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.

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Feeding the Need 2011 – New Food Survey Report

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Experts say the US’ economic recession ended in June 2009, but if you ask the general population, many will probably tell you they’re skeptical and are still feeling the pain.

The Salvation Army has just released a new report today that also seems to show the recession is having a lasting impact on Americans.

We talked to more than 30 Salvation Army food service programs across the country to put together “Feeding the Need 2011,” a survey conducted between October 2010 and December 2010 that represents the experiences of Salvation Army officers and employees who work directly with clients in need.

Based on the national feedback we’ve seen from our food service programs, there are many Americans still struggling and in need of help, despite experts’ assessment that the recession is over.

Here’s a few key findings from our “Feed the Need 2011” survey:

* 94% of Salvation Army food service programs reported an increase in requests for food assistance in 2010.

* Nearly 60% of Salvation Army programs saw donations remain flat or decline from all funding sources, including government, public and private sources.

* Of food programs surveyed, 55% reported that their shelves were half-full or less.

* 23% of programs reported that volunteering rates increased in 2010, a sign that many Americans are beginning to donate time and talent instead of money.

Learn more by downloading the complete “Feeding the Need 2011” survey here.

Donors and volunteers can learn more about supporting The Salvation Army by visiting www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

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Helping Things Look Up when the Economy’s Down

Friday, September 17, 2010

A newly released Census Bureau report found that the number of Americans living in poverty has increased to 1 in 7. The number of those without health insurance is also reportedly on the rise. It’s a startling thought when you put into those terms just how many Americans are in need of help.

The Salvation Army is working hard to meet these needs that are becoming ever more widely present in our communities.

In Grand Rapids, MI many people will have the opportunity for new work soon. The Salvation Army’s Kroc Community Center is expected to open in October, and they’re seeking to fill 120 positions. The Kroc Center held a widely-attended job fair yesterday. Pretty soon the Center will not only be offering recreational and educational opportunities, but economic ones as well for the community.

Plus, this week in Savannah, GA The Salvation Army held its 6th annual ‘Stand Down for Homelessness’ event, basically a one-stop shop of resources for the homeless. People in need were able to speak face to face with more than 50 vendors gathered at the Salvation Army to discuss information about jobs, housing and social programs, as well as receive services like flu shots and teeth cleaning.

The Salvation Army of Louisville also held their own event called ‘Standdown: Operation Homeless Connect.’ In a similar fashion, area homeless met directly with agencies and offices about jobs, housing and healthcare. Attendees received personal attention from housing providers and case managers and many walked away with free eyeglasses, HIV screenings, hospital referrals and new ID cards.

These events were great ways to directly connect homeless citizens with the resources they need to help them get back on their feet.

If you or someone you know is in need, contact your local Salvation Army to see how we can help you today.

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Atlanta’s Overwhelming Need Spurs ‘Call to Action’

Monday, August 16, 2010

Last week in Atlanta was a desperate scene as a crowd of 30,000 people gathered for the chance to receive a public housing assistance application. The throng spent hours enduring sweltering temperatures even though the city’s available public aid falls far short of the exceeding need. The situation is representative of the overall dire economic struggle faced by the city’s sizeable low-income population.

Around the same time the event made national headlines, The Salvation Army of Atlanta posted a video of a homeless mother who has found shelter and resources through their center. The assistance will keep her family off the streets and empower her to more quickly get back on her feet. The mother’s account shines as a positive contrast to the pessimistic news stories, showing hope available through The Salvation Army for those who have fallen into economic crisis.

The city’s need, though, has resulted in a significant increase in demand for services from The Salvation Army Atlanta and has put a strain on their operational resources. Staff has logged countless hours of overtime. They are fielding some 40,000 calls each day from metro Atlanta residents seeking relief and their phone systems are overwhelmed.

So that The Salvation Army does not have to turn away one person in need, they have launched a “Call to Action” campaign to raise $300,000 in additional funds by September 30, 2010 to help meet the needs of hurting callers.

Supporters can donate by:

- Clicking Here for a Secure Online Donation

- Phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY

- Mail:

c/o Call To Action

The Salvation Army

P.O. Box 49247

Atlanta, GA 30359

For more information on how you can help, visit The Salvation Army Atlanta’s website at www.salvationarmyatlanta.org or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and their blog.

Thank you for your help and consideration!

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The Giving Pledge

Friday, August 13, 2010

The headlines under the newspaper’s business section seem to leave us lacking in optimism as of late.

Participation in the nation’s food stamp program hit a record high of 40.8 million in May, continuing a pattern of record highs for 18 straight months.

U.S. unemployment for July remained unchanged at 9.5%.

With the job market still struggling, the U.S. Congress passed another unemployment benefits extension for Americans without work who are trying to support themselves and their families.

Increased need has resulted in unprecedented demand for social services at many non-profits and charities, including The Salvation Army.

Bill and Melinda Gates, top, and Warren Buffett, bottom, have encouraged billionaires to donate half or more of their fortunes to charity through an initiative called ‘The Giving Pledge.’

As mentioned in our National 2010 Annual Report, some local Salvation Army units have reported a demand for services more than 400% above normal. In Hickory, North Carolina, we’ve served 75,000 more people than this time last year. And one of our food pantries in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania serves up to 50 families per week, up from last year’s 15 families per week.

The good news is it seems that with increased need there’s also been a heightened call in general for philanthropic generosity.

Recently Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett announced an initiative called ‘The Giving Pledge,’ an effort to encourage American billionaires to give half of their wealth to charities or non-profits during their lifetime or after their death. It’s an interesting idea that they hope will “draw more people into philanthropy” and “continue for generations” to come. A list of pledge signers, including George Lucas, Ted Turner and T. Boone Pickens, is available at http://givingpledge.org.

What do you think of this idea? What causes would you like to see supