A night of giving: Hospitality House’s annual fundraiser for homeless shelter returns to the Miners Foundry Saturday evening | TheUnion.com

A night of giving: Hospitality House’s annual fundraiser for homeless shelter returns to the Miners Foundry Saturday evening

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to Prospector


Who: Hospitality House

What: 14th Annual Night of Giving

Where: Miners Foundry, 325 Spring Street Nevada City

When: Saturday, Dec. 21 from 5 to 10 p.m.

Tickets: Suggested donation $25 (same day donations will be tripled by angel donors). Tickets available at Tickets are available at Bread & Roses Thrift and More, BriarPatch Community Co-Op, hhshelter.org, and at the door. Generous sponsors include Telestream, Dignity Health, BriarPatch Food Co-Op, InterWest Insurance Services Agent Chip Arenchild, SPD Markets, Coldwell Banker Grass Roots, YubaNet, Nevada County Association of Realtors, KVMR, The Union, Chapa-De Indian Health, Caliber Collision, and Sweetland Garden Supply

It has been 14 years since a small group of community members decided to raise money to build a shelter for the local homeless. Organizer Mikail Graham said it is amazing to see what has come from the humble beginnings of the annual benefit, now well known to locals as “A Night of Giving.”

Graham said (the now late) Utah Phillips and his wife, Joanna (Robinson) were trying to get a homeless shelter off the ground and he, along with others, thought they could lend them a hand raising funds for what would become Hospitality House. “Maggie McKaig of Beaucoup Chapeaux said, ‘We should probably do a little benefit or something.’ I was co-managing Coopers at the time, and we thought, well let’s just do this. It will be fun to get a few people together and raise a few hundred bucks.” The first event raised nearly $11,000 and Graham has never looked back. He continued, “It hit me that there is a resonance in the community for it. Unfortunately, it’s fourteen years later and we are still having to do this every year in order to keep the doors open. We are still having to do this in order to spread the word that this (homelessness) is not something that is unique to Nevada County.”

The Night of Giving, however, is unique. For one night, dozens of musicians donate their time and talent and hundreds of volunteers join in to help in a variety of ways – from taking tickets to garnering items for auction. Graham said, “I would love to spread this around to other parts of the country, it’s been a dream of mine for years. Maybe next year we’ll be able to do that more. There has been talk about doing some simulcast and things like that, just to show others — here is what you can do — because it is such a powerful event. It really resonates. For me, it’s a hometown Christmas party.”

Graham said, “It’s an excuse to get together with friends and family – some who have not seen each other all year. I run into lots and lots of people who come just for that sensibility of the social atmosphere.”

More than 32 acts will perform, with the entertainment beginning when the doors open at 5 p.m. and continuing on two stages until 10 p.m. “We have a half dozen choirs. We have Petty Luv closing out the evening and for the first time an outsider will perform. Rita Hoskins has become part of the community and had asked to perform in the past.” Many local favorites will take the stage as well.

The suggested donation is $25 — though no one will be turned away for a lack of funds. The event also has three matching “angel donors” who will triple any same-day donation. Graham said, “Some people I know will save up money and come in with five hundred or a thousand dollars – suddenly there is three thousand dollars. People do that, almost religiously, saying they want to give to the cause and save up all year. It really is amazing, what it does. It sparks a sense of community. It helps a great cause and it feels good, too.”

Dinner will also be served beginning at 5 o’clock. Prepared by homeless students and graduates of the Hospitality House Serves culinary job-readiness training program led by award-winning Chef Chris Fagan, a buffet meal is available for an added $10 until 8 p.m.

Throughout the evening there will be speakers sharing their firsthand experiences of homelessness with the crowd. Graham said it is also important to dispel the myth that the community encourages the homeless to come here. “A lot of people feel that there is a big neon sign saying ‘Come to Grass Valley, we’ll take care of you here — free room and board!’ That is not it at all.”

In reality, more than half of the people who go to Hospitality House are local people. Graham added, “A lot of them are locals who grew up here who just had a turn of luck where it is very hard to get by.”

A no host bar, and silent auction will raise additional funds. Graham estimated to date, A Night of Giving has raised somewhere around $350-$500 thousand dollars — all of it used to keep the doors of Hospitality House open.

House of Hospitality Development Director Ashley Quadros said, “This event is one of the most important nights of the year for our shelter. Everyone who comes to Night of Giving comes because they care about the people in our community—our neighbors. Together, we’re helping people struggling with homelessness return to stability and housing. On top of being a wonderful holiday party that showcases fantastic musical talent with amazing auction items, raffle prizes, and scrumptious food, donations from this one night alone help us throughout the year to provide emergency shelter, care and services. This event directly helps people get out of the cold and into our shelter; it gives them nourishment, clothing, personalized case management and job training to return to stability and housing. And that’s what this is about — helping people get back into homes.”

Graham is also a member of the board of directors of Hospitality House. He said there are stories with silver linings happening, as he sees more and more opportunities popping up for affordable housing. Hospitality House is working with the county and partnering with other organizations to help the homeless as well. “This event helps keep the doors open. The Night of Giving is about humanity. It’s a night where everybody just comes together to enjoy each other’s company and enjoy some great music.”

Graham said while he does not have the answer to homelessness, he does have a lot of hope. “The best way I could say it would be in the words Utah said to me many, many years ago. ‘If we all stick together, we will get what we need.’”

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com.

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