Subway restaurants raise funds for Salt Lake rescue mission
Tiffany Bills' life story reads like a Shakespearean tragedy.
Years of sexual abuse, prostitution and drug addiction took their toll including losing custody of her three children.
After her friend turned her in for heroin use in 2011, Bills spent six months in jail and was released to the New Life Recovery Program at the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake's women's facility on May 15, 2012.
She's been sober ever since.
"Just being with the rescue mission has changed my life. I've got a whole new outlook on life, " Bills said Wednesday afternoon as she volunteered at a table set up to hand out free clothing donated to the mission and talking to others about her experiences with the inpatient program.
Subway was on hand to raise awareness of the program that organizers say has improved so many lives. Subway gave out more than 1,000 sandwiches and sides to the more than 650 homeless who lined up at Pioneer Park as part of a monthlong campaign by the restaurant chain in Utah to generate awareness of the mission.
The recovery program takes a minimum of 13 months and often longer. In order to help raise money for the privately funded mission, Subway restaurants are challenging the community to donate throughout the month of June by matching every dollar raised up to $10,000. Donors can visit http://www.rescuesaltlake.org to donate online or via phone at 801-746-1006.
The mission is an emergency service homeless shelter, which provides meals, shelter, a place to shower and clothing free of charge.
"There is nothing that will inhibit a homeless person from leaving their life on the streets except for their desire to change," said Chris Croswhite, executive director of the rescue mission of Salt Lake.
According to Croswhite, at any given time, there are about 3,500 homeless people in Utah, which means that annually, there will be more than 15,000 people who will experience homelessness in the state.
"Our goal is to provide emergency services to [the homeless] and then build a trusting relationship so when they want help to leave their lives on the streets, they can join the rescue mission's inpatient recovery program for men and women," Croswhite said.
He added said that even small donations to the program make a large impact. One dollar can provide one meal, $7 can provide one meal and a full night of shelter and $10 dollars can provide three meals and a full night of shelter.
It costs about $1,000 per month for each person in the recovery program, which currently has 54 men and women.
This is the fourth year Subway restaurants of Utah has partnered with the mission.
"Honestly, the rescue mission does so much work for this community, it just goes unheralded," Subway restaurant owner Trent Evans said. "We wanted to team up with them and try to raise more awareness, help our friends in need and let more people know what the rescue mission is all about."
He said he recognized that "one meal isn't going to do a lot, but if we can raise awareness, hopefully, that one meal will turn into lots of meals from others giving more support to the rescue mission."
For Clarence Burnette, who within the last two months lost two family members, his job and his apartment, the event has the power to be life-altering, as he will be going to the mission next weekend as part of the inpatient recovery program.
"Just to be out here around other people and to have something to eat really means a lot," Burnette said. "People out here trying to help peoplethat's what it's all about."
To donate to the rescue mission