San Bruno Fire Update: Field Report Podcast and Relief Efforts

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Salvation Army’s Disaster Radio has released a new podcast about our efforts in response to the tragic San Bruno fire.

Community members and Salvation Army personnel Major Kelly Pontsler and Lt. Anthony Barnes discuss their experience as they jumped into action following the gas explosion.
Listen to the podcast here: Disaster Radio Field Report – San Bruno Gas Explosion

RELIEF EFFORTS UPDATE

IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE
The Salvation Army is partnering with other relief organizations to provide aid, counseling, and practical immediate support to those families displaced by the fiery gas line explosion on September 9. At the Local Assistance Center (at the San Bruno Veterans Recreational Center), The Salvation Army is providing families with:

· Vouchers to Salvation Army Family Thrift Stores, to assist with the purchase of household items, clothing, or other resources as families begin to move into new housing.
· Target gift cards, giving families the ability to purchase the supplies they need
· Long distance phone cards
· The option to sign-up for FREE appointments with a Salvation Army Caseworker, for helpful assistance and additional counseling well into the future.

LONG TERM ASSISTANCE
After the smoke clears and families begin to think about long-term recovery and rebuilding, The Salvation Army will be available to provide counseling and caseworker services. Some of the services include rental assistance, utility assistance, clothing/furniture vouchers, food, and referrals. San Bruno Fire survivors seeking caseworker or counseling support can contact The Salvation Army of South San Francisco at 650-266-4591 to schedule an appointment or inquire about additional services.

DONATIONS TO ASSIST SURVIVORS
Thanks to the generosity of the San Bruno and greater Bay Area communities, The Salvation Army have been inundated with donations of clothing and blankets from the public. While clothing donations are always good, the following items are VERY helpful for rebuilding homes or just bringing comfort to those displaced:

· furniture (couches, tables, chairs, desks, dressers)
· small appliances (microwaves, small refrigerators, coffee machines, etc.),
· electronics (TVs, radios, clocks, DVD players, etc.)
· pictures, art
· shoes
· DVDs, videos, CDs
· Other misc. household goods (kitchenware, etc.)

While material donations are indeed helpful, financial gifts give a greater ability to provide the appropriate goods to families for rebuilding their homes and lives. 100% of all donations made to the Salvation Army San Bruno Fire Disaster Relief fund will go to help those affected by this catastrophe.

ONLINE: www.SalvationArmyUSA.org

PHONE: 1-800-Sal-Army (1-800-725-2769)

MAIL:
The Salvation Army
PO Box 80066
Prescott, AZ. 86304-8066

Be sure to designate donations for “San Bruno Fire Relief”

For more information and updates, visit The Salvation Army’s Golden State Division website at www.tsagoldenstate.org.

Remembering 9/11

Friday, September 10, 2010

Every American remembers what they were doing when they heard we were attacked on September 11, 2001. I was getting up to leave my English class when a hysterical professor rushed into the room to tell us the news.

When tragedy struck, The Salvation Army was the first relief agency to arrive at Ground Zero. We served more than 3 million meals thanks to $90 million in donations and 1 million hours of service from 39,000 Salvation Army officers, staff and volunteers.

You can read here about the experience of one of those volunteers who served meals for relief workers at Ground Zero. (Thank you to The Salvation Army’s Northern Division for sharing this story.)

Now nine years later Americans continue to be unified by a desire to honor survivors, victims, families and heroes of that fateful day. (In Olathe, Kansas more than 500 people will commemorate them Saturday with their annual “Patriot Run” that’s taken place since 2003, and proceeds will go to support the local Salvation Army. What’s even more inspiring is that thousands of miles away 3,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan will be joining them in spirit by running 9.11 kilometers.)

Many other Americans will devote themselves to a charitable cause to honor the spirit of service that arose in response to 9/11. If you’re looking to find a way to give back, consider contacting your local Salvation Army to see how you can help them support your community.

Attention Antique Collectors

Friday, September 10, 2010

Any antique enthusiasts out there? If so, you may be able to appreciate this Salvation Army themed Stevengraph recently featured in the New York Times. It will be included in a sale tomorrow, September 11 by auctioneer Louis J. Dianni with about 90 other silk weavings made by technique inventor Thomas Stevens and his competitors.

Stevengraphs were popular in Victorian England. Many bore the images of historical and contemporary politicians, athletes and military figures as well as religious motifs. It’s not a surprise then to see this one of William Booth who founded The Salvation Army in 1865 in London.

If you’re really itching to bid for this piece of art, head up to New York this weekend. Otherwise, you can save yourself the travel and read about it here.

NFL’s 2010 Season Kickoff and A Coach You Should Know

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tonight is the official NFL opening kickoff of the 2010 season. The New Orleans Saints will be going head to head with the Minnesota Vikings! Will you be watching?

There’s one man in particular who I wonder if he will be tuning in – Harold Williams of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Name doesn’t ring a bell? I’d be surprised if you did recognize it. But ask Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem, and he’ll know who you’re talking about.

Before Meachem was a Super Bowl champion, a rising star at the University of Tennessee or even raising eyebrows at Booker T. Washington High School, he started his football career as a “Mabee Babie.” That is, during his elementary school years Meachem played football at The Salvation Army’s North Mabee Boys & Girls Club in Tulsa. Harold Williams was his coach.

A lot of time and events have passed since Meachem ran the Mabee field as a 4th grade football hopeful, but he still calls his old coach every now and then wanting to know how the Mabee Mustangs are doing. A pro football player keeping tabs on his elementary-years team? I know, it sounds strange, but then again, you wouldn’t be so surprised if you knew Coach Williams.

Williams left a paid position at a private high school to volunteer at The Salvation Army’s North Mabee Center where he’s been coaching for 22 years now. It was a significant change going from a privileged, private high school to a community center in what was known as one of Tulsa’s “tougher” neighborhoods, but Williams’ relationship to his team has always more resembled that of a loving parent than merely a coach.

Many times when talking to me about his team, Williams equated the boys to family. “It was like I had 40 sons. When dads were missing, I had no problem stepping in,” he said. “[My team] always said, ‘Coach loves us.’ I’d say, ‘I hope you know me and like my face because I’m going to know you the rest of your life. I love you because you are.’ ”

Over the decades he’s poured much of himself into the boys who have passed in and out of the football program. Even when the predominantly black team was pelted with racial slurs from their competitors, Williams has taught his Mabee Mustangs the importance of good sportsmanship and following the rules. He’s scrounged up pads and bought out of his own pocket mouth guards for his entire team when they couldn’t afford the most basic football equipment. He’s thrown them pizza parties and planned field trips to local museums, again on his own dime. He’s taught them skills that have made them one of the most noticed and successful football programs in the area today and helped many go on to be notable college and professional players. (Including the Dallas Cowboys’ Felix Jones, Philadelphia Eagles’ Tony Brooks and his brother Reggie Brooks of the Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos’ Marcus Nash, NY Giants’ R.W. McQuarters and the list goes on…)

The lessons and example taught by Coach Williams are lifelong and life changing. His sacrifice has inspired many kids to reject the destructive temptations of the streets and spurred them on to reach their true potential, witnessed by many unknowing NFL and college football spectators.

So it’s not hard to see why Robert Meacham gives Williams a ring once in awhile or why other “Mabee Babies” drop by the Center to watch and assist with practices.

If you do catch the NFL kickoff tonight, enjoy the game and celebrate the official start of the season! But regardless of which team you’re rooting for, take a moment to appreciate the sacrifice of Salvation Army volunteer Harold Williams. Tonight’s game and many others would be a different story if it weren’t for his investment in young athletes.