Nevada City Advocate
What started as a small fundraiser 13 years ago at Cooper’s Aleworks has blossomed into a major fundraising event for Hospitality House. Organized by Mikail Graham, this year’s “Night of Giving” will be held Saturday, Dec. 22, at the Miners Foundry and feature more than 45 of Nevada County’s best performers.
The initial event in 2005 was the result of Maggie McKaig of Beaucoup Chapeaux reaching out to Graham to help organize an event to raise money for a homeless shelter getting started by U. Utah Philips and Joanna Robinson. At the time, Graham was co-managing the popular club and he thought it was a good idea.
“Basically, we got a whole bunch of friends we knew and had them come down and play for free. We told them of the cause and how it would be, and we thought we’d raise maybe a couple of hundred bucks. It would be cool,” Graham said.
The event that night raised over $11,000.
“People were standing on the bar. It was one of those electric nights – everything was warm and fuzzy, things were flowing, it was just a good time. And I thought, ‘Wow, this thing has legs, we need to look at this.’”
The next year the event was moved to the Miner’s Foundry in Nevada City to serve a larger audience and raise more funds for the Hospitality House Community Center. The need for a permanent emergency homeless shelter had been apparent for years, and once the organization had finally come into being volunteers and donations would be its lifeblood.
Today, Utah’s Place is a 69-bed facility that serves homeless individuals and families in Nevada County by providing a place to sleep, shower, do laundry, have meals and receive job training and case management. At last year’s Night of Giving, $78,000 was raised.
“It was just one of those things that kept growing and growing, with more and more people showing up and more people wanting to perform as the years rolled by. Utah passed before he ever got to see Utah’s Place come to its full fruition to where we are now,” Graham said.
The project has morphed into a labor of love for Graham as time has passed.
“For everybody involved it’s all about a big hometown Christmas party showing solidarity for the cause. It’s where people chip in whatever they can afford, they come out and socialize, and we get to dispel some of the myths about homelessness.”
He noted that many people feel that because Hospitality House is here it’s a magnet for drawing homeless for urban areas, which is not the case.
“The majority of the people that are there lived here for five years or longer,” he said. “We already have our own homeless situation.”
Graham went on to say that many individuals and families on limited incomes have found it increasingly difficult to find affordable housing in our area, even with rent vouchers. “You’ve got people with a $900 housing voucher who cannot find a place to live. They’re discriminated against because they are homeless, even though they have this voucher.”
For Graham, the 13th Annual Night of Giving not only takes a step in addressing these problems but does it in a uniquely Nevada City style.
“This year it happens on Dec. 22, a full-moon Saturday, from 4 to 10 with some of the great names in entertainment and music we have around. This year I even have 13 new acts on two and a half stages, with a tent outside between 6’oclock and 8:30 for people to take their dinner. I’ll have buskers in there with heaters so it’s comfortable.
“It seems I have to keep expanding to accommodate the throngs of people that show up. This really is the party of the year that many people look forward to.”
He also noted that this year there are several “angel” donors who will be triple-matching what the event takes in.
Over 45 musicians and entertainers are scheduled, including Lolo Gervais and the R&B Review, Paul Kamm and Eleanor MacDonald, the Nevada Union Choir, Cassidy Joy, Kimberly Bass, Darol Anger and Emy Phelps, and many others. And, of course, returning for their 13th year, Beaucoup Chapeaux.
Besides the entertainment, there is also a silent auction and buffet dinner. Tickets are $20 (but no one will be turned away) and can be purchased at BriarPatch Co-op, Bread and Roses Thrift Store, or at the Hospitality House website hhshelter.org, or by calling 530-271-7144.
“The main thing is give what you can,” Graham said. “This is a time where if you give five bucks, it turns into 15. If you give $100, it turns into $300. That’s a huge part of what keeps the shelter going. The majority of the assistance we get to keep the doors open is from the community.”
About the photo:
Organizer Mikail Graham in front of Utah’s Place in Grass Valley.
Photo by Andrew Wedgbury