It happens 35 times a day.
A young family in crisis finds their way to the Tooele Valley Resource Center, formerly known as Tooele County Relief Services.
The parents may be between jobs or are working minimum wage jobs, or the family has an unexpected emergency expense, said Mike Neil, the center’s program director.
“The families we see are not the stereotype, chronic homeless people,” he said. “The people we see are primarily families that want to be independent but have a temporary need. Our goal is to get them back on their feet so they can provide for themselves.”
The center is headed into its busiest season—winter—with resources depleted by a summer and fall of local economic distress.
“We have had a steady flow of people looking for help as a result of government furloughs, reduction in employees at mines [Kennecott], and the closure of Deseret Chemical Depot,” said Neil. “The cold weather this month has already hit us, as people that were living outdoors are looking for warm shelter and families are faced with fuel bills as they turn on the heat.”
The center is reliant on grants and local donations for struggling families in Tooele County that need temporary help until they can get back to being self-sufficient.
To continue to provide help, the resource center is in need of supplies.
Donations of goods and materials are sought, such as individual sack lunches, hygiene kits, feminine hygiene products, baby care products, cleaning supplies, paper goods, cleaning equipment, kitchenware items, new or used furniture, bedding supplies, new socks and underwear for men, women, teens, and young children.
Some needs are fulfilled by cash donations, Neil said.
For $50 the center can buy a motel voucher that provides emergency shelter for a family for one night in Tooele County. A $10 Walmart card is used for emergency needs not covered by other donations.
Bus tokens, available in packages of 10 at Macey’s Food and Drug store, are used to relocate people to a shelter in Salt Lake City. Gas cards for $10 are used to help people get to work, job interviews or medical appointments.
Cash is also needed to help people obtain state identification, birth certificates, and social security cards so they can apply for jobs.
In cooperation with the Tooele County Housing Authority, the center also has funds to help with emergency house payments, rental or mortgage, Neil said.
The center also needs volunteer workers.
“We need help putting together lunches and other kits,” he said. “We also have a need for volunteer office workers.”
The center works closely with churches, community groups, and other organizations, making referrals or linking donors with those in need and reducing duplications in service.
“The holiday season coming up puts additional pressure on families that are already financially stressed,” said Neil.
People interested in making donations may contact the Tooele Valley Resource Center by calling 435-843-9955. The center also has a Facebook page at Tooele Valley Resource Center.