Linda Lemeaux is dying at the age of 50 years old.
“I an currently dying of liver disease, from Hepatitis C,” she told a group gathered Thursday morning.
She explained that she has been homeless “this time” for about a year and a half, sleeping under jungle gyms at parks or wherever she could before police moved her along.
She was at the hospital getting treatment, when she says someone brought her to a place called Inn Between without telling her much about it. There she was given a shower, food and clothing, and she met the program director, Matilda Lindgren.
“She was one of the first people in a very long time to look me dead in the eye. For some reason, people don’t look the homeless in the eye,” said Lemeaux.
“These people have treated me with so much respect, and so much dignity. That’s something I thought I would never feel again,” she said.
The Inn Between is Utah’s first and only hospice and end-of-life care center for people who are homeless and dying. They helped 16 people who died last year. However, they say 44 homeless people died on the streets in the same time period.
“This has to be one of the biggest labors of love I have ever seen,” said State Senator Luz Escamilla.
Escamilla joined Representative Paul Ray and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams at the site of the building where the Inn Between will soon be moving. It’s a current Assisted Living Facility near 13th East on 1300 South. Those residents are moving to other homes around the valley, to give more beds to the Inn Between.
They hope to eventually have up to 75 beds at once.
“That will be 75 people who wlil have love, compassion and dignity, something they all deserve,” said executive director Kim Correa
Public and private donations have led to some of the money needed for this expansion. Correa says they are 44 percent on the way to repaying the 3.5 million dollars needed for the expansion.
“If they hadn’t taken me in, I’d already be dead,” said Lemieaux.
Listen to her tell her story below.
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