Energize Your Diet

For today's post, we welcome Jason Kaefer, a case manager in Caminar's New Ventures Program with years of experience in human services. He also writes extensively on the use of coping skills to support independence, mindfulness, and happiness to those struggling with mental illness.  


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Protecting your mental health should be your first priority. To overcome barriers related to mental illness, you need support, you need coping skills, and, above all, you need good physical health. How often have you felt incapable of waking up at 6 a.m. to catch the bus clear across town? Many people experience this in the morning or feel sluggish toward the afternoon, and in response, tend to do the same thing: grab the coffee pot, open an energy drink, or employ our talent of keeping our eyes peeled while allowing our brain to fade away. Don't worry! There is hope!

The solution may be in your diet. To start, make a list of what you typically consume for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Got it? Each item below may give you higher levels of energy during the day and you can substitute them for your current food.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds provide natural energy, sometimes even better than coffee, depending what you mix them in. The ancient Aztecs used them to sustain energy, so as you may have guessed, the plant is native to Mexico, but these tasty seeds can be found in any market or grocery store, and go great in yogurt, protein, and milkshakes. They are also low calories and have a nutty flavor. Try them out! Decide what you have already in your house (yogurt, peanut butter, etc.), and create something. Check out this blog post for a more extensive list of chia seed ideas.

Green Tea

Unfortunately, everywhere we go, coffee is readily available to us. It serves as the perfect morning fix, elevates mood, and even contains antioxidants. But coffee, however tasty and healthy, does come at a price when your body has had enough. The "jitters," upset stomach, and an increase in mental health symptoms are common after one too many cups of joe.

Try replacing coffee with green tea. Thymine is a natural compound that occurs in green tea, which keeps you focused and alert without experiencing the "jitters." Green tea also, in my opinion, tastes much better than coffee and energy drinks. 


Aside from being advantageous for your heart, nuts are a wonderful source of protein and healthy fats. Consider having a bag of them to keep with you during the day for when you get hungry. This, in conjunction with a bottle of water, may help to sustain energy levels. You can also blend nuts into yogurt or protein.

Understand, however, that nuts can cause severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). If you have an allergy to nuts, you should avoid them all together and keep an epinephrine pen on you. If you suspect an allergy, visit your doctor and request an allergy test. 


Bananas are cheap, easy to find, and full of glucose, which is perfect for anyone who is physically active. Try two bananas for breakfast with oatmeal and two glasses of water. There is a notable difference between this and cereal. Another idea, if you own a blender, is to blend a banana with milk, yogurt, protein, and the above-mentioned chia seeds.


This is something that I stress daily: Water is key to life, or in this case, energy. Lack of energy can be attributed to dehydration. Signs of dehydration include a decrease in focus, rapid heart rate, and irritability. It's also important to remember to drink water first thing in the morning.

A good way to measure your water intake is to take your body weight and divide it by two. This is the amount of water you should consume in ounces per day. Water also promotes weight loss and flushes out toxins. If you are active, consider having several bottles of water with you during the day. It's easy for us to become sidetracked and allow our bodies to dehydrate.


A perfect post-lunch snack that's high in fiber is blueberries. They are also loaded with potassium, folate, vitamin C, and Vitamin B6. For being so small, they are loaded with nutrients and are great for restoring energy. Studies have shown that blueberries may be good for weight loss due to their nutritious profile.

According to the US National Library of Medicine, "Blueberries are one of the best sources of antioxidants. One study in China compared the antioxidant capacity of blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries and found that blueberries not only contained the highest total antioxidant capacity but also contained more of many specific types of antioxidants, including phenols, flavonoids, and anthocyanins."

Don't allow yourself to become overwhelmed. It takes time to readjust your diet so that it works for you. Remember, what you put in your body will reflect the way you feel during the day. Begin by considering what food in your diet needs replacing, then find the above-mentioned foods at your local store. When you're ready, begin swapping the good for the better. By generating more energy, you may notice an improvement in your use of coping skills, particularly mindfulness.

