Alumni Stories Project

In honor of our 50th Anniversary, we're lifting up the voices of former program participants, volunteers, and staff.  It's a way for us to celebrate all that God has done in and through Harbor House over the past 5 decades.  Some alumni shared their memories through video.  Others shared them through writing.  We hope you're encouraged as you watch or read through each Alumni Story!  

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Bunthy Prum

As a high school student, Bunthy attended youth group at Harbor House in the 1990s.  


Q: What is a favorite memory of your time at Harbor House?

A: During Friday Night Youth Group, we did a scavenger hunt throughout the city of Oakland. I remember how exhilarating and joyful of an adventure it was!


Q: What is something you learned or experienced for the first time at Harbor House?

A: The group running the Friday Night Youth Group were Cal alum who genuinely were living out God’s call to do ministry in Oakland and were doing life together, living together, and supporting each other in their outreaches.


Q: What's the biggest way Harbor House impacted your life?

A: Harbor House was a safe, consistent space to be surrounded by loving Christian adults who felt the call for urban ministry. It was also a fun environment to hang out with other teens!


Q: What are you up to these days?

A: I'm a Social Worker, LCSW, at a SF-based hospital working with vulnerable adults, homeless, and the elderly population.

Irene Koshik

Irene Koshik taught English as a Second Language classes at Harbor House in the 1980s. She's known around here as the one who developed high quality English language classes for adults and her impact is still felt today.


Q: What is a favorite memory of your time at Harbor House?

A: Teaching English to Mienh and Cambodian adults and getting to know them and their families.


Q: What is something you learned or experienced for the first time at Harbor House?

A: I learned about Mienh and Cambodian cultures and world views and what they suffered during the war. I also learned new perspectives on Christian faith and the spiritual world from Mienh and Cambodian Christians.


Q: What are you up to these days?

A: I'm retired faculty from the Department of Linguistics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. I taught primarily in the TESL program, teaching conversation analysis and intercultural communication and training students to teach English to speakers of other languages. 

Lai Woudstra

Lai was a program participant at Harbor House in the 1980s and 1990s.


Q: What is a favorite memory of your time at Harbor House?

A: Field trips to various places in the Bay Area.


Q: What is something you learned or experienced for the first time at Harbor House?

A: I learned that God loves me and I can do whatever I set my mind to with His help.


Q: What is the biggest way Harbor House impacted your life?

A: Harbor House was key in helping me break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy in my family. The love and support I received from Mary Biasotti (Girls Group Leader/Mentor) and other staff members gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams. The Bible studies I attended also helped build a strong foundation in God's word.


Q: What are you up to these days?

A: I live in Brentwood and I teach ESL at Antioch and Acalanes Adult Schools.

Anh Le

Anh was a member of our Youth Leadership Program while he was a high school student at Oakland High in 2017 and 2018.


Q: What is a favorite memory of your time at Harbor House?

A: A favorite memory was when my fellow summer counselors and I took a group of students to Fairyland. Even though I grew up in Oakland, it was my first time going to Fairyland.  It was a memorable experience because I bonded with the kids through the fun rides and games.


Q: What's something you learned or experienced for the first time at Harbor House?

A: Something I experienced for the first time at Harbor House was the idea of being a part of a community. Prior to Harbor House, I never realized how interconnected we are and how my actions could make a difference in my community. We are better together. Being with the kids, my peers, and the staff at Harbor House will always be invaluable to me. 


Q: What's the biggest way that Harbor House impacted your life?

A: The biggest impact Harbor House had on my life was the lifelong relationships I built with the people I met through this amazing organization. Harbor House has been the setting of many fond memories, such as going to Fairyland or a ranch with my close friends.  Without this common cause, I would have not been able to develop such strong bonds with amazing people. I am grateful to all of the staff members at Harbor House for watching me grow during my time there and providing me support whenever possible. 


Q: What are you up to these days?

A: I am currently in my fourth year at San Diego State University studying Nursing. I am working hard with my clinical classes and I currently have an internship at UCSD Jacobs Medical Center where I am actively providing direct bedside nursing care to patients.

