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Community Outreach Committee Harnesses the Power in Proximity

By November 1, 2019June 22nd, 2021News

submitted by Kate Conyers, UCLI Proximity Task Force Chair, Development Committee Co-Chair, and Women Lawyers of Utah Representative

Earlier this year, on October 31, 2019, three members of UCLI’s “Get Proximate” Task Force met up at the new Volunteers of America Geraldine E. King Women’s Resource Center, just off of 700 South and State Street. As part of this service project, volunteer attorneys helped prepare sides for the lunchtime meal, served lunch to approximately 200 shelter residents, and cleaned up the kitchen and washed dishes.

Pictured: Kristen Olsen, UCLI Co-President and Proximity Taskforce Volunteer

One volunteer, Kristen Olsen from Dorsey, stated the following about the experience:

“It was very rewarding to volunteer at the women’s shelter on an otherwise hectic day at work. I loved connecting with the residents and seeing first-hand how the shelter operates. I learned a lot about the needs and circumstances of the residents, the shelter, and the homeless community at large.”

“I learned a lot about the needs and circumstances of the residents, the shelter, and the homeless community at large.” — Kristen Olsen, UCLI Co-President and Proximity Task Force Volunteer

The residents were very thankful for the volunteers’ time; many personally thanked each of the volunteers for their efforts. It was a great team building activity!

Pictured: Kate Conyers and Rohit Raghavan, UCLI Proximity Task Force Volunteers

The “Get Proximate” Taskforce has several initiatives whereby attorneys are offered valuable opportunities to serve and interact with homeless and other underserved and marginalized populations in Salt Lake County. The Taskforce has served meals at the Women’s Resource Center and the Homeless Youth Resource Center and will offer other opportunities in the future. The idea underlying the spirit of the Proximity Task Force is best summarized by the civil rights advocate, Bryan Stevenson:

To make a difference in creating a healthier community, a healthier society, and healthier nation and thus a healthier economy, we’ve got to find ways to get proximate to the poor and the vulnerable. I absolutely believe that when we isolate ourselves, when we allow ourselves to be shielded and disconnected from those who are vulnerable and disfavored we sustain and contribute to these problems. I am persuaded that in proximity there is something we can learn about how we change the world, how we change the environment, how we create healthier communities. I’m actually persuaded that there’s power in proximity. . . . I’m persuaded that we’ve got to find ways to get closer to the disfavored, the marginalized, the excluded, the poor, the disabled. Even if we don’t have any answers about what we’re going to do when we get there. The power is in proximity.” — Brian Stevenson, Civil Rights Advocate

For additional information about Stevenson’s views on proximity, see here.