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September 2022

Below is the digital version of our September 2022 Newsletter. For easier viewing, click the download button & view as PDF. We have also included the articles in this blog for universal text access.

Accessible Articles below:

BECKY'S CORNER - A note from our Director

If you're like most people, the thing you savor most about Labor Day Weekend is the extra couple of days to relax and maybe even get away for a long weekend. But the holiday also provides an opportunity to reflect on all that hard work you've been putting in, no matter what your job title might be. I wonder how many of us know how Labor Day came about. In case you didn't know, Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers and it is traditionally observed on the first Monday in September. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894.

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do."

- Elizabeth Kubler-Ross & John Kessler

This year we are having our annual camping trip over Labor Day Weekend. We will be in Fernwood Resort in Big Sur enjoying the river, the sun, the stars, great friends, family, invigorating hikes, great food, tie dying t-shirts and many other activities. It truly takes a village to make this trip work! At Harbor Supported Living Services, our village works extremely hard before, during and after this camping experience. We are fortunate to have a core group of people who pull it all together and support staff that also come and camp for the weekend and assist people for 3 days of outdoor fun. There will be a plethora of photos to jog our memories after camping and many of those will be shared here in our next month's newsletter. Watch for that. I want to publicly thank some of the people that make this trip happen. To name a few of them--Brianna Donofrio, Jonathan Smith, Shanie Lane, Mary Smith, Abbey deDiego, Cassie Bos, Micheline Pontious, Joely Weiner, Aubrey Sonnenschein, and Crystal Hernandez. There are many others, of course, and we appreciate every single one of them and their contributions whether large or small are invaluable. We are all looking forward to a holiday weekend of sun and fun!!

As always, we are continuing to work diligently at protecting each other from the spread of COVID. We are utilizing all of the same protections we have had in place for the entire pandemic-- mask usage, sanitizing, washing hands, social distancing, encouraging vaccination and boosters. Of course, we would like to see an end to this in the near future but it does not seem to be coming any time soon.

I want to close by saying that I am proud of everything Harbor Supported Living Services has accomplished over the last 20 years here in Santa Cruz. If not for the dedicated work of staff, families and the people we support we would not be where we are today. We currently provide support to 24 people who live in their own homes and employ a staff of 85 people who help people to discover and claim their place in their community. Harbor has a long history of providing quality and creative services in pursuit of all of us having better lives. The contributions of people with disabilities in any community makes it a richer place to live by recognizing that ALL people benefit from inclusion regardless of ability. Our lives are richer because we acknowledge the gifts, skills and talents of ALL people.

Referring back to the beginning quote by Steve Jobs, "the only way to do great work is to love what you do." Truer words have never been spoken and we believe that our team loves most of what they do AND they do all things with great love and caring. I find myself joyfully looking back over 20 years of smiles, tears, laughter, frustration and progress. Let's keep that up for the next 20 years.

Happy Days to Each and every one of you,



Danny Machado

Danny is always so kind and friendly! Everyone who knows Danny will say he is an amazing guy. He is always up for an adventure. Whether it’s hiking up mountains, shooting bows and arrows, swimming in creeks or hanging out with friends at the pool, he puts energy and passion into whatever he is doing. One of his friends says, “I enjoy the time that I have gotten to spend with him, like doing activities such as shared adventures sailing, going camping, going on walks etc. I am looking forward to getting to know Danny more as the time goes by! This month Danny was given the responsibility to teach an art class through Shared Adventures. The turn out for the class ended up being abnormally large. Danny did an amazing job teaching the class, going to each participant and staff to make sure that any questions were answered and providing direct assistance when needed. He is adventurous and down for a good time whether that be going to a Harbor event, exploring the forest for a hike or trying a new activity like archery or kayaking. He has really established himself in his community and has shown how helpful and caring he is. Danny has been attending a gardening class regularly at Common Roots Farm, and has become well known and one of their greatest helpers.. He has the ability to be flexible and always go with the flow. He will always be the first to volunteer to help clean up after an event, and proud to do so! Danny loves animals, especially his kitty Chiquita and his staff's animals. It is such a joy knowing and working with him, he lights up the lives of all who are blessed to know him. Danny is a blessing to those of us that get a chance to know and be around him. He always adds fun and positive energy to events or environments he chooses to be a part of. I always know I can count on Danny to help out and be the best team player when anything is needed or anyone needs help. I am so grateful to have gotten to know Danny over the years and to be able to watch him grow and continue to push himself to learn new things and have new experiences. If you have the pleasure of knowing Danny, you know how kind, creative and fun he is. Danny has a magnetic energy, and people want to be around him He is a great friend and an al l around wonderful guy!

