Christ UMC in Salt Lake City, UT leads the way in caring for families during the COVID-19 lock-down

August 13, 2020
Story submitted by:
Wendy Kelly
Family Promise, Salt Lake City, UT

August 2020 - The eight months in which we live under a new reality brought on by the pandemic.  Even as restrictions are eased, there is still a certain level of discomfort when heading out, and even though we are starting to gather in some cases, all of us feel like it has been years since we ate out at a restaurant, watched a movie in a theater, prayed together at church on Sunday, or even hugged a friend at the end of an evening together.
Yet a new normal has set in, as much as it can be called a “normal,” we are still feeling and seeing the effects of the pandemic on those in our communities who struggle to make ends meet, maintain stability at home, and shelter in place as needed. 
Here in Salt Lake City, Utah, we have been trying to balance the immediate issues and needs, these first steps of what’s next, and the long-term implications on all aspects of COVID-19 safety measures. Ultimately, our strategy of focusing on a holistic solution to family homelessness of prevention, shelter, and stabilization has helped us navigate through the current crisis and prepared us as we continue to address the unknown and create safety and shelter for our families we serve. Christ United Methodist Church, under the leadership of Rev. Russell Butler and his team, has been a key player in our ability to maintain stability and security for families currently in our shelter program. It has certainly given us new meaning as we celebrate 25 years of service to the community of Salt Lake City and surrounding areas.

In March, when we saw that shelter in place orders come through, we immediately reached out to Rev. Butler to inquire about the use of the basement where Family Promise Salt Lake houses families during their rotational weeks. Immediately, he said, yes, bring them in.  With that, we were able to provide a safe place for our families to shelter in place and allowed us to close our Day Center and Admin Offices so that we could provide "home" to those who did not have one.

Because of this, we are absolutely certain that we were able to maintain the health of our families and staff, provide food and shelter with the support of volunteers from CUMC and other congregations in the Family Promise Salt Lake program, and give four families the security and certainty they may not have otherwise had.  This allowed us to focus on ensuring all of the families in our program, 50 total, were able to obtain groceries, rental assistance, and other necessities that allowed them to keep their families home, safe, and healthy. To date, we are still COVID-19 free within our program.  

Our thanks to Rev. Butler, his team at CUMC, the fabulous volunteers, and all who came together to provide "home" where one was not a certain thing.  As of today, all four families who were in the program during the lockdown have been able to secure permanent housing and have credited CUMC with providing them with peace of mind so that they could focus on creating a foundation of stability in an extremely uncertain time. Family Promise Salt Lake is blessed to have CUMC on our team.