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Samaritan House meets its virtual gala fundraising goal

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Samaritan House meets its virtual gala fundraising goal

The community came through Thursday for an organization that continues to come through for them.

The Samaritan House, which has had to amplify its services during the COVID-19 crisis to meet growing demand from local residents in need, met its fundraising goal of $280,000 to support its Fund A Need program at its Main Event fundraising gala.

While many nonprofits have had to cancel fundraising events during the shelter-in-place order, the Samaritan House opted to go virtual to raise critical funds. Their call was answered.

Carole Middelton, a presenting sponsor of the gala, started the night off with an opening donation of $25,000, followed by a matching donations by Gilliad Sciences and Sutter Health.  The Bohannon Foundation then came through with the night’s largest donation of the night, $100,000, helping Samaritan House reach their goal.

David Bohannon said all have been tested in these challenging times, but added “no one has had to endure more than those serviced by Samaritan House.”

“The Bohannon Family has been engaged with the San Mateo community for more than 80 years,” Bohannon added. “Our roots, our homes and our business center around this place. As longtime supporters of their amazing work caring for those in need, we are honored to be able to assist the Samaritan House in meeting the challenges of this time.”

Diane Dwyer, former KTVU and NBC Bay Area news anchor, emceed the Samaritan House gala while Franco Finn, local hype man of the Golden State Warriors, served as auctioneer. Auctioned items included a long weekend getaway in Palm Springs, a congressional experience with Jackie Speier, and a vacation in paradise in Kihei, Maui. Each item went for almost $5,000.

Samaritan House has battling poverty in San Mateo County for over 45 years. The nonprofit organization provides food, shelter, housing, healthcare, personalized case management and much more to more than 14,000 San Mateo County residents in need, including families, seniors, veterans, homeless adults and individuals living with a disability.

Photo: Franco Finn, local hype man of the Golden State Warriors

San Mateo police arrest domestic violence suspect, seize firearms

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San Mateo police investigating fatal hit-and-run collision

San Mateo police seized multiple firearms from the home of a man arrested on suspicion of violently attacking his partner Tuesday.

At about 5:40 p.m. Tuesday, police responded to the 4000 block of Martin Drive on a report of a domestic violence in progress. Officers said the suspect had allegedly beaten and strangled the victim, who fled to a neighbor’s home for safety, police said. Officers subsequently located the suspect, James Sibbert, at a nearby park, where he was “intoxicated and driving his vehicle,” police said. Officers subsequently seized six firearms at Sibbert’s home “subsequent to procedures set forth in domestic violence deadly weapon seizure laws,” police said.

On Wednesday, Sibbert, 54, of San Mateo, pleaded not guilty to several misdemeanor domestic violence and DUI charges, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

The victim and a neighbor say Sibbert has attacked the victim on prior occasions, prosecutors said. The couple, who have lived together for 11 years, began drinking on Tuesday at 9 a.m. The alleged domestic violence incident occurred later in the afternoon following a verbal argument over finances and personal issues, according to prosecutors. The victim’s injuries included bruising on her forehead and soreness on her neck and throat.

Sibbert, who remains in custody on $25,000 bail, is next expected to appear for a judge for a jury trial scheduled for June 8.

The San Mateo Police Department is encouraging survivors of domestic violence to seek assistance.

CORA Crisis Line: (800) 300-1080
Support-emergency housing, and legal assistance.

National Domestic Violence HOTLINE: (800) 799-7233
If you’re unable to speak safely, or text “LOVEIS” to 22522

Small businesses can apply for San Mateo County Strong emergency funds starting April 27

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Small businesses can apply for San Mateo County Strong emergency funds starting April 27

San Mateo County small businesses can begin to apply for emergency funding from the San Mateo County Strong Fund when the application process opens on Monday, April 27, at noon.

The San Mateo County Strong Fund is a countywide fundraiser providing emergency grants to support local small businesses, nonprofits and individuals and families in need. It was established on March 24 with a $3 million contribution by the County Board of Supervisors, and is raising more funds to directly assist community members in the County.

The grants for small businesses can be used to provide payroll for employees, to maintain operations, meet obligations and survive the economic impacts of the shelter-in-place period. Eligible businesses may qualify for the grant regardless of whether they applied for the federal Paycheck Protection Program and/or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

To be eligible for a grant, businesses must be a for-profit company with at least two employees; have all applicable and required business licenses and permits since March 31, 2019; have a primary office, storefront or business space open to the public and located in the county and have been open for at least one year; have the equivalent of 10 or fewer full-time employees as of Feb. 15, or less than $2.5 million in annual revenue over the past 12 months, from March 1, 2019 to Feb. 29 this year; and have the ability to demonstrate a 25 percent reduction in gross revenue due to COVID-19.

For more information about the grant and the application process, click here.

Giving back: Sequoia Awards recognizes the best of our student volunteers

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One high school student began working in Africa with refugees and victims of exploitation. Another became a fixture of friendliness and support at the Veteran’s Hospital in Palo Alto. Still another started a middle school tennis program. Another began a program to teach students how to cook, and another started her own tutoring and mental health counseling program.

