Determined To Help Others

The Pacifica Resource Center was thrilled to receive our PWBC donation!

The year 2020 brought many unexpected changes to our world.  As we watched businesses in our community close, open, close and reopen again, we understood the negative impact this would have on their ability to survive. The need for essentials became more and more important as people were no longer receiving paychecks.  

Our group wanted to reach out in some small way to help families and individuals get through this crisis even though some of our members were experiencing the same hardships. It was important to us to pull our resources together to help others. During the holiday season we connected with The Pacifica Resource Center to have them help us find a family that needed assistance for the holidays. Through the generosity of our group we were able to donate close to $1000 in gift cards and grocery money to a family of four.  

Before the COVID-19 shutdown, our women’s group met at a local restaurant every Thursday morning at 7:00 a.m. Over the years we had the same head waiter who provided superior customer service. After much research we discovered that he was furloughed from his job and was having a difficult time supporting his family. Once again our group rallied and put together a grant as well as individual member donations to provide over $500 to him and his family.

We have a committed group of women who are dedicated to the success of each other and to our community. We will continue to use our resources and collective action to do our part to care for those in need. 

For the Love of Pets

Dawn adores each and every one of her pet (and human) clients!

PWBC member Dawn Hoover entertained us with a few of her most recent adventures as a pet sitter.

Thankfully, Dawn has seen an uptick in business, with new clients and a return of some old, as people get back to their somewhat normal lives and schedules. Dawn focuses on building strong connections with the pets and families that she gets to know over the years. It is not surprising that she is sad to see them move on when life takes them on a new adventure. 

Dawn visits with the pets, gives them some love, feeds them and does other things to not only care for the animals but the humans as well, like bringing the mail in and checking on the house to make sure all is good. Finding someone you can trust to care for your pets as you would can be a challenge. After hearing Dawn talk about the animals in her care, we know they are in the best hands! Her stories of their personalities, preferences, and her broad base of knowledge about the specific breeds, ailments and treatments, too, make it crystal clear that Dawn is the best of the best when it comes to comprehensive pet-sitting and pet care. 

Dawn Hoover of a Pet’s Best Friend will sit, walk and care for your pets when you can’t, providing the most attentive and loving care for all kinds of pets. Check out her website  or call her directly at 650-571-0360 for more information. 

Meet The Member

Audrey Smith photo
The attorney we trust the most – Ms. Audrey Smith

Meet the Member! This blog is one in a series of posts dedicated to learning a little more about one of our PWBC members. 

“All people are equal before the law in court.  A good attorney is what makes the difference.”

Audrey Smith is a partner at Howie & Smith, LLP an “AV” (top) rated civil litigation law firm located in San Mateo (with satellite offices in Oakland and San Diego) since 1996.  Her practice includes trial court and appellate advocacy, client counseling, and transactional services for plaintiffs and defendants in cases across the civil spectrum, including personal injury cases, real estate and landlord-tenant disputes, premises liability, elder care law, public entity law, products liability, insurance coverage, HOA law and construction defect cases. Audrey works closely with her clients to ensure an efficient, cost-effective, and realistic resolution to legal problems.

Representative Cases

Motor Vehicle Accidents  The firm has successfully and efficiently handled hundreds of cases involving various theories brought against owners and drivers of rental and other motor vehicles, including all aspects of coverage, liability, and numerous theories of damages.  We also represent persons who have sustained serious and debilitating injury as a result of motor vehicle accidents.  Experience representing both sides in these (and other) matters is helpful in achieving an efficient and optimal resolution.

Landlord/Tenant cases.  High value results for tenants in rental units with habitability violations and other landlord misbehavior.  We also have a long track record of successfully representing and advising landlords.

Premises.   The firm has successfully handled hundreds of cases for our clients involving premises liability law.  For example, we obtained a highly favorable settlement following a summary judgment for the owner of winery sued by bicyclist who sustained major head trauma after a hitting a culvert on a roadway at the client’s winery.  We obtained summary judgment for a property owner sued by an injured ATV rider and for a property owner when a guest fell off his dock.  Multiple cases representing both plaintiffs and defendants for injuries sustained on property.

