My name is Shilo Wells and you may remember me as the Homeless Access Transport driver for Hospitality House, but I’ve recently shifted roles and am now an outreach case manager. As such, my new position involves connecting with unhoused men, women and families, whether they are on the streets, in camps, living out of their cars or couch surfing. I build rapport with clients and help to engage them with the services that are available to them. One client I’ve successfully worked with is someone who I will refer to as Shane.

No matter how dire his circumstances, Shane had a history of being resistant to help. His severe mental illness often presented with some level of paranoia, making rapport-building a challenge. Shane’s open distrust of everyone around him highlighted the fact that he rarely felt safe or secure in the presence of others. His addiction also got in the way of help from anyone around him, as escaping through drug use has been the only way he knows how to cope with all he’s up against. While Shane has talked of wanting to be housed, his addiction and distrust of others have always prevented him from accepting help getting to that goal. However, his guardedness didn’t prevent our team from consistently sharing compassion and kindness with him.

After a year of friendly exchanges and compassionate check-ins, Shane finally gave-in and accepted some help. We started by assisting him with getting his California ID card, then an EBT (food stamps) card and eventually a cell phone so he could reach out to us as needed. Once Shane saw that he could rely on us, he asked for help getting signed up with MediCal, along with transportation to the doctor and the grocery store.

The hope that results when someone is offered mere empathy and compassion is nothing short of inspiring. After letting his guard down, Shane’s icy exterior melted a bit. He went from angry and broken, to pleasant and hopeful. He even inquired about the process for receiving recovery services, in the event that he is ready for them in the future.

Not all Hospitality House guest stories end in clients moving into permanent housing. Sometimes success is measured by the tiny steps taken toward a goal. Sometimes victory is gauged by a simple smile and a gentle nod, or by courageously accepting a helping hand. If you’d like to help homeless individuals, like Shane, take steps closer to happily housed please consider donating to Hospitality House today. THANK YOU to those who gave in support of our May Match Challenge! We are humbled by your generous hearts. For those who have time and energy to give, volunteering is also a wonderful way to help. Or if the compassion and generosity you can share comes in the form of gently used clothing or other items on our wishlist (see below), we are ever so grateful for those donations as well. However, you choose to help the homeless men, women and children of our community, we THANK YOU for your support!

Speaking of support, this week Hilary Dart and Kathy Perkins grocery shopped for the shelter; Bill Blount and George Dunstan provided spiritual support at Sierra Guest Home; Robin Kinnard cooked in the kitchen with our culinary specialist; and the Telestream and Dad’s Dinners cook teams cooked and served up delicious meals for the entire shelter. 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! We are incredibly grateful to all of you who give your time, energy and compassion to those who need it most.

Now down to the shelter’s wish list of the week:

  • Twin-size sheet sets
  • New pillows (we are unable to accept used)
  • Men’s and women’s sweatpants (all sizes) and jeans (smaller sizes only for jeans)
  • Men’s and women’s t-shirts (all sizes)
  • New men’s and women’s underwear (we are only able to accept NEW – all sizes)
  • Bottled water

DONATION HOURS AND DROPOFF LOCATION: Donations from our needs list above and all unexpired/store-bought foods are accepted at Utah’s Place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30am – 3:30pm and Saturdays from 10am – 2pm. Our shelter is located at 1262 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, CA 95945. 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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