Our LGBTQ Youth Space Partners with Give OUT Day

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Our LGBTQ Youth Space, a program of our Family & Children Services division, is excited to participate in Give OUT Day, the only national day of giving for the LGBTQ community. 

The 24-hour online fundraising event unites the LGBTQ community from all 50 states and D.C. Give OUT Day 2018 takes place on Thursday, April 19, 2018. Last year, Give OUT Day raised over $750,000 to support LGBTQ nonprofits! Give OUT Day is a project of Horizons Foundation. Founded as a community foundation of, by, and for LGBTQ people, Horizons has been supporting LGBTQ nonprofit organizations, leaders, and donors for nearly 40 years.
Throughout the day-long event, thousands of people make gifts to support a diverse array of LGBTQ nonprofits across the country, ranging from the arts to social services agencies, advocacy groups to sports leagues, community centers to health care nonprofits, and our own LGBTQ Youth Space. 

Our LGBTQ Youth Space offers a community drop-in center and mental health programs for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and ally youth and young adults ages 13-25 who live in Santa Clara County. Our staff and participant advisors offer a safe and confidential space to hang out, along with:

  • Support groups
  • Counseling services
  • Art workshops
  • Activism and leadership opportunities
  • Movie nights, field trips, open mic nights, and social activities (including an annual prom)
  • Resource and referral
  • Online chat groups
  • Monthly health van visits
  • Speakers bureau

Counseling services are provided in English, Spanish, and American Sign Language (ASL). Psychiatric services are available, as needed. In addition to youth services, the program’s Speakers Bureau provides cultural competency presentations for youth-serving professionals, clubs and organizations, schools, and other interested audiences.

Support the LGBTQ Youth Space and Give OUT Day here.

Stories of Resilience: Proactive Support Reunites a Family

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Our Family & Children Services division's Teen Families and Schools Together (Teen FAST) Program engages families living in areas with high levels of gang violence, poverty, substance use, and other risk factors with two years of education, coaching, and support that strengthen family functioning, empower teens to become responsible leaders, build circles of support among peers and families, and promote positive life outcomes.

True to the promise of the Teen FAST Program, when floods ravaged some residential areas of San Jose in February 2017, affected families had a network of support from which to draw strength and support. As the Castillo* family dealt with the confusion of displacement, they faced an even more devastating challenge: Separation. 

Just prior to the floods, Elizabeth began to experience mood and behavioral instability. The family had not yet had a chance to seek help. Concerned, social workers assisting families affected by the floods placed Oliver, 15 years old, in a group home. 

Devastated by the mother’s sudden onset of mental illness and the son’s placement in the system, Castillo embraced the support of the Teen FAST program at their son’s school. 

The Teen FAST team worked tirelessly on the family’s behalf. The mother quickly was connected with health professionals and learned that her destabilized behavior was the result of a severe eye infection requiring surgery. With mom on the road to recovery, the parents moved into a home with extended family. The team helped Oliver and his father to navigate the process and advocate for reunification. At last, the day came when they could welcome their son home with hugs and tears of relief and joy.

The Castillo family continues to be an active part of Teen FAST. Oliver, an A+ student who works hard on his academics, is now a teen leader in the Teen FAST program. As a leader, he is a role model for other teens facing adversity and instrumental in building the community of support for program families. Our team sees a bright future ahead for him.

*names changed to protect client privacy



Caminar Achieves Another Three-Year CARF Accreditation

We are pleased to report to that Caminar has been re-issued CARF accreditation for a period of three years for the following services:

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  • Community Employment Services: Employment Supports
  • Community Employment Services: Job Development
  • Employment Planning Services
  • Assertive Community Treatment: Psychosocial Rehabilitation (Adults)
  • Case Management/ Services Coordination: Psychosocial Rehabilitation (Adults)
  • Community Integration: Psychosocial Rehabilitation (Adults)
  • Crisis Stabilization: Psychosocial Rehabilitation (Adults)
  • Residential Treatment: Mental Health (Adults)

By pursuing and achieving accreditation, Caminar has demonstrated that it meets international standards for quality and is committed to pursuing excellence. 

