Fall/Winter 2022

The reopening of The Key Room, relaunch of Fresh Starts Culinary Academy training, and the return of Fresh Starts Chef Events mark a collective renewal, fueled by the extraordinary support of our community.

LaLaSaunda Tate, Mary Kay Sweeney, Paul Fordham and Anna Hurtado hold up a sign that says thank you

The symbol of the phoenix seems particularly fitting for this year – a time of renewal, rebirth, and rebuilding.

Dear Friends to the End…of Homelessness,

We are basking in the glow of the exhilarating openings for our new programs at Casa Buena in Corte Madera and Jonathan’s Place in San Rafael.  What sparks of hope they bring for people who never thought housing would be possible for them!  What sparks of commitment we saw from amazing community partners who supported these projects with determination!  And what sparks of generosity ignited our funding campaigns to create these amazing homes!  

Glimmers of life beyond the pandemic continue to spread as we embrace the reopening of The Key Room, the relaunch of our Fresh Starts Culinary Academy training, and return of our crowd-pleasing Fresh Starts Chef Events. Volunteers are eager to renew their activities in myriad service projects as we enjoy the pandemic retreat.  

In the midst of this renewal, we feel extraordinary gratitude for the community vision and collective efforts to end homelessness in the lives of so many people, all deserving of a place to call home.

Thank you for the many and varied ways that you further our shared mission.  Let’s celebrate this rare, invigorating time in joy and abundant gratitude!

Mary Kay Sweeney

Mary Kay smiling in front of a red door
a group participating in a ribbon cutting ceremony
an architect's rendition of a building

New Veterans Housing Advances with Novato Vote

We’re taking big steps in our march to end veteran homelessness in Marin! In August, our new supportive housing project for unhoused veterans received unanimous approval from the Novato City Council.

Thanks to your support and this key vote, we will break ground to end veteran homelessness in Marin with a celebration on Thursday, Nov. 10!

The 24-unit veterans building will be Phase 1 of a larger development on 2.6 acres adjacent to Homeward Bound headquarters in Novato. With their vote, the City Council also gave the green light to 26 more supportive housing units and space to expand our culinary social enterprise ventures.

After casting his vote at the meeting, Novato City Councilmember Mark Milberg told our team: “We have faith in you. Your resourcefulness and tenacity to get it done is very commendable.”

Homeward Bound has provided specialized services for homeless veterans at New Beginnings Center for more than 20 years. Last year, we served 54 veterans across our programs in partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“This significant and timely project marks a milestone for our community,’ says Mary Kay Sweeney, Co-Chief Executive Officer for Homeward Bound. “Ending veteran homelessness is a goal that we have all been working toward.”   

Given the current knowledge of local unhoused veterans, the new community has the capacity to accommodate everyone.

The additional 26 supportive housing units will offer small apartments for individuals and families transitioning out of homelessness. A production kitchen, event venue and teaching space, and offices will support Homeward Bound’s social enterprises, which employ homeless and low-income adults.

Dilapidated warehouses that now occupy the property will be cleared and plans call for finishing utility infrastructure on the whole site in 2024. The veterans building also is forecast to open that year.

Key funding to launch the veterans housing comes from a $4 million California state budget allocation; a $3 million grant from the California Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program; a $2 million commitment from the County of Marin, and Marin Community Foundation, $2.2 million. 

You can be part of history as we end the crisis of homelessness in Marin for everyone who honored our freedoms with their military service! Make a gift online at hbofm.org/donate or by check to Homeward Bound of Marin, 1385 N. Hamilton Parkway, Novato, CA  94949, with ‘homes for heroes’ in the memo.

Dan smiling in a dark room

Dan S. Takes New Turn into Housing

Life never kept Dan S. rooted in one place. As his resources dwindled, the process of settling down seemed impossible.

“I was an Army brat. My dad was a drill sergeant and we moved a lot,” says Dan, who enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at the age of 18. 