Peninsula Health Care District Recognizes 2018 Community Volunteers and Grant Recipients

Alyson Shepard, Caminar's Grant Writer, and Tara Beckman, Executive Director of Caminar's San Mateo County Region, with the Peninsula Health Care District grant award certificate at the event reception. 

Alyson Shepard, Caminar's Grant Writer, and Tara Beckman, Executive Director of Caminar's San Mateo County Region, with the Peninsula Health Care District grant award certificate at the event reception. 

On February 7, the Peninsula Health Care District hosted the 10th Annual Community Partners Awards Ceremony. The event celebrated Community Health Leaders and 2018 Grant Recipients.

Among the 2018 Volunteer Honorees was Vivienne Virani, a member of Caminar’s Board of Directors and co-chair of the 7th Annual In Concert with Caminar. Vivienne is a tireless community volunteer and activist, and Caminar is so thankful for her countless hours of dedication and support of our mission to empower vulnerable members of our community. 

In addition to honoring volunteers, the event celebrated the 2018 grant recipients. Caminar is grateful to the Peninsula Health Care District for providing grant funding for our Bridges to Wellness program.


Thank you for sharing your heart with us!


Many thanks to our donors and friends who make it possible for our staff to support and empower people in our community with complex needs. Because of you, individuals and families are able to move toward greater wellness, resilience, and independence.

As a symbol of our appreciation, please enjoy this video valentine from all of us at Caminar and our Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley division.

Appreciating the Therapeutic Power of the Arts

Our Expressive Arts Program, which brings world-renowned photographer Michael Collopy and art therapists to Caminar’s residential programs for weekly workshops, offers our clients the opportunity to explore the therapeutic power of the arts. We delight in the weekly creations of our artists and hope you enjoy them.

Please join us at the Solano Regional Peer Support Forum

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On Thursday, February 15, representatives from Caminar will participate in the Solano Regional Peer Support Forum, presented by the California Association of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations (CAMHPRO) in partnership with Circle of Friends and Solano County Health and Human Services Agency.

Please join us for this informative day focused on peer support services.

Christopher Kughn, our Solano County Region Executive Director, will speak on the constituency panel sharing his insights from the perspective of a provider. Buffy Blair, Peer Counselor at our Wellness and Recovery Center (WRC), will moderate the keynote panel.

Forum Details

Thursday, February 15, 2018
9:00 - 10:00 am Sign In and Networking
10:00 am - 4:00 pm Forum 

Keynote panel to cover:

  • The Value of Peer Support
  • Peer Specialist Services & Certification Efforts
  • Cultural Perspectives on Peer Support
  • Empowerment & Peer Support

Regional constituency panel to include:

  • Parent Partner Leader
  • Youth Peer Specialist Leaders
  • Adult/Older Adult Peer Specialist Leader 
  • Family of Adult Leader

Other presentations will include:

  • Peer Support Services in the Superior Region
  • How to Build Peer Support at the Local Level
  • Collaborative Action Planning Breakout Groups

This free event includes parking and lunch. Space is limited, register now

Please click here for additional information


Change, Hope, and Life: Best Wishes for a Happy 2018

Happy New Year! We hope your 2018 is off to a wonderful start.


One of the many ways our supporters enhance the health and well-being of our clients is through our Expressive Arts Program. This program brings world-renowned photographer Michael Collopy and art therapists to Caminar’s residential programs for weekly workshops, offering our clients the chance to explore and engage in the therapeutic power of the arts to heal and change lives.

This butterfly, created by one of the participants, not only represents the artist’s personal journey of recovery from mental health crisis to independence, but also universally symbolizes change, hope, and life. We are delighted to share this artwork with you as an illustration of the transformation that is made possible for people in need in our community, each and every day.

Since the merger of Caminar and Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley a year ago, we have strengthened our capacity agency-wide to provide the most marginalized local individuals and families life-changing services that build hope, increase safety, and create community. At the heart of our portfolio of programs, made possible through the compassion and generosity of donors, is our enduring commitment to work alongside individuals and families to empower personal transformation and recovery.

We look forward to sharing more updates on the work our community of supporters makes possible in 2018. Best wishes for a wonderful 2018!

Looking Back At 2017

As we start 2018, we look back on the Caminar's impact in the last year. The work our donors and funders make possible changes lives; the generosity provides people with complex health needs the opportunity to move from crisis to independence. 

One in five of our neighbors will experience a mental illness. Approximately 10.2 million adults have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders. Approximately 26% of homeless adults staying in shelters live with serious mental illness. And, approximately 24% of state prisoners have “a recent history of a mental health condition.”

At Caminar and our Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley division, we offer care tailored to the needs of each individual, allowing us to effectively address complex needs and empower people to transform their lives. Because of community support and the tireless work of our staff, people like Thomas and April have a safety net and many lives were changed.

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Following our January 2017 merger with Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley, we have expanded our reach and strengthened our capacity agency-wide to help our most vulnerable community members toward an improved quality of life. We look forward to continuing this work in 2018!

Boston Private Hand-Delivers Generous Support

We are so grateful for the support of our donors, who make Caminar's work possible. Today, Boston Private's Abdul Maiwand, Senior Vice President for Private Banking and Specialty Lending, and Marilyn Orr, Vice President and Private Banking Relationship Officer, hand-delivered their support.

Thank you, Boston Private, for helping to transform lives. Your generosity provides people with complex health needs the opportunity to move from crisis to independence

Because of the support of Boston Private, and other sponsors, donors, and funders, vulnerable members of our community receive the services they need to find their resilience, regain hope, and thrive. Thank you!

Caminar CEO Chip Huggins with Boston Private's Marilyn Orr and Abdul Maiwand, and Caminar COO Karen Gianuario

Caminar CEO Chip Huggins with Boston Private's Marilyn Orr and Abdul Maiwand, and Caminar COO Karen Gianuario

From Alone and Without Hope to Resilience: Michael's Story

Do you know someone like Michael? Someone who struggles with his mental health and lives on the margins, alone and without hope?

In his 20s, Michael began to struggle with mental illness. A doctor misdiagnosed his condition, leading to treatments that made Michael feel worse. He turned to self-medication. Over the years, relationships with family and friends frayed and fell away. Living on the margins, often homeless, he was alone and without hope.


Michael’s journey with Caminar began at one of our crisis residential treatment programs. His life began to change with a correct diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. At last, receiving appropriate treatment and care, Michael’s physical and mental health improved. With new hope, he committed to the work of recovery.

Michael’s journey took him from constant crisis to independence. His Caminar team helped him secure a job and a safe place to live. He’s doing the work to keep moving forward. He tells us he feels stronger than ever.

One in five of our neighbors will experience mental illness. Resilience is possible with quality care and compassion.

We are so proud of Michael and his hard work, dedication, and commitment to healthy living. And, Michael's story isn't  a rarity. Many people like Michael have become more resilient, moved from crisis to independence, and are enjoying healthier, fuller lives.


Resource Connect Solano Launches with Strong Community Support

On Tuesday, December 12, our Solano Region launched Resource Connect Solano at the Suisun City Council Chambers. Resource Connect Solano is a Coordinated Entry program that streamlines access to life-changing housing and supportive resources for people in Solano County who are experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. 

About 75 community members joined us to learn about the Coordinated Entry referral process and network with housing providers throughout Solano County. We were delighted at the impressive attendance and strong interest in this new program. Special thanks to Tranine Chisom and the entire Resource Connect team who did a fabulous job rolling this out the community. 

We look forward to serving individuals in the Solano Region with this transformative service that will support and empower vulnerable members of the community. 

For more information, please visit the Resource Connect Solano webpage or email us at rcs@caminar.org. 

Building Confidence, Achieving Goals: April's story of Resilience


Three years ago, April was spending the nights on the streets or in local parks in the bushes. April found the strength and courage to not only realize she needed help, but to ask for help from the Butte County Department of Behavioral Health. April was referred to Caminar and became a tenant of Avenida Apartments and an employee of Caminar’s vocational training program, Sensible Cyclery.    

