“The Gift of Song” to Benefit Hospitality House”

October 22, 2015

I was listening to the radio one Friday morning while in my car driving into Nevada City. I like to listen to  Jeri Ann Van Dijk’s show on Friday mornings on KVMR. Every week around 8:30, Jeri Ann invites Joanna Robinson from Hospitality House to talk about what’s going on at Hospitality House and ask for specific “requests”  that are urgently needed for her “guests”. Joanna’s sweet voice always makes me want to do something to help her out. (She never has a request for herself, by the way.)

Benefit Concert for Hospitality House Will Raise Mental Health Awareness

April 12, 2015

 

Portuguese/Canadian roots singer, song writer, and multi-instrumentalist Awna Teixeira will perform a benefit concert for Hospitality House on Thursday, July 9 at The Open Door (formerly Tomes) at 671 Maltman Drive, Grass Valley (in the Brunswick Basin). The concert will begin at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available in advance for $15 at BriarPatch Co-Op and online at hhshelter.org; they will be sold at the door for $20.

Teixeira, formerly of the popular Canadian urban roots duo Po’ Girl, is touring solo in support of the March release of her second album, Wild One, which reflects her concern with the tragedy of mental illness. She calls the international tour her “Blue Heart on Your Sleeve Tour,” named after a song on the album written for her grandmother.HH_benefitconcert_July2015

Partly, the purpose of the tour is to raise awareness of mental illness. Teixeira has been supporting mental health organizations in the countries she tours by donating proceeds from ticket sales and sales of blue heart-shaped patches that may be worn or displayed in solidarity with those who suffer from mental and emotional challenges.

Teixeira’s wish, she says, is “to break down the barriers and social stigmas of mental illness and learn how to take care of each other and ourselves. All of these songs are very personal… [a]bout people I have loved and lost, about learning to trust my true voice, about learning to find my wild again, and about my own struggle coming to terms with depression and trying to find my peace with it.”

This year Hospitality House celebrates its tenth anniversary operating as the only emergency homeless shelter in Nevada County. In addition to providing shelter, food, clothing, and access to medical care, the shelter also runs a housing program that since 2013 has placed 262 homeless Nevada County residents (including 78 children) into permanent homes of their own.

The Nevada County Behavioral Health Department sponsors an onsite psychotherapist at the shelter to provide care for the many guests who suffer from mental illness. The shelter also partners closely with Western Sierra Medical Clinic to provide ongoing managed health care.

  • Price: $15.00 Quantity:
  • $0.00
  • Paying By Check

    Make Checks Payable to Hospitality House and mail to:1262 Sutton way, Grass Valley, CA 95945

Panhandlers, Vagrants and Transients

August 21, 2014

 

Challenging Labels

Challenging labels 1

In September, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors and the Grass Valley City Council will have to respond to the civil grand jury’s June report, “Panhandlers, vagrants and transients in a neighborhood near you?”

But well before that response was due, the language used in the report drew criticism.

The report used the phrase “panhandlers, vagrants and transients” so frequently the authors coined an acronym — PVT. The term appears 38 times in the 11-page report.

A number of individuals interviewed for this article said they preferred to be called “houseless” or “displaced residents.” Others think “homeless” is more or less the right word. But the grand jury’s term of “PVT” generated strong emotional responses for some.

Days after that report was released, Hospitality House hosted a healing workshop for some of its residents. As part of the nonprofit’s mission to shelter Nevada County’s homeless and help them find housing, the workshop was an effort to help participants address some of the root causes of homelessness.

“It’s heartbreaking, really. It doesn’t surprise me, but at the same time, it’s very disheartening. There’s obviously no compassion, none whatsoever. It’s a lazy mind, and it’s discrimination.” Challenging labels 2
Ray
a homeless resident of Nevada City

“We’re trying to empower them to help them to heal, but you can imagine what it must feel like to be a homeless person when a report such as the one (the grand jury) wrote was released,” said Cindy Maple, executive director at Hospitality House. “It was really hurtful to them.”

Hospitality House sometimes uses poster-board and markers as tools in those workshops. The idea, Maple said, is to help its clients rethink how they see themselves, using “power words.” Several participants focused on the grand jury’s acronym, PVT.

“We were sending messages back to the community as a healing exercise, and they were so meaningful that we took pictures,” Maple said.

Robert Marquardt is a homeless veteran of the United States Army. He made a sign saying “I am not a PVT. I’m just residentially challenged.”

Marquardt worked in security for more than 15 years, and later found work as a trucker. He’s currently unemployed, but looking for work and making use of the services Hospitality House provides.

He said he doesn’t want to be called a PVT.

“It does offend me,” Marquardt said. “I’m not a panhandler. I’ve never stood on a corner with a street sign begging for money.

“I’m out there trying. It’s not like I’m sitting back on my butt doing nothing. I’m trying to get something done, and to be lumped in with people who don’t want to do anything is just frustrating,” he said.

“I don’t know who’s on the grand jury, but I’m sure that they’ve never actually gotten out and talked to people who are homeless,” Marquardt said.

Laurie, another Hospitality House resident who asked to have her last name omitted, criticized the lack of evidence in the grand jury report’s list of facts.

“I just don’t appreciate that the grand jury is assuming and relying on … numbers that are maybe, not exaggerated, but guessed at,” Laurie said. “They don’t have hard facts that the homeless are actually part of that problem.

“I think the grand jury went a little over the line in trying to describe this problem, quantify it and pin it down,” she added.

Tim Robison, another Hospitality House client, said he was outraged at the grand jury’s choice in language. In response, Robison made a sign saying, “P.V.T. — It wasn’t me.” He’s a contractor, and he used to run his own business. Robison said he owned a home in Roseville, but lost it in a recent divorce. That’s how he ended up at Hospitality House.

“There’s people in here that are school teachers that are out of work. There’s people in here that are nurses that are out of work. I’ve seen a few bad apples. That’s not anybody in here, but we’re being classified with those people, too,” Robison said.

Similar sentiments were expressed at a free weekly lunch in Pioneer Park, provided by Sierra Roots.

“It’s heartbreaking, really,” said Ray, a homeless resident of Nevada City who asked to be identified by first name only. “It doesn’t surprise me, but at the same time, it’s very disheartening. There’s obviously no compassion, none whatsoever. It’s a lazy mind, and it’s discrimination.”

Most of the homeless people interviewed for this story agreed that the individuals who make up Nevada County’s homeless population should not be lumped into a single category.Challenging labels 3

And members of the Nevada County Civil grand jury might agree with that.

“The Nevada County grand jury recognizes that any discussion of the homeless problem is politically challenging. There is a fine line between providing needed services to a deserving population and enabling or encouraging the less desirable element,” members of the grand jury wrote.

But many of the individuals with behavioral issues actually have homes, according to Michael Lucas Butler, and most homeless people wouldn’t even understand the term “PVT.”

Butler lives in unincorporated Nevada County, where he camps with the property owner’s permission. He moved here in 1993, and has been without permanent housing since 2003.

Butler sees the grand jury’s report on PVTs as a mild embarrassment, but said there’s a silver lining. He hopes it gives them a reason to re-examine their work, and possibly revisit this issue at a later date.

“Now that they’ve made themselves look a little foolish, this gives them the opportunity to come up and shine like a star,” Butler said.

Among the homeless individuals interviewed for this report, there was a consensus that the solution to problems associated with the homeless community would involve more access to mental health services.

They also tend to agree that there are dangerous, obnoxious or “less desirable” elements within the homeless community that do cause serious problems.

But several homeless individuals interviewed also stated that this is a national issue. It’s much worse outside of Nevada County, they said, and the extent of the problem locally may have been exaggerated.

“I know what panhandling means, and I’ve seen very little of it here,” said Laurie at Hospitality House. “What’s happening here is not as big a problem as I’ve seen recently in other places.”

To contact Staff Writer Dave Brooksher, email dbrooksher@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.

 

Nevada County musician takes talents to Utah’s Place

June 13, 2014

Learning how to play the guitar may not seem like a top priority for a homeless person who typically needs shelter and sustenance, first and foremost.

But, as longtime Nevada County musician and guitar teacher Kelly Fleming tells it, music may be a key need for soul survival – once the physical needs are addressed. (more…)

Volunteer gives Hospitality House gift of her mother’s piano

April 30, 2014

Judy Olson has given untold hours to serving meals to homeless guests at Hospitality House, Nevada County’s community homeless shelter and housing program. Last Monday, she gave even more: her mother’s piano, freshly tuned by a generous anonymous donor. (more…)

Cinco de Mayo: Celebrating victories large and small

April 30, 2014

Nine years ago, someone close to Teresita Juarez Lyon was homeless.

That’s when she discovered Hospitality House. (more…)

Homeless artist inspired by love of painting

April 16, 2014

Martin Justin David has lived “on the nondomestic side of life” for the last 14 years.

Technically, he’s homeless, but he’s far from helpless. (more…)

Empty Bowl – March 8, 2014

February 5, 2014

Enjoy a simple meal of soup and bread.

This year’s Empty Bowl event was our most successful one yet! Over 600 people enjoyed their choice of marvelous donated soups in beautiful handcrafted bowls that they then took home with them. To learn more, please visit our Empty Bowl page.

Thanks to our generous Empty Bowl Sponsors

February 4, 2014

Thank you to our generous sponsors!

Save the date! Empty Bowl is coming up on Saturday, March 8. Buy tickets on our website.

Wish List

February 4, 2014

hand sanitizer

Here’s our weekly wish list from Joanna Robinson’s weekly report on KVMR community radio:

  • deodorant (small containers)
  • ear plugs
  • disposable razors
  • laundry detergent (HE)
  • coffee (ground)
  • sliced bread
  • milk
  • peanut butter
  • jelly
  • juice boxes
  • toilet paper
  • new or gently used twin size blankets
  • copy paper
  • small vacuum
  • indoor plants
  • outdoor extension cord

We still need food providers 2 nights a month at Utah’s Place (donate the food, cook it at Utah’s Place, serve it to about 50 very appreciative guests).

Each week, Joanna, a co-founder of Hospitality House, shares with the community what we need to assist both our homeless guests in the shelter as well as those who remain out in the community. We couldn’t do it without you.

Please drop off donations between 9 and noon at 1262 Sutton Way in the Brunswick Basin or call Joanna at 530-615-0852