Caminar Connections Spring 2019 Edition

We are pleased to share with you our spring edition of edition of Caminar Connections, our newsletter highlighting all that our supporters help to make possible for people in our communities in need.

This newsletter shares highlights of our 2018 Annual Report, including our fiscal year 2018 statement of financials, highlights, and impact. In addition, this edition features the story of Eddrena, who with the help of Caminar’s Supported Housing Program, has finally found a safe place to call home, heal from past trauma, and move forward in health and wellness.

Thank you to all of our supporters and donors who help to provide life-changing services to individuals and families as they move toward resilience, wellness, and independence. 

Jobs Plus Helps Karina Reach For Her Goals

Craig Wiesner, Karina, and Derrick Kikuchi in front on Reach & Teach on 25th Avenue in San Mateo.

Craig Wiesner, Karina, and Derrick Kikuchi in front on Reach & Teach on 25th Avenue in San Mateo.

With the help of Caminar Jobs Plus, Karina has found gainful employment, self-esteem, and confidence to continue her education and fulfill her dreams.

Before Caminar, Karina—a 19-year-old student at the College of San Mateo—was shy, antisocial, and had trouble being independent. Going out by herself caused anxiety.

Referred to Jobs Plus from the Department of Rehabilitation, Karina worked with her Caminar Job Coach to determine the type of work she’d like to do. She realized that working in a small, family-owned retail environment would suit her well. With the guidance of her coach, Karina learned skills for interviewing and working in retail and began to believe in herself.

We feel very blessed to have Karina working with us. She is wonderfully dependable, thorough, thoughtful, and has become an integral part of our team. We’re also excited and proud that she has started taking classes at College of San Mateo. We’re grateful to the Caminar staff for all their support.
— Derrick Kikuchi and Craig Wiesner, Reach & Teach Co-Founders

Today, Karina works at Reach & Teach, an independent book, toy, and fair trade store on 25th Avenue in San Mateo, where she has been for almost a year. She helps with pricing, creating displays for products in the shop, customer purchases, and a variety of data entry tasks. Reach & Teach Co-Founders, Derrick Kikuchi and Craig Wiesner, feel blessed to have Karina working with them. She is wonderfully dependable, thorough, thoughtful, and has become an integral part of their team.

Karina’s time at Reach & Teach has taught her to manage her time, work with different people, and socialize better. It has given her more confidence and self-esteem, and she feels useful knowing she can help her family and help her bosses run the store. Karina states, “I am learning how to manage when I am overwhelmed and believing that I am capable of doing certain things I did not know I was able to do.”

Staying in school, continuing to work at Reach & Teach, and earning a degree in Psychology is Karina’s goal. She is grateful to her Jobs Plus team for helping her to achieve something she was previously so afraid to do. And, we are all delighted to see Karina thriving in work, school, and life.

I am learning how to manage when I am overwhelmed and believing that I am capable of doing certain things I did not know I was able to do.
— Karina

Caminar Welcomes Mark Cloutier as CEO

Mark Cloutier, MPP, MPH

Mark Cloutier, MPP, MPH

After an extensive search, the Board of Directors is excited to announce that Mark Cloutier, MPP, MPH, has joined Caminar as CEO as of January 31, 2019.

Mark brings a unique set of skills and experience to his role at Caminar. With Master’s degrees in public policy and public health, he has extensive experience in leadership roles in esteemed nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in the Bay Area, including Horizons Services, San Francisco Foundation, the Center for Youth Wellness, Kaiser Family Foundation, and San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

Mark has dedicated his career to increasing access to quality health and supportive services and improving communities’ overall health and well-being.

Mark says, “Improving the health of communities begins with understanding the role of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and social determinants of health in predisposing individuals, families and communities to poor mental health and physical health outcomes. Caminar is in a unique position to address the comprehensive needs of individuals, families and communities though our trauma informed, evidence based clinical services and our collaborations with government, nonprofit and community institutions to focus on and remedy root causes.”

Read today’s press release announcing Mark’s appointment here.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! We hope your 2019 is off to a wonderful start.

bridge.jpg

Your support makes so much possible for our clients, including the opportunity to express and heal themselves through the arts. This beautiful photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge was taken by a client in our Expressive Arts program, which offers group workshops with Teaching Artists, including world-renowned photographer Michael Collopy.

