Johnson said he chose Atkinson as this year's recipient because of the breadth of her influence on the community and the "sheer volume of work that she does for the homeless and underserved in Utah."
"We [in law enforcement] see the dark side of life on a regular basis, but people like Miss Atkinson remind us of the good things in our community," Johnson said.
Known as a leader among the many local nonprofits dedicated to providing food, shelter and other services for homeless people, Atkinson has been a visible advocate for the homeless in Utah for close to 25 years, said Matt Mikevitch, whose shelter, The Road Home, hosted the award ceremony.
Atkinson volunteers year-round with the Volunteers of America Homeless Outreach Team.
A former vice president of admission services for Intermountain Healthcare, Atkinson has helped establish charitable clinics for the medically under-served in Salt Lake City. She also has served as a special adviser to Gov. Gary Herbert as well as governors before him.
The FBI is only the latest to recognize Atkinson's visible efforts, but she insisted Tuesday that "It's the small things that can make a difference."
Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, Atkinson can be found delivering meals to those who otherwise wouldn't have a holiday dinner. Throughout the year, she makes sure she takes time to visit people she considers her friends, whether they are in shelters or elsewhere.
"I just feel that we can all make a difference, and if there's work to be done, then I need to do my part," she said.
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