Their meetings feel slightly magical and cozy. A car full of board members empty out of one vehicle carpool from Quincy to meet at the house of Indian Valley board member Amy Hafsrud.
It’s a perfect summer night despite the fires, though it means sitting inside the 100-plus-year-old farmhouse instead of outdoors. The attendees shared a potluck of fresh fruits and veggies, snacks, wine and water.
The board members then break bread together and open the meeting after dinner has been underway awhile. Someone throws out a question — what’s your favorite summer flower? They go around the room clockwise with responses. Shooting stars. Lillies. Hollyhocks. Columbines. Each with a story or a remembrance of why that particular flower resonated with them.
It’s not a throw away question, but a bonding one as they get down to the business at hand—as the tag line for Bread for the Journey states — “nurturing the seed of generosity in every human heart.”
They are in the business to make a positive difference in the community by giving away money to individuals and groups trying, in their own way, to make a difference. The discussion of even the flowers feels like abundance and gratitude.
“The community knows what it needs,” said board member Michelle Fulton.
“We have money to give away and we need people to know we are here to do this. People have been so generous,” said board president and mastermind Katie Bagby. She said she and her husband went away for an anniversary vacation and they returned to donations for Bread for the Journey — the nonprofit organization Bagby has run for the last eight years in Plumas County. “We try to make it easy for people to make a difference,” Bagby noted.
Bread for the Journey was a national organization that started over a kitchen table in Santa Fe, New Mexico, 30-plus years ago. That first meeting inspired over 20 chapters around the country, with each chapter of the organization raising money locally to fund projects in its community. In 2010, Bread for the Journey Feather River formed in Plumas County. As each of the local chapters became stronger and focused locally, the national organization disbanded.
The Feather River local received its 501(c)3 tax-exempt status last year.
The premise is to keep things simple. Many times small groups and individuals have great ideas, but no capital and are too small as of yet to be nonprofit organizations. That’s where Bread for the Journey can help. The granting process is simple: a couple of pages of your idea and budget and an oral presentation to the board members. Sometimes they take the checkbook out right then and there with board consensus.
Tonight it’s Shelley Morrison’s turn on the hot seat. She wants to bring a puppeteer show to Plumas County that’s been acknowledged as a great way to teach children not to bully other children. She lays out the cost of transportation, renting the Town Hall Theatre and corralling elementary age children and their administrations into this idea. The board members ask questions and lay out their positions. They don’t want to be in the business of picking up for either the charter or the school district in not including arts in their programs. They want to be a partner in the great idea — they want the schools to step up to the plate, too. But the ball is rolling in Morrison’s favor and a plan is hatched with a new budget where they can partner with both schools to bring quality arts programming to elementary students in Plumas County.
The ideas and the people who come before the board are varied. Tristan McMichael at the end of the last school year came up with the idea of something he’d already been doing — creating a lending library of musical instruments for students in Quincy by refurbishing and fixing discarded ones. Bread for the Journey has a $500 check that they’re waiting to give him.
The projects they’ve gone for and funded in the last year are varied and include $500 to the Quincy Farmer’s Market’s matching program to help WIC and seniors obtain fresh food. They’ve financed the salary of the intern at the market this year, too.
Bread for the Journey gave Pachuca Productions $500 in 2017 to help produce “Serious Moonlight” because of its socially conscious premise.
The new nonprofit Quincy Cooperative Preschool was given $600 for supplies such as umbrellas for shade and art easels for painting.
Five hundred went toward Indian Valley Youth Summit’s First Aid/CPR course at GHS for area youth.
IVA’s Uganda bound teens in 2017 received funds toward their service learning projects to keep a preschool open there.
They sponsored flower baskets on Main Street in Quincy.
This summer, they helped an Upward Bound student who’d become homeless get situated so that she could get housed and start college on time.
The treasurer reported $10,888.39 in the coffers. They’re looking for more worthy causes in the community to help fund.
Currently the best way to contact Bread for the Journey is via email at [email protected] or by calling Katie Bagby at 927-8599. They’re hoping to hear from more community members with projects that benefit the community in some way.
“We run our local charity solely on volunteers working from their kitchens and living rooms. We have fun, keep it simple, and there is very little overhead, so what comes in is given right back,” said Bagby in her annual letter. Donations can be sent to BFJ, Feather River, PO Box 3075
Quincy, CA 95971.