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; 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.

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

A Night of Giving — December 19, 2015

April 11, 2015

Community Invited to Ninth Annual Night of Giving:

A Benefit for Hospitality House

For the ninth consecutive year, Mikail Graham will present an evening of top local talent to benefit Hospitality House. A Night of Giving, a holiday party for the entire hometown community, will return to its home venue at the Miners Foundry in Nevada City on Saturday, Dec. 19. The event runs from 4:00 to 10:00 on two stages at the Foundry.

The fundraiser will include local performers Beaucoup Chapeaux, Paul Kamm & Eleanore MacDonald, Nory Fussel, Heather MacAdam, poet and storyteller Steve Sanfield, world/jazz fusion trio Tumble, the award-winning Star Dust 2014NightofGivingCowboys, Mountain Laurel Duo (Kathy Barwick & Peter Siegfried), dance troupe The Movement Alliance, Ishaan Reyna (Best Local Artist 2012 winner), Rod Baggett and the Nevada Union High School Choir, a special performance by Achilles Humperheads, along with dozens of other great performing artists.

The evening will also feature remarks from people who have benefited from and supported Hospitality House since it opened its doors in 2005 to the neediest in our community. An extraordinary new development this year will be online streaming of the event, complete with live performances and interviews with Hospitality House guests, performing artists, KVMR DJs, and others close to the shelter’s work at Utah’s Place.

The music begins at 4 p.m. and runs nonstop until 10 p.m. Food will be available for a small donation, and drinks will be served at a no-host bar.

Generous anonymous friends of Hospitality House have offered to match all non-corporate donations up to $200 made at the event, capping at $10,000, which means that everyone who contributes up to $200 will see their money doubled.

“This is the largest fundraiser of the year for Hospitality House,” said development director Joanna Robinson. “We depend on the willingness of our community to contribute to our work in this season of gratitude and giving. We’ve never been disappointed!”

Musician/producer Graham is a third-generation native of Nevada City and a founding broadcaster of KVMR. He has been coordinating musical events since the early 1970s, plays with several local bands, and is the house sound manager for The Center For The Arts.

Suggested donation for advance tickets is $20. Children ages 12 and younger are free. 

Stay tuned for more information.


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
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 or call 530-477-4230.


Taking the Long Walk in homeless shoes

August 21, 2014

Taking The Long Walk in homeless shoes

Long walk homeless shoes

Nevada County’s first walk-a-thon for the homeless invites the community to join the party and, at the same time, invoke the experience of being “on the move,” without a home.

“It’s not actually a long walk,” said organizer Joanna Robinson of “The Long Walk,” a 1.8-mile trek around the Brunswick Basin area of Grass Valley set for Sept. 6. “It’s to show symbolic solidarity with homeless people, who have to spend much of their days walking.”

The title was conceived by Cindy Maple, executive director of Utah’s Place, the area homeless shelter run by Hospitality House. At 4 p.m. daily, guests of the shelter make “The Long Walk” back to their temporary home for their night’s lodging.

“It’s the walk back to the shelter, but it also, to me, represents what our guests do all day, they walk and they walk,” Maple said. “For me, that’s why the name resonated with me, because that’s what they do every single day.”

The need to walk is to “stay on the move” and remain invisible — instead of risking being “moved along” by law enforcement, Maple said. It’s also to find a bathroom or a water fountain.

Participants in “The Long Walk” probably won’t experience all those needs, but they will be able to use their imagination.

“We won’t be walking all day, like they do,” said Robinson, founder and development director of Hospitality House. “We will not be moved along, like they often are.

“We won’t be looking for bathrooms and water, the way they do all day,” she added.

The fundraiser starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 6 at Utah’s Place. Registration ($25 per person; additional pledges from friends and family are encouraged) is available online in advance at or from 7:30 to 9 a.m. the day of the walk. Proceeds benefit Hospitality House, which is still paying off its loan to purchase Utah’s Place, opened within the past year.

The first 250 people to register get a free T-shirt. Prizes for the largest teams or the most pledges — including trips to Disneyland, Lake Tahoe, amusement parks and group bowling — will be awarded at a barbecue afterward at Utah’s Place.

Teams are encouraged: Briar Patch Co-op in Grass Valley has already fielded a group of walkers, Robinson said.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for people to connect with their co-workers, families and children,” she added. “It’s a great chance for parents to help their kids understand who the homeless are, what poverty is and to make direct action in the form of a demonstration of compassion for people in need.”

Walkers may also wish to make clear their reactions to a recent Nevada County Civil Grand Jury Report entitled “Panhandlers, Vagrants and Transients in a Neighborhood Near You?” Robinson said. Some people told The Union the term “PVTs,” used in the report, was offensive and that the numbers cited were exaggerated.

“There’s a lot more going on (with homeless individuals) than just panhandling,” Robinson said.

Robinson noted that poverty, according to Gandhi, was “the worst form of violence — I think he said that because it leads to so many forms of suffering.”

During “The Long Walk,” participants will have a moment to ponder that experience.

“We hope we will be looked at — but not with disdain, as they often are,” Robinson said. “We hope we will be judged for our compassion — and not, as they often are, for their experience of poverty.”

“The Long Walk” route travels up Sutton Way from Utah’s Place to Brunswick Road, then across the freeway bridge to Maltman Drive, then Maltman Drive to Joerschke Drive, then Joerschke to Nevada City Highway, up Nevada City Highway to Brunswick, up Brunswick across the freeway bridge to Sutton Way, and finally back up Sutton Way to Utah’s Place. People may walk only part of the route if they wish and then head back to Utah’s Place.

The post-walk barbecue is expected to start at 11 a.m.

Check the website for more information.

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email or call 530-477-4239.

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.