Volunteer Spotlight

Every month Hospitality House staff honors an outstanding volunteer for their leadership and dedication to our cause.

July Volunteer Spotlight: Pat Forman

Pat has a passion to serve. For the last two decades, she’s been involved with the end of life movement and in teaching folks about advance care planning. She moved to Nevada City in 2015 and connected with Hospitality House soon after, becoming a steady volunteer and an honored member of the Hearts & Hands Club. She’s served in a variety of capacities through the years, including cooking with the Mountain Stream team, helping at events and fundraisers, working at the former Bread & Roses Thrift and More, and acting as a spiritual care and end of life advocate in the shelter.

“From my college days, fighting injustice – working to make services and opportunities more equitable, affordable and available for underserved populations – has been my passion,” said Pat.

Pat developed a deeper appreciation for helping those less fortunate following a trip to Cuba in 1988 with her teenage daughter. When they visited a local high school, a comment from a student in a class changed her forever.

The student had heard there were homeless people living on the streets in the US and said that couldn’t be true and asked her daughter to explain.

“When my daughter talked about there being thousands of homeless people in the US, and having to step over homeless people on her way to school, the Cuban students were dumbfounded,” recalled Pat. “The student said, ‘How could that be? In Cuba, if someone saw a homeless person, she would take him/her home. We would never allow someone to live on the street.’’’

Pat acknowledged things in Cuba are much different 30 years later but said, “That’s one reason that this cause matters so much to me.”

With Pat at our sides, Hospitality House continues to help people off the streets and into permanent homes of their own. We are grateful for Pam’s kind heart, her advocacy, and her spiritual care and commitment to our homeless community.

June Volunteer Spotlight: Cissy Murphy

Cissy has been a volunteer of Hospitality House since its second winter open. She was part of the Abundant Life group that provided dinners at one of the host churches during our nomadic period and packed lunches for 40-50 guests a couple times a week during the summer months.

“I’ve always wanted to help be a part of a solution, no matter the cause in which I feel called to embrace,” said Cissy. “I also believe local communities are the ones best suited to provide solutions for local problems. In its beginnings, Hospitality House was a grassroots effort that was seeking to responsibly provide solutions to the problem of homelessness in Nevada County. Local people seeking local solutions that involved community members from civic organizations, churches, city councils, supervisors and individuals all working together. I was also attracted to Hospitality House because they had found a way for over 30 churches in our county to cooperate together to help provide a hand up to those in need. I thought that was so awesome–a common reason to set aside doctrinal differences to help others.”

As the years passed on, Cissy’s willingness to help only continued. Utah’s Place opened in 2013 and Cissy and her Abundant Life Church group continued to cook and she also recruited staff from her work, Grass Valley Charter School, to come and cook as well. In addition to cooking, Cissy has been an instrumental event volunteer, leading the kitchen crews for Empty Bowl and Night of Giving and helping in the organization of smaller events, such a walkathon and yard sale fundraisers for Hospitality House.

“Cissy is a star volunteer who deserves to be recognized for her longtime volunteerism with Hospitality House,” said Christina Apkarian, Marketing & Development Specialist at Hospitality House. “She has devoted many hours to help many in need in our community. Our events, as an example, take extensive hours to plan, and Cissy has always been there to lend not only her time, but her ideas to make each event experience the best possible.”

We thank you Cissy for your years of dedication and love to our homeless community.

May Volunteer Spotlight: Mary Liebke

Mary has been a part of the Hospitality House family since it first came to be in 2005. For fifteen faithful years, Mary has been there for people struggling with homelessness. She’s provided unconditional love as well as nurturing meals and peer support.

For those who have visited Utah’s Place, the kitchen is named in her honor as Mary continues to carry the torch, leading and overseeing all volunteer cook groups who come to serve.

“Mary is an incredible human being,” said Shelter Manager, Janella Kirkman. “She has a beautiful soul and she spreads goodness everywhere she goes. We are grateful to Mary and the compassion she always gives.”

Even now, during a pandemic when fellow loyal volunteers like Mary can’t come to the shelter due to safety, she inspires people to give in other meaningful ways. From afar, Mary has continued to engage our volunteers and advocate for our help, raising financial support and food for our shelter guests and motel clients.