After working on construction crews in several states, he arrived several years ago in Marin. “When you have work here, it pays well,” he says, but adds that he lived “like a traveler. Housing prices here, especially, are off the hook.” 

Earlier this year, he got a referral to Homeward Bound of Marin.

“Living outside is hard. You have a million things to prepare for and you don’t know what’s coming at you,” Dan says. “After awhile, it’s too much.”

Our veterans service staff helped Dan secure a housing voucher to pay a portion of his rent and find an apartment in Novato. He moved to his new home in September.

The idea of settling down never entered his dreams, Dan says. When he left the military, he joined a tribe of young people doing itinerant work overseas. “I went to the Middle East, Africa. You could camp by a castle almost anywhere.”

Back in the United States, the construction industry gave him steady work, though paychecks never seemed to stretch far enough for housing. 

Dan was referred to our programs by Marin Community Court, which helps people experiencing homelessness resolve outstanding tickets. 

He owed fines totaling more than $6,000 for infractions like jaywalking and having an open container of alcohol. When he lost his driving privileges, Dan adds, “I felt like I was done.”

At New Beginnings Center, where Homeward Bound provides specialized services for veterans, he found a safe place to focus on sobriety and look to the future. 

“I couldn’t have done it by myself. The housing applications, the paperwork – it brings people to a dead stop,” Dan says. He soon completed his court requirements, allowing him to apply for a driver’s license again.

“I’m very grateful for the services here. Homeward Bound gave me the stability of not being on the street, not having that stress, so I could solve some things,” Dan says. 

Albert holding up a set of keys in front of a door

Albert Paints New Picture at Casa Buena

A studio apartment fits everything required by Albert G., an Olema artist and former chef who was one of the first people to move into our new supportive housing program in Corte Madera.

“It’s all I needed,” says Albert, who spent the last 10+ years living in a van. He stocked the new kitchen with cooking essentials and filled his table with paper, pens and watercolors.

Though he appreciates his sunny neighborhood, Albert says he loves the coast. Cooking in restaurants from Big Sur to Mendocino, then working as a caterer, kept him close to the shore.

“I mostly worked in high-end restaurants for French chefs,” he says, starting in his teens after both his parents died relatively young. “About 14 years old, I went out on my own. It was hard work, but I loved it.”

He also recognized the ill effects of long hours, high stress and rich food, so he changed course at age 45 to independent catering and some restaurant consulting. That brought him to Olema, where he became friends with a woman who offered him space on her property as a caretaker.

“She never charged me any rent. I took my van there and it was very peaceful,” Albert says. He recently had become interested in watercolors, taking inspiration from his surroundings and his imagination.

“I was so busy working, I never used my imagination much before doing art,” he adds. Analyzing his own work and looking at lots of paintings, he taught himself bit by bit. “I got in the groove and after awhile, that’s all I wanted to do.”

Everything changed one windy night in 2021, when his friend’s house caught fire from downed electric lines connecting the satellite dish to the house. He pleaded with firefighters to save his van, but it sustained serious damage.

Albert stayed for two months, having nowhere else to go. That’s when an outreach worker for the CARE Team with Community Action of Marin connected him to Homeward Bound of Marin.

“It was getting real cold by then. I knew the game plan had changed,” says Albert, who recently turned 78. 

He sees plenty of advantages in his new home, since health issues make it hard to take long walks, A caregiver helps with his shopping and he appreciates the nightly meal delivered from Homeward Bound’s kitchen.

“Being in a van, you can be uncomfortable for two or three months in the winter. And you have to be careful about parking,” Albert says. “Here the staff is very nice and I’ve got everything I need.”

Tarryn holding baby Kharter

Tarryn and Kharter Set Family Goals

Faced with her first pregnancy, Tarryn realized that she needed to change her flexible lifestyle of rotating between her mother, her aunt and friends.

“I only had done small jobs, like server or retail,” says Tarryn, who finished high school as the pandemic upended both her employment and her education. “There was no housing that was affordable out there for me.”

