Ritter Center’s Under the Stars Illuminates Efforts to End Chronic Homelessness in Marin

Mark Shotwell, Cheryl Lao and Kate Harle

Ritter Center, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing and resolving homelessness while also positively impacting the health, dignity and well-being of people living in poverty in Marin County, held its annual Under The Stars: Dare To Dream fundraiser on May 16 at the Elks Lodge in San Rafael.

An Evening of Fun and Food for a Great Cause

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More than 200 guests played lawn games and enjoyed a seated dinner catered by Big Jim’s BBQ, accompanied by live music courtesy of the S&S Jazz Band. They later placed bids during the live auction and fund-a-need part of the evening, all of which contributed to the more than $160,000 raised as a result of the event. Both Mayor Kate Colin of San Rafael and Emmy-winning reporter Cornell Barnard from KGO-TV addressed the crowd.

Recognition of Ritter Center’s Champions

Ira Potovsky

Ritter Center’s CEO, Mark Shotwell, presented several awards during the evening: The 2024 Corporate Impact Award went to Ultragenyx, in recognition of its exceptional commitment to bolstering Ritter Center’s ability to serve the community. The Community Champion Award went to Lynn Murphy, mental health outreach provider at the San Rafael Police Department, for her tireless advocacy and dedication to serving individuals experiencing homelessness.

Shotwell recognized Ira Potovsky as the Outstanding Volunteer Honoree for his decades-long commitment to bringing joy and support to those in need, particularly through his involvement with Ritter Center’s holiday programs.

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Sandra McMillion was celebrated as the recipient of the Hope & Healing Honoree Award, in recognition of her remarkable journey from experiencing homelessness to becoming a beacon of hope and healing. And finally, David Guggenhime received the Spirit of Giving Award for his outstanding ‘Sleep Out’ community challenge fundraising campaign that secured the top spot for two consecutive years. By sacrificing the comforts of his own bed for one night, David, along with two of his grandchildren, not only raised crucial funds but also helped raise awareness about homelessness in the community.

Thank You to the Many Sponsors and Supporters of Under the Stars: Dare to Dream

Under the Stars sponsors included the Heritage Bank of Commerce, Marin Association of Realtors, Nugget Markets, Relevant Wealth, Kim and Greg Schilz, Marin Sanitary Service, Montecito Plaza, The Pasha Group, San Francisco Chronicle/SF Gate, Marin Magazine, Unicorn Group and McCune Audio Lighting.

“We are deeply grateful to all our speakers, honorees, sponsors, and supporters for their unwavering commitment to our cause,” said Shotwell. “Their dedication and generosity enable Ritter Center to continue providing vital services to individuals and families with low incomes and people experiencing homelessness, empowering them to rebuild their lives and realize their dreams.”

How You Can Get Involved

To learn more about Ritter Center, its work, and its new headquarters scheduled to open late 2024, please visit rittercenter.org.

Photos: Sierra Jansen Photography

For more happenings and ways to get involved in our in community, make sure to check out On the Scene.

Donna Glass

A freelance writer in Marin who writes about family, kids and parenting, Glass is the mother to one son, one dog and a hamster named Miss Geri. When she’s not writing, trekking up steep hills in Marin or driving her kid to sports practice, she and her family spend time in their tiny cabin in Lake Tahoe. She avidly supports the California Academy of Sciences, a world class science museum and research institution, and the Institute on Aging which provides much needed services to Bay Area seniors and disabled adults. Glass is obsessed with baking the perfect loaf of banana bread, something she makes so often she no longer needs to look at a recipe card.