November: National Homeless Youth Awareness Month

Monday, October 31, 2011

November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month.

When you think of a homeless person, it’s difficult to imagine a child fending for themselves on the streets. But did you know that more than 1.5 million children are homeless at some point in their lives? The number is shocking – and apparently increasing – according to The National Center on Family Homelessness.

So…why do they leave their homes?

Many homeless youths are victims of trauma. They come from homes of significant abuse: either their parental figures are abusing substances and/or the child is being abused. Some escape because their families don’t accept them for a variety of reasons. There’s also a large number of youth who are the products of failed juvenile justice. They’ve aged out of the foster care system and are expected to be independent without resources or support.

Not surprisingly, homeless youth can have significant mental health problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse problems. Because of this, they are more susceptible to lives of crime or early parenthood and the vicious cycle of abuse continues.

As Americans, do we trust the system too much? Are we overlooking this blatant need? In the book of Matthew, we are called by Christ to care for children:

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:1-6, 10-14

The Salvation Army has many programs in place that are helping to end the cycles of poverty, abuse and neglect of children. Many Salvation Army units have “Adopt a Child” or “Adopt a Family” programs that allow for donors to directly pay for a child or family in need. Salvation Army transitional housing centers are commonly available in communities for youths and single parent families. Even better, Salvation Army transitional programs often include relevant training. So not only are they meeting their basic needs, younger residents will receive counseling and training to increase cognitive, behavioral, and psychosocial skills to help develop their education and career.

We liked The Salvation Army of Lubbock, TX’s approach to helping youths. Their Red Shield Home Transitional Shelter program gives homeless youths computers and technology classes to help them get a head start at beating cyclical homelessness. The information divide between lower-income and higher-income populations has been directly linked to access to technology. By providing technology for the younger generation, The Salvation Army of Lubbock is actively participating in bettering not only this generation, but generations to follow.

In an effort to combat this end, The Salvation Army also offers youth camps and recreational centers to encourage low-income children to learn new skills and self-reliance. Counselors at these camps encourage spiritual, physical and emotional development.

Finally, many Salvation Army units offer after-school programs that help hinder poor decisions by encouraging children to engage in healthy activities in those unsupervised hours after school.

In summary – there are a variety of programs with which you can help us!

You can get involved in our efforts to support homeless youths and to combat cyclical poverty. Helping financially is often inexpensive. Please consider reaching out to your local unit to find out how you can help “Adopt” a child financially, donate your time or items, or simply lend an ear to a child as a volunteer.

If you’d like to donate online, please visit our Ways to Give page.

Salvation Army Rebuilds Schools in Haiti

Friday, October 28, 2011

The U.S. has been relatively blessed in 2011 as far as natural disasters go. Outside of the damage left by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, the stormy season has been fairly quiet. We thank God for His blessings on our country.

It’s easy to get stuck in the bubbles of our personal lives. In the midst of fall activities, work and family, I often forget about our friends in Haiti who are still suffering in the aftermath of 2009’s earthquake. But while they continue to pick up the pieces, progress is being made. We are pleased to share an encouraging update of Haiti’s redevelopment from The Salvation Army Southern Territory.

Thanks to The Salvation Army’s Haiti Recovery and Development (HRD) team, Salvation Army school buildings in Port-au-Prince were repaired so that nearly 700 students could begin the school year on time.

The HRD school renovation and construction team worked hard throughout the summer months, battling harsh weather conditions such as heavy rains and flooding to ensure the classes could begin.

Project Manager David White and Assistant Project Manager Raymond Cédoine were the leads on this project. Along with managing the actual construction process, they trained teams of workers to be able to maintain the buildings long after the rebuilding process.

It is The Salvation Army’s hope that by the end of 2014, all 20 schools affected by the earthquake will have been repaired and reconstructed. Read the full story here from The Salvation Army’s Southern Territory’s $10 for Haiti Website.

As we reflect on our personal blessings this holiday season, let us not forget the suffering and those who sacrifice to “Do the Most Good” for those in need.

New roofing and walls. Photo Courtesy of www.tenforhaiti.org.

Supervisors David White and Raymond Cédoine. Photo Courtesy of www.tenforhaiti.org

David trains construction teams. Photo courtesy of www.tenforhaiti.org
If you would like to donate to The Salvation Army’s Disaster Relief, please visit https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org/.

Click Here to read about The Salvation Army of Haiti.

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

This Weekend: You’re Invited to Kroctoberfest!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Leaves are spinning, the temperatures are dropping, and there’s crispness in the air that stirs up a special nostalgia experienced only in the unique month of October. As we anticipate the coming holidays, newly formed Salvation Army Kroc Centers throughout the country are creating their own fall tradition: KROCTOBERFEST.