Public Entity/Civil Rights.  The firm has a long history of representing public entities as well as people suing public entities.  We obtained summary judgment for client City in highly complex water damage claims involving interlocking theories of flood and surface water damage.   We obtained summary judgment for client County in gang shooting case at local county fair.  We also represent persons suing public entities, an unusually complex and difficult process.

Construction.  The firm has handled many large cases involving claims of construction defect.  The firm successfully represented a general contractor who was hired to extensively renovate high-end single family homes in San Francisco in multiple cases brought by homeowner clients who sued claiming multiple perceived construction defects and contract violations.  The firm obtained summary judgment for a general contractor in suit by subcontractor’s employee struck by vehicle on the roadway during construction.

Employment.  Successful defense of multiple cases of sexual harassment and other intentional torts. 

Industrial Injuries.   Highly favorable resolution of scalp avulsion injury for designer/manufacturer of large-scale conveyor system. Defense verdict for owners of large farming cooperative sued by farm worker injured by oncoming tomato harvester. 

Howie & Smith regularly handles cases in state courts throughout the San Francisco Bay Area counties (Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Marin, Sonoma, Solano, Contra Costa, San Benito, Monterey, and Santa Cruz) as well as around the rest of the state. The firm also regularly handles federal cases throughout California up through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Audrey is a San Francisco native but also grew up in Oregon and graduated from Brown University in Rhode Island.  She moved back to the West Coast and worked as a paralegal in San Francisco. Then she attended Santa Clara University Law School, serving as an editor on the Santa Clara Law Review Board. She was also a published comment writer for the Law Review.   The law has gotten ever more complicated, intimidating, expensive and inaccessible.  Audrey loves to solve legal problems for her clients in the most efficient and inexpensive manner possible. 

Caring For Seniors Through Music

music for seniors
The healing power of music for seniors

PWBC member Katherine Follain introduced us to Teepa Snow, an occupational therapist she had the pleasure of working with last year. Teepa’s work with the aged is distinguished by her use of music, it being a powerful force when it comes to helping the elderly thrive despite changes in their functioning and cognition. 

Teepa Snow explains that using music helps support the daily needs of people suffering from memory loss. It can be key to prolonging their independence and regaining their mobility. Having a schedule, movement, touch and organized activities that incorporate music by all indications is a valuable approach. Music is the last faculty to be lost or forgotten. Integrating it into structured daily activities can produce better outcomes. Seniors demonstrate strengthened abilities, improved cognitive functioning and even more lasting memories. Teepa knows that daily living skills need to be reinforced regularly to prevent the slide that dementia creates. Music makes these activities more enjoyable and can help strengthen the muscle memory for those who need it most.

Teepa teaches what is called the “hand over hand” technique to help residents maintain their movement and retain muscle memory. Physically touching them and molding their movements in a slow, repetitive motion is one way. Another is modeling how to eat, or how to pick up something. Combined with music, memories can be more lasting. For a patient suffering from dementia, just a few more weeks of independent mobility is a big victory.

We are living longer now. There is an increased need for care, specifically skill care to keep us as functional and as independent as possible. Teepa Snow and her research surrounding music and how it can help will continue to contribute to breaking ground in making our senior years more enjoyable for longer. Katherine is thrilled to support the work of Teepa Snow and others who fight to help seniors live and age with dignity.

Katherine Follain is a senior care specialist working at Cadence Senior Living Millbrae. Contact her at 650.742.9150 for more information about how she can help you make the critical decisions for the appropriate care of an elder.

Meet the Member

Julie Parker of Blue Okra
The creative and conscientious Julie Parker!

Meet the Member! This blog is one in a series of posts dedicated to learning a little more about one of our PWBC members.

Julie Parker is a designer who is passionate about creating beautiful baby blankets and sleepwear that respect our environment and the people who make them. She feels that it’s very important to take care of our planet because our kids are growing up in it.. We teach them how to live in the world by practicing what we preach. She is working hard to get closer to her ideal of a completely eco-friendly supply chain that is 100% labor friendly.

Julie earned her degree in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Design, Los Angeles. She has worked in several capacities in the industry, from design assistant to patternmaker to designer. She recently combined several of her passions: her excitement for art and design, her love of babies, her concern for ecological and labor business practices and her fashion industry knowledge to create Blue Okra, an ethical baby blanket and sleepwear company. 

