Season of Sharing helps vet get a home, and get his daughter back

When Nixon Matignas served in Iraq with the Army from 2007 to 2009, he had dreams of defending his country and becoming his own man. Never did he imagine he’d wind up homeless in San Francisco, living in hotel rooms and in abandoned coyote dens in Golden Gate Park, cleaning himself up in public bathrooms before going to work as … Read More

New home marks new start for S.F. veterans

For all the new furniture, freshly painted walls and welcoming staff, there’s one thing that Joseph Jackson loves more than anything else about his first real home in four years. The noise. It’s outside his window in downtown San Francisco, all the time — the grinding and honking of cars on the street, the clanking of machinery, the murmur of … Read More

Carpenter’s career cut short by cancer, but help arrives

Carlos Urrutia Felix, a union carpenter for more than 30 years in Contra Costa County, had a perilous job, navigating highrise scaffolding to install metal siding and drywall. But the thing that brought him to the ground was something he never saw coming: kidney cancer. A year ago, the father with a son in college studying screenwriting and another at … Read More

Season of Sharing helps Bay Area food banks sustain those in need

The earthquake that damaged Napa Valley this summer brought new troubles — and new opportunities — to the Community Action of Napa Valley food bank. The program was just settling into new offices when the magnitude 6.0 temblor hit in August, Director Shirley King said. Though it wreaked hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, the earthquake appeared to dent … Read More

Cancer patient gets health, finances back on track

Ronald and Darlene Amey, regular churchgoers, have been working hard their whole lives — he as a handyman, she as a letter carrier for the past 31 years. Ronald’s the kind of guy who will go to McDonald’s with $20 to get 20 hamburgers to hand out at the park. Darlene recently received an award for her charity work through … Read More

From homeless to home for the holidays

Paul Gowins was just trying to help his daughter. Over the phone, he heard her cries, as she revealed that her marriage had broken up, and that she was living on the Colorado streets with her 20-year-old daughter. “Come home,” Gowins said. Gowins, a multimedia producer who had just finished an informational video about methamphetamine for the Tucson Police Department, … Read More

Injured dance instructor gets back on her feet

Sitting at home with her right ankle on ice, dance instructor Kehinde Kujichagulia-Seitu might have been better off if she had snapped her Achilles tendon instead of slightly tearing it. Sure, a torn Achilles would have required surgery and six-month rehab, but at least there would have been no mistaking how and when it happened. And then she would have … Read More

Single mother gets ‘blessing’ after being laid off

Nichelle Lacy only had three days’ notice before she was laid off at White River Transportation.Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 12.03.49 PM The single mom was handling a work assignment in September when her boss broke the bad news — the Pleasanton office was shutting down, and she would soon collect her last paycheck. Her last paycheck was $800. From that … Read More

Pittsburg family was on the verge of eviction before SOS stepped in

At the very worst moment during their very worst year, Mary and Rafael Vasquez looked at each other and knew they had run out of options. Homelessness loomed, and all they could do was pray. “We were devastated. Everything was going wrong. At that point, we were just waiting and asking for patience and strength,” said Rafael, 45, while recounting … Read More

‘Independent old lady’ shaken, but not broken, by Napa quake

Betty Grant has lived a life of adventure, from spending time with Elvis Presley — he called her “Bet” — to working as a professional dancer. At 79, she was proud to be living on her own in Napa, volunteering at the local hospital, and bringing dance and movement classes to seniors. “I’ve never been married, never been told what … Read More