As published in the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers on Wednesday, August 8th, 2018. Download a pdf of the article: “Free lunch program ….”
As published in the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers on Wednesday, August 8th, 2018. Download a pdf of the article: “Free lunch program ….”
(As published in the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers, Wednesday, July 4th, 2018. )
Great Northern Services is celebrating the many accomplishments of Bonnie Kubowitz as she retires from her nine-year stint as executive director of the local nonprofit.
Marie-Josée Wells, who has been with Great Northern for four years, is the new executive director.
“I have worked with Marie-Josée closely and I know her very well,” Kubowitz states in a press release. “I have deep and abiding respect for her skills, her competence, compassion, and character. She’s one of the finest people I’ve ever known, and her leadership style is exactly what we need—from within the circle, not above it or outside it.”
GNS points to the “guidance and direction” Kubowitz provided to help grow its reach and refocused its efforts. As stated in the release, “expanding and strengthening the programs offered and partnering with a wide range of agencies, organizations, and volunteers. She has also helped the organization weather many unexpected challenges, like the destruction of their offices in the Boles Creek fire. After the disaster, Kubowitz acquired new office space and had the organization up and running within days. GNS assisted with the distribution of food, supplies, and necessities to victims and lead the city through a resilience planning process to prepare for future incidents.”
According to Heather Weldon, president of Great Northern’s board of directors, “This organization has had many challenges but each and every time Bonnie has taken it to the next level of success through her leadership. It has been a pleasure to work with her. She has made such great changes in this organization through her commitment to helping our communities, her leadership and the growth of this organization.”
Among the many projects Kubowitz has shepherded throughout her time at the organization, she is most proud of those that have expanded the help for families and children.
“GNS’s Community Services department has grown exponentially during her time as executive director,” according to the release, “and has increased its focus on programs to support children in the community—GNS started a Summer Lunch program, established Mini food pantries in schools, and began holiday snack bag distribution. Other departments have also put the youth of the area in the spotlight.
Kubowitz said, “We are dedicating a team to find new and innovative ways to work with College Of Siskiyou and high schools. We are looking for ways to help children who choose to stay local earn a living wage.”
The GNS Board of Directors chose Wells as the executive director because of the due to the leadership and commitment she has shown to the organization, according to the release. She most recently served as development director.
“I know that Marie is going to do an amazing job and that she will be a true asset to GNS,” states Weldon. “The Board and I look forward to the great things to come.”
Wells, who previously spent eight years as the Mt. Shasta Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, replaced Kubowitz effective July 1.
Great Northern Services is a community based nonprofit working to improving life for the most vulnerable populations of Siskiyou County by finding the resources and creating the solutions to a variety of needs. Learn more about GNS and their programs at www.gnservices.org. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance or if you would like to support these programs, call GNS Marketing Assistant Nichole McCown at (530)938-4115 extension 115.
(As announced in the Mt. Shasta Area News on Wednesday, June 13th)
All children from our community are invited to enjoy free lunches again this summer through the Great Northern Services’ Summer Lunch program. Kids can find healthy meals, fun activities, and a chance to see their friends at nine different locations this summer.
“For the families of children who receive free or discounted school lunches, summer break can be a difficult time with higher food expenses and increased insecurity around where their meals will come from. The Summer Food program helps alleviate this stress,” says Heather Solus, GNS Community Service Director, “And finding good summer activities for their kids can be a challenge for any family. We invite all children to join us at these lunch gatherings.”
GNS sponsors a USDA Summer Food Service program as their Summer Lunch program and has been expanding since its launch in 2015. This year, thanks to generous donations of time and money from Pacific Power Foundation, the Ford Family Foundation, individual donors and volunteers, and local business like Studio B in Mt. Shasta, more of our community’s kids will be fed and in more locations than ever before.
Free lunches will be served this summer as follows:
The GNS Summer Lunch program begins serving meals this week and will run every weekday through August 3rd. Most sites will have activities for the kids on some days after lunch as well. Advance notice will be given if any lunch times or locations change over the course of the summer. Meals are provided to all children ages 18 and under without charge and are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability, and there is no discrimination in the course of the meal service.
“The community is invited to take an active role in making this program possible,” says Nichole McCown, GNS Marketing Assistant, “We are looking for volunteers to work help the GNS staff to prepare the healthy, wholesome meals that are distributed through the summer lunch program.” All prep work is done at the Weed Elementary School Kitchen from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. “Even if you can only help for one day a week,” adds McCown, “We’d love to have you on the team!” Applications are available on their website (www.gnservices.org/volunteer) or you can call GNS Community Services Director Heather Solus at 530-938-4115, extension 128.
Great Northern Services is an equal opportunity provider and employer. As a community based nonprofit they focus on helping low-income households become economically self-sufficient in order to boost sustainability for the rural communities in Siskiyou County.
(As announced in the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers on May 23rd, 2018)
A work of art created by Butteville Elementary School students on display at Great Northern Services (GNS) recently sold to a private collector. The Deer Skull Lamp– a project created in 2017 by Chet Kyle’s 4th grade class—was purchased as a retirement present. The piece was on display “gallery-style” in GNS’ Community Room—a free venue for nonprofit organizations and public agencies and home of the GNS’ Student Art Project.
22 students from Kyle’s class had a hand in creating the Deer Skull Lamp. “The lamp is a unique piece made from special materials,” says Kyle, “It started when I found the skull on one of the buttes on Mount Shasta. I used a bike seat stand that was used in the 1996 Olympics for wind tunnel tests by my dad (Chester Kyle).” Students helped by beading wires and wrapping the lamp. “When we first started the students comments were ‘what is that thing?’ and ‘are you sure that is art?’” says Kyle, “When we finished they were proud of our creation.”
That pride is reaffirmed by the purchase of the piece. “One of our goals in displaying student art is to empower young artists,” says Bonnie Kubowitz, GNS Executive Director, “We hope to inspire and encourage kids to create art and become familiar with the world of art.”
The GNS’ Student Art Project displays up to 20 pieces of student art on the wall at a time. “The room has an estimated annual attendance of around 1,000 people,” says Nichole McCown, GNS Marketing Assistant and contact for the Community Room, “This gives the student’s art a high level of exposure. Whenever I take someone on a tour of the facilities it’s one of the first things they notice.”
All displayed artwork is priced for sale and the entire amount goes directly back to the school whose students created the piece. This provides funding to help launch more artistic endeavors by the students. “The funds go directly to the students’ Art, Band, Strings, Choir and Drama programs!” says Kyle, “We recently did watercolor paintings. We are always working on some type of art.”
All 51 schools in Siskiyou County have been invited to submit student-created art for the GNS Student Art project. Educators interested in having their student’s artwork on display should contact Nichole McCown, GNS Marketing Assistant at (530)938-4115 ext 115.
(As announced in the Siskiyou Daily News on May 8th, 2018 and the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers on May 16th, 2016)
Due to changes in state regulations this year, Great Northern Services has more funding available for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). “In the first quarter of 2018 we were able to help 732 families with over $326,000 toward their energy expenses. This represents a 62% increase in funds spent over the same time period last year,” says Claudia Trevisan, Energy Coordinator at Great Northern Services, “and it means we were able to help more than twice as many families.”
LIHEAP helps residents across Siskiyou County heat their homes; something very expensive in a county that experiences such an extreme range of temperatures. “If it weren’t for the help buying propane I would have been one cold puppy—it would have been a very tough winter,” says recipient Bill Buffalo. “I’m a veteran with not too many benefits and on a fixed income. I was using my credit cards and getting into debt.”
According to the Campaign for Home Energy Assistance, more than 6 million American households receive help through the LIHEAP program each year. Without this assistance, many of those households would have to choose between heating their homes and buying enough food. “Energy Assistance makes a huge difference to me. I’m on Social Security and it’s not much,” says Don Phillips of Mt. Shasta. “I have to watch every penny I spend—even with the assistance. Having Great Northern Services help with my power bill frees up money for food.”
LIHEAP is a federally funded program administered through the state. To meet federal requirements the State of California requires that a local provider, like Great Northern Services, uses a priority point system to ensure that the most vulnerable clients receive help first. In the past, limited funding meant that Great Northern Services was unable to assist clients who fell below a certain level of priority points. This increase in funding means that now they are able to assist an even greater number of those needing help.
“Income qualified residents of Siskiyou County can apply for energy assistance once per program year and if we are able to assist them, they receive help with one form of energy: their power bill, vouchers for fire wood, payment to their kerosene vendor, etc.” says Coral Gross, Energy Director at Great Northern Services. “The additional funding from the state is allowing us to help more people, and to provide that help much faster.”
“It was just a couple of weeks before the oil company got the check and I got the oil—it didn’t take long at all,” said Annie Peterson, a Teaching Assistant at Weed Elementary who received energy assistance this year. “Everybody falls hard on their luck sometimes, and Great Northern Services is always willing to help.”
“Not every client can be helped that quickly,” says Nichole McCown, Marketing Assistant at Great Northern Services, “It’s important to apply before you receive a shut off notice. It takes time to process your application and you want to avoid a service interruption.”
