An aging house sits atop an old stone foundation on E Street in downtown Truckee. Quiet for the better part of the week, the place comes to life on Tuesdays and Thursdays as the Food and Resource Support Center, when volunteers from throughout the area open the doors with a warm welcome to lend a helping hand to some of Truckee’s less fortunate.
Some days they line up, waiting for the volunteers to report for duty. Other days they straggle in, one-by-one, some in pairs, some accompanied by their four-legged furry best friend. They might number in the teens or as few as four or five. Sometimes, a face might look familiar, and a volunteer might realize it was someone they’d seen the day before standing at the edge of the Safeway parking lot with a tattered sign reading, “Anything helps.”
It doesn’t matter if they’re homeless or down on their luck, or even transients passing through town, guests are greeted with a smile and offered a place where they can enjoy a warm meal and do things such as use a computer, take a hot shower, and wash their clothes, all complimentary. They can wander down to the basement below the house and help themselves to any clothing that might be useful — warm boots and coats during the winter or something more conducive to foot travel in the summer for those who might be on the move. A wall of shelves is kept fully stocked with canned goods and other nonperishable foods.
It’s all there for the taking and the volunteers expect nothing in return.
“The center opened nine years ago this October,” volunteer Lis Green told Moonshine Ink. “Originally, it was supervised by the young lady who at that time managed Project MANA, also from the same building, but MANA eventually moved out. The young woman went on to the children’s museum and that’s how Jack got involved.”
Green was referring to Jack Ahern, who, along with Assumption parishioner Lee Fladeland, was a key part of the center’s success. Both have since passed away but are memorialized with plaques in their honor on a wall at the FRSC.
The FRSC is housed in what originally served as the office of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church. When the parish outgrew its quarters, a new, larger church was built on Alder Drive and the original lot on Donner Pass Road was put up for sale — with the exception of the parcel on which the FRSC stands. Parish members recognized that there was a need in town for those who were down on their luck or might not have a place to go. While they couldn’t provide shelter, they could at least provide a place where these folks could warm up for a bit, take care of some business, and enjoy a hot, home-cooked meal, generously donated by volunteers from area churches.
George Molt has been a guest at the center since its early days, when he first heard about it through the Family Resource Center in Truckee. “They’ve got it all,” Molt said. “Computer access so you can look on Craigslist for jobs, laundry so you can get spruced up.”
Molt recalls being given nice work pants and a pair of shoes by one of the volunteers. It was a turning point in his life. After going through some rough times, the 68-year-old single father of a 9-year-old son, “got a job and finally started making some money.” The FRSC was there for him when he needed it, and volunteers of the center consider him their greatest success story.
Now having been gainfully employed for several years at Rite Aid in Truckee, Molt has stability and owns his own place in the Truckee River RV Park while he waits on the list to get into the Truckee senior housing. But the FRSC remains a constant in his life, and he can only sing the praises about the many ways the center has been there for him and others over the years. Every Thursday, you can still find him there, enjoying some home-cooking and washing loads of laundry.
“It’s a routine,” Molt said of why he continues to visit the center. “It’s way helpful. It’s the greatest thing.”
One of his favorite times of the year to go to the center is in December, when a member of one of the churches is known to cook a fancy meal, served in-style with silverware and cloth napkins.
He went down the list of supplies people can find there, from toothpaste and toothbrushes to warm winter coats and socks. On the occasions that someone might be seeking diapers or dog food, volunteers have been known to go out of their way to acquire those items as well. There are regular visits from a social worker, who reaches out to guests to inform them of other services available through the Family Resource Center.
“There is even a group of knitters who make hats and scarves, and kids’ stuff too,” said Molt, who on Thursdays is always sure to bring home a chocolate chip cookie or two for his son.
“From the beginning, it has been a cooperative effort,” Fr. Vincent Juan of Assumption parish told Moonshine Ink. “It’s a good way of doing collaborative ministries with other churches.”
But running the center is not without obstacles. The majority of Assumption’s parish is composed of second-homeowners. While Assumption largely covers the cost of utilities, manpower and food are reliant upon volunteers. “The challenge up here is that the majority of our younger families have to work, and vacation-homeowners don’t want to commit,” he said. This can present a dilemma when it comes to staffing.
Although it is operated out of the Assumption Church-owned property, and is manned by volunteers from five area churches — Assumption, Church of the Mountains, Sierra Bible, Tahoe Forest, and Truckee Lutheran Presbyterian — the FRSC is not a religious program, but rather one based on goodwill. Each church takes a weekly turn running the center and whether it be through staffing or donating food, volunteers are always welcome but must be coordinated through one of the aforementioned churches.
“The center offers a safe haven for its guests, a place they can clean themselves as well as their clothes, get food to-go as well as eat there, have a comfortable place to hang out for a few hours,” Green said. “I have volunteered since the first month and really appreciate what the center offers to these folks.”
The Food and Resource Support Center is open Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon, serving a light breakfast, and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during which time a full hot lunch and computer, laundry, and shower services are available. This October will mark the 10th Thanksgiving the center will celebrate with a traditional holiday feast open to all, at the usual hour of 10 a.m.
“This place deserves a lot of praise,” Molt said. “I totally appreciate it.” He still wears that first pair of shoes he was gifted so many years ago.