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Annual Renew, Energize, Donate fundraiser starts Thursday

Tom Durkin
Staff Writer

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Who: Keller Williams and Friar Tuck’s

What: Food donations to The Food Bank of Nevada County and Hospitality House

Where: Online, phone, Keller Williams offices and Friar Tuck’s restaurant

When: May 14 through June 1

Cost: Tax-deductible donations of any amount are welcome

More information: Hospitality House, http://www.hhshelter.org, or mail to 1262 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, CA 95945; The Food Bank of Nevada County, http://www.foodbankofnc.org, or 578 Sutton Way, No. 187, Grass Valley, CA 95945; Friar Tuck’s, http://www.friartucks.com or 530-265-9093; Keller Williams, http://www.headquarters.kw.com/red-day, 530-927-7290 or 128 Main St. Grass Valley.

Keller Williams Realty of Nevada County had intended to build a house with Habitat for Humanity, but those plans were destroyed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every May 14, the international real estate company Keller Williams has its “annual day of service,” known as RED Day, said Kimberly “Pepper” Pepe, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty in Grass Valley.

RED stands for Renew, Energize, Donate.

With the Habitat for Humanity project eliminated, “I really wanted to do something for the restaurants and the Food Bank and Hospitality House,” said Pepe, who is a former employee of the community homeless shelter.

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Through June 1, all funds from checks written to Keller Williams, Attn: RED Day, will be donated to Friar Tuck’s bar and restaurant in Nevada City, she said.

For every $50 raised through Keller Williams this month, Friar Tuck’s will donate a custom-packed food box to Hospitality House and give a $20 gift certificate back to Keller Williams, said Ken Paige, owner of Friar Tuck’s.

Keller Williams, in turn, will donate all the gift certificates it receives to the Food Bank of Nevada County, Pepe explained.

COMMITMENT TO THE COMMUNITY

“Do the right thing and the money will come” has been Paige’s philosophy since he assumed ownership last year of Friar Tuck’s, one of Nevada City’s restaurants.

Even before the pandemic began, Friar Tuck’s was actively involved in serving the community.

“We’re doing fine,” Paige reported, explaining that the restaurant has not only survived the pandemic shutdown but has been able to create community good will by donating food to Hospitality House.

Hospitality House runs the physical homeless shelter Utah’s Place on Sutton Way in Grass Valley. It is the largest and only year-round homeless shelter for the general population of Nevada County. During the pandemic crisis, it is operating Utah’s Place 24/7 and also supporting homeless people who have been sheltered in local motels.

The nonprofit organization also works with homeless people in the camps and on the streets.

“We have connections with our food vendors. We can get good prices,” Paige revealed. “It’s a real no-brainer. We are blessed to bless them. It’s a joy.”

“Ken has been absolutely amazing,” Pepe said. “What a darling, darling man.”

“I can’t say enough good things about Ken,” Douglass Fleming of the Food Bank agreed. “It’s a great thing they (Friar Tuck’s and Keller Williams) are doing.”

Fleming, a retired corporate attorney, is a newly elected Nevada City Council member who will take office in July.

“We are grateful to our friends at Friar Tuck’s and Keller Williams Realty for coming together and establishing the food fundraiser,” said Ashley Quadros, the development director for Hospitality House.

Paige announced Monday afternoon he intends to reopen Friar Tuck’s on Friday for in-person dining. He emphasized that he is following both the state and local guidelines for safely coming out of the pandemic shutdown.

Having already sold many gift certificates through the pre-existing deal with Hospitality House under the Give Where They Live program, Paige said he expects “quite a turnout,” when the eatery reopens. Reservations are recommended.

FOOD BANKING

“We normally serve 300 to 400 individuals each month at our Grass Valley distribution,” reported Fleming.

Under the new pandemic normal, the nonprofit Food Bank is “serving between 2,000 and 2,500 individuals each week,” he said.

Fleming reported he is looking at “how we can best leverage them (Friar Tuck’s gift certificates) to leverage even more funding.” In addition to feeding more than 2,000 people, he said the Food Bank is stockpiling food.

He acknowledged that while giving $20 gift certificates to Food Bank recipients might seem like a nice idea, most Food Bank recipients could not afford to eat at the expensive, fine-dining establishment in any case.

He did not rule out some kind of raffle to bestow gift certificates on Food Bank recipients, but he said the certificates might be better used to reward and motivate the many volunteers needed to run the Food Bank.

He noted many of the Food Bank’s stalwart volunteers are senior citizens who are being advised to shelter in place because they are the highest risk cohort that must be protected from the potentially lethal infection of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“We have a whole new crop of 50 new volunteers,” he announced.

Fleming reported the executive board of the Food Bank will meet Wednesday to discuss and decide how to distribute the gift certificates received from Keller Williams’ RED campaign this month.

“Thanks to all of you for all of your wonderful efforts to help our community in this time of need!” said Fleming, giving a shout out to people and organizations who support the Food Bank of Nevada County.

DIRE STRAITS

Even in the best of times, it’s a struggle to feed and shelter just some of Nevada County’s homeless population. In these worst of times with the pandemic crisis, the effort to care for the county’s most vulnerable citizens borders on the desperate.

“The need for food is great. Because of the pandemic, we’ve had no choice but to suspend volunteerism at Hospitality House,” Quadros wrote in an email Monday.

“This largely affects food at the shelter since approximately 300 volunteers came through Utah’s Place each month with their own donated food,” she said.

“Our volunteers are graciously still donating food and funds to continue to help with meals, but … we have the added challenge of safe food transportation to multiple motels.

“We’ve helped feed as many as 100 people a day (300 meals daily) but we are averaging right now about 80 people a day (240 meals daily). This is counting just the folks at the shelter and motels, and not the outreach food support we’re also giving on the streets,” Quadros said.

Friar Tuck’s has been “a huge help,” she affirmed, explaining the restaurant allows the shelter to custom-order food boxes to provide “anything we urgently need for the shelter or motels.”

Paige confirmed he works closely with Chef Chris Fagan at Hospitality House, “Beef, chicken, pork, lobster, crab … salads, vegetables cereals, we can get pretty much whatever they need,” he said.

Quadros added, “This means we are better able to offset the food donations we already receive through the Interfaith Food Ministry, the food bank, SPD Markets, BriarPatch Co-op, Grocery Outlet and individual food donations.”

At the end of her email message, Quadros concluded with this plea:

“We could also use help getting the word out on our donation match.”

Throughout the month of May, “monetary donations to Hospitality House are being doubled dollar for dollar right now up to $25,000 for this month only.”

She explained donations through Keller Williams and Friar Tuck’s are restricted to buying food whereas the double-matched donations to Hospitality House can be used to fund overall operations of the 15-year-old homeless shelter.

Quadros stressed, “I don’t want to take away from the food fundraiser, because it is an incredible act of community goodwill for Friar Tuck’s and Keller Williams to do this.”

Haidee Reyes, office manager for Keller Williams, said that RED Day (which lasts through the end of the month) is an “expression of the constant state of the Keller Williams culture. We see a need, discover who can meet it and get it done.”

Tom Durkin is a staff writer for The Union.


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