News Release

How the Church Is Helping Vulnerable Women and Children in Utah

Latter-day Saint Charities donates to the Children’s Justice Center and the Young Women’s Christian Association

Sister Joy D. Jones, worldwide leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ children, says she is often restless with worry for the most vulnerable among us who suffer and have nowhere to turn for help. For her, this especially includes women and children who are the victims of domestic or sexual violence — a tragedy that has reportedly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a video call on the morning of Friday, January 22, 2021, Sister Jones joined Elder Evan A. Schmutz of the Utah Area Presidency and Relief Society General President Sister Jean B. Bingham for a 30-minute discussion with two leaders of organizations in Utah that come to the rescue of individuals in these challenging circumstances.

Latter-day Saint Charities, the Church’s humanitarian arm, recently gave $300,000 to the Children’s Justice Center (CJC) and $250,000 to the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) to help them better serve women and children in the state.

“I know this pandemic has been particularly challenging,” Sister Jones told Rebecca Martell, director of the Utah County CJC, and Liz Owens, CEO of the YWCA. “I have had sleepless nights about those who are suffering in some way and don’t have a voice. My prayers are with you and with all those who seek after your services and your love and your care.”


The Children’s Justice Center

Utah is home to 26 Children’s Justice Centers. Each location serves children who are victims of sexual or physical abuse. In recent years, because of significant population growth in Utah County, the CJC recognized the need for another justice center in that area. In June 2020 they opened a second location in a temporary commercial space.

“The new facility doesn’t have that same homelike feel and environment that our Provo center does,” Martell told Church leaders. “I’m thrilled to say that, thanks to this donation, our Friends Board has been able to purchase a home and renovations have already started. We will be able to relocate later this year into a beautiful, historic home in American Fork, Utah.”

The Provo location serves approximately 1,000 children each year. The new home will help an additional 350 children annually.

“I try to imagine that many children in one room,” Sister Jones said with emotion in her voice. “My heart is deeply grateful for anything that would bring comfort to a child and their family and help them realize they are not alone, that there are so many people who care, and that it shouldn’t happen again, that they can be comforted to know they are safe and protected and can go forward and have productive lives and heal from this tremendous trauma.”

“The greatest joy for me in this job is getting to meet people like yourselves, people who care about the children and victims in our communities,” Martell said. “Thank you so much. We can’t do the work we do without the support of our community.”

The Young Women’s Christian Association

The YWCA is Utah’s longest-running service provider for women and children who suffer from domestic violence. They also help with housing, immigration services, counseling and mental health support — all of which have increased during the pandemic. Over the years, the Church has supported them with commodities, Deseret Industries vouchers and cash donations.

YWCA Utah’s emergency domestic violence shelter, green space and drop-in childcare in downtown Salt Lake City.2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

At any given time, Owens said, the YWCA houses anywhere from 100 to 250 women and children — most of whom live in poverty. The effects of the pandemic, including school closures and the risk of virus exposure in the community, have significantly impacted YWCA’s programming and staffing infrastructure.

Owens said the $250,000 donation will help provide affordable and supportive housing for women and children in need and allow them to hire a few more employees to lighten the workload.

“This gift will have such a significant and critical impact this year in helping us meet the needs of our community in this historic moment,” Owens said. “It was the thing we needed in the moment to re-inspire us during a difficult year.”

Sister Bingham said she knows from personal experience the indispensable nature of the YWCA’s work.

“I had a friend who had need of your crisis center. As I took her over and she went through the process, it was truly the beginning of healing for her. That was something that she could not have done on her own,” Sister Bingham said. “We all wish that these services weren’t necessary. But they are. And without your intervention, these people could not change the trajectory of their lives.”

The Collective Impact of ‘Small and Simple Offerings’

Elder Schmutz and Sister Bingham said it is important to see the individuals behind each small donation to Latter-day Saint Charities.

The money given to the CJC and YWCA reflects the “heartfelt faith, generosity, empathy and sacrifice of individual members of the Church. These are really individual donations,” Elder Schmutz said.

“We think of those individual donors who have contributed to the Latter-day Saint Charities fund,” added Sister Bingham. “If each one of them had an opportunity to hear about the individuals that the CJC and YWCA care for, everyone who donates would feel so warm and so happy and so good that this is what is being done with their widow’s mite.”

“Your work is the work of God,” Elder Schmutz told Martell and Owens. “We’re grateful to be a part of the group of people you work with in caring for the needy in our society.”

“You and your cohort love the women and the children who are having those challenges,” Sister Bingham said. “As followers of Jesus Christ, that is exactly how we feel.”

Sister Jones said she loves “the impact of small and simple offerings and how, as they come together, they create something wonderful. And that is what you’re doing. You’re combining the efforts of so many to create something wonderful and make a difference.”

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