Energy Company Joins in Fight to Empower Those in Need

Monday, February 28, 2011

The national average cost of gas is $3.189/ gallon. (Ouch.)
This is expected to increase in the near future. (Double ouch.)
There’s also talk of the cost of food, clothes, and services increasing as a result. (Enough already!)
Finances are tight enough, and now there’s news that they’re going to get even tighter. For the many low income Americans who are already struggling to make ends meet, how do they not get swallowed by financial burdens, especially if they’re already behind?
I was excited to hear about a partnership between Consumers Energy and The Salvation Army’s Western Michigan & Northern Indiana Division that will empower clients to take control of their finances, starting with their energy bills.
Consumers Energy has donated $1 million to start a pilot program with the Army to help low income clients who are behind on their utility accounts. With this funding the Army will hire several case managers to basically create an attack plan against their debt. The case managers will work with people in need by 1.) thoroughly reviewing their household budgets 2.) setting financial goals and 3.) equipping them to better manage their finances overall and in turn effectively maintain their utility accounts.
It’s a great start to helping people escape the cycle of recurring need. Just tackling one small area of debt goes a long way in empowering people to take control in other areas of their finances.
This Salvation Army Division already serves 20,000 clients a year who are unable to pay their utility balance, so we’re grateful for Consumer Energy’s partnership in seeing significant need and helping us do something about it.
To read more about the pilot program, click here.

Christine’s Back with a New Look!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Christine Burton of The Salvation Army’s Western Territory is back with a new stylish outfit she put together with a little help from her local Salvation Army Family Store.

This feminine western look was made possible by a pair of brand new $5 white cowboy boots and red skirt, a la Barbara Stanwyck in television’s The Big Valley. Both items were picked up at the store in Christine’s neighborhood for a grand total of about $10!

Click here to see Christine’s latest outfit.

Click here to read about Christine’s shopping strategy and see her first look.

World Track Stars Team Up with Army for New Zealand Earthquake Relief

Friday, February 25, 2011

In New Zealand, The Salvation Army continues earthquake relief efforts. Major aftershocks are still being felt, and members of the community are still “very distressed.” Our staff and volunteers are focused on providing them with food and psychological support.
Today, 56 psychosocial Salvation Army staff are at work, and a fresh team of about 50 others will take over Monday. Several Salvation Army buildings were significantly damaged in the quake, but thankfully our response teams are able to work from temporary locations.
An exciting international sporting and fundraising initiative is being planned for Saturday to raise funds for the Army’s earthquake response. Top international and Olympic athletes were to compete in Christchurch, but after the event was cancelled, the athletes decided to organize ‘Track Meet 4 Christchurch.’ World class athletes confirmed so far include: Nick Willis (Olympic silver medalist), Alan Webb (US mile record holder), Lee Emanuel (British representative and sub-four minute miler) and many more international and New Zealand-based track stars.
The meet is free to attend, but The Salvation Army will be on site to collect donations.
A long term response will be needed to help the community recover, and the Army’s aim is to support the local economy wherever possible in the use of donated funds. If you’d like to help support recovery efforts in New Zealand, click here to donate to their online campaign.
The Salvation Army New Zealand has been posting updates on their website every day since the earthquake. Visit them here for more info on how they’re helping.

Life in the Fast Lane: NASCAR Driver Makes Kids’ Dreams Come True

Thursday, February 24, 2011

We thought it was generous of NASCAR driver Morgan Shepherd to put a huge Salvation Army logo on the hood of his race car, but Shepherd didn’t stop there.

[Dijonae (left) and Kevante’ (right) got the full NASCAR experience as VIP guests of driver Morgan Shepherd.]
Dijonae (left) and Kevante’ (right) got the full NASCAR experience as VIP guests of driver Morgan Shepherd.

He made sure siblings Kevante’ (10) and Dijonae (12) got VIP treatment this weekend when he invited them to watch the race as his special guests and get the full experience of the track.

Kevante’ and Dijonae are involved in several Salvation Army youth programs and local to Daytona. When they learned about the opportunity to meet Shepherd, they jumped at the chance. These kids have always been NASCAR enthusiasts, but this is the first race they’ve ever attended.

[Kevante’s ready to take Shepherd’s #89 Salvation Army car for a spin.]
Kevante’s ready to take Shepherd’s #89 Salvation Army car for a spin.

“He’s wanted to be a NASCAR driver since he first learned about stock car racing”, said his Kevante’s grandmother Renese.

Maybe he hasn’t quite grown into that driver’s seat yet, but he looks like he belongs behind the wheel!

“I’ve seen every race, I know all the drivers and their stats, and I can’t wait to go under the tunnel to experience it all,” Kevante said.

[“The Salvation Army car” gets a check up under the hood alongside several others in the NASCAR garages.]
“The Salvation Army car” gets a check up under the hood alongside several other cars in the NASCAR garages.

And experience it they did! Besides getting behind the wheel of Morgan’s #89 Salvation Army car, the kids toured pit row and even met other NASCAR Champions and drivers.

[The kids, pictured with Morgan Shepherd (center) and local Salvation Army officers, tour the track before the race.]
The kids, pictured with Morgan Shepherd (center) and local Salvation Army officers, tour the track before the race.

Wow. There is no better way for fans to experience NASCAR! Thanks, Morgan, for giving these kids an experience they’ll remember the rest of their lives.

Shepherd loved providing this opportunity for Kevante’ and Dijonae. Though he may not have a major sponsor, making it difficult for him to compete, Shepherd knows millions of Americans are suffering from the slow economy. That’s why he and his team are doing the best they can to promote The Salvation Army and what we do to assist those in need.

[Decked out in their new NASCAR gear courtesy of Morgan Shepherd, Dijonae and Kevante’ look like NASCAR pros!]
Decked out in their new NASCAR gear courtesy of Morgan Shepherd, Dijonae and Kevante’ look like NASCAR pros!

We think what Shepherd is doing is so great that we plan to partner with him in more races! We’ll keep you in the loop, and you keep an eye out for our Red Shield zooming around more tracks soon.