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Nevada County Relief Fund helps businesses, community stay afloat

John Orona
Staff Writer


$110,000 to “Safety-net” nonprofits:

Interfaith Food Ministry of Nevada County, $20,000 FREED Center for Independent Living, $20,000 Food Bank of Nevada County, $20,000

Gold Country Community Services, $10,200

Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, $10,000 The Booth Family Center, $8,150

Sierra Roots, $6,650

Community Beyond Violence, $7,500

Child Advocates, $7,500

$100,000 to Small Businesses:

Ironworks Gym, Grass Valley, $2,500

Juliette Morris Williams - Jewelry, Mixed-media, Nevada City, $2,400 The Washington Hotel, Washington, $5,000

The Nest Family Resource, Grass Valley, $2,500

The Nevada Theater, Nevada City, $5,000

Coupe Sixty-One Hair Studio, Truckee, $2,500

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters, Truckee, $5,000

Grass Valley Crossfit, Grass Valley, $2,500

Simply You Salon and Spa, Penn Valley, $2,500

InnerRhythms, Inc., Truckee, $2,500

Brad Henry Pottery, Truckee, $2,500

Jack + Emmy, Truckee, $2,500

Outside Inn, Nevada City, $5,000

Word After Word Books, Truckee, $2,500

Anew Day, Nevada City, $2,500

North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center, San Juan Ridge, $5,000 Art Works Gallery, Grass Valley, $5,000

Calla Lily Crepes, Nevada City, $3,600

Alpenflow Studios, Truckee, $2,500

Truckee Roundhouse Community Makerspace, Truckee, $2,500

Penn Valley Community Rodeo Association, Penn Valley, $5,000

The Earth Store, Nevada City, $5,000

Off Broadway, Nevada City, $5,000

Crumbunny Coffee Roasters, Nevada City, $4,000

Painted Pink, Grass Valley, $2,500

The Station - A Truckee Eatery, Truckee, $5,000 Lola and Jack, Grass Valley, $5000

Aikido’Ka, Grass Valley, $2500

For most Nevada County businesses, the only thing they are certain of is the uncertainty that lies ahead.

Facing a pandemic and economic crisis, while still recouping from last year’s PG&E Public Safety Power Shut-offs as fire season fast approaches with no end in sight, they are looking for a lifeline.

Last week, the Nevada County Relief Fund announced recipients for its first round of disbursement, which awarded up to $5,000 in micro-grants to 28 small businesses and up to $20,000 to eight nonprofits, totaling $210,000.

For the most part, businesses receiving the funding are largely trying to tread water or transform their business models in search of more robust cash flow.

Frank Oxford, owner of Aikido’Ka martial arts school in Grass Valley, is shifting his business by creating an at-home program for people to learn Aikido.

His dojo shut down in March, before it was mandatory, due to health concerns. Initially, people continued to pay membership dues in support of the community, Oxford said. But soon, he wasn’t able to rely on that funding and decided to use the grant money to pivot into online instruction that he hopes to continue even after the pandemic.

“It makes it so I now have a marketing budget that didn’t exist before, for a program that didn’t exist before. That’s a lifesaver,” Oxford said. “This program is a big deal to the dojo. If this fails, I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

Similarly, mixed media artist Juliette Williams, who runs Osborn Woods gallery at the Miners Foundry, had to drastically change plans when the shutdown hit.

“I had just opened a solo exhibit at the Nevada City Winery when the quarantine began, so I had to close it after one week,” Williams said. “The gallery was closed at the same time. So I lost income, as did the collective members of the gallery and those showing there.”

Williams plans to use the funding to invest in moving the gallery store and her site online, unsure of when she’ll be able to host in-person events again.

“I signed up for the e-commerce classes provided by Sierra Commons, and learned quite a bit about how to promote myself online. It is a lot of work, but I am willing to move forward and keep my business going,” she said. “(The funding) will allow me to pay for kiln time and supplies… and will allow me to pay for Microsoft 365, a suite of administrative and writing tools to help me with writing and other business projects.”

Leea Davis, owner of Earth Store in Nevada City, said she’ll use the money to pay taxes and purchase more merchandise in hopes of making up for money lost when she was forced to close.

“I was closed for two-and-a-half months and I didn’t have an online presence, so there was zero coming in,” Davis said. “There’s a lot of bills and rent and insurance to catch up on.”

Davis said since being able to reopen in limited capacity, she’s making enough money to tread water and will invest in a website, saying she can’t afford to lose more business.

“Now that I’m open, I think we’ll be fine unless COVID comes back, which I’m nervous about in the fall and the holiday, which is our busiest season,” she said. “If things shut down then, wow, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Bennett Jones, owner of Crumbunny Coffee Roasters in Nevada City, said he’ll use the money to pay bills, though it won’t quite cover the costs of green bean product for the month.

While Jones said he was very grateful for the funding, he’s still uncertain about the future with his store doing 10% of what he’s used to.

“If it had to go on like this indefinitely, I don’t know if it would be a viable business,” he said. “As it’s standing right now, I’m not really seeing things turn around quickly, so I don’t see how we’re going to open the shop to where it was before.”


For Nevada County nonprofits, the focus is largely on meeting the basic needs of the community, particularly housing and food insecurity, as well as dealing with emotional effects of the shutdown.

Funding recipients Interfaith Food Ministry of Nevada County, FREED Center for Independent Living, Food Bank of Nevada County, and Gold Country Community Service will use their money to support the Senior Grocery Bag program.

The program, a partnership which also includes the relief fund’s fiscal sponsor Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, provides seniors with nutritionally balanced meals that require little preparation.

“We’re so grateful for the relief fund,” said Janeth Marroletti, Gold Country executive director. “It’s going to help us make sure that all of our seniors that are home bound are not suffering from hunger anymore.”

Anew Day, which was awarded $2,500, will put its funding toward sponsoring no cost counseling sessions. The organization offers group counseling sessions for a $5 recommended donation and individual sessions available on a sliding scale from $35 to $90. Since the pandemic, the nonprofit organization has had to cancel in-person group sessions, but individual sessions continue.

“We have had an influx of parents calling in for their children, from 5 years old to teenagers, folks are really needing therapy for their kids and the kids are wanting this therapy,” Executive Director Lori Nunnink-Taylor said. “They’ve had so many changes in their lives right now.”

FREED will also use the funds to support coordinating volunteer and provide rental assistance to seniors for when eviction proceedings are no longer suspended.


While relief fund organizers do not expect the money to be a panacea for businesses or organizations, they want to provide an outlet for the community to support each other and potentially build infrastructure to meet community needs in the future.

According to Leo Granucci, cochairman of the funds’s Community Advisory Committee, about 200 businesses and nonprofits applied.

“If you take the total amount requested by all the applicants, it was over $1.1 million, that was the need,” Granucci said. “Our goal from day one was to get money into people’s hands quickly and I think we’ve been successful in doing that. We just hope the funds keep coming in so we can keep issuing these grants.”

Funds will be disbursed each time another $100,000 is raised.

Granucci said people who applied in the previous round of funding will have their application still in line for this round for 90 days. People can also update their application when the next round of funding applications are available, sometime this month.

Fund organizers also announced a goal of raising $500,000 by July 4, with private donors pledging to match up to $35,000 in community donations.

“It was very gratifying,” Granucci said of the process. “This whole fund was put together very quickly by a group of volunteers led by Nevada County with their challenge donation of $100,000. How quickly the community responded to assist the small businesses and safety net nonprofits was just remarkable.”

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.

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