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Feed the Body, Feed the Soul
Project MANA: To volunteer or donate, visit projectmana.org/get-involved.html and learn more about how you can contribute today. To learn more about the food distribution centers or to see how you can benefit from its services, go to projectmana.org/get-help.html
For Goodness Sake: Volunteers are well appreciated here. To learn more about how you can give back to this spiritual hub, visit goodnesssake.org/community_volunteers/volunteer_opps.shtml, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (530) 550-8981, or stop in at 10157 Donner Pass Rd. Take a look at their online calendar to find classes and participate in what they offer.
By JILL SANFORD | Moonshine Ink
Project MANA and For Goodness Sake, two local organizations that nourish the Truckee/North Tahoe community in two different, but similarly important ways, are hitting significant milestones this year.
Project MANA, which feeds hundreds of hungry local community members each month, just reached its 25th year of operation in the Truckee and North Tahoe region. For Goodness Sake is a spiritual center celebrating its 10th year in this community as a place where people can nourish their souls through meditation, discussions, and other explorations in a nonjudgmental environment. Both nonprofits work in different ways to feed the body and the soul, serving the physical and emotional well-being of people in this area.
Project MANA, which stands for Making Adequate Nutrition Accessible, was started in 1991 by a couple of college students at Sierra Nevada College. They ran the organization out of their garage, and the first food they distributed was a box of soup. One of these students was Ann Cunningham, who went on to serve as the first executive director of the organization in the early ’90s.
“Obviously, there is a need here; it grew and grew,” says Heidi Allstead, co-executive director and director of development at the organization.
“People think that there are not hungry people here in Truckee and North Tahoe. They think it’s completely affluent. But the community members we serve here work multiple jobs to get by. The cost of living is just so high,” she says.
The numbers served by Project MANA are staggering. About 3,000 people are fed every year, which is roughly 200 people each week, according to Allstead. The organization also distributes nearly 4,200 pounds of food weekly, adding up to 16,800 pounds of food monthly, and 218,400 pounds of food annually. This equates to a distribution of nearly 2,500 meals weekly, 10,000 meals monthly, and 130,000 meals annually.
This year, the organization unexpectedly moved operations out of the Parasol Building in Incline Village to Truckee when the community foundation decided not to renew funding previously allocated to Project MANA. Administrative staff is housed at St. Patrick’s church in Incline Village.
Project MANA’s good work is made possible by the same community it serves. More than 80 percent of its donations come from individual contributions and only 20 percent of funding stems from grants, Allstead explains. At the recent 25th anniversary celebration and fundraiser on August 23 at Stella, The Cedar House’s restaurant, Project MANA nearly raised its goal of $50,000.
There are five weekly food distributions where community members can take advantage of Project MANA’s: Mondays at the Fairway Community Center in Tahoe City, Tuesdays at the Community Art Center in downtown Truckee, Wednesdays at the North Tahoe Event Center in Kings Beach, and Thursdays at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Incline Village.
“Hunger looks a lot different in our community than it does in bigger cities,” Allstead states.
Project MANA also delivers food to qualified individuals through the FACE (Food and Companionship Exchange) program. Eligibility is determined through an in-person assessment by staff.
“Although I was able to start receiving benefits through Social Security, the county’s in-home health services and Medicare, it wasn’t until I joined the FACE program that I found relief from the stress of not knowing when I would have enough healthy foods,” said an anonymous community member who utilizes Project MANA’s services, and was unable to attend food distributions after suffering a stroke. “Every Tuesday, I can depend on that delivery and know that I’ll be able to eat properly, and it doesn’t hurt that I get to visit with my delivery volunteer who always has a smile on her face,” he said.
“When our community members receive our services, it’s a weight off their shoulders. They can now put their money to rent, daycare, transportation, etcetera. They’re so grateful,” explains Allstead.
Filling bellies is Project MANA’s focus, while nourishing souls in this community is the objective of For Goodness Sake, located in downtown Truckee.
The nonprofit opened its doors 10 years ago to harbor people looking to give back to the community. It has been an open and inviting place for people to talk, read, and learn about spirituality ever since. It was funded by two community members, Dave and Margie Griswold, who have lived and benefited from a spiritual life and wanted to give back.
“There’s a lot of people searching for something. For Goodness Sake is a place where people can safely talk about spiritual ideas and feel welcome,” says Director Andy Hill, who has been at the organization since its start.
The classes offered are much the same as the ones that were hosted there when it first opened, including meditation and book discussions. The organization also hosts speakers from all walks of life and have included astro-physicists, quantum physicists, Tibetan Buddhist monks, Christian Science lecturers, Hindu leaders, self-empowerment coaches, and meditation teachers.
“We don’t believe that there is one way to finding spirituality. We support individuals on their path and strive to be as nonjudgmental as possible,” Hill says.
Wondering how to get involved and start your personal spiritual exploration? According to Hill, you can “Just show up and walk in the door, have a chat and grab a book. Have a cup of coffee and sign up for our library. Most of what we offer is free and we never turn anyone away under any circumstances. There’s no obligations, no commitments.”
On Sept. 30, For Goodness Sake will be hosting a potluck in celebration of 10 years of operation and service. They encourage all interested community members to come out and join them to learn more about their space and all it offers.
Aside from the spirituality practices, For Goodness Sake is also a physical hub for the community and other nonprofits. “It’s a comfortable, inviting space that we sometimes offer to people and groups who need it. We want the building and environment to be used as much as possible,” Hill states.
Along with a few other community organizations, For Goodness Sake also worked to raise funds for wellness centers in the high schools of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District in 2011. Hill credits the grant writing skills of Kim Bradley, former Community Liaison for FGS and current head coordinator for the wellness centers, for making this possible.
“Truckee is such a vibrant community on so many levels. We live in such a beautiful place and there’s people who are always striving to make the community better,” he adds.
By feeding both the body and the soul, these North Tahoe nonprofits are creating resiliency in this community and fostering the economic, physical, spiritual, and emotional growth of a community that works to lift up its individuals.
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