As business owners and entrepreneurs, we know the satisfaction and confidence that comes through hard work. Life is more fulfilling when we have a sense of dignity and accomplishment.

In order to truly help people get off the streets and find that dignity again we must provide more opportunities to participate in work, climb the ladder, and contribute to our community.  We recognize that by hiring individuals experiencing homelessness we will lead and develop a culture that represents the best of Salt Lake City.

One Person at a Time

On November 7th, Salt Lake City’s business leaders came together to announce the 3rd phase of Operation Rio Grande.  The press conference outlined a plastevestarksn for public and private organizations to work together to increase employment opportunities and training.

From Utah Jazz President Steve Starks, “Success will be measured one person at a time. Operation Rio Grande is breaking down barriers and bringing Utahns together. We in the business community must come together and do our part.”

Operation Rio Grande leaders acknowledge there are some individuals who may not be able to transition to successful employment due to mental or physical limitations. Some may have debilitating substance abuse problems that need to be overcome before re-entry into the job force.  Reliable transportation, childcare, and healthcare can also be common barriers to stable employment.

The program has been developed to assist on the individual level and identifies 3 types of work readiness:

  • Pre-Employment – includes those who are not ready to work yet because they first need to focus on sobriety, mental health or other issues.
  • Not Ready Today / Dignity Activities – will be encouraged to participate in dignity activities like workshops, daily devotionals and developing healthy routines.
  • Ready to Work Now

Willing to Train? Get Started with the “DREAM” Team

The Utah Department of Workforce Services has developed a “DREAM” Team program (“DREAM” – Dignity Restored Through Employment and Mentoring).  The team is comprised of the potential employee, a mentor from your organization, and two specialists from the Workforce Services. The first is a Workforce Development Specialist who is assigned to work directly with employers like you, and the second is a Dignity of Work employment counselor who will work with the potential employee, one-on-one.


The team creates individualized employment plans tailored to each participant based on their history, education, vocational background, personal goals, and an assessment of their readiness to work. By keeping your hire numbers small, the process becomes easier to manage and grow over time.

Four full-time employment counselors from the Department of Workforce Services have started meeting with homeless individuals from the Rio Grande area to start building plans. Employer inquiries regarding DREAM team participation can be directed to Workforce Development Specialist Vicki Giesler at or 801-503-7296.