I’m Jennifer Thomas, and I’m a Housing Specialist. I help guests access substance abuse treatment, counseling, career development, community support, and of course, assistance in obtaining housing.

This week I would like to share a story of a Nevada County resident that I will call Kevin. Kevin grew up in Nevada County and was released from prison a little over a year ago. He struggled with substance abuse for much of his life and connects this to his past criminal activity. He experienced a great deal of trauma as a child, though he takes full responsibility for his choices. He, like many of my clients, was a victim of child abuse which I believe impacted the trajectory of his life’s journey.

Kevin has now been sober for 16 months and has kept a full-time job for over a year now and gained several pay increases due to his reliability and skill development. The housing search was a challenge due to a minor criminal record, yet his hope and perseverance amidst rejections were truly remarkable. He embraced the program entirely, showing up on time to every meeting, even if that meant riding a bike in the rain. He tracked his budget and his savings and became one of our most reliable volunteers at Bread and Roses. And though he now has housing, he continues to volunteer with enthusiasm every weekend.

He signed his first lease ever at 40 years old in his own apartment and keeps it in pristine condition. Once he moved in, we visited our friends at ReStart Ministries, where he was able to pick out living room furniture, a bed, a washer and dryer, and all the kitchen necessities to get him started in his own home. What I love about Kevin’s story is the community partnerships and collaborations. He accessed support from us all: Nevada County Probation, CoRR (Community Recovery Resources), Project Heart, and Re-start Ministries; we were able to create a web of resources and support around him. His gratitude is palpable, and I think all of us feel fortunate to work with someone so determined to do the next right thing and witness how his life has changed because of it.

Empty Bowl event is back on Saturday, March 14! Our favorite artist-driven event returns this March with bowls aplenty. Every year, artists around Nevada County come together to create handcrafted bowls that are then filled with soup for our patrons. Sharing a simple meal of soup is an opportunity for the community to express its compassion for those struggling with homelessness.

All sales and donations at the event will help people transition from homelessness to housing. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at hhshelter.org, Bread & Roses Thrift and More or BriarPatch Food Co-op. A big thank you to Whitewater Naturopathic Medicine and BriarPatch Food Co-op for being sponsors again this year.

This past week, we were blessed by many caring individuals and I’d like to give a big thank you to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, Nevada City United Methodist Church, E-Team, Saint Patrick’s Rookies, Jazzercise, The Home Team and Crossroads Church for coming out to cook. To everyone who donated our most needed items last week, thank you as well!

Now down to the nitty gritty needs of the shelter for this week…

• Gloves
• Coffee
• Sugar
• Hand warmers
• Granola bars
• Twin Sheets
• Twin blankets

Please drop off urgent items to Utah’s Place, located in Brunswick Basin, past the DMV, at 1262 Sutton Way. If we all stick together, we’ll all get what we need. Thank you!