She found Homeward Bound of Marin in May 2021, about eight months before her son Kharter made his entrance in the world. 

“There were people in my family who were skeptical about me doing this, taking on a baby,” she says. Tarryn felt she needed to find a housing solution on her own, though family tension began to wane after Kharter was born.

Late last year, Tarryn moved into a studio unit at the Next Key Apartments, our transitional housing program in Novato. That’s when some goals began to take shape, she says.

Tarryn recalls she had no car, no credit and little idea of her next move after Kharter arrived in January. She got encouragement from Jessica Franco, who supports families at the Next Key program, to look at her opportunities.

Now she’s building credit with a prepaid introductory card, purchased a “starter car” and received help with applications to place Kharter in the nearby Head Start childcare program.

“Since I’ve been here, Jessica has helped me a lot,” Tarryn says. “She’s always there with an idea. Little things catapult into big things sometimes when you’re not sure what to do.”

With that support, Tarryn set her sights on phlebotomy training for the near term. She won a $3,000 scholarship from the state’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity program to pay for the course that started in September.

After she builds some experience, Tarryn says, she hopes to seek more training to become a Certified Medical Assistant. “I like helping people. I’ve also thought of being a teacher, but I’m taking things one step at a time,” she adds.

Her home at the Next Key Apartment makes the future seem possible, Tarryn says. “Having this place overall lets me focus on making sure everything is right for Kharter and making plans for myself. I’m very happy to be here.”

Family Programs See Urgent Needs

Homeward Bound of Marin continues to extend its services for unhoused families, whose needs came into sharp focus with the onset of COVID-19. At that time, our team stretched to serve more than two dozen families who took refuge in local motels.

“The pandemic showed the depth of need for families in Marin. Our collective effort in outreach and seeking out housing options has become much more coordinated,” says Paul Fordham, our Co-Chief Executive Officer.

He believes that’s one reason why the 2022 Point-in-Time Count of people experiencing homelessness in Marin showed a 35.2% increase in unhoused families, from 54 in 2019 to 73 families this year. “We are more connected and were able to confirm information with the families who need help,” he says.

During the pandemic, Homeward Bound received state funding to expand services to 10 more families using housing vouchers paired with case management. Our staff provides wraparound support for participants as they work through housing applications and pursue other goals.

Homeward Bound now operates seven supportive housing programs for parents and children, in addition to shelter services at Family Center. In total, these programs served 252 people last year.

We’re heartened to know that 88% of families leaving our programs last year moved to stable housing. It’s striking to note, however, that only 3% of them secured market-rate housing, compared to 24% only five years ago.

“Navigating the rental market is complex and daunting, particularly for people with limited resources, including access to technology,” says Anna Hurtado, Chief Program Officer for Homeward Bound. “We are committed to working hand in hand with families to end their experience of homelessness.”

people gathered in a parking lot while a speech is given under a balloon archway

Community Report – 2021-2022

We rejoice in the progress and renewal of the past year for our housing, training and social enterprise. In the 12 months ending June 30, 2022, we opened new housing in Corte Madera, restored community activities in our programs, relaunched our culinary training and reopened The Key Room event venue. Yet we know our community still faces a wrenching lack of homes. We’re paving the way for more solutions and taking great inspiration from those who share their journeys with us.

As COVID-19 eased, Homeward Bound of Marin served a total of 886 people in the year ending June 30, 2022, slightly more than the previous 12 months. The numbers of seniors also held steady at 26%, compared to 27% for the 2020-21 period.

Thanks to funding for more housing vouchers from the American Rescue Plan, the pandemic had a silver lining. Adults seeking housing met with more success: of those exiting our programs, 77% left for a housing opportunity last year, up from 69% a year earlier.

