In Memoriam: Barbara E. Jones

We are greatly saddened by the passing of our board member and friend Barbara E. Jones.

Barb on blog.jpg

Barbara became involved with Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley (FCS) as a donor in 2001. At the encouragement of friends, Barbara joined FCS’s Circle of Support Breakfast Committee in 2006. In 2012, Barbara was elected to FCS’s Board of Directors. As a member of the board, Barbara was instrumental in enhancing the organization's governance and board development functions, recruiting excellent candidates to the board, and providing thoughtful, informed counsel on strategic decisions. Always important to Barbara was understanding how a decision would affect clients and staff, as she knew people were at the heart of the work.

When FCS merged with Caminar, Barbara transitioned to Caminar's Board of Directors. She continued to be active in fundraising efforts, including through her involvement in the Circle of Support Committee.

Barbara had a wide circle of dear friends, and she inspired many of them to become involved in supporting FCS's and then Caminar's work.

Barbara cared deeply about ensuring people who were underserved had access to quality behavioral health care, educational opportunities, and help to heal from gender-based violence. She gave of her time and resources to advance causes, meet needs, and create change.

FCS, Caminar, and the community at large are the better for Barbara’s brilliance and generosity. She is missed greatly.

We extend our sympathies to Barbara’s family and friends.

We are profoundly honored by wishes to make donations in Barbara’s memory. Donations received will be invested in the work dear to Barbara’s heart. Please click here to make a gift and check the box “Dedicate my donation in honor of or in memory of a loved one.” We will pass along all messages received.

For any questions or assistance, please contact or call 650.513.1509.

Staff Spotlight: Caminar Solano Region’s Cassan Phelps


With a passion for mental health and wanting to expand her impact beyond our Solano region, Cassan Phelps, ASW, joined the Board of Directors of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASF) earlier this year. 

At Caminar, Cassan serves as program director for the Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction (MIOCR) program. The MIOCR program provides clinical case management for clients being released from the jail and the Mental Health Collaborative Court who are experiencing mental health and co-occurring substance abuse disorders.The goal of this program is to assist with transition into the community and work to reduce recidivism among this population. 

Feeling that there is so much need in mental health space, especially in San Francisco, and not enough people to do it, Cassan reached out to MHASF looking for volunteer opportunities. Upon reviewing her resume with deep experience in mental health and level of education, MHASF invited Cassan to join the Board of Directors. 

The Mental Health Association of San Francisco is a peer-led social justice community dedicated to progressive mental health issues for the past 70 years. Cassan is especially drawn to the organization because of the advocacy work and that it is dominated by peer-providers; the organization is very relatable, and everyone is passionate about what they do. 

While still relatively new on the Board, she has already jumped in and serves on a sub-committee focused on new finding new funding opportunities.

Thank you, Cassan, for the time you dedicate to our clients, as well as the time you devote to helping the greater community. Your passion, energy, and commitment to mental health is inspiring!

Back to School 2019 with Caminar Supported Education

Fall semester begins August 15!

It’s back to school time!

Caminar Supported Education, in collaboration with San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, the College of San Mateo, and Skyline College, is pleased to present two courses for the fall 2019 semester.

Peer Counseling I

           An orientation and training course to develop peer counseling skills, emphasizing the experiential process of interpersonal communication as well as the theoretical perspectives. Exploration of community settings. Prepares students for a variety of career settings. explanation of the counseling process.

August 15 through December 5
Tuesday and Thursdays from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
College of San Mateo | Building 16, Room 102

Future Views

Workshops focusing on academic and career exploration. Explore  your personal strengths, determine your learning style, discover student resources.

August 15 through December 5
Tuesday and Thursdays from 2:00 - 2:45 p.m.
Skyline College | Building 1, Room 205


 Classes are offered free of charge and all instructional materials are provided.
To register or for more information, please contact

Chris Robinson, Caminar Supported Education Program Director | 650.393.8926


In the News: Caminar and local agencies work together to offer clean up, support, and services to Suisun City homeless encampment

blog _solano.png

Members of Caminar’s Solano Region team joined together with Suisun City police, a code enforcement officer, and Public Works crews to clean up a homeless encampment in the city and to reach out to those who live there. The two-day effort reached more than a dozen homeless people, who were contacted and offered resources and services.

Read more about this effort in the Daily Republic, here.

The right, integrated solutions delivered at the right time

The eight dimensions of wellness, as outlined by SAMHSA.

The eight dimensions of wellness, as outlined by SAMHSA.

