By Janene Pack
Service and love is not scarce here in Utah.
The Salt Lake Interfaith Hospitality Network has been devoted to uniting the religious community in the Wasatch Front to provide shelter, meals and assistance to homeless families since 1997.
Our purpose is to help those around us, but uniting different religions is definitely something we advocate, said Vicki Neumann, executive director of SLIHN.
“By interfaith we mean breaking the barriers amongst the different religions so we can help people together,” Neumann said.
SLIHN focuses on basic Bible teachings, to take care of one another and serve one another in hospitality, she said.
Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are all involved in the interfaith network together, Neumann said.
Since the network opened in January of 1997, they have experienced an 82 percent success rate, she said.
“This network is not just about giving people a place to live,” Neumann said. “This is a mentored program that gives our guests the hand up they need to succeed.”
SLIHN gives classes on finance and gives people a chance to go to college through a program called Boost. Many move on to being hired by big corporations such as Delta, American Express and Discover, Neumann said.
Many large corporations such as American Express, Questar and Discover donate volunteers, time and their resources to making Utah a better place.
Martha Winsor, affordability director for the Community Development Corporation of Utah, is one of the many volunteers who has donated her time to SLIHN for the last two years.
Windsor said her job alone provides home ownership opportunities for low-income families across the state.
CDC like SLIHN trains families to be able to keep their homes, she said.
“We don’t just give them a home, we train these families to increase their income so they are prepared for home ownership,” Windsor said.
Windsor said she is also working on developing SLIHN in Utah County. Many people do not realize there are people in need right here in Provo.
“I have been sending letters to the ministers here in Utah County, soliciting their help in expanding the network,” Winsor said.
Neumann said despite the fact many religions are involved with the SLIHN, proselytizing is not allowed.
“We want volunteers to show what they believe in through their actions, not by their words,” Neumann said.
Anyone is welcome to volunteer and further the progress of the Interfaith Hospitality Network. For more information call 801-961-8622.