By Chanapa Tantibanchachai
Jamie Fidler, a U honors student in marketing, is collecting new and used sleeping bags, tents and U-locks for Volunteers of America’s Homeless Youth Resource Center in Salt Lake City for her Leadership Capstone project.
Fidler was originally inspired by her mother, who has been actively involved with the Homeless Youth Resource Center and made her aware of the need for lightweight gear that homeless youth can easily carry and use for shelter and sleeping, as well as U-locks for bike protection in the case that a youth uses a bike as his/her method of transportation.
The center expects to serve 800 youth age 15-24 each year.
“At the center, we go directly to the homeless youth and bring them food and clothing, and check on their safety. This is in hopes that once we gain their trust, they’ll eventually come to us,” said DeAnn Zebelean, a volunteer at the Homeless Youth Resource Center.
“At first, it might just be to shower, do laundry or get some food. But once we build a relationship, we can do more than meet their basic needs. We can help them complete their education, seek employment, find housing and get the mental health and addiction counseling they need.”
Currently Volunteers of America is in the process of building a new center that will open sometime this fall. Until the completion of this new center, homeless youth are left on the street without a safe haven from the cold nights. Fidler hopes that distributing sleeping bags and tents will help these youth with shelter and warmth in the meantime.
“There have already been over 20 homeless youth deaths in Salt Lake this winter. The goal with this project is to reduce that statistic in the future,” said Fidler.
Fidler welcomes any sleeping bags and tents that are in decent condition and lightweight enough to be carried around at all times. If any U students, staff or faculty would like to make a donation, items may be dropped off at the Sill Center on campus. Donations will be accepted until early April.
If you have questions, contact Jamie Fidler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chanapa Tantibanchachai is an associate science writer at University Marketing and Communications. If you have an interesting story idea, email her at email@example.com.