Our family programs also stayed close to last year’s mark, serving 124 parents and 128 children. Among those who left our services, 88% secured stable housing. Homeward Bound’s Family Center shelter acts as the “front door” for Marin County’s services to unhoused families, leading the collaborative effort of agencies to match unhoused families quickly to housing options. 

The Transition to Wellness program entered its 13th year, offering medical respite services for 75 people exiting hospital care without stable housing. This innovative partnership with local hospitals saved 795 days of hospital care with an estimated community cost savings of $3.26 million.

Despite waning COVID-19 risk, the medical respite program continues to practice caution in reserving our three onsite units for single-occupancy care. Program Coordinator Andre Harris stretched his support to assist those who received services at local motel rooms instead of our typical two-person unit.

Health care maintained a high profile in our programs. Partners at Ritter Center bring their mobile clinic van weekly to New Beginnings Center, our 80-bed adult shelter. This service allows participants to get COVID-19 vaccinations, exams and routine tests. A negative COVID-19 test still is required for entry into our shelter services. Our staff is fully vaccinated.

Celebrating more pathways to health and home, we gathered in Corte Madera in May for a Community Open House at a new supportive housing program. Neighbors, partners and supporters toured the 18 studio apartments created at the site of a former motel. The program became the first in Marin opened with support from the state’s Project Homekey initiative. Homeward Bound carried out a $1.2 million renovation, including new kitchenettes and upgraded bathrooms for each unit.

The opening highlighted our work to expand supportive housing. Homeward Bound last year served 472 people in long-term housing programs with wraparound services. For the 2021-22 period, 94% maintained their housing.

Participants in all programs have opportunities for job training at Fresh Starts Culinary Academy, which relaunched in November 2021 after a break due to the pandemic. This award-winning training now offers a $1,000 completion bonus for trainees. The next class of students will begin the 10-week training in January 2023.

As restaurants reopened after the COVID-19 shutdown, Fresh Starts graduates found starting wages on the rise for kitchen positions. They now are employed at venues that include Nugget Markets, Mayacama Golf Club and a K-8 private school with average pay of $21.82 per hour, up 18% from the previous year.

The Jacques Pépin Foundation honored an April graduate, Sarah Wolf, with the 2022 Gloria Pépin Memorial Grant of $5,000 to continue her culinary studies. Sarah, who hopes to work in a community-serving kitchen, was chosen among female graduates from all programs supported by the foundation.

We expanded in-house employment for graduates with the reopening of The Key Room, our onsite event venue. During the pandemic closure, Homeward Bound launched an attractive new website at thekeyroom.com. We upgraded the audiovisual system with a 98-inch Samsung screen plus soundbar to accommodate hybrid meetings. Our team stands ready to host your next business meeting or special occasion!

Wagster Treats, the “life-changing dog treats” baked and packed at Homeward Bound of Marin, also poised to expand. Sales rose 15% for Wagster Treats in 2021-22, led by orders from Pet Food Express and Whole Foods Market in Northern California. 

The entire staff last year became energized by JEDI training, embedding the principles of Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion across Homeward Bound. A four-person staff committee has developed and led the training to equip everyone for productive conversations around race and equity. 

Throughout the year, excitement grew for everyone at Homeward Bound as we watched the progress of Jonathan’s Place. The summer started with a whirlwind of preparations for our Grand Opening – we hope you joined us for the festivities at our new shelter and housing site in San Rafael! 

We look toward the coming year with a commitment to open more paths to housing and health with your support. Your partnership brings hope through upheaval and fuels our passion to keep moving toward the goal of ending homelessness in our community.

“Thank you for partnering with us through a historic year in the work of “ending homelessness with training, housing, and hope.”

Pie charts showing expenses and revenues for 2021-2022
mothers with children gather around care boxes

Community Partner – Southern Marin Mothers’ Club

As the pandemic disrupted everything from grocery shopping to family holidays, Janet Carter and others at the Southern Marin Mothers’ Club leaned toward finding ways to help.

The 900-member club serves families with young children by matching same-age kids in playgroups, holding family events, sharing local resources, and promoting community activities.

