Ending Homelessness for Everyone It Touches

By Giving List Staff   |   October 4, 2021

Out on the streets, Librado said his plans were “just to survive.” He worked full-time at a local electronics store until his sobriety faltered, leaving him without a job or a home.

At an emergency shelter run by Homeward Bound of Marin, Librado recalls staff members who listened to him and pushed to see him achieve some goals. Now he’s got his own apartment and helps others move past survival on the streets.

“This isn’t a path that I foresaw at all,” says Librado, who works with the Novato Police Department to visit local encampments and help people learn about housing options.

“I have a rapport with people because I was out on the streets. Homeward Bound helped me go forward.”

For nearly a half century, Homeward Bound of Marin has earned an outsized role in the lives of seniors, veterans, families, and others without homes in the county just north of San Francisco. In one of the priciest housing markets in the nation, nearly 500 residents live in their cars – a 91-percent increase from two years ago.

Based in Novato, Homeward Bound operates five shelter programs and 13 supportive housing programs for families, single adults, and people facing persistent mental illness. Construction of a rebuilt shelter and 32 more housing units will finish next year, just in time to begin work on a $12 million apartment complex for unhoused veterans.

“What we’re trying to do is end homelessness for every person and family we meet, to help them on their journey from homelessness to a home,” says Mary Kay Sweeney, the organization’s longtime executive director.

Tackling a housing crisis requires innovation. Homeward Bound, founded in 1974, was the first in the nation to launch a nonprofit IPO – an “immediate public opportunity” fundraiser. Its first “share” was sold to philanthropist Warren Buffett. 

The agency also leads employment and pet food trends with its Fresh Starts Culinary Academy, an award-winning training program that has spawned several social enterprise businesses. Its Wagster Treats premium dog biscuits, handmade from human-grade ingredients, sell online and in 180 markets that include Whole Foods.

In 2012, Dylan Ghadiri was among the 60 people who graduate each year from the academy. He’d dreamed of being a baseball player, but falling grades kept him off the high school team. After being in and out of juvenile hall, he found Fresh Starts.

Today, he’s the executive sous chef at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg. One of his passions is handmade pasta, which he uses in recipes with fresh Wine Country flair.

“When I finished the Fresh Starts training, I knew that management would be one of my goals,” Ghadiri says. “At this point, I’m working to become an executive chef someday.”


Homeward Bound of Marin

Donate now!

(415) 382-3363 x216
Development Director: Corry Kanzenberg


Our mission of “opening doors to safety, dignity, hope and independence” is coupled with a vision that “everyone deserves a place to call home.” Founded with a single family shelter in 1974, Homeward Bound has evolved to become a leading force in ending homelessness in Marin County. Services include counseling, job training, and workshops on parenting, credit repair, money management and other life skills. Fresh Starts Culinary Academy forms the heart of our training program and ties closely to our social enterprise ventures.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

There is no organization better than Homeward Bound of Marin at taking a holistic and ‘whole person’ approach to ending homelessness, one individual at a time. I am a long-term donor and active board member who has seen incredible transformations for participants in their programs. Addressing the root causes of homelessness, supporting goals that participants can achieve, offering wraparound services critical to their journeys – these are tenets of Homeward Bound of Marin. And most importantly, creating and maintaining an environment that is respectful, dignified, loving, and healing to each person, whatever their circumstances.
Marion Weinreb

Mill Street 2.0

Stepping through the doors at Homeward Bound of Marin starts a journey from crisis to stability to resilience that each individual or family travels in a unique way. People arrive to find a welcoming staff, safe accommodation, nourishing meals, and support to pursue paths to independence. These essential services continued through the pandemic and stretched to assist people taking refuge in local motels. Work will finish next year on an updated shelter and 32 new housing units in San Rafael for people who struggle most to find stability and health. 

All private donations support these vital programs that provide a safety net for people experiencing homelessness and avenues to a new future. Every $1,200 provides someone with a month of safe housing, meals, and support.

Key Supporters

2K Games
Built for Zero
Catalyst Kitchens
Chef Heidi Krahling
Chef Joanne Weir
Chef John Ash
County of Marin
Disabled American Veterans
Charitable Service Trust
Dominican Sisters of San Rafael
Harbor Point Charitable Foundation
The Hellman Foundation
The Jacques Pépin Foundation
Marin Community Foundation
Peter E. Haas Jr. Family Fund
Phil and Jill Lesh
The Republic of Tea
Sammy Hagar
Senator Mike McGuire
Tamalpais Pacific