Salt Lake City

Mayor's Office

Erin Mendenhall | (801) 535-7704 |

Mayor Biskupski, City employees put their sewing skills to work for the Turtle Shelter Project

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and a crew of City employees will participate in a day of service at City Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, helping the Turtle Shelter Project make warm, waterproof vests that will be distributed to those experiencing homeless during the holiday season. 

The Turtle Shelter Project was founded in January 2017 by Jen Spencer and Angela Roth, who designed the vests based on Spencer’s own experience living on the streets in the cold. The vests are made of rip-stop fabric and a foam insulation that conserves heat. They have deep pockets, hoods and sturdy belts for a snug fit.

With the help of an all-volunteer sewing team, more than 600 vests have been made and distributed to homeless individuals free of charge.

On Wednesday, the Mayor and city staff will help cut, prepare and sew vest patterns so that the Turtle Shelter Project will have more vests ready to distribute during the coming holiday season.

“The vests are a very effective way to help provide life-saving warmth,” said Spencer. “They are called ‘turtle shelters,’ because they are a portable shelter, just like a turtle that takes its shelter wherever it goes.”

Mayor Biskupski and Spencer met during the recent Project Homeless Connect event which annually helps those experiencing homelessness access medical, housing and other services in a single location. The Mayor was so moved by Spencer and co-founder Angela Roth’s story and efforts that she immediately wanted to find a way for the City to help.

“Jen and Angela are an example of compassion for all of us. I am so moved by their efforts to provide a measure of comfort and warmth to those in need,” Mayor Biskupski said. “Giving aid to those in our City who remain unsheltered is very important to me, especially as we move into our coldest winter months. I am so proud that our City employees are willing to give their time so that we can help advance the Turtle Shelter Project.”

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