Meeting needs: Christian Center reaches out to bless Park City — and beyond

Published: Friday, June 21 2013 4:55 p.m. MDT

Because of the unique demographics of Park City and Deer Valley, CCPC gets more than its share of donations of higher-end clothing and household items, which it sells at a second thrift store called the Center Stage Boutique.

“The boutique is amazing,” said Mare Piper, a volunteer who says she has been serving at the boutique for “2-ish, 3-ish years — everything in Park City is –ish.”

“We have lots of name brands here: Louis Vuitton, Armani, Coach purses,” Piper said. When a guest indicated he had never heard of Coach purses, she fixed him with a playful glare and told him to go home and ask his wife about them. “She will roll her eyes at you,” she said, laughing.

Although the prices in the boutique are a little higher than in the thrift store, you can still get a like-new name-brand shirt for $8.

“We’ve had people find beautiful wedding dresses here,” Piper said. “We had one girl on a really tight budget come in looking for a prom dress and she found one that was so beautiful, when she tried it on and showed it to us we were all in tears. She was just so thrilled that she could get such a gorgeous dress for such an incredible price.”

The Christian Center’s food pantry, which partners with the Utah Food Bank, has also exploded as it has broadened its reach beyond Park City.

“We’re not a soup kitchen — we’re more of a grocery store,” Harter said. “In fact, we do ‘grocery rescue’ with a lot of local stores. They give us food, and we get it out to people.”

In addition to the food pantry associated with the Christian Center in Park City, the center operates a mobile food pantry that takes food to other locations in Summit and Wasatch Counties. They have recently established a satellite branch in Heber City, with both a food pantry and a thrift store to help meet the needs there.

“Our motto is, ‘Meeting people at their point of need as an expression of God’s love,’” Harter said. Or, like Edwards said, “We go where the need is.”

These days that is taking the Christian Center’s humanitarian ministry to Ibapah, in far western Tooele County, to serve members of the Goshute Tribe living there.

“We heard there were significant needs among the Goshutes, and it just felt like something we should do,” Harter said. So once a month they bring the CCPC mobile food pantry to Ibapah to provide food services as well as clothing. Last winter they included some 100 Goshute children among the 1,400 children served by their “Operation Hope” sub-for-Santa program. And now they are working with tribal leaders to establish a community garden in Ibapah.

“We’re trying to create a large, sustainable garden so they can have their own healthy, organic vegetables and fruit,” Harter said. “Not only will this provide them with better, healthier food, but we also hope it can eventually be a microenterprise for them so they can sell the food they don’t need for themselves.”

Much of the funding for CCPC’s Goshute outreach comes through a grant from American Express. As executive director of the center, Harter spends a lot of his time applying for grants from different agencies and foundations and working with individual donors and local churches who provide the center with the money it needs to do its work.

“We try to have a diversified set of income sources so we can maintain a healthy revenue stream that will allow us to continue to meet people’s needs,” Harter said. “Thankfully people, churches and organizations from throughout the community have been very generous with their money and their time.”

And needs are being met. Like the gentleman with the backpack and the tent who was just passing through on his way from Salt Lake City to Colorado and needed some food. Or the mother and her five daughters who were fleeing a polygamous sect and needed clothing other than the long, plain dresses they were wearing to better fit in to their new way of life. Or the Goshute children who receive a weekend’s worth of healthy snacks to help fill in the nutritional gaps when they are left to take care of themselves while their parents are working.

“We see a lot of need here,” said Marisol Sandoval of Kamas, who for six years has worked in the CCPC thrift shop. “I love feeling that every day we’re doing something to help people in need.”

Email: jwalker@desnews.com

Try out the new DeseretNews.com design!
try beta learn more
Get The Deseret News Everywhere