For the past 15 years Street of Dreams has been Nevada County Habitat’s premier event. During that time hundreds of people have volunteered to make the event possible. But for the past decade there has been one woman in particular who has reliably been the unsung hero of Street of Dreams – Evelyn Naake (center in above picture).
“About thirty days before the event I begin,” Evelyn says. Parking herself in a conference room at the Habitat office, Evelyn enters and tracks every donation made for the Street of Dreams auction. This also includes pricing items as varied as a bottle of wine on up to donated pieces of art. She will also work with a team in pairing and packaging items. In all, typically 200-300 individual items are donated. “It’s like a full-time job for over a month!” During the live event she is also the point-person for check-in and check-out, and is in charge of the runners who are tasked with retrieving items from the auction floor.
“It is a lot of work,” says Lorraine Larson, Habitat’s Executive Director. “It’s really important and necessary work in making the auction and the entire event successful. We are incredibly grateful for Evelyn – she is one of the family!”
Named Habitat’s Volunteer of the Year in 2017, Evelyn first came to Habitat when her neighbor, Barbara, recruited her. “Barbara was a wonderful supporter and volunteer for Habitat. She was working on Street of Dreams and called for help,” Evelyn said. “Well, fast forward ten years. Barbara moved (and still supports Habitat!) and I’m still here!”
During her 34-year career with CalTrans, Evelyn worked her way up from being an entry-level data entry clerk to the position of Data Processing Manager. With Habitat she has put those hard-won skills to use in creating the master spreadsheet for Street of Dreams. But she also finds time to help at other times of the year, assisting with mailings and other administrative needs. When doing a mailing she’s often paired with a Habitat homeowner.
“I enjoy getting to know the homeowners and hearing their stories,” She says. “So many of them have overcome significant challenges. They are each unique – and yet I think we can all relate to what they’ve overcome to make better lives for themselves.
“I enjoy my work with Habitat. The organization is doing important things for our community. It’s exciting to see all of the new developments happening and getting more people into their forever homes!”
In addition to Habitat, Evelyn is also the president of the Retired Public Employees Association for the Nevada County Chapter.