The Road Home Finds Solutions
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato
On a balmy July evening nearly 10 years ago, I had the opportunity to serve dinner with a volunteer group at The Road Home homeless shelter downtown. At one point during the hustle and bustle of the dinner service, I looked up into the face of a woman clutching her plate of food and was struck by her appearance–it wasn’t the worn clothing she was wearing or her tattered shoes that caught my eye, although I did notice them, it was the fact that she looked a lot like me that stopped me in my tracks. She was the same size, same age, had the same eye color, same hair color and length; it was suddenly as if I was looking in the mirror, except I was on one side of the table and she was on the other. How fortunate I was to be standing on that side of the table. At that moment, I keenly realized how a slightly different set of circumstances could have easily changed which side of that table I was standing on. I will never forget that night. And, it changed my trajectory. I could not pretend this human suffering did not exist within our own community. I wanted to make a difference, somehow, in some small way, in the fight against homelessness.
Having served for the past several years on the board of The Road Home has further opened my eyes to the indescribable struggle of those experiencing homelessness, as well as the opportunity we each have to make a difference. With community support, The Road Home utilizes a network of resources, including temporary shelter, housing and services to help people overcome homelessness. This past year, we have assisted nearly 681 families, including 1,348 children. As far as trends, more families and single women are homeless than ever before. In Utah, we have experienced an increase in homeless women this past year of over 10 percent. Despite certain stereotypes that may exist, nine out of 10 people who experience homelessness do so as a short, one-time occurrence. Eighty-seven percent of families who experience homelessness in Utah do not return to shelter. At The Road Home, we build new hope as we accompany our constituents on their personal journey toward self-reliance and permanent housing. In short, The Road Home offers HELP to HOPE to HOME.
We have worked hard to secure additional housing solutions in our community, including the recent purchase of the Wendell Apartments. Those now living in the Wendell Apartments previously used a total of more than 15,000 shelter nights. We have been very busy working to improve the Community Winter Shelter in Midvale, and are so grateful for all those who are partnering with us in this endeavor. In April, we tore down the old building and began construction on a new and improved facility better equipped to assist those we serve. We continue to work in collaboration with our sister agencies to end homelessness among veterans. We have recently established a Street Engagement Team (SET) along with Volunteers of America, whose members are dedicated to connecting individuals in need to housing and services. We are devoted to finding solutions to overcome homelessness through housing, and to serve those who come to us in their time of need with dignity, compassion and respect.
I am proud of The Road Home team and deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve with such inspiring human beings. Whether attending board meetings with wonderfully talented and diverse individuals, raising money that enables us to provide important services to those we serve, talking with city councils in search of workable solutions, gathering backpacks for school children, organizing a dinner at the shelter or working at Candy Cane Corner, I always walk away from this work with a very full heart, and the knowledge that I have had the privilege of working with true angels on earth. Among them are the incredible staff and volunteers of The Road Home. Their dedication to our mission is unmatched.
Many of you have supported The Road Home in countless ways, and I extend my sincere thanks and true appreciation for your invaluable help. We cannot do it alone. With your continued support, we will help families who turn to us in their time of need, protect children who are counting on us, supply shelter and provide safety for the most vulnerable individuals in our community.
Draper resident Kamie F. Brown, Esq. is a board member and past board president at The Road Home.