Find Voices for Dignity mentioned in the media.
Some of the arrangements have been made through an intermediary — an organization called Voices For Dignity. It helps people in Short Creek — in and out of the FLDS — find housing, legal assistance, clothing and other necessities.
Christine Marie Katas, who runs the organization . . .said the UEP has started giving her a list of properties to be served eviction notices. She goes to the occupants in those homes and encourages them to come to an understanding with the trust.
“We are delighted to help the FLDS find ways to remain in their homes without having to violate their religious beliefs,” Katas said in a text message.
Katas said she is speaking with Barlow about extending the arrangements to commercial properties owned by the UEP, as well as buildings the FLDS members have been using as schools.
Eight-year-old Lydia received her new boots from Voices for Dignity in Hildale, a non profit that helps those from the FLDS faith, and place those of the faith feel safe going for help. Lydia picked the brown color out herself for a reason.
“I thought most girls got pink, so I’d get something else more than most girls didn’t get,” said Lydia.
About 30 who read the requisite number of books got to attend a princess party. They dressed in gowns, most of which they and women from the FLDS sewed. Some participants also wore heels, put on makeup for the first time and went to the party at a home decorated for a ball.
The event was organized by Voices For Dignity, a nonprofit that has been working with people in and out of the sect in Hildale, Utah, and adjacent Colorado City, Ariz., collectively known as Short Creek.
A separate, nonprincess event is planned for FLDS boys.
Advocate Christine Marie Katas moved to the community to help FLDS women and families. She likens the evictions and turnover to a “cultural extinction.”
“It seems as if, the public think anything negative that happens to them, that’s okay, because they don’t agree with their religion,” said Katas, who works with the FLDS community through her non-profit Voices for Dignity. “And that’s really heartbreaking. Because they are American citizens who deserve as many constitutional rights and civil rights as anybody else.”
Community members gather at a resource center run by a charity called “Voices for Dignity,” which is dedicated to helping members of a Mormon offshoot religion called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The group’s home community on the Utah-Arizona border is undergoing a series of changes as the sect’s control of the town slips away amid government evictions and crackdowns
“There’s no structure, no support system for people like me, because so many of us are gone,” said Norma Richter, one of an estimated 2,000 loyal followers of Jeffs who still lives in “Short Creek.”
It’s why outside volunteers have stepped in to help.
Richter was hosting an FLDS community fair on a recent Thursday in April, where FLDS girls and women braided hair for tips and sold baked goods and handmade wares. Most of the customers were missionaries and volunteers serving in a nearby shelter that was once a home for dozens of Jeffs’ wives. A nonprofit helped host the fair.
“I work 12 hours a day trying to help these people find housing, find jobs, food, shoes, educational supplies, all the things that used to be supplied by the church,” said Christine Marie of Voices for Dignity, who leads a humanitarian effort for FLDS refugees called “Operation Short Creek.”
Marie said her efforts used to be met with opposition by the FLDS. But they are now more receptive to getting help.
David Bishop came from Salt Lake City to help. “I’m just an old retired cop trying to do something good to help good people help themselves,” said Bishop.
And then there’s Lamont Barlow who was once FLDS and considered an apostate to those who remain faithful but still volunteering.
“Bridges are being built, people are starting to warm up to each other. It’s a story of healing,” said Barlow.
The Short Creek Cottage opens July 3rd, in Central Street in Colorado City. They invite the public to come and shop.
Barlow said she and a group called Voices for Dignity, consisting of FLDS followers and their supporters, spoke to officials at Mohave County before the election. They were told they could vote under a provision in Arizona law that allows homeless and displaced people to cast ballots. However, Barlow said, it was not explained to them how that provision also requires voters to change their registered address to a public location such as a homeless shelter, a post office or a street corner.
Barlow said Voices for Dignity held an education campaign before the election, telling people they needed to be registered to vote at their current addresses when possible. She said some FLDS followers chose not to vote because they didn’t know which address to list and feared that if they cast ballots, “their integrity would be called into question.”
“If it gets to the point where I don’t have anyone here, then I will have to go somewhere else,” said one, Esther Bistline, 45. “We have really lost our support system. We don’t even have a place to worship. My whole family has had to move away.”
She sells snacks and handmade clothing from Short Creek Cottage, a shop created by a nonprofit that advocates for marginalized groups including the FLDS.
“So many of our families have been driven away from the community. They have taken our storehouse, our religious buildings,” she said. “We have no bishops. If I had a religious issue, I guess I’d talk to my dad.”
Norma Richter, 55, stopped by to pick up some dolls she hoped to sell online. Her 12-year-old daughter Lydia who, like many FLDS children, is homeschooled, joined her.
Producer Glenn Meehan began visiting the community of Short Creek a decade ago, initially with the aim of making a documentary about the lost boys. But, that changed as he and director Don Argott watched the community change.
The result is the new documentary, “Keep Sweet,” which is streaming now on Discovery+. The Show spoke with Meehan to learn about the film and where the title “Keep Sweet” came from. (Voices for Dignity is mentioned in this documentary).
Voices of Dignity a non-profit in Hildale run by Christine Marie, who helps those in the FLDS faith. She encouraged the women to spend the week being trained as Sexual Assault Victims advocates.
“These people want to keep their children safe. They want to try to protect children and adults from sexual assault, so I am very proud of them,” said Marie, Voices for Dignity Founder.
FLDS women from the polygamous towns of Hildale and Colorado City were in St. George learning about how they can help those who may have suffered abuse.
At Dixie State University FLDS women are furthering their education, becoming advocates for victims for sexual assault.
“This has given me a greater understanding of what sexual assault victims go through,” said Esther, an FLDS mother.