"We can now say to the homeless who need our help: `yes, we have a place for you; yes, we have room; yes, we will never close our doors,' " Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis promised at the noon dedication of Salt Lake's new shelter for the homeless on Friday.
DePaulis and President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offered remarks at the formal dedication of the Salt Lake Community Shelter and Resource Center. The Rev. George E. Bates of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah gave the dedicatory prayer."This community is one when we engage one with another in such projects as this shelter," President Monson said. "It builds a spirit of unity and strength in Salt Lake City." President Monson pledged the continuing support of the LDS Church in such causes.
The LDS Church contributed furniture to the center this week from two of its hotels. "What a thrilling experience to see handicapped persons from Deseret Industries drive those big trucks up to Hotel Temple Square and Hotel Utah and load the trucks with beds and mattresses, pillows and furniture of every description; then drive here to the center and observe those who are going to live here and watch them find a new spirit in their lives."
President Monson also mentioned the Boy Scouts' "Scouting for Food" drive to gather food for the poor this weekend. He quoted the admonition in Isaiah to give our bread to the poor, take in the homeless and help our needy relatives.
If we do this, President Monson said, God has promised us "our lives would be like a watered garden whose waters faileth not."
In this holiday season, our thoughts turn to Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," he said. He recapped the story for the audience, stressing the grief of Scrooge's dead partner, Jacob Marley.
"Mankind was my business," President Monson quoted from the book. "Why did I walk through throngs of fellow beings with my eyes cast down and never once lift them to that glorious star which guided wisemen to a poor abode. Not to know that any Christian spirit working in its tiny sphere will find its mortal life far too short for its vast means of usefulness. Such was I. Such was I."
We each have ample opportunity to give, President Monson said.
"May the spirit of He who gave all, even His own life, be with you and with me and with every person that walks the halls of this shelter, or who sits and enjoys life in this patio, or who sleeps in a soft clean bed, and who eats nourishing food and who is given hope for tomorrow, thanks to you."
DePaulis congratulated the people and organization that made the impossible happen.
When the project was launched a little over a year ago, "the notion of raising $4 million was an awesome task. Some of us wondered if it could be done. But all of you here today made it happen.
"People, good people who never dreamed they would one day have no place to go, are sleeping in cars, vacant buildings and open fields. Today we have done something that will provide a passageway, a new beginning and a sense of hope to these people."
The dedication was held on the playground of the new center. The center will begin to provide temporary shelter and assistance to as many as 240 single men and 110 family members in early December. A facility for up to 40 women will be completed next year.
The center takes a new approach to homelessness, DePaulis said, identifying the several services offered to the homeless that will quickly make them independent. The center offers school for children, emergency medical assistance, counseling and job services.
Those who seek shelter in the center will be quickly put in touch with services in the community, such as Job Services and adult education programs, that will help them become independent.