Bridges are rich in symbolism, emblematic of connections, progress, and transitions. This photo represents the photographer's personal journey of wellness and recovery, made with the help of Caminar, while also invoking the journeys of clients and their families across our organization, and even our own.

2018 was a year of great connections and progress for Caminar, including the acquisition of Healthy Partnerships in May and the merger with Project Ninety in June. Combined with the merger with Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley in 2017, we have greatly strengthened our capacity agency-wide to support and empower the complex needs of the most marginalized local individuals and families as they move toward resilience, wellness, and independence.

Last year, thanks to the generosity and compassion of our donors, we served more than 20,000 individuals on their journeys toward progress and positive transitions.

Throughout the year, we look forward to sharing with you more stories about the life-changing services you help to make possible. Our 2018 Annual Report will be ready next month. And, we have great transitions on the horizon, including introducing and welcoming a new CEO to Caminar soon. Stay tuned!

Please mark your calendar for our 16th Annual Circle of Support Luncheon on April 26, 2019, in Menlo Park. The event will feature David Sheff, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction.

An Outpouring of Love and Care in the Form of Socks and Ponchos

transfiguration.jpg

Caminar was delighted to be a recipient of Transfiguration Episcopal Church’s generous and compassionate Advent Giving program this year.

Approximately 75% of Caminar clients in San Mateo county come to us as homeless and often they have nowhere else to turn. Simple items such as clean, dry socks and rain ponchos help someone start the day on the right foot AND let them know someone cares about them and they are valued.

Over the course of December 2018, the Transfiguration community donated 123 pairs of new socks and 19 rain ponchos to Caminar for clients. And, the giving began immediately; within an hour of collecting these lovely gifts from under the tree at church, the items were brought to our medication clinic to be distributed to homeless clients ahead of first rain of the new year. Clinic staff was thrilled to be able to offer these gifts to our most needy clients and will continue to share these gifts throughout the season.

Caminar is so grateful for the opportunity to connect with Transfiguration and for the beautiful outpouring of love and care that will help our most vulnerable neighbors. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

Back to School—and Back to Life—With Supported Education

Caminar’s Supported Education Peer Counseling Graduating Class of 2018

Caminar’s Supported Education Peer Counseling Graduating Class of 2018

Growing up with bipolar disorder, Sam faced significant struggles in his home and school life. Throughout his teenage years, he bounced between “out of home” placements, compounding his emotional trauma.

Sam’s challenges continued through early adulthood until he connected with Caminar’s services.

Recognizing that Sam was a bright and talented young man in need of community and direction, his case manager urged him to enroll in school and linked Sam with the experts in Caminar’s Supported Education Program.

The program’s Peer Counseling class at the College of San Mateo offered the perfect introduction to college life. Sam flourished in the class and found the confidence to continue his education. He then enrolled in the college’s Electronic Music program, where he learned to produce songs and shared his music at college performances.

Since graduating, Sam has joined the workforce and moved into his own apartment.

While continuing to experience life’s ups and downs, Sam works with his team at Caminar to manage his mental health condition, connect with community, and access the quality care that enables him to overcome challenges and continue moving toward his goals.

Thank you to all of our donors and funders who provide support that allows Sam, and other vulnerable members of our community, the opportunity to live their best lives.

A Look Back at 2018

With 2019 fast approaching, we look back on Caminar's impact in 2018.

Because of the generosity of our donors and funders, more than 20,000 people last year made progress in overcoming major life challenges and moved toward greater resilience, wellness, and independence. 

From all of us at Caminar and our Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley, Healthy Partnerships, and Project Ninety divisions, thank you!

2018 Impact.png

Jason Finds Recovery and Wellness Through Our Project Ninety Division

Jason grew up in a state of turmoil. His parents divorced when he was a baby and he never knew his father. His life spiraled downward when his mom married an abusive alcoholic. He experienced abandonment and depression, never did well in school, and felt like he didn't fit in.

To escape an abusive home life, Jason ran away and turned to drugs and alcohol.

Jason connected with mental health and recovery services after time in juvenile hall. His life seemed to be heading in a better direction. But, drugs and alcohol lurked back into his life.

After 15 years of substance abuse, Jason committed to change his life.