Mary Smith

Mary Smith has worked with Harbor Supported Living Services since February 2015 and she is a ray of light in the world of every person that knows her. She makes people feel happy and very appreciated. Mary creates safe space for all people–staff, family, friends and people she supports. The ability to assist people to believe in themselves and to believe that they can do good in the world is an innate ability of hers. Open and honest communication is a trait that she works tirelessly at so that all people feel heard, understood, supported and appreciated. She offers wonderful guidance and advice and treats everyone with equal respect. People are inspired by her trust in them and have accomplished great things working with her. Some of the comments made by co-workers and staff she supervises:

"Mary has been an incredible support to me the last year and a half. When I took on the lead position on Danny’s team Mary supported and encouraged me, she had such confidence in me and helped me grow in many ways. One of my favorite memories of Mary is from last year’s camping trip when she did her lighted hula hoop magic!! I can’t wait to see what she does this year! "

"Mary is a beautiful soul and carries herself with an aura of positive energy that is contagious. She is a hard worker and truly cares about the people around her. She is a dedicated person, committed to her work and the people she supports. She has a unique connection with the natural world and she uses her knowledge and innate capabilities to help others with their health and wellbeing. Mary has life aspirations that are truly inspirational and she is always working towards her goals everyday. "

Jon Smith says — "For those of you who don't know, Mary is my little sister... so she has been on my nerves since 1993 ( am I allowed to say that? ha!)Mary is a rare burst of life and love, and I am lucky and proud to call her my sister for almost 30 years. Mary is a breath of fresh air in a world of hustle and bustle. I love working with my sister and I love Mary. I am looking forward to what the future holds for us working together."

"I love how dedicated Mary is to her teams and clients. She always go above and beyond to make sure they’re comfortable and safe. I’m happy that Mary is my Facilitator. I wouldn't have it any other way. Also I believe that her laugh and smile bring so much joy to the teams. Harbor is really fortunate to have Mary’s energy, love and insightful knowledge of wellness and nutrition as well. "

"I truly enjoy working with Mary. I always feel happy talking to her because she is friendly and understanding, and she makes me feel appreciated and confident in the work that I do. She always offers wonderful guidance and advice, and treats me with equal respect and makes me feel trusted with important tasks. Mary is a blessing and I am grateful to be part of her team!"


Welcome to the office Ashley!

Written by Becky Donofrio, HSLS Director

It is with great pleasure that we welcome Ashley Silva to the newly created position of Fiscal Coordinator. Ashley will be doing payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable. She is about to graduate from UCSC with a BA in Business Management Economics with a concentration in Accounting. Ashley was born and raised in Fresno, CA. She loves to learn and try new things. In recent years, she has tried surfing, pottery, cross-stitching and Lacrosse. All of these hobbies have been done at varying levels but the most advanced hobby was Lacrosse. Lacrosse turned into more than a hobby as she played at the collegiate level. Ashley is currently learning Arabic and also how to care for small pets such as chinchillas and guinea pigs. Hope you will drop by the office and meet Ashley soon. Her smiling face is a welcome sight and her skills are greatly appreciated. Welcome, Ashley, to the Harbor family!!

Welcome to the family Emily!

Written by Dana Keating, Former HSLS Fascilitator

I invite you all to welcome Emily Lomax who joined Harbor in June. If you haven’t had the pleasure to meet Emily yet, she is an intelligent woman with a quick wit and big heart. Emily enjoys films and TV shows and always has the best recommendations on what to watch next. She also enjoys sushi, bowling, rock and roll, and time with friends and family. Emily has great insight and a wealth of knowledge and will always introduce you to a new fact or a creative solution to any problem you are looking to solve. As a child, Emily dreamed of using her creativity as a chef or an inventor. Emily is always welcoming of new people and greets everyone with a hearty laugh and acceptance. She has a zest for life and is never boring to be around. Emily is determined, a great self advocate, and cares deeply that others are treated fairly as well. Welcome to the Harbor family, Emily! We all look forward to getting to know you better and be a part of your bright future.

