Join us for


happy feet imageMarch 23rd
"Happy Feet 2"

April 27th
"Dolphin Tale" (Teen & Young Adult Move Night)

May 18th "Puss n' Boots"


More family-friendly Friday night movies are being offered this spring here in our offices. Our playroom will also be open during the movie night. As always, these family events are free!

Movies will be held at Support for Families from 5:30-7:30pm.

Please call 415-920-5040. Call early, space is limited!


"Come early to the Aquarium of the Bay and Get in FREE!"

Logo Aquarium of the Bay

The Aquarium of the Bay is inviting families of children with disabilities to arrive early before the Aquarium is open to the general public – between 9:00 am -10:00 am on Saturday, March 17, 2012 and enjoy the Aquarium for free! Aquarium staff will provide special activities for children.

To register, call Support forFamilies at 415-920-5040
Call early, space is limited.

Mark your calendars for Access to Adventure 2012

Support for Families and SF Recreation and Park Dept. are teaming together once again to bring you this fun outdoor festival!


Saturday, May 5, 2012
12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Golden Gate Park

Music Concourse Bandshell

Register by calling:
(415) 920-5040

Kids with special needs, their families and friends - come and explore an amazing selection of recreation programs, camps and organizations available in the community at this free event.

As always, these Support for Families events are free! Donations are greatly appreciated!


September 28, 2012


Annual Gala and Fundraiser





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Dan Habib Talks about Inclusion

Filmmaker Dan Habib appeared before an audience of more than 200 people at Aquarium of the Bay on January 10, 2012 to screen his documentary, "Including Samuel" and showcase some of the other important work he has pioneered. "Including Samuel" chronicles the Habib family's efforts to include their son Samuel, who has cerebral palsy, in every aspect of their lives.

Dan Habib

Mr. Habib is passionate about the importance of young people with disabilities assuming a leadership role in the disability rights movement. He showed a short film clip about the "I am NORM"campaign, which sprang from discussions around the country about the "Including Samuel" film. "I am Norm" was developed in January 2010, when twenty young people, with and without disabilities, gathered in Washington, DC to develop a national campaign to raise the awareness about inclusion, provide opportunities for youth to share their ideas about inclusion, and promote inclusive practices in schools and communities. In just one weekend, the youth created the "I am NORM" campaign. It suggests that because people have different interests, different ideas and different abilities, that in fact to be "different" is to be "normal." "I am Norm" provides a powerful tool for young people to talk about difference, ability and disability. To learn more about the campaign, go to http://www.iamnorm.org

The evening with Dan Habib was co-sponsored by The Child Care Inclusion Challenge Project, Children's Council of San Francisco, San Francisco Recreation and Parks, Support for Families, Union Bank and Aquarium of the Bay.

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Meet the Board: Jim Riley

My name is Jim Riley, Isaiah's Dad. When he was 3 years old his Papa, Keith, passed away suddenly. Shortly after that it became apparent Isaiah's delays were quite serious and I found out his true diagnosis. Not only had I become a single parent but also the parent of a special needs child. My family had changed in ways I had never imagined. I tried my best to do all that was required but eventually it became too much.

I am not completely alone — I have an amazing family and many friends — but I needed, and still need, help from others who have previous experience and knowledge with special needs children. I went to a support group for newly diagnosed families and became a part of Support for Families; I am now a board member. Now I am able to share and help others from my experience. Support for Families saved my family!

Jim and Isaiah Riley

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Early Childhood Outcomes

How well are programs supporting young children with disabilities to participate successfully in their homes and communities? Parents, teachers, therapists, early
interventionists, administrators, and policymakers are all interested in the answer to this question. One way this question is being addressed is through the child outcomes information or data that states must report each year to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in the U.S. Department of Education.

There are three child outcomes for children receiving early intervention or preschool special education services:
• Positive social-emotional skills (including social relationships)
• Acquisition and use of knowledge and skills (including early language /communication and early literacy [early literacy is only for preschoolers])
• Use of appropriate behavior to meet needs

By looking at how much children progress in each of these outcomes, states and the federal government get a picture of the effectiveness of their early intervention and special education programs—what are the results of those services being provided to young children and their families. States can use this data to help improve their programs.