The real question remains: Is RJ Kroc of German heritage? Either way, the name is an appropriate title for the annual celebration of fall at the Kroc Centers.

While many Kroc Centers have started their Kroctobers already, this coming weekend is jam-packed with events for the communities surrounding the Centers.

To name just a few, here are some of the Kroc locations offering events this weekend.

San Francisco, CA: Spiders will be spinning webs at the San Francisco Kroc Center’s 4th Anniversary Halloween Carnival, which takes place on Friday, October 28, 2011 from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Admission is free for all children and their families. Children and their families will be able to enjoy a host of activities, food, and games – including bowling, sharp shooter, mini golf, cake walk, ping-pong, and as a special addition the courtyard bounce house. Prizes will also be awarded for the best costumes, with a congratulatory hug from R.J Kroc, our friendly and always-popular 7-foot mascot. Learn more.

Coeur d’Alene, ID: The Kroc Center of Coeur d’Alene is hosting a concert on Friday night, October 28- the Panhandle Polecats will be stirring up some bluegrass for only $8 per ticket. The weekend will conclude with an expected 3,000 guests at gigantic “Wild West” themed Halloween party, complete with bounce houses, booths, movies in the theater, and of course – Mr. RJ Kroc himself! Learn more.

San Diego, CA: On Saturday, October 29, The Kroc Center of San Diego will be hosting the annual Boo Bash Halloween Carnival. From 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., you can enjoy ice-skating, carnival games, bounce houses, rock climbing and, what else? “Trick-or-Treating”! Not a member? The price is only $2 for entrance. Learn more.

Atlanta, GA: The Kroc Center of Atlanta is hosting a Senior Fall Ball on Sunday, October 30th. Guests can enjoy a nice meal, live music and dancing. On October 31, join in the Family Fun! Chosen Vessels, a Christian dance group, will be performing. The night will also include activities for teens and children. Learn more.

Augusta, GA: While “Kroctoberfest” may have happened last Saturday, there is still plenty going on this weekend at The Kroc Center of Augusta. Aptly titled Kroptoberfest, the Center is hosting a scrapbooking party from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., followed by “Trunk or Treat” for members, guests and staff. Child-friendly costumes are welcome and prizes will be awarded. Learn more.

Kerrville, TX: Join the Kroc Center of Kerrville, TX for Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 29. Free and open to the public from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., the event includes games, pumpkin patch, food, face painting, and bounce houses. Learn more.

Omaha, NE: The Kroc Center of Omaha is hosting a Pumpkin Patch Party on Monday, October 31 from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Not a member? The price is only $5 for entry! Also a bonus: The first 200 kids get a free bag of treats. Learn more.

And this isn’t all. There are plenty of events happening this weekend at Kroc Centers nationwide. These events are provided as part of The Salvation Army Kroc Centers’ mission of providing safe and secure family events within communities. We hope you will join in your local Kroctoberfest: celebrating fall, fellowship and friends at your local Kroc Center!

You can find more info on all of the Kroc Centers and their Facebook pages by visiting our website here. Don’t miss out on the family fun!

Join us for WRAP Week!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Let’s WRAP it up!

The Salvation Army’s Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking is recognizing the 24th annual White Ribbon Against Pornography (WRAP) Week beginning Sunday, October 30. Running through November 6, the week is dedicated to creating awareness of our culture’s pornography problem as well as highlighting the harm done to adults and children alike by exposure to pornography.

The week also serves as a reminder for churches to confront the issue and to call all Christians to renewed lives of sexual purity and freedom.

Believing that pornography is a scourge on society and a distortion of God’s design for human happiness and well being, The Salvation Army’s Anti-Pornography initiative offers information and resources for families to protect themselves and to help others with pornography addiction. The Salvation Army also believes that pornography is one of the many facets of the Human Trafficking epidemic. The anti-pornography program is thus another effort to combat Human Trafficking.

Click here to learn more about The Salvation Army’s role in both of these issues.

Here are a few ways in which you can help raise awareness about this societal problem:

Wear a white ribbon. You can purchase your own at www.wrapfamily.com!
Share the facts! Open the eyes of a friend by simply giving them the low-down on the negative societal effects of pornography. Check out www.TheSalvationArmyUSA.org for a list of resources.
Share a list of resources about sexual addiction treatment services available in your community.
Join the movement: Pray for the freedom of those caught in the spiritual bondage of addiction.
Please join us and many other groups in pledging to take action against pornography throughout the year. For more information on the WRAP campaign, please visit www.moralityinmedia.org