Harvesting a Future

Monday, August 8, 2011

Don’t be fooled the next time you’re driving through downtown Billings, MT- you’re still in the city! The Salvation Army of Billings has recently planted 70 organic apple trees on the lot next to their building in an effort to provide higher education to disadvantaged kids.
The agricultural program is called the “Billy Boots Fine Arts Academy”. After planting and waiting, the kids participating will either sell the fruit or make organic apple cider. The profits are then saved to help pay for college in the future. The goal is to have 1,000 trees planted by 2014.

“That’s really the goal of this, we believe education is a great way, and maybe the most important way, to get out of poverty and break the cycle”, said Major Kevin Jackson, Salvation Army Executive Director.

The Salvation Army offers many opportunities to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of low-income and disadvantaged children. You can learn more by clicking here.

Country Crooner Josh Kelley Supports a Hunger-Free Summer with a Musical Boost

Friday, August 5, 2011

While on tour for his newly released album, Georgia Clay, country artist Josh Kelley visited the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Omaha, NE on Monday. Following a special musical performance, the children enjoyed a morning full of sports, crafts, and lunch with the acclaimed musician.

His stop at the Kroc Center is one of several visits to food banks and summer food program sites across the country- a joint effort with the ConAgra Foods Foundation and Feeding America. The partnership is an effort to raise awareness about the issue of child hunger in the United States.

When school lets out for the summer and free and reduced-price school lunch programs become unavailable, millions of children in the United States are without food. The Hunger-Free Summer Program was started to ensure children have enough to eat during the summer by expanding summer meal programs to more children in more places. Their goal this summer is to serve an additional one million meals and feed 10,000 more children through unique and innovative community-based programs.

Visit www.HungerFreeSummerTour.org to learn more about the program and the 23 food banks that received Hunger-Free Summer grants.
For more information on the Salvation Army Kroc Centers please visit www.salvationarmyusa.org.

“Invisible People” Inspired by Tulsa’s Center of Hope

Thursday, August 4, 2011

By Sallie Godwin, PR Director, Tulsa Area Command

Singing pirates, sword-fighting puppets, belly-dancing cowgirls – when Thomas Gibbs moved in the Center of Hope last year, no one had a clue his stay there was the beginning of an unusual adventure for The Salvation Army’s Tulsa Area Command. Yet that’s what happened this summer when the Tulsa Command became involved with “Invisible People,” a dance, theater and music production about homelessness created by Thomas’s mother Shadia Dahlal.

Like most people, Shadia had not thought about homelessness until it hit someone in her family. Thomas had lost his job and needed a place to stay. “He has Asperger’s and some other issues, and I was just so grateful that there was a place he could go and stay. I was very impressed with the people in charge of the Center of Hope and the care they showed everyone there,” she said.

Shadia owns the Belly Dance Academy of Tulsa and is artistic director of the Tulsa Folkloric Dance Theater, the non-profit organization that produced the show. Following her son’s stay at The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope, a homeless shelter and social services center, she was inspired to write a poem, which she titled “Invisible People.” Her husband put the poem to music and it became the name – and theme – of the production. Shadia said she called the poem “Invisible People” because “so many people who are homeless aren’t dealing with mental illness or fighting substance abuse. But they are just as invisible to the rest of society as those who are.”

Shadia reached out to the Center of Hope and told her about her idea for the production. She worked with several of the Center’s homeless guests to use their photographs as the show’s backdrop and even invited them to the dress rehearsal.

The dress rehearsal was held July 7 at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, the premier live- theater venue in Tulsa. Local Salvation Army leaders Majors Roy and Kathy Williams attended the show along with 10 of the guests who had posed for photographs. As honored guests, they were the only people allowed to attend the dress rehearsal. Everyone sat enthralled as a dumpster morphed into a pirate ship and two pirates emerged to act as singing ambassadors from the world of people’s dreams to the reality of an alley where homeless people lived.

The grand finale of the show was a slide show created with huge photographs of the guests from the Center of Hope. After the curtain call, the guests mingled with the performers, some of whom were moved to tears. “The whole cast was touched. It was nice to have them there,” Shadia said. The homeless guests seemed to enjoy the project and handled challenges with humor and grace.

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Sallie Godwin is PR Director at the Tulsa Area Command. Sallie began her career as a newspaper reporter and enjoys writing and shooting photographs for six Boys & Girls Clubs and the Center of Hope homeless shelter in Tulsa. She also writes posts for salarmytulsa.blogspot.com.

Salvation Army Prepares For Looming Tropical Storm Emily

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Salvation Army locations in Florida are geared up with the necessary precautions should Tropical Storm Emily (link) make landfall on Florida’s Gulf coast.

Already equipped with 42 canteens, two field kitchens, a field communications unit, shower trailers, a command center and most importantly, 700 trained disaster volunteers, the Salvation Army of Florida continues to prepare for looming storm Emily and any other storm in the coming months of hurricane season.

Coincidentally, the Salvation Army of Tampa had previously scheduled emergency disaster services training and workshops for today and tomorrow. Florida residents can thus rest assured that they are in good hands with well-trained Salvation Army employees during times of disaster.

For more information, please visit the Salvation Army of Florida’s website at www.salvationarmyflorida.org or find them on Facebook. You can also read the full press release here.