Couch Potatoes They’re Not

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Who said there’s nothing good on TV these days? A reality show is the surprising inspiration for the latest Salvation Army initiative in Miami.

In the style of NBC’s “Biggest Loser,” men from The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Miami are competing to drop some serious pounds. As the ARC program helps them control their addictions, the friendly competition helps them gain control of their overall physical health!

Standing Up to Cyber Bullies

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It used to be that bullies could only flex their muscle during school hours, and the ring of the school bell released would-be victims to the safety of their homes, removed from conflict.

But today, technology contributes to cyber bullies having the 24/7 ability to expose hateful, personal or humiliating attacks before a virtual public platform, making the threat nearly impossible to get away from.

Tragically, as mourned by recent news headlines, several bright and talented young victims of cyber bullying have felt that the only true escape was to take their own lives.

What resources are available to help protect kids and young adults from the dangers of cyber bullying?

Earlier this year The Salvation Army partnered with Enough is Enough (EIE), the nationally leading organization in making the internet safer for children and families, to launch the Internet Safety 101 Program. It offers educational materials and online tools at www.internetsafety101.org to help adults and kids guard themselves from online dangers.

EIE President Donna Rice Hughes stated in an op-ed that 42% of kids have been bullied while online. That’s 42% too many.

Join with The Salvation Army in saying, “Enough is enough!” Visit www.internetsafety101.org or EIE’s website www.enough.org today.

Officers are After-School Mentors in Eastside

Monday, October 18, 2010

More than 28 million kids have parents who work outside the home, and (Source: US Dept. of Labor) as many as 15 million kids have no place to go after school (Source: U.S. Census)

The hours between 3 and 6pm, when children generally get out of school and their parents get off of work, is when juvenile crime is most likely to occur. Law enforcement considers these hours a “danger zone.”

In the economically depressed Eastside community of St. Paul, Minnesota, The Salvation Army’s Eastside After-School program offers children a safe place to learn and play away from negative influence like drugs and gangs, while parents have peace of mind knowing their children are not on the streets when they’re still at work.

As a part of program’s homework help and tutoring sessions, local police officers serve as volunteers, helping provide positive influences and building relationships within the community.

Officer Robert Merrill has been a part of the program since 2008, spending a few hours every week helping young kids with their math, reading and writing assignments or whatever subject matter needs attention.

“The kids get to see police officers in an environment where they’re not dealing with a confrontational situation,” he said. “They see the more humane side of us. A lot of times their impression of law enforcement comes from them seeing us hauling people to jail and putting them into handcuffs. When kids and families see us [volunteering in their community], people might have a more positive view of our profession.”

For the officers, the learning process is reciprocal. Officer Merrill shared, “For me it’s allowed more insight into these kids’ lives than I’d normally have. They’re great kids, but they have a lot of struggles. We get to spend one-on-one time with them and they’ll tell you what’s going on in their lives outside of school. If we can offer them advice, steer them in the right direction, or help that stewarding of the theme of being able to helps and assist people, that the biggest reward I get out of it.”

The relationships and insight Officer Merrill’s gained has also translated outside of the classroom. Many officers unfortunately have had to deal with the same kids not only as students but also as crime victims. But, thanks to the foundation of trust that has begun to develop as a result of their interactions in the classroom, the children feel safer, more comfortable, and are more likely to cooperate with Merrill and other officers during times of crisis.

Regarding The Salvation Army’s Eastside After-School Program, Officer Merrill summed up, “There are not many programs like this around and certainly not in the neighborhoods of this city. It’s a program that will show [the kids] their education is important and that will hopefully lead to them being a proud member of society and keep them away from negative influences like gangs and crime. It’s a great program, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”

The Salvation Army thanks Officer Merrill and our other law enforcement volunteers for their invaluable investment of time into the youth of St. Paul and our Salvation Army programs.

How do after-school programs play a role in the life of you and your children? Visit www.salvationarmyusa.org to visit our poll question on this topic. Hurry, today is the last day to answer before a new question is featured tomorrow!

Philadelphia Kroc Center Opening Saturday – And You’re Invited!

Friday, October 15, 2010

You’re invited to celebrate with The Salvation Army of Philadelphia this Saturday, October 16 at the ribbon cutting of their new Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center! It’s the 9th center to open in the United States as a result of Mrs. Kroc’s generous gift in 2004, and it’s expected to double the Salvation Army’s social service impact in Philly, serving 750-1,000 people per day.

After the 1:30pm ribbon cutting, there will be a dedication ceremony, self-guided tours and free concert, along with the Center’s first worship service Sunday morning. They’re not wasting any time in opening their doors to the public, and after seeing the Kroc’s construction photos, we can’t WAIT to see the final product!

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And yes, the Center will be awesome. The three-pool Aquatic Center, two-story state-of-the art fitness center, multi-sport athletic field and community garden don’t even begin to describe all the amenities and opportunities the Kroc will offer Philadelphians. Plus, it’s going to create more than 400 jobs and $22 million in economic impact annually. I can’t think of a reason not to be excited!

We hope you can make it Saturday, and if not, find more information (and there’s a lot more interesting information that we can’t fit into this blog), visit www.SalvationArmyKrocCenter.org.

You can also find ongoing updates at The Salvation Army’s Philadelphia Kroc Center page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SalvationArmyPhiladelphia) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/SalArmyPhilly).