Categories: Good San Franciscans

Joy in the Midst of Pain

“There is joy, when there should be depression or tears,” Hailey Koh reflects on her volunteer work with families of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Family House provides free housing, counseling, food and community to families with children who are receiving treatment at UCSF and live outside a 50 mile radius of San Francisco.

After over an hour commute, Hailey starts each day by serving breakfast to the residents of Family House before she begins her full-time job as a researcher. Hailey expressed, “Even though I am not doing that much, the staff and people here are so positive, they make sure that you always know that you are appreciated and that your work is worthwhile.” Every morning, Hailey makes coffee, sets out oatmeal and arranges pastries. She greets residents as they arrive. On other occasions, Hailey cleans and sanitizes toys, administers general office help and hosts parties and various holiday events.

Koh’s volunteer experience has impacted her life. She shared a story about a mother that battled depression as her son received treatment for a congenital heart defect. The struggling mother began volunteering alongside Hailey and her experience helped her to overcome her depression and personal struggles. Through Family House, this mom found value and community. Hailey claims “There is a vicarious joy when you give to people, you get something back.”

Staff and volunteers at Family House hope that more people will choose to volunteer. “As much as you can do is enough,” encourages Hailey. You can find out more information and learn about volunteer opportunities with Family House by visiting their website: