Hospitality House opens Thursday | TheUnion.com

Hospitality House opens Thursday

Dave Moller
Senior Staff Writer

Cindy Maple knows there will be Nevada County homeless people sleeping in the rain tonight and Wednesday evening, because the Hospitality House welcome center will not open until Thursday.

“Our goal is to raise enough funding to be open year-round,” the executive director of the center said Monday. “People suffer and struggle just as much in the summer … We hoped to add a month this year, but it didn’t happen.”

The center will be open for homeless people from 1 to 4 p.m. at 236 South Church St. in Grass Valley, to get meals, showers and their laundry done during the day from Thursday until April 30 next year. It is also the point from where guests are taken to various area churches to spend the night.

Maple continues to operate the center on a shoestring budget of $270,000. She is the only full-time worker, with part-timers and volunteers filling in.

The director has applied for a federal grant of $100,000 for this year and next, but has not heard back yet if it will be successful.

“Our grant is tough because we’re nomadic,” with no permanent shelter to call home, Maple said.

“We’re hanging on because our community has generously helped us out,” she said. “We’re frugal and we get everything we can that’s donated.”

One recent donation is a bus from the Sierra Presbyterian Church that will be used for the night trips to churches, Maple said.

Another help is the homeless grant just landed by the Salvation Army. It will provide software to help track the homeless and their situations in the county and provide statistics about them for future grant requests for the center. It will also add case management hours so homeless patrons can get counseling.

“We’re still looking for overnight volunteers,” Maple said. “They can actually sleep at the church sites; we need them in case of emergencies.”

The challenge for Hospitality House continues to be capacity, Maple said, and the dream continues for a permanent 6,000- to 8,000-square-foot facility with dorm-like sleeping rooms.

“It’s the same problem we had last year and I’m afraid it will be worse this year,” she said.

The house is able to handle about 38 guests a day she said, but sometimes there are more.

“One time last year I had to turn people away,” Maple said. “We scramble like crazy to not do that.

“We have rented a motel room once for three women, but that’s not really in the budget,” Maple said. “It’s always on nights when it’s the coldest pouring down rain or snowing” that things get busy.

For a permanent place, the center would like to find a lease-to-buy option, Maple said.

To volunteer, you can call the center at 277-7144 or volunteer coordinator Mary O’Brien at 272-8112.

To donate, call the center for details about electronic bank transfers or send a check to Hospitality House, P.O. Box 3223, Grass Valley, CA, 95945.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.


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