This accreditation decision represents the highest level of accreditation that can be given to an organization and shows our organization’s substantial conformance to the CARF standards. An organization receiving a Three-Year Accreditation has put itself through a rigorous peer review process. It has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during an on-site visit its commitment to offering programs and services that are measurable, accountable, and of the highest quality. 

We are delighted that CARF surveyors identified many areas of strength. To list just a few:
“The staff members at Caminar are an inspiration for the work they do on a daily basis. They are strong believers in the rights of persons served and demonstrate this to the clients on a regular basis.”
“Clients stated that they appreciate the staff and the services. One person said that she is grateful for the services because, without them, she would have been living in her car and been without income. All clients interviewed spoke of their satisfaction with the services provided.”
“All clients said that staff members are warm, welcoming, energetic, respectful, and engaging… Caminar seems to do very well at hiring staff with both skills and heart.”
“A strength of Caminar is the large array of services that it provides. This allows continuity of care that clearly promotes the recovery of clients who require longer-term assistance.”

CARF is an independent, nonprofit accrediting body whose mission is to promote the quality, value, and optimal outcomes of services through a consultative accreditation process and continuous improvement services that center on enhancing the lives of persons served. Founded in 1966 as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and now known as CARF International, the accrediting body establishes consumer-focused standards to help organizations measure and improve the quality of their programs and services. 

We are grateful to the entire Caminar team who contributed to this success!

Announcing our Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report

We are pleased to share with you our 2017 Annual Report, which details the life-changing work you make possible. 

Caminar and Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley merged in January 2017. Together, we have more than 120 combined years of service to people in need and have expanded our reach and strengthened our capacity agency-wide to help our most vulnerable community members. 

This Annual Report reflects the combined organization and the combined impact: Over 14,000 children, teens, and adults were served last year through our programs of recovery and positive solutions! We hope you enjoy learning more about our expanded organization and the dynamic portfolio of transformative service made possible by your generosity and compassion.

Should you have any questions about what you read in the Annual Report or about our programs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Development team at 650.513.1509 or development@caminar.org. We’d love to hear what is important to you.

Thank you for your compassion and generosity. Because of you, individuals and families in our communities have comprehensive support on their roads to resilience.

How can our community collaborate to create new business models for integrated care?

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Caminar is thrilled to partner with NAMI-San Mateo and Edgewood to bring our Quarterly Community Advocacy Forum to our San Mateo County neighbors. We are specifically focused on active advocacy for improved supports and services for the young people. 

This year’s first major advocacy activity was the February 1, 2018, forum. We were delighted that the February forum drew engaged community members and followed nicely on the heels of the very first forum, which we hosted last November.

Recap of November 2017 Community Forum
The November 2017 forum focused on the hot topic of why it’s so hard to get truly supportive housing in our county, and what should be part of an effective holistic wellbeing program for adults with serious mental health disabilities. 

The panel was led by a mom, followed by Edgewood’s Community Housing Manager, Caminar’s Director of Supported Housing, the owner and program manager of Ohevet’s Board & Care, and the Executive Director of Mental Health Association of San Mateo County. The speakers shared the challenges of finding and accessing supported housing and listed what is available through their programs - about 400 beds, many of which have significant restrictions around access. 

The audience raised lots of important ideas, including: 

  • “Private-pay” support services, for folks who don’t qualify for county programs or need more than what adult service provides. 
  • A mental health version of the NextDoor app for finding/ sharing housing. 
  • Creating a parent co-op to fund supported housing for their adult children. 
  • The need for mentors to help provide community support. 
  • The major need for MUCH more diversity in “providers” to match the diversity in our community. 
  • Asking Facebook and other large employers to include housing for adults with special needs near their campuses. 

Recap of the February 2018 Community Advocacy Forum
The February 2018 Forum was designed to ask how our diverse community can collaborate to create new business models for integrated care, and new funding models beyond the basic “ask the county and a few donors to pay for it” approach. 

We had a packed conference room, with community members from ages 23 to 83, all participating in a lively discussion. The evening’s conversation began with our panel members giving brief overviews of their experiences and ideas. 

