Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Straight from Gobbler’s Knob this morning, the world’s most famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil has predicted an early spring! The winter-weary, and especially those impacted by this week’s blizzard, are probably rejoicing at the news – that is, if you put any stock in the forecast of a rodent.
However, there are some out there savoring what’s left of this bitterly cold season. Just a few hours east of Punxsutawney in Williamsport, PA, The Salvation Army held its Second Annual Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday. About 100 people dove in to the icy Susquehanna River, and about 500 more shivered as they watched from dry ground. Some of the plungers even came in costume, reportedly dressed for dunking in prom gowns, tuxedo garb, and even a buffalo headdress.
Weird? Absolutely, but it was all for a good cause. The local Salvation Army says they raised more than $5,000 as a result of the Polar Bear Plunge, which will go to support community programs, especially those benefitting youth.
Fun fact for the Day: Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow 98 times and hasn’t seen it 16 times since 1887.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Today The Salvation Army announced its new world leader and the 19th General will be Canadian-born Commissioner Linda Bond. She was elected by The High Council of The Salvation Army, made up of senior leaders from around the world who met this week near London. Commissioner Bond will succeed the current world leader General Shaw Clifton, who retires early April.
Commissioner Bond will be the 3rd woman and the 4th Canadian to hold the post of General of The Salvation Army in our 146 year history. She comes to the role with 42 years experience of ministry and leadership and currently heads up the church and charity’s work in Eastern Australia. This region includes the recently devastated state of Queensland where The Salvation Army continues to be heavily involved in assisting victims of widespread flooding.
Once in post as General of The Salvation Army, the Commissioner will become the head of more than one million Salvationists in 123 countries. The Salvation Army also has more than 100,000 employees who between them communicate in 175 different languages.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Nancy Lublin, CEO and “Chief Old Person” of DoSomething.org, has a hunch that age gives young people an advantage over their older counterparts in accomplishing social good.
Watch the video above to learn how Donald Trump and Milk Duds led to her epiphany.
It’s an interesting thought, considering that when it comes to ‘accomplishing stuff,’ juvenescence is generally viewed as something to be overcome based on the hindrances associated with it – the perceived lack of life experience, few funds, etc.
But not according to Nancy. Regarding being young, her mantra is embrace it and use it while you can. She knows from experience, and so does The Salvation Army.
We have many youth activists involved in our organization who are making big changes in their communities. Just look at examples from:
– Ryan, a 14 yr. old from Florida whose gleaning efforts have helped provide more than 1,600 nutritious meals for homeless men, women and children. http://blog.salvationarmyusa.org/?p=4992
– Stephen, an 11 yr. old who has held Christmas parties to collect toys for needy families since he was a preschooler. http://blog.salvationarmyusa.org/?paged=4
– Several young musical artists (Honor Society, Ashlyne Huff, and Emily Osment among them) who are raising awareness and getting involved in community service through Salvation Army programs. http://blog.salvationarmyusa.org/?p=4473 http://blog.salvationarmyusa.org/?s=here+comes+trouble+tour&x=0&y=0
– Connor, a 9 yr. old who was so moved by the need resulting from Haiti’s earthquake, he used a coffee can to start his own donations drive and garnered national attention for it. http://blog.salvationarmyusa.org/?p=320
Just to be clear, we don’t promote stalking Donald Trump or other questionable strategies to test Nancy’s theory.
We do, however, encourage you to not use age as an excuse to prevent you from doing something great, especially when it comes to serving others. You’re never too young, too old, or too middle-aged to help do the most good.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Charles MacGregor, coach of the North Shore Salvation Army Shields, says soccer can help get the homeless off the streets. (Photo: Rob Newell, North Shore Outlook)
If you could put an end to homelessness, how would you do it? Would you believe there’s an international movement looking to soccer (or football, as it’s called abroad) as a solution?
The Homeless World Cup is an international soccer tournament that uses the sport as a catalyst to encourage homeless people to change their lives, as well as to change the attitudes of governments and the public to create better solutions to homelessness. Every year, teams of homeless individuals compete in local, regional, and national matches for the opportunity to represent their country in the Homeless World Cup. This year’s 2011 tournament will be held in Paris.
