January 2022 Update

By Giving List Staff   |   January 21, 2022
Fresh Starts trainees learn to make polenta

We’ve laid a table at Homeward Bound with inspiring events for 2022, starting with a graduation for trainees at Fresh Starts Culinary Academy on Jan. 21.

The class set to complete training this week is the first to enroll since COVID-19 forced Homeward Bound to pause the award-winning program that usually serves up to 60 students each year.

Chef Janin Harmon will speak at graduation

“We are so grateful to finally launch new graduates for the food industry. It is remarkable to witness their growth and enthusiasm as they gain confidence in their new culinary path!” says Mary Kay Sweeney, Homeward Bound’s executive director. 

Fresh Starts Culinary Academy opened in 2001 with just two or three students working alongside our professional chef in a small shelter kitchen. Since 2008, the program has operated from a purpose-built, fully equipped training kitchen next to our main office.

The 10-week intensive training course enrolls students from the local community as well as residents of Homeward Bound programs. We offer this hands-on program without cost to eligible students interested in a culinary career.

With Chef Instructor Andrew Wild, students learn core skills for cooking everything from pancakes to fish as well as how to create menus, size recipes, plate a dish, set a table and serve guests. The course includes job placement support.

Students advanced to the closing week in the kitchen by cooking a final menu to showcase their skills and serving it to a tasting panel.

“This has been a fun class. I feel really prepared and ready to go,” says Malcolm, a student who will receive his Certificate in Culinary Arts. Our course is approved by the American Culinary Federation. 

The keynote speaker for the graduation has traveled in their footsteps. Chef Janin Harmon graduated in 2018 and now works as executive chef at Mary Isaac Center in Petaluma, a Sonoma County program offering meals, shelter and housing services for people experiencing homelessness.

Chef Janin began working in restaurants in her teens, stretching the budget for a family that often called on the food bank for extra groceries. “I had a lot of experience, but there was so much that I gained from Fresh Starts,” Janin says. “It was life-changing for me.”

Culinary students work on their final menus
A student adds finishing touches to her plate

Homeward Bound of Marin

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(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.

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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