Sokun Sit

Sokun attended the Good News and Friendship Clubs during the 1980's.


Q: What is a favorite memory of your time at Harbor House ? 

A: A favorite memory was going to Good News Club  and Friendship Club - learning all the songs, attending summer camps, and snow trips up to Donner Summit.


Q: What is something you learned or experienced for the first time at Harbor House? 

A: We learned to sings songs and learned about God's love. We learned how to ask God into our hearts and more.


Q: What is the biggest way Harbor House impacted your life? 

A: Harbor House impacted my life in so many ways throughout the years that I attended. It gave me a safe place to hang out and it gave me community filled with so much love, support, and friendship.  I'm still connected to many of them after all these years, like Barbara Franzen, Bill Squires, Nic & Maurine Bekaert, Russell & Joan Jeung, and many more New Hope Church members.


Q:What are you doing these days?

A: I am a homemaker and caregiver for my 86 year old mother.  I still live in Oakland and my own kids have grown up going to Harbor House.  

Scott & Lea Goodson

Scott and Lea were volunteers at Harbor House during the 1980s and 1990s and they lived upstairs on the third floor of Harbor House.


Q: What is a favorite memory of your time at Harbor House ?

A: We volunteered, lived at Harbor House, and led in the Mien Hut Project. The Mien Hut Project came about because Harbor House asked us to do something with Mien men between the ages of 17-70. The Mien in ESL classes and churches were very enthusiastic and shared their knowledge, time and friendship to build the hut in the backyard of Harbor House.  We estimated 1,000 people came, mainly elementary school students, but also ESL students and many church groups. Two Mien celebration events happened for the hut: the largest included Mien from all over California (several hundred people came ) with a pig brought from Fresno and a Mien worship band.  


Q: What is the biggest way Harbor House impacted your life?

A: First, when we moved into Harbor House with our new born son, a daughter on the way and Lea's brother Rex, Harbor House "forgot" to tell us there was a German couple already living in the apartment. But Gerald and Antje Fink went on to become some of our best friends. We have visited with them in Germany, Macau, Philippines, Malaysia and Canada as well as California. They named their youngest daughter Leah in honor of Lea. Second, Harbor House, which at the time had just moved into the present location, provided a space for all kinds of people, mainly youth, to share their lives with others and receive into their lives the joy of the Lord. Today we annually celebrate Sukkoth, where we make our sukkot (booth or hut-no nails used, like the Mien Hut), and turn our house into an open house for a week every year. We do this out of the biblical tradition but also in a way to remember the Harbor House Mien Hut and the wonderful experience it became.


Q:What are you up to these days? 

A: Presently Lea is working with special needs students and Scott is ministering in our neighborhood in Redding. 

Sheena Lewis

Sheena was a program participant at Harbor House in the 1990s. Most recently her son was part of our after-school program so she shifted her role to Harbor House parent! 


Q: What is a favorite memory of your time at Harbor House?

A: A favorite memory for me was when we would do the car washes at Park Boulevard Presbyterian Church. Bill would pick a lot of us up in the Harbor House van and we would set up and wash cars and have a blast.


Q: What is something you learned or experienced for the first time at Harbor House? 

A: At Harbor House, I had my first experience of being in a choir and singing songs about God.


Q: What is the biggest way Harbor House impacted your life? 

A: The loving, caring, and compassionate environment for kids like me had the biggest impact.  Harbor House was safe, fun and filled with great adventures.


Q: What are you up to these days?

A: Currently I reside in Vallejo and I am a Bus Operator working at AC Transit in Oakland.

Kristy Saephan

Kristy was a program participant at Harbor House in the 1980's.


Q: What is a favorite memory of your time at Harbor House? 

A: The community support, friendship, learning, and ethnic diversity are all favorite memories. All races, walks of life, immigrants, struggling kids, young or old-everyone was welcomed there and Harbor House provided support to all in need.


Q: What is something you learned or experienced for the first time at Harbor House? 

