On the night of July 31, individuals, families and community teams around Marin camped out on their living room floors, sofas, decks, porches, driveways and backyards—anyplace but in a warm, cozy bed—with the intention of experiencing what it feels like to be homeless.
They were taking part in Under the Stars Sleepout to End Homelessness in Marin, a benefit orchestrated by the Ritter Center designed to ask the public to give up their beds for just one night to help raise funds in support of housing and healthcare services that prevent and resolve homelessness.
“The idea was to create a greater understanding of the challenges people experiencing homelessness endure, and to call for an end to homelessness in Marin County,” said Mark Shotwell, Ritter Center Executive Director. “We recognize that choosing to sleep in an area other than your bed is not going to remotely recreate what it is like to sleep on the streets. But it can allow for a pause in our busy lives to reflect on the fact that it has become normalized in our society to walk by a human living on the streets and continue on with our day.”
The event kicked off virtually with a series of speakers and high-profile individuals sharing their thoughts on penury, including San Rafael Mayor Kate Colin, US Congressman Jared Huffman, Marin County Dept of Health and Human Services’ Benita McLaren and State Senator Mike McGuire. Book Passage also shared a bedtime story for children on homelessness, plus participants were able to watch portions of The Way Home, a documentary series on the homeless epidemic in California, and engage in a question-and-answer session with series director Don Hardy.
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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.