The Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of California has donated more than $22,000 to help support a nonprofit organization’s effort to provide a shower bus for the homeless.

Give Someone a Chance, the group behind the project, received a check from the tribe on Friday for $22,687 to help fund the ongoing operations of the bus. That’s the largest single donation the nonprofit has received since it was founded in 2010 by retired couple Dick and Hazel Mitchell, of Jamestown.

“We live in Jamestown and like the fact that we’re being supported by our local tribe,” Hazel Mitchell said. “Nothing could have made me happier or more proud of what we’re doing than for them to consider us worthwhile.”

Hazel Mitchell said her group has committed to operating the showers twice a week in Jamestown.

The plan is to operate the bus on a daily rotating schedule at set locations in Jamestown, Sonora, and the township of Tuolumne, because Mitchell said those are the three areas with the highest homeless populations.

Hazel Mitchell said they hope to provide between 5,500 and 6,500 showers per year.

Tribal Chairman Lloyd Mathiesen said the Tribal Council approved the donation after Hazel Mitchell met with staff and briefed them on the plans for the bus.

Mathiesen said the tribe works closely with the community of Jamestown to address homelessness in the town. According to the Jamestown Family Resource Center, one in five children in the Jamestown School District fall under the definition of being homeless.

“Ninety-five percent of the members of our tribe live in Tuolumne County and not on our reservation,” said Mathiesen, a Sonora High graduate. “We want to see our community grow and prosper. Any way that we can help out, we do.”

The tribe also donated $18,000 weeks before Thanksgiving to purchase 900 turkeys for the Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency Food Bank in Jamestown so that families in need could enjoy a traditional holiday meal.

Hazel Mitchell said she anticipates the money from the tribe will help with hiring one employee to operate the bus and pay for some of the year’s worth of socks, underwear, and hygiene products that will provided free of charge to those who use the showers.

The estimated cost of operating the bus with two employees is $110,000 per year, which the organization is trying to fund in part through donations.

They have taken the now-completed bus to several locations throughout the county over the past few weeks to inform people about the project and raise money for ongoing operations.

There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the bus from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the commons area of Sierra Bible Church, at 15171 Tuolumne Road in East Sonora, where they will be explaining how the bus was built, have people sign-up for volunteering and selling tickets for their annual fundraiser in which all the proceeds will go to the bus.

Tickets are $30 each for the group’s third annual “Italian Night” fundraiser on May 5 at the Elks Lodge in Sonora. The event will feature a spaghetti dinner, live auction, and music from the Rusty Rockers.

Hazel Mitchell said the group is hoping to raise about $13,000 from the event.

Contact Alex Maclean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.

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