Alan Cochran, the peer member of NAMI-San Mateo’s board of directors and a founding member of the Peer Collaborative, spoke first. He is a very strong advocate for our community becoming more effective and inclusive in its supports and services for folks living with mental health challenges. Alan shared his experiences trying to find a supportive home – a place and people who supported his ongoing recovery. He noted that recovery can be impossible without the bedrock of a safe home. When he started the search for home and a support network, many of the peer support groups and programs didn’t exist. What worked for Alan was having strong friendships nearby and strong ties to family out of state. These kept him moving forward. Alan’s big take-home message: Reach out, and you will find there are others sharing your struggles, places you can go for support, you have OPTIONS! 

Dr. Frank Lee shared his perspective as a parent, biotech entrepreneur, and business innovator. He noted that serious mental health disorders have the biggest overall negative impact versus other diseases on Americans’ lives starting in our early teens all the way until we reach our 70s. They also were the most expensive to treat – in 2013, $201 billion were spent. In addition to the direct cost of care, these illnesses also increase the medical costs for other illnesses folks might have – adding depression to diabetes raises medical costs four-fold, for example. From there, Frank detailed a number of fascinating and innovative initiatives to drive and deliver mental health care. 

Next up was Bill Lowell, family member and a coordinator of San Mateo County’s “Home for All” initiative. “Home for All” is a County-led collaborative of local governments, businesses, schools, advocates and not-for-profit organizations working to increase local housing production and preservation so that folks of all ages, backgrounds and income levels have the opportunity to call San Mateo County home. 

Bill retired from his position as Director of the County’s Department of Housing in 2015 after pulling together several affordable housing projects with units reserved for folks grappling with mental health challenges. Bill noted that the three crucial ingredients of a successful affordable supportive housing program are “funding, land, and political will.” Check out all the info and sign up for updates at http://homeforallsmc.com/toolkit/ 

Chip Huggins, Caminar’s CEO and long-time non-profit and for-profit executive, talked about his agency’s expanding supportive housing programs. Chip shared an intriguing Tiny Home project he proposed to the county using the site of a long-closed boys’ camp to create an 80-unit community with support staff available 24/7. While some of the tiny homes would be reserved for low-income folks with mental health and other challenges, the community would also welcome other low-income residents including local farm workers. 

Chip wants to include social enterprises on the site to provide vocational training and generate income that could cover some of the expenses for this program. The project design also makes the most use possible of existing infrastructure – admin buildings, utilities, and roads. Caminar, which would hold the master lease, is raising $3-$4.5 million in donations to combine with county subsidies and income from rent ($50 - $125/night). 

In another approach to expand access to services, Caminar has two private-pay programs. Olivos Private Care is a concierge psychiatric and psychosocial program designed to help improve clients’ overall health and wellness. The Olivos team includes a psychologist, psychiatrist, case manager, registered nurse, outpatient therapist, job developer, educator, and peer specialist collaborating with the client and their support network. They can provide individualized services ranging from acute psychiatric emergencies to creating and maintaining a plan of care for sustained living in the community. The cost is based on the services you access, and insurance not accepted. 

Chip also mentioned Linden House, an apartment building that uses income from clients who can pay “market rate” to subsidize services for low-income clients. 

Finally, Dan Peck, a director at Third Sector Capital Partners, is a family member who transitioned from a finance career to work on creating innovative ways to find and combine government and philanthropic funds. Dan’s goal is to tackle the multi-faceted issues facing folks dealing with mental health and other serious life challenges. Third Sector Capital has pulled together some novel combinations of collaborators to increasing affordable supportive housing as part of a holistic wellness approach – even when the uphill political battle seems unwinnable. 

Dan noted that the key is finding a way to harness the community will to make things happen. He described how Boards of Supervisors for both Los Angeles County and Santa Clara County carried out significant research into the scale and root causes of their local mental health and housing challenges. What they learned convinced them that continuing to do nothing because of objections from landlords, homeowners, and others would drive huge costs going forward for the county. Actively working to house the chronically homeless – which would require supportive services as well – could cut taxpayer costs by 79% in LA county! 

