Work to begin on Grass Valley’s first homeless shelter |

Work to begin on Grass Valley’s first homeless shelter

Christopher Rosacker
Staff Writer

After years of working toward a permanent shelter to service Nevada County's homeless individuals, Hospitality House ceremoniously broke ground on the renovation of a Grass Valley facility Tuesday.

"The journey to these doors has been long and arduous," said Joanna Robinson, cofounder of Hospitality House and president of its board of directors.

The new shelter is named Utah's Place in honor of the nonprofit's beloved cofounder, Utah Phillips, an ardent fighter for labor and peace issues, a folk singer, a poet and advocate for the homeless who died May 23, 2008, of heart failure.

"He was, above all, the soul of kindness, and he was a great, great teacher," said Robinson, who is also Phillips' widow.

With the planned completion at the end of July, the 6,500-square-foot facility will be available year-round as overnight sleeping quarters for as many as 54 guests and will include dedicated space for homeless families.

"Many people have been on the road that led here — far, far too many to name," Robinson said.

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"They've all worked hard, and the tasks along the way have been plentiful."

With about 100 people in attendance, Tuesday's groundbreaking featured a ceremonial shoveling of dirt into a pot in which a maple tree will be planted.

"Nothing could more symbolically appropriate," Robinson said to Executive Director Cindy Maple.

"(O)n behalf of everyone touched and cared for by your work, I thank you and salute you."

The ceremonies for the shelter, located at 1262 Sutton Way in Grass Valley, also included a lighting of a dozen candles by representatives of Hospitality House's 28 faith organizations that will feed and house homeless guests overnight until the shelter's opening, as they have done for the last seven and half years.

With the first dirt scooped, contractor Bill Litchfield and his crew can begin renovation today, Maple said.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call 530-477-4236.

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