Samaritan House’s New Website – We’ve Moved!!!

Website Picture

We are proud to announce the launch of our newly redesigned website!

Samaritan House’s new site features streamlined menus, simpler navigation and refreshed content.

In addition, the new site had integrated the Samaritan House blog into our main site. Going forward please see our new website, subscribe to our RSS feed, and keep abreast of all of our latest news and events!

Thank you for your support!!

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Samaritan House Receives Bank of America’s 2013 Neighborhood Builders Award!

We are very pleased to announce that Samaritan House was one of sixty nonprofits from across the country to be named as a recipient of the 2013 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Award!

Every year Bank of America selects exceptional and high- performing nonprofit organizations from across the county to benefit from the Neighborhood Builders Program, a part of its Neighborhood Excellence Initiative. As a Neighborhood Builder, Samaritan House will receive $200,000 in unrestricted funding over the next two years and leadership training for emerging leaders (including our wonderful and talented Grant Manager, Amy Hsieh) in the agency. Support from the Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Program will be used to improve the agency’s data systems and evaluation processes to better determine our service impacts over time.

“Nonprofits provide much needed services in Silicon Valley, but too often lack the opportunity to invest in their own long-term growth and development,” said Raquel Gonzalez, Bank of America’s Silicon Valley Market President. “By recognizing Samaritan House as a Neighborhood Builder, we know that they are poised to make an even greater impact in our community.”

Bank of Maerica[

We thank Bank of America for being a strong partner in helping provide effective and impactful social services in San Mateo County!

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Interview with our ED – Kitty Lopez on PenTv

Check out Samaritan House’s Executive Director Kitty Lopez in her interview with Dani Gasparini on PenTv’s One-on-One program. Kitty shares what’s new at Samaritan House, some outcomes and successes from our programs, as well as her hopes for the organization moving forward.

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Samaritan House Holiday Program – 2012 Figures

Thank you to volunteer photographer Amy Mackowski.

Thank you to volunteer photographer Amy Mackowski.

Each year, Samaritan House is able to provide additional food as well as holiday toys to families in need during the months of November and December. Thank you to our wonderful volunteers and staff for all their hard work in helping us make this happen and bringing smiles to so many faces.

Some highlights to come out of the holiday program this past year:

  • November Food Distribution: special food distributions serving 839 families. This in addition to the meals and groceries we provide every day from our San Mateo kitchens, pantries, and shelter.
  • December Food Figures: We were able to distribute over $9,000 worth of Safeway gift cards to families.
  • Toy Shoppe: 894 households selected toys for 1,946 children to brighten their holiday.
  • One Warm Coat Program: Around 500 new and gently used coats were distributed to clients to keep them warm through the long winter months.
  • Family Sharing Program: An estimated $55,000 in food and gifts were delivered to 163 families and seniors.

All of this was made possible with the help of our community and the 2,759 volunteers who came together to donate an amazing 5,538 hours of service!

Our holiday program is truly an illustration of our motto of “neighbor helping neighbor”. Thank you and we look forward to seeing all of our donors, community partners, and volunteers again next year!

Check out our holiday highlights video:

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Irene Says Goodbye to an Old Friend to Help Samaritan House

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Irene Hudson and her car with license plate bearing the initials of her and late husband, Leslie

Long-time volunteer Irene Hudson bid farewell to her car of over 27 years last week as she donated the vehicle to Samaritan House. A wonderful spirit and a source of inspiration, Irene has been volunteering here in our administrative offices since 1999, and just celebrated her 102nd birthday.

She decided to donate the vehicle after voluntarily giving up her driver’s license last month. With neighbors and friends stopping by to give her rides to pick-up groceries and go to church, Irene determined that it was time to goodbye to her car.      

“After so many year together, my car was like a member of my family”, says Irene of her 1985 Chevy Cavalier.

