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The City Journals

From rockets to coffee: Wright rewarded for service to community

Steve Wright (center) is presented with the Craig Dearing Legacy Award at the West Jordan Chamber of Commerce by Al Richards (right) and Craig Dearing. (Photo Courtesy West Jordan Chamber of Commerce)

By Travis Barton [email protected]

It was two years ago when an older woman entered High Point Coffee Shop in West Jordan. She was lost and not thinking clearly. Hundreds of dollars filled her purse and she was offering it to whoever could help her, even dumping its contents on a table. The shop’s owner, Herriman resident Steve Wright, decided to see if he could help. 

What he found was a woman with Alzheimer’s, a wrecked car and an unfortunate situation. The woman’s husband had recently died, so if she got lost, she would push her Uber app to get home. But she forgot about the app. 

After some time, Wright tracked down the woman’s son and got her home, ensuring the police followed up a few hours later to confirm she was safe and that no one took advantage of her. The woman’s son, a busy doctor, later told Wright he was trying to get his mother help. 

Wright’s wife, Kim, remembered how he called her recounting the ordeal through tears wondering what potentially could have happened to the woman. 

“I’m just trying to help,” Wright said about the experience. “If somebody falls down in front of me, I try to pick them back up.” 

Helping a woman with Alzheimer’s serves as one of countless examples why the West Jordan Chamber of Commerce presented Wright with the Craig Dearing Legacy Award at its annual community awards banquet. 

Created in 2016 to honor Craig Dearing for his decades of service to the West Jordan community, the award goes to someone who serves the community in a variety of ways, leaving a lasting impact. 

“I was surprised,” Wright said of winning the award. “I guess I figure no one realizes I’m even doing it, but apparently I was wrong.” 

Dearing and Al Richards, director of member relations with the chamber, decided who would receive the 2018 edition. They were looking for someone who is charitably engaged with the community.

“We both started thinking of Steve (Wright) because he’s done so much in the community throughout the years,” Richards said. 

That could include donating coats, clothing and gifts to children at Majestic Elementary who need help. It could reference his time (along with family and employees), money and compassion to the women’s shelter in West Jordan. And that says nothing of his donations to suicide prevention, high school athletics (even though Wright isn’t enamored with sports) and free coffee to anyone in uniform, whether it’s police, fire or military.  

Or it’s possibly the countless fundraisers organized for those in need, such as Grace, a 2-year-old cancer patient. Steve, along with friends he described as “fundraiser gods,” raised $15,435 to go toward her medical bills through efforts organized and done at his coffee shop. Grace spent 18 weeks doing chemotherapy and radiation. How did they come to know Grace? She was Steve’s nephew’s neighbor. 

“That should never happen to a little kid,” Wright said. He credited the people around him.

“They give me this award, but the family, the people that help me do these things—they’re just as responsible as I am,” he said. 

Kim Wright said her husband has never profited from any of his charitable contributions, which are so many she’s had to step in occasionally and say, “enough is enough; you cannot save the world.”

His greatest service might come simply from being a family man. After all, he did take his four kids to rape crisis centers and homeless shelters to pass out blankets, fix sinks and mow lawns, among many other things. 

The best example though, comes from his wife. 

It was 2014, and Kim had been gone seven days on a business trip to San Francisco when she suffered what felt like a stroke. A few hours after having an MRI, she was rushed to the University of Utah Hospital where doctors had found multiple brain tumors. She would be in the hospital for the next 18 days. 

“(Steve) didn’t leave the hospital, he didn’t change his clothes,” Kim said. “The nurse told him to go home and take a shower. He stayed right by my side for 18 days in the hospital. That’s his level of integrity, just his commitment. He would do that for anybody.” 

“She wasn’t supposed to survive that,” he said. “It was a miracle she did, and I didn’t want to not be there in case something went wrong.”

It’s been almost 26 years since Steve and Kim Wright tied the knot. She never would’ve thought this would be the life they had. They have owned High Point Coffee Shop for 10 years. But coffee wasn’t always the plan.

Steve Wright was building rocket motors for ATK. He was the union vice president, and he decided to leave to open a coffee shop. Steve said he grew tired of the corporate world and felt like it was turning on the workforce. It reached a point where he was no longer happy. 

“I always tell people, ‘If you don’t like it, quit,’” he said. “Then one day I realized I was one of those people.” 

While he initially planned to open the coffee shop in Sanpete County, West Jordan ended up as the place. He wasn’t sure how he decided on a coffee shop. His mother worked with a woman who opened a Beans and Brews.  

“Maybe it just kind of stuck in my mind that it would be a cool thing to do,” he said.

While Wright’s handlebar mustache suggests a tough exterior, Kim said he is soft when it comes to people. “He just has a heart that lets him see people that are in need or need a little bit of a push,” she said. 

Having spent countless days serving those in the community, Wright can’t pinpoint where his desire to help originated. 

“It’s just something I guess I’ve always done,” he said. “If I see someone out on the side of the road with a flat tire, I’ll stop and help them change their flat. I feel like everybody should be that way.”

Richards may have found the best way to sum up the 2018 Legacy Award winner when he said, “You don’t find too many guys like him.”