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February 2023

At the bottom of the page (click here) is the digital version of our February 2023 Newsletter. We have also included the articles in this blog for universal text access.

Accessible Articles below:

BECKY'S CORNER - A note from our Director

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking up and gently throwing things into the ocean. Approaching the boy he asked: "Young man, what are you doing?" The boy replied, "Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them back, they'll die." The man laughed to himself and said, "Do you realize there are miles of miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can't make any difference." After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the surf, then smiling at the man, he said; "I made a difference to that one." -Loren Eiseley

I have always been inspired by this “Starfish Story” and so wanted to share it with all of you. The scene is not so difficult to picture and feel especially for all of us who are lucky enough to live in or very near this seaside community. The simple lesson for making a difference in the lives of those starfish (people) who showed themselves to us and invited us to assist them in their lives is self-evident: one person at a time. Harbor Supported Living Services has found, touched and ‘made a difference’ for 25 starfish currently and about 100 ‘boys’(staff) who have picked up and gently provided an assist : an act or action that helps someone. Thank you to all of the support staff and the incredible assistance they provide so readily and steadily in their work. Additionally, Harbor Supported Living Services boasts 4 brilliant, organized and hard working Facilitators, Jonathan Smith, Shanie Lane, Mary Smith and Daniela Verar, who provide leadership and guidance to all of the teams and people receiving services. There are three new people we have welcomed in the last year: Abbey deDiego, office assistant; Jallen Estimo, HR and Scheduling Coordinator; Ashley Silva, Fiscal Coordinator, all of whom have contributed their individual talents to the administration of Harbor. We have additional cause for celebration because our Associate Director, Brianna Donofrio, is a dedicated, energetic, creative and fair leader providing inspiration and support to all of the agency both people and systems. Gratitude is abundant !!
Also the story reminded me about the history of how our supported living agency came to be here in Santa Cruz in 2003. Previously to 2003, we were a part of CHOICESS (Community Housing Options: Integrated Community, Employment and Social Services) which is our parent supported living agency and located now entirely in the Los Angeles area. However, in 2003 the satellite offspring of CHOICESS here in Santa Cruz grew up and became a separate agency.
CHOICESS continues to provide high quality services and supports in Southern California under the leadership of Joseph Donofrio, Executive Director. Joe stays involved with Harbor as a motivational and inspirational teacher for all of us. He has 34 years of experience to draw from as he shares unselfishly with us.
Then came the discussion to choose the name of the agency and it was focused on the philosophy and values of supported living which include people having their own home, choosing their lifestyle and being safe in those places and choices. The definition of the word ‘harbor: a place of security and comfort’ seems to perfectly define our commitment to the people who have invited us into their lives so that they would have the security and comfort to create a life of their design. So the name Harbor Supported Living Services became a reality. And then the logo that was derived from a piece of beautiful art by Robin Blake pictures a lighthouse signaling entrance to a safe “harbor” and the homes that represent the homes people have chosen for themselves. Thank you, Robin, for giving us the opportunity to share your amazing and artistic design in our logo.
In closing, I am honored to be a part of this history and this community. I am humble and unabashedly proud of EVERYTHING Harbor Supported Living Services stands for. Our 20 year anniversary is upon us and the future looks bright and determined. We celebrate the last 20 years with vision for the next 20 ahead of all of us.
Happy Days to Each and every one of you,



Victor is charismatic, energetic, friendly, affectionate and hilarious! After all these years working with Victor, he still makes me laugh all the time. He has a positive approach to life which is truly inspirational
I really enjoy working with Victor and have developed a nice rapport with him. He definitely has a sense of humor and we make each other laugh. I enjoy giving him car rides and Victor and Cylus (pet) get along great too. I'm usually in a good mood when I'm done working with Victor and I look forward to my work days with him.
Even in some of the most adverse conditions I have seen him find a way to smile and laugh. Victor has taught me patience, compassion, and how to navigate life's challenges with an open heart and open mind. I will forever be grateful for the bond we share.
Victor is a unique and inspiring man. He has been a joy to work with and get to know over the many years I have been blessed to have him in my life.
He has the ability to create strong and lasting bonds with those that are lucky enough to work with him. I look forward to continuing to support Victor and be a part of his journey.
I am glad to be part of his life. I love Victor and am looking forward to continuing to work with him.


