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.
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 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.
Christine’s Closet, Part 7: Say ‘Yes’ to this Black Dress
Our style expert Christine Burton is showing offer her latest look that is guaranteed to make heads turn.
She found this amazing black dress at a Salvation Army Family Thrift Store, so not only is she ready for a night out on the town with this outfit, she can afford to have a little extra fun with the money she saved by shopping second hand.
Click here to see more photos of this gorgeous get-up at our Western Territory’s Expect Change blog and be inspired to be a savvy Salvation Army Thrift Store shopper like Christine.
Plus, the best part is every item you donate to or buy from our stores, you helps us provide life-saving, no cost drug and alcohol rehabilitation in your community. Learn more here.
Salvation Army Farm Gears Up for Olympic Host Role with International Mountain Bike Event
The Salvation Army’s Hadleigh Farm, in Essex, UK, stepped up its preparations for the 2012 Olympic Games by hosting an international mountain bike competition this weekend. The competition was a trial run for when the venue hosts the Olympic mountain biking in August 2012.
The sold-out Hadleigh Farm Mountain Bike International attracted more than 4,000 spectators to see 82 of the world’s top mountain bikers get to grips with the London 2012 course. France’s two-time Olympic champion Julien Absalon won the men’s race and described the course as “difficult technically and also physically.” The women’s race was won by Catharine Prendel from Canada.
The mountain bike course sits on part of The Salvation Army’s 900-acre Hadleigh Farm, which has a long history of helping unemployed individuals and adults with special needs with training and employment. The land was bought in 1890 by Salvation Army founder William Booth as the location of a farm and training center to help poor people from industrial London.
Today the site includes The Salvation Army’s Hadleigh Employment Training Centre – providing employment and life skills for a wide range of vulnerable adults – as well as tea rooms run by the trainees which are open to the public. Trainees from the center helped make signs for the viewing area of the mountain bike course.
The Salvation Army and Essex County Council are developing legacy plans for the course to ensure not only a great event in 2012 but also long-lasting benefits for the local area and community.
A short video clip about the event and the work at Hadleigh Farm can be found by clicking here. Find out more about Hadleigh Farm and its association with London 2012 at www.salvationarmy.org.uk/london2012.