Irene car 2

Irene and Pedro, from Auction City

Irene can take comfort in knowing that her donation will go towards a good cause. The vehicle was picked up by a representative from Auction City of Redwood City, and will be auctioned off with proceeds to benefit Samaritan House’s social service programs.

We thank Irene for her generosity of spirit through this donation, and through all the charitable work she has done for so many years in our community.  

For more information on how you can donate a vehicle to Samaritan House, visit the donation page on our website:

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Earn It! Keep It! Save It! Tax Program Kickoff – January 16, 2013


Did you know?… Millions of workers will qualify for #EITC for the 1st time this year.

Samaritan House is thrilled to partner with United Way of the Bay Area’s Earn It! Keep It! Save It! (EKS) to begin our second year offering free tax preparation services. Last year EKS helped 64,000 households in the Bay Area secure more than $68 million in refunds.

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According to EKS, “On the heels of the national 2% social security tax hike, EKS will ensure that thousands of low-income residents – who are the hardest hit by any increase – will receive the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC can total more than $5,000 per household, and for those struggling to make ends meet, having free tax preparation as well as assistance obtaining the EITC can bridge the gap between poverty and being able to pay the bills. Last year, the program helped secure $68 million in refunds for 64,000 households – $22 million of which was the EITC.”

Blog Photo

Thank you to all of the representatives from United Way, Tax Aid, and Brian Perkins, Senior Advisor to Congresswoman Jackie Speier, for attending the kick-off event for this program here at our office this morning.

Learn more about the Bay Area’s largest free tax prep program by visiting:

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Thank you for your Can-Do Attitude, SMHS!

SMHS Student Leaders

SMHS Student Leaders

And the results are in…. We were honored to take part in San Mateo High School’s (SMHS) wrap-up party for their school’s annual canned food drive event last month. It was a morning full of food, fun, and inspiring stories from SMHS students who helped coordinate the donation drive.

The school’s canned food drive engages SMHS’s student body every year during the months of November and December. Student leaders from the school encourage classmates to collect food and monetary donations for Samaritan House and Second Harvest Food Bank.  

The impact of these contributions are felt throughout Samaritan House as we strive to help families in need during the holidays. SMHS was able to collect an impressive amount of food and over $32,000 in donations for our organization.

 SMHS Wrap-up Party

At the school’s celebration party for the food drive, our Executive Director Kitty Lopez spoke with the students, thanking them for their hard work, and reminding them of the importance of their donations. Kitty shared with the students the breadth of services that Samaritan House provides, and reminded them that despite San Mateo’s reputation for prosperity and wealth, there is still a tremendous need for many individuals in the area.

As the students shared stories of their experiences from the food drive – standing outside grocery stores for long hours, gratefully accepting food donations from patrons – it became clear to everyone in the room just how much this event means. The tangible food and monetary donations go a long way towards supporting Samaritan House’s holiday program, but moreover the spirit with which the students participate in the drive every year serve as a reminder about the importance of community involvement.

The work of the SMHS students brings to mind the famous quote by anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 

Thank you for your time and commitment to our organization, SMHS.

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Housing in San Mateo County: Out of Reach?


Out of Reach 2012, a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition lists San Mateo and San Francisco County as the most expensive areas to live in the US. The report bases this calculation on current cost of living in the area and the amount of money a household must earn in order to afford a rental unit in a range of sizes.

The NLIHC found that with cost of living considerations, an hourly worker in San Mateo County must earn $36.63/hr in order to afford a 2-bedroom home in the area. The report also found that state-wide in California, an individual would need to work on average 130 hours/week in order to afford rent for a 2-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent.

As the report points out, “With more households choosing renting over home-ownership, the demand for affordably priced rental housing is surging, pushing rents upward and vacancy rates down. These trends have the most severe implications for extremely low income (ELI) households (those earning at or below 30% of area median income). Out of Reach 2012 findings show that for extremely low income Americans, including those on fixed incomes, finding an affordable, decent apartment continues to be incredibly challenging.”