Third Capital’s team is adept at finding and pulling together pools of private and public funds, including risk-averse governments and risk-taking philanthropists, and helping the parties find a way to collaborate. Dan noted that a crucial part of the long-term success of such programs will be tracking how well these programs work for people. Positive outcomes will generate cost savings, which can then be recycled into other projects. 

So how can we change hearts and minds here in San Mateo? An audience member asked how we can keep the panel members and the audience talking and collaborating to bring this change to our county. The audience consensus is to reach out to our local panel members to continue brainstorming on how we can bring the county to develop a clear cost-benefit analysis that makes it clear that continued inaction will only make things worse for homeowners, businesses and the broader community. 

Several audience members plan to work on making the next brainstorming sessions a reality - so keep watching for emails and flyers. Be part of generating a wave of support for expanding supportive housing in San Mateo County!

Click here for the full recap of the February meeting. 

For more information on the Quarterly Community Advocacy Forum and the future discussions, please contact:

Cynthia Robbins-Roth
Family Support Manager
Edgewood’s TAY Program


Leanna Harper
Family Partner


Helene Zimmerman
Executive Director
NAMI- San Mateo


And, save the date for the next forum, to be held on Thursday, June 7
Dinner: 5:30 pm
Panel and Discussion: 6:00 - 7:30 pm
Location: Silicon Valley Community Foundation, 1300 El Camino Real, San Mateo

Celebrating Spring Through Art

Each week, clients in our Expressive Arts Program explore self-expression and healing through the arts. Recently, they've enjoyed looking just outside the window for inspiration for their art. We love how they celebrate color and the new season in these beautiful new creations.

Tips for Identifying Depression

Today’s post was written by 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. He also recently contributed the post Energize Your Diet to our blog.


Identifying depression in yourself or a loved one can be difficult. Understand that the symptoms are sneaky; not every person reveals consistent signs with one another, signs that are unusual and downright frustrating, and may force you to think they're symptoms of something else altogether. For example, a person who exhibits anger and irritability would, by most onlookers, be classified as "some jerk" who needs anger management. Many folks will live with this issue assuming their lives are stagnant and the dramatic emotions, whether highs and lows or irritability, will remain with them and should best be lived with rather than being dealt with. But this doesn't have to be you or anyone you know and love. Depression manifests in a variety of ways: 
There's tired, and then there's TIRED. I'm sure you know the difference, and then there's fatigue. Fatigue will leave you feeling as though your muscles have been subjected to shock therapy for seven hours followed by mental, muscular, and marrow-deep exhaustion. Certain exhaustion can be attributed to an overworked schedule, stress, and lack of sleep, and often is abolished after returning to a healthy sleep cycle. But if you find that you're tired with no reason, or still tired after 7-8 hours of sleep, be aware of the link between depression and fatigue. According to ZME Science, "Depression affects appetite and sleep — both vital to generating and replenishing energy. In most cases, patients report insomnia and getting less sleep, though an overabundance will also ruin your mood and energy levels."
Loss of interest
This is where it gets blurry; people lose interest all the time. Teenagers, for example, enter and exit phases the way ocean tides recede and return. A person's grooming and hygiene should be noted. If depression is suspected, a person might neglect their hygiene as well as bathing habits. Loss of interest in sex, social gatherings, and other activities the individual may have been heavily invested in should be examined. It's important to understand the difference between temporary and long-term loss of interest. Lack of interest may also lead to little to no motivation in exploring new possibilities in life, which is why a friend or loved one should remain diligent in following up on such changes.
When a friend or a family member becomes irritable with you, it may often be a cause unrelated to the situation, and is often dismissed as a bad day and won't be revisited for some time. Most often there is a relatable cause. There are, however, links between anger and depression. According to Psychology Today, individuals with depression experience intense inner conflict that often results in angry outbursts. "Getting angry at these ‘voices’ can be liberating, but that means getting in touch with our core feelings of anger rather than aiming it at ourselves. For example, when we may feel angry at the cruel way we treat ourselves today, we’re in touch with our adaptive anger, and we feel like we’re on our own side. Letting ourselves feel and express adaptive anger can help us feel less burdened, freer, and more in touch with our real self."
Suicidal Thoughts
The most serious predicament is suicidal thoughts. If you or anyone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately. The National Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7 trained assistance to de-escalate and prevent crises. For more information, also check out the LifeLine link

