’Night of Giving’: Annual event returns as a virtual benefit for Hospitality House
Special to Prospector
Fifteen years after co-organizing the first “Night of Giving” at a local bar, Mikail Graham could not have imagined the amount of money that would be raised, the sense of community that would be enjoyed, or the transformation the event would take amid a global pandemic.
This year, Graham has had to reimagine what many have come to call “simply the best hometown community Christmas party around” to a virtual evening of entertainment, storytelling and giving, to aid an ever-growing population of homeless people. And while the money raised each year (from $11,000 in 2005 to nearly $80,000 in 2019) has been put to good use, the reality is there is more work to be done to help members of our community find housing security.
Graham, who is also now a member of the board of directors for Hospitality House, has been working on a virtual event, putting together two hours of programming with the hope of raising money for the ever-growing needs of the homeless. The event will stream Saturday, Dec. 19 beginning at 6 p.m. While “admission” is free, a donation of $25 is suggested.
“Essentially what I have done is taken various video submissions from different acts and put it together,” said Graham. “It’s a combination of giving people a little tour of Utah’s Place and what we are up to, some testimonials from guests and just a variety of different people performing.”
Finding a positive aspect in moving to a pre-recorded format, Graham said he was able to secure performances from artists who might not have otherwise been available. “Folks like Joe Craven and his daughter Hattie, Alasdair Fraser, Music in the Mountains has a beautiful choral piece, In Concert Sierra Master Chorale has some wonderful holiday pieces, and many others.” He is adding some “best of” performances from year’s past as well.
As in the past, angel donors will match any money given Saturday night. Graham said, “People every year save up, some will give $1,000 or $2,000 and that then becomes $3,000 or $6,000 – some give $50—no matter the amount it will be triple matched and that will add up to a lot. Hopefully, we can keep this thing going.
“It’s not a cause that is going away or has gotten solved, unfortunately, but we will do our best to make the evening entertaining and make it fun.”
Graham said this is the last year he is heading up the event. “This is my 15th year. I really struggled with whether waiting and going 20 years but to be honest, with the pandemic, I really feel a need to rediscover myself. I used to be a performing musician before I became the promoter guy! So, I am looking forward to getting a life.”
Graham said he feels it is going to still be a while before public events happen again and these virtual events may be the best way to see artists perform.
“It’s heartbreaking when you see what the Miners Foundry has created, what the Center for the Arts has created – this beautiful 500 seat theater — but when is the next time we are going to see 500 people shoulder to shoulder? I don’t think anytime soon. In the meantime, we’ll hone our chops with this virtual situation, get the word out, and let people see what Hospitality House and A Night of Giving is really all about.”
Due to the pandemic, the permanent shelter, Utah’s Place (named after cofounder Utah Phillips who died in 2008), has become a 24-hour facility. They have been in lockdown since March with fewer beds available on sight, but greater need and greater services offered. In addition, with the assistance of the County of Nevada and several other agencies focused on helping those with housing insecurity, the agency has expanded services to local hotels and now serves over 100 people daily, including children.
Hospitality House Development Director Ashley Quadros said while it has been an extremely challenging time there are success stories. “It’s OK to not be OK. It’s been a difficult year. We are no exception to that,” Quadros said. “Our guests — while it has been challenging for some, a lot have done well. They have found a lot of peace in gardening at the shelter, or have taken to art, and a lot have been extremely motivated to get help, so despite being in a pandemic we have permanently housed over 60 people these past few months.”
As for A Night of Giving, Graham added, “I am hoping people enjoy it. They can see the music up close from a comfortable safe place. I want to thank everyone for their support these 15 years, and support for the event. It’s not going away but it is the last time I will be producing it. Thank you to the community for stepping up so many times.”
With continued financial support from this Saturday’s” Night of Giving,” the folks at Hospitality House intend to share even more success stories for years to come.
For more information on Night of Giving, visit hhshelter.org.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@ gmail.com.
WHAT: A Night of Giving
WHO: Hospitality House
WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 19, 6 to 8 p.m.
WHERE: Watch from home at hhshelter.org, Facebook.com/hhshelter, YouTube.com/hhshelter or by watching Public Access Television: Comcast channel 11 or Suddenlink channel 16
COST: Free but a $25 donation is suggested to help the shelter receive a triple match donation during the evening
MORE INFO: Visit hhshelter.org.
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