Bye week for the 49ers did not mean time off from helping the community. Alumni of the red and gold franchise kicked off the week by making a difference and helping children in need through InnVision Shelter Network (IVSN). One of IVSN's eighteen incredible Bay Area facilities, which provide a variety of services including emergency and transitional housing, is the Haven Family House in Menlo Park. At first glance, the complex resembles any other apartment in the Menlo area, but for this occasion, the courtyard had been transformed into a Halloween spook-fest, staged with games, crafts and festive décor. Pumpkin lanterns and cobwebs lined the threshold of every structure and inviting tables donated by Danny Thomas Party Rentals were set on the grass awaiting the arrival of superheroes, princesses and other Halloween revelers.
"The Haven Family House provides a safe place for families to stay while they reestablish self-sufficiency," stated 49ers Community Relations Intern, Pauline Tarpey, "By hosting parties such as this one where we are decorating pumpkins, dressing up in Halloween costumes and partaking in an array of activities, we hope to help the children at Haven Family House feel at home, and their parents at ease to add to a fulfilling holiday season."
Children enthusiastically filled a shop full of costumes for all ages and interests. Soon, all were dressed head-to-toe as princesses, Batman, ninjas, and cowgirls among other characters and were eager to take their turn at mummy bowling, face painting, pumpkin crafts, and the photo booth. Gracious volunteers from Verizon staffed the activities and eventually found themselves harnessing their inner-youth—tossing rings around witch hats and snacking on childhood-favorite candies.
"We are thrilled to be a part of this event," shared Fawn Mendoza of Verizon, "To come out here and decorate pumpkins, play games and help kids while doing so provides a contagiously positive spirit among the whole team."
Former wide receiver JJ Stokes joined alumni Dennis Brown, Dwight Clark, Greg Clark, Eric Heitmann, Guy McIntyre, and Darryl Pollard to distribute Blue Line pizza and engage with families at various activity stations and dining tables. Many of the alumni brought their families along to participate in the event.
"I enjoy coming out here and witnessing the lit up faces on the kids while they enjoy themselves as Halloween approaches," expressed Stokes.
"It is a great opportunity to come out and do something for the kids and the community while practicing our mission to 'Keep Kids Safe, On Track and In School," added 49ers alumnus and Comcast Sportscaster Dennis Brown.
The scene at the Haven Family House was filled with pure fun and joy, as Batman ate pizza with the Riddler, Spider Man played Bingo with bumble bees and all in attendance marveled over a ten-month old turtle's infectious smile. The sun went down and the time came for all characters to say goodnight. Families left with costumes, keepsakes, family photos in 49ers picture frames and most of all, a night to remember for years to come.
"We come back to InnVision Shelter Network time-and-time again," said Joanne Pasternack, Executive Director of the 49ers Foundation and Community Relations, "These families have hit some hard times, and while they are getting back on their feet, we wanted to provide some fun diversions."