My name is Kortney Simonson, and I’m a shelter and community advocate for Hospitality House. I have the honor of engaging with shelter guests on a daily basis and witnessing their progress from first moments at the shelter all the way through to seeing them move into homes of their own. One guest who I’ve enjoyed supporting throughout his journey is someone who I’ll refer to as Julian.

When Julian first arrived at the shelter, over two years ago, he was angry and a bit problematic. He had recently relapsed into substance use and subsequently sabotaged his relationship with his sons, had lost his job, and his car had been repossessed. He was resisting case management help and other services designed to help him. When he started having altercations with other guests, he was asked to leave the shelter.

A year later he showed up at the shelter expecting to be rejected, but Julian was greeted with kindness and compassion. Forgiveness and second chances are foundational to Hospitality House’s approach to helping people. Welcomed back into the fold, Julian was so grateful for the opportunity to try again that something visibly changed in him.

He began recovery treatment, started helping with chores and began working with his case manager to get his life back. He started making amends with his kids and became a grandfather.

Today Julian spends every free night with his kids and grandkids and will proudly show off photos of his grandkids to anyone who will look. He has a full-time job, but still makes sure to prepare 40 bag lunches to be handed out to people living on the streets before he heads off to work for the day. Julian has secured his Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) and is applying for housing with his case manager. To top off all of this wonderful news, he just bought a new car today!

When I asked Julian what inspired him to make such amazing changes in his life, he referred back to the compassion and forgiveness he was offered by Hospitality House, and the second chance he didn’t take for granted. If you’d like to help guests like Julian make their way back to permanent housing, please consider donating today.

I’d like to thank the amazing volunteers who have generously helped out this week: Hilary Dart and Kathy Perkins helped by grocery shopping for the shelter. Bill Blount and George Dunstan provided spiritual support at Sierra Guest Home. Two of our amazing cook groups spoiled guests with comforting homemade meals. Then Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains cook made their scrumptious enchilada pie, veggies and coleslaw and our newest cook group, the Ramblers, made a delicious mac-n-cheese with ham, coleslaw and dessert. 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 blankets
  • 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 winter coats, jackets and hoodies (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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