“I appreciate being acknowledged but the spotlight goes to all of our volunteers right now,” said Mary. “This is happening because of them.”

We agree! ALL of our volunteers are incredible and we can’t wait to welcome everyone back soon.

Thank you, Mary, and to all of our volunteers, for all that you do!

April Volunteer Spotlight: Frank Goss

Frank Goss first learned about the efforts of Hospitality House in May of last year, and after one conversation with staff, he took a tour of Hospitality House and immediately signed up to be a volunteer.

“Frank’s dedication to Hospitality House has been incredible,” said Ashley Quadros, Development Director. “It’s hard to believe we’ve only had Frank in our lives for about a year because in just one year’s time, he’s changed so many lives forever.”

Frank has taken on many hats at Hospitality House, including delivery driver for church donations, business sponsorship recruitment, raffle ticket sales for events, fundraising to help launch the pet program, volunteer recruitment and most recently, he’s now one of the volunteer drivers from Lake Wildwood, helping with weekend food service to ensure the folks who have been temporarily placed in motels are also receiving hot and healthy meals.

“It’s just one of those things I feel so deeply about,” said Frank. “Seeing the smiles on the faces of people who receive the food, and the various things that we do. It’s so community wise, so giving.”

Thank you, Frank, for giving your time and talents. From all of us at Hospitality House, we thank you!

March Volunteer Spotlight: Chic Lotz

Thank you, Empty Bowl volunteer extraordinaire, Chic Lotz!

Chic’s involvement with Empty Bowl precedes Hospitality House’s inception. She first discovered this great opportunity to highlight the intersection between food and housing insecurity back in 1996 when she attended one in Ashland, Oregon. Soon after, she began bringing local potters together to create beautiful handcrafted bowls to be auctioned off with donations going to our local food bank and eventually to Hospitality House. Her dedication eventually blossomed into the driving-force behind this effort for our current event.

Back when we were a nomadic shelter, Chic held workshops for our guests teaching them her art and trade after Joanna Robinson (Utah Philip’s wife) reached to her. Volunteering for Empty Bowl as was the workshops is near and dear to her heart because it is a combination of her two passions, giving back to her community and working with clay. As she puts its “doing this event has been a lot of fun” and at the same time she recognizes that homelessness can happen to anyone so in her words she “wants to give love-in whatever form- service, food, or support.”

Thank you for your decades of support as we work together to help members of our homeless community transition to housing.

February Volunteer Spotlight: Tommie Conlen

Tommie Conlen has dedicated her time to our mission for almost a decade. She first heard about Hospitality House nearly 15 years ago when she went to a birthday party and had the honor of meeting the late-great, Utah Phillips. A few years later, she attended a donor thank you dinner and learned about our food group program, in which volunteers cook meals for our guests nearly every night of the year. She and a good friend soon formed an 8-person group which is now fully funded by students at the local Jazzercise (her other passion)!

Over the years, Tommie, like many of us, has seen the devastating impact of chronic homelessness. She recognizes how people often can’t keep up with how fast the world seems to move at times and how vulnerable members of our community slip into a cycle that can be extremely difficult to break, especially without help and support.

Tommie also is a heartfelt member of our Hearts & Hands Club, giving monthly to further the efforts of Hospitality House and has a long history of giving back to the community. When asked why volunteering is important, she simply said, “It is part of being a good citizen of the world.”

Thank you, Tommie! We appreciate your years of support and dedication as we work together to further our mission in helping our community members transition from homelessness to housing!

January Volunteer Spotlight: Rick Baron

Rick’s life as a member of the Hospitality House family began many years ago when he volunteered overnight, back when Hospitality House operated as a nomadic shelter. These were the days when various local churches opened their doors and their arms to our community members experiencing homelessness night after night, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Rick worked the shift few others would, arriving at midnight and leaving at 6 a.m., spending his evenings making sure our guests were able to get a good night’s rest even though he would not.

In the years to follow, Rick spent time volunteering for other organizations and other communities, including in Southern California to give out food and later for four months to help our Paradise neighbors after the devastating fire.

