My name is Geoff, and I’m the Shelter Operations Manager at Utah’s Place, our homeless shelter. I help make sure everything at Utah’s Place runs smoothly and provides a safe and welcoming environment for Nevada County residents experiencing homelessness.

Today, I’d like to share a story about a man, who I’ll refer to as Gus. Gus has struggled with intermittent homelessness for a number of years. His journey largely centers on his mental health. After serving time in jail, Gus’ self-worth disappeared, which contributed to drug use, homelessness and having a short temper. He is in a daily battle with himself and for several years, he has never felt good enough or worthy of having a place to call home.

As part of his housing case management plan, Gus was encouraged to enroll in Nevada County Behavioral Health services and has been doing great in therapy and benefitting from peer support groups. His anger is under control, and he’s learned to forgive himself for past actions, allowing himself to build a healthy future.

Today, Gus has been clean and sober for eight months, going strong. He’s taken on odd jobs here and there, mainly around auto mechanics, and he’s a caretaker at the shelter too, helping with its day-to-day operations. Gus is turning his life around, and I’m happy to report, this month he’s moving into his new home, too. While Gus still can’t believe he will finally be housed after all of this time, he now finally realizes that his life has mattered all along and for that, we are grateful.

If you’d like to help others like Gus rebuild their lives, right now Empty Bowl is the perfect way to help. Today marks the kickoff of the 16th annual Empty Bowl, an artist- and restaurant-driven benefit for our shelter. We have a handful of tickets left, so if you’ve been on the fence about going, now is the time to act. Every ticket includes a beautifully donated artisan bowl that is then filled with a donated meal by each restaurant. Following, on Sept. 24, ticketholders will be admitted into the Empty Bowl Art Extravaganza, which is an exclusive opportunity for ticketholders to come together to shop bowls, participate in an auction and raffle, listen to live music by Mark Vieaux and enjoy a no-host happy hour from 4-6 p.m. at Peace Lutheran Church. Get your tickets here>>

I’d like to thank our artist community for donating hundreds of artisan bowls to make the event possible—a few now and from past years include Rene Sprattling, Pickle Pottery, Steve Danner, Amy Conley, Margaret Arroyo, among many more. I’d also like to thank our eight host restaurants for donating meals to fill every bowl with sustenance. A special shoutout this week to Sopa Thai Cuisine and Golden Gate Saloon at The Holbrooke, two of our featured restaurants. A big thank you also to Pawnie’s Home Care and BriarPatch Food Co-op for being return sponsors again this year.

And while I’m giving thanks, I’d like to give a shoutout to our two volunteer food shoppers, Hilary Dart and Marna Duncan, for helping us with shopping needs each week, and to the Repeat Offenders for cooking up their beefy marinara pasta with veggies, salad and ice cream last night. Our guests loved all of it! If you have an interest in volunteering, we have several opportunities available in our culinary department, including grocery shopping, cooking, food delivery and dish washing. Call us at (530) 615-0852 or email to learn about our opportunities. A special thanks also to our partners for providing ongoing food and/or financial support: SPD Markets, BriarPatch Food Co-op, Telestream, Interfaith Food Ministry, the Bishop Store (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nevada City) and Food Bank of Nevada County. To everyone who donated our most needed items last week, thank you as well! Now down to the nitty gritty needs of the week:

  • Depends / adult diapers
  • Pillows and pillowcases (pillows must be new/packaged; we are unable to accept used)
  • Bottled water
  • Towels

NEW DONATION HOURS: To streamline our donation process, donations are no longer being accepted at our shelter (unless it’s food). Please drop off items from our needs list on Tuesday or Thursday, 830am – 5pm at our admin office, located at 488 Crown Point Circle, Suite 100, Grass Valley, Ca 95945 (admin is closed weekends and all major holidays). We greatly appreciate the community’s help at such times of uncertainty. In the words of Utah Phillips, “If we all stick together, we’ll get what we need.”  Thank you!


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