Holiday Spirit

Health Connected provides sexual health education programs to Bay Area students. Courtesy Health Connected.

Posted Dec. 25, 2022

Health Connected helps students navigate sexual health and relationships

by Steven Tsujisaka / Contributor

In this time of uncertainty, a fundamental truth gives us hope that we can do extraordinary things together. Over the past several years, the world has come together to stand up, help one another, give back, and heal. Whether through nonprofit donations, celebrating essential workers, or reaching out to a neighbor to help with groceries, generosity has been helping the world get through these challenging times together.

As we emerge from COVID-19 and return to classrooms across California, Health Connected , whose mission is to equip young people with information, skills, and support to make thoughtful choices about their relationships and sexual health, remains the go-to source for sexual health education for our community's young people. And our work, seemingly overnight, has become increasingly urgent as students struggle to emerge from the pandemic and regain the academic time lost. There's a need for holistic education and help to navigate this new normal.

Health Connected is the home of Puberty Talk and Teen Talk, two sex education programs that help young people make informed relationships and health-related decisions. This year alone, our programs directly served more than 13,000 students, trained over 900 educators who served an additional 28,000 students with our curricula, and provided 4,000-plus parents with our Parent Talk and Family Talk workshops.

Among students who received Health Connected's Youth Services program: 87% of fifth and sixth graders feel more confident to intervene if a friend makes negative remarks about someone's body or looks; 83% of seventh and eighth graders can now talk about sexual health with their parents or a trusted adult; 91% of ninth graders agree that this program made it easier for them to practice safer sex now or in the future; and 87% of special education students can now talk about sexual health with their parents or a trusted adult.

Having 'the talk' and answering questions

Health Connected's services are critical for our community's young people to destigmatize "the talk" and build the foundation for an ongoing, open conversation. Our instruction addresses healthy relationships, protective behaviors, self-care, and self-acceptance. We also include the importance of respect, empathy, and advocacy for oneself and others. Here are some some of the things wer heard from program participants earlier this year:

"I liked doing the homework assignments because that helped me talk with my parents about puberty changes and learn about their experiences," said a fifth-grade student.

"I really enjoyed being with my friends. I got to be able to sit at a table with my closest friends and learn about different types of health," said an eighth-grade student.

"The trusted adult interviews were my favorite part because I got to talk to my parents about stuff we usually don't," said a high school student.

"My questions being answered was my favorite part," said a student in a Special Education class.

A gift to Health Connected directly benefits thousands of young people in the Bay Area, improving our community's overall health by giving them the opportunity and the tools to grow socially and emotionally and develop a more profound sense of care for themselves and others.

Health Connected is one of the nonprofits supported by donations to The Almanac Holiday Fund. Donations are divided equally among this year's 10 organizations and 100% of the funds raised go directly to the recipients. Make donations online at .

We don't know what 2023 will hold. Nevertheless, Health Connected's work moving forward will be long, challenging, and yet deeply rewarding. We invite you to learn more about our history and join us on this journey to empower more young people by visiting and appreciate your support for us in our next chapter.

Steven Tsujisaka is the community engagement manager for Health Connected.

Make a donation
2021 Recipient Agency

Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula
Provides after-school academic support, enrichment, and mentoring for 1,800 low-income K-12 youth at nine locations across Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, and the North Fair Oaks neighborhood of Redwood City.

Ecumenical Hunger Program
Provides emergency food, clothing, household essentials, and sometimes financial assistance to families in need, regardless of religious preference, including Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for more than 2,000 households.

Health Connected
Serves over 5,000 students and their families each year through comprehensive sexual health education programs. Students learn to have ongoing communication with parents and to make informed decisions that will apply to their lives, now and in the future.

Provides shelter/housing and supportive services across 18 sites in Silicon Valley and the Peninsula. Serves thousands of homeless families and individuals annually on their path back to permanent housing and self-sufficiency.

Literacy Partners
Supports literacy programs and projects through fundraising and community awareness. Helps community members enhance their reading, writing and related skills and education to improve their economic, professional and personal wellbeing.

Ravenswood Family Health Center
Provides primary medical and preventive health care for all ages at its clinic in East Palo Alto. Of the more than 17,000 registered patients, most are low-income and uninsured and live in the ethnically diverse East Palo Alto, Belle Haven, and North Fair Oaks areas.

St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room
Serves hundreds of hot meals six days a week to people in need who walk through the doors. Funded by voluntary contributions and community grants, St. Anthony's is the largest dining room for the needy between San Francisco and San Jose. It also offers take-home bags of food, as well as emergency food and clothing assistance.

St. Francis Center
Helps low-income, working families become self-supporting members of the community by providing long-term solutions through educational programs for children and parents, as well as after-school programing at Siena Youth Centers. St. Francis Center also provides housing, food and clothing services to address short-term needs.

Serves more than 32,000 people throughout San Mateo County, including children, young people and families, with counseling, prevention, early intervention, education, and residential programs. StarVista also provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services including a 24-hour suicide crisis hotline, an alcohol and drug helpline, and a parent support hotline.