These are just a handful of the moving and inspiring stories from this year’s group of Sequoia Awards winners and scholarship recipients.

For nearly 30 years, Sequoia Awards has been honoring high school seniors from Redwood City for their voluntary contributions to our community. Founded in 1990 by a group of community leaders led by Pete and Paula Uccelli, Sequoia Awards has grown from a single $500 scholarship to this year’s 24 winners, who will receive a combined $176,500 toward their college dreams and ambitions. The award is based entirely on the students’ volunteer activities – neither academics nor athletics are taken into account. Since 1990, more than $2 million in scholarship funds has been distributed by Sequoia Awards.

The highlight of the Sequoia Awards program is an annual dinner at which the students are recognized individually for their achievements and dedication to serving our community. The signature moment of the event is when each student is called up to the stage and stands in the spotlight for a few moments in front of family, friends, mentors and fellow students while their achievements are described. Sequoia Awards also recognizes an outstanding member of the Redwood City community whose volunteer efforts embody the vision of the organization and demonstrate to the students that voluntarism can and should continue into adulthood.

This story was originally published in the April edition of Climate Magazine. To view the magazine online, click on this link.

As has been the case with so many community events, Sequoia Awards was forced to cancel its annual dinner, scheduled for mid-March at the Marriott San Mateo Hotel.

“This is a decision none of us wanted to make and we kept holding out hope we could hold our event,” said Sequoia Awards Board Chair Jim Lianides. “These students and our outstanding individual work so hard to help their community and this is the night we get to honor them, their mentors and their families. It is a highlight for everyone involved, a deeply moving night, and it is a disappointment that health concerns forced us to cancel.”

The cancellation does nothing to diminish the achievements of these young men and women or to dim the bright light of charity, kindness and generosity that characterizes their work and the spirit and mission of Sequoia Awards. And it is possible to celebrate this year’s winners with the generous help of the publisher and editors of Climate Magazine, who have donated the space for this story and to put on display the name and photo of each winner.

This year’s top award, Outstanding Student, goes to Maria Casique, who will be graduating from Sequoia High School through the Cañada Middle College program. She will receive the top scholarship of $25,000.

In the seventh grade, Maria began struggling with depression and anorexia nervosa. By the eighth grade, “I had mentally checked out. … I couldn’t retain information, became distracted and felt hopeless and stopped eating and lost weight,” she said. In treatment for five months, Maria became determined not to fall behind in school. She succeeded, largely through her own initiative, and that left her determined to “combat the lack of academic resources available to younger students.”

She began by volunteering at Project Read, but that wasn’t enough. She started an after-school tutoring center at her former middle school so she “could have a bigger effect by serving more students.” The program became the Connect Tutoring Center and by her junior year, Maria had recruited classmates as additional tutors. They provide one-on-one tutoring and mentoring “and we serve as role models who are succeeding in advanced STEM classes.” She found a location for the program, and then she raised funds for a mental health pop-up devoted to the issues facing teens.

“Not many with similar background as mine – mental health struggles, first-generation, low-income, Latina – make it as far as I have, and volunteering motivated me to continue to fight my eating disorder and to voice my battle to the community to change perspectives on mental health, education and identity,” Maria said.

Maria will go to college to study neuroscience and, eventually, head to medical school with the goal of becoming a neurosurgeon.

The winner of the Outstanding Individual is Annette Soby, whose three decades of volunteerism have touched the Redwood City community broadly and deeply.

She has been a volunteer at Kainos Home and Training Center for more than 25 years, starting as a mentor to Kainos clients, an activity she continues. Some years ago, she expanded into speech therapy, using her training as a speech pathologist to teach improved enunciation and expanded vocabulary to build the confidence of countless clients seeking a mainstream life.

At Peninsula Covenant Church, Soby has provided speech therapy and counseling, has been a mentor to new parents, served as a Sunday School teacher and a leader of the church’s Christmas choir. Through PCC she has traveled to China to teach English to children. Numerous times, she has hosted travelers from China, The Congo and Japan, providing them space in her home.

She teaches Sunday school at Kainos, serves refreshments to members of the Hearing Loss Association of Redwood City, participates in a women’s Bible Study Fellowship, tutors students in the local school districts and advises parents of children with special needs. Every fall, she leads a drive to collect blankets, coats, hats and socks to donate to the homeless through Streetlife Ministries. And she tutors hard-of-hearing students at Project Read. In addition to an award, Soby will be given a stipend to donate to a charity of her choice.

This story was originally published in the April edition of Climate Magazine. To view the magazine online, click here.

San Mateo County Health Foundation appeals to community for handmade sewn masks

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San Mateo County Health Foundation CEO John Jurow is calling on crafty community members to help sew masks for local outreach workers who are assisting the homeless during the COVID-19 crisis.

Masks are badly needed, Jurow said on Facebook. The Foundation will arrange to pick them up from homes.

“If you can sew 1 to many extra please reach out,” Jurow said, providing his email contact:

In addition to helping to protect outreach workers, the masks will also go to various homeless shelters in the County for immediate use.

A Google search on how to sew masks at home drawe a lot of resources, including this video below.