A full copy of the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Report can be found on the organization’s website:

Out of Reach is a side-by-side comparison of wages and rents in every county. The 2012 Report demonstrates that a mismatch exists between the cost of living, the availability of rental assistance and the wages people earn day to day across the country.


About NLIHC: The National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes. (


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Top 5 Things We Are Thankful For This Holiday Season


The holidays around Samaritan House have officially begun and are off to a great start! We celebrated this Thanksgiving by providing a delicious, home-cooked holiday meal at the King Community Center in San Mateo for those less fortunate. Coupled with our tremendously successful food distribution days to clients this month, we here at Samaritan House have a lot to be thankful for! Here, in no particular order, are just a few things we were able to celebrate this Thanksgiving:

1. Samaritan House Kitchen Staff – Every year, community members in-need are treated to a wonderful Thanksgiving meal prepared by our talented and hard working kitchen staff, headed by Kitchen Manager Ruby Kaho. Working magic with such limited prep space, Ruby and her staff were able to prepare 150 turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner, feeding meals to 400 people this day.

2. Thanksgiving Volunteers – A total of 120 volunteers from our community took time from their day to come out to help us prepare, serve, and clean up on Thanksgiving. Both individuals and families came out to help, and we are so grateful each of these volunteers for thinking of others and taking time to give back.

3. Tons (literally) of Turkeys650 turkeys were donated to the Samaritan House food pantry in November. The turkeys we received from both individuals and companies around San Mateo were used on Thanksgiving and were also distributed to families.

4. Food for Families – We hosted 6 distribution days at our Holiday Center during the month of November. All of our client families – a total of 2,994 individuals and 1,104 children during the 2012 holiday season – receive food donations of non-perishable items, fresh fruit and vegetables, and a turkey or chicken.

5. More fun to come this December! – Our Holiday Food & Toy Distribution Days continue this December. We look forward to working with all of our volunteers scheduled to help sort and hand out food and toys this month.

While all of our event volunteer needs have been met this month, we do invite the public to help by donating food or toys (our Wishlist offers a convenient way to shop for holiday presents ) . We also have a few remaining families opporunities through our Family Sharing Program. For more information about how you can share the spirit of the holidays directly with local, low-income families, see our website for details (

Thank you to all our supporters, and Happy Holidays!

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San Mateo High School’s 2012 Canned Food Drive

Continuing the school’s long-standing tradition of promoting community service and creating opportunities for student leadership, San Mateo High School (SMHS) will be conducting its annual food drive to benefit Samaritan House and Second Harvest Food Bank from November 16th – December 3rd, 2012.

The student’s canned food drive set a Guinness World Record in previous years, and this year student organizers are hoping to meet or surpass the school’s previous performances.

The students at SMHS exhibit tremendous energy and enthusiasm for the donation drive they take part in each year. Talking with Leadership Teacher and Activities Director Sara Catalli, it becomes apparent just how much this donation drive means to the students. Sara talks about how many of them spend long hours in front of grocery stores collecting food from shoppers. It’s amazing to realize that SMHS collects literally tons of food in just two weeks.

Here at Samaritan House, the SMHS Canned Food Drive represents an extremely important part of our holiday food program. Each year during the holiday season, we distribute approximately 400,000 pounds of food to our clients and the community. Without the efforts and generosity of both individual donations and wonderful organizations like SMHS conducting these massive donation drives, we would not be able to provide the level of service that we do.

If you are interested in donating to and voicing your support for SMHS’s student-driven cause, you can bring your canned or non-perishable food or monetary donation directly to San Mateo High School (located at 506 N. Delaware Street, San Mateo, weekdays from 7:45 am -3:15 pm). Monetary donations are tax-deductible and checks should be made out to “Samaritan House.”

Weekdays after 5pm and weekends, students will be collecting donations at local supermarkets throughout the Peninsula – from San Bruno to Palo Alto. For more information about ways to donate in-person or online, contact San Mateo High School’s Community Service Commissioners at

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