Homeless, hungry in midst of plenty

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In the midst of the Olympic celebration, there are those who wander, who have no home.

Some people voiced concern that the Olympics would steal resources away from the homeless. In fact, according to Salt Lake Coordinator Major Wayne Froderberg, there are more resources, not fewer, because of the games.

In downtown Salt Lake City, the More Than Gold Command Center sits across the street from Pioneer Park, which the homeless claim as their own. The center, former location of The Salvation Army Thrift Store, continues to serve a daily meal to those in need, as it has done for years.

To prepare for the Olympics, The Salvation Army received $24,000 for its community dining room, located in the back of the command center. The money went towards doubling the seating and adding staff. Froderberg explained, “God has given us more food than we can give away here. We feed 300-500 daily at our dining room and provide 400-600 meals to other agencies. Combined, we feed 1000 a night.”

Volunteers, approximately 13,000 a year, do almost 100% of the work in the dining room. Volunteers represent American Express, Questar, and many churches of different faiths. During the Olympics, extra help was provided by Youth with a Mission and Americorps. This winter, the Army also received 12,000 flu vaccines to distribute, and the services of nurses to administer the shots. Many of these vaccines will go to the homeless and needy.

The Salvation Army in Salt Lake City works with other organizations to care for the homeless population. Near the More Than Gold Command Center, the Salt Lake City Mission Home has been offering help in the name of Jesus for eight years. A block away from the center another shelter has been operating for 30 years.

This part of downtown, known as the Gateway area, has a core of about five providers of services. The Road Home added 300 new beds and Catholic Community Services increased their resources as well. The rescue missions expanded services. In a creative programming move, the 4th Street Clinic added a mobile unit.

Froderberg emphasized that because of the Olympics there is added help for the homeless – more food and more ministry opportunities. In his words, “Because we worked together with the community and maintained a vision of surplus not scarcity, God provided. Many lives are being touched in a positive way.”

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