Sharon Aposhian Wright has traveled all over the world, but her favorite trip is a weekly jaunt to the Utah State Prison from her hometown of Woodland Hills.
Award-winning quilter and mom to six (and grandmother to eight), Sharon and her husband, Dalton, had a strong inclination to serve. They have spent the past two years as long-term volunteers through the LDS Church at the Promontory Facility of the Utah State Prison, mentoring male inmates who have committed crimes in relation to their addictions.
“We have 15 men who consider us Mom and Dad,’” says Sharon, who has lived in Woodland Hills for 25 years. “Our job is to let them know there are people on the outside who care about them.”
Every Sunday, Sharon and Dalton travel nearly an hour to the prison to attend a church service with their group of inmates. They also visit every other Monday for a “Family Home Evening” program. It’s a lengthy drive, but Sharon doesn’t see it as a sacrifice.
“The driving is nothing. I will postpone vacations and cancel anything to make sure I’m there on my Sundays and Mondays. I just love our men,” she says.
Sharon has seen deep-rooted changes in the inmates she associates with and says the experience has been especially meaningful in her life.
“It’s totally changed my philosophies about the ability to change,” Sharon says. “They’re people who have made mistakes and they respond so well to being cared about.”
1. The Seasons
“There’s a sense that you’re escaping the world when you come to Woodland Hills. Spring is beautiful with lots of wild flowers, the summers aren’t too hot, and fall is really incredible here. In the winter, we get so much snow that it’s a winter wonderland, and it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s so nice to go cross country skiing and sledding. We love days when we can’t go out because our home is our own little haven.”
2. Tight-Knit Community
“We love the sense of community. The town has tripled in size since we’ve been here, but almost everyone still knows each other. We’re involved in each other’s lives, and we all look out for each other. Once people settle in Woodland Hills, they rarely move. We have a wide range of talents, professions and skills here. We love the goodness of the people.”
3. The Fire Station
“Our fire department is all volunteer. They’re real hot shots — I mean really good! They work very hard to be ready for us if anything ever happens. We live in one of the highest fire danger areas in the state, and it’s compounded with all the houses and trees. They’re the best around.”
4. Switchback Trail
“We have wonderful hikes. I truly have to say the Switchback Trail is the best. It’s so beautiful! You can see the whole valley and it’s incredible.”
5. Steve Lauritzen Memorial Field
“Named for our late mayor Steve Lauritzen, we have a pretty park with a pavilion, a little playground and a soccer field that looks over the valley.”
6. Woodland Hills Celebration Days
“Woodland Hills Days is an annual two-day event to celebrate being together as a community. We’ve done parades, craft fairs, town dinners, movie nights, 5k races, basketball tournaments, street dances, and talent shows.”
7. The Wildlife
“The wildlife is incredible. We always see turkeys and deer walking by. One time I heard a knock on the door, but there was nobody there. Turns out, it was a turkey pecking at my back door!”