My name is Shilo Wells and I am a Homeless Access Transportation (HAT) Driver at Hospitality House. My primary role is to help people experiencing homelessness reach their appointments, employment, medical needs, stores, etc. to better their livelihood, as most of the people we serve lack transportation, which can be a barrier to basic needs.

Since becoming a driver for HH, one woman will always hold a place in my heart. To protect her identity, I’ll refer to her as Sheila. People who need rides call me day in and day out and I average giving around 30 rides per day in my 8-hour shift, but one call, I’ll never forget. I answered the call like any other and a frantic voice asked for help.

I learned Sheila had been assaulted and was hiding from her assailant in some bushes. I immediately went looking for Sheila and found her in the brush, just as she had described. Her entire body was covered in bruises. She was beyond grateful I came but did not want to go to the police. I respected Sheila’s wishes and I am thankful she agreed to at least let me take her to our shelter, where she was met by our team with care and compassion to keep her safe. We also partnered with Community Beyond Violence, who specializes in helping survivors of domestic violence and/or sexual assault.

In time, Sheila healed at our shelter and benefited from our services and those offered by CBV. I still picked her up and drove her to appointments from time to time. She asked me one day, how I do it—how I move forward. As someone with lived experience too, for me, I told her my saving grace was God, but everyone’s journey is different. I shared with her what I had gone through myself and reassured her that it does get better. Unbeknownst to me, Sheila was inspired by my story and that following Sunday, I was surprised and excited when Sheila showed up at my church.

Since that day, Sheila has been rebuilding her life for the better. She has been clean and sober for 10 months and is currently living in transitional housing. She has also been reunified with her two children, whom she lost previously as a result of substance use. On top of this, she’s working full time again and most importantly, she’s safe and happy.

I tell this story because I met Sheila at the lowest point in her life—she was homeless, using drugs, was physically abused and had lost her children but all of that changed the moment she called me for a ride. Asking for help isn’t easy but if anyone reading this right now could use support, please know our team is always available. And if you’d like to help further our services too, donations are greatly appreciated.

Right now, I’d like to remind folks that our artist-driven benefit for Hospitality House is back and tickets are officially on sale right now! Yes, right now! Visit our website at hhshelter.org or https://emptybowl2022.rsvpify.com/ to secure your tickets before they’re gone. I’d like to thank our artist community for donating hundreds of artisan bowls to make the event possible, plus our eight host restaurants for donating meals to fill every bowl with sustenance. A special shoutout this week to Friar Tuck’s and Heartwood Eatery, two of our featured restaurants. A big thank you also to Aja Video Systems and Telestream for being return sponsors again this year.

And while I’m giving thanks, I’d like to touch briefly on our volunteers. A big thank you to our volunteer food shopper, Hilary Dart, for helping us with shopping needs every Tuesday and thank UUCM, who cooked up their famous enchilada pie for all our guests last week. 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:

  • Men’s shorts, t-shirts and underwear (underwear must be new)
  • Depends / adult diapers
  • 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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