To help states understand and measure these outcomes, the Early Childhood Outcomes (ECO) Center was funded by OSEP. The ECO Center also has many resources designed specifically for families. In its Q & A document, the ECO Center provides the following definition of an outcome: "An outcome is a benefit experienced as a result of services and supports provided for a child or family. The fact that a service has been provided does not mean that an outcome has been achieved. Likewise, an outcome is not the same as satisfaction with the services received. The impact that those services and supports have on the functioning of children and families constitutes the outcome."1

Furthermore, these outcomes are considered functional ones because "they refer to behaviors, knowledge, and skills that are meaningful to children in their everyday lives. The outcomes refer to actions that children need to be able to carry out or to knowledge that they need to have in order to function successfully across a variety of settings and ultimately to be successful in kindergarten and later in school."1

A short video titled "Child Outcomes Step by Step" was recently developed by Results Matter, Colorado Department of Education; Desired Results Access Project, Napa County Office of Education; and the Early Childhood Outcomes Center.2 A simple definition of each outcome is given with clear examples of behaviors and skills demonstrated by children of different ages—infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The video can be viewed online or downloaded here. It is a tool for understanding child outcomes that families, practitioners, policymakers, and funders will find helpful.

For more information about the three child outcomes, please visit the Early Childhood Outcomes Center website.

1 ECO Resources: Q & A

2 Edelman, L. (Producer). (2011). Child Outcomes Step By Step (Video). Published collaboratively by Results Matter, Colorado
Department of Education; Desired Results access Project, Napa County Office of Education, and Early Childhood Outcomes Center.

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How to Handle Back Talk

by Ann Svensen

Did that Come Out of My Child's Mouth?
Back talk: It stings, it shocks, it embarrasses, and it can turn your home into a battleground. Jim Bozigar, head of community outreach at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh, runs a back-talk workshop for parents. He says that with a little understanding and self-restraint, parents can put a lid on talking back.

"The reasons for back talk are as varied as the personalities of the children who use it," says Bozigar. The child could be hungry, tired, or in a transitional period. But children who talk back usually do have one thing in common: They're trying to separate from their parents and exercise control over their lives. How should you handle these outbursts? Bozigar suggests parents do some behavior tracking: "For three days, make notes about what your child says, what the situation was, and how you responded. See if you notice any patterns. And keep in mind that when kids talk back, something else is going on underneath. The goal is to help them express it constructively."

Six rules for fighting fair
You won't ever be able to avoid disagreements with your kids, but you can learn how to fight fair. Bozigar suggests that each family member adhere to the following rules:

• Don't attack
• Don't belittle
• Don't condemn
• Define what the problem is
• Define how to rectify it
• Figure out what can be done to prevent it in the future

Common back talk: "No!" and "Why?"

How to respond: Model good behavior. Try saying, "Wouldn't it be nice if we didn't have to do things we don't like to do?" Don't yell back and don't be sarcastic. Your response is going to determine what happens next. Parents will never be able to control their children. The only person you can control is yourself. When you model control, you teach kids how to control themselves.

School-Age Children
Common back talk: "You don't understand!" and "It's not fair!"

How to respond: Kids this age care more about what their peers think than what you think. They'll try to dangle bait to get you going. Don't bite! You'll lose: School-age kids always need to have the last word. Instead, let the child own the problem and empathize with him. Try saying, "You don't think I know what's going on with you right now and that's frustrating, but you're being disrespectful. Please go to your room until you've calmed down and can talk rationally with me." You'll have to be proactive to keep on top of the "It's not fairs." Limits help kids develop inner control. Set limits for when you think your kids will be ready to cross the street safely, stay up later, go on a date, etc. Then try saying, "You know that in our house the rule is ______"

Common back talk: "What's the big deal?"

How to respond: Instead of taking responsibility, this age group often puts parents on the defensive. Say your daughter borrowed a scarf that had sentimental value and then lost it. You might blurt out, "How could you be so irresponsible!" Look out -- she'll most likely turn that response around on you: "Oh and you've never lost anything before? Excuse me for not being perfect!" Instead of attacking, try talking in concrete terms: "You did this, so I feel this." Use the restraint and respect you'd show a guest in your home. The goal is for you to express your feelings in a way that allows your child to take responsibility for them.

