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Davis Journal

Utah’s ‘Mother Teresa’ honored by legislature with her own day

Mar 06, 2023 10:20AM ● By Becky Ginos

Pamela Atkinson and President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints talks to Atkinson’s great granddaughter in the Gold Room at the Capitol following an event to honor her. The Governor proclaimed Feb. 25 as Pamela Atkinson Day. Photo by Becky Ginos

SALT LAKE CITY—Often known as Utah’s Mother Teresa, Pamela Atkinson works tirelessly to help those in need. Atkinson serves as Advisor to Gov. Spencer Cox and has held the same position with three previous governors. The Governor signed a proclamation last Friday to name Feb. 24 “Pamela Atkinson Day.” Legislators and other dignitaries honored her during a ceremony held at the Capitol.

“Pamela has shaped how we care for the homeless,” said Lt. Gov. Deidre M. Henderson. “She is a shining example of love and serving unconditionally.”

She has a servant’s heart, said Gail Miller, owner of Larry H. Miller Company. “Her focus is on humanity and she has a deep and abiding faith in God. She leans in. She is never too tired, too old or too busy to help lift others.”

Pamela values all people, said Miller. “She treats all of them with respect. She would share her last crust of bread if it was needed by someone else. She never has a cross word or is judgmental of anyone.”

Atkinson serves on the State Homeless Coordinating Committee, Envision Utah, Utah Coalition Against Pornography and the State Refugee Advisory Board. She was also appointed to the State Board of Regents for 10 years and served on the State Board of Education and the Utah College of Applied Technology Board. She is known for her work with homeless individuals and families, low-income people and refugees.

Utah is a state that has a commitment of helping those in need, said House Speaker Brad Wilson. “Utahns support each other. We know Utah is a special place. I can’t think of anyone who has more charity, service and love than Pamela Atkinson. You always leave a better person when you are around her and you always want to be better.”

She is a remarkable listener despite differences, he said. “Her love is unmatched. Utah is so, so, lucky to have you as one of our own. We can all learn from your example.”

The legislature wants to take credit for things we do here but it’s the people, said Senate President J. Stuart Adams. “Every day should be Pamela Atkinson Day. She is the voice of Utah homelessness.”

“I received a call one day from Pamela asking if the church could provide 200 steaks for a special activity for the homeless for Christmas,” said President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “I told her ‘I don’t know if the church even has 200 steaks.’ But we snapped right to it. You better respond when Pam is behind the request.”

Pamela Atkinson is a saint, he said. “It’s a wonderful title and she is a wonderful example for our state. Thank you for the things you’ve done for our community and the needs for our community members.”

“As a family we have been studying the New Testament,” said Cox. “We’re trying to emulate Christ but that is sometimes hard. We’ve wondered how he would act in our modern world. Abby (Cox) says it’s easier to be like Jesus if you just look at Pamela.”

Pamela loves regardless of someone’s status in life, he said. “She has respect for everyone whether they are powerful people or people who live in the Rio Grande district. Those who feel they’ve been left behind or have stopped believing in themselves.”

Cox said he meets a lot of famous, powerful people. “She is larger than life and respected by everyone. When I met her she was everything I expected and more.”

Pamela’s influence will be felt for generations to come, he said. “She is recklessly good. She makes you want to live bigger and better.”

“It is humbling to have a day named after me,” said Atkinson. “Growing up we didn’t have an indoor bathroom, we were too poor. But don’t define yourself by who you were as a child as to who you are now and your relationship with God. What you are today is not determined by who you were.”