Former Grass Valley City Councilwoman Yolanda Cookson will join the area’s leading homeless service organization as it renovates the county’s first permanent shelter.
Cookson, who declined to run for re-election last November, will begin as Hospitality House’s new development director Monday, said its executive director, Cindy Maple.
In that position, Cookson will be responsible for developing Hospitality House’s fundraising program, courting donors and looking for new sources of income, Maple said.
“I am excited to work with Hospitality House because they are at an exciting time in their development,” Cookson said. “I hope that I can benefit them with the relationships I have in the community.”
Cookson, a current Grass Valley planning commissioner, has worked as a volunteer for Hospitality House in the past, both at its events and through Twin Cities Church, she said.
“I’ve known Yolanda for a while and have totally respected her,” Maple said. “I’m so excited to have her work with us here.”
Cookson comes on board as the homeless service agency is in the middle of renovating a 6,500-square-foot permanent shelter on Sutton Way, called Utah’s Place in honor of the late Hospitality House cofounder and homeless advocate Bruce “Utah” Phillips. The facility will become the organization’s permanent home, providing year-round overnight sleeping quarters for as many as 54 guests that will include dedicated space for homeless families.
Since beginning construction five weeks ago, Hospitality House has raised $80,000 toward $433,000 needed for the renovation, Maple said.
Barring unforeseen hurdles, the project is slated for completion at the end of July, she said.
Until then, the organization will continue to house guests overnight using the nomadic model it has employed for the last nine years. That model is accomplished by area churches taking turns hosting bused guests. Currently, 28 churches fill that need for the nonprofit’s guests.
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