Back-rent grant boon for hair stylist

As a hair stylist, Sandra DelCasale knows that outward appearances matter. But she also knows they can obscure as much as they reveal. When the pandemic shuttered the salon where she works, DelCasale suddenly found herself in the precarious position of living off the savings and credit she had intended to put into her growing hair styling business. She also … Read More

After COVID-19 layoff, months of homelessness, San Jose family settles in new apartment

When Robert Navarrette and Jasmine Mojica hosted Thanksgiving dinner this year, it carried a special significance. Just a few months earlier, they’d been homeless. Now, the engaged couple, who live with Navarrette’s 13-year-old daughter, Serenity, were able to have Mojica’s sister and brother-in-law over to their new San Jose apartment for the holiday dinner. They feasted on turkey birria, a … Read More

Season of Sharing helps St. Helena family in aftermath of Glass Fire

Teresa Plancarte sat on her living room couch on a fall Saturday evening, marveling at the St. Helena vineyards and the pines just outside her front door. And she thought, “My God, nature is so beautiful.” Nearly 24 hours later, at 3 a.m., Plancarte, her husband, Esiquio, and her 34-year-old special-needs son, Rogelio, were awakened by sirens and megaphones warning … Read More

Rent relief gives Peninsula woman time to find a new home

It wasn’t easy packing up everything. There were photos of her children framed on the walls. Books, clothing, pots and pans, furniture and so many other parts of Monika Donovan’s life were neatly collected in her home of 44 years. “It was a big change for my heart,” said Donovan, who turned 74 in December, a few weeks after moving … Read More

The pandemic left Bay Area families hungry and food banks overwhelmed

Just before noon on a recent Wednesday, a line of three dozen people snaked around the Church of the Nazarene in Concord. They were young and old, men and women of all races, one child kicking the ground as he waited. What they had in common: They needed free food. At the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano distribution … Read More

Shortfalls on rent, propane hit West Marin family hard

When you live in a rural community like San Geronimo, your heat comes from propane. For Deirdre McDonald, Victor Urbaez and their son, Sage Urbaez, the propane bills piled up to the extent that they were looking ahead at a long, cold winter. At the same time, when their income dropped precipitously because of shelter-in-place orders, they fell behind on … Read More

Help with paying off bills relieves family’s worries

Bilal Chaney, 73, was told by doctors that contracting COVID-19 at his age would be a “death sentence.” Chaney, who works as a program director of the radiology department at San Francisco General Hospital, decided not to risk it and took a leave of absence following a surgical procedure on his knee. He and his wife, Firoza, a stay-at-home mother, … Read More

Working family gets help with rent after COVID-19 cuts their hours

Rosa Alvizar Gutierrez is the keeper of attendance at St. Helena Primary School, but when the school shut down in March, there was no attendance to keep. So Alvizar Gutierrez was reassigned as an interpreter for the school psychologist, helping parents of Spanish-speaking students work through the pressure and anxiety of the pandemic. But she also felt anxiety and pressure … Read More