A Safe Place for Roman

by Arleen Bandarrae

Published on February 15, 2023

Mariela, Roman, and Ricardo

Roman loves to kick the soccer ball and practice dribbling outside on the courtyard at Family House—his favorite place to play! And, although he’s only three-and-a-half, he quickly picked up t-ball last week when the members of the San Francisco Giants visited. Roman played catch with outfielder Austin Slater and got battling tips from manager Gabe Kapler.

“I don’t know what we’d do without Family House. We feel very safe here. Everything is so clean and safe, and that is the best environment for Roman now,” said Roman’s mom Mariela, as she explained that Roman is immunocompromised, meaning he has a weakened immune system.

Roman’s parents, Mariela and Ricardo, first came to Family House in 2021 when Roman was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a type of blood cancer. When Roman was admitted to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, they moved to Family House from their home near Chico, California, a three-hour drive from San Francisco.

Last year, the family returned to Family House in July for Roman’s second bone marrow transplant. In September, Roman was discharged from the hospital and has been living with his mom and dad at Family House while he recovers and continues to receive medical care.

Roman at Family House.     Roman and Giants Manager Gabe Kapler.

A Home Away from Home

“Everybody is so nice and welcoming,” said Ricardo, sharing about the Family House team. “It really feels like home.”

Mariela is thankful for the large kitchen. She loves to cook safe and healthy meals for Roman. At Family House, there are two large communal kitchens and dining rooms on each floor. Each kitchen, typically shared by just a handful of families, is fully operational with ovens, microwaves, pots, pans, and a dishwasher. Plus, each family has their own pantry cabinet and small refrigerator for personal items. Family House stocks the kitchen with groceries, including a pantry items and fresh fruits, vegetables, and eggs from Eatwell Farm and The FruitGuys.

“It feels like you’re cooking in your own home,” said Mariela.

At dinner time, Roman grabs a stool to climb up on so he can help cook alongside his parents in the kitchen. They have become well known around Family House for their delicious baked treats, including flan, which they often share with our front desk staff.

Roman is doing well and his family is preparing to leave Family House this week, pending his doctor’s approval. Our hearts are with Roman and his family as they continue their journey.


Family House San Francisco is an independent non-profit organization led by a professional staff and board of directors dedicated to providing residential services free of charge to qualifying families. Since we receive no financial support from UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital or any other public entity, we rely solely on the generous contributions of individuals, corporations, and foundations.

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