Mel Young, Founder & President, explains, “We simply use football as a way of getting homeless people to come together to begin to take responsibility for the next step in their lives. We have created a global football stage where we have simply changed the landscape around homeless people and then they change as a result. It is simple. It is magic.”
[North Shore Salvation Army Shields]
The North Shore Salvation Army Shields are based out of the John Braithwaite Community Centre in North Vancouver. Photo: Vancouver Street Soccer website
In Vancouver, Canada, Salvation Army employee Charles MacGregor took notice of the homeless soccer movement and established a Vancouver Street Soccer League Team called the North Shore Salvation Army Shields. The team recently won a tournament in December 2010.
In a recent interview, MacGregor described the experience to the North Shore Outlook, “It’s bonding. It’s team play. It’s getting the guys out of their rooms or off the street…For two hours we just focus on playing. I hope what we’re doing is providing two hours where there are no other worries.”
According to the Homeless World Cup website, “[the tournament] has triggered and supports grass-roots football programs in over 70 nations and involved 50,000 people.” The organization also reports that 70% of their players significantly change their lives as a result of their involvement .
So, what do you think? Could soccer be a viable way to help end homelessness? Learn more at www.homelessworldcup.org.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
The Salvation Army’s National Advisory Board (NAB) met in Philadelphia last week, and Charlotte Jones Anderson officially began her term as our newest NAB Chairperson! She’s the first female to serve in this capacity.
[Passing the Gavel]
Charlotte Jones Anderson (center), joined by parents Jerry and Gene Jones (left), receives her gavel as official NAB Chairperson from Salvation Army Commissioners William and Nancy Roberts (right).
As the Executive Vice President Brand Management/ President of Charities for the Dallas Cowboys, Charlotte’s been actively involved with The Salvation Army. For 13 years she’s organized our Red Kettle Kickoff half-time show at the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game. Her parents Jerry and Gene Jones, owners of the Cowboys, were on hand to celebrate with her.
[Outgoing NAB Chairperson Rob Pace ]
Former NAB Chairperson Rob Pace (center) gets a kick out of his own Cowboys jersey. (Pictured Left to Right: Major George Hood, Gene and Jerry Jones, Charlotte Jones Anderson, Commissioners William and Nancy Roberts)
Outgoing NAB Chairperson Rob Pace lauded Charlotte and the Jones family for all their contributions to the work of The Salvation Army. To his surprise, they presented him with a Dallas Cowboys jersey, complete with his own name on the back! Mr. Pace was grinning from ear to ear thanks to the thoughtful gift.
The Salvation Army is grateful to Rob Pace for his years of dedicated leadership, and we’re thrilled to now have installed our next incredible leader Charlotte Jones Anderson
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Experts say the US’ economic recession ended in June 2009, but if you ask the general population, many will probably tell you they’re skeptical and are still feeling the pain.
The Salvation Army has just released a new report today that also seems to show the recession is having a lasting impact on Americans.
We talked to more than 30 Salvation Army food service programs across the country to put together “Feeding the Need 2011,” a survey conducted between October 2010 and December 2010 that represents the experiences of Salvation Army officers and employees who work directly with clients in need.
Based on the national feedback we’ve seen from our food service programs, there are many Americans still struggling and in need of help, despite experts’ assessment that the recession is over.
Here’s a few key findings from our “Feed the Need 2011” survey:
* 94% of Salvation Army food service programs reported an increase in requests for food assistance in 2010.
* Nearly 60% of Salvation Army programs saw donations remain flat or decline from all funding sources, including government, public and private sources.
* Of food programs surveyed, 55% reported that their shelves were half-full or less.
* 23% of programs reported that volunteering rates increased in 2010, a sign that many Americans are beginning to donate time and talent instead of money.
Learn more by downloading the complete “Feeding the Need 2011” survey here.
Donors and volunteers can learn more about supporting The Salvation Army by visiting www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Remember Mike Jones, the hometown hero who saved the lives of several Florida school board members taken hostage in their own meeting? The dramatic video of Jones thwarting the gunman was all over the internet and TV.
Most people recognize Jones from the recent news coverage of the event, but the more you get to know him, the more you realize he wasn’t just a hero in the moment. He’s been helping change people’s lives for years.
