Lorence and Kelsey Anderson are a typical, busy, 30-something couple living in Sacramento. So when the couple got engaged back in May of 2019, it was a challenge to nail down an actual date for the wedding.
Both graduates of Nevada Union High School, the two wanted to have the ceremony in Nevada County and settled on August of 2020, more than a year out.
As the details of their big day began to fall into place, they sent out invitations to 150 people, roughly 100 of whom confirmed. At last, the guest list was set, the location was reserved and the caterers were lined up and paid in full.
Then, in March, their long-awaited plans came to an abrupt halt with the onset of the global pandemic. Sadly, the guest list had to be scaled way back — limited to immediate family and close friends (observing COVID-19 guidelines) — and the location switched to outdoors.
And there was another problem. Having already paid for enough food for the original number of guests, the catering company would only provide a refund in the form of credit.
“Suddenly we found ourselves asking, ‘What do you do with a catering credit in a pandemic?’” said Kelsey. “Then, we realized this was the perfect time to help people who needed it more.”
STRUGGLES PALE IN COMPARISON
In the past, Kelsey and Lorence had volunteered serving meals at Hospitality House’s shelter, Utah’s Place, alongside Kelsey’s mother, Linda Waring, who is the director of Diagnostic Imaging and Radiation Oncology at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. Hospitality House, a nonprofit, provides a broad spectrum of resources for Nevada County individuals in need of housing, shelter and food.
“We had this revelation that — while we had our own struggles — they paled in comparison to the challenges of the homeless who are simply struggling to find food and shelter,” said Lorence. “A lot of us are complaining, saying we are sick and tired of being at home during to the pandemic, but in reality it’s a luxury to have a home. The pandemic has forced even more people into homelessness — just one minor shift in your life can cause this. We realized that our catering credit could really help a lot of people.”
Both Lorence, who is now in his third year of law school, and Kelsey, a site supervisor at a preschool, have worked with low income families and have seen the ravages of poverty. Helping to feed those in need was an easy decision.
“In working with the catering company, staff and volunteers were able to maximize the food credit to feed significantly more people than the wedding menu would have,” said Ashley Quadros, development director at Hospitality House. “In order to stretch their generous donation the furthest, we opted to use the catering credit for side dishes and dessert that we could then supplement with other donated foods. A total of 170 meals supported our dinner operations over the course of two consecutive nights, feeding both those at Utah’s Place and individuals and families receiving shelter in motels around town.”
SAW AN OPPORTUNITY AND ACTED
Struggling to meet the needs of a growing homeless population in Nevada County, the staff at Hospitality House said they were moved by the selfless gesture of the newlyweds.
“Kelsey and Lorence saw an opportunity to help our community and they acted — going above and beyond in the process,” added Quadros. “In addition to gifting Hospitality House their existing credit, they added more money to it to feed more people. Their actions have been incredibly selfless, and we won’t soon forget it. They shared one of the most important days of their lives with our homeless community and gifted two nights of nourishment to feed struggling men, women, children, seniors and veterans. With our food needs exacerbated because of the pandemic, this gift came at a most helpful time and put genuine smiles on many faces in the shelter. We are grateful to the bride and groom and their drive to find and create goodness in a world that continues to challenge.”
Originally choosing to remain anonymous, Kelsey and Lorence only agreed to publicize their donation in the hopes others that will be inspired to do the same.
“We don’t want this to be about us,” said Kelsey. “But if this brings awareness to a group of people who are marginalized and looked down upon and blamed for circumstances beyond their control, then maybe we can help spread positivity and giving during these hard times.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at [email protected]