Ernest is such a dedicated, loving, caring, and thoughtful person. He is a one of a kind support staff and human. Ernest always has Victor's best interest at heart and has gone above and beyond on a regular basis. Ernest has repeatedly told me that he feels like Victor is a brother to him.
I don’t know Ernest really at all personally, but it was really nice of him to invite Ali, Danny and their staff over for the holidays and cook them a feast.
Ernest is a great lead staff and I've developed a good friendship with him. He cares about Victor and Alen and works to better the quality of their lives. The Victor/Ernest team is my favorite one, I heartily enjoy working with them both.
It is not often you encounter someone that cares so deeply about the individuals they work with and works to consistently improve their lives through dedication and hard work. Ernest has done that from the onset of his work in this field and continues to do so and teach others to do the same.
Ernest has become a major part of the Harbor family, we love him and are looking forward to continuing to watch him grow in his new role as Lead Staff. I am honored to work with him and grateful to continue to learn and grow alongside him in his new role as lead staff.


Written by Aubrey Sonnenschein, HSLS Lead Staff

The recent Harbor winter Tahoe trip was a great success! Our beloved LeRoy, Randy, Kathy and Megan had the opportunity to enjoy all the beauty and fun the snow has to offer. Each individual we support used a different modality to tear up the slopes! LeRoy and Megan both reported that skiing was their favorite part. Megan mentioned particularly loving the group aspect, the feeling of being a part of a loving family. She reveled in the moments we all shared at the cabin—playing Jenga, “The Adam Project,” and eating home-cooked meals. The community aspect is so strong on our trips that it is palpable. Between being in the jacuzzi while it’s snowing, throwing snowballs to shatter icicles, and moments on the couch at night with our hot meals, the gang had an unforgettable time. 11/10 will go again!


TACO - Jallen's Dog

Q: What is your pet's favorite treat?

A: Costco’s rotisserie chicken

Q: What is the silliest thing your pet does?

A: When she gets excited she looses control of her back legs and will just scoot back and forth.

Q: If your pet could talk, what would they say?

A: She has anxiety and needs all of my attention

Q: How old is your pet?

A: About to be 5 in May!!

Q: When did you get your fur baby?

A: When she was a newborn pup

Q: Where is your pets favorite place?

A: By my side

MUSCLEBUTT - Fran's Guinea Pig

Fran loves our new pet “Muscle Butt” in which we named after our fave show “Martin” S2:EP:9 "to kill a talking bird." His favorite vegetable is green bell peppers He will squeak happily every-time we are in the kitchen and when we open the fridge door he runs around more and squeaks for his veggie snacks. If Musclebutt could talk, he would tells us: “feed me and tell me I’m pretty." Fran likes to call him at times “Muscle booty." He has been a joy, and he enjoys cuddles when we watch movies.



Robin Blake- 2/1
Mary Smith- 2/2
Jamie Blankenship- 2/4
Andre Llana- 2/5
Paris Penaranda- 2/6
Jesse Henri - 2/12
Alex Sanchez- 2/12
Christina Garaan- 2/15
Leroy Clarke- 2/16
Connie Ponce- 2/20
Ernest Bey- 2/21
Christopher Arreola- 2/23
Kelly Hebert- 2/26


Sarahi Espindola- 1 year
Kelly Netto- 4 years
Mary Smith- 8 years
Christina Imperio- 9 years


Have you ever wanted to learn how to play percussion instruments or brush up on your skills? Megan Oatey will start having percussion classes once a month. Megan will be bringing instruments like maracas, triangles and much more. Megan has been playing instruments for over seven years and she is also looking to brush up on her skills by teaching others and having a great time learning. If you are interested please join us at the Harbor office every Third Friday of the month at 1:30PM



We have a calendar on our website with current event details. Save it to your bookmarks & reference throughout the month!


We would love to feature your photos in our upcoming newsletters. Please send any photos via e-mail to:



Digital Version

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