donatebar menubar 02 gamechanger s4vetsembrace menu1 menubar 051


Embrace's Blog

Monday, 31 March 2014 17:28

EMBRACE PARTNER SPOTLIGHT: Alliance Healthcare Foundation Executive Director, Nancy Sasaki

Nancy Sasaki is the Executive Director of Alliance Healthcare Foundation (AHF).  She has held this position since August 2011.  AHF works to advance health and wellness for those in need in San Diego & Imperial Counties by providing over $2.25M in funding each year.  The strategic priorities are: poor (under 250% of poverty), uninsured/underinsured, homeless and children.  Ms. Sasaki sits on the San Diego Grantmakers (SDG) Board of Directors as well as the SDG Communications Committee, the Coming Home to Stay Working Group and chairs the Funders Together to End Homeless-San Diego chapter.  In addition, Ms. Sasaki sits on the Steering Committee of the Community Information Exchange (a health information exchange for the social services sector), the Advisory Board of the University of San Diego Institute for Nonprofit Education and Research, the Board of Directors of the San Diegans for Healthcare Coverage and the United Way Health Vision Council.


Prior to joining AHF she was the Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood of San Diego & Riverside Counties.  She held this position from 2004-2011.  Her career with Planned Parenthood spanned almost 30 years, beginning as a Health Educator in Austin, Texas.  In addition to Austin and San Diego, Ms. Sasaki has worked as the CEO in Los Angeles and the interim CEO in Hawaii.  Throughout her experience with Planned Parenthood she worked in all areas of the organization and is most proud of the work she has done to expand access for women in need in each of the communities served, enhance cultural awareness for employees and customers/patients, and to bring creative and innovative alternatives to the organization.  For a short time Ms. Sasaki also worked as the Executive Director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.


In addition to her love for improving the health of the community as a whole, Ms. Sasaki’s other loves are her daughter Kelly and playing beach volleyball & tennis.  She also loves glass art and alebrijes (brightly painted wood carvings from Mexico).  One of Ms. Sasaki’s favorite songs is John Mayer’s song that says “I’m bigger than my body gives me credit for.” She said, “At 5’4” I feel that is very true for me! I believe I have been very lucky and fortunate in life and have no right to complain!”   


Thursday, 20 March 2014 20:13

EMBRACE PARTNER SPOTLIGHT: SDSU Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Aaron Bruce

Dr. Bruce

Dr. Aaron Bruce, serves as the Chief Diversity Officer at San Diego State University, where he focuses on campus-wide multicultural understanding, social justice, and strategies related to diversity and inclusion. In addition to developing ways improve campus climate, Dr. Bruce helps strengthen the university’s connections to San Diego’s diverse local and global communities. His experience in the advertising and marketing affords him with the creative energy to promote diversity in a variety of ways. He presently is an active member of the National Association for Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE), Vice President of the Southern California Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (SCADOHE) and is a International Multicultural Institute certified diversity trainer, who has facilitated numerous professional development seminars in the U.S. and abroad.He serves on the National Advisory Council for Saving Students Saving Lives an anti-bullying conference for educators and school counselors.


Dr. Bruce has held management positions in Latin America and Africa. His passion for global understanding has afforded him with opportunities to conduct research on management strategies, public health and education in Cuba, Mexico, and Kenya. Prior to joining SDSU, he served as the Director of Multicultural Affairs at Rhode Island College, where he developed policies and programming supporting underrepresented students, faculty, and staff.


He holds a BA degree from Michigan State University where he majored in Economics and Political Science, and earned a certificate in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.He holds a Master’s degree in International Business Administration from United States International University. Dr. Bruce completed his Ph.D. in Education from the joint Rhode Island College and University of Rhode Island Doctoral Program in Education. He is the first African American male to hold such a distinction. He is presently editing his first book titled Beyond the Black Horizon; African American Experiences Abroad. Originally from Princeton, New Jersey, Dr. Bruce has traveled extensively and is committed to making a difference in the world. He volunteers for numerous organizations and is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. He is an advocate for global education, who lives by the motto “Awaken the sleep, protect the weak, and guide the strong”.

Thursday, 27 February 2014 03:16

Embrace's H3 program teams up with SDSU Interwork Institute to provide assistive technology to Disabled Marine Sarah Bettencourt

During the summer of 2013, Embrace's Healing Our Heroes' Homes program remodeled the home of retired Marine Captain Sarah Bettencourt and her husband Matt Bettencourt (Video of her home remodel can be found here: ( Part of Sarah's disability has caused her permanent vertigo which relegates her to use a wheelchair every day.  

Sarah's remodel was unique in that for the first time, Embrace was able to utilize it's partnership with SDSU's Interwork Institute Program ( which consists of graduate students who, among other things, create assistive technology for people with disabilities.  Before her disability, Sarah was an avid runner.  The students at SDSU are in the process of creating a device that will enable her to get back to doing what she loves to do: running.  

Check it out.....   



