Sierra Roots continues program to feed a spectrum of homeless individuals near Pioneer Park |

Sierra Roots continues program to feed a spectrum of homeless individuals near Pioneer Park

Sam Corey
Staff Writer

The tables were filled.

Entrées, vegetables, salads, desserts, fruit, juice, snacks, shoes, shirts — all of it was stacked along different sets of park benches around the bocce ball courts behind Pioneer Park in Nevada City.

The food and clothing were distributed Thursday by Sierra Roots, as it has been all summer. The organization’s goal has been, and continues to be, to serve a spectrum of homeless individuals and those needing food.

“Get to know people, build community with them” are the goals of the service, said Janice O’Brien, president of the nonprofit. They may be marginalized, she added, but that doesn’t mean they are without value or benefit.

During colder months, the lunch service moves into Nevada City’s First Baptist Church. On Mondays at the park, pizza is offered.

There’s a spectrum of homelessness, said O’Brien. Some are very near stability while others need resources regarding mental illness and drug addiction issues.

“If they just had a place,” said O’Brien, referring to some people, “they’d be fine.”

Nevada City resident Don Crockell is appreciative of the food program he consistently attends.

“It feels good to be able to go someplace and be helped out,” said Crockell, adding that it brings him “a smile inside.”

Crockell said he’s bounced around the county, once working at a restaurant in Lake of the Pines, and later moving to Utah before returning to the county. He appreciates the level of awareness demonstrated by Sierra Roots volunteers.

“It’s nice to know that you’re around people that are conscientious of things,” he said.

Volunteer Jackie Wilson said she’s been helping with the food program for around six years, originally galvanized by O’Brien’s energy and passion to do more.

Wilson said it was disheartening to see some of the same people return for help over the years, unable to break from the confines of poverty.

The volunteer hopes the county and two cities do more soon to aid homeless individuals, she said, referencing the desire to create tiny home villages for housing insecure people like that in Eugene, Oregon.

The Nevada County Board of Supervisors has approved a homeless day center and apartments on Old Tunnel Road in Grass Valley.

“I think you need some government help on this,” said Wilson. She also noted the possibility of using the high investments in the county’s juvenile hall to serve homeless individuals.

Before distributing a hot lunch to dozens of individuals, O’Brien gave thanks to God.

“You are here with us,” she said. “You are the spirit that keeps us alive, that keeps us going.”

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey email or call 530-477-4219.

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