Image by Nattu Adnan

Trudi Mathison, Respite Coordinator, in Room 101, Danelle's Place Respite Program. Photo by Harvey Marquez

Danelle's Place - Respite


Danelle’s Place is a thrice-weekly trans safe drop-in respite and social space for community members who need a break from the stress of daily life. We provide rest and relaxation, individual and group chat, and recreational activities such as board game and video game nights. 

During the Covid-19 closures we are doing our best to be present for the community in concrete ways - such as offering quick stop-bys for respite clients to check in with us and pick up snacks and water, as well as virtual activities like live readings and community read-alongs.

Although the food we served was more substantial before Covid-19 (folks could use microwave, rice cooker, table with utensils) we are still offering individually packaged food to community members to reduce the spread of Covid-19 to the most vulnerable and marginalized communities in Sacramento. Post-covid we will resume to offer more communal resources such as our free charging stations and access to wifi. Below is a list of currently available resources to our community: 

  • Sanitation supplies such as soap and hand sanitizer

  • Deodorant 

  • Moisturizer

  • Backpacks

  • Blankets

  • Food

  • Water

  • Clothing

  • Socks

  • Shaving products

  • Menstruation supplies

Prior to covid we were offering the following social nights and will continue to do so as soon as we are able to safely do so. We are also in the process of starting more virtual community spaces so stay tuned!


  • Video Game Nights

  • Board Game Nights

  • Soffa-T (Significant Others, Family, Friends and Allies) Group

  • Trans Veterans Group

  • Monthly Vegan Food Event (stay tuned!)

This program is funded by the Division of Behavioral health Services through the voter approved Proposition 63, Mental Health Services Act (MHSA)

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Monday - Friday

noon - 3pm


Gender Health Center

2020 29th Street

Room 101 

Cost: FREE 
Appointments: Drop-in!

Image by Juan Davila




About Danelle 

Gender Health Center was originally the vision of one motivated and compassionate MFT graduate who saw a need in an underserved community and wanted to create a place where they can feel free to be themselves and get comfortable, affordable and non-judgmental culturally competent counseling.


Danelle E. Saldana, M.A., MFT began the daunting task of forming the project in April of 2008. Her plan was vivid and nearly complete right from the start and a lot of prep work was done fairly quickly. She worked tirelessly on the GHC writing letters, making projections, and creating processes until she unexpectedly passed away in her sleep at 30 years old in early 2009.


Plans for the GHC stopped.


When other members of the community found out about this, they quickly jumped on board to finish the work that Danelle started. Community members met on a monthly basis as the interest for making this project all happen grew and grew. The planning finally came to completion early in 2010 allowing us to open our doors to the public on July 7, 2010.


We did our best to stick to Danelle's dream and could not have done it without her detailed plans. She was a gifted therapist and tireless community advocate who impacted and inspired others far more than she realized. Her own happiness embraced the happiness of others. Danelle’s dream of helping those in need and serving the community with kindness and compassion lives on within the Gender Health Center.  She will alwaysbe missed, but never forgotten.

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From a mother’s heart:

Danelle Esmenia Saldana was born August 7, 1978. The greatest and most incredibly blessed day of my life. I wanted her to stay a baby and a little girl for a longer time, but she was on her own developmental schedule. Being a very determined and persistent child, she started walking at 7 months 3 weeks. At 13 months, she was only  27 inches tall and weighed 17.5 pounds. Expressive language began very early as well. At 11 months she was speaking in 2 to 3 word phrases and was a chatty baby girl. Family would kiddingly ask, where was her switch off button.

At daycare/preschool, staff shared that Danelle was very empathetic, and always ready to help and share what she had. I remember her very first social injustice intervention. At 5 years of age, while in kindergarten, a group of her classmates were bullying another classmate who was smaller in stature. She went up to them, telling them to stop, and stood with the child, who was crying and walked him over to teacher. The teacher proceeded to tell Danelle to stop being a tattle tale. When I picked her up after school that day, she asked me, “mom”, “ what’s a tattle tale.“ Needless to say, the teacher and I had a discussion about name calling and labeling a child. Danelle was an only child so tattling was an unfamiliar behavior to her. 

She began to become aware of differences such as color of skin, hair color, eyes, how some students were treated differently by both peers and teachers. Danelle was a very perceptive, sensitive, compassionate child. 

From this point on, Danelle’s passion to help others continued to grow. Standing up for social injustice issues , being part of students reaching out and participating in community service groups in high school. While attending the University of San Francisco, she joined a group of Catholic Nun’s who went to Washington DC to advocate against the US sale of weapons to third world countries. The Nun’s vowed to me and her dad to keep her safe. Unfortunately, several of them were arrested, but Danelle was safe.

She had always dreamed of starting a program to help underserved people, women in recovery,  homeless mothers with children were things she was very interested in. While attending the University, one of her class assignments was to interview a person of a different culture. She asked a coworker of hers who was a transgender, African American women, if she could interview her. The women agreed, and shared her story of abuse, fears and challenges with Danelle. This conversation was stepping stone that led Danelle to the vision and mission of the Gender Health Center. 

Danelle was not without her own personal struggles. She acknowledged, listened to, and educated herself about her struggles and those of others. Always ready to embrace the wellbeing of others.

Danelle often reminded me of a quote in Shakespeare’s, “ Midsummer Night’s Dream”: “ Though she be but little, she is fierce!” (Danelle was 4’ 11” tall , she never hesitate to advocate for what she believed in, additionally, she was a fierce USA National and International Judo Champion.)

This is just tiny bit of a mother’s pride  and joy. I am blessed and grateful to have been chosen to be her mother.

Essie Saldana

MSW & GHC Board Member