What You Can Do
One home, many hearts at Raphael House
By Lynette Majer
One of the things that tears at my heart is homeless families, oftentimes panhandling on street corners, with one parent holding a sign depicting their plight. Sometimes I cave to the sadness in their eyes, and quickly dig for bill to contribute, resting assured they can use it much more than I. But in reality, my meager contribution will never make that much difference – it certainly won’t get them a bed that night.
Our fine city is home to many homeless programs and shelters, but one in particular targets families: Raphael House. In fact, it was the city’s first homeless shelter for families, opening over 30 years ago. Raphael House supports these at-risk families and helps them become financially independent so they can acquire stable housing. The shelter offers many services in addition to the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, and all programs aim to strengthen family bonds and personal dignity. Their residential capacity is small, only 17 rooms (with up to 50 beds), and the families must adhere to specific house rules in a structured environment, but one that is also home-like and provides an atmosphere of love and support for families as they rebuild their lives.
Children are a big focus at Raphael House. Many have been abused, and the traumatic effects of homelessness can often result in developmental delays as well as emotional and behavioral difficulties. Children are engaged in a multitude of activities, many of which are targeted toward individual needs, to develop their creativity and imagination.
The shelter’s AfterCare program supports residents after they have moved into stable housing, and serves over 1,000 families yearly. The shelter’s goal is to maintain life-long connections with former residents, and they have helped more than 95 percent maintain stable housing.
Like most nonprofits, the organization relies solely on private sources for these important programs, and their annual gala is its single most important fundraising event. So, mark your calendars for Thursday, May 14 for Raphael House’s benefit gala with the theme of “Mid-Century Modern Glamour.” Organizers describe that as “1960 New York, a time of martinis at lunch, bright-colored dresses nipped at the waist, and interiors that can only be described as ‘mod.’” The evening begins with a cocktail and champagne reception that includes a silent auction. Dinner follows, along with a live auction where you can bid on one of five celebrity chef dinners, among other exciting items. Top off the evening by dancing to the tunes of Bill Hopkins Rock’n Orchestra, and sampling desserts accompanied by an espresso bar and premium port. This year, tickets are also available for just the dancing and dessert portion of the evening as well.
There are also volunteer opportunities available at Raphael House if you can’t participate in this fundraiser. You and a small group of friends may be able to cook and serve dinner for the residents, or you may be interested in tutoring the children or assisting with the evening activities program. There could even be some resident live-in positions available, so please contact them to see how you can help.
Raphael House: 1065 Sutter St. (near Hyde); www.raphaelhouse.org, 415-474-4621.
One Home, Many Hearts Gala: Four Seasons Hotel, 757 Market Street (at Grant), Thursday, May 14. Tickets $100–$300 available online or by contacting Flavia Henrique at 415-345-7262.