SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) It was not a ‘Leave It To Beaver’ version of a July 4th family celebration at Pioneer Park Tuesday, but everyone there felt like family. They just didn’t look like Ward or June or ‘The Beav.’
The Salt Lake Mission sponsored it’s annual breakfast and lunch celebration of America’s birthday and hundreds of homeless people spent the day with smiles on their faces. A respite from the daily grind of an often dismal life on the streets around Rio Grande.
Pastor Joe Vazquez from the Mission enjoyed volunteering his time to be with his giant, extended family. “We’re all Americans and so we are out here celebrating the 4th with them, just trying to include them. To show them that people do care.”
It would be easy for these folks to bemoan their plight in life. To not care at all about how this country gained it’s independence. But that is not the case with the homeless people interviewed by Good 4 Utah’s Randall Carlisle.
Daniel McQuiddy: “When it comes down to it, we all pull together. We protect our country. We love our country. It doesn’t matter what race, religion you are. When it comes to our country, we all love it.”
Skylar Wing: “We’re Americans too. We have full rights to enjoy family time and the community.”
Kimberly Yetter: “A lot of people are just family here. You know we watch each others back. People are nice and the park is nice.”
Randall Lanza is a Native American who could be bitter about how his people were treated at the beginning of our nation, but he’s not. “Our people, our country’s people fought for this time to be free and not end up with a situation like a third world country.”
The Salt Lake Mission also offers baptisms in a vessel that looks a bit like a watering trough for horses, but is treated very holy by those who take the spiritual plunge.
Andy Leyba was the first to be submerged on Tuesday. When his head came out of the water, people were cheering and the surrounding crowd broke into Amazing Grace.
Andy was so moved he was in tears telling us “I want to help everybody and I can’t. I try. Everywhere I go I try to help.”
Sabrina Lopez who is eight months pregnant was also baptized, hoping it gives her strength to stay away from drugs.. “I used to be an addict, or I am an addict, but I’m sober for my kids.”
They don’t have transportation to get to a parade or to watch a fireworks show, but for this one day they seemed to be thankful for what they have and for America’s birthday.