At Caminar, we believe that everyone should have access to the top quality care and support they need to achieve their goals and enjoy improved health and wellness. The generosity of our donors and funders makes possible our continuum of integrated and effective prevention, treatment, and recovery services that strengthen the eight dimensions of wellness, as outlined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

  1. Emotional—Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships

  2. Environmental—Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating

    environments that support well-being

  3. Financial—Satisfaction with current and future financial situations

  4. Intellectual—Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills

  5. Occupational—Personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work

  6. Physical—Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep

  7. Social—Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system

  8. Spiritual—Expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life

Needs may vary over time. We work diligently to deliver the right, integrated solutions at the right time, always in a compassionate, caring, and culturally sensitive way informed by science.

Solano Region Client Publishes Two Poetry Books


We are delighted to share the exciting accomplishments of one of our Solano Wellness and Recovery Center clients, Cynaka Harper, who recently published two books. 

Life’s Journey is a collection of poems Cynaka has written over the course of her life, including while living with cancer and mental health concerns. Cynaka copes with mental illness through music, writing, and poetry. Her desire is that by sharing her story through poetry, it will offer hope to others going through hard times and help them remember the good times. Cynaka says, “life is a journey, and I would love to share with you my journey.”

Dreamer’s Fantasy, written under the name G.O. 284, the name Cynaka adopted for Poetry by the Bay, is her collection of fantasy poems. 

We are so proud of Cynaka for sharing her life journey and fantasies with us, and for following her dreams of being a published poet. You are truly an inspiration, Cynaka!

San Mateo Region Celebrates Summer and Community During Annual Client Picnic

Caminar staff members — including Ofelia “Apple” Concepcion, Joseph Lazaro, Claudia Obina, Caroline Raymundo, and Karina Bernaldes — ready to serve lunch.   Photo credit: Jerry Hill

Caminar staff members — including Ofelia “Apple” Concepcion, Joseph Lazaro, Claudia Obina, Caroline Raymundo, and Karina Bernaldes — ready to serve lunch. Photo credit: Jerry Hill

Our San Mateo County Region clients enjoyed our annual client picnic on Friday, July 19, 2019. Set in San Mateo’s Central Park on a beautiful afternoon, the picnic included lunch and plenty of community and entertainment.

Picnickers enjoyed barbecue, rolls, salad, fruit, macaroni salad, fruit salad, and an array of sweets for dessert.

Staff loved seeing clients outside of program offices, dressed up for the occasion, having fun, and soaking in the sun and festivities. Our guests enjoyed socializing outside of the office with other clients, friends, caseworkers, and staff members.

Thank you to all who joined in the fun!

Project Ninety Division Celebrates the Retirement of Founder and Former Executive Director Jim Stansberry

Project Ninety Executive Director Jim Buckner, Caminar CEO Mark Cloutier, Jim Stansberry, and Senator Jerry Hill

Project Ninety Executive Director Jim Buckner, Caminar CEO Mark Cloutier, Jim Stansberry, and Senator Jerry Hill

Jim Stansberry, a founder and former Executive Director of Project Ninety, recently celebrated his retirement. Surrounded by friends, clients, colleagues, and family, he was recognized for his long-standing and deep commitment to Project Ninety and the community. 

Senator Jerry Hill awarded Mr. Stansberry a State of California Senate Certificate of Recognition for his 30 years of outstanding work in the organization. He explained that Mr. Stansberry’s soul made Project Ninety a success, and he applauded his commitment, service, and love for the organization.

Jim Buckner, the current Executive Director of Project Ninety, shared that the special, family feel of the organization came straight from Mr. Stansberry himself. He further explained that Mr. Stansberry's support of his staff is unparalleled and a huge contributor to the success of the team.

Many clients and staff members also shared reflections and appreciation of Mr. Stansberry. The evening was exactly as the team intended; a backyard barbecue with friends and family where everyone enjoyed good food, had some fun, and told great stories.

Thank you, Mr. Stansberry, for your service and compassion. Enjoy your well-deserved retirement!

In the News: Caminar CEO Interview on KBLX Cares

Thank you to Sterling James and KBLX for hosting our CEO, Mark Cloutier, on KBLX Cares last Saturday morning.

Sterling and Mark covered a range of important topics around the power of compassion and science to help people with mental health and substance abuse issues to get back on their path in life. They also discussed how to reduce stigma, signs someone may need mental health care, and so much more.

We invite you to listen to the interview here.

Thank you, Bombas, for the gift of warm feet!


We are doing the happy dance for happy and warm feet!

Our gratitude for Bombas literally extends from our heads down to our toes. Thank you, Bombas, for the wonderful gift of 1,750 socks to share with our young adult and adult clients in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California.

The gift of these special socks means so much to our clients, many who have so little. They are being shared with people who are without stable housing, reentering the community after incarceration, rebuilding lives after leaving relationships characterized by domestic violence, and moving through recovery from mental health and/or substance use conditions. As well, some socks are headed to our drop-in center for LGBTQ youth and young adults, where a number of youth are couch-surfing and piecing together safe living situations.

The gift of warm feet, and the feeling of being noticed, loved, and looked after is priceless. Thank you, Bombas, for showing those in need that you care. We appreciate you!

Caminar Connections Summer 2019 Edition

Summer greetings!

We’re happy to share with you the summer 2019 edition of Caminar Connections, our quarterly newsletter of stories and insights from the transformative work you make possible for individuals and families.  

Let us introduce you to Karina, who found gainful employment, self-esteem, and confidence with the help of Caminar Jobs Plus. We also bring you photos and highlights from this spring’s 16th Annual Circle of Support Luncheon, which focused on “A Family’s Journey with Addiction.” And our CEO, Mark Cloutier, reflects on his almost five months at Caminar. 

Lives change at Caminar . . . thanks to you. We hope you enjoy reading how your help so positively impacts your community.

In the News: Caminar CEO Speaks on Childhood Trauma

Royal Gazette_Cam In News.jpg

Our CEO, Mark Cloutier, was honored to be invited by the United States Consulate as part of the US State Department’s Speaker Program to speak last week at the Family Centre's Adverse Childhood Experiences 2019 Conference.

The Royal Gazette covered the conference and interviewed Mark about the impact of ACEs on the health and well-being of our society. 

Mark states, “A good way to frame what Aces offers us is, it’s really the unaddressed non-infectious public health emergency of our lifetime, in that we now have the evidence from an epidemiological perspective — what is a major driver of lifetime adult chronic diseases.”

Read more.

Coping and Hope Though Poetry: Natalie Shares Her Writing


With special thanks to Caminar Case Manager Jason Kaefer who brought this special story to us and to the brave and talented Caminar Client Natalie San Juan who is sharing her gift of poetry with us.

Natalie became a member of the Caminar family through YAIL, our Young Adult Independent Living program. For the last eight years, she has been part of our New Ventures Case Management program.

As a child, Natalie always felt different. Natalie recalls that “everyone said I was too sensitive, and I cried a lot.” As she matured, her feelings progressed until a diagnosis of major depressive disorder fell upon her. Over the years, she has dealt with emotions that would be unimaginable to most people. “I was suicidal at times, in and out of hospitals. It was a dark, dark world,” she remembers. In an attempt to reduce the feelings of sadness, she turned to an old childhood hobby — writing. Through a collection of journal entries, including poetry and stream of consciousness, Natalie managed to mitigate her internal unrest and express feelings of all kinds. This coping skill has allowed her a shelter from the feelings she once thought inescapable. Now, she wishes to share her writing with the hope that it will ring true with others who experience similar situations.

Please enjoy her poem “Prejudice” that was written to encourage people to talk openly about their mental health and to not feel shame in doing so.


By Natalie San Juan

Take a look at me,
and what do you see?

I am not a disease,
I am a human being.

Take off that blindfold,
and reality you will see.

Your words that crush my spirits,
cause ms me non necessary insanity.

You see me walk away with an attitude,
in which you have slowly brought on.

But because you are always a “superior,”
I am always at full fault.

In your eyes I’m a small ant,
that at any moment you will stomp.

I will not judge if you choose not to change,
I just ask for a brief stop.

Take a look around you,
check your brain before you speak.

You just will never know,
who’s soul you’ll tear apart.

I hope you get my message,
hope it sticks to you like gum.

I will not give up fighting,
til this battle is won.

Walking for Behavioral Health on Memorial Day

Caminar was delighted to participate in the 10th Annual Hillsborough Memorial Day Parade, Carnival, and Music Festival, which was held on Monday, May 27, 2019.

The event honored and remembered those who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces, and celebrated community and connection.

The Caminar team walked in memory of service members and in support of all who are on courageous journeys of recovery from mental illness or addiction.

We are grateful to the Town of Hillsborough for inviting our participation in this lovely day.

5 Tips to Talk About Mental Wellness

What can we do to help create a society where mental wellness is discussed and valued?

ART SHOW 2019.jpg

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a month in which mental health advocates and leaders work to amplify awareness of mental health issues and the stigma around mental illness.

And as you likely know, our society is experiencing an epidemic wave of adolescent behavioral health disorders. In fact, one in eight teens reported a major depressive episode in 2014–2015, up 25% in the last four years.

One of a child’s greatest protective factors is a sympathetic adult who can help the child understand their own feelings, develop emotional skills, and buffer the child’s exposure to adverse experiences that cause emotional distress. That sympathetic adult may be a parent, guardian, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, coach, teacher, close family friend, or other caring adult.

Here are five tips to help create homes, workplaces, schools, and communities where mental wellness is valued, discussed, and embodied. We invite you to consider which you may like to try in your life.

