Web Admin – Wednesday, December 21, 2016
The holiday season is focused on family, and homes often become the place of gathering. When Preston was struggling with a severe mental illness it was hard for him to feel at home even around those who loved him the most. While his family welcomed him with open arms, his disease affected his mind in such a way that he often refused their help. Preston suffered with his severe mental illness for seven years before taking his own life. Though he always had a home, many individuals with severe mental illness end up in unfortunate circumstances that can lead to homelessness.
According to the Utah Housing and Community Development Division there are nearly 3,025 individuals who are without a home within the state of Utah. This doesn’t take into account people who at some point experience temporary homelessness which measured an estimated 14,516 people in 2015 within the state. Though many people feel that homeless individuals are to blame for their situation, “many are victims of circumstance, illness, and trauma from violence or abuse.” The Utah HMIS reported in 2015 that of the homeless population in Utah nearly 29% are children, 25.6% have a reported mental illness and 13% of homeless adults are veterans.
As Christmas approaches, Preston’s mother Kathleen Lopez has chosen to spend her time with those who are experiencing mental illness or are without a home. No one knows better than her that there are times that you can’t always fix people or take away the challenges they face, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t share hope through a smile and song.
“These people are all someone’s son, daughter, sister or brother” says Kathleen Lopez. “When I remember that I feel compassion for them and the challenges they are experiencing. It always lifts me up when I can make their day a little brighter.”
Each year Lopez has made this a tradition as she invites , friends and family and employees from her real estate brokerage Sentinel Sales and Management to join her twice a year in donating time, money and items to benefit the homeless and mentally ill.
This year Lopez and company decided to sing Christmas songs at the Provo Food and Care Coalition. See video below: