Side by Side Reach for the Stars Gala Celebrates the Golden Era of Hollywood to Raise Funds to Support Youth Mental Health

Side by Side’s 2021 Reach for the Stars Gala was held September 18 at a private estate in San Rafael and was hosted by California State Senator Mike McGuire.

Based on a “Golden Era of Hollywood” theme, many guests dressed in vintage glitterati attire and were serenaded with 40s style jazz by The Speakeasies as well as Marilyn Monroe impersonator Camille Lorea. The event raised $240,000 in critically needed funds for Side by Side’s behavioral and mental health programs for lower income youth in the Bay Area, helping to close the gap between government contracts and the true cost of Side by Side’s services.

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Otis Bruce, Julie Dolan. Photo by Katelyn Tucker Photography.

A highlight of the gala was a heartfelt tribute to Side by Side’s recently retired CEO, Mary Denton, who led the organization for more than 20 years and grew the non-profit significantly during her tenure.

Nearly 200 guests enjoyed an outdoor dinner catered by Sage Catering and cocktails curated by Rebecca Pinnell. During the event’s live auction, attendees enthusiastically raised their paddles in support of Side by Side’s Bay Area mental health programs.

Michelle Kawaja, Sally Newson. Photo by Katelyn Tucker Photography.

“It was wonderful to be back in-person for Side by Side’s Reach for the Stars Gala,” said Noelle Moss, Side by Side’s Director of Development and Communications. “We are delighted that the event raised nearly $240,000 to support our mental health services for Bay Area kids, and we are incredibly thankful to all who participated. The icing on the cake was being able to recognize Side by Side’s retiring CEO, Mary Denton, at the event with Marilyn Monroe’s sultry accompaniment.”

In addition to Senator McGuire, other attendees-of-note included J. Patrick Hunt, Tim Myers, Lori Frugoli, Otis Bruce, and Ray Syufy.

Deanna Brock and Shannon Matthiesen served as gala co-chairs, and Chris Dolan was honorary gala chair. Howard Schomer, president of Side by Side’s board also attended.

The event was sponsored by the Fenwick Foundation, Filice,  Marin Magazine, North Bay Business JournalRelevant Wealth Advisors and Sutter Health Novato Community Hospital.

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Donna Glass

Donna Berry Glass is a freelance writer in Marin County who writes mostly about family and kid-oriented topics. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family exploring the natural beauty of Marin, snuggling with her Cavalier King Charles spaniel while reading a good book or whipping up something delicious in her space-challenged kitchen. Donna is a supporter of the California Academy of Sciences, a world-class science museum and research institution, and the Institute on Aging which provides much-needed services to seniors and disabled individuals.