Common back talk: "Leave me alone!" and "It's all your fault!"

How to respond: Beware -- they may look like grown-ups, but teenagers are not completely rational. They think differently than adults and children, and often feel they're invulnerable. Be concerned about their responses and listen to them. Help them to see that you're on their side. If they say they want to be left alone, back off but don't give up. Take a more subtle approach. Write them a note without attacking or blaming, and say that you'd like to hear back from them. Always keep the dialogue open. Try talking in a lower voice. If you model screaming and shouting, that's what you'll get in return. And remember, you are always the authority in your house; you can set limits. As parents, you cannot be friends with your children, but you can still treat them in a friendly way.

Reprinted with permission from http://life.familyeducation.com

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Parent Mentor Program Constantly Growing and Learning

The Parent Mentor Program ("PMP") has been a part of Support for Families for over 25 years. It is now in its fourth year of providing information covering Special Education to its Parent Mentors as a means of adding value to their mentoring skills. This eight (8) month training series provides our Parent Mentors additional instruction in understanding Special Education so that they will feel better prepared in supporting families they mentor. This series includes one workshop in April where a panel of disability related advocacy professionals will present in areas covering IDEA, Section 504, ADA, and the Hughes Bill and their application in special education.

To commemorate eight months of hard work, the program will be celebrating our new mentors' efforts at our upcoming graduation in May. A hearty "Congratulations" to these new mentors! Support for Families would like to extend a big THANK YOU to ALL of our mentors, past and present. Over the many years, your hard work and dedication have been a vital part of the Support for Families network.

Interested in becoming a mentor?
We encourage you to participate in our upcoming Parent to Parent training scheduled for this June. This training offers English and Spanish speaking parents the opportunity to meet existing mentors, improve on active listening skills, role play and practice positive communication strategies. It's an excellent opportunity to polish up on your self-advocacy skills and to prep you for the new school year. (See the pull-out section or our website for dates, times, location).

If you've thought you could use more help in understanding the IEP process and would like to help families at the same time, becoming one of our mentors through the Special Education Series can help you learn and understand more about IDEA. You would have the opportunity to meet other parents and learn about your rights and responsibilities; special education eligibility criteria; the special education "language;" and tips and strategies to help you prepare for your child's IEP. The next Special Education Series begins September, 2012.

The PMP welcomes JoAnna Van Brusselen to the team. JoAnna will be providing information and support to both Spanish speaking Mentors and Mentees as their Community Resource Parent. We would like to thank Sonia Valenzuela for her prior instruction and training to our wonderful Spanish speaking Mentors. Sonia is now placing her focus as an Education Coordinator for SFCD.

The Parent Mentor trainings are FREE. Limited child care is available with two week advance registration with Joan or JoAnna.

To learn more contact Joan Selby or JoAnna Van Brusselen
or call us at 415-920-5040.

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Journey to Kindergarten

by Karen Kauschen, Member, San Francisco Unified School District Community Advisory Committee for Special Education

My daughter with autism will start kindergarten next year. She has been a preschool student in an SDC (Special Day Class) since she was three years old.

The information available to parents about Special Education services within SFUSD is limited. The Special Education section of the enrollment guide lists schools under different service delivery options. There is minimal explanation of the difference between these options, and no information about specific programs in each classroom.

I had to contact each school directly and leave a message for each SDC teacher. Sometimes I was able to schedule a tour within a few days, other times it took weeks of calling them back.

I attended the enrollment fair and it was overwhelming and incredibly crowded. It was jam-packed; only the pushy parents got through. The way the schools were set up in the building was confusing to me. I suggest that anyone attending the enrollment fair make a list of schools prior to attending. There was a map available before the fair detailing where all the schools were located. Spending a few minutes marking my list with the locations was helpful. It would be beneficial to have this fair occur earlier in the year. Our IEP meeting was scheduled the Monday after the fair.

Only one school at the enrollment fair had anything about Special Education prominently displayed. At each school's table some principals had nothing to say about their SDC classes, other principals seemed well informed and had information to share. I could just tell the difference between schools that considered the SDC classes part of their community.