Upward Scholars
Upward Scholars empowers low-income adults by providing them with financial support, tutoring, and other assistance so they can continue their education, get higher-paying jobs, and serve as role models and advocates for their children.

As of September 21st, 184 donors have contributed $305,280 to the Holiday Fund.
* indicates amount withheld at donor's request

40 Anonymous28,370
Lorraine Macchello100
Kathy & Bob Feldman500
Alice F. Schenk & John L. Richardson200
Jan Jedkins400
John & Cooky Galen 50
Michael & Lenore Roberts200
Gail & Susan Prickett1,000
Lucy Reid-Krensky100
Mark & Karen Weitzel*
The Mendelsohn Family2,500
Joel Jakubson & Krishna Mitra250
Betty Meissner100
Barbara and Bill Binder *
Sidney Chen & Sandra Lee Chen*
Ken Turkowski100
LindaKeegan 1,000
Linda keehan1,000
The Wang Family300
Carol Kemper200
Charles Bacon and Cynthia Dusel-Bacon250
Mary and Bob Dodge300
Derek and Susan Hine*
Joe and Julie Zier*
Gisela Brugger1,000
Karen Fleck & Ian McDowall*
Judy & Jim Lipman50
J. Wong*
Martha Cohn100
Kayleen Miller100
Barbara Kent150
Walter Robinson250
Nita & Clay Judd*
Robert & Connie Loarie*
Bill Wohler440
Sandy Cold500
Terri D. Bullock Family Foundation5,000
Richard & Jean Duda120
Tim & Mia Clark500
John & Lisa Whelan100
Barbara Oliver200
Elizabeth Tromovitch75
Connie & Bob Lurie30,000
Arnie and Judie Cornez*
Leonard Shar750
Dorothy Saxe*
Gallo Family Fund500
Barry L. Goldblatt150
Susan carey1,500
Kerry & Rick DeBenedetti*
Dennis Monohan100
Ann C. Treadwell*
Colflesh Charitable Fund50
Bruce & Ann Willard1,000
Andrea G. Julian1,000
Lynne S. Fovinci75
Roger & Pat Witte200
Nancy & Bill Ellsworth*
Novitsky Family100
Kathy & Bob Mueller100
The UMOC Charitable Fund100,000
Pegasus Family Foundation1,000
Susan Kritzik and Bruce McAuley*
Kevin Novak & Hannah Gilula500
Judy and Doug Adams*
Roger and Wendy von Oech1,000
Anne Davison100
Leigh Flesher and Mark Bailey*
Margaret Melaney2,000
Mitzi Moynihan*
Mitzi Moynihan*
John Donald and Elaine Hammond100
Marc & Mary Ann Saunders*
Owen & Hannah Sowerwine100
Robert Mullen 250
Juli and John Parker250
Robert & Barbara Simpson*
Donald & Judith Mac Millan500
Margo Sensenbrenner*
Barbara Jacobson200
Melanie Austin500
Mary Ann Hurlimann500
Susan Higley Russell100
Nancy & Dan Witeck200
Betsy Stockdale*
Bill & Melba Rogoway*
Leslie & Michael Crisp*
Bryan & Susan Lovegren50
Sue Bartalo and Dave Fischer250
Kajsa Tabor*
Mayling Dixon*
Dave & Diane Toole100
Jim Lewis*
Maggie Markdasilva1,000
Ross & Liz McDougall*
Barbara Bessey*
Douglas Keare Jr & Jill Morgan2,000
Carrie German*
Margaret & Jamis MacNiven100
Jerry & Shirley Carlson250
Austin Grose250
Sue Bishop & Viole McMahon100
Vicky Rundorff*
Mr. & Mrs. Kurt Jaggers15,000
James E. Esposto*
Janet Buce Cook500
Gordon Russell & Batina McAdoo1,000
Volckmann Family Foundation3,000
Leslie Airola500
Geoff & Colleen Tate*
Tom & Ann Livermore1,000
Kathryn Stivers Charitable Fund500
Joyce castellino 200
Bob and Marna Page*
Erika Crowley*
Donna Mackowski200
Paul Perret1,000
Bob & Barbara Ells500
Kathleen Elkins*
Don & Catherine Coluzzi*
In Memory Of

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard1,000
Dr. Fereidoon Kaboli*
Ruth & Chet Johnson*
Doug Hutton200
Paul & Ingeborg Katz*
Vicki Jones & Dee & Jerry Carlson125
Nancy Sallaberry500
Wiley Birkhofer2,500
Stephen F. Martin5,000
Hugh D. Kennedy*
Ted Heidinger500
Jean Zonner1,000
In Honor Of

Nella and Bill Berry1,000
Marer Family200
Nancy Stevens*
The Liggett Family*
Dennis McBride500
As a Gift for

Mira Lajoie100
Businesses & Organizations

Rotary Club of Menlo Park Foundation10,000
Griffin & Sons Construction, Inc*
Hewlett Foundation8,750
Packard Foundation15,000
Menlo Park Firefighters' Association500
Lyn At Your Service*