Sweet Soul Nourishment with Mary

Tips to Improve Digestion

The digestive system plays a crucial role in our overall health and vitality. This complex organ system breaks down the foods we eat and delivers nutrients to each cell in the body. A weak digestive system can wreak havoc on the body, and additionally cause uncomfortable symptoms such as gas, bloating, nausea, abdominal pain and more. Experiencing digestive discomfort can be very frustrating, but this doesn’t have to be the cycle that you live with any longer. Follow these three simple, easy and effective steps to improve your digestive function NOW and find more comfort after eating.

1. Slow Down - Slowing down to enjoy a meal can be one of the most powerful shifts that you make — I like to refer to this as mindful eating. Creating a calm space to sit down to eat your meal allows your body to focus on digestion, which takes a lot of energy. It is important to limit distractions and be fully present. Eating in a stressed or distracted state alerts the body to be in fight or flight, which turns off digestive function. Creating a calm meal space and being present with your food will allow you to feel a sense of fullness, absorb nutrients and feel energized after a meal.

2. Chew your food - This is a big one! Digestion begins in the mouth when enzymes are secreted and begin to break down food. Chewing allows your digestive juices to report to the scene. Eating too quickly causes the stomach to take on tasks it was not designed for, resulting in digestive distress. Aim to chew your food until it is almost liquid. When our food is broken down, digestion operates more smoothly and we better absorb nutrients more efficiently.

3. Hydrate between Meals - Although hydration is extremely important, drinking liquids during a meal can dilute important digestive juices like enzymes and stomach acid, and can inhibit absorption of nutrients. Aim to hydrate in between meals, and limit liquids at meal time.

I hope you find these tips useful, and would love to hear feedback if you are successful with any of them! If you are someone who experiences frequent digestive upset, I recommend taking a deeper look at what may be causing this, and am here to support you in exploring this!

Wishing you wellness,


Recipe of the Month

Summer Bean Salad

This Lemon Basil Three Bean Salad is refreshing and easy to put together. Perfect to enjoy as is, serve at summer parties or enjoy as a side.


  • (1) 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

  • (1) 15oz can white beans, rinsed and drained

  • (1) 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1/4 medium red onion, minced

  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered or halved

  • Zest of one lemon

  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (optional)

  • Juice of two lemons

  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/4 tsp salt or more to taste

  • Fresh cracked black pepper to taste

  • Instructions

  • In a bowl, combine beans, onion, garlic, cherry tomatoes, lemon zest and basil.

  • Top with lemon juice, olive oil, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste.

  • Toss everything together until fully combined, then cover and allow to sit and marinate for at least an hour in the fridge before serving.


Allow your beans to fully marinate! Give this salad at least 1 hour in the fridge to chill and marinate. For best results, consider marinating overnight before enjoying for maximum flavor.

Rinse your beans and drain them really well. You want to make sure that you remove the water the beans are stored in with the cans to help prevent your salad from getting soggy and weird.

To help keep your salad fresh longer, add your veggies the day it is being served. Mix everything except the tomatoes and refrigerate. When ready to serve, add your tomatoes and mix well.

How to Start a Garden in a small space on a budget

Written by Kelly McRoberts, HSLS Support Staff

Santa Cruz County is an amazing place to grow a garden. The weather here allows us to harvest nearly year-round! But there are a few challenges many of us face, for example, a small budget or a small space to grow. Worry not! You can still have a garden and I will go over some tips on how to do it.

If you have a small space, think vertically. When ground space is limited, utilize levels. Shelves, hanging baskets and trellises are your friend! There are so many plants that thrive when trellised such as beans, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, even tomatoes! These materials are often an investment when purchased new at the garden store, but there are so many ways to upcycle what you already have laying around to create what you need. I did a quick google search for “upcycled garden trellis” for inspiration. There were people using old coat racks, umbrella frames, broom handles, bed frames and so much more. And remember, with a bit of paint you can transform your old junk into something cute for the garden. Look at this trellis made from a coat rack or hanging basket which used to be a milk jug. Go to the thrift store and get creative! If you are growing edible plants, just keep in mind that you need a container that will not leach toxins into your soil. If you are growing something ornamental, go wild. People plant into old shoes, toy dump trucks, or even jeans folded at the crotch and filled with soil!

