Safe from the Streets

Monday, September 27, 2010

After decades of being trapped in prostitution, two women from Omaha finally escaped the streets with the help of The Salvation Army.

Today we’re sharing a little bit of their stories, as published by Omaha’s local news channel KETV ABC 7, of how they turned their lives around.

For general information on The Salvation Army’s work to fight abuse and exploitation, click here. For specific information on The Salvation Army of Omaha and its Wellspring Program, visit their website www.givesalvationarmy.org.

Former Prostitutes Tout Program As Lifesaver
Wellspring Program Helps Get Women Off Streets

KETV 7

September 27, 2010

OMAHA, Neb. — Two women, who have been working the streets of Omaha as prostitutes for more than 10 years, said they found a way out through a program sponsored by The Salvation Army.

The women said they realized their lives were going nowhere and were just getting worse. They said they got help from the Wellspring program.

With October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, they wanted to get their stories out.

Delores (not her real name) is about 45 years old. The high school graduate and one-time college student worked the streets for more than a decade.

“While enrolled in college, I just got mixed up with the wrong people and from there it went downhill,” she said.

Delores said she turned to drugs and then to prostitution. She said she couldn’t stop.

“It was a very dangerous life I was living,” she said.

Cece (also a pseudonym) has a similar story.

“It was like an adventure. It was fun. I was like getting this money. It was fast and I really didn’t have to do nothing to get it,” she said.

Cece was a prostitute for nearly 20 years. She said what started out as being fun, eventually proved otherwise.

“Throughout those 20 years, I’ve been stabbed, I’ve been raped, I’ve been shot at,” she said. “By the grace of God, I’m sitting here telling my story today.”

If it weren’t for the Salvation Army’s Wellspring program, both women said there is no telling where they’d be.

“Prostitution isn’t a choice,” said Mary Raynovich, the director of Wellspring. “We find that it’s really about a lack of choices.”

Raynovich said she works with as many as 100 women every month. About 73 percent of them have been sexually abused and roughly 90 percent of them are chemically addicted, she said.

But, no matter how troubled some of the women are, Raynovich said they are not a lost cause.

“No matter how long you’ve been on the street, there’s hope. You can get off the street,” said Raynovich.

“I believe that if I reach out and let them (other prostitutes) know that there is hope, they will have something to cling to,” said Cece.

“If it wasn’t for our case manager in the program, I know I would still be lost,” Delores said. “I would still be out there, or dead.”

The stories from women like Cece and Delores have helped the Salvation Army secure a $25,000 grant for the Wellspring program. The check will be presented at the end of October.

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News by the Numbers

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Friday! Since it’s the end of the week, we’re keeping it simple with an easy-to-read list of news by the numbers. These curt quantities represent a mix…

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874 Vs. Unemployment

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Look at the pants you’re wearing today. Did they ever do anything to fight unemployment?

If you’re wearing a pair of Dickies’ limited-edition “Detroit 874,” your response will be, “YES!” If not, you can keep your answer to yourself and continue reading…

Dickies just launched the exclusive Detroit 874 style this week. For every pair sold, the company will donate a pair of their Original 874 Work Pants to The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit to benefit the unemployed and workers in need. These pants will serve as the crucial work apparel they need to find and retain jobs.

Dickies has already donated $25,000 and 5,000 pairs of original 874s to The Salvation Army. If all 5,000 limited edition Detroit 874s are sold, the company hopes to double that donation!

You can help today by purchasing a pair of stylish Detroit 874s available exclusively online at www.dickies.com. And don’t worry if your work dress code calls for something different than blue pants – Dickies are great for both work and play!

Thank you, Dickies, for your great idea to help those in need!

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With 5 Years to Go, Can We Meet the UN Millennium Development Goals?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Today is the final day of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) summit in New York where world leaders have gathered to track the progress of their objectives and stir up a renewed sense of urgency and commitment to assist developing nations as only five years remain before their 2015 deadline.

The Salvation Army has signed on to a letter with several Christian organizations that urges the US, the EU, and the African Union to show a “clear and strong commitment” to the MDGs . For 145 years The Salvation Army has worked to meet human needs by addressing poverty, hunger, education and other issues, but it will take a clear vision and strong partnership from multiple global entities including governments, NGO’s, the private sector, and the public to make a dramatic worldwide impact as outlined in the MDGs.

A simple, colored pictorial chart lays out the 8 ambitious goals, which are broken down into 21 targets. If only implementing these solutions to the complex global issues of poverty, hunger, and education were as straightforward as the diagram seems to portray!

However, while these goals are aggressive, the UN reports that significant progress has been made. Their report shows that before the global economic crisis, “the depth of poverty had diminished in almost every region,” and while the world’s sluggish markets have slowed this progress we are “still on track to meet the poverty reduction target.”

Other areas need vast improvement, such as achieving universal education and reducing child mortality rates (MDG #4) which are on the decline, but not quickly enough to meet the 2015 target. The Salvation Army World Services Office (SAWSO) signed on to a pledge to participate in reducing malnutrition during children’s first 1,000 days – from the time of pregnancy to the age of 2 years – when they are most susceptible to the harmful effects of malnutrition. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton applauded the 1,000 days initiative in an address during an MDG summit side event.

Do you have ideas on how to meet the 8 development goals by 2015? Leave a comment on the UN’s Ideas for Development blog, where anyone from experts to the regular Joe can post their two cents.

If you’d rather listen to discussion than spark it, you can tune in below the live webcast of the UN General Assembly’s debate.

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From Homeless to Successful CEO

Monday, September 20, 2010

If you’re ever discouraged by your circumstances, here’s a story to help encourage you to not give up hope:

Eight years ago Stephanie Tillman and her family were evicted from their house and were left with nothing. They ended up in a Salvation Army homeless shelter in Kansas where they received housing, food and support for the next four months.

Thanks to contacts made at The Salvation Army, the Tillman family was able to move out of the shelter and begin reestablishing their lives. Stephanie found a job in an engineering firm. Things were looking up.

Stephanie eventually branched out and opened her own graphic design company Crossover Graphics (now ikros.com), which has grown exponentially into a multi-million dollar company since its establishment in 2007. She serves as CEO and her husband works as the CIO, and they have hired ten employees to help support the burgeoning business. Their circumstances today stand in stark contrast to what they were several years ago.

This Thursday, Stephanie will host a ribbon cutting event to celebrate her company’s new headquarters. As a part of the festivities, she’s donating $25,000 to the local Salvation Army to help fund a new homeless shelter that will be built next year!

A media advisory explains the generous gift: “The Salvation Army provided shelter and love to Stephanie and her family, which helped turn her life around. This experience was instrumental in going from homeless to owner of a business established in 2007 that has experienced 555% growth within the last year.”

What an inspiring, real life example for everyone that just because circumstances can take a turn for the worse, all is not lost! And during those most difficult times, The Salvation Army aims to be that beacon of hope when things seem to be at their worst.

Thank you to Stephanie for her generous donation that will help The Salvation continue to provide families and individuals with the resources and opportunities they need to get back on their feet, just like the Tillman family. Best of luck to your entrepreneurial endeavors!

Stay connected with The Salvation Army by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Helping Things Look Up when the Economy’s Down

Friday, September 17, 2010

A newly released Census Bureau report found that the number of Americans living in poverty has increased to 1 in 7. The number of those without health insurance is also reportedly on the rise. It’s a startling thought when you put into those terms just how many Americans are in need of help.

The Salvation Army is working hard to meet these needs that are becoming ever more widely present in our communities.

In Grand Rapids, MI many people will have the opportunity for new work soon. The Salvation Army’s Kroc Community Center is expected to open in October, and they’re seeking to fill 120 positions. The Kroc Center held a widely-attended job fair yesterday. Pretty soon the Center will not only be offering recreational and educational opportunities, but economic ones as well for the community.

Plus, this week in Savannah, GA The Salvation Army held its 6th annual ‘Stand Down for Homelessness’ event, basically a one-stop shop of resources for the homeless. People in need were able to speak face to face with more than 50 vendors gathered at the Salvation Army to discuss information about jobs, housing and social programs, as well as receive services like flu shots and teeth cleaning.

The Salvation Army of Louisville also held their own event called ‘Standdown: Operation Homeless Connect.’ In a similar fashion, area homeless met directly with agencies and offices about jobs, housing and healthcare. Attendees received personal attention from housing providers and case managers and many walked away with free eyeglasses, HIV screenings, hospital referrals and new ID cards.

These events were great ways to directly connect homeless citizens with the resources they need to help them get back on their feet.

If you or someone you know is in need, contact your local Salvation Army to see how we can help you today.

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Help a Child, Donate a Coat

Friday, September 17, 2010

You probably haven’t switched out the warm weather clothes in your closets yet to make room for fall and winter attire, but many local Salvation Army’s are trying to stay ahead of the game so that children in need aren’t left in the cold when the temperatures drop.

That’s why several Salvation Army ‘Coats for Kids’ collection drives are starting to pop up in communities across the country, and in the next few weeks some national football teams are teaming up with us for these events!

Check out the lineup:

Green Bay Packers

* Bring your gently used or new coats to the Packers/Bills game on Sunday, Sept. 19 between 8:30am and kick-off. Your donation will help The Salvation Army reach their goal of providing 11,000 coats for needy children in Wisconsin. If you can’t make it to the game, don’t stress – you can donate to Coats for Kids through Nov 7. Find more donation and volunteer info on the local Salvation Army’s website www.sagreenbay.org.

Indianapolis Colts

* Head to Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday, Oct. 10 where The Salvation Army will be doing their big drive event as the Colts take on the Kansas City Chiefs. Last year generous donors helped the Army collect more than 10,000 coats, and we’d love to see even more this year! You can donate up until Saturday, Oct. 30. Visit www.salvationarmyindiana.org for more info and find partner drop off locations here .