Jones currently serves as Bay District Safety and Security Director, and he’s also served 35 years in law enforcement as a police officer and detective. On top of that, he’s a local Salvation Army Advisory Board member.
While he was still in law enforcement, Jones worked several cases which led him to The Salvation Army. He helped many female domestic violence victims and abused children find shelter and assistance at our facilities.
Though at that time he generally knew of The Salvation Army’s work, he wasn’t fully aware of the many programs and services we offer. But now that Jones is a local board member going on his 4th year of service, he gets to see The Salvation Army from the inside out. His main role is to provide guidance and vote on issues related to finances, procedural policy, or other significant proposals.
“When you’re not a board member, you may not know everything [The Salvation Army is] doing,” Jones says. “But when I got in there and learned what they’re doing, it strengthened my faith even more…I could go on and on about how our community benefits from their work.”
Mike Jones with several refurbished bikes for his Salvage Santa program.
While he gives back through his service at The Salvation Army, Jones also heads another significant initiative called Salvage Santa, a program focused on refurbishing toys to donate to children in need. He started it more than 27 years ago as a hobby when he saw many great toys going to waste. Now he’s known all over the area for the work he and his wife do fixing up bikes, dolls, and games, and community members regularly drop by with donations. It’s gained so much attention that Jones was interviewed on Oprah in 1995! Check it out here under the video section. Jones is now serving 800 – 1,000 kids a year through Salvage Santa.
But for all these admirable things that Jones is known for, being forced to face off in a deadly gunfight is not the way most people would prefer to become known as a hero. I asked him how such a life-changing situation has affected him, especially his outlook on this new year.
“All the credit and glory goes to the good Lord. I’ve been through a lot of training in 35 years of law enforcement, and all of that kicked in, but Somebody guided me,” he said, describing how he was supposed to be on vacation that day, the seeming-coincidences that led to him be at the building at the right time, and narrowly avoiding the gunman’s shots in the meeting room. “I’m fortunate to be here today so I give all the thanks to God and what he does.”
During our phone conversation, Jones praised many of his colleagues on The Salvation Army Board and described them as “pillars of the community. ” While he probably wouldn’t say it about himself, it seems clear that those words easily describe Jones as well – not for a single heroic act highlighted on the evening news, but for the heroism he’s displayed through decades of service to others. The Salvation Army is extremely grateful to have him as a part of our organization.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Last week I had the immense pleasure of speaking with Lamont, a 36 year old Salvation Army client residing in our men’s shelter in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The energy in Lamont’s voice is contagious. Though he’s fallen on hard times, his perspective on life is more hopeful than most people’s I know, and I couldn’t help but feel inspired after meeting him over the phone just minutes earlier.
After spending some years in prison, Lamont says he wanted to live a changed life when he got out, and he knew The Salvation Army could help him do it. Before serving time, he had volunteered everyday in one of our kitchens as a way to stay off the streets, so he knew firsthand about the help we offer.
Upon his release, Lamont went to The Salvation Army with a plan. He told the local staff about his goal of going to cosmetology school full time to earn his license and eventually find a job that would allow him to support himself. They gave him a bed at the men’s shelter, and now Lamont says it’s put him in a better position to cut off his negative relationships from his past and meet new people.
He’s also focusing on school 100% as a student at the American Institute of Beauty and using his barber skills to benefit the shelter’s many other residents.
“I’d go on the streets giving people free haircuts,” Lamont says. “Then my name started circulating that I was the guy to come to when you need a haircut. I’m always playing around, cutting, blow-drying with these guys. They say, “I got a job interview tomorrow. Can you help me?” So I shave ‘em, trim ‘em, do their nose hairs, whatever. If you make people feel better on the outside, they become more employable, so I do hair.”
As much as he helped his male bunkmates, Lamont wanted to do more for the women at The Salvation Army’s family shelter. Then one day, when he saw his school getting ready to toss out some old nail polish bottles, he asked to take two back to the family shelter. The school told him they’d contact The Salvation Army directly to make sure it was ok, and Lamont never expected what happened next.
