By Cassidy Hansen
Capital West News
SALT LAKE CITY — Longtime homeless advocate Pamela Atkinson recenlty took Gov. Gary Herbert on a tour of the Volunteers of America Adult Detoxification Center and reviewed how to donate to the Homeless Trust Fund that’s a checkoff on Utah’s income tax form.
The Volunteers of America Adult Detoxification Center is one of the several organizations that receive funding from the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Funds. This specific center focuses on helping homeless individuals who are intoxicated and looking for sobriety as well as individuals who are sick.
“I am really honored to have this trust fund in my name. You know when it first happened, I kept on checking my pulse just to make sure I was still living. You don’t usually get things named after you when you are alive. It’s when you are dead. I’m very much alive actually, so it has been an honor,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson’s love for homeless families and individuals is evident through characterizing them as “our homeless friends.” Her kindness was seen throughout the duration of the facility tour as she chatted with her friends and held small children of a mother who is currently saving to afford her own apartment with her husband, who was at work during the tour.
“Pamela is Utah’s ‘Mother Teresa.’ She loves everybody, it doesn’t matter who or the circumstances. So all of us should take a page out of Pamela Atkinson’s book, and love each other, and care for each other,” Herbert said.
Herbert was pleased to meet the staff at the facility and thanked them for their kindness and patience. Also while on the tour, Herbert socialized with the clients in the center and was impressed with a client who was finishing his last day of college.
Anthony is one of the success stories found at these types of centers. Through one of the various programs offered at the Detoxification Center, Anthony has been able to attend college and is in the process of becoming a pharmacy technician. Without the support of the center to overcome his alcoholism, he would not be a graduating college student.
“One of the most exciting times in life is when I’m walking down State or Main Street to a luncheon and I get hailed by somebody. He is a person who was formerly homeless, and now he is in a home with family and is part of society because of people like you and others who cared to make sure that we stepped up to the plate and made a difference,” Atkinson said.
In regard to programs and donations that have been created for those who are in need, Herbert said, “I appreciate that we (Utah) have concern for the homeless. There are 1,300 people in the state who are homeless and it’s not just a Salt Lake Valley, or a Salt Lake County issue. Throughout the state we have homelessness in all of our 29 counties.”
To help these types of programs, residentss can donate the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund on their Utah Individual Income Tax Form TC-40. Atkinson has asked that everyone donate at least $2 to help “our homeless friends.” All donations remain in Utah and are used to advance Utah’s 10- year plan to end chronic homelessness.