Another great way to save money is by planting perennials. Perennials come back year after year so you do not need to keep purchasing new plants. My favorite perennial is strawberries! They love it in our climate and are so tasty. You can grow strawberries in a container. The bigger the better though as they will send out shoots which will root and grow more strawberry plants. You can even snip the shoots, root them in a bit of water, and plant in a new container or gift to a gardener friend! Blueberries, raspberries, and boysenberries are also great options. Rhubarb, artichoke, and some types of kale are also perennial. Another perk to perennials is that once established, they often require less water as their roots have grown deep and can tap into water deeper in the soil.

Additionally. for those of you feeling ambitious, try starting some plants from seed. This is one of the best ways to save money in the garden! You can purchase a bag of 100 seeds for the same cost as one plant start. The trick with starting seeds is that they need to stay moist for the entire length of germination. This is the period of time that the seed is opening up and sending out a sprout and roots. Use a spray bottle to mist your seed starts or the hose on the mist setting, so as not to disturb the seeds too much. If I am starting seeds outside, I often like to cover the soil with newspaper to keep the seeds from drying out too quickly and then remove the newspaper when the seeds begin to sprout. This is important because at this point the sprouts need the sunlight to photosynthesize.

Most importantly, remember to have fun! Every gardener is going to fail sometimes! It is inevitable. Nature is powerful. There are so many different ways to garden and approaches people take, so experiment and find what works for you. Just make sure when you design your garden, you consider access to your hose. Having easy access when watering the garden is what makes or breaks the hobby for many people.

Lastly, having good soil is where it all begins! Soil is alive! It is filled with tiny organisms and when your soil thrives, so will your plants. Oh, and gophers. If you are going to plant in ground, make sure to use gopher baskets or have gopher wire under your raised beds. They are hungry little critters and will eat everything if you let them!

Summer Tahoe Trip 2022

Written by Jonathan Smith, HSLS Facilitator

In late August of 2022, HSLS had a small group of people we support and staff head out on our bi-annual trip to Tahoe to participate in activities with Achieve Tahoe.

Achieve Tahoe is a non-profit organization that supports people with disabilities in doing activities such as jet skis, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, water tubing, sailing, wake boarding, water & snow skiing, horseback riding, rock climbing, archery, snowboarding, and much more. They provide trained professionals to support participants in safely enjoying all activities using adaptive equipment. In doing so, they teach us all to be fearless. These trips have been spearheaded by Randy, who has been skiing each winter with Achieve Tahoe since 2016, and he eventually invited other people to enjoy this opportunity with him. Randy began his ski journey by using a manual sit-down ski mechanism attached to a harness with the instructors support. He was nervous to ski down the hill at first, but he got more comfortable and now he just wants to fly down from the top of the hill. In 2022 he was able to ski down the hill steering the skis by himself with a joystick (of course with all 3 instructors still providing full support if he needed it).

In addition to winter sports, HSLS now participates in summer activities, as of 2021 Our adventures with Achieve Tahoe have now become bi-annual trips. This summer trip included Randy, Nichole, Kathy, Shanie, Aubrey, Crystal and Jon. We stayed in cabins at the beautiful and historic Camp Richardson. We were close to the casinos and Heavenly Village, but also tucked away in the forest and right on the lake.

The people at Achieve Tahoe have been so wonderful to us and have been a huge part in changing the lives of the people we support as well as their staff. We had so much fun on this trip and look forward to planning our next trip this coming winter!



  • 9/1 - Maria Garcia

  • 9/1 - Dan hansen

  • 9/2 - Becky Donofrio

  • 9/4 - Natalie Gonzalez

  • 9/14 - Jallen Estimo

  • 9/23 - Gabriel Trementozzi

  • 9/23 - Felipe DeLaCruz


  • 2 Years - Iceis Garcia

  • 6 Years - Nick Jacque

  • 8 Years - Jonathan Smith

  • 8 Years - Kelly McRoberts


We have a new calendar on our website with current event details and zoom links. 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

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