Solmateo, a woman-run nonprofit, has contributed nearly $3 million toward mental health services in the county through two annual fundraisers.

The organization hosts two events, a holiday luncheon and auction in December and a kitchen tour held Friday, May 19. The kitchen tour is of remodels. A few local vendors sell various items and 20% of the proceeds go toward the fundraiser. Sara Furrer, kitchen tour chair, said around 500 people toured five homes in San Mateo and Burlingame, raising around $75,000.

“Everybody is doing it for the donations, and all the money stays in the county,” Furrer said. “It really affects everyone you know, all families deal with mental health and the pandemic really brought to light the discussion about mental illness and suicide.”

In 1976, a group of women started the Belles for Mental Health, which later became Solmateo, to help support community members with mental illness and thoughts of suicide. Furrer said the organization rallied after the mental institutions were shut down in the 1970s and many families were left wondering what the next steps were for their loved ones with mental illness. It also was a time when mental illness was not in the forefront of community conversations, she said.

The proceeds are donated exclusively to StarVista, a countywide crisis prevention center, and the Mental Health Association of San Mateo County, a nonprofit that provides support services toward mental health, HIV and homelessness.

Christine Krolik, the mayor of Hillsborough, showed her home in 2018 and has attended the kitchen tour for 25 years. She said it is a fun way to support a great cause.

“The cause has always been important and I think now more people recognize it is more important than ever,” Krolik said. “If you put a need in front of this community they will never let you down, and we are doing good for the community and having fun doing it.”

How it works

Volunteers offer to showcase their newly remodeled home during the one-day event. Furrer said contractors often nudge their clients to participate as a way to show their work and to help contribute to the cause. She said the kitchen tour started out showing mansions. Over the years attendees said they wanted to see smaller homes more like the ones in which they live.

One of the homes is a 1,600-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bathroom Burlingame home with an accessory dwelling unit. The home was staged by an interior designer, a local florist provides flowers and has a few smaller vendors, which Furrer said is usually found by word-of-mouth referrals or farmers’ market vendors.

The organization’s purpose is something near and dear to Furrer’s heart, she said.

“It has been so heartening and valuable to see people coming forward and people who want to share their stories, and the more you shine the light on [mental health] the more people want to bring it to the forefront,” Furrer said.

Visit for more information. If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.

(650)344-5200, ext. 105

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