Volunteers help those without homes weather the storms

Posted at 9:47 PM, Nov 22, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-22 23:47:23-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A big storm is expected to bring freezing temperatures and snow to the valley floors, making it dangerous for Salt Lake City’s homeless population to be out in the elements.

Zach Bale, chief development for Volunteers of America in Utah, spoke about their efforts to help.

“It’s really important that we are out letting our clients know it’s coming and to be safe and warm, maybe come into shelter, at minimum make sure your camp is prepped and that you have enough warm clothing,” he said.

When the weather turns cold, Volunteers of America send outreach teams out on the streets to check in with the community living on them.

“Today if one is hungry or needs care, we'll provide it, “ Bale said. “But we are also thinking about the week ahead, the month ahead, and then that path of: How can we quickly as possible help them get off the street and into housing?”

Not all of those who are homeless will make it into a shelter before the storm hits, which is why a local group of co-workers came together on their own initiative in Pioneer Park Saturday morning to give back.

Mary Snyder was among the members of that group.

“We reached out to our team members that consisted of about 35 to 36 people within the office, and we came up with the donations for the clothing, the blankets,” she said. ”We reached out to some sponsors and got some fruit and bagels, towels, toiletries.”

The group had plans to hand out their collected items before they learned the forecast, but they said it made the service that much more meaningful.

“We also gave out towels and hygiene products and they were able to grab things that were able to be used right away; it was very rewarding,” Snyder said.

Valente Gonzales is among those who benefited from those actions.

“They just came by and asked us if we'd like some things, so I walked over there and got some stuff, a bag full,” he said.

Valente Gonzales has only been homeless for a few months and said the kindness from the community makes him want to pay it forward some day.

“It feels good you know, one day I’d like to do be able to do that too, be able to give back as well,” he said.

For more information about Volunteers of America and their efforts in Utah, visit their website.