Church Donation to Utah Detox Facility Will Help Expand Programs
By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
Just 15 months ago, Sam Carter’s life seemed headed to one of two destinations—the jail cell or the grave.
“I was in bad shape,” said Mr. Carter, an affable man with a quick smile. “I was drinking, smoking, using drugs, and not taking care of myself. I needed help.”
Help arrived in the form of Salt Lake City’s Detoxification Center, a facility sponsored by the Volunteers of America. Each year, thousands of people like Sam—folks who are typically poor, often homeless, and battling addictions—find a safe haven and treatment at the center. But hundreds are turned away due to capacity limits. People who could have benefited from the center’s services were instead diverted to jails or hospital emergency rooms—or simply left out in the cold.
In an effort to treat many more in need, the Detoxification Center has begun an expansion project that will open up dozens more beds and increase its maximum capacity. The Church enjoys an ongoing partnership with Volunteers of America and is anxious for more men and women in need to have access to care at the center. On January 17, the center announced a $200,000 challenge grant from the Church to help fund the ongoing expansion. In order to receive the full grant, the VOA will need to match that amount with community donations.
The president and CEO of the VOA’s Utah chapter, Kathy Bray, called the Church’s donation “a great gift” that will benefit thousands.
“We are going to provide more room and beds for people in need in this community,” said Ms. Bray. “The people who come to us are desperately seeking to turn their lives around.”
The Church’s donation, she added, will provide the center “the opportunity to serve more people and to get more people out of the cold and help them stop drinking and stop taking drugs.”
LDS Charities director Sharon Eubank said substance abuse and addiction are challenges facing the entire community. “The issues that are dealt with [at the center] touch every family.”
Salt Lake City’s Detoxification Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition to providing beds and detox services, the VOA goes out into the community to assist police and hospital emergency rooms with people who are inebriated. In Utah alone, the VOA serves thousands each year in the areas of homeless outreach, homeless youth services, substance abuse detoxification and treatment, housing case management, substance abuse prevention, and domestic violence counseling.
Homeless advocate Pamela Atkinson spoke of bringing many of her homeless friends to the detox center to receive care. She has witnessed many leave the center and find permanent housing and a fresh start in life. She thanked the Church for its financial and spiritual assistance in the Utah community.
“We could not do half of what we do without The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” she said.
Individuals and businesses can contribute to the VOA Detoxification Center expansion project by going to www.voaut.org. Any amount donated will be matched.