On his 30th birthday, Jason knew he had to change his life for good. He sought treatment at Project Ninety. After completing our 90-day program, Jason continued on his path to wellness by becoming a Project Ninety volunteer and taking part in the 12-step recovery program.

Jason_HA.jpg

Recovery is possible with the right support.

Today, with over three years of sobriety, Jason is thriving, enjoying life, and reconnecting with friends and family. He is employed in work where he is making a difference in our community and is continuing his college education.

Jason credits Caminar’s Project Ninety division with helping him to turn his life around.

Without the generous support of our donors and funders, Jason may not be here today.

Caminar and our Project Ninety and Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley divisions combined to help more than 20,000 people last year overcome life challenges and move toward resilience, wellness, and independence. We couldn’t have done it without our circle of support.

Photography Group Captures the Local Landscape

Our Supported Education program offers wellness and art groups in all Caminar residential programs and at our San Mateo office. These groups help engage one in learning, introduce new skills, and improve an individual's quality of life.

The photography group meets weekly to learn more about the art of photography, hone skills, and take special outings to capture the local area.

Here are some lovely photographs from recent group trips along the bay. Enjoy!

Michael Finds Resilience with the help of Integrated Health Care

btw blog.JPG

With the help of Bridges to Wellness, our integrated primary and behavioral health care program, Michael* has a new-found healthy lifestyle and is working on remaining stable and resilient through life’s up and downs.

Over a year ago, Michael, who is in recovery for severe mental illness, was connected to Bridges to Wellness by his mental health case manager. He received an alarming wake-up call when the Bridges to Wellness nurse reviewed with him the initial wellness lab test results. In addition to having extremely high levels of cholesterol, Michael was pre-diabetic. Smoking 40 cigarettes a day also was affecting his health.

Motivated by the test results, Michael decided to make changes in his life. With the support of the nurse, he set wellness goals and created a plan. Encouraged by the Bridges to Wellness team, Michael began taking daily walks, which he found reduced his urge to smoke. Through the program’s smoking cessation group, he learned effective strategies, connected with peer support, and eventually quit smoking completely.

Using his savings on cigarettes, Michael joined a local gym, where he works out most days. Now he is maintaining a healthy body weight and his cholesterol and glucose levels are within a healthy range.

Michael is feeling, breathing, and looking better now than he can remember. His own determination and resilience, along with support from our mental health and Bridges to Wellness program professionals, have helped him enjoy a healthier quality of life.

With philanthropic investment, we aim to expand these integrated health services to reach more clients in San Mateo and Solano counties and to add services in Santa Clara and Butte counties.

* Name changed to protect client privacy


Brian's Path to Wellness

brian.JPG

Many of our clients may not be on the path to wellness without the support we receive from the community. We are so grateful to our donors and funders who make the life-changing work of Caminar possible.

We invite you to meet Brian, who shares his inspiring journey to wellness after multiple mental health diagnoses in this special video

In Brian’s words,

“Caminar gave me something to live for.”

Peter's Journey to Wellness

Peter blog post.png

A traumatic childhood left Peter with emotional wounds, severe depression, and PTSD. Eventually, his depression and PTSD became so debilitating, he was unable to get out of bed many mornings and missed so much work that he nearly lost his job.

Peter was referred to Caminar’s transitional residential home, where he received support and time to recover from his mental illness, gain coping skills for his mental health conditions, and relearn daily living skills.

The journey to wellness is paved with the right care and support.

When Peter was ready, he returned to his life more prepared to manage his depression.

Today, Peter is thriving. Once a shut-in, he’s now a lead carpenter with a flourishing business. He approaches each day as a gift.

Peter credits Caminar with saving his life.

Peter has a strong sense of community and gratitude, having benefited from the generosity, compassion, and support of others on his journey to wellness. To show his gratitude, Peter now volunteers his time and skills to help those in need.

Without the support of our donors, Peter may not be here today.

We are so very grateful for Peter’s wellness, and for the generosity of our supporters who make the life-changing work of Caminar possible.

Local Elementary School Donates Warm Coats to Caminar Clients

Harriet Pecot, Caminar’s Director of Development, with over 100 warm coats donated by Laurel Elementary School in San Mateo.

