Project Uplift provides resources for homeless, others at risk

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SALT LAKE CITY — Stephen Freeze is on a journey of self-discovery.

The way he figures it, God spared him from death twice in the span of hours last summer when he attempted suicide by walking in front of a car.

Freeze was resuscitated at the scene of the accident. After reaching the hospital, he expired again and was revived a second time, he said.

"God brought me back. He wouldn't take me for a reason," he says.

On Tuesday, Freeze traveled to the The City Library for the inaugural Project Uplift, an information resource fair coordinated by the Salt Lake Main Library, Salt Lake City Corp. and Volunteers of America-Utah.

Freeze, who said he spent seven years living along the Jordan River but now lives at The Road Home, figures he's got an interesting tale to tell. That's why he dropped by Salt Lake Community College's Community Writing Center table for some information about its classes.

The fair brought direct service providers, nonprofit agencies, government offices and private sector partners under one roof as a resource for homeless people and people at risk of being homeless, said Deborah Ehrman, the library's deputy director. About 300 people attended the fair, which grew out of a meeting of library, Volunteers of America and Salt Lake City's homeless services office employees.

"We all just kind of brainstormed and thought about, 'What would people need? What would incentivize people to come out and be part of this today and take the time to talk to the service providers?' We're feeling pretty good about most of it," Ehrman said.

Depending on the weather, 200 to 300 homeless people visit the downtown library each day. Volunteers of America conducts outreach efforts there, helping connect people to resources on a one-on-one basis and helping the library better navigate situations when homeless patrons do not abide with library rules and guidelines.

Helping Utah's homeless youth
By Nkoyo Iyamba

SALT LAKE CITY — There are more homeless children in the United States than ever before.

A report titled America's Youngest Outcasts, released Monday by the National Center on Family Homelessness, found one in 30 U.S. children — nearly 2.5 million kids — experience homeless annually.

In Utah, youth between the ages of 18 and 24 made up 6.7 percent of the total homeless population in 2014, according to a recent Department of Workforce Services report. Because this was the first year youth between the ages of 18 and 25 were explicitly counted there is no trend is available.

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"Today, people were very grateful for the library opening its doors and recognizing that they're a big member of this community, too," Ehrman said.

"People want to find ways to help themselves, to get some of these services and work toward housing as well. It gives us an opportunity, too, to get to know people on a different level and … give them an opportunity to get know us as well," she said.

John, who would only provide his first name, said he learned about a lot of different services and that the fair was a good opportunity for service providers and other resources to network among themselves.

"This was helpful for our community. It should be done more frequently," said John, who said he had been homeless for six winters.

He was one of around 90 people who received a free haircut from Paul Mitchell the School, and he was grateful for the lunch served to attendees.

"You don't even know what this means. Even a haircut and sandwich, it does a lot for us," he said.


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