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Volunteers of America hand out water bottles, sunscreen to unsheltered in Salt Lake County on hot July days

Posted at 9:17 PM, Jul 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 23:17:25-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Shawn Spalding and Ellie Tucker spent a hot Thursday afternoon handing out water bottles, sandwiches, sunscreen and socks to Salt Lake City’s unsheltered.

“It's all different kinds of people," said Tucker. "And to be honest, it could be any of us. You think it could never happen to you, but it can.”

Volunteers of America Utah is always looking for volunteers and donors. You can find more information here.


The Outreach Care Coordinators with Volunteers of America Utah worked their way through Warm Springs Park and the hillside of Victory Road as the sun blazed and temperatures rose into the high 90s.

“We have a lot of homeless on the streets," said Spalding. "It seems like every summer, it gets hotter and hotter. We're breaking records in July, or breaking records for the whole summer.”

Gideon Nieman, has been living in Warm Springs for about two or weeks. Seeking shade anywhere he can, he was relieved to see Spalding and Tucker approach him and his friend with supplies.

“Very grateful," said Nieman. "It it's one of those things when people become homeless, it is almost like society punishes you by pushing you to the side. It's nice to have people like the VOA that come around and help the homeless by small gestures like water and food. Means a lot.”

The VOA is also warning people of the signs of dehydration and heat stroke and what to do if they need help.

“I couldn't imagine what it would be like living in a tent or under a tarp or in your car when it's 100 degrees outside," said Spalding. "It's unimaginable.”

The VOA hopes to relieve some of the struggles that experiencing homelessness brings.

“Getting their birth certificate, housing pathways, if they need detox, treatment," said Tucker. "We're here to help in any way we can.”

Whether it’s been 2 weeks or two years without a home, people like Nieman deserve care and compassion, he said.

“The homeless are still human," said Nieman. "It's just, homelessness is like a bump in the road that just might have tripped someone, and I feel like society, instead of giving, helping people back on their feet, [they're] quick to judge, quick to push to the side, and then people become lost. When you don't get help from people, then you end up being homeless for years.”