Community-building dinner raises funds for Sierra Roots, honors founder Janice O’Brien |

Community-building dinner raises funds for Sierra Roots, honors founder Janice O’Brien

For Sierra Roots founder, Hospitality House co-founder, and homeless community advocate Janice O’Brien, saying no to one of her homeless clients can be a difficult thing to do.

Recently she’s had to do just that when one of her clients called her from jail after being arrested on a warrant.

“She called me crying saying ‘You’re my friend, you’re my friend, Please get me out’. And I had to tell her I can’t do that. She said ‘It’s only a bail of $1,500’, So saying no is really difficult but it’s OK, she got out, and she said she would be very happy if I could come and have coffee with her and that’s all you have to do.”

O’Brien told that story to a crowd full of people waiting to honor her for Sierra Roots’ first Community Builder Award during their Community Builder Dinner 2019 at Toffanelli’s.

She was introduced by Leo Granucci.

“If I was to write a job description for Janice O’Brien it would read something like this,” Granucci said to the dinner crowd. “First, she’s a friend of the homeless. She knows them all by name and they know her and respect her. She’s a confidant, and they can confide in her and share their feelings and what they’re going through. She’s an outreach coordinator and she becomes a case manager when she provides these services for people.

“If somebody is eligible for disability, she drives them there. Or if they want to get clean, she drives them there. She’s a medical assistant if they need medical care she’ll take them to the hospital or the emergency room. And also she’s a hospice supporter, she’s there on their last day.”

O’Brien’s efforts to found Sierra Roots as a place for those inadmissible to Hospitality House, were also highlighted during the dinner. Her efforts to establish the Seaman’s lodge warming shelters were also recognized.

Nevada City First Baptist Church Pastor Roland Meyer, who has also been instrumental in assisting Sierra Roots to help area homeless, was awarded the Community Collaborator of the Year Award.

“We are still moving forward in building a community village,” O’Brien said as she accepted the award.

“The difference with Sierra Roots is, we treat the homeless as one of us, we are one with them,” O’Brien said.

“We don’t do for them, we do with them … Some are our friends, and they’re family, we are family with them.” O’Brien said.

Future community builder awards will receive the Janice O’Brien Community Builder Award in honor of her countless contributions.

To contact Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez, email or call 530-477-4230.

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