Application packets are available at Great Northern Services, 310 Boles St. in Weed, Monday – Thursday 9 AM – 4 PM, at local Family/Community Resource Centers around Siskiyou County, online at gnservices.org or by phone (530) 938-4115 extension 120.
(As announced in Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers, Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018)
Tailgate Produce Parties return to Siskiyou County starting on May 8th. This popular program allows residents who income qualify to select free, fresh produce for their households. Built on a “Donate Don’t Dump” Foodlink program and locally administered by Great Northern Services (GNS), Tailgate Produce Parties bring a semi-truck full of fresh produce for free distribution to four Siskiyou County locations every month from May through October.
GNS Community Services Director Heather Solus said the program is “an exciting opportunity to get fresh fruits and vegetables to our community directly from farmers and food producers. Fresh fruits and vegetables are key to healthy eating, but can be hard to afford if your food budget is tight.”
During the 2017 season, the program helped an average of 400 households per month for the 6 months that it ran. “We really like the program,” said Karla C., a 2017 Tailgate Produce Party participant from Weed, CA, “We came every month and enjoyed having the fruits and vegetables we usually don’t purchase.”
“The Tailgate Produce Parties generate a lot of enthusiasm,” says GNS Marketing Assistant Nichole McCown, “Everything coming off the truck is good quality and some things make people exclaim right out loud—like the asparagus, strawberries, watermelons, or eggplants we saw last season.”
Income eligibility requirements are not as restrictive as people sometimes think, according to Solus. For instance, a household of one person may have a maximum gross monthly income of $1,507.50, and a household of four people may have a maximum gross monthly household income of $3,037.50. Participants self-certify their eligibility and are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags. Solus added that it doesn’t matter where in Siskiyou County participants live, “If you income qualify, we invite you to come to every Tailgate Produce Party we host!”
Tailgate Produce Parties are a result of a partnership between GNS and California Emergency Foodlink, an organization that connects with farmers and growers throughout California to redistribute between 10 and 12 million pounds of food each year that would otherwise have been discarded. GNS then partners with other community organizations—including Siskiyou Opportunity Center, Siskiyou Community Food Bank, the Dorris Lions Club, and private volunteers—to help organize the different locations.
“This experience is super important to our clients, they love the interaction with the public and especially love serving the commodities,” says Kristina Jackson, Program Director of Community Endeavors for the Siskiyou Opportunity Center, “Our staff, their children and other family members also participate in sorting, distributing and help deliver food to the people’s vehicles.” The high level of participation in the program brings many different members of the community together. “I’ve seen people swapping recipes and preparation tips,” says McCown, “It really does feel like a party.”
Where and when
For more information about the Tailgate Produce Party program, please call GNS Community Services Director Heather Solus at 938-4115, ext. 128.
(Press release from the National CACFP Sponsors Association)
Austin, TX, February 23, 2018 – In February, The National Child Nutrition Foundation awarded 14 scholarships to the National Child Nutrition Conference to be held in San Antonio, TX April 19-21, 2018. There were over 800 submissions and all of the applicants’ passion and commitment to the children and adults they serve was evident and moving.
The National Child Nutrition Conference Summer Food Scholarship was awarded to Heather Solus of Great Northern Services in Weed, CA. Showing a strong dedication to continual improvement through professional development, Ms. Solus will join over 1,200 members of the child nutrition community for an incredible few days of training, networking, and learning opportunities.
The National Child Nutrition Foundation is the sister organization and charitable arm of the National CACFP Sponsors Association whose goal is to secure financial resources to develop nutrition education materials, offer grant programs, and provide professional development and scholarship opportunities for the child nutrition community, where healthy eating starts early.
Since 1986, the National CACFP Sponsors Association (NCA) is the leading national organization for sponsors who administer the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). We provide education and support to thousands of members in the CACFP community and to sponsors of all sizes from across the country. We strive to improve communication between families, care givers, sponsors, and their supervising government agencies.
(As announced in Mount Shasta Area Newspapers, Wednesday, March 28th, 2018.)
Dignity Health’s Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta recently awarded a community grant of $26,203 to support the Child Nutrition Programs at Great Northern Services (GNS). “These crucial programs help fight childhood food insecurity throughout Siskiyou County,” says GNS Development Director Marie-Josée Wells, “and the funds will support such programs as holiday snack bags, mini pantries in schools, and the cooking class offered by Weed Elementary.”
