Help support the Lantern House

Jul 23 2011 - 9:55pm

The spirit of charitable giving for major private/public capital improvement projects and programs is enormously distinguishable in the Ogden area.

In the more recent decades, history speaks volumes about the generosity of local private citizens, established commercial businesses and professional associations that have made it a habit of sharing responsibility for the financial resources toward building and seeing successes that make our community great.

I remember more than 30 years ago when the movers and shakers in the Ogden area were driven to act over a proposal to put together an ambitious program to lure new industry.

The leaders planned an evening dinner and a rousing bidding program. Hundreds of business owners, CEOs and their employees responded to the this financial crusade designed to find money to build a large industrial park on the outskirts of Ogden.

They gathered in their party attire at what at that time was a large entertainment center at the Elks Lodge for an evening of camaraderie and a fund-raising auction.

Friends in the business community bid each other up until there was more than a million dollars in the "kitty" to buy the land, prepare the property and launch into a nationwide mission to encourage industries to settle here.

One of the major outcomes was landing the Kimberly Clark plant that has become a community stalwart for job creation and manufacturing of various products for which the company is known.

Some of the subsequent private/public projects for Ogden include the Dee Events Center, the St. Benedict's Hospital in Washington Terrace, now the Ogden Regional Medical Center, the Eccles Conference Center and Peery Egyptian Theater, McKay Dee Hospital and most recently the major renovation of Ogden High School, nearing the $9 million mark in the quest for funds donated by the private sector.

We are now focused on a planned $7 million Lantern House, soon to be built to provide shelter and services for the homeless -- replacing St. Anne's built in response to the problems of the times when Ogden's homeless lived west of town among the brush along the Weber River in huts fashioned out of a cardboard boxes.

This situation caused constant surveillance of police to break up fights and fire department runs to douse the huts that would catch fire from smoking carelessness or attempts to cook or keep warm with bonfires.

St. Anne's Shelter was the focus of a major fund drive years ago and had the support of local churches that recognized a grave concern to establish a shelter to mitigate the homelessness situation. It is located on Wall Avenue and Binford in Ogden.

Its role as a temporary emergency shelter has been declared inadequate.

It is no longer just a free meal site and overnight stop for those in need of a bed. Simply put, it is not equipped for a population growth of 115 percent, which includes homeless families. Statistics show that 52,000 meals were served in just the past year.

Therefore, Ogden area is asked to become involved in another fund-raising campaign.

The team of Allan and Kay Lipman are leading the $7 million private/public capital improvement crusade to secure building finances for what will become the Lantern House.

The prominent Ogden couple are no strangers to lending their expertise to such charitable programs.

Ogden city has generously donated a large site at 33rd and Pacific. It will be much more than a soup kitchen. It promises to be "a solution"to many of the problems confronting those who experience homelessness.

Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey ticked off the different facilities to be offered that are designed to return people to self-sufficiency by providing housing, varied services and intensive case management.

Case workers will be on site to ensure advice and counseling. Work Services will be at the shelter to assist in job searches.

"People can be rehabilitated, permanent housing can be found, education opportunities provided for children, are just a few of additional amenities the new facility promises," the mayor defined at the opening salvo of the major campaign kickoff.

The Lipmans have secured a $1 million challenge grant from the George S. and Delores Dore Eccles Foundation and $75,000 from the Lawrence and Janet Dee T. Foundation.

Lipmans' goal is to implicitly define the Lantern House plans for other foundations and also enlighten the public so all can understand the need for financial help.

The Lipmans are well known for their community advocacy.

Allan, retired CEO of Amalgamated Sugar Co., was Ogden's point man for the 2002 Utah Winter Olympics. Kay is among the founders of the Ogden Opera Guild and sponsor of the Chocolate Affair, its annual fund-raiser.

The Lipmans also were instrumental in founding The Spree, annual gala in support of St. Joseph High School. They also have been involved in the Avon Futures Tennis Tournament, the Girl's Junior America's Golf Cup and most recently co-chaired the restoration of Historic Fort Douglas on the University of Utah campus where Kay lived as a child.

St. Anne's Center was founded in 1981 under the same credo of a vital need to provide essential services to the homelessness.

Ogden area folks have always heeded the call for charitable giving when the proof of need was evident. There continues to be great empathy in Ogden to assist the homeless.

As a community we have assisted in the many private/public capital improvement projects. Lantern House is worthy of support.

So once again the community is encouraged to share their compassion for the homeless and heed the call, open their wallets, rise to the occasion and respond to a very real personal appeal from the Ogden Lipmans.

Flora Ogan is a retired journalist, who served as the Standard opinion editor, and recalls writing about some of these events.

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