Tooele County’s homeless and needy have a friend on Utah Avenue in Tooele.
For over 10 years, the New Life Christian Fellowship at 114 E. Utah Avenue has been offering several community outreach programs as part of their ministry, according to Mark Runyon, senior pastor.
“We offer an open atmosphere and provide help to anybody that needs help,” Runyon said. “The people we help are honest and respectable people. We don’t want people to feel like they are poor people just because they are asking for help.”
Every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from noon until 3 p.m., New Life Christain Fellowship runs a clothing closet and a food pantry out of their building on Utah Avenue.
Each person can get 10 articles of clothing for each family member once a month from the clothing closet. The closet is filled with clean gently used clothing for all ages, including baby clothing and clothing suitable for an adult to wear to a job interview.
Volunteers put together food boxes from the food pantry to help those who have a need.
The New Life Christian Fellowship also offers, by appointment, access to a washer and dryer as well as a shower. Laundry soap and personal hygiene kits are available.
That’s not all, New Life also offers haircuts, car care, and a monthly vision and dental clinic.
Last year for Thanksgiving, Runyon estimates that with the help of volunteers, New Life provided a Thanksgiving dinner to around 1,500 people either through a dinner at their place on Utah Avenue or through food boxes delivered or picked up.
Every Saturday New Life serves a free breakfast from 9 to 10 a.m., no questions asked.
“Anybody can stop by and eat breakfast with us,” Runyon said.
And people have been finding New Life. Between the start of January 2019 and the end of April 2019, New LIfe has served a cumulative total of 2,481 households with total of 7,612 people.
They have given out 393 boxes of food and distributed 9,839 articles of clothing.
One of the people helped by New Life is Stephen May.
May, 53, is one of Tooele County’s chronic homeless people.
People who are considered to be chronic homeless generally experience lengthy periods of homelessness, either at one time or over a three year stretch.
The diagnosis of chronic homeless usually includes a disability element — mental, physical, or developmental, according to housing experts.
May sleeps in an abandoned location in Tooele without water or heat. During the day he makes the rounds of various community groups that provide support to Tooele’s people in need.
May grew up in West Valley City where he lived for 20 years.
His father was a long haul truck driver. When he was 18, his mother moved to California, but May stayed in Utah with his brothers and sisters because he had a job doing lawn service for Salt Lake County.
In 1981 he was laid off. He moved to Florida, where his dad lived and worked as an unskilled laborer. May eventually returned to Utah to take care of his ill mother.
After his mother died, with lack of work as an unskilled laborer, May has drifted in and out of homelessness for several years.
A physical disability keeps May from working as a laborer today, he said.
May enjoys dropping in at places like the New Life Christian Fellowship that offer services for the homeless.
“The food, clothing, and spiritual help keep me from going back to old habits,” May said.
May said he has been off alcohol since 2007.
Tooele doesn’t have a lot of chronic homeless, according to Runyon.
Most of the people New Life helps are what people who work with homelessness refer to as transitional, they need short term help to get back on their feet or some kind of unexpected crisis has stressed their resources.
“We’re here to help,” Runyon said.
New Life puts no requirements on people that come to them for help. They don’t need to attend worship services at New Life.
Volunteers from all faiths are welcome at New Life to help them feed the hungry and clothe the naked, according to Runyon.
New Life’s community outreach programs are made available by donations of food, clothing, services, time and money from the community.
“If somebody makes a donation for our outreach, 100% of that donation goes the outreach,” said Runyon. “None of it goes to administration.”
Donations can be dropped off at the New Life Christian Fellowship at 114 E. Utah Avenue in Tooele City. For more information call the New Life Christian Fellowship office at 435-843-7430 or visit their website at www.nlot.org. Pastor Runyon can be reached by email at email@example.com.