Although in age Molly Banz qualifies as someone in their “golden years,” energy-wise, she is more energetic that most people under forty. Whatever it is, she is one who can, if at all possible, get things done when all else fails.
Ms. Banz owned and operated Molly’s Seafood and Grille restaurant in Napa for many years and became well known for her home-like cooking and friendly gathering place. It was in her position as a restaurateur where she began helping those in need. She started by providing free meals to 67 senior citizens who were driven from their homes in the 1986 devastating Napa flood. She sought donations from Napa’s citizenry and was able to furnish a hot meal for six weeks to those who came.
Some time later, a terrible house fire took the life of a young mother and two of her small children. One child and her grandmother survived, but the grandmother had no money with which to bury her family. Ms. Banz placed an ad in the Napa Valley Register asking readers to come in to her restaurant and put just a dollar in the big pickle jar on the counter. Hundreds of people did just that so the grandmother’s beloved family could be buried. That was the catalyst that began the group now called Molly’s Angels.
Ms. Banz knows that many people seemed to fall through the cracks when it came to getting help from established charitable organizations. She believes that if each person in Napa would donate one dollar a month to a nonprofit organization with no overhead, that the majority of these families and individuals could receive at least some assistance.
Four years later, there now exists a core of approximately 30 hard working Angels. Thousands of others, both residents and visitors, become “Angels” by donating money, time, and talent to help Molly’s Angels help those in need. What used to be Molly’s Seafood and Grille has now become Molly’s Angels Café, a nonprofit restaurant where all the profits go to helping those truly in need. The restaurant waiting staff is comprised mostly of volunteers, including teenagers whom Molly is teaching about work ethics. Ms. Banz believes that an organization such as Molly’s Angels could be started in other towns and cities across the nation although they wouldn’t necessarily have to involve a restaurant.
What makes Molly’s Angels a viable nonprofit organization, sometimes envied by visitors to Napa, work? Simply this dynamo called Molly Banz and her hardworking Angels. She and her angels have found homes for the homeless, jobs for the unemployed, fed the hungry, provided funds for expensive medical treatments and equipment – and the list goes on.