Featured Stories

A helping hand today CAN provide a better tamale for us all

Recently, Jenn Holden and her Angel Food Pantry have taken wing in a new direction. Over the past five years, while delivering groceries to families in need, Jenn met Lily. Lily escaped violence in El Salvador with her husband and two daughters, and they have been working hard to make a new life here in the United States.

The two women formed a friendship, and Jenn soon discovered that Lily was ambitious, hardworking, and a great cook. Last December, Lily made thousands of tamales and pupusas that were bought and enjoyed by the community. Jenn helped Lily with orders through word of mouth and NextDoor Woodside. The proceeds of this pop up holiday business helped Lily to buy a car.

Touched by an Angel

In a twist of fate, one of Jenn's angel friends ordered 3,000 tamales from Lily to donate to a nearby homeless shelter. When Jenn's friend saw the cramped, tiny trailer that Lily and her family lived in, she was moved to do something.

Through the Woodside Community Foundation, Jenn's friend and her husband made a very generous donation to the Angel Food Fund. Jenn used this donation to replace Lily's dilapidated trailer. Lily's girls now have their own beds, and she has the space to cook for her family and friends. The remaining funds bought new roofs, refrigerators, heaters, windows, and brought some basic comforts to families in another 22 trailers. Another five trailers were replaced that could not be repaired. This very low income, but vibrant mobile home park is one of the last few affordable housing options in San Mateo County, a County notorious for it's high rent and cost-of-living prices.

The impact of this connection—a friend's generosity combined with Jenn's heart and ingenuity—has given hope to people in a place where the decision to pay rent or buy food is real, where there is no privacy, and where having a little spot to call your own can mean the world.

The Ripple Effects of Jennerosity

As Jenn believes, "If you give one woman a chance, others will rise." And indeed, the positive effects of Jenn's work extend far beyond the material improvements of living conditions for residents in this small community. Over the last year, Jenn has watched Lily and her husband learn English. Lily also graduated from Cañada College on the Dean's list, and is a great role model for her daughters. Some residents in the trailer park are now even contributing small amounts themselves to "pay it forward" for the next trailer.

By working on the ground, and getting to know the people, Jenn sees firsthand the power of kindness in action and how that positive energy can spiral upwards.

An Evolution of Mission

You will still find Jenn making lunches, and packing Angel Food bags for the homeless, Veterans, and the disenfranchised among us. But she can also not unsee the other children, women, and seniors in this low income community that are not able to thrive in their current conditions. While this trailer park and other pockets of poverty may seem a world away from Woodside, in reality they are just down the road. With the last funds that were born out of tamales, good fortune, and angels, a hummingbird garden is being built to remind the residents of their own wings, and that anything can happen.

Jenn now finds herself hoping to create another wave of funding that will bring even more improvements to this North Fair Oaks community. Having experienced hunger and neglect as a youth, Jenn knows that when you have enough yourself, you are better able to help others.

Willing to help?

A waiting list has been started, and three more families are in dire need of trailer improvements.

Donate to
Angel Food Fund

Share in the Jennerosity

Help support Jenn's work through the Woodside Community Foundation's Angel Food Fund.

Donate Now

Gift cards to grocery store and home improvement stores are also needed and very much appreciated. No salaries are paid, and 100% goes to help our neighbors.