Rather than giving the two bottles, the school donated loads of new nail polish to The Salvation Army, plus items for complete manicure and pedicure sets, hair products, and makeup for the women, as well as socks, body wash, toothpaste, and many other hygienic items for the men.
“It was beautiful! It was incomparable! I’m giving praises to God. I was just a vessel he used,” Lamont gushed remembering it. “It makes me feel good. I really accomplished something. I did something. I’m still smiling about it right now!”
Lamont’s dream is to have his own salon one day that is full of his personality. It’s a plan he says he came up with more than ten years ago and is still trying to execute to this day. For him, doing hair is a job in which his clients won’t hold his past against him as long he can make them look and feel good. He loves the way a simple haircut or style can transform a person’s attitude and make them shine.
Lamont has several months of hard work ahead before he gets his license. Classes began in August and he’s on schedule to graduate in May 2011. He’s out the door every morning before 6:30am to take a 2.5 hour bus ride, and he doesn’t get back to The Salvation Army shelter until after dinner time. But his joy and determination are undeniable.
“I want to utilize my own hands, brain, and the senses God gave me to get myself out of my situation. I’m gonna share the good things that God has put in my heart. I thank God He has given me the knowledge, ability, and power to plant the seeds. That’s all I am. A sower of good seeds.”
In regards to The Salvation Army, Lamont told me, “It’s a blessing to be a part of this organization. I think that someway, somehow, with the will of God, together we can always make a difference. I would love to try to be a part of this organization for the rest of my life.”
We’d like that too. Good luck, Lamont, with school, you career, and beyond. We’re rooting for you!
Monday, January 10, 2011
Ryan Cox is a 14 year old from Jacksonville, FL who has found a unique way to support the needy in his community. The teenager has provided thousands of pounds of food for hungry, impoverished persons in Northeast Florida through his “gleaning efforts.”
Gleaning is an ancient, biblical practice that involves gathering leftover crops that would otherwise rot from fields that have already been formally harvested.
Ryan has gleaned and donated more than 3,000 lbs. of fresh produce to The Salvation Army and other non-profit agencies. He started at the age of 12 when he needed to complete several service hours for his church confirmation. During his first gleaning experience, he harvested potatoes from a farm in Hastings, Florida with other 7th grade boys. Despite being hot and dirty after many hours of hard work, they were thrilled to have harvested hundreds of pounds of potatoes!
Having previously served meals at a Salvation Army soup kitchen, Ryan knew first-hand that they could use more fresh produce, so he made it his personal mission to continue gleaning as much produce as possible.
In 2010 alone, he gleaned more than 2,000 pounds of potatoes, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and citrus which he and his parents delivered to The Salvation Army. The value of Ryan’s donated food is worth more than $4,200 and has provided more than 1,600 nutritious meals for homeless men, women and children. According to Ryan, this is only the beginning. He continues to set personal gleaning goals and well surpasses them.
Head Chef for the local Salvation Army, Anthony Mosely, cannot say enough about Ryan and his gleaning efforts.
“Ryan has literally saved us thousands of dollars in produce costs and had added variety and freshness to our meals. He is an enthusiastic kid with an abundance of energy and ambition. He is the kind of kid they should make a movie about. How many kids his age do you know that set personal goals of helping to feed homeless people – and then actually follow through on them? This kid is amazing!”
And amazing he is! Ryan will be entering high school in the fall and shows no sign of slowing down in his efforts to help others.
From all of us at The Salvation Army, thank you Ryan for your outstanding work and leadership! You are a true blessing and role model.
Information submitted by The Salvation Army Florida Division.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
By now you’ve all heard of the homeless man with the golden radio voice, Ted Williams. (To view the YouTube video that started it all, click here.) In just a few days he’s gone from panhandling to becoming an internet sensation with prestigious job offers pouring in.
Ted’s amazing turn of events, not to mention his humble and charismatic personality, has inspired an instant and growing fan base.
Interview with CBS’ The Early Show
Now Ted’s second chance at life is inspiring other gifted homeless people, including Salvation Army clients. In Minneapolis, Stu and Laporsha are both talented and educated individuals who never expected to be homeless, but they have hope that they will be able to once again get back on their feet, just like Ted.
Fox 9 spoke with them about how The Salvation Army is helping them pursue their own second chances: