Hemig: Six degrees of separation – community human kindness | TheUnion.com
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Hemig: Six degrees of separation – community human kindness

Jim Hemig Publisher The Union
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union

We live in a small community that is filled with people who care.

In fact, not only do we have people who care, we have people who step up and provide support for those in need.

With the recent downturn in our economy it is likely we know people who could use a hand these days, whether it’s a family member, a friend, a coworker, a business acquaintance or a neighbor.



We really are quite fortunate in our community because our part of western Nevada County has hundreds of nonprofit organizations positioned to help those in need. Of those hundreds, there are about a dozen that have made a significant impact directly helping our fellow citizens.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner it seems like a good time to say thank you to those who care and who provide support to those who need it.

The Union has had the opportunity to work with just about all of the significant human service nonprofits in our area. We help sponsor and promote many of their events and efforts. And, as the new publisher, I’ve had a chance to meet the key people who make these nonprofits tick.




I have learned about each group’s benefit to the community as well as about areas that could provide greater opportunity. As the new guy in town, I wondered if a network of community human services could be further explored.

I found that some of these nonprofit groups worked really well together, while others did not even know of each other’s existence. I felt everyone I met had the passion to help people, but they were so busy providing their own particular service they didn’t always have time to reach out to the other groups. Those who did reach out had built some great relationships, but I felt there might be an avenue for providing an even higher level of connection between them.

Some work directly with one another. Others have six degrees of separation. What if they all had one degree of separation?

I wanted to explore this idea, so I asked around and ended up in a very engaging conversation with Mike Bratton and Marty Lombardi.

Mike Bratton owns Mike Bratton State Farm Insurance and is highly active in local community support. Marty Lombardi is retired and provides assistance to many local nonprofits and to Nevada Union High School.

We came up with an idea to host a lunch meeting with the more prominent nonprofit directors to explore relationship building. We created a meeting outline and started calling the key people.

Our goal is simple: We’re going to talk about relationship building and how, as a network of human service nonprofits, we can provide the best opportunities for people who are down on their luck to end up back on their feet as a positive contributor to our local community.

The result: a meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 11, with an amazing group of individuals who are responsible for organizing the lion’s share of human support in western Nevada County. In other words, the All-Star team.

We have invited the best nonprofit human service supporters in our community. This includes all the different segments that support people in need, like housing, food, vocational training and health services as well as support, such as substance abuse or domestic violence.

The All-Star team includes Lindy Beatie from Big Brothers Big Sisters, Joanna Robinson from Hospitality House, Joy Porter from ANew Day, Sandy Schmidt from Women of Worth, Tom Brown from Meals on Wheels, Sue Von Son from Interfaith Food Ministry, Toni Thompson from Food Bank, Ariel Lovett from CoRR, Shavati Karki-Pearl from One Stop, Jennifer Singer from Friendship Club, Scott McFarland from Western Sierra Medical Center, Grass Valley Police Chief John Foster, Greg Zaller from CoLiving Network as well as nonprofit supporter Susie Bavo from The Center for Nonprofit Leadership.

I was happy and impressed with how easily each person said yes to this gathering. Several told me that this is the first time this group has assembled specifically to discuss connecting our community’s human service providers.

I plan to share what comes out of this meeting in a future column, including any ideas we come up with to help further explore how to provide support for people to positively impact to our local community.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner it seems like a good time to say thank you to those who care and who provide support to those who need it.

To contact Publisher Jim Hemig, email jhemig@theunion.com or call 530-477-4299.


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