MIDVALE –Teenage volunteers brought lunch and warm winter coats to residents of The Road Home’s Community Winter Shelter Saturday.
Most of the teens left the temporary family shelter richer for the experience, they said.
"It makes you think a lot about life,” said Valerie Sanchez, a senior at Hillcrest High School, who described the experience as "eye-opening."
It caught her by surprise to learn that some children she tutors at East Midvale Elementary School are staying the family shelter, she said.
Sanchez emigrated to the United States from Peru when she was 6 years old. She, too, has endured periods of poverty so she can appreciate what the children at the shelter experience, she said.
Her parents work as custodians and have impressed upon Sanchez, who is their only child, that people are not captive to their circumstances, she said.
“It really makes me think about all we can do right here in Midvale,” said Sanchez, who is in the International Baccalaureate diploma candidate.
Sanchez is also a member of the Youth Government Council of Midvale. The Midvale group and the Youth Council of Kearns teamed up to conduct a coat drive and to serve lunch to residents of the overflow shelter on Saturday. The youth councils, which operate under the umbrella of Salt Lake County, conducted a day of service across the valley on Saturday.
Patrick Murphy, his wife and their three children moved into the Midvale shelter a couple of days ago after they were evicted from their apartment “and had nowhere else to go.”
"As long as it puts a smile on their faces, I enjoy doing it."
Murphy said he was grateful that the youth were willing to take time from their busy schedules to serve lunch and to help.
“I think it’s pretty cool what they’re doing,” he said.
Clarissa Yazzie, whose family is also staying in the shelter, said she appreciated the meal and the opportunity to show her children an example of the youth serving other people.
“My boys are learning a lot here, too,” she said.
Salt Lake County Deputy Mayor Nichole Dunn said youth councils enable teenagers in Salt Lake County to act on their concerns.
“I’ve always been impressed that they take on these meaty issues, “ she said.
Babbette Scheelje, 14, of the Kearns Youth Council, said she volunteered because she enjoys serving others and because families in the shelter have many needs.
“It took my breath away. I didn’t expect there to be so many people here. In this economy, the world is changing a lot. But I’m happy to help. As long as it puts a smile on their faces, I enjoy doing it.”