If the rest of the world did its job half as well as Gary Horenkamp, the federal budget would be balanced, your newspaper would never land in a puddle and all haircuts would be excellent.
Because Gary does his job well, people are alive who would not be. Young people.
Several years ago, I dropped into the OUTreach Resource Center's drop-in program for gay teens because I was glad someone, anyone, was reaching out to those kids.
Before the center, gay teens in Top of Utah had nothing. Someone had to start helping them.
Someone did, and now he's leaving Utah.
This makes me sad. Utah is a better place for gay teens -- gay anyone -- because of the way Gary did his job.
Jobs do run our lives. Gary is moving to Texas in mid-August because his partner found a really great job there. Gary's job skills as a counselor can travel, so they're going.
Gary came to Utah in 2005 looking for a job and was hired to run OUTreach, which works with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people of all ages.
In 2005, the OUTreach Resource Center at Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden really was alone in supporting gay teens in Top of Utah. Now several high schools have Gay Student Alliance clubs, and the Gay Student Alliance at Weber State University welcomes teens.
And Ogden does, too, with "the passage of the ordinance," Gary said, referring to Ogden's final, painfully delayed approval of a ban on discrimination for reasons of sexual orientation.
"They passed it unanimously," he said, "and I think that speaks well of the mayor and council."
To do his job right, Gary got involved with a lot of other organizations. Gay people have the same problems everyone else does, only more so because being gay is an added stress factor.
How many other organizations? At least a dozen: The Suicide Prevention Task Force, the Weber Coalition for a Healthy Community, the Ogden Area Youth Alliance, the Pride Public Safety Alliance, the Weber Area Resources Meeting, the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Utah, the Coalition of Resources and on and on.
The Coalition of Resources was a networking gold mine. That's where various groups meet to say, "We're all about making this community better. Let's work together."
Gary would meet groups there and ask to join.
"And mostly, they were receptive," he said. Gays strike some people as "icky," or sinful or something, but he persuaded most that it is wrong to exclude any group of teens from community support.
Barry Gomberg, a member of the Unitarian Church's governing board, said the church is in a real fix to replace someone who does so much.
He and other board members are "trying to tag along to the multitude of organizations he's done outreach with to better understand all the different ways he's attempted to make the Ogden community more accepting for the LGBT community."
In recognition of his years of work, the Utah Pride Center in Salt Lake City is giving Gary its first-ever "Local Hero Award" at the Utah Pride Festival, which runs June 4 and 5.
Typically, Gary doesn't feel like he's done anything special. "It's a job," he told me.
"When I announced it at our board meeting, he kinda pooh-poohed it and said, 'I never saved anyone,' " Gomberg said. "And one of the board members actually said, 'Gary, just the other day, somebody told me you saved their life.' "
Good job, Gary. You will be missed.
Wasatch Rambler is the opinion of Charles Trentelman. You can call him at 801-625-4232 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also blogs at www.standard.net.