Recently, Rick rejoined our team after hearing about the new pet program at our shelter. He became an invaluable member of our Volunteer Department Team, helping plan and manage the volunteer side of our most recent camp cleanup in October. Since then, he enthusiastically joined our Volunteer Event Leadership Team as we geared up for last month’s annual fundraiser, Night of Giving. The success of Night of Giving largely rides on the backs of our robust volunteer staff which this year included over 100 unique individuals who filled 124 positions. We were able to successfully recruit and manage the volunteer side of this incredible community event because of Rick, his hours of pre-event office assistance, his innate ability to think outside of the box, and his fantastic team management style.

After the event, Rick was asked why he dedicates his time. He said, “I do it for my soul.” He pointed out that the issue of homelessness is growing both in our community and throughout the nation and that the best way to address this issue is to, “be an advocate for humankind.”

2019 Awardees:

December Volunteer Spotlight: William Wallace

Many community members know William or at least part of his story.

William struggled with addiction for several years and his involvement with Hospitality House began while he was in the hospital recovering from a heartbreaking overdose. People from Hospitality House visited him in the hospital often and upon release, with no home or place to go, William went to Hospitality House on Dec. 11, 2013, which happened to be opening day of Utah’s Place, our permanent shelter.

William received help and care at the shelter and has been housed and thriving ever since! When asked why he volunteers his time now, he says matter-of-factually, “Because volunteering is a community builder, no matter what community—even if it’s out of the area helping people in a disaster. We are all one community helping each other; we are the building blocks.”

Thank you, William. You are an invaluable member of our volunteer team.

Want to help your community like William? Then come and join Hospitality House’s team of volunteers! We have many areas where you can help including at Utah’s Place, Bread & Roses Thrift store, and in our office. Volunteering with us is a great way you can make new friends, while giving back to your community!

November Volunteer Spotlight: Rob Cairns

Four years ago, Rob was approached by his minister and asked if he would be interested in starting a new spiritual support program at Utah’s Place. The group’s only mission is a simple, although extremely valuable one, to listen. They are not there to pressure or to teach or to council or to advise – they are just there to sit and listen.

To no one’s surprise, Rob said yes even though he had absolutely no idea what to expect or what to do. Announcements about Rob’s arrival were made at the shelter in the preceding days, and to everyone’s delight there were people lined-up waiting to talk to him that very first day. Since then, Rob has grown the program to a rotating volunteer staff of four that come into our shelter every Sunday to do what they do best, listen.

Rob was ordained as a minister through the Independent Church of the Essence and sees volunteering as a calling. As anyone who has the honor of spending time with Rob can clearly see, he is passionate about his work and does it from a deeply genuine place in his heart. When asked about how we should best try to address homelessness in our community, Rob’s response was clear: “We have to address the entire person, the whole social situation; there is more to it than just connection to social services—it all comes back to sharing and having respect for people. We demonstrate that we are all worthy, that someone cares about us.” Or more simply put, he says, “I see you, I hear you, I respect you, and I love you.”

Well Rob, we see you and appreciate you. Your dedication to our guests and to Hospitality House over the years cannot be easily measured. It lives in a place that goes beyond words and beyond simple human understanding. We are truly blessed to call you a member of our Hospitality House family and are forever grateful for all that you do.

Want to help your community like Rob? Then come and join Hospitality House’s team of volunteers! We have many areas where you can help including at Utah’s Place, Bread & Roses Thrift store and in our office. Volunteering with us is a great way you can make new friends, while giving back to your community!

Learn about volunteer opportunities>

October Volunteer Spotlight: Teri Gevry

Over the last six and half years, Hospitality House has had the honor and privilege of having Teri on our volunteer team as a dedicated and passionate advocate. She first came on board as what we now call a Guest Advocate, working in our shelter. She currently serves as an Outreach Advocate, supporting women in our post-housing program.

Teri’s story with Hospitality House began when she first heard a plug for a play at KVMR which many of us have come to know and love, called “A Place to Call Home.” That evening, Teri went to the show at the Center for the Arts and had a conversation with a former Utah’s Place guest, which changed the course of her life forever. As he shared the story of his journey, she began to appreciate the issues surrounding our homeless neighbors and embarked on her own journey to understand and address homelessness in our community.