  1. Normalize talking about difficult emotions and feelings, such as stress, grief, or loss.

  2. Consider reducing or eliminating screen time at night to improve the quality and length of sleep.

  3. Take time at one weekly meal to encourage everyone to share something about their day. Through listening and supporting each other, show that emotional experiences are valued.

  4. Talk about mental health and how it affects your family with community leaders and elected officials.

  5. End the stigma by being forthcoming about your own struggles and success with your own mental health – you can be an example of resilience for your family, peers, and community.

We would love to hear from you, too! What practices do you find help to promote mental wellness? We will feature tips in a future blog post. Please send your tips to

Congratulations to our Supported Education Class of 2019 Peer Counseling Program Graduates

Peer Counseling students, graduates, and instructors

Peer Counseling students, graduates, and instructors

On May 16, students in our Supported Education Program at the College of San Mateo gathered to celebrate the end of the semester. As well, they also joyously recognized the class of 2019 Peer Counseling Program graduates, those students who completed both semesters of the Peer Counseling classes.

Supported Education Director Chris Robinson welcomed each graduate to the front of the room and presented them with a certificate of achievement while the students applauded each other and their accomplishments. Students spoke of their appreciation of the program and offered a standing ovation for the instructors to express their gratitude. Mr. Robinson concluded the gathering by encouraging students to seek opportunities to use their newfound skills in peer counseling and to continue their education. He stated that Supported Education is a gateway to find connection, support, and skills for one’s next steps in life.

A collaboration between Caminar, San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, the College of San Mateo, and Skyline College, the Supported Education Program's purpose is to educate, empower, and expose clients to new experiences. We offer the Peer Support classes exclusively at the College of San Mateo, and the courses - and transportation - are provided at no cost.

The fall semester at the College of San Mateo begins on August 14. For more information or to enroll, please contact Chris Robinson at or 650.578.8691.

Congratulations to our most recent Peer Counseling Program graduates!

Special thanks to Jerry Hill for capturing the festivities in photos.

Expressive Arts Program Art Show at the Half Moon Bay Library

ART SHOW 2019 (1).png

We are delighted to partner with the Half Moon Bay Library during Mental Health Awareness Month to share our clients’ art with the community.

Over the last year, Caminar’s Expressive Arts Program has reached more than 100 San Mateo County residents in recovery from serious mental health conditions.

Through the creative process and the resulting artwork, participants express emotions that words cannot fully capture—or are too painful to utter aloud.

Five years ago, the program began in earnest with photography as the art medium. The program has evolved to include drawing, painting, adult coloring pages, and music. World-renowned photographer Michael Collopy is the Teaching Artist for the program. Along with Mr. Collopy, musician Maikel Garcia is an integral part of our Expressive Arts program. Maikel promotes emotional, mental, and social well-being through music.

Participants tell us that learning and practicing art helps them to feel less anxious and to feel calmer and more hopeful.

We invite you to enjoy these pieces of art made with great heart, which will be on display at the Half Moon Bay Library, 620 Correas Street, Half Moon Bay, from May 20 through June 3, 2019.

The Pressing Need for Behavioral Health Solutions

statistics blog post_v2.png

The complexity of needs influencing the health and well-being of local youth and adults has been increasing over the last several years.

We find people often are overwhelmed by overlapping and interrelated challenges, whether it’s serious mental illness and maintaining safe, affordable housing, or the co-occurring symptoms of mental health and substance use disorders, or trying to balance mental health recovery and the demands of the workplace.

Complex needs impact all age groups. Here are a few statistics to remind us of the importance of behavioral health solutions and services.

  • 1 in 5 adults have a mental health condition. That's over 40 million Americans; more than the populations of New York and Florida combined. Mental Health America

  • One in eight teens reported a major depressive episode in 2014–2015, up from one in 11 in 2011–2012. Two-thirds of adolescents with major depressive episodes did not get treatment. California Health Care Foundation

  • Overall, sexual minority youth were 3.5 times as likely to attempt suicide as heterosexual peers. Transgender adolescents were 5.87 times more likely, gay and lesbian adolescents were 3.71 times more likely and bisexual youth were 3.69 times more likely than heterosexual peers to attempt suicide. JAMA Pediatrics

  • An estimated 43.6 million (18.1%) Americans ages 18 and up experienced some form of mental illness. In the past year, 20.2 million adults (8.4%) had a substance use disorder. Of these, 7.9 million people had both a mental disorder and substance use disorder, also known as co-occurring disorders. SAMHSA

  • An estimated 26% of homeless adults staying in homeless shelters live with serious mental illness and an estimated 46% live with severe mental illness and/or substance use disorders. HUD

  • Nearly half of 20,000 US adults surveyed indicate they suffer from feelings of loneliness. Cigna

We are grateful to all of our donors, funders, and friends who help Caminar’s work to empower and support individuals and families to move toward resilience, wellness, and independence.