Danny C. Kelly, a Salt Lake attorney, is the new president of the board of directors for Traveler's Aid International.
The group coordinates the work of 60 local offices in the U.S. and interacts with other agencies like the Red Cross, Child Welfare League, the national United Way and National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. It also provides seminars, training and support.On a local level, each agency has its own focus and funding sources, Kelly said. In Utah, emphasis is placed on helping the homeless. Among other things, the organization operates Salt Lake City's homeless shelters.
"Some local agencies deal with runaway youth, unemployment, immigration issues. Salt Lake is one of the few in the system that has direct responsibility for a shelter. International started in St. Louis in the 1800s to help people who were moving West. Since then, we've adapted to the needs of the population," Kelly said.
Last year, 47 of the 60 U.S. groups reported serving a total of 280,000 people, and making an uncounted number of referrals to other agencies. More than 70 percent of those served had incomes below the poverty level.
"Those numbers aren't just contacts we had," he said. "Those were actual cases where files were opened."
The agency relies heavily on volunteers, and more than 2 million people donate time or money to help the effort across the country. Locally, Travelers Aid volunteers offer assistance in the agency's office, at the airport and the bus station, as well as at the shelter. There are also paid staff members.
Kelly joined the local board in 1981 because he was looking for something to do in the area of community service, he said. He was president for the Salt Lake agency in 1984-85 and in 1985 he became a board member. He will serve from one to three years, at the discretion of the board.