Since that day, Teri has worked tirelessly to help Hospitality House further its mission of helping support members of our homeless community as they transition from homelessness to housing. Like so many of our volunteers, Teri dedicates her time to Hospitality House because she loves working with our guests.

“I get to help them on their journey, on their path,” said Teri. “I love the fact that they have embraced me as I help them see a new vision.”

Teri, your dedication to our guests is greatly and forever appreciated. Your strength and endurance as you help meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable members of our community is only matched by your passion and kindness. Thank you for all that you do!

Learn about volunteer opportunities>

September Volunteer Spotlight: LuAnne Myers

Anyone who has had the honor of meeting LuAnne, knows just how dedicated she is to Hospitality House and our mission. LuAnne started volunteering with us at Bread & Roses almost two years ago, following a long career as a school counselor.

Her years of working with students from a wide range of backgrounds has given her a unique and beautiful perspective on the world which she carries with her every day. All it takes is a single conversation with LuAnne to see just how much she cares about helping our guests, fellow volunteers, and greater community.

As she puts it, “I am here because I have been very lucky to have people in my life who have helped me, and now I can help others who need a hand up.”

We are very fortunate to have LuAnne on our team and appreciate all that she has done to help further our mission of assisting those who are experiencing homelessness in Nevada County as they transition to housing. With a great deal of gratitude, we thank you, LuAnne, for your dedication and hard work.

August Volunteer Spotlight: George Dunstan

George began volunteering at Hospitality House in 2005 when it was a nomadic shelter. He vividly remembers when guests and volunteers used to meet at the Welcome Center, and a bus would pick them up and take them to a designated church for the night. George has volunteered every week nonstop for 14 years as a shelter advocate (formally monitor). He helps with guests’ immediate needs, such as providing clothes and toiletries, dedicates time to talk to guests, and has helped with the installing of beds for the Onward Dorm and in many other countless areas.

“I wanted to be part of this community,” explained George. “I like having person to person contact and interacting with people. It makes it more meaningful and having direct contact with people is fulfilling. It’s what I do on Thursdays and I have built friendships with staff and other volunteers. Volunteering for Hospitality House has become part of my life. It keeps me going and I look forward to it every week.”

His dedication to our guests and Hospitality House’s mission to bring homeless people in Nevada County into a circle of community caring that offers shelter, sustenance, and care as we assist them in transitioning from homelessness to housing is such a blessing. Thank you, George!

People volunteer with Hospitality House in a variety of ways, and we’re always looking for new volunteers who can help further our mission and services. If anyone has an interest in learning more about volunteer opportunities, we welcome you to contact Leah Farkas, our new Volunteer Manager at 530-615-0805 or get started now>

July Volunteer Spotlight: Bill Blount

We are so grateful to Bill; he has volunteered as a shelter advocate (aka monitor) since the beginning of our shelter. He has tirelessly shown his commitment in helping our homeless neighbors by volunteering every Thursday for four hours and supporting our shelter advocates in the Onward Dorm.

“He is always there for us, and I never have to worry if he is going to show up or not,” said Janella Kirkman, Shelter Supervisor.

Bill makes sure that guests have towels, toiletries, blankets, or anything that is needed to accommodate our guests that night. Bill also has conversations with our guests, creating strong bonds and trust between them.

“He is here for the cause, and that is why he has been with us for so long, because he truly cares. He is also here to help others, not only the guests but our staff who deeply appreciate his ongoing support,” said Kirkman.

Thank you, Bill, for helping everyone you meet, and for your faithful commitment through the years. We are blessed to have you as our super star volunteer!

If you’d like to join our shelter volunteer team, we’re always looking for wonderful people to join our crew. Get started>

June Volunteer Spotlight: Karen Steffa

Karen Steffa joined the Bread & Roses Thrift and More team six months ago, and she’s been an asset ever since.

“Karen has been absolutely amazing!” explained Store Manager, Miranda Stuart. “She always has a smile on her face and is so unbelievably humble.”

Karen’s dedication to the team has been steadfast, but following the loss of a fellow colleague, Karen stepped up to fill the void, and extended her volunteerism to three days a week, tackling merchandising, processing and acting as a backup cashier.

“The staff often say they don’t know what we would do without her,” added Stuart.

Thank you, Karen! We appreciate your devotion and leadership to make our store a success!

