Homeless Find Opportunity, New Life in Chef Tucker’s Kitchen

Friday, April 30, 2010

Chef Timothy Tucker’s students are not the typical individuals you would expect to be enrolled in intensive culinary classes – they’re homeless or living below the poverty line. But through these classes Chef Tucker is not just meeting the momentary needs of the disadvantaged population, he’s empowering them to support and sustain themselves for the rest of their lives.

Timothy graduated with a degree in culinary arts and worked in high end restaurants. He later spent a few years doing research and development on an organic farm where he says he began to understand that diet affects all areas of an individual’s functionality, attitude and behavior, and that food can play a significant role in healing.

Chef Tucker, wearing black, with his culinary students.

He brought this knowledge with him to The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope in Louisville, KY in 2005, where he developed the Culinary Training Program, an intensive 10 week course that teaches basic culinary skills needed to find an entry level position in the food and hospitality industry. Here, homeless or impoverished students learn everything from safety and sanitation in the kitchen, to knife skills, to preparing a range of foods, and much more. They’re tested weekly and even cook for events and fundraisers to raise support for this self-funded program.

The Salvation Army’s Culinary Training Program even has two gardens outside – one is the half the size of a football field and the other half the size of a basketball court – where fresh vegetables and herbs are grown for use in the kitchen. According to the Program’s Facebook page, these organic gardens grow nearly 1,500 pounds of produce each year which help feed the Center’s homeless. Amazing!

Culinary students receive intensive training and hands on practice in the kitchen. (Photos: Culinary Program’s Facebook page)

On average, 9 students complete the course each semester, and Chef Tucker says approximately 75% of his graduates secure work. The remaining 25%, however, don’t acquire a job not for lack of skill or help from the Program, but rather a lack of desire to rejoin the workforce. But Chef Tucker says he’s confident those individuals would be able to find a job if they pursued it. Meanwhile, he says he has visited his former students in their new work places and receives wonderful feedback about his program.

Under the guidance of Chef Tucker, The Salvation Army’s Culinary Training Program has done a great job of not just feeding the homeless but reducing homelessness through education and opportunity. He is working with other Salvation Army facilities across the country to replicate this program and reach other disadvantaged populations.

For more information about the amazing work of The Louisville Salvation Army’s Culinary Training Program, visit their website at www.centerofhoperadio.org . Also visit them here on Facebook and help them reach their goal of 3,000 friends by the end of May!

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Seattle Woman Finds Help, Hope, and a Mission Through Aid from Salvation Army

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Celeste Smith was well acquainted with the Seattle social scene and an insider among the city’s exclusive social clubs. She sits on boards, has served as president (multiple times) of prestigious clubs, and lives in a nice home on the affluent eastside of the city. Celeste recounted to me that as she passed Salvation Army Bell Ringers outside store fronts at Christmas time, she would regularly donate to the iconic Red Kettles. However, she said she never stopped to think about what her donations meant for the person on “the other side.”

[Celeste]
Celeste Smith says she donated to The Salvation Army, but she never expected to be in need of The Salvation Army’s help.

Until, that is, she became that other person. After being diagnosed with aggressive stage 2A breast cancer, Celeste underwent heavy treatments, leaving her exhausted and unable to continue her job as a realtor.

“I had a lumpectomy in April, radiation July-August, and chemotherapy and Herceptin treatments which concluded in October 2009. During this time and since I have had no income except a Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) check of $339.00 a month, food stamps and the generosity of friends.”

Celeste filed bankruptcy, her house went into foreclosure, and she had to sell her belongings or borrow money from people in order to make ends meet. She soon felt hopeless.

“I was so despondent. There was no place to draw from,” she said. “It’s not just about being depressed, it’s about feeling hopeless. To me, that’s a different thing. I couldn’t find one thing to take any kind of hope in. It was a moving thing for me. When I got to that point, I realized this was huge.”

Celeste sought out help and was referred to The Salvation Army (TSA) to begin to get a grasp on her finances. She visited February 17. During her appointment, Celeste’s Salvation Army caseworker talked to her about utility assistance through the emergency financial assistance umbrella program. That same day, TSA pledged $269 towards her overdue utility balances, which covered her outstanding electric bill, and all but $60 of her gas bill. The funds were paid to the companies, which postponed Celeste’s pending utility shut off, and TSA made an appointment for her with another organization called Hopelink to cover the cost of her remaining gas bill. She left that day with her utility service intact and a short term plan for her finances.

Once without hope, Celeste has now found encouragement in the assistance she received through TSA, and she says she feels like she’s moving forward.

“I just have to take it day by day. Even though now I don’t know where I’m going, I’m fairly positive because I’m better than I was. I have gone through this for a reason, for my own life learning. Maybe the social world of private club life isn’t where I need to be. I have to be positive because I feel like now I have a little bit of a mission. I want to help other people.”

Celeste’s doctor says she is in remission and her prognosis is good. Celeste hopes to start a foundation that will help single, low income women like her who have been diagnosed with cancer. She says when she becomes more financially solvent she would like to continue supporting TSA.

“The process of requesting help from all agencies is laborious and difficult to navigate making a difficult process even more exhausting. If it was not for non-profits like The Salvation Army to pay utility bills and water I am not sure where I would be. In the dark I suppose.”

For more information about The Salvation Army’s ongoing efforts, visit our national website at www.salvationarmyusa.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Children’s Choir of Salvation Army Harlem Center Sing with Hit Band Honor Society

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Here’s a video that will practically guarantee a smile on your face by the time you finish it.

Before heading to rehearsal for their concert at Nokia Theater, Honor Society visited The Salvation Army’s Harlem Corps Community Center in New York City where they met City Year volunteers and some very excited kids. When exploring the facility, the band admired (and even helped paint) the murals that decorate The Salvation Army Center’s school.

Honor Society spent most of their time with children’s choir and gave them tips on performing, including how to turn fear of being on stage into excitement! The band’s visit provided some awesome encouragement to the kids and everyone had a GREAT time!

Click here to find more information about The Harlem Community Center and youth programs offered by The Salvation Army’s Greater New York Division.

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Honor Society Reflects on Salvation Army Partnership

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The hit pop rock band Honor Society has been going non-stop on their national tour, bouncing from city to city while also making it a priority to be…

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San Francisco Makes 1 Million Meals for Haiti in Record 15 Hours

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

More than 2,000 volunteers turned out to help The Salvation Army and Numana Inc. pack 1 million meals for Haiti last Saturday, completing the extraordinary feat within 15 hours! Our previous events have always been spaced out over 2 days, so thanks to everyone who worked so hard to help us meet this goal.

Salvation Army staff can’t hide their joy after volunteers packed one million meals in less than 24 hours.

With the help of UPS and FedEx, these million meals are in the process of being transported to Haiti where we will distribute them to the tens of thousands of Haitians who are being cared for by our teams.

Read more details about the Million Meals for Haiti event at The Salvation Army Western Territory’s Expect Change blog and see recently posted photos at The Salvation Army San Francisco’s Flickr page.

Learn more about how The Salvation Army San Francisco serves those in need by visiting their website at www.tsagoldenstate.org and stay updated through their Facebook page.

More meal packing events will be taking place around the United States, including one in Philadelphia on May 21 and 22, so stay updated through our blog, Facebook, and Twitter page to see when you can volunteer for the next one in your neighborhood.

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Thank You, Volunteers!

Friday, April 23, 2010

If we haven’t said it enough, we want to say it again: THANK YOU to all volunteers who have so generously given of your time and effort for…

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Refusing to Retire Quietly – Tony’s Decade of Volunteering with The Salvation Army

Thursday, April 22, 2010

In the spirit of National Volunteer Week, today we’re highlighting Salvation Army volunteer Tony Ebersole. He went to check out opportunities at his local Salvation Army in Syracuse, New York and liked it so much that he stayed 10 years!

After retiring, Tony decided he wasn’t ready to just sit at home and wanted to stay active through volunteering. One of Tony’s fellow Rotary Club members, who was a Salvation Army Advisory Board member, suggested he take a tour of The Salvation Army.

Shortly after, Tony began volunteering with the Syracuse Emergency Food Pantry in November of 1999. He not only contributed his efforts, but even identified and implemented ways to make services more efficient and effective. The Syracuse Salvation Army says that since then, “Tony has played an integral role in the Emergency Practical Assistance Department, really serving in a management capacity. Tony oversees and manages the food pantry including ordering, budgeting and volunteer training.”

In 2005 The Salvation Army presented Tony with the ‘Can Do’ award for his outstanding leadership and generously donated time. They even surprised him in November with a party celebrating the 10th anniversary of the first day he joined as a volunteer!