Facebook giving $25M to news outlets for COVID-19 coverage

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Facebook gives $25M to local news publications for COVID-19 coverage

Facebook has committed to providing local news organizations in the U.S. and Canada with $25 million in grant funding and spending another $75 million on ads with news outlets worldwide.  The aim is to support an industry “working under extraordinary conditions to keep people informed during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the company said in a statement.

A first round of $5,000 grants went to 50 local newsrooms in the U.S. and Canada as part of the social media company’s COVID-19 Community Network grant program. The funds allowed The Post and Courier in South Carolina to take down its paywall for COVID-19 stories. The Southeast Missourian is using its grant to bolster remote work technology, and on plans to inform elderly readers should distribution be disrupted. In the Bay Area, the online news site Mission Local in San Francisco received a first-round grant.

In addition to the $100 million contribution, last year Facebook committed $300 million to support journalism.

“This money will not only help keep journalists reporting right now amidst the crisis, the funding will also fuel opportunities for local media to accelerate business transformation toward a more sustainable digital footing,” Nancy Lane, CEO of Local Media Association, said in a statement.

Photo of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook co-founder and CEO, courtesy of Facebook

San Mateo County eateries make list of Michelin-starred takeout options

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SF Eater list of Michelin-starred takeout options includes San Mateo County eateries

Some of the Bay Area’s most acclaimed fine-dining locations are offering to-go meals. Popular food blog SF Eater did us a favor by identifying 16 local Michelin-starred restaurants offering takeout in the Bay Area. Two of them are in San Mateo County.

Sushi Yoshizumi in San Mateo, for example, is offering Chirashi Don for $125 and a Tekka Don for $75. The restaurant asks customers to call at least a day in advance between 11 a.m. and noon. Contact the restaurant at 650-437-2282 or order online.

In addition, The Village Pub, located in Woodside, is delivering “warm-and-serve” style three-course meals through DoorDash, with all proceeds benefiting the restaurant’s employees.

For Eater SF’s full report on Michelin-star takeout, click here.

Photo credit: Getty images

Courthouse candlelight vigil planned for Transgender Day of Remembrance

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Courthouse Square to host Juneteenth celebration on Friday

The community is invited to an annual Transgender Day of Remembrance on Wednesday, Nov. 20, that will begin with a candlelight vigil and procession at Redwood City Courthouse Square and continue with an event in the public library.

The gathering aims to remember 25 transgender and gender noncomforming people in the U.S. known to have been lost to anti-transgender violence this year.

“With this gathering, we aim to provide a space for communal healing, to celebrate the lives of those we’ve lost and to commit to fighting against discrimination and violence that our transgender community faces,” organizers said.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. with the vigil at Courthouse Square followed by a program from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the nearby Main Library featuring community speakers, resources and information on how residents can help fight discrimination, intolerance and violence against members of the transgender community.

The event is presented by LGBTQ Commission , PRIDE Initiative, The San Mateo County Pride Center, African American Community Initiative, BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity, CORA and the Redwood City Public Library.

Redwood City set to salsa

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The 12th Annual Salsa Festival will encompass 11 blocks of downtown Redwood City from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday.

The fun festival will feature salsa music, salsa dancing, salsa tasting and, yes, even a tequila tasting. The public tasting, a competition featuring both professional and amateur chefs, takes place from noon to 5 p.m., and organizers say you should come early to be sure to try them all.

Three stages (Courthouse Square Salsa Stage, Latin Jazz Stage and Reggae Stage) will feature Salsa, Latin Jazz, and Reggae music. The kids will enjoy hands-on art projects and a play area with bounce houses. City and community booths and local food vendors will also be on hand.

The festival takes place on Broadway between Middlefield and Hamilton and on the beautiful Theatre Way, all of which will be pedestrian-only.

Photo credit: City of Redwood City

City responds to complaints about broken traffic signal

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When will they repair the broken traffic signal at Hudson Street and Jefferson Avenue? A lot of people have been wanting to know for a few weeks.

Today, the city released its second statement in a week on Facebook: The issue is estimated to take till the end of the month to resolve.

The city put out this statement today:

“Last week, the City provided a brief update on the traffic signal at Hudson and Jefferson, noting that City staff from various departments are actively working on a solution with PG&E. The City understands that traffic impacts are occurring because of PG&E related issues causing power fluctuations at this traffic signal. PG&E is working on a longer-term solution to fix the signal light power issues. They are estimating this could take until the end of the month to resolve. All of the traffic signals and streetlights at this intersection are LEDs, and are unrelated to the issue. City staff is working on a short-term solution using a battery pack to power the signal during the day, and returning the signal to flash overnight so that the battery pack can recharge. Staff estimates this short-term solution will be in place next week. The City will share more information as it becomes available. Thank you for your patience and please avoid traveling in this area, if possible.”

For several weeks, residents have inquired over the reason for the persistent use of a flashing red light at the intersection. A number of residents took to the Facebook page, Redwood City Residents Say: “What”, to raise concerns and frustrations about an unusual delay in repairs. A few took the initiative to call the city manager’s office (in this thread) and mayor (in this thread) for answers.

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