A Mormon family has made its Provo, Utah, home a sort of sanctuary for members of the local LGBTQ community.
Taylor Steed, center, of Orem, and Nick Maughan, center left, of Provo, laugh at a joke as they and other community members eat during a QueerMeals gathering July 7, 2018, at Jeff and Jerilyn Pool's home in Provo, Utah.Isaac Hale / Daily Herald via AP
By Associated Press
PROVO, Utah — A Provo family has made its home a sort of sanctuary for members of the LGBTQ community, especially those who need something to eat and a place where they can escape from suicidal thoughts.
Jerilyn Hassell Pool and Jeff Pool run their nonprofit QueerMeals out of their home, the Daily Herald reported.
The people that they serve typically do not have family and community members that they can depend on or have a difficult relationship with the Mormon church, Hassell Pool said.
About half of the people that come in and out of their home daily are struggling with acute suicidal ideation, they said.
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“We just want to keep people alive,” Hassell Pool said. “So many people here are not sure they want to live another day.”
Aside from meals, the Pools provide LGBTQ people with support and attention.
They moved to Provo from Oregon in 2016 to work with the LGBTQ community, particularly those trying to find their place in the Mormon church.
As a Mormon herself, Hassell Pool hoped to provide LGBTQ people with a space where they can gather and have a community.
“Our goal is to empower people to thrive, to find healthy and happy outlets for their sexual orientation and gender expression,” she said.
Their effort started as a small operation, but friends encouraged the couple to start a nonprofit after seeing photos on social media of their grocery hauls for the meals they provide.