-friendly event to promote health and wellness among our Latinx community in SMC. This event will be in Spanish with English interpretation. We are proud to share that our keynote speaker will be Olga Talamante. Ms. Talamante is a Chicana political activist, former Executive Director of the Chicana/Latino Foundation, and an individual that has dedicated her life to advocacy, social justice, and community service. Additionally, we will have a Covid-19 vaccination clinic, food, music, resource booths, presentations by our BHRS Health Ambassadors and so much more.  Please refer to the attached flyer for additional information.


This event is hosted by one of our BHRS Health Equity Initiatives (HEI). Our HEI’s were created to ensure that all members of our community are afforded access to services and quality care. The initiatives are dedicated to representing specific ethnic and cultural communities that have been underserved, inappropriately served, or unserved. Their work has assisted us in decreasing stigma, educating and empowering our communities, supporting wellness and recovery, building culturally responsive service, and being a bridge to our County services. Please help us post and share the attached flyers with your clients and networks.

Vaccine Info:

10/11 – National Day of Prayer for Behavioral Health & Understanding

Each year in the beginning of October the nation celebrates the National Day of Prayer for Behavioral Health and Understanding. This day is designed to bring together mental health and substance abuse networks and faith leaders together so that they may recognize the importance of behavioral health issues in our community.

On Tuesday, Oct 11, BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity‘s Spirituality Initiative, Latino Collaborative and numerous faith leaders will virtually host our county’s 5th National Interfaith Day of Prayer for Behavioral Health and Understanding.

Register at https://smcgov.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAucu2grzouE9NWb7iKsoJKaQk4pG7Y-6GF

We invite consumers, faith base community, providers, and community to attend this event.

For more info contact Pam Ward Pious at wpam3238@gmail.com or Isaac Frederick at ifrederick@smcgov.org

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

March 31: Filipinx Kwentuhan: Equity through Art Webinar

When: March 31st 6pm-7pm

Registration: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEsce2hrD4vGNcPA4inP9HQmIqwFfTt-0_F

Description: Every culture has a storytelling tradition. In the Filipinx diaspora, kwentuhan (storytelling) is a way of remembering and honoring ancestors, preserving histories, and reconnecting with kapwa. It has also provided a path to resisting invisibility. From the time the first Filipinos landed in California in 1587 to the time they began settling in San Mateo County in the 1920s, storytelling has always been part of the fabric of the community’s lived experience. Equity Through Art Series’ “Filipinx Kwentuhan” will feature unique stories of resilience, healing and bayanihan in the Filipinx community in San Mateo County. The webinar panel will be moderated by Aileen Cassinetto, San Mateo County Poet Laureate, and feature Matthew Abaya, Filmmaker; Stephanie Balon, Co-Chair of the SMC BHRS Filipino Mental Health Initiative; Joanne Boston, events producer with a focus on community art and culture; Carly Burton, Jefferson High school Student and filmmaker; and Rosie Tejada, President of the Jefferson Union High School District Board of Trustees.

As we, in San Mateo County, reckon with racial inequities, it’s critical to understand the history that got us to where we are today. The Equity through Art Series, a partnership between the County Library, BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity, and the Chief Equity Officer at the County of San Mateo, takes us on a journey to understand the experiences of Black, Indigenous, Communities of Color, through their voices and stories. For the full series, visit: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuc5tf7EL6P7G4UatPRBuPqQ0LmP1PHNa. Please join us for Filipinx Kwentuhan Webinar on March 31st from 6-7pm.

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