My name is Dan Ernesto and I am a Shelter Advocate at Hospitality House’s homeless shelter, Utah’s Place. One of my favorite parts about working at Hospitality House is the opportunity to build rapport with guests. Experiencing homelessness is difficult but our guests remain so grateful for helping them through a crisis. Prior to being an advocate, I was also a Homeless Access Transportation (HAT) driver for Hospitality House and that’s how I met Samantha.

Samantha was living in her vehicle for an extended period, struggling with substance abuse. While she of course had her own transportation, with not much of any income to her name, she would utilize our HAT van from time to time to get around town. Overtime, she put faith in our system and she welcomed shelter support at Utah’s Place.

Now that I’m a Shelter Advocate, I’ve had an opportunity to watch Samantha accept shelter here, beginning with our Outreach Dorm, where there are no expectations for sobriety, treatment, housing plans—just opportunities available if and when a person is ready. In time, Samantha got clean and graduated to our Onward Dorm, which means she began living at our shelter full time where a bed is guaranteed for her each evening. In Onward Dorm, one is also required to work with case managers and develop a housing case plan, all of which she embraced.

When we had an opening at our senior housing complex, Sierra Guest Home, we moved Samantha there on a trial, transitional basis to better prepare her for permanent housing. Today, Samantha remains at Sierra Guest Home and continues to take steps forward. She isn’t quite ready just yet to live independently, but each day Samantha takes another step toward permanency, and we are so proud of her progress and dedication to recovery.

Right now, those looking to help us further services to children, men and women like Samantha have an opportunity to help us create greater impact. Through Dec. 14, two local families are doubling all donations made to Hospitality House up to $30,000. This means a $10 gift will be matched and become $20, giving twice as many people support. Give on online at, or by mailing a check to Hospitality House at 1262 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, CA 95945.

Another great way to help is to support our annual Night of Giving musical benefit, which returns in less than a week at The Center for the Arts on Thursday, Dec. 14. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door (unless we sell out!). Learn more about Night of Giving and secure your tickets today: A big thank you to PE Consulting Associates, MWA and Coldwell Banker Grass Roots Realty for sponsoring Night of Giving again this year.

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:

Twin-size blankets
New pillows (we are unable to accept used)
Men’s shoes, sizes 10-14
Women’s shoes, sizes 8-10

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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