Friday, 21 February 2014 21:15

Meet Embrace Community Service Award Winner Karl Walter: Owner of Old Venice Restaurant

Owned by Karl Walter & his sister Kathleen, Old Venice Restaurant ( has been open in Pt. Loma for over 35 Years

Serves Lunch & Dinner Monday – Saturday, Serves Dinner starting at 4pm on Sunday

- Karl has been donating food 1X per month to support Embrace's homeless outreach program (Embrace The Streets) for almost 1 year
- Karl is married to Lisa Betyar
- Karl has 2 children & 2 step children
- Karl loves sailing, exercising, cycling, & traveling
- Karl enjoys working on & driving old Porches & VW's
- Karl grew up in Point Loma, born on May 12, 1953


Tuesday, 03 December 2013 00:00

Historic Muslim Fraternity Serves San Diego Homeless Community Through Embrace


Embrace Continues To Distinguish Itself as a Leader in Socially Conscious Community Service By Attracting & Mobilizing Diverse Groups of Students to Serve the San Diego Community



As told by Embrace Special Projects Coordinator, Irish Diwa



I received a message from a student a few weeks ago saying, “I have a bunch of friends that want to volunteer.”  He failed to mention that these friends happened to be a part of a group of young men forming the first Muslim fraternity in San Diego.  University of California San Diego’s Alif Laam Meem chapter, or Alpha Lambda Mu, is one of five Muslim fraternity chapters in the United States determined to establish themselves before the year ends.  Founded only this past February by Ali Mahmoud at the University of Texas-Dallas, Alif Laam Meem is a social fraternity with an emphasis on service.  Other universities creating chapters include: Cornell University, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Central Florida. (To read more about ALM, check out the Huffington Post’s interview with ALM Founder, Ali Mahmoud. )



Founder Ali Mahmoud, from the University of Texas-Dallas, says that ALM seeks to "build men who can serve their communities.”
This past Sunday, I had the privilege of meeting some of these men and opening their eyes to San Diego’s homelessness issue. Organized by UCSD student Omar Ahmad, past president of UCSD's Muslim Student Association, I set out to break their stereotypes and preconceived notions about the homeless community.  In the process, these young leaders taught me about Islam.

I have only met a few people who were Muslim.  My experiences with them are little and my biggest learning experiences only came from my frequent conversations with a Muslim co-worker in college.  As the guys load up their bags and pockets with the bottles of water they brought to distribute, Omar mentions to me that they would need to pray in a few minutes.  We walk around downtown San Diego handing out water and greet the people we encounter.  The guys stand at the corner of 16th St. & Island Ave.  They can’t believe that only blocks away from the familiar Gaslamp District is a world of poverty they’ve never noticed.

People keep asking us for blankets.  When we tell them we don’t have any, they give us a funny look.  It was only then that we realized that the stack of prayer rugs in one person’s arms looked like bundle of warm blankets.  The rugs are placed into a bag until we round the corner.  In a clear area, the rugs are arranged.  The men take off their shoes and stand in a line; one person in front leading them in prayer.  I’ve never been exposed to Islamic practices before.  Why is Haroon leading the prayers?  What are they praying for? Why are they praying right now?  Rumzi Khan, their chapter president, answers all my questions.  They finish their prayers, slide their shoes back on, and pick up their water bottles.  Minutes pass as we walk a few more blocks.  The sun is going down.  The rugs are arranged once more and this time they pray aloud.  With the colorful backdrop of a child in a prayer-like position, I can only smile at this open window into their world.




In the days after this experience, they’ve sent me messages thanking me for showing them a whole new world, for shattering their misconceptions, and for teaching them something new.  I could easily say the same back to them.

Experiential learning can be the best teacher sometimes.  No amount of statistics or “Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Volunteer” could’ve influenced their thinking as much as the 60 minutes spent walking around the East Village.  As for me, in that hour, my teachers were eight men serving their community.





Thursday, 26 September 2013 22:16

R.A. Rauch & Associates/The Lafayette Hotel become H3 Hotel Sponsor to Aid Commander Brian Delaney during Home Remodel

R.A. Rauch and Associates, which owns The Lafayette Hotel, has become the hotel sponsor for Embrace's upcoming Healing Our Heroes' Homes (H3) mission.  

Commander Brian Delaney and his partner Frank Havens will be complimentary guests at the historic Lafayette Hotel in San Diego, CA while their home is remodeled through Embrace's H3 program.  "In understanding your recent story, The Team was deeply moved to hear about the recent advancements to your home.  We are happy to provide complimentary accommodations to you and your partner,” said Lafayette Hotel GM Josh Lujan in an email to Commander DeLaney. 


In donating the rooms for their entire stay, The Lafayette becomes the first hotel to donate hotel accommodations to an H3 beneficiary.


For more information on The Lafayette Hotel, please visit:


For more information on H3 beneficiary Brian Delaney, please visit:

Friday, 20 September 2013 04:30

The Navy Times Spotlights Upcoming H3 Beneficiary Commander Brian DeLaney/Embrace's Healing Our Heroes' Homes

Please click the following link to read The Navy Times' feature story on upcoming H3 beneficiary Commander Brian DeLaney and Embrace's Healing Our Heroes' Homes Program!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013 00:03

Meet New Embrace Intern Lily Nguyen

Lily Nguyen is currently a Junior at MiraCosta College with the intent to transfer to San Diego State University. She is currently majoring in Business Management with a minor in Marketing. Lily enjoys going to music shows and finding a new local spot to eat at in San Diego.

We are very happy to have Lily serving the community through Embrace!

Page 3 of 4