In recent years GNS has established mini food pantries in local south county schools—a program that gives teachers the resources they need to help the children and families they see struggling. According to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, food insecurity in school children can be linked to health problems, behavioral problems, and learning difficulties. Mini pantries give teachers access to nutritious, healthy food that can be discreetly given to children who show up hungry. “Having food available nourishes bodies so brains can work—it reduces stress on the students, and on the teachers,” says Kristen Riccomini, Title 1 teacher at Mt. Shasta Elementary where a mini pantry was established last year.
A new pantry was recently established at the Boys & Girls Club of the Siskiyous. “The kids playfully tell us they are ‘hangry’” says Noam Zimin, the organization’s executive director, “We can fix that. The variety of food is great—the kids love it.” Bags of food from the pantries can also be sent home with kids who may face a food gap over weekends. “School staff always tell me how much they appreciate this program,” says Tyler Moser, the GNS driver who makes the monthly delivers.
“The response to the mini pantries has been very positive, and we often get requests from the community to set them up in new school districts,” says Heather Solus, Community Services Director at GNS. “90% of the funding for this program goes directly to food costs. This community grant from Dignity Health will cover the time, resources, and transportation costs needed to expand and feed more kids. We have new pantries going into Scott Valley schools this year and more on the horizon.”
Ensuring that all children have enough to eat, at all times, is an important part of Dignity Health’s mission of providing high-quality, affordable health care to the communities they serve. A lack of proper nutrition can have serious health consequences, and Childhood Obesity & Healthy Living was identified as a key health need in our community by Dignity Health’s 2014 Community Needs Assessment., “Dignity Health’s support of the Child Nutrition Programs is a testament to their commitment making Siskiyou County a healthier place to live,” said Wells, “We are grateful for their continued partnership.”
If you or someone you know is in need of assistance or if you would like to support these programs, call GNS Community Services Director Heather Solus at (530)938-4115 ext 128.
(As published in Mount Shasta Area Newspapers, Wednesday, February 7th, 2018.)
Weed, CA – “When all of us do a little bit, we all make a big difference,” says Brenda Floyd-Hall, owner of Studio “B”, a hair salon in Mount Shasta. Floyd-Hall has come up with an idea that links her customers to caring about kids through Great Northern Services’ USDA Summer Food Service Program.
“During the summer, 65% of local children are at a heightened risk of experiencing hunger because they are not in school where they receive a subsidized meal during the school year,” says Marie Wells, Great Northern Services Development Director. “Many families have a harder time making ends meet during the summer when kids are on vacation, so every innovative idea, like Brenda’s, is appreciated and needed. Our goal is that no child in Siskiyou County ever goes hungry.”
Floyd-Hall’s project is donating 100% of all sales (including all her costs) from a new collection of handmade soaps sold at the Studio B hair salon. “I figure everyone needs healthy soap and all kids need healthy food,” says Floyd-Hall. “After donating a portion of the Reindeer Run/Race profits to Great Northern’s program for the last two years and finding out about the positive impact it has, I got even more excited and wanted to do more. Each bar of soap that sells for $3.00 is equal to the cost gap of one healthy meal provided through Great Northern’s program. So, each bar that you buy, pays for one meal!”
To donate any time of the year, to find out how your business can get involved, or to volunteer your time to distribute meals, contact Marie Wells, GNS Development Director at 530-938-4115 ext. 121. To find out more about other GNS Siskiyou County community services go to www.gnservices.org, or call 530-938-4115.
Great Northern Services, a not-for-profit organization, is helping to invigorate communities by initiating positive social change to improve economic conditions. GNS is committed to helping communities navigate growth and change while enhancing the cultural, social, environmental, and economic qualities that are the essence of what makes a place a valued home to its citizens.
(As announced in Mount Shasta Area Newspapers, Wednesday, January 24th, 2018.)
Low-to-moderate income residents of Siskiyou County who need assistance with home repairs can apply for a Housing Preservation Grant (HPG) through Great Northern Services (GNS) to address issues of health and safety in their homes.
The USDA Rural Development recently awarded GNS $46,000 in funding to continue their HPG program. The funds can be used on home repair projects typically costing less than $10,000 and can cover up to half the project’s cost—reducing the economic burden or even eliminating it altogether if work can be done in conjunction with GNS’s free Weatherization program.
“This is a great opportunity for homeowners experiencing health and safety hazards,” says GNS Program Manager, Rod Merys. “Many HPG funded projects would not be possible otherwise—they fall outside of other program boundaries but they are too costly for low-income families to afford on their own.”
All Siskiyou County homeowners who meet income eligibility guidelines may apply. Income limits depend on the number of household members and verification will be a part of the application process. The upper income limit for a family of four is $47,900 per year. For more specifics on the HPG program or to request an application, please contact GNS Housing Preservation Grant Manager Rod Merys at (530) 938-4115 ext. 112.