TRUCKEE, Calif. - A Nevada City-based homeless service provider is expanding service out of western Nevada County into Truckee.
The Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District's board of directors this week granted Divine Spark use of the Community Arts Center's kitchen, located at 10046 Church St., on Wednesdays to feed homeless and under-poverty individuals once a week.
"We're excited about being able to offer something for not just the homeless, but also people below the poverty level," said Dan O'Gorman, the recreation superintendent. "We're looking forward to a good relationship with them."
Divine Spark already provides 250 vouchers every week to homeless people who can redeem them at eight Grass Valley and Nevada City businesses. Founder Thomas Streicher said his organization services 374 people in western Nevada County.
Streicher founded Divine Spark to provide resources to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota - one of the largest, poorest reservations in the country. Later, the organization began feeding western Nevada County homeless people every Sunday at the Madelyn Helling Library and subsequently at the Veteran's Building, both in Nevada City, until the city no longer permitted use of the facility.
Streicher recently returned from the largest of his four, 1,300-mile annual treks to the reservation where he hauled donated frozen turkeys, hams, sewing machines and clothes to the tribe for Thanksgiving. The trip is nearly the 40th such journey by Divine Spark.
The expansion into Truckee was made possible by added support Divine Spark received this year, Streicher said. Divine Spark is funded by private donors.
Streicher estimates his organization will feed approximately 27 homeless individuals in Truckee on Wednesdays, and could serve as many as 60 below-poverty people.
"There isn't much available up there for the homeless," said Streicher, who plans to also stay on in Truckee on Thursdays to work with a coalition of religious organizations feeding people weekly on that day. Streicher said he is working with Father Matthew Blank of Assumption Catholic Church in Truckee.
"I'm finding a lot of support in Truckee," Streicher said. "I feel we will have something big up there in a couple of years."
Streicher hopes to move slowly, but eventually expand to offer meals on more days, he said. Streicher is looking for volunteers to further service the area.
Divine Spark's annual holiday celebration will be held Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 at the Veteran's Building, located at 317 Broad St., at which Streicher anticipates feeding 400 people each day.
"This year will be bigger than ever," Streicher said.
Divine Spark can be reached at 530-265-2620 and more information can be found at divinespark.us.