Season of Sharing helps Pacifica family

Craig and Dawn Miller know that there really is no place like home.

The idea of a stable residence was shaky at best after they both lost full-time time jobs a few months ago. With two college-bound teenage girls harboring big dreams, losing their apartment was unthinkable.

“I had a very good job and was doing really well, and then all of a sudden – out of nowhere – got laid off. No warning, no nothing,” said Craig Miller, who worked at a casino in the South Bay. “We were not prepared for this.”

The family moved from Sacramento six months ago to seek fresh opportunities in the Bay Area. To stay afloat as Miller looked for another job, they reworked their finances and tapped into their savings.

Soon, however, it became clear that they were on the verge of losing the place they were renting, with nowhere to go. The family sought out the Pacifica Resource Center, where Marina Castellanos referred them to the Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund. “Mr. Craig, he’s a proud man, and he’s never had to ask for services. I’m seeing that a lot,” Castellanos said. “He didn’t want to be there. He told me, ‘I don’t want to ask.’ ”

But with one unlucky break after another in a tough economy and a passionate commitment to keep his family together, he applied to the fund.

“Oh, thank God!” was Miller’s first thought when he heard they had received enough money from Season of Sharing to cover December’s rent. “It was a godsend, hands down. Let’s put it this way: If we had to pay rent this month, we wouldn’t be able to put food on the table.”

Meanwhile, daughter Skylar, 18, recently found a part-time job at Target for the holiday rush and is looking forward to participating in Skyline College’s Heart Wrenchers, a club that supports girls interested in pursuing careers in the automotive industry.

Savannah, 17, will be graduating from high school in the spring. She’s been accepted to the San Francisco Art Institute.

“We wanted to be in the Bay Area. We love it here. All the opportunities are here,” Miller said.

Mom and Dad are doing well, too. Dawn Miller, who previously worked at the Peninsula Humane Society, found a job at Michael’s. Craig Miller is working at a car dealership in Redwood City. After being helped out this season, he also intends to volunteer and give back to the community.

“We’re moving in the right direction at least,” he said. “We’re still a little behind on stuff, but we’re getting caught up, slowly but surely.”