2018 MTA Humanitarian Service Aim: Homeless Youth



I am pleased to announce that in the coming year the Mormon Transhumanist Association has committed to practice discipleship by engaging our members in acts of humanitarian service for homeless and at-risk youths in Utah and Appalachia.

As chief humanitarian officer for the MTA I have sought out service opportunities in accordance with our stated humanitarian aims, and with the unanimous support of the Management Team we have committed to the above efforts for 2018. Our organizational humanitarian aims include reducing involuntary suffering, minimizing existential risk posed by new technologies and their unintended consequences, developing means for the preservation of life and health, improving human foresight (vis-à-vis the Transhumanist Declaration), and persuading others to do likewise, and sending relief, consolation and healing (vis-à-vis the Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation).

There are 1.7 million homeless teens in the United States (1) of which approximately 40,000 are unaccompanied (2). A disproportionately large percentage of them (up to 40%) are LGBT and many state rejection from their family because of their sexual identity as the primary reason for leaving home (3). Upwards of 80% of these youths use drugs or alcohol as a means of escape from the trauma of their young lives (4), and at least 40% of these children have been sexually abused or assaulted (5).

This is an unimaginable burden of suffering. As disciples and agents of empathy and compassion we are committed to doing what we can, as an organization and individually, to relieve some of the burden these children have been forced to bear.

As a start, we have partnered with Volunteers of America at their new Homeless Youth Resource Center in Salt Lake City to serve breakfast to 50 homeless and at-risk teens in early January. We hope this may be the first of many such collaborations and envision a recurring role in the center (perhaps providing free technology training in their state-of-the-art computer classroom space). We are also collaborating with Brighter Brains Institute (our prior humanitarian partner in Uganda), making outreach efforts to youth resource centers in poverty stricken areas of Eastern Kentucky, and considering a donation to an incredible non-profit that operates a free clinic in Chester County, Pennsylvania called Community Volunteers in Medicine that has earned top marks from Charity Navigator. These targeted actions are just a start, and much greater efforts on a societal scale are needed to address the causes of homelessness. We hope to be part of these solutions and leverage our tools and influence as a group to fight poverty and heal the rifts between ourselves and the worst off in our midst.

My personal interest and involvement in this cause goes back to 2011, my final year of undergraduate studies, when I listened to an interview with Dr. Randy Christensen, a pediatrician from Phoenix, who retrofitted an RV into a mobile health clinic to serve the area's homeless teens. He had just written a book about his experiences called Ask Me Why I Hurt, a reference to one of the patients he treated who was profoundly impacted by his work, and he was likewise impacted by her struggle for survival. The Cruisin' Healthmobile, or Big Blue as it's lovingly known, is funded by grants and staffed by physicians and nurses from Phoenix Children's Hospital. It continues to make weekly stops throughout the Phoenix metro area providing free primary and urgent care to homeless teens. After I was accepted to medical school in Phoenix, I started volunteering regularly onboard and gained inspiration from Dr. Christensen and a lasting compassion for the unique and profound suffering of these youths.

Upon completing medical school in 2015 my family relocated to Salt Lake City so I could complete my three year residency at St. Mark's Hospital. As part of my education I have had opportunities to tour and volunteer at various shelters, long-term housing projects (e.g. Palmer Court) and clinics that serve the area's homeless. Recent events have put increased pressure on the homeless population, already on society's margins, in some cases forcing them into dangerous living arrangements just as winter (already a desperate time) is coming on.

These events include Operation Rio Grande, the August action of the Salt Lake Police Department to crack down on the drug trade and criminal activity surrounding the downtown Road Home shelter, as well as the Salt Lake City government's efforts to relocate the homeless residents from downtown to community-based shelters throughout the valley. The city garnered international praise in 2015 for dramatically reducing its number of chronically homeless individuals (those experiencing homelessness for >12 months) by simply providing housing, in this case turning an old hotel into free housing space for selected individuals and families. This past week the LDS Church Announced a $10 million donation for the construction of additional long-term and transitional housing in Salt Lake City. But there still is much more that needs to be done.

Today I call on our membership to join me in dedicating our time, talents and treasure to bring relief, consolation and healing to homeless teens in Utah and Appalachia. Please consider making a donation on our website (transfigurism.org, click "contribute") and joining us in person where possible to meet these resilient young people and serve them as disciples of Jesus and humanists alike. Thank you for your generosity. May our efforts help to heal the world.


  1. National Alliance to End Homelessness. "An Emerging Framework for Ending Unaccompanied Youth Homelessness." National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2012.

  2. U.S. Department for Housing and Development. "HUD's 2014 Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Programs Homeless Populations and Subpopulations." 2014.

  3. Durso, L.E., and G.J. Gates. "Serving Our Youth: Findings from a National Survey of Service Providers Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth who are Homeless or At Risk of Becoming Homeless." The Williams Institute with True Colors Fund and The Palette Fund, 2012.

  4. Greene, J.M., S.T. Ennett, and C.L. Ringwalt. "Substance use among runaway and homeless youth in three national samples." American Journal of Public Health, 1997.

  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth and Families. "Sexual Abuse Among Homeless Adolescents: Prevalence, Correlates, and Sequelae." USHHS, 2002.