LDS Church to give $200,000 for Salt Lake detoxification center expansion

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16 2013 7:20 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Reta Jaramillo is thrilled about plans to expand Volunteers of America's Adult Detoxification Center.

“I've been there a few times myself," she said. "It's a wonderful place to go, but when I was there, they did need more space.”

Jaramillo, a former client of the men's and women's facility at 252 W. Brooklyn Ave., said she's been helped by the center several times during relapses.

“They care. They really care,” she said. “It's wonderful, and I would recommend it highly to anybody that is considering getting help.”

On Thursday, Volunteers of America's Utah affiliate will formally announce a $200,000 challenge grant from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to remodel and expand the Adult Detoxification Center.

“The detox project is our oldest program," said Zach Bale, vice president of external affairs for Volunteers of America, Utah. "It has lived in the same building for 26 years now, up until this major renovation."

The remodel calls for capacity at the center to increase by 10 beds, from 56 to 66.

“Every day we have had individuals that can't come in because we're full,” Bale said.

Michelle Templin, community engagement director for the nonprofit organization, said more than 3,600 admissions into the facility for detoxification services were processed last year by Volunteers of America, Utah.

The Adult Detoxification Center expansion project will make 66 beds available for people struggling with drugs and/or alcohol, Templin said. Of those beds, 50 will be for men, six will be for woman and 10 beds will be dedicated to transitional living, she said.

“In addition to the beds available for detox, VOA also goes out into the community to assist police and emergency rooms with people who are inebriated," Templin said.

The agency's jail diversion program provides a place for Salt Lake City, West Valley City, Utah Transit Authority and Unified police to take inebriated people for detox rather than booking them into jail, she said. Last year, 584 individuals were diverted to the facility.

"Emergency room staff can also call VOA when someone needs a bed for detoxing versus taking up valuable resources at the hospital," Templin said.

In 2012, there were 88,251 adults and 12,189 children (grades 6-12) needing treatment for alcohol and drug dependence or abuse, according to the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

Of those in need of help, only 17,026 people — or 17 percent — were being served by the public substance abuse treatment system last year, resulting in “a combined total of approximately 83,414 adults and youth who are in need of, but not receiving, substance abuse treatment services,” according to a Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health study.

Over the years, the LDS Church has helped Volunteers of America serve individuals in need of substance abuse treatment services through in-kind support.

“We receive a community grant from the Bishops' Storehouse,” Bale said. “This includes meat, cheese and veggies — things we can't get from the food bank. And in the winter, we get wool blankets.”

The $200,000 challenge grant will be the first of its kind from the LDS Church to Volunteers of America.

“We are really appreciative of community support and the LDS Church,” Bale said. “When we think about addiction or substance abuse, it's close to many of us in the community. … Some people don't want to touch the issue at all, and that may mean they don't have an interest in it, or it's so close to home because a brother or parent or child has struggled with it.”

To receive the full $200,000 grant, Volunteers of America must raise $200,000 in matching donations. Bale confirmed that the nonprofit group has raised $100,000 through donations from individuals, members of the board and various Utah businesses and organizations. For more information or to donate, visit www.voaut.org.

E-mail: mmellor@deseretnews.com

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