Since responding to the massive earthquake that jarred Haiti six months ago, The Salvation Army continues work side by side the recovering communities. We have transitioned from focusing on the provision of immediate needs, including temporary shelter, food, water and medical aid, to providing for long-term needs that will help survivors get back to a level of normalcy in their lives.
And today, in an exciting step for many displaced Haitians, we’ve completed construction of 600 long-term intermediary housing shelters in Jacmel to help relocate those displaced by the earthquake back to their home communities.
Our Transitional Shelter Program has been a great way to empower Haitians during this reconstruction process. In a nation where more than 2/3 of the labor force is unemployed, more than 400 Haitians have been hired as carpenters and construction crew-members to assist in reconstruction efforts and be actively involved with reestablishing their communities.
The shelters house on average five people and last several years. With Haiti in the midst of its rainy season, their design will also enable them to withstand strong winds as well as drain water away from the structure, helping to reduce the spread of water-borne illnesses.
Now that hundreds of shelters have been built in Jacmel, The Salvation Army will work with Haitian government officials to plan the development of another 1,000-1,500 homes in the northern coastal community of Petit-Goâve, which was severely damaged by a strong earthquake aftershock in January.
We are excited by the steps being taken by Haitians and the The Salvation Army to help the country heal and emerge from this disaster stronger than before! As The Salvation Army’s Lt. Col. Dan Starrett stated, “These homes are the first steps of many in that direction.”
If you’d like to support our ongoing work in the country, you can give via www.salvationarmyusa.org, 1-800-SAL-ARMY and text messaging “HAITI” to 52000 with confirming “Yes.”
Video from NBC 10 WBIR News
These days it’s a tough job market.
But The Salvation Army in Knoxville, TN is equipping the unemployed with the tools they need to find jobs despite the challenging climate through their Employment Assistance Program. This program recently hit an exciting milestone this month after placing its 100th client in a full-time position!
The program actually began in 2008 with a one-year grant from the Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness, but when the grant was not renewed, The Salvation Army’s Director of Programs Ola Blackmon-McBride, decided to continue it rather than let the program die. She has been running the program using Salvation Army resources and personnel since November.
The program averages about 24 new clients a month. More than half of those will stick with the program until they find a job. With limited resources – three computers and one telephone – Case Manager Angela Childers helps clients search for jobs, prepare resumes, write cover letters and prepare for interviews.
Childers deals with a variety of challenges that make it difficult for men seeking to turn their lives around. “Some of the men have a criminal history, most have never put together a resume and few have any experience with a computer or using the internet to find and apply for jobs,” she said. “In addition, the current economy has more qualified job seekers looking for lower level jobs.”
Childers said that the men who apply themselves are still finding work, in spite of the challenges. “If they are putting 100% into the program, it usually takes two to three weeks to find employment.”
The Salvation Army is excited for the new opportunities awaiting these 100 individuals who have persevered through our program and found new jobs, and we can’t wait for the next 100! And thank you to the staff in Knoxville for your efforts everyday in helping others turn their lives around for the better.
Members of the community who would like to support this valuable program and its effort to fight unemployment and homelessness can volunteer or provide in-kind donations, such as toiletries and bus passes as most of the men do not have transportation.
For more information about The Salvation Army Knoxville, visit their website at www.SalvationArmyKnoxville.org.
Speaking of beating the heat…
While The Salvation Army has been working hard to help others find relief from the summer sizzle, even we needed help recently with battling the high temperatures, and we were amazed by the generous aid we received in response!
When the air conditioning units in one of our Salvation Army homeless shelters in Huntsville, Alabama quit working (1 was completely shut down and the few others were only functioning at 30% capacity), the temperature inside the building reached into the 90’s, while outdoors registered above 100 degrees with the heat index. The heat was overwhelming for the shelter’s 60+ clients.
When heating & air business owner Thomas Ridgeway and his wife read a local news story about the shelter’s hardship, the Ridgeways didn’t hesitate to help. In fact, they agreed to postpone their anniversary dinner that evening, and at 11:00pm Thomas was knocking on the shelter door ready to get to work.
Vicki Thomas, director of shelter services, told me Thomas worked til 1:00am that night, and after working full days at his job, he returned to the shelter the next 3 days, arriving late in the night and each time working long past midnight. He repaired compressor motors, fan belts and leaking freon lines. Now, the air conditioners are fixed and they’re running as good as new! After all his hard work and sleepless nights, Thomas didn’t charge the shelter for his services.
Vicki recounted Thomas explaining his generosity as an overflow of the generosity he himself has received. He said the Lord has blessed him and his wife and he wants to in turn bless others, which he certainly did. Vicki called Thomas her “angel.”
Thank you to the Ridgeways for their kind service in our time of need, which enables The Salvation Army to serve others in need!
To read an account of the story covered by The Huntsville Times, click here.
This summer’s scorching heat is putting a strain on communities far and wide. New York, New Jersey, and parts of Washington, DC went into blackout this week as utility companies struggle to keep up with energy demand, and some residents remain without power. Even zoos and wildlife centers are taking extra cautious care of their animals during this time – it’s reported that sick seals in New Jersey had to be cared for with tubs filled with ice cubes! And tragically, the heat wave has already claimed the lives of several people.
As sweltering temperatures reach record levels, people across the country are searching for ways to escape the oppressive weather. During this time of need The Salvation Army is actively helping afflicted communities beat the heat and protect against the dangers of the hot spell.
In many areas facing the most extreme temperatures, The Salvation Army has opened “cooling stations” to provide refuge for the homeless, low income individuals, and others who don’t have functional cooling units at home. With temperatures reaching the triple digits along the east coast, The Salvation Army of Greater New York is helping provide shelter, supplies and assistance as the state opens doors to 480 cooling facilities! Local Salvation Army units in Massachusetts, Texas, Michigan and several states in between have also reported opening emergency cooling stations. While shelters provide vulnerable individuals and families with rest, cold water, recreational opportunities, and even relief from driving up their own utility costs at home, Salvation Army cooling stations also provide an escape from life-threatening circumstances. A Pennsylvania resident named Lisy, a diabetic, said she and her 3 grandchildren sought refuge at The Salvation Army so that her medical condition would not put her and her family at risk as a result of the overbearing heat inside her residence.
The Salvation Army is also collecting and distributing water to keep people hydrated. In Tucson, Arizona, The Salvation Army is partnering with local business Naughton’s for “Operation Chill-Out,” a city-wide drive during the summer months to collect bottled water for the homeless, as well as items like sunscreen and lip balm. One generous donation in Kansas City enabled The Salvation Army to distribute more than 200 bottles of water around the city, offering much needed relief to citizens on an ‘Ozone Alert Day.’
Even fans and air conditioning units are being distributed to those in need in what some Salvation Army community centers are calling their ‘Beat the Heat’ campaign. With the help of the local Wal-Mart, The Salvation Army in Knoxville is providing box fans and AC units, as well as helping pay electric bills, for those most vulnerable to the heat, and The Salvation Army in Oklahoma City has partnered with local energy company OG&E for their own drive. The Salvation Army in Cleveland is also in the midst of collecting fans, A/C units, and monetary donations to provide relief to members of their community.
If you would like to help us provide for others during these very hot months, or if summer’s boiling temperatures have left you in need, contact your local Salvation Army or search our website at www.salvationarmyusa.org for one nearest you.
And while you probably are already aware of these common sense tips, we’re going to say it anyway: Help yourself stay cool by wearing light colors and shade such as hats or sunglasses, drink lots of water, and avoid too much outdoor activity when possible. Also, help others stay safe by checking up on elderly or ill family, neighbors, and friends!
In the meantime, we’ll be crossing our fingers for a cold spell soon!