Tony’s spent more than a decade celebrating National Volunteer Week! We think it’s amazing how he has made serving his community a regular part of his life and are thankful for the many years of support he has lended The Salvation Army and those we serve.

For more information about The Salvation Army in Syracuse, NY, visit their website at www.sasyr.org.
In the spirit of National Volunteer Week, today we’re highlighting Salvation Army volunteer Tony Ebersole. He went to check out opportunities at his local Salvation Army in Syracuse, New York and liked it so much that he stayed 10 years!

After retiring, Tony decided he wasn’t ready to just sit at home and wanted to stay active through volunteering. One of Tony’s fellow Rotary Club members, who was a Salvation Army Advisory Board member, suggested he take a tour of The Salvation Army.

Shortly after, Tony began volunteering with the Syracuse Emergency Food Pantry in November of 1999. He not only contributed his efforts, but even identified and implemented ways to make services more efficient and effective. The Syracuse Salvation Army says that since then, “Tony has played an integral role in the Emergency Practical Assistance Department, really serving in a management capacity. Tony oversees and manages the food pantry including ordering, budgeting and volunteer training.”

In 2005 The Salvation Army presented Tony with the ‘Can Do’ award for his outstanding leadership and generously donated time. They even surprised him in November with a party celebrating the 10th anniversary of the first day he joined as a volunteer!

Tony’s spent more than a decade celebrating National Volunteer Week! We think it’s amazing how he has made serving his community a regular part of his life and are thankful for the many years of support he has lended The Salvation Army and those we serve.

For more information about The Salvation Army in Syracuse, NY, visit their website at www.sasyr.org.

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Happy Earth Day!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

As we recognize Earth Day’s 40th anniversary, we want to share with you a few ways The Salvation Army strives to be responsible stewards of our environment and…

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Honor Society Helps Provide Beds and Bread Across Detroit and Minneapolis

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Last week the popular rock band Honor Society hit the midwest during their national Here Comes Trouble tour, stopping in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Michigan’s Detroit area. As a part of their partnership with The Salvation Army, band members Michael, Jason, Andrew, and Alex have been involved with local Salvation Army programs throughout many of their tour stops.

Check out this great clip of the guys sent us of their time before their concert preparing beds at Salvation Army Minneapolis’ Harbor Light Center for the 400-500 homeless individuals who seek shelter there every night (get more info and photos at our original blog post here):

And here is another video Honor Society filmed of their experience delivering meals on the streets of Detroit as a part of The Salvation Army’s Bed & Bread Program that serves nearly 5,000 hungry individuals ever day (find more information and photos at our original blog post here):

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Beauticians Use Skills to Serve Community; In Need of More Volunteers

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You probably know The Salvation Army is behind the seemingly ubiquitous Christmas Red Kettles and holiday bell ringers, and more than likely you’ve passed by or even visited one of our Family Thrift Stores. But did you know that in addition to these initiatives, The Salvation Army has many more national programs serving those in need, as well as unique programs specific to local communities? One such example is a Salvation Army beauty shop in Battle Creek, Michigan.

Yes, I said beauty shop. Surprised? So was I!

In 1995 a Battle Creek community member came to the local Salvation Army with the suggestion of assisting job seekers and those entering the job market by helping make them presentable for the process. Thus, The Salvation Army Beauty Shop was born, offering free haircuts and shampoos to clients such as homeless, low income, and job seeking individuals who otherwise may not be able to afford these services.

The program has for several years run on the efforts of three amazing volunteers: retired beauticians Shirley Hoeksema and Barb Herr who have offered their salon skills for the past 14 years, and Judy Wessmer who joined the team in 2007. Together, these three women have devoted more than 5,000 hours of their time to the community through their work at the salon.

Words can’t express how thankful we are for their selfless commitment! They have no doubt made an invaluable impact in the lives of many and show how integral volunteers are to the betterment of our communities.

But, the Battle Creek Salvation Army Beauty Shop needs more help to serve their many clients as some difficulties have put significant strains on these ladies.

Find out more about the situation and how you can help by reading an article written by Marcie Gothard of The Battle Creek Salvation Army: Battle Creek Enquirer: Salvation Army Seeking Volunteers with Hair Salon Experience.

To become involved, contact Marcie Gothard at 269-963-3640 ext. 17 or at marcie_gothard@salvationarmy.org.

You can also find more information at The Battle Creek Salvation Army’s website at http://www.usc.salvationarmy.org/battlecreek.

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