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.
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.
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.
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:
In honor of Black History Month, the Health Equity Division at Alameda County Behavioral Health invites you to join the conversation “Black Don’t Crack? Dispelling the Myth, Uplifting Excellence, Mental Health and Wellness in the African American Community” via Zoom on February 24, at 10 a.m.
Join us for a lively panel discussion featuring Keynote Speaker: Dr. Wade Nobles, Psychologist/Educator/Author and panelists:
Dr. Karyn Tribble, Director ACBH
Kimi Watkins-Tartt, Director ACDPH
Dr. Angela Coombs, Psychiatrist, ACBH
Dr. Khalid White, Educator/ Entrepreneur
Ken Jones, PEER Mentor, San Mateo County
Shuja Johnson, Executive Director, Black Men Speak
Zoom link and more info about the event can be found here.
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.
If you are interested to volunteer for set up, clean up, ushering, door monitoring, etc, please email firstname.lastname@example.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.
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
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