These symptoms can be difficult to spot. If you believe you or a loved one are experiencing depression, reach out and stay connected. Make socializing a priority, no matter hard it seems. Many people with depression tend to isolate as it gets worse. Know that help is just a call away. You don’t need to be alone. For example, a doctor can direct you toward possible medication, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), as well as support groups.
This post has been peer reviewed. 

Teen FAST Program on Telemundo with Blanca Garza

We were thrilled to have our Teen FAST Program featured on the leading Spanish-language news station in the Bay Area, Telemundo, recently. The broadcast now is available for viewing online!

Emmy Award-winning anchor and reporter Blanca Garza visited with several of the program participants and members of our program team at Andrew Hill High School, one of our partner school sites. Parents and youth shared how being part of FAST has affected their lives, and Program Manager Alicia Garcia Escobedo spoke to why we are so invested in this work. Principal Jose H. Hernandez also spoke with Ms. Garza about how well the FAST Program helps to advance his goals for the school community.

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Click to view the story on Telemundo’s site.

We have been offering the FAST Program, which uses the research-based Families and Schools Together model, since 1993 and pioneered the adaptation of the model for families who primarily speak Spanish at home. In 2012, in response to the rise in youth gang violence, we shifted the program from area elementary schools to high schools. Today, we offer services in partnership with Andrew Hill High, Independence High, and Yerba Buena High, all in east San Jose.

The FAST Program model is widely recognized for its effectiveness in engaging and empowering at-risk youth to make positive life choices and in strengthening families. It has been named a Promising Program by the Center for Mental Health Services, a Model Program by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), a Model Program by Strengthening America’s Families, and an Exemplary Program by Title V (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention/OJJDP, U.S. Department of Justice). Our program is actively engaged in the City of San Jose Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force.

The model is unique in making a two-year commitment to youth and their families and in engaging youth as program leaders and role models.

The Teen FAST curriculum increases self-esteem, improves students’ academic engagement, increases pro-social engagement, develops peer support networks, and strengthens family functioning. We have augmented the curriculum with expanded education about gangs, the juvenile justice system, the effects of traumatic events, and skill-building in wellness and self-care.

Our thanks to the funders of the Teen FAST Program, who make possible our free and comprehensive services: the Cisco Foundation, the City of San Jose B.E.S.T. Program, Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit Programs, the Leo M. Shortino Family Foundation, and the Morrison & Foerster Foundation.

Black History Month and Mental Wellness

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According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are at significantly increased risk to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. As Black History Month wraps up, we’d like to share a couple of resources and articles we’ve seen this last month specifically focused on mental wellness in the African American community.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) indicates that while “anyone can develop a mental health problem, African Americans sometimes experience more severe forms of mental health conditions due to unmet needs and other barriers.”

A few of the more common mental health conditions experienced by the African American community include:

  • Major depression
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Suicide, particularly among young African American men
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), because African Americans are, unfortunately, at increased risk to be victims of violent crime

NAMI devotes this page to how mental health affects the African American community and resources for support. 

Each Mind Matters, California’s Mental Health Movement, writes that “historically, enslavement, lack of economic opportunity, oppression and cultural bias have led to high poverty in the African American community. These factors can lead to homelessness, incarceration, and substance use problems, which increase the chances of poor mental health.” Each Mind Matters provides a comprehensive resource page and list of tools to help individuals reach out for support when needed.  

The Alameda County Everyone Counts Campaign highlights how superstar rapper Jay-Z has emerged as a hero to African-American communities as he has spoken out about mental health stigma removing barriers to seeking help for mental health in the African-American community. Read the recap, with links to related articles, here

While this is just a short list of many resources and articles, we hope this discussion of mental health in the African American community, and across all communities, continues. Together, we can increase awareness of mental health issues and mental wellness, and support those who need help. 

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.