SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable religious board received the Continuum of Caring Award at the Hope Benefit held at Little America Hotel Aug. 22.
"The Friends of St. Joseph Villa Foundation for Charity Care selected the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable board for the work it does for those in need, the sick, the elderly and widows," said Beth Ehrhardt, the foundation’s president.
Through the Hope Benefit, funds also were raised for seniors in need of items such as hearing aids and eye glasses, dental care and medicine. The Hope Benefit has raised funds for Saint Joseph Villa’s Charity Care Fund for 22 years and now it raises funds for the Charity Care Foundation, which continues to provide funds for charity care to seniors who reside in facilities or senior apartments throughout the Salt Lake Valley.
The Interfaith Roundtable was formed for the 2002 Olympic Games to provide religious support for athletes and families. Forty-five leaders of various faiths joined the effort. Out of this work came a desire for ongoing interfaith dialogue, friendship and understanding. The Interfaith Roundtable has continued to meet monthly since 2002 and collaborates on mutual interfaith goals.
"Friendship is what underlies the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, but it’s also important to know the history of the founders and the legacy of Saint Joseph Villa," said Susan Northway, Interfaith Roundtable board member and Diocese of Salt Lake Office of Religious Education director.
The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, who founded Saint Joseph Villa in 1947, were the 1997 recipients of the Hope Benefit award.
"The sisters came to share their healing mission, offer their love and offer their work to other people," said Northway. "They shine forth as examples of what it means to be cheerful and persevering, to use humor and offer healing to the vulnerable. Their presence was a witness to their faith."
Charitable works arise from a common belief held by the St. Joseph Villa Foundation and the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, said Northway. "This belief is that we were all created in the likeness and image of the Divine and, because of that, we reach out in works of charity and hospitality. Showing hospitality to the stranger is something that we practice in the Interfaith Council."
The Roundtable is also about faith cooperation and the result is each faith comes out stronger by meeting other faiths, said Alan Bachman, Interfaith Roundtable chairman and past Hope Benefit recipient.
"Wisdom is understanding plus knowledge," said Bachman, adding that the understanding of other people requires getting to know them to break down the bodies of fear. "All of the faiths that are represented in the Roundtable have major parts that are devoted to charity. You have to be active in the world if your neighbor is hurting; you can’t hide under your bed."
Bachman, a member of the Jewish faith, said in Judaism there are three pillars: Teshuvah is connecting to a divine source, Tefillah is praying for good things to happen and Tsedakah is charity, "the active component and the end result of the other two."
Another aspect of the Roundtable that relates to St. Joseph Villa is respect for elders and remembering parents, said Bachman.
The number of seniors in the United States is expected to double by the year 2030, said Ehrhardt. "The seniors represent nearly 20 percent of the population; the concern for seniors and their economic insecurity increases as we look to the future. The mission of the Foundation is to honor the legacy of the Sisters of Charity by continuing the tradition of providing charity care for individuals in need."