Grass Valley Ladies Relief offering support for 142 years | TheUnion.com
Julie Cobden
Submitted to The Union

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Grass Valley Ladies Relief offering support for 142 years

Grass Valley Ladies Relief? What is that?

You're not likely to even wonder unless you attend the Donation Day Parade, scholarship night at the local high schools or you are associated with a major local charitable organization. You might then hear or see the name. But this small group of local women is one of the oldest organized charities in the state of California.

Its founder Luisa Coleman, wife of the owner of the Idaho Maryland Mine, rallied 32 of her prominent friends because she said she "could not enjoy her holiday dinner knowing that there were some who could not afford food for their tables."

On Nov. 6, 1873 these women created the Grass Valley Ladies' Benevolent Society to "render service to those in distress." Three years later the California State Legislature officially recognized the organization as the Grass Valley Ladies Relief Society with a grant of $1,000 to pursue their goals. Today the still very active, very local group of about 45 women meet seven times a year in one another's homes to "help provide basic needs, alleviate suffering and improve the health and wellbeing of western Nevada County residents with an emphasis on the young and the old."

Today the still very active, very local group of about 45 women meet seven times a year in one another’s homes to “help provide basic needs, alleviate suffering and improve the health and wellbeing of western Nevada County residents with an emphasis on the young and the old.”

Over the past 142 years Ladies Relief has reinvented itself in many ways to address social changes in our community. It has no Board and no paid employees. It does its charitable work by managing an invested fund of donations from people who believe in their program; sometimes donors earmark funds for scholarships and other particular projects.

GVLR is best known for the Donation Day Parade, a project suggested in 1883 by Caroline Mead Hanson, who was not a member. Over the years many individuals have come to meetings to suggest projects worthy of support. Some recent and ongoing GVLR projects include a dental program for children, two scholarship programs, the fifth-grade dictionary project at Scotten School, financial help for school nurses and supplemental supplies for some nursing homes. Other local organizations receiving help from "the Ladies" have included the Interfaith Food Ministry, Core, Hospitality House, the Kare Crisis Nursery, Manzanita House, Habitat for Humanity, The Domestic Violence Coalition, Sierra Services for the Blind, Senior Outreach Nurses, and the Emergency Assistance Coalition.

Since their 19th century inception, Grass Valley Ladies Relief has always been quietly ready for small local emergencies that might otherwise have gone unmet.

Although Donation Day is an excellent opportunity to show up to give nonperishable holiday food or monetary gifts, people who want to contribute to a local organization that provides local aid can contribute all year long by contacting Grass Valley Ladies Relief at P.O. Box 866, Cedar Ridge CA 95924 or gvlrs.org.