Help needed from Salt Lake area Baptists

Utah Food Bank Truck
Utah Food Bank truck delivers pallets of food to Baptist Concern Center several times a week.

Salt Lake City, UT – Ron Clement was spotted kneeling in the parking lot of First Vietnamese Baptist Church Monday afternoon, November 14.

Clement is Salt Lake Baptist Association’s Executive Director.

When asked what he was praying about, Clement said he was praying his knees would hold out. Then he chuckled as he corrected himself. “No, I’m just picking up trash.”

The Vietnamese church meets at the same location – 1235 California Avenue – as the Baptist Concern Center, a food pantry sponsored for more than 20 years by the association.

A Utah Food Bank truck delivers to the Concern Center “rescue groceries” donated by several area grocers on Mondays, and canned food, dried food, produce and dairy items on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

The Baptist Concern Center’s clients include people who live in downtown Salt Lake City, West Valley City, West Jordan, Kearns, Cottonwood Heights, Draper and other town in Salt Lake County, including the homeless who live in rickety recreational vehicles along 1700 South.

A shrinking – because of age and/or illness – number of volunteers help unload and shelve the food as it comes in, shop for clients as they come in and help clean up inside as well as the parking lot afterward.

Your help is needed.

If you’re 6 or older, or have young knees, you could pick up scraps of paper and cardboard outside.

If you are reasonably strong, your muscles are needed to move boxes – mostly the size of rectangular banana boxes, weighing about 20-30 pounds each, up to a maximum of 50 pounds. The Utah Food Bank truck unloads pallets with a fork lift onto the parking lot. Help is needed to carry individual boxes about 50 steps into the Concern Center’s storage area.

If you can pick up a 1-lb. package of rice, box of bakery cookies, or a can of corn, you can put items from the boxes onto shelves.

If you can push a shopping cart, you can take a post-it note from the wall, walk around the room, fill the cart with items for a family of the size indicated, and take the cart out to the parking lot where the recipient will put it into their vehicle, stroller or bike basket, giving you opportunity to have a kind or spiritual conversation, as the Holy Spirit leads.

If you can type, you don’t even need to walk! You can greet the people requesting food, explain the process, help them fill out a form (requested by the Utah Food Bank for verification purposes) and as the Holy Spirit leads, share the love of Jesus with them.

BCC Director, Sonia Gutierrez
BCC Director, Sonia Gutierrez encourages one of her volunteers

The people who come to the Baptist Concern Center appreciate the help they’re given. If you’re most comfortable silently arranging produce in the storage room, they still appreciate you, because you are helping them feed their family.

The ministry is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays; and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays. Client interviewing and sign-in as well as stocking and shopping cart help are needed at all these times.

Truck unloading starts about 12:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays; 10:30 a.m. Thursdays; and 8 a.m. Fridays. Each day the truck unloading time requirement is less than two hours. A volunteer also is needed Monday mornings to pick up donations from Chick-fil-A and Starbucks.

Handyman volunteers also are needed at the Concern Center.

“Something is always breaking down,” SLBA Dir. Clement told UI Connections. On Nov. 14, two men were onsite repairing a copier machine, and the light fixture in BCC Dir. Sonia Gutierrez’ office continually flickered.

A full article about the Baptist Concern Center is to appear in the next issue of UI Connections, but the need for help is too immediate to delay. Donations of food items – rice, dried beans, cooking oil in particular – and money to help pay for Food Bank donations, also are needed.  

By Karen L. Willoughby
A frequent contributor to UI Connections and Baptist Press. She can be reached at karenwby@gmail.com