There was little information shared on school tours that seemed to apply to parents looking for SDC classrooms. It was nice to see the computer rooms and pretty outdoor gardens but if the principal can't give me any specifics about how the students in SDCs use them, it is really meaningless to me. I suggest contacting school principals privately, not during a public tour.

The reality is the enrollment process in SFUSD is overwhelming for all parents. The schools are actively wooing general ed parents by providing tours with relevant information and having an informed presence at the enrollment fair. By contrast, the parents of students requiring Special Education services are left on their own.

It would be helpful if case managers and content coordinators had specific information to share about the classroom options for transitioning students. They should be able to supply parents with teacher names and contact information. Each school needs to provide relevant information about their Special Education services . This could be after the general tour, or on a separate Special Education tour.

I also suggest that any parent who is actively looking for a new classroom for their child speak to other parents. I give special thanks to my mentors and the parents helping me navigate this journey. I hope we all find the jewels in the mine

The purpose of the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for Special Education is to advocate for effective Special Education programs and services, and advise the Board of Education on priorities in the Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA). The State Education Code mandates that each SELPA must have a CAC and that a majority of CAC members be parents. In San Francisco, CAC meetings are usually held on the fourth Thursday of each month (except July, November and December). These meetings are open to the public; everyone is welcome to attend. Joining the CAC gives you an opportunity to have your opinions heard and make a difference in the way Special Education is conducted in our area — please join us!

To reach the CAC: cacspedsf@gmail.com* (Note: we are all volunteers, and it may take time to get back to you.) Visit our website at http://www.cacspedsf.org/cacspedsf.org/

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by Robin Hansen, former CAC President, Parent and Advocate

An area that may get ignored during the IEP process is transition, especially if you have a youth who is high functioning. That is a youth with typical intelligence who may have Asperger's, "high functioning" autism or a learning disability. Most parents are so focused and or frustrated dealing with the IEP process or just getting their youth thru high school with passing grades that they don't realize that transition is going to be a whole new ballgame. Parents and youth need to understand that planning for transition should start no later than middle school. For example, if your youth goes into a special day class for language arts for even one semester of high school, you may have just cut off your youths chances of entering any California four year public university. Careful consideration needs to focus on articulating academic goals for the youth when they exit high school. Will they have a regular high school diploma?

Another factor that can be challenging during the transition process is that once the youth is 18, the youth is legally an adult. This means that the youth has a right to make decisions. There is the potential that parents and youth can become divided and put the youths education at risk. Sometime after a youth turns 18, the school could have an IEP meeting without the parents.

We all know that although a youth may be 18 years old, and legally considered an adult, the majority still need the guidance of their parents. In addition, many youth with neurological issues like autism and learning disabilities may function at an emotional level about 2-3 years younger than their peers. Youth when given the option to sign off on their own IEP do not always realize the consequences of their actions, feel they are the "master of their domain" and, may sign off and possibly end up with an IEP that is detrimental.

The solution is for parents and the youth to work as a team. In fact, long before the youth turns 18, the parents and youth may draw up a contract appointing the parent as their advocate and stipulate that no IEP meetings may be held without the presence of both parents and youth unless one of the two parties stipulates otherwise in writing. Teaming/partnering does NOT mean that parents make all the decisions.

Partnering means youth lead with strong support from the parents. For example, you can assist your youth to prepare to go to an IEP meeting. Assist by asking them what their goals are, what is working and where do they think they need support. A list should be generated with the parent and teen before the IEP. If your child is going to go to college, offer to go with them to meet with the disabled students counselor. Offer to be their scribe and take notes so they can spend time conversing with the counselor. Many of our kids have fine motor, memory, organizational or processing issues. They can't write and think at the same time. They can't remember what they just heard. Offer to keep a file for them where they (and you) can access it anytime. You might assist them by keeping the passwords to get online to the school website when they need to check on grades, early registration dates and the latest emails from the school.