Chicago Bears

* For the 22nd year The Chicago Bears are lending The Salvation Army their efforts to help kids in the Windy City. Donate your coats between now and Dec . 4 at local Salvation Army units, or click here for partners’ drop off locations. Visit www.salarmychicago.org/events for more info.

This is not an exhaustive list of Salvation Army ‘Coats for Kids’ drives, so keep an eye out in your community. Otherwise, you can always take gently used or new coats to your nearby Salvation Army Family Thrift Store. Thanks for your support!

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We’re #5!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The United States has been ranked as the world’s 5th most generous nation, according to the 2010 Gallup’s World Giving Index. Rankings were based on responses to survey questions about the frequency of charitable behavior including donating money, volunteering and helping strangers.

Here’s who took the other top spots (repeated numbers indicate a tie):

1. Australia
1. New Zealand
3. Ireland
3. Canada
5. United States
5. Switzerland

Coming from The Salvation Army’s perspective, we’re not surprised that the American public has a big heart – much of what we do hinges on the generosity of others. According to our 2010 National Annual Report, more than 3,411,613 Salvation Army volunteers donated their time and effort last year! And during the last two years’ holiday giving seasons, when the economic downturn suggested that financial donations should be on the decline, Americans gave more than ever before to our Annual Christmas Red Kettle Campaigns!

What do you think about our nation’s rank as #5? How important do you think philanthropy is to the strength and well-being of a society?

And let’s extend the poll to our readers – In the last month, have you supported an organization or charitable cause by donating money, volunteering or helping a stranger? Bonus question: In which way of these ways do you like to give back the most, and why?

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NY Youth Embark on a ‘Journey for Change’

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

CNN followed 2009’s Journey for Change ambassadors on their trip to South Africa.

This summer the world got a whole lot bigger for 30 inner-city youth from several New York City Salvation Army Community Centers.

The teens and pre-teens spent 2 weeks in South Africa serving in impoverished shanty towns, working with orphaned children, visiting HIV/AIDS clinics and more – a once in a life-time experience, but also a sobering one as they confronted difficult, real-life global issues.

The opportunity was made possible by Journey for Change, an organization started by Malaak Rock (wife of comedian Chris Rock) aimed at educating and empowering at-risk youth to rise above the negative temptations in their communities and stand out as leaders.

For anyone trading the comfort of home for third world conditions, it would be impossible not to have your priorities and perspectives shaken up. These kids seem to be no exception. Their frequent blog entries during their trip document their personal insights into appreciating the South African people and culture, wrestling with the communities’ struggles, and reevaluating their own lives in the US. Check out their original blogs here.

But two weeks in Africa is only the beginning. Having just arrived back in NY this month, the students are now starting a yearlong role as “Global Ambassadors” to promote local and international advocacy, service and education initiatives.

As these Salvation Army youths settle back into their own neighborhoods, they will still have to face negative influences from extremely high school drop-out rates to drugs and gangs. But everything they have seen, done and learned during their time in Africa and yearlong Ambassador program will serve as a lynch pin to helping them make positive, long term decisions and hopefully inspire others to do so as well.

Learn more about how Journey for Change is raising up student leaders HERE, or visit Malaak’s Angel Rock Project website at www.angelrockproject.com.

As a bonus, we’ve added a short video below of Malaak discussing how Chris Rock’s many childhood experiences Salvation Army Community Center in Brooklyn caused her to realize that The Salvation Army was an organization she wanted to partner with – and send her own kids to!

Learn more about how The Salvation Army is serving the Greater New York area by visiting their local website at www.salvationarmyny.org.

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Remembering 9/11

Friday, September 10, 2010

Every American remembers what they were doing when they heard we were attacked on September 11, 2001. I was getting up to leave my English class when a hysterical professor rushed into the room to tell us the news.

When tragedy struck, The Salvation Army was the first relief agency to arrive at Ground Zero. We served more than 3 million meals thanks to $90 million in donations and 1 million hours of service from 39,000 Salvation Army officers, staff and volunteers.

You can read here about the experience of one of those volunteers who served meals for relief workers at Ground Zero. (Thank you to The Salvation Army’s Northern Division for sharing this story.)

Now nine years later Americans continue to be unified by a desire to honor survivors, victims, families and heroes of that fateful day. (In Olathe, Kansas more than 500 people will commemorate them Saturday with their annual “Patriot Run” that’s taken place since 2003, and proceeds will go to support the local Salvation Army. What’s even more inspiring is that thousands of miles away 3,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan will be joining them in spirit by running 9.11 kilometers.)

Many other Americans will devote themselves to a charitable cause to honor the spirit of service that arose in response to 9/11. If you’re looking to find a way to give back, consider contacting your local Salvation Army to see how you can help them support your community.

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