When April started at Sensible Cyclery, it was difficult for her to make eye contact with her colleagues and her supervisor when speaking with them. After a few months, there was a dramatic change; April started to build the confidence she needed in order to achieve the goals she set for herself.

After completing and graduating from Sensible Cyclery, April enrolled in Butte College to take courses to become a computer programmer. April is now finishing her last semester and has been handpicked for an internship at a local computer programming company.

April is moving to a regular, non-assisted apartment in the community as of December 1, 2017. April did not have to leave Avenidas, and when asked why she was, she simply said that she wants someone else to benefit from the help and opportunity that she had from Caminar’s services.

Sincere thanks to April and Scott Walker, Program Manager for Sensible Cyclery, Pro-Touch and Avenida Apartments, Caminar Butte County Region, for sharing this inspiring story of resilience. 




Butte Region Updates and Celebrations

On Tuesday, November 20, our CEO, Chip Huggins, visited our Butte Region for a full day of updates, meetings, and celebrations. 

To kick off the day, Chip met with Butte County Department of Behavioral Health Assistant Director, Don Taylor. The two touched base on the status of programs and shared agency updates. Chip next met with Harry Ellis and Gina Muse from the Department of Rehabilitation. The three reviewed to current caseloads and discussed the referral process from the DoR to Caminar.

After his meetings, Chip toured Sensible Cyclery, one of our social enterprises, and chatted with crew members and Avenida tenants. Next, Chip held an all-staff meeting and provided agency updates, answered staff questions and listened to client stories. After the staff meeting, Chip joined our Friendship Circle Thanksgiving Feast. He even carved the turkey for clients, who delighted in his presence and the delicious food. 

A fitting end to the day, Chip joined the staff for dinner. All enjoyed spending time with colleagues outside of the office and celebrating the start of the holiday season.

Butte Region clients and staff greatly appreciated and enjoyed the visit and look forward to more visits, updates, and celebrations in the coming year. 


WRC Celebrates Thanksgiving

On Wednesday, November 22, the Wellness and Recovery Center (WRC) celebrated Thanksgiving. WRC clients enjoyed a bountiful Thanksgiving lunch, complete with all the fixings, and served by our Solano Region staff. Clients also enjoyed community, friendship, and an early start to holiday festivities. 

Happy Thanksgiving!



Join Us and Give Back on #GivingTuesday

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#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.

Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. This year, #GivingTuesday is on Tuesday, November 28.

This year, please consider joining Caminar on social media and sharing our social media posts with your friends, family, and community. With everyone's help, we can spread the word and give the gift of resilience this holiday season to the most vulnerable members of our communities.

Will you join us?

Here’s how:

Follow Caminar on social media and share our #GivingTuesday posts:

Follow The LGBTQ Youth Space on social media and share #GivingTuesday posts:

Post your own #GivingTuesday messages to your friends and followers and encourage them to give back. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Will you join me on #GivingTuesday and give the gift of resilience to our most marginalized neighbors? Caminar’s programs empower vulnerable members of our community to reach their potential and thrive. www.caminar.org/donate
  • This #GivingTuesday give the gift of resilience to our most marginalized neighbors and support their efforts to reach their potential and thrive. Give now www.caminar.org/donate
  • Join us in making a difference in the lives of our LGBTQ youth. Give the gift of community and a safe space this #GivingTuesday with your donation http://youthspace.org/donate/
  • Don’t let #GivingTuesday get away! Give the gift of confidence, support, and empowerment to our LGBTQ youth with your donation. Give now http://youthspace.org/donate/

Thank you for joining us on #GivingTuesday. We appreciate your help in amplifying our messages and giving gifts to vulnerable members of our communities this holiday season.

2016-2017 Client Satisfaction Survey Results

We are pleased to share the results of client satisfaction surveys from the 2016-2017 fiscal year. These results show our staff's commitment to Caminar's mission and to helping to empower the most vulnerable members of our community to reach their potential and thrive. 