A: All the staff members and volunteers were very positive and supportive. I didn’t know the English language after immigrating to America at the age of 9 years old and I was a loner. I was afraid of talking to people and afraid of other kids. Tim would pick us up with the van, Barbara and Bill usually taught us in a classroom.  We played games (pin the tail on the donkey blind folded was my favorite game). I met my first Mien friend, Tracey, and her husband Nay and his little brother Luigi there. Tracey and I are still very good friends up to this day. 


Q: What is the biggest way Harbor House impacted your life?

A: Harbor House was the root and foundation of my motivation and encouragement in life. Upon entering a new foreign country, Harbor House took me in, taught me all the positivity, showed me the goodness in people, and how supportive others can be. I am glad that I was exposed to good people who were always positive, motivating, and encouraging during my young age. Otherwise, I would not have been able to overcome or deal with the hardships in life during adolescence age and adulthood. Thank you Harbor House for all that you have done for me and others.

Maria Mitchell Crane

Maria was a staff member and volunteer in the 1990s.  She developed an art program in the basement and also helped developed a community store called Many Hands, Many Lands.  Maria scheduled art shows there.


Q: What is a favorite memory of your time at Harbor House?

A:  I have so many….volunteering at our after school Good News club, with Bill Squires driving around in the HH van to pick up kids, like Mr. Roger’s!  I remember attending the CCDA conference as HH staff in Jackson, MS where I met my husband, Dr. Stephen Crane. Rev. Diane Moffett, the director at the time (1995) married us and the multicultural kids choir sang at my wedding. Starting the Many Hands, Many Lands Store with all the art shows and artisans was another special memory. Harbor House was a place where I truly experienced the love and unity of God. 


Q: What is something you learned or experienced for the first time at Harbor House? 

A: I experienced genuine authentic community and care at HH.


Q: What are you up to these days? 

A: I still teach art school and run Crane Transformation Coaching where we help people renew their minds and restore their health.

Rebecca Chhom

Rebecca was a program participant at Harbor House in the 1990's.


Q: What is a favorite memory of your time at Harbor House? 

A: As a kid I loved going to Harbor House. Tim would drive the Harbor House van and pick us up - me, my sister, our friend, and a bunch of other kids. I remember the leaders Bill, Barbara, Tim and Russell were all so nice and funny. Bill played the guitar and taught us all songs that we sang together. Bill also told us stories with his puppets.


Q: What is something you learned or experienced for first time at Harbor House? 

A: I think Harbor House was the first kids program I had ever gotten to participate in outside of school.


Q: What is the biggest way Harbor House impacted your life? 

A: I look back and think of what a blessing it was to have all these caring and loving adults invest in our lives. They all gave their time and energy to pour into a powerful program for us kids. The biggest thing was they shared about God and His love for all of us. They helped nurture and develop my faith as a child, and they did that in a fun and gentle way.


Q: What are you up to these days? 

A: I am now working with children and serving families in the same Oakland community I grew up in, the same community that Harbor House is serving in. I am the Center Director at Franklin Recreation Center and have been working in this community for 15 years and counting. We provide children's after school and summer programs, care, support and resources to students and families. I love that I get to work alongside Harbor House, have history with Harbor House, and I love seeing how Harbor has grown and continues the amazing work they do! 

Sally Van Etten

Sally was a volunteer and board member in the 1980s, 2000s, 2010s, 2020s. 


Q: What is a favorite memory of your time at Harbor House?

A: Gardening, interacting with the teens, more recently Thursday afternoon food distribution on the front steps of Harbor House.


Q: What is something you learned or experienced for the first time at Harbor House? 

A: Not sure it was the first time I experienced it, but I enjoy the different colors of the city (I mean literally the colors of the buildings). I also appreciate the incredible variety of cultural diversity that exists in Oakland.


Q: What is the biggest way Harbor House impacted your life? 

A: Harbor House has always been a place to go volunteer that is easily accessible and can help provide tangible help to people as part of an organization that strives to be culturally sensitive while reflecting the love of Jesus. When one gets dismayed about all the world's problems, my advice is "go volunteer at Harbor House".


Q: What are you up to these days?

A: Still living in Oakland and working part time in municipal finance/water and sewer rate consulting.