Shortly after Grass Valley eliminated its parks and recreation department in June 2009 amid recession-induced budget shortfalls, its former director found herself in the city council audience still lobbying for a dog park that she had pushed for.
Former parks director Sandy “Jake” Jacobson recalls people asking why she was still coming even though she wasn’t getting paid.
“It was disappointing to be sure, but I understand that when there is no money in the checking account that tough decisions have to be made,” Jacobson said. “It was a good run, but I wasn’t done yet.”
Today, Jacobson, a Nevada Union High School graduate who developed the core of the city’s recreation programs, continues her work developing the community.
She is Gold Country Community Services’ executive director, a nonprofit organization that Jacobson has bloomed into providing 45,000 meals a year to seniors and others, as well as supplying firewood and organizing community activities and programs.
“I’m finishing what I couldn’t do,” Jacobson said. “I never considered that might happen.”
Under her leadership, Gold Country has expanded its Meals on Wheels program to North San Juan and added programs and activities, such as a senior field trip program, as well as developed strong public/private partnerships, said City Councilwoman Jan Arbuckle, whose term as mayor just expired.
“That’s her passion — to give back to the community in whatever capacity she is able to,” Arbuckle said.
With Jacobson at the helm, Gold Country has been approved to take over Condon Park’s LOVE Building, where it plans to expand its meal program and develop a community center.
“I want a place where people feel comfortable to come in without an invitation,” Jacobson said.
While Gold Country already runs most of the community activities at the building, taking management control of it will allow the nonprofit to expand its current activities, such as Tai Chi and yoga.
Before her term ended Nov. 28 Arbuckle bestowed Jacobson with the Mayor’s Award, presented annually to someone for exemplary community service.
“When her job got eliminated, she went out there with a force and kept doing what she loves,” Arbuckle said.
During the award ceremony, Arbuckle highlighted a few of Jacobson’s accomplishments: She is active in Foothill Lions Club; spearheaded improvements to local parks, including Mautino Park; trains interns; serves and supports
elder coalitions; works on enhanced accessibility for area residents in coordination with other local groups such as FREED; engages in fundraising for local causes; and referees in local sports events.
“For her, it is the whole community, not just one facet of it,” Arbuckle said. “She is committed and dedicated … Who else could I pick?”
But Jacobson never expected to be awarded for being engaged in her community. After all, she said, it was how she was raised.
“I do what I do because that is what is inside of me,” Jacobson said. “To be awarded for that was a little strange but an honor nonetheless.”
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4236.