Butte County


Jobs Plus - San Francisco, San Mateo, and Solano Counties


San Mateo County


Solano County


Caminar's YAIL Program Shares a Year of Success

Ajen Busher, YAIL Program Director, recently updated the community on our Young Adult Independent Living (YAIL) Program. Here, Ajen looks forward to continuous improvement and success in the coming year and looks back at impressive 2016-2017 results.

The Culture of Recovery
YAIL’s intensive case management program provides services to young adults between the ages of 18-25 who are discovering their unique mental health recovery journey. YAIL case managers encourage young adults in identifying internal and external strengths and resources as well as collaboratively working with local service providers in addressing clients’ needs. The benefits of YAIL’s services are numerous and each contributes to the strengthening of San Mateo County’s socio-economic fabric. YAIL helps to reduce the homelessness rate, mental health hospitalization stays and rates of incarceration by assisting each one of the participating young adults in discovering ways to manage symptoms as they seek employment and in many cases, pursue higher education goals. At YAIL, the staff believes mental health recovery begins with self-discovery and advances with community participation. 

Outreach Activities and Events
This coming year, YAIL seeks to make a concerted effort to outreach to community colleges, high schools and other community organizations. The purpose is to connect community clinicians with county mental health resources as well as promote YAIL’s case management services. 

Improved Groups
Recently, YAIL has reorganized and rescheduled its therapy and skills groups, including:

  • Art Therapy 
  • Anger Management
  • Seeking Safety Inspired Peer Support Group
  • Community Resource Group
  • Cooking Skills
  • Walking Group
  • Saturday and Sunday Outings
  • Thursday Movie Night 

Last Year's Results

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We are celebrating the accomplishments of our clients this past year!

Interested in learning more about YAIL? 
Is so, we have a variety of ways to get in touch:

  • Visit our website
  • Call us at 650.367.9610
  • Or, email us at YAIL@caminar.org

Representative Garamendi Honors Caminar’s Director of Supported Housing as a Woman of the Year

Representative John Garamendi of California’s 3rd Congressional District held his 4th annual Women of the Year event on Thursday, October 19. Honorees included 38 women who have made significant contributions to their communities. Among the Women of the Year honorees was Caminar’s Director of Supported Housing for the Solano Region, Tranine Chisom.

Passionate about improving support for people with mental health disabilities and those who experience housing challenges and homelessness, Tranine has dedicated her career to community service. She works tirelessly with property owners, and city and county officials to increase and leverage affordable housing resources for our most vulnerable citizens.

Tranine is also actively involved with Housing First Solano, where she serves as Board Chairwoman. She was instrumental in developing and now implementing Solano County’s Neighbors Helping Neighbor-Forward Together 5-Year Strategic Plan to address homelessness. As well, she is actively engaged with the Solano Napa Habitat for Humanity program; she participates as a crew member on community building days and also serves on the Family Selection Committee to identify families most in need of a Habitat Home.

Tranine is a humble and passionate person dedicated to serving her community. We are so happy to celebrate her accomplishments and this well-deserved honor, and we are grateful she is a part of our Caminar family.

Thank you, Tranine, for your dedicated work to help people obtain and maintain housing and to create systems change.

Caminar Volunteer Recognized by Peninsula Health Care District

Back in February, Caminar’s wonderful and tireless volunteer, Martha Mirabella, was among those recognized by the Peninsula Health Care District at its 9th Annual Community Partners Award Ceremony.

We are grateful for the countless hours of hard work and positive energy Martha has dedicated to support Caminar’s San Mateo County region and agency administrative team. Martha manages the upkeep of our filing and records, which ensures an organized, efficient, and productive office.

Our sincere thanks to Martha, and all of our dedicated volunteers, for helping us to serve individuals and families in our community who are in need. And, many thanks for the Peninsula Health Care District for recognizing one of our own!

 Caminar CEO Chip Huggins with Martha Mirabella

 Caminar CEO Chip Huggins with Martha Mirabella