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


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!

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.

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

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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.

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

Special thanks to the corporations and foundations that support Jobs Plus through their philanthropy. Our 2018-2019 fiscal year funding partners include Genentech, the Safeway Foundation, and the Wells Fargo Foundation. Thank you for empowering people to overcome barriers to employment and thrive as employees and coworkers.

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.


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


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!

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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.


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

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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


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

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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.