While living through a childhood of poverty in England, Pamela Atkinson vowed that she would leave poverty and homeless folks themselves behind for good.
Though she did escape poverty, she has done anything but leave the homeless behind.
"I think the Lord had other things in mind for me," Atkinson, who serves as an advisor to Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, said in 2017.
Atkinson on Thursday continued her decadeslong legacy of serving as a friend — and fierce advocate — for those experiencing homelessness when the Men's Resource Center in South Salt Lake was renamed the Pamela Atkinson Resource Center during the third-anniversary celebration of Shelter the Homeless’ resource centers being in operation.
The primary goal of the centers is to make homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring by providing emergency shelter coupled with case management and high-impact transformational interventions tailored to help those experiencing homelessness resolve their immediate crisis and rapidly return to stable housing.
"If you look at the Geraldine King (Resource Center) and if you look at the Gail Miller Resource Center and now you look at the men's ...," Atkinson said, stopping herself. "I'm going to say it. Now you look at the Pamela Atkinson Resource Center, the work that's been done by the staff, look at the hundreds in those three years who have gone into their own housing, with jobs and starting a family."
"To me, it's remarkable what has been accomplished by all these resource centers," she said.
Since the three resource centers opened in 2019, together they have served nearly 8,000 individuals, dished out over 1 million meals and moved 693 people into permanent housing.
Although the resource center being named after Atkinson was the primary cause of celebration, Atkinson noted that it wasn't the only one.
"The decision to decentralize was the right one," said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson. "I am thrilled to share that the bricks and mortar cost of these facilities is now covered and they are debt-free."
This, Wilson said, will allow Shelter the Homeless' partners, The Road Home team, to focus on operations, maintenance and, most importantly, the needs of those experiencing homelessness and utilizing the resource centers.
"Today we pause, mark progress and honor a remarkable woman," said Cherie Wood, South Salt Lake City mayor. "Tomorrow, the work continues to seek impactful solutions together."