Through love and caring, Church Service missionaries -- with the help of community volunteers and specialists, such as doctors, attorneys or mechanics -- are turning around Salt Lake's inner-city neighborhoods one family at a time.
Elder Alexander B. Morrison of the Seventy and president of the Utah North Area calls the Church's Salt Lake Inner-City Welfare Pilot Project a tremendous success."It is just incredible. It is so powerful in touching the hearts of givers and receivers alike. Its greatest fruits are spiritual, rather than temporal," said Elder Morrison.
Following are numerous examples of ways the Church, through the project, is reaching out to those in need:
Church Service missionaries found a man who had been living on the streets since he was 13 years old. He suffered from severe neck and back pains. A surgeon volunteered to perform necessary surgery. Today, the patient is living in an apartment and working to become self-reliant.
One missionary couple is assigned to work with 28 individuals in a care center. They pay regular attention to the people they are assigned to help, talking to them, comforting them and helping them make life more meaningful.
A husband and father, who did not speak English well, lost his job just before Christmas. Church Service missionaries organized a "Christmas" for the family. They also helped the father find work and get into a class to learn English so he could enhance his employment.
One of his children, age 11, was suffering from severe depression. The missionaries found a physician to donate his time to examine the boy. He will determine if there is a chemical imbalance or a tumor that is causing this highly unusual condition in a child that young.
A wife and mother, who had been a professional teacher in Mexico before coming to the United States, was trying to keep her family together while dealing with her husband's alcohol addiction. She had to sell everything the family owned in order to keep a roof over their heads, actually moving from cheap motel to cheap motel. The Church Service missionaries helped her find a place to live. Her ward is helping her family with food and other needs until they can get back on their feet.
Church Service missionaries are working, through the project, with a 33-year-old man who was involved with criminal activities. "There is a lot of deep repenting going on," they say, "and he is turning his life around."
A single mother of five children is working three jobs to support her family. She has always wanted to become a registered nurse. Volunteers are helping her work toward her high school equivalency degree so she can apply for nursing training.
A family who is living in a home that is in need of repair is getting help through the program. Volunteer contractors, plumbers and painters are remodeling the house.
A woman in the program had no teeth. Because she was embarrassed by her appearance, she never smiled and did not work. With the help of Church Service missionaries, and a dentist who volunteered his time, she was fitted with dentures. Today, she is working again. She is also smiling again.
Missionaries worked with a husband and father who had used chewing tobacco since his early teens. They offered him daily support while he overcame the addiction. Today, he attends Church regularly and, with the help of the missionaries, is working toward attending the temple with his family.
A young woman who was being brutally abused by her husband is also receiving help through the program. The Church Service missionaries gave her the support she needed to take her two small children to a shelter for refuge and support. In time, they helped her find housing and arranged for her to enroll in a computer course, which she will soon finish. With the training, she hopes to find employment. Her ward has helped with the children. Her bishop is counseling with her husband, in an effort to turn him around also.
Church Service missionaries are helping the mother of an autistic child. They are teaching her to deal with the child and watching the child so she can get away for a few hours each week.