As the club’s Philanthropy Director, Janet asked Homeward Bound of Marin how members could support our families during the 2021 holidays.

“I wanted to work more with Homeward Bound and I knew Covid had created more food shortages for people,” she says. The group mobilized to provide 40 grocery boxes with all the makings of Thanksgiving dinner for families in our programs.

Many contributors had been involved in the club’s Meals for Moms program, which offered dinners to members with new babies. “Meals for Moms had to shut down during the pandemic, so people were excited to have a different way to use their energy,” Janet says.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, the volunteers shopped for non-perishable items like stuffing mix and cranberry sauce. They set up rows of boxes to be filled and ordered turkeys, potatoes, carrots, butter, cream and pies.

Parents and children delivered all the fresh items on the day before Thanksgiving, then finished packing the boxes. 

“A lot of people are looking for a family service opportunity and it worked well for kids,” says Janet, who has a second-grade daughter. Every child had a job as they counted out 10 potatoes or other items for the packages.

They will repeat their efforts this year, preparing to serve up to 80 families in our programs. The group also plans to get involved in the meal corps for Jonathan’s Place, our new shelter and housing program in San Rafael.

“It’s a chance for the families to work together and have a conversation with each other,” Janet says. “And it would be nice to stay and chat with residents. There’s a real interest in having a service experience that creates a connection.”

Sharon and Jim smiling in the kitchen

Volunteer Spotlight: Sharon and Jim Sides

More than 10 years after Fireside Apartments opened its doors, Sharon and Jim Sides still come through them bearing gifts.

The couple attends Peace Lutheran Church, up the road from the Mill Valley program where Homeward Bound of Marin coordinates services in partnership with Eden Housing.

“The church has always been 100 percent on board with supporting Fireside. They are our neighbors,” Sharon says. With Mary Ann Griller, Vicki McGowan and other members of the small congregation, she launched the “Make it Yourself” Brown Bag program to deliver groceries the second Tuesday of every month.

They started with 18 residents but the program soon grew to all 50 households, which comprise both families and seniors. “Not everyone needed or wanted help at first, but we expanded as we found out more could use it,” Sharon says.

Peace Lutheran volunteers also have helped with special events like holiday dinners and a summer barbecue. Sharon and Jim have been found in the kitchen dishing up plates as well as helping at a monthly food pantry.

“I still remember before we opened our doors, Sharon was calling to see if Peace Lutheran could offer a pancake breakfast to welcome our residents,” says Micha Berman, program coordinator at Fireside Apartments. “I consider Sharon, Peace Lutheran and all their volunteers as our champions.”

The pandemic put the holiday gatherings on pause and kept the congregation from meeting for many months, so Sharon took charge of things in her own kitchen. 

“For awhile, it was just Jim and me shopping, packing and delivering,” she says, remembering the interested — sometimes mean — looks she got from pandemic shoppers for stocking up on toilet paper or paper towels to include in the brown bags. 

They switched eventually to monthly gift cards, which the congregation also provides for each household at the holidays. “I always write a little note, just to say hello,” Sharon adds.

Now that the virus risk has eased, she’s ready to go back to the kitchen or wherever needed. “We look forward to the community events again,” Sharon says. “Our church has shrunk a bit, but we’ll continue supporting Fireside any way that we can.”


Gifts of Time and Resources


Thank you to:  

Peace Lutheran Church for donating Safeway gift cards and delivering groceries at Fireside Apartments.

Hillside Community Church members for delivering groceries and Safeway gift cards weekly at the Family Center.

Westminster Presbyterian Church for bringing Sunday dinners to Voyager Carmel Center.

Deseret Industries for donating furnishings to our programs.

First Congregational Church for donating pillows for our programs.

Marin Lutheran Church with Sandy and Rod Seeger for bringing a crew to carry out improvements at the Family Center.

Hillside Community Church members for making beds at Jonathan’s Place before our Grand Opening.

