In Charlotte, North Carolina, The Salvation Army set out to serve a large, underserved Hispanic community that had been the target of much tension and violence.
A single, two-bedroom unit in the community’s apartment complex looked like any other unit from the outside, but inside it became known as a safe place that offered afterschool tutoring, games, counseling, and much more for struggling Latino families.
The Salvation Army’s Hispanic Ministry has only been running for about a year, but there’s already a noticeable sense of stability and safety that’s resulted. However, there’s one effect of the outreach that neither the neighborhood nor The Salvation Army expected – a significant decline in racial tension.
The once troubled relationship between the African-American and Hispanic apartment residents has been transformed. Where suspicion and division once dominated, there’s now friendship and a sense of community.
It’s felt by the neighbors, their little children and their teenagers, and yes, even the complex’s landlord. They explain why in this inspiring story from the Charlotte Observer: Outreach Brings Latino and Black Youths Together
Teonnia, Shon, Gladys, Annette, Andrew, Diamond, Jynxy and about a dozen other children traveled from Charlotte, NC to our nation’s capitol this July for a summer vacation. Amid the crowds of Washington, DC tourists the group of 18 kids blended in among the masses of other visitors, probably looking like the many school groups that make annual summer treks to the city. However, the story behind the young travelers’ trips was certainly unique.
The kids are residents of The Salvation Army Center of Hope in Charlotte, NC, a homeless shelter for women and children that currently houses more than 300 people. Normally these kids would not have the opportunity to take a vacation as their parents strive just to find housing and provide food for their families, but the generosity of an anonymous donor made it possible for the children to escape from life’s challenges for a short while and just have fun being kids.
The children enjoyed simple pleasures, like staying in a hotel and eating out at restaurants, as well as experienced the unique history and character of Washington, DC. They toured the national monuments, viewed exhibits at some of DC’s most popular museums and even took a boat ride (a first for at least one child) down the Potomac.
To top off their adventure, the group even met with their U.S. Representatives for a personal and candid discussion!
The Charlotte Observer ran an interesting story about the trip with several quotes from the kids in an article called, “Away from the shelter to a Washington vacation,” which you can read by clicking here.
The contributions of the kind anonymous donor made it possible for The Salvation Army to provide these kids not only with shelter and food they receive at home in Charlotte, but also encouragement, inspiration, and a unique educational opportunity through this invaluable experience. In fact, all donations, regardless of size or amount, from generous Salvation Army supporters across the country help us serve those in need every day, and this story is just one of countless others in which lives have been affected for the better. For more information about contributing monetary support or gifts-in-kind to The Salvation Army, visit our website at www.salvationarmyusa.org and www.satruck.org.
You can also learn about the many services offered by The Salvation Army of Charlotte at their website www.salvationarmycharlotte.org/.