When you attend the IEP and/or make that appointment with the counselor, let the youth and the counselor do the talking. Think of yourself as less of a parent and more as an advocate. Bring a list of questions that your youth has generated. You may just want to introduce yourself as an advocate instead of a parent. Leave your contact information with the counselor in case the youth cannot be reached. If you don't get a complete answer or don't understand something, say that you are taking notes and you want to make sure get accurate information. This strategy is a good way to get information your youth may have missed without "taking over" the meeting.

The counselor should give you a release to sign which will allow the school to share information with you.

If you have a counselor that does not welcome you into the office with the youth, you and your youth may want to pick another counselor. You may have to "shop around" until you find one that clicks with your "team".

*Robin Hansen will be presenting "It Still Takes a Village:
"Supporting your Child through the Transition to College and Beyond" at Support for Families on Saturday, May 12, 2012 from 8:30 am – 12:30 pm.

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California's Paid Family Leave Program

Becoming a new parent is an exciting and unforgettable time! Did you know you could receive up to six weeks of benefits through California's Paid Family Leave program to bond with your new child? The Paid Family Leave program was created for these moments in life. California is leading the nation in making it easier for working people to balance the demands of the work place and family care needs at home.

Paid Family Leave is a component of the California State Disability Insurance (SDI) program. If you are covered by SDI, then you are covered for Paid Family Leave. Up to six weeks of benefits may be provided in a twelve month period for parents to bond with a new child. The benefits are based on the claimant's (parent's) past quarterly income. Most workers will be eligible to receive approximately 55 percent of their pre-taxed wage while on Paid Family Leave.

To learn more about the Paid Family Leave program, visit the Employment Development Department website at www.edd.ca.gov/disability or call 877-238-4373.

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Reviews from the Joan Cassel Memorial Library


Being a Great Divorced Father: Real-Life Advice from a Dad Who’s Been There,
by Paul Mandelstein

Nolo Press is adding more family oriented books to its catalog and this is one of the latest. The author is the divorced father of three and the founder of Father Resource Network, www.father.com. He does not go into the law but considers the feelings of both parties and stresses the need for good communication skills. Fathers also need to develop skills in cooking for kids, setting up a kid friendly home, being a taxi service and learning to be an effective listener. He and his ex wife must collaborate for the children and use a therapist to help when roadblocks come up. The book is filled with resources and clever, eye-catching  illustrations. There are plenty of true-to-life vignettes to support important points. I found the Index very helpful. This handy book will be useful to both parents in a divorce situation.


Jeffrey The Lionhearted, A Book About a Boy’s Experience with Bipolar Disorder,
by Demitri Papolos, MD

Dr. Papolos is an expert in the area of Bipolar Disorder and has authored several other books on the topic. This is his first book about the disorder from a child’s viewpoint. We learn about the inner turmoil the child experiences, all the up and down emotions, from rage to uncontrolled laughter and night terrors. He also shows the effect therapy and medication have on the lion inside the child’s  head. The book is good for the adolescent reader to show him he is not alone being bipolar. The parent can share the book with a younger child or sibling. The parent or teacher can read the book to help understand the symptoms of this unusual disorder. I learned a lot by reading this book. Find it on the Young Adult shelf.


The Story of Katie Rose, A Preemie’s Journey, by Harold & Phyllis Davis

The authors have done a great service for the staff in the neonatal intensive care unit and for parents and siblings of premature babies. It is a children’s book about Katie Rose, their real life child and her stay in the NICU. The illustrations a actual photos taken during her time in the NICU. It is a memoir of Katie’s time in the hospital written for her three siblings. They intend the book to be used as a resource by siblings, by the NICU staff for families and by the child; when she wants to know about her early start in life. I enjoyed reading about Katie Rose and was happy to see photos of her at three years of age. I like happy beginnings.



Reviews by Elaine Butler, Librarian

Support for Families maintains the Joan Cassel Memorial Library which is a lending library for families and professionals, comprised of multi-lingual books, reference materials and media related to children with disabilities and special health care needs. The library is open during regular business hours.

If you have the title or author of a book you’d like to read, please go to our website and do a search. Go to this link and enter the title or author or subject and click search. If we have the item, call us and the librarian will hold the item for you until you can come to the office to pick it up. Try the online catalog or come and browse the shelves by category, new items added weekly.

