A small card listing places where the down-and-out can seek hot meals, shelter, medical care, emergency groceries and other help is being distributed by the United Way of the Great Salt Lake Area and the Salt Lake City Central Business Improvement District.
A letter is being mailed to area business owners and executives along with copies of the cards, telling them, "We do not want to turn our backs on anyone. It is important for us to assist all individuals to secure the emergency help they need. The local public and private sectors are working very hard together to create a continuum of services which will reduce the multiple reasons people find themselves alone and wandering the streets."The best way to do that, according to the card, is to hand out copies of the card to panhandlers in lieu of money.
The card lists hot meal sources like St. Vincent De Paul, the Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army, as well as a Salt Lake Community Action Program food pantry. The Information and Referral service number is listed to obtain additional food pantry locations.
For shelter, the card suggests the family and men's shelters operated by Traveler's Aid and the Rescue Mission Shelter. Medical services are available at St. Vincent De Paul Center. Those in need are also referred to the main office of Traveler's Aid, the ExpoMart site of the Utah Division of Social Services (where they can apply for public assistance and food stamps) and to Community Services Council's Information and Referral Service. Because of space limitations, the listings are very basic.
The card also lists suggestions for dealing with panhandlers.
"Walk with an air of confidence and purpose. Acknowledge a panhandler with a nod and a firm, courteous `no.' Give a copy of this card and continue walking," it states, adding that anyone feeling harassed or threatened should call the police.
Money should instead be donated either to the United Way, the agencies listed or the Shelter the Homeless Project, the card states, advising that these programs "will help people make changes in their lives."
Anyone interested in obtaining copies of the card can call the United Way office at 328-0211. The card will be revised when the new homeless shelter on Rio Grande Street opens in the fall.