After growing up in humble circumstances, Pamela Atkinson
knows exactly what it feels like to go without. Now, years later, she's dedicated her life to giving back and helping those less fortunate. In this week's “Person 2 Person
,” Shauna Lake
sits down with the leading advocate for the homeless in Salt Lake City, Pamela Atkinson.
Below is a transcript of Shauna Lake’s interview with Pamela Atkinson:SHAUNA LAKE:
Do you feel like you were put on this earth to do what you’re doing right now?
I really think that the Lord had a plan for me. I think I deviated from that plan early in life, but I do have a strong conviction that if I can do something to make a difference reach out and love others, that that is what I’m meant to do.
When you were a child, you lived in poverty.PAMELA ATKINSON:
Did you feel marginalized and do you feel that plays a role in who you are today?PAMELA ATKINSON:
I did feel very marginalized. My clothes were terrible. I had holes in my shoes. We cut up the Corn Flakes box to put the cardboard right into our shoes. We collected newspapers to tear up into squares for toilet paper. We had no indoor plumbing. The people I went to school with did, and I was what I would call today bullied because I didn’t smell right, and I didn’t have the right clothes. I learned how to be envious going to friends’ homes and seeing oh they have two parents; oh they have sheets that they sleep in at night; oh they only have one person in a bed. They have a bedroom of their own. And it made me very envious, and I thought someday maybe these good things will happen. I was about fourteen and I decided perhaps education was the way out of poverty, that I really needed to work hard, and I also decided that when I grew up I would marry a rich man and never have anything to do with poor people again. SHAUNA LAKE:
That would be your ticket?PAMELA ATKINSON:
Isn’t it ironic? Yes. SHAUNA LAKE:
Do you ever get mad? Do you ever feel like people are taking advantage of you? Taking advantage of the system?
If somebody is taking advantage, I think I might get a little sad that they feel the need to do that, but maybe there’s something that I can do to help that person. Maybe they’re mad at something. Maybe I can just let them talk. Sometimes that’s all people want to do is to talk and just find a friendly listening ear. SHAUNA LAKE:
It seems like you give all of your time serving others. What’s something that you do as a person, as a woman that people would be surprised about? Do you have a hobby or a hidden passion or something that you do for fun?PAMELA ATKINSON:
If I or my friends feel what we call emotionally bankrupt, then we get together for pot luck dinner, and we have fun and we laugh a great deal have some good food and some good times and that replenishes my bank. I love to listen to classical music. I love to read. I love to visit with friends, listen to the radio, watch TV. Sometimes I just love to go home and just be on my own if I’ve been with people all day. But I balance my life out. It may seem like I’m work, work, work, but I do take time to play. Later this week I’ll be taking some of the grandkids to one of the great movies that is out now for kids, and we just relax and have a lot of fun. SHAUNA LAKE:
How can people help in a minimal way but still make a big difference?PAMELA ATKINSON:
There was this lady some years ago, 82-years-old. After I had spoken to her and about 90 other people in the group, she said that I was wrong and that not everybody could make a difference in people’s lives. As we started to talk she said she didn’t have much money, and I asked her if she could donate one can of soup a week and she decided she could. Her son took her shopping once a week and then I said the next night at dinnertime what I’d like you to do is to just close your eyes and envision a mother living in poverty, a single mother with three of her children eating the soup that you donated. Then think about those kids going into bed on a full stomach, and then think about whether you made a difference or not.
: You are a hero among us. It has been so fun to get to know you even better “Person 2 Person.”
: Thank you Shauna.
To learn more about the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund, visit http://jobs.utah.gov/housing/scso/pahtf/ KUTV 2News’ Shauna Lake Interviews Pamela Atkinson
Check Out KUTV's Web Only Extras from the Pamela Atkinson 'Person 2 Person' Interview with Shauna Lake:
Pamela Atkinson Talks About Her Plans for the FuturePamela Atkinson Tells Us How to Approach a Homeless PersonPamela Atkinson Discusses How She Got Involved with the Homeless
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)