Visist our library online at: http://www.supportforfamilies.org/library.html

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Donations received October 21, 2011 through January 20, 2012. Support for Families gratefully acknowledges gifts from the following individuals, groups and businesses.

Businesses, Groups:

A.S. Batle Company
Adobe Matching Gifts Program
B.R. Cohn Charity Events
Electronic Arts
Matching Gifts
Google Matching Gifts Program
Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital
PEO Chapter OX
Physicians at Pacific Professional Building, CPMC


Afra Afsharipour
Ligia Afu-Li
Maria Atienza
Gerald Audant
David Becker
Susanne Baum
Ruben Becker
Nina Berg
John & Georganne Boerger
Nancy Boughey
Tracy Burt
Ann Carr
Chiachi Chen
Judy C. Chen
Wanda Chinn
Timothy Chuter
Isabel Coba
Teresa Collins
Barbara Colton
Susan Dambroff
Deborah Daniels-Smith
Trin T.M. Dao
Baryohay Davidoff
Jessica Day
Edith de Chadenedes
Chris Dehner
Mark Del Bene
Peter Dodds
Andrew Dubin
Lisa Duncan
Jill and Joe Feldman
Michelle Foosaner
Alan and Jackie Fox
Joyce Goldstein
William Gonda, M.D.
Gail Green
Carla and Hank
James Hargarten
Gregory Holmes
Diane Omori-Hom Wesley Hom
Susanne Howard
Nuo Yan and Wilson Huang
Nancy Hudgins
Judith Janec
Margaret Kendrick
Marjorie and David Kobe
Kay Koehneke
Phung Lam
Darnee Lansangan
Jane Lapides
F. Ronald Laupheimer
Suzanne and Craig Leong
Bill Lewandowski
Nancy Lim Yee
Betty and Nick Lituano


Judith Lofton
Ingrid Lusebrink
Isabel Lydon
Martin Magid
Marilyn Mansfield
Maureen McCarthy
Joanie and Stephen McCarthy
Kathleen and Stephen Meeker
Julie and Don
Charles Murphy
Molly O'Shea
John Pierce
Paul Rauschelbach
Pamela Raymond
Lulu Carpenter and Rony Rolnizky
Helen Rossini
Robert Ruth
Pornpilai Sae-Tang
John Seemann and Robert Hines
Joan Selby
Richard Shadoan
Anatoly Shalman
Lisa Shirley
Tonna To Li Shu
Alan Siegel, PhD
Lisa Louis and Hitoshi Shigeta
Richard Sobel
Sally Spencer
Linda Stevens
Margaret and William Stewart
Frank Swan and Linda Vossler-Swan
Miye Takagi
George Toy
Julia Wallace
Rona Weintraub
Steven Winningham
Ed Yaffa
Tiffany Biyun Yu
Anne Marie Siu Yuan
Xavier Zang

Workplace Gifts:

Mark Fultz
Jeffrey Garrison
Todd Gemmer, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
Eva Hernandez
Michael Kapulica
Christopher Malone
Therese Merrill

Tributes and Memorials:

In memory of
Steve Butler

African Violet Society of San Francisco
Valkyrie Entertainment, LLC
Carla Greenwald
Mary Lam Wilson
Beverly Lee
Antje and Richard Shadoan
Sally Spencer
Marguerite and William Weil
Susan Wyatt
Jeannine Yeomans
Elizabeth and Ronald Zell

In memory of Ann Giampaoli
Carla Greenwald

In memory of Frank Parenti
Shelley Forrest

In honor of Mrs. Murcel Leland on her 99th birthday
Ruby Byrd

In honor of Jake Gamboa
Crista and Chad
Antoinette Wythes

In honor of the Duenas Family
Eliska Meyers

In memory of Amy Talisman
Jeanne Villafuerte

In honor of Sally Spencer and Chloe Pollock
Nancy Watson-Tansey

In honor of Catherine and Christian Dauer
Alvin Lipsetz

In honor of Laura Lanzone
Celia Jones

In honor of the SFCD Staff
Jude Kaye

In-Kind Donations:

Beyond Play
Glen Park Cleaners
City Ballet School
Jane LaPides and Murray Cahen
Café Pescatore
Pam Raymond
Julie Kahng
Jesse Romero

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