for the Holidays
With the help of Ritter Center, Sandra M. is living in permanent housing and renews her sense of healing by helping others. When we work together, we restore a sense of agency, provide solace, and remind our community members that there is still hope.
This year, we all need hope more than ever. That’s where you come in.
Ritter Center is asking you to give people in need Hope for the Holidays by making a donation. This year, your gift will provide families and individuals in need with medical and behavioral health services, nutritious food from the pantry, and gift cards for toys and household items. People experiencing homelessness will eat a holiday meal and receive care packages of a warm coat, hat, and scarf as the temperature
drops this winter.
With your support, Ritter Center can help people like Sandi and Sandra M. create better lives for themselves, their families, and to pay it forward to help others.
Ritter Center Beneficiary
With the continuing pandemic, persisting unemployment, and the end of the rent moratorium, our neighbors are still experiencing an ever-increasing level of need. It’s no secret that COVID has exacerbated poverty. Economic instability has fueled ongoing job losses, chronic health worries, and food insecurity. Uncertainty has turned into desperation for many as persistent racial and ethnic disparities in the healthcare system and the greater economy have been laid bare.
Yet, Ritter Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center in San Rafael, rose to every challenge. They’ve continuously been ensuring support for individuals experiencing homelessness and those on the edge of becoming homeless; many face the untenable choice of paying their rent or buying food to feed their families. That is a sacrifice no one should have to make.
Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Sandra M. arrived on a Greyhound bus on July 4, 1985, with only the clothes on her back. “I was so ‘country’ that I tried to pay with a $10 food stamp for a hamburger, fries and soda at the bus station when I arrived. I hadn’t eaten in 3 days,” remembered Sandra M.
A brush with the law landed her in jail and then on the streets where she succumbed to the lure of drugs. There were lost years and heartbreaking struggles. Yet, this profoundly strong woman persevered.
Sandra M.’s journey brought her to Ritter Center. “Ritter Center opened doors for me. It was through Whole Person Care that I began to truly heal. I had to learn to be kind and, in turn, I received kindness. Eventually, there was no more anger and I began to help myself. I addressed my pain and hope reappeared magically in its place,” she said. “I was broken, but now I am housed and healed and able to help others. I cook every Sunday a hot Southern meal for those without shelter.”
Sandra M. makes and serves hearty soul food to the homeless, such as rice and beans, mac and cheese, cornbread, greens, and fried chicken. “This is my therapy. I give out shoes and extra clothes from my car and water and canned food. I have been through too many traumas to count, but in the end, I tell the world you can do this: hustle for your life,” says Sandra M.
Ritter Center is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization based in San Rafael, Marin County, California. It prevents and resolves homelessness and improves the health and well-being of individuals and families who are homeless or low-income by providing a range of culturally sensitive, easily accessible, high-quality medical care and social services. www.RitterCenter.org
Margot Duane Photography
Sandi and her daughter | Margot Duane Photography
Sandi is married and has lived in Marin for 15 years. A mom of three, she and her family benefit from Ritter Center’s food pantry, school supplies and holiday meal and gift programs. She visits each week to pick up groceries “because of a food shortage and being low on rent.”
“Ritter Center provides my family with fruits, vegetables, eggs and meat. I like to cook a lot of soups and healthy foods for my kids. We would not be able to eat like we are now otherwise, and this is a blessing.”
Sandi’s is just one of hundreds of families that need help every week.
Client impact: what the numbers don’t show
“When I feed and cook for people, it wakes my whole spirit up. The joy in their faces is priceless. One day, when I am not here anymore, my son and his kids will say what I did and be proud of me. I didn’t know it was OK for me to love myself and to dream. Now my grandson lives with me. We cook for the neighbors and the elderly; I also prepared an extra-special Thanksgiving meal for the homeless. My life story is going from hurting to healing to helping.”
I started to want to live and not just survive. There is a big difference between the two. When you are on the survival food chain, you are like an animal — you eat or you get eaten. I had to do what I had to do in order to survive. . . . But then something shifted inside of me. One day, during treatment, it hit me. I had to admit that I was a drug addict. I said it and the whole world opened up. I acknowledged it
and my recovery began.
In 2020, Ritter Center served 2,570 individuals.
But, that’s not all:
Ritter Center provided 18,883 medical and behavioral
350 families relied upon Ritter Center’s food pantry each week.
Ritter Center distributed 22,000 bags of food.
Permanent housing support was provided to 250 individuals.
Over $567,000 in rental assistance was distributed to
More than $33,000 in gift cards were distributed to families so they could buy food, toys, and other gifts during the
Sandra M. | Margot Duane Photography
If I could pick words to describe Ritter Center, it would be compassionate, gratitude, generosity, and honesty.
Ritter Center Beneficiary
Double your impact! When you donate by midnight December 31, your gift may be matched up to $10,000 by Ritter Center's Board of Directors. This includes gifts of stock, donations made online, and mailed check donations. To donate by check, please send it to:
To make a credit card donation over the phone, please contact Ritter Center Advancement Associate Christen Brunner at (415) 847-3102. All other questions should be directed to Director of Development Jessica Hansen at email@example.com.
PO Box 3517
San Rafael, CA 94912