One of our board members and her lifetime of dedication to the homeless

One of our board members and her lifetime of dedication to the homeless. She grew up in the slums of London. In a home with a single mother and four siblings. Her father was a gambling man, whose addiction causes him to pack his bags and leave his family. Her home was not like others: infested with rats, piles of coats sat on the beds’ edges due toa heatless house and frigid London winters. While her mother did not obtain an education, Pamela Atkinson knew her intelligence was her way out.

At age of 14, Pamela knew she needed to leave the slums for a better life, succeeding in school was the answer. When the time came to submit her application to nursing school, nerves consumed her body. But she soon found out she got accepted along with 50 others beating out 500 other eager young women.

Arriving on her first day of nursing school, she was different from her peers. Pamela was the only lower-class citizen in the room. While her peers grew up with manicured lawns and fathers with impressive titles, she grew up fighting for a change for something more. To fitin she mimicked her peers– their manners, speech and how they dressed. She wanted to blend. She wanted to belong. Pamela often thought once I’m done with school, “I want to marry a wealthy man and never have to dea lwith poor people again.”

A few months later, she found herself sitting in the London Airport on her way to Australia to help the aboriginal people. She was in the delivery room, helping a woman’s journey to motherhood. At this moment, a new mother taught her a lesson. Her idea of life changed. Pamela remembers thinking how humble and kind the aboriginal people were. The lesson she learned was “the small thing we did makes a huge difference in their life.” Her life motto now consumed her, the belief that even a small amount of giving and caring, helps create a powerful impact on someone’s life.

Pamela journeyed to the United States where she attended the University of California to receive her bachelor’s and later attended the University of Washington for her masters. In the later years, she moved to Salt Lake City, where she became a liaison and ambassador for the governor’s office— teaching the power that each one of us holds within, the power not only to change the lives of others but to change your life at the same time. Once a young child in the slums of London is now best known for her tireless work as an advocate for the homeless, refugees and low-income families in our state. So much so that Governor Gary Herbert has called her “the Mother Teresa of Utah.”