Sarah McClellan’s work started small, but over two decades later she’s still finding more and bigger ways to help meet the needs of the underprivileged in the community.
“I never envisioned that I’d be doing this 25 years,” McClellan said.
McClellan heads the Northern Utah Coalition HIV/AIDS Project, which started in 1996 after a friend told her about a gap of services in the Ogden area. “Nobody was doing anything, specifically for people of color and especially African-Americans in the Ogden area,” she said. “African-Americans have been disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS.”
McClellan’s group at first offered simple services for clients such as referring them to caseworkers, providing them transportation to clinics that were mostly located in Salt Lake City and offering free HIV/AIDS testing and education.
McClellan said a large group she helps are felons recently released from jail, trying to find a job and place to live. “If you’re a felon, you can’t hardly find a place to live,” she said. “When they come out of the halfway house, they have to find a place to work.” She keeps a list of places that are willing to hire and rent to felons so they can more easily reintegrate into the community. Maybe it’s a letter to the courts and they’re a little embarrassed divulging that to just anybody,” she said. “I find myself writing a letter to the court, because I don’t know where to send them.”
McClellan said she’s empathetic to the needs of the underprivileged, having herself grown up poor. A hepatitis C test costs about $20 at the hospital, but that money can go a long way for somebody living on the streets or struggling to feed their children, so important things like that go by the wayside, she said.
Rev. Lillie Holman, Associate Pastor, at New Zion Baptist Church, said, "Sarah also is involved in African-American Genealogy with the Ogden Family Search Library as well as being involved at the New Zion Baptist Church.