NEO hosts fundraiser Saturday to support local teens |

NEO hosts fundraiser Saturday to support local teens

From left, Tim McVicker, Halli Ellis, Zack Manes, Lynn Skrukrud participate in the 2012 NEO yard sale. This year's event takes place this Saturday.
Submitted by Halli Ellis |

What: NEO yard sale

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12

Where: Blockbuster parking lot at 736 Taylorville Road, Grass Valley

Info: Halli Ellis at 530-263-3763 or

New Events and Opportunities group for Nevada County youth is hosting a yard sale to support a new teen center and raise awareness of upcoming efforts.

The third annual fundraiser takes place 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Blockbuster parking lot, 736 Taylorville Road, Grass Valley. The sale includes household items, baked goods, live music and activities and serves as an opportunity for people to sign up to volunteer for the Village Campaign and contribute to the upcoming teen center.

The Village Campaign follows the idea that “it takes a village to raise a child,” and NEO is seeking the support of community members who can offer their skills, interest and experience to help provide a safe place for teens with alternatives to drug use.

The teen center was originally planned for October, but a change in the proposed location has delayed plans.

“The main thing we need to do right now is to really step up and show support for the youth,” said Halli Ellis, who founded NEO with Lynn Skrukrud when they were teens.

NEO circulated a youth survey in 2012 at the Nevada County Fair, which showed that teens want a place to be able to go and hang out, Ellis said, recounting her experience as a youth in Nevada County.

“If I chose not to go to a party or do drugs, I felt like I was being punished,” she said. “I would end up hanging out in a parking lot and probably get into trouble for being there. There wasn’t really anything for me.”

This is a similar story for teens today, Ellis said, as youth continue to be isolated, with few social options and activities.

“Socializing is part of normal, healthy development for teens, and there isn’t a safe place to go in the evening, and teens feel isolated and lonely, like they don’t have a sense of belonging … ,” Ellis said. “From youth isolation stems the drug abuse. That’s what fills the gap.”

There is also a lack of job training, skill development and college preparation, Ellis said. “A lot of youth still don’t understand if they can’t afford college, they can still have financial assistance and training. If we could provide better opportunities for them where youth and adults are working together and building relationships, it would contribute to their health and well-being.”

Such isolation is compounded by the influence of technology, where conversations about state of mind and issues are missed, said Ellis.

“Everything’s so sped up these days and directed toward technology that we don’t have the conversations anymore that are really important to face,” she said. “If we could have a youth center and see these kids on a regular basis, we can ask questions and find out what’s going on in their lives, how we can best assess their needs and get them the resources.”

Ellis recently attended a mental health and first-aid training, where she learned that mental illnesses often fail to be caught at a young age.

“People can fall through the cracks if they don’t have someone who knows them and sees a change in their behavior,” she said. “We could see that change and get them the resources.”

NEO was designated as its own nonprofit March 4, a step toward independence from serving as the youth sector of the Coalition for a Drug Free Nevada County. The nonprofit status will allow the organization to receive tax exemptions and host larger nonprofit fundraisers after January, when the IRS status goes into effect.

“We can’t do much until then but spread the word and have individuals step up and donate money, skill, talent or passion to the Village Campaign,” Ellis said. “If somebody wants to teach a class or workshop or sports, anything they’re interested in, they can sign up. It’s not really a commitment right then, but it helps us gather resources … so when the time comes, we will have all the support we need.”

Those interested can sign up at the yard sale or download a form at and send in donations or interest forms. Local businesses will also carry forms until the end of December, including Miner Moe’s Pizza,102 Argall Way, Nevada City; Blockbuster Video, 736 Taylorville Road, Grass Valley; Tour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop, 457 Sacramento St., Nevada City; Caleb’s Creamery & Coffee, 17329 Penn Valley Drive, Penn Valley; and Cafe Mekka, 237 Commercial St., Nevada City.

NEO plans to raise $125,000 per year to sustain the teen center and hopes to secure a location soon, opening up the facility by October 2014.

The plan is to start small, with after-school programs and meetings, and then expand and build on the land. NEO is working toward a bike park and an indoor gym.

NEO also offers presentations to interested businesses and organizations, who can contact Ellis at 530-263-3763.

“We all have something meaningful to give,” Ellis said. “We’re all in the community — the village — together.”

For information visit or contact Ellis at 530-263-3763.

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email or call 530-477-4230.

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