My name is Maylee Melo and I’m an outreach case manager for Hospitality House. That means that I go out into the community to connect with those who are without a home or shelter and connect them with the services available to them. Sometimes this means helping them get a phone, or taking them to the Nevada County Food Bank, or filling out a job application. Sometimes they need water, food or clothing, and sometimes we are just building rapport and trust with each other, with hopes that sometime in the future they will call me to work their way back into permanent housing. One family that I had the opportunity to work with to a very successful end, is a mother, father and six kids who I will refer to as the Frosts.
After five years in the same apartment, the Frosts’ landlord decided to change the status of their rental to a Housing Choice (Section 8) property. Concerned that pushing back against this change might lead to eviction, mom Frost chose to go along with it. Little did she know that there were additional expectations and requirements that accompanied this new label, and as such the Frosts became “non-compliant” within months. With the stress of both parent’s jobs disappearing due to the pandemic and six children demanding their attention, mom and dad Frost didn’t have the bandwidth to deal with the new paperwork and hoops to jump through, particularly without guidance of any kind. So they were evicted.
Eight family members were forced out onto the street. The Frosts immediately received help from their children’s school, which offered to foot the bill for a hotel room. Though well intended that plan soon became unsustainable, and the school reached out to Hospitality House. Though the shelter has a family dorm, it only holds four family members, and was occupied, so the motel remained the best way to continue providing shelter for the Frosts. Throughout their stay at the motel, the Frost children regularly commented that they just wanted to go home, breaking the hearts of all of us who were trying to make that happen for them. At Christmas time a local family generously offered their AirBnB home to a homeless family for the holidays and the Frosts were able to enjoy an almost-normal holiday, complete with gifts for the children purchased by Hospitality House staff.
Over the next two months at the AirBnB, the Frosts were able to secure new full-time jobs and save up money for rent and deposits for the housing we were searching for. Affordable housing, in general, is hard to come by in Nevada County, but housing for eight people is nearly non-existent due to limited septic systems and such. Finally, just recently, we located a wonderful home for the family and they’ve moved in! The kids are incredibly happy that they finally get to go home.
If you’d like to help families like the Frosts, please consider donating today, while thanks to generous match donors your gift will be doubled, dollar for dollar up to $30,000 through May 31. Success stories like these happen because of you. There are many more people who need our compassion and guidance during a very tough time in their lives. Please help us to help them.
It takes a village to serve the homeless men, women and children in our community and we are grateful for Hospitality House’s amazing volunteers who were invaluable 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. Robin Kinnard helped Brian in the kitchen on Tuesday and the Repeat Offenders cook team came in last Thursday and served up their incredible ground beef marinara pasta, veggies, salad, garlic bread and dessert. Guests always rave! 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!