Harriet Pecot, Caminar’s Director of Development, with over 100 warm coats donated by Laurel Elementary School in San Mateo.

Look at all these warm coats!

We are delighted to be the recipient of Laurel Elementary School’s One Warm Coat Drive, held in October. Laurel Elementary, a school located just around the corner from our San Mateo Headquarters, collected over 100 warm coats for children and adults and donated them to Caminar clients.

We delighted in sharing these gifts, which have been distributed to vulnerable members of our community and will help to keep them warm and healthy this winter. Since many of the coats were for youth, we loved giving them to young clients in our Santa Clara Region, especially those who participate in our LGBTQ Youth Space, our Positive Solutions Program for family violence and abuse prevention, and our Substance Use Disorders Services.

We are so grateful to the students, parents, and staff members of Laurel Elementary who generously donated new and gently used coats; Thank you!

One Warm Coat is a national non-profit organization that works to provide a free, warm coat to any person in need. One Warm Coat supports individuals, groups, companies and organizations across the country by providing the tools and resources needed to hold a successful coat drive. Coats are distributed in the communities where they were collected, to children and adults in need, without charge, discrimination or obligation. Since One Warm Coat’s inception in 1992, they have worked with our volunteers to host more than 27,000 coat drives and have given away more than 5 million coats.

In the News: Caminar Program Offers Mental Health Safety Net

Daily Journal_102018.png

The San Mateo Daily Journal today featured news of Caminar’s Assisted Outpatient Treatment, or AOT, program offered by San Mateo County’s Health Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Division.

As the article states, "the program is aimed at meeting the needs of those whose conditions have worsened at home or jail or have made it difficult to function well in their communities.” Furthermore, it is estimated that “more than $700,000 in costs were not incurred by county services, which include incarceration as well as psychiatric hospitalizations and emergency visits, because clients were served by the AOT program.”

Read more at The Daily Journal.

Housing Heroes Honored in San Mateo County

housing heroes.JPG

Last week, San Mateo County celebrated the individuals and organizations that help those with co-occurring issues find or keep housing.

Held at the Redwood Shores Library on October 18, the awards ceremony honored Diane Dworkin of San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS). Diane has been on many committees and spent countless hours advocating to connects clients with housing in San Mateo County.

As we know, lack of stable housing makes recovery from co-occurring substance abuse and mental health issues an even greater challenge. We are so grateful for our community partners, like Diane and BHRS, who go the extra mile to help vulnerable members of our community move toward resilience, wellness, and independence. Thank you, housing heroes!

Caminar Connections Fall 2018 Edition

We are thrilled to share our fall 2018 edition of Caminar Connections, our newsletter highlighting all that our supporters help to make possible for people in our communities in need.

This edition features the inspiring story of Sam, who flourished in classes offered through our Supported Education program and continues to move towards his goals with the help of his Caminar team.

The newsletter also highlights school and youth services offered through our Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley and Healthy Partnerships divisions.

Thank you to all of our supporters and donors who help to provide life-changing services to individuals and families as they move toward
resilience, wellness, and independence. 

Christopher’s Path to Wellness, Paved with Support from our AOT Program

AOT - Christopher's Story.png

Christopher was referred to Caminar’s Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program after psychiatric hospitalization following an altercation with his family. He didn’t believe he had a mental illness and wasn’t able to define why he had been hospitalized.

Christopher is a young man struggling to come to terms with mental illness and delusional thoughts, thoughts that sometimes convinced him the world was against him. He feels isolated, socially awkward, and ashamed for the dark thoughts in his head.

Our AOT program assists San Mateo County residents with severe mental illness as they transition from inpatient care to outpatient living. The program provides 24/7 intensive mental health services, housing support, and life skill development for Christopher and others like him.

The path to mental health and wellness, however, isn’t a straight line. Christopher had been moving forward in his recovery, until one day when he experienced a setback and destroyed property at his parents’ home. This time, he did not find himself in the hospital. Since he was connected with Caminar’s AOT Program, his Caminar caseworker jumped into action, meeting with him immediately to provide a mental health assessment and establish additional support

His caseworker helped Christopher to stabilize and avoid another hospitalization. Together they created a safety plan, and the caseworker offered support both to Christopher and his family. Most importantly, the caseworker built trust with him and encouraged him to reach out whenever he needs help in order to prevent a crisis in the future.

Christopher is still connected with Caminar. He recently graduated from AOT and stepped down to our New Ventures case management program, which provides lower intensity mental health case management services. Christopher continues to move toward wellness and recovery. And, the AOT program is proving its intended value to help those who struggle to live safely in the community.

Recent San Mateo County data, as highlighted in a story in the Climate Online, indicate the AOT program is working.

After a year in the program, clients saw

  • 66% reduction in the number of days spent in jail

  • 13% drop in homelessness

  • 50% reduction in episodes of hospitalization

Length of hospital stays also reduced significantly, from 252 days prior to the program to 96 after. Episodes of psychiatric emergency services dropped from 35 to 21.

Such reductions in jail time, emergency response, and hospital services have saved the county considerable money. And, the services and care provided allow Christopher and other vulnerable neighbors to move toward wellness and live in the community with dignity.


Caminar launched the AOT program in August 2016. The program uses the Full Service Partnership’s “whatever it takes” approach to support individuals with serious mental health conditions to move toward wellness, recovery, and independence.


One Warm Coat and Caminar Will Make a Difference

Children-in-poverty.png

Caminar is grateful to be included as one of One Warm Coat’s registered agencies to distribute coats to people who we serve who are in need. With colder weather coming, a warm coat can help make a warmer, healthier winter for someone in your local community.

Does your organization want to make a difference this season? Consider holding a coat drive! One Warm Coat makes it easy and Caminar would love to partner with you to distribute the coats to those in need. Check out all the resources you need to hold your own drive in six easy steps.

One Warm Coat is a national non-profit organization that works to provide a free, warm coat to any person in need. One Warm Coat supports individuals, groups, companies and organizations across the country by providing the tools and resources needed to hold a successful coat drive. Coats are distributed in the communities where they were collected, to children and adults in need, without charge, discrimination or obligation. Since One Warm Coat’s inception in 1992, they have worked with our volunteers to host more than 27,000 coat drives and have given away more than 5 million coats.

We look forward to helping those in need and warming our community this winter...one coat at a time.

For more information on how to partner with Caminar on a coat drive, please contact Harriet Pecot at hpecot@caminar.org or 650.513.1509.

Join Caminar and NAMI San Mateo for our Third Advocacy Forum

Quarterly Community Advocacy Forum_100118.png

Caminar is pleased to continue our partnership with NAMI-San Mateo to bring our Quarterly Community Advocacy Forum to our San Mateo County neighbors. Our forums are focused on active advocacy for improved supports and services for those with serious mental health challenges.

If you’d like to have your voice heard and help to advocate for services, please join us for snacks and conversation.

Third Advocacy Forum
Thursday, November 1, 2018
Doors open at 5:30 PM
Forum 6:00 - 7:30 PM
Caminar - Sencha Conference Room
2600 El Camino Real, Suite 200, San Mateo

The topic for this forum will be action steps: how we take this advocacy for
improved supported housing to the next level.

For more information, please contact

  • Helene Zimmerman at NAMI SMC 650-638-0800, nami@namisanmateo.org

  • Leanna Harper at Caminar 650-393-8976, leannah@caminar.org

  • Carolyn Shepard at j092048@aol.com

Download the flyer here.

Please see the recaps of the previous two forums here.

And, stay tuned for a survey coming out this month on the types of support needs in a permanent housing situation for those with mental health conditions.


From Hospitalization to Home: Tina’s Journey to Recovery

hospitalization to home.png

Earlier this year, Tina* entered treatment at Caminar immediately upon discharge from the hospital. She had been referred to our San Mateo County Region’s Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program, which provides intensive treatment and support for adults with severe mental illness who are disconnected from the mental health system. 

Tina had been living with roommates who were actively engaged in unhealthy lifestyles, and she had been heavily abusing substances. Her mental and physical health were in a fragile state.

At Caminar, Tina began working regularly and diligently with a psychiatrist and a case manager. And, she enrolled in an outpatient substance use treatment program. 

With the newfound support and compassionate care, Tina regained her resilience and began to rebuild her life. She invested the time and work to become clean and sober,  and her mental and physical health improved. Now, she is living with family, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, working towards securing employment, and committed to the journey of recovery. 

*Name changed to protect client privacy.