If you’d like to join our crew at Bread & Roses, we’re always looking for wonderful people to join our team. Get started>  

May Volunteer Spotlight: Mary Liebke

Mary Liebke is a loyal volunteer who has been a major part of the Hospitality House story from the start.

“I’ve been volunteering since the beginning when my church (Grass Valley United Methodist) vowed to start it,” she recalled. She explained when she left church that day, she and fellow church members found a homeless woman sitting outside on a bench with no where to go. They knew then with certainty that they made the right decision and together, they rallied their money to provide the woman temporary shelter in a local hotel.

From there, Mary’s journey with Hospitality House only grew and she later helped open the welcome center and launched the Lunch Bunch crew—a group who made lunches every day to help local homeless individuals in need, but she recalled it wasn’t always easy. Many days they worried they wouldn’t have enough food for the families and individuals who were hungry, homeless, and needed help.

“We’d pray for food for lunches and it would always come,” she said.

When Utah’s Place opened in 2013, Mary was eager to help. “I was there every night for the first few months of the dinners to help people,” she recalled.

Today, the culinary kitchen is named in her honor and she continues to lead every volunteer cook team at Hospitality House.

“Mary Liebke is a stone in the ever-changing sea of humanity that is our shelter,” said Isaias Acosta, Program Manager. “She is foundational in the greatest sense and without her, like the keystone of a building, so many things would lack the support to stand. Her commitment to the mission of Hospitality House, and her support of myself and the food teams through straight forward communication and practical decision making demonstrates the power of resolve when there is nothing else but the will to do what is right. She is a paragon of virtue, and someone who is of the highest quality. It’s through her consistent attention to putting everything in its place that the miracle of the food group calendar comes together without so much as a gap. Mary’s ability to find the right person, or team, to fill the next gap when the time comes for teams to move on is the stuff of legend. There is no discounting the amazing work our food providers and other volunteers do but every stone needs its mortar, and Mary is the divine instrument which holds our house in order. Thank you, Mary, I appreciate you more than you know.”

From all of us at Hospitality House, thank you, Mary!

Learn more about volunteer opportunities at Hospitality House>

April Volunteer Spotlight: Liz McGuire

Liz began volunteering at Bread & Roses in June 2017, working there four days a week, on average three to four hours per day to help ensure the store’s success—that’s approximately 1,472 hours donated to date! Last month, when Liz learned the administrative office needed help, she jumped at the opportunity to give further.

Having Liz on our team is wonderful,” said Frank Gates, Volunteer Manager. “She proves time and again her dedication to Hospitality House and its mission to bring homeless people in Nevada County into a circle of community caring that offers shelter, sustenance, and care as we assist them in transitioning from homelessness to housing.

Liz now volunteers in the admin office two days a week, in addition to volunteering at Bread & Roses three days a week as well. Be sure to say hi to Liz the next time you’re shopping.

From all of us at Hospitality House, thank you, Liz! We appreciate you!

Volunteer Opportunities

Interested in joining the amazing volunteer team at Hospitality House? There are several areas of need, and you can make a difference like Liz. If you’d like to learn more about volunteering, contact Frank at 530-615-0805 or by email at frank@hhshelter.org.

March Volunteer Spotlight: Margaret Little

In the wet, cold winter of 2004, a small group of concerned residents gathered to discuss their dream of helping the many homeless people in western Nevada County by providing shelter and food during the winter months. Margaret Little was among this small group who helped start Hospitality House.

After 15 years of committed volunteer work, Margaret is still serving homeless neighbors in Nevada County. She has served as a board member for Hospitality House; she currently volunteers at Bread & Roses Thrift and More twice a week; and she helps at fundraising events every single year to benefit the shelter.

Margaret is committed to the mission of Hospitality House and its efforts to bring homeless people in Nevada County into a circle of community caring that offers shelter, sustenance, medical care, advocacy, opportunity, dignity, and hope as they transition from homelessness to housing.

Thank you, Margaret, for being a pioneer of the only emergency shelter in Nevada County; for tirelessly giving back to your community; and for never leaving a homeless neighbor behind.

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1262 Sutton Way
Grass Valley, CA 95945

Shelter Line: (530) 271-7144

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