Currently, she has unbleached, undyed organic cotton blankets and sleepwear that are 100% USA made. The organic cotton is grown in Texas. Fabrics are made in the Carolinas and Pennsylvania. The products are sewn in California. Even her tags and packaging are eco friendly and made in California. She is currently working on new colors and prints that are being made in Thailand. Of course, they are made in a lovely fair trade shop and will be available soon!

Before they chose their fair trade sewing shop, she and her co-founder (husband John), visited them in Chiang Mai to learn more about how they run their ethical business. They were very impressed with the great working conditions – ergonomic chairs, flexible work hours, pay that is well above a living wage in their city. Everything from the open and pleasant working environment to how hard they work toward zero waste was impressive. Also, they provide medical and dental care. In addition, the sewing shop gives spare fabric to women in their community. This allows them to use the sewing machines so they can make things to sell in the local market.

Julie has been a member of PWBC for nearly 2 years and has really enjoyed getting to know other members. She has seen their hard work and dedication to their businesses and has learned a great deal from them.

Julie also enjoys gardening, cooking and is a competitive rower. She and John recently moved to Napa. Once Covid is under control they will enjoy getting together with friends and family from all over the San Francisco Bay Area.

Eviction Moratorium Updates

eviction notice
Something no renter or homeowner wants to see

PWBC Member Audrey Smith offered some brief and helpful points to consider regarding the eviction moratorium that was extended in the Bay Area due to COVID-19.

The eviction moratorium was passed to suspend any evictions directly related to the virus during the months of March through August of this year. It has now been extended through the end of January. The hope is that it will prevent a wave of mass evictions in our area. In order for residential tenants to qualify, they must give notice in writing and offer proof that their income or ability to pay rent has been impacted by a job loss, downturn in business or health condition related to the virus. The tenant is still responsible for any back rent that is not paid during the moratorium period. It is the property owner’s responsibility to arrange a property payment agreement. Neither the moratorium nor the agreement prevents parties from going to small claims court if they so choose. Court cases can’t be filed until October.

There is some comfort for renters with this new moratorium, but it offers little relief or support for landlords who are left without the money they usually receive from rental properties. A legitimate concern is that our government has essentially outsourced the responsibility of housing citizens by having property owners allow non-paying tenants to remain in place. In essence, their private property is being used for the public benefit, leaving a strong argument that this violates the Constitution.

This is a complicated issue, for tenants, landlords and litigators alike. During these most trying times, our wheels of justice continue to grind rather slowly. Unfortunately, with no end to the virus implications in sight, we can expect more litigation about this issue.

Audrey Smith is a partner at Howie & Smith, LLP, a full service AV-rated firm providing effective and efficient civil litigation and legal counseling services to clients in a broad range of businesses with an emphasis on sports and recreation commercial enterprises and products. Contact Audrey directly at 650-685-9300 or visit to inquire about help with your specific litigation needs. 

Meet The Member

picture of artist Ellen Brook
The fabulous Ellen Brook

Meet the Member! This blog is one in a series of posts dedicated to learning a little more about one of our PWBC members.

Ellen Brook is an artist and designer who brings color and creativity to walls, wardrobes and workplaces. Her artistic adventure began at 40. After a career in corporate and non-profit communications, Ellen changed her life to focus on her art. Ellen now maintains an art practice, creating “luxuriously down-to-earth” apparel and interior goods. She also hosts in-studio and corporate workshops in creativity, curiosity and collaboration.

Ellen’s work can been seen in art shows and the media and modeled on Bay Area runway. It was even used on a CD cover. Her work has been featured in several shows, including “Uncommon Threads” at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, and the annual Artwear Show at San Francisco’s de Young Museum. Her work is known for its feel-fabulous fabrics, exciting color combinations, playful sense of surprise, and visual poetry.

Ellen is on the Advisory Board at Canada College’s Fashion and the Artist Advisory Board of Kids and Art. She earned a B.A. from Duke University. Subsequently, she earned her MPA from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, which is now part of Middlebury College.

Ellen was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She traveled extensively and lived in many cities before calling California home in 1997. Frankly, she has been quite surprised and delighted by her journey as an artist. Like many people, she didn’t see herself as creative and never imagined she’d walk the artistic path. Put on your seat belts and hop aboard – you never know what’s awaiting you!


Facebook @ellenbrookart

Instagram @ellenbrookartandfashion