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Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Helping hands go a long way

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

Watching the destruction left behind after hurricanes in Texas, the Caribbean and Florida, along with the devastating fires burning communities throughout the West, it is heartwarming to see people — indeed, the nation — stepping up to help.

Whether volunteering, sending goods and services, or offering financial assistance, it continues to be true that we are a nation where we care about each other. There is nothing like a tragedy to bring out our humanity.

We can put our political and social beliefs aside and get into the dirt to help one another. Today, because of these natural disasters, people are hungry, cold and homeless, and others are rising up to offer assistance.



Unfortunately, those same conditions exist for a growing population across the nation all the time — no natural disaster required — and they don’t all necessarily have anyone offering a helping hand.

According to executive director Sandy “Jake” Jacobsen, food insecurity is a strong predictor of health problems like heart disease, cancer, stroke, pulmonary disease, diabetes and early stage dementia.

While the homeless issue is growing and is getting a lot of attention, I recently learned a bit about a segment of the population that is sometimes overlooked and easily forgotten: our elderly residents who need our support year-round.




It’s hard to believe that Western Nevada County has hundreds of seniors who suffer from food insecurity (as in they don’t necessarily know where their next meal is coming from). They are often homebound and barely getting by.

Luckily, they have a resource called Gold Country Community Services who, along with hundreds of volunteers, deliver thousands of meals each year through the Meals on Wheels program, and hundreds of cords of wood through their senior firewood program.

Since many of these seniors are also isolated, the people making these deliveries may serve as the only human interaction some will receive.

A personal story

Next week marks the fifth anniversary of my mother’s passing.

She spent the last few years of her life in an assisted living facility. My brother was tasked with taking care of my mom’s housing and finances.

He was on the front line with her when things were most difficult, while I lived thousands of miles away, confident her basic needs would be met and she would not be alone.

My brother visited often — no easy task given he worked full time and lived some twenty miles away.

I called once in a great while — not nearly enough — and wrote infrequently.

I didn’t think too much about it, never worried, confident she was near other family members.

I can’t imagine how different it would have been had she been living on her own without anyone to look after her.

What if she relied on a service like Meals on Wheels to eat regularly or on donations of firewood to stay warm?

And what would have happened if those services were cut from a lack of funding?

Realizing there are folks not as fortunate as was my mother has prompted me to support Gold Country Community Services. The organization makes it easy to do so as they host one of the most enjoyable fundraisers I have been to in some time.

The fundraiser

Now in its third year, the End of Summer Bash is happening this Saturday at Rincon Del Rio along the Bear River.

It’s a casual affair with all kinds of games set up for the guests to play, from RC boat racing on the river to outdoor games of skill on the beach.

Before serving guests an over-the-top farm-to-table dinner arranged with a variety of stations offering more entrees than some restaurants, there are piglet races.

The pampered and well-cared-for swine entertain guests with a couple rounds of “find dinner.”

It is sweet and delightful and a little competitive.

Who can help but put a couple of dollars down on “Hamilton” or “Spamela Anderson” with prizes to be won and proceeds going to this important organization? After dinner, there is live music, dancing and a live auction featuring some unique offerings.

According to executive director Sandy “Jake” Jacobsen, food insecurity is a strong predictor of health problems like heart disease, cancer, stroke, pulmonary disease, diabetes and early stage dementia.

“We want to do everything possible to keep our homebound seniors well nourished, warm and living independently in their homes,” said Jacobsen.

The venue, Rincon Del Rio, is a spectacular compound, worth the drive and worth the price of admission.

With federal funding “unstable,” it’s time for our community to step up and help our neighbors — not from damage caused by natural disaster but, sadly, by the day-to-day reality of hardship.

Our community takes pride in caring for one another in time of need. For this segment of our population, the need is greater than ever.

Tickets are still available for the End of Summer Bash happening Saturday at 5 p.m. at Rincon del Rio off Highway 49.

You can get yours now at http://www.goldcountryservices.org/events.

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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