Every day my heart is broken; either from what I see or by the memory of what I have seen - children who have undergone abuse or severe neglect. I remember a year-old baby who never would make eye contact and who was as stiff as a board if you tried to hold her. Little ones who cry for "Mommy" when we know it is "Mom-my" who has hurt them. Teenagers who won't even look you in the eye for fear you might see their pain. A little boy who wouldn't let me out of his sight and then cried when it was time for me to go home. Another little boy who begged me to let him sleep in a sleeping bag by my desk because he was afraid to be alone.

When I first began working at the Children's Shelter, I believed I would never forget a single child. But I have. Then there are those who will never leave my memory and still break my heart.The Salt Lake County Children's Shelter was established in 1968. Our mission is to care for children who have been removed from their own homes for allegations of neglect and abuse. We provide short-term, crisis-oriented care for children who range in age from birth to teen until a more permanent situation is decided upon. In the past 30 years we have cared for tens of thousands of children who have not had another safe place to go.

The majority of these children have been cared for by shelter families. These are families who are willing to take in children on a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week basis. We call these families whenever we have a child who needs a safe place to stay.

Our shelter families provide an invaluable service as they take in these children at their most heightened state of crisis. They earn the child's trust by opening their hearts to them. There are children who will never leave their memory; children they have fallen in love with the first time they saw them. We are so grateful to these families for the love and care they offer to these children in need.

Thirty years after the Children's Shelter was established and two things haven't changed: There are still hundreds of children a year who are in need of a safe place to stay, and we still do not have enough families who are there to take in these vulnerable children.

My plea is to families who feel that they could take in even one child a month. We realize that our pool of families to choose from is limited - it is required that our shelter families live in Salt Lake County and are able to ensure that one adult provider can be with the child at all times - but if you feel you could do this, or know someone who could, please call our offices at 269-0518. Even if you just want more information, please call.