Congregation Kol Shofar for bringing brunch monthly at the Casa Buena housing program. 

Trinity Lutheran Church for holding a diaper drive for our families.


Thank you to:  

The Redeemer Preschool for an energetic backyard cleanup at King Street Senior Housing.

St. Patrick School students for providing “Sandwich Saturday” lunches at King Street Senior Housing. 


Businesses and Organizations  

Thank you to:  

Marin Master Gardeners for donating fresh produce to our programs.

Employees at Valley Oak Wealth Management for organizing the Big Shred event to benefit our programs.

Marin Symphony for donating concert tickets to Warner Creek Senior Housing.

Bombas for donating socks for adults in our programs.

Larkspur Community Foundation for donating gift cards for King Street Senior Housing.

Girl Scouts of Richardson Bay for making cookie packages for all residents at Fireside Apartments.

Southern Marin Mothers’ Club for organizing Thanksgiving meals for our family programs.

Cakes 4 Kids for delivering fabulous birthday cakes for children at the Family Center.

Kiosk for ongoing support with websites and digital marketing.

Children 4 Change and Gretchen Ellis for donating Halloween costumes to our family programs, decorating Oma Village for Halloween, and beautifying the Family Center.

Domino’s Pizza in San Rafael for ongoing deliveries to our family programs.

Make It Home Bay Area for furniture donations for our programs and for residents moving into housing.

Sonic Forest and Brenda Schuman-Post for bringing their wide-ranging musical talent to the National Night Out celebration at Warner Creek Senior Housing.

ExtraFood for supporting our programs with food deliveries.

Margaret Todd Senior Center volunteers and Recreation Supervisor Teresa Ehteshami for handmade greeting cards for residents at Warner Creek Senior Housing. 

Insalata’s for donating organic meals twice monthly to Warner Creek Senior Housing.



Thank you to: 

Gail Schreuder and Jennie Gill for donating move-out baskets to residents.

Mary Jane Bird, Casey Leones, John Bischoff, Kathy Fenger, Tom Lippi and Steve Deschler for lunchtime help at New Beginnings Center.

 Reese and Mitch Nilsen, Kathy Fenger and Sarah Jackson for volunteering at the Big Shred event to benefit our programs.

Glenn Matsui for generously caring for our beehives.

Renata Bihun, Nancy Elberg, Magie Keil, Archie Tindell and Roshan Thakkar for assisting at the New Beginnings Center front desk.

Trigg McLeod for shopping at SF-Marin Food Bank and delivering items to Family Center.

Tim Lentini for weekly garden care at the Family Center.

Betty Pagett and Winnie Konopath for bringing meals to the Family Center.

Carree Michel for help with publication graphics. 

Shelley Vasquez and students at Archie Williams High School for helping with the food pantry and bingo nights at Fireside Apartments.

 Sara Henry for leading arts and crafts workshops plus supporting community events at Warner Creek Senior Housing.  

Christine Watridge for helping with graphic design for Wagster Treats and The Key Room.

Cheryl Longinotti of Cycling Without Age for providing trishaw rides at King Street Senior Housing.   

Sherry Rogers and Pat Chelini for ongoing help with the landscaping and gardens at New Beginnings Center.  

Marcie and Don Leach for delivering food weekly from SF-Marin Food Bank to the Family Center.  

Victoria Sandvig, Khadija Baporia, Victoria Applegate, Richard Ferrero, Kathe Holt Ray Lillo, and Michael Harris  for supporting the food pantry and special events at Warner Creek Senior Housing 

Viki Card and Jane Sweeney for supporting our social enterprise programs with their helping hands on various tasks.

Arlene Ford, Anne Seymour, Jackie Dema, Ronin Wheeler and family, Jennifer Sheetz and Anaru Todd, Janet Calmels, Sara Abbe Taylor and family, and Gabrielle Putzi for helping make beds to prepare Jonathan’s Place for residents.

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