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South Salt Lake Journal

Ideals from UN Civil Society become a reality for one SSL neighbor

Sep 23, 2019 01:24PM ● By Bill Hardesty

A youth member of ASEZ is a “doer of the word” as she helps clean up an SSL resident’s yard. (Courtesy of ASEZ)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

The ideals and words of the 68th United Nations Civil Society conference held in Salt Lake City from Aug. 26-28 became a reality for one South Salt Lake resident on Aug. 29.

The work of SSL Community Connection and a university student volunteer group called ASEZ shows how the work and the promises of the conference can turn someone’s home and community into a better place.


Community Connection is a program of the Urban Livability department of SSL. They focus on one neighborhood each year. They provide the opportunity and the equipment. Volunteers provide the muscle.

On Aug. 28, members of the ASEZ group descended on Jeaneen Johnson's house on 500 East to pull weeds, mow the lawn and tame an overgrown backyard.

"Their work means a lot. It makes my yard look good. It makes it usable," said Johnson.

Johnson is a 40-year resident and two months ago suffered a stroke. She reached out to Community Connect and ASEZ reached out to SSL looking for work.

ASEZ, which stands for Saving the Earth from A to Z, is a university student volunteer group which is part of the World Ministry Society Church of God. This international church was founded in South Korea in 1948. There is a local congregation at 2188 W. 2200 South in West Valley City.

One of the core beliefs of the church and ASEZ members is the importance of a mother's love. They strive to share such love in all they do.

"As I live life, I see needs in the community. I want to share the love of a mother to all in the community," said Wendy Skold, who was pulling weeds.

Besides doing yard work, ASEZ is involved in a variety of social projects. For example, they signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) during the UN conference with the United Nations Association of Utah and the Lowell Bennion Community Center at the University of Utah.

"The MOUs are for being dedicated to creating a cleaner and safer community. Dr. Phillip Zimbardo's Broken Windows Theory highlights that cleaning and beautifying an area can reduce crime better than, in many cases, employing a larger police force and issuing stronger punishments. With this in mind, ASEZ and the respective organizations signed the MOUs in pledge to make more efforts to clean our communities in order to reduce crime," wrote Eddie Albanez, the branch manager for ASEZ.

ASEZ also carries out the SAVE project in 175 countries focusing on social services, raising awareness of communities, giving relief to victims and working on environmental protection.

United Nations Civil Society Conference

The August conference was first time a UN conference was held in the United States away from UN headquarters since the founding meeting San Francisco in 1945. The theme of the conference was building inclusive and sustainable cities and communities. 

To understand the UN, one must speak UN speak. The term "civil society" does not refer to a place where people are kind (as in, civil), but it refers to the lowest level of government. A "youth" is not a teenager, but people 18-32 years old. A "non-government organization" (NGO) is a non-profit organization that works independent of any government. Their focus is resolving a social or political issue. 

In September 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As part of the agenda, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) came into force on January 1, 2016. The hope was the SDGs would provide a framework for nations and NGOs to achieve the 2030 Agenda in 15 years. The SDGs range from ending poverty (SDG 1) to reducing inequality (SDG 10) to climate change (SDG 13) and peace and justice (SDG 16). This conference was focused on SDG 11—cities and human settlements of inclusion for all.

The combined effort of Community Connection and the non-government organization, ASEZ contributed to the following UN goals: SDG 3 good health and well-being, SDG 11 sustainable cities and communities and SDG 17 partnerships. 

SDG 11 is also about not leaving anyone behind. This same philosophy is found the three promises of SSL Promise.

  • Every child has the opportunity to attend and to graduate from college 
  • Every resident has a safe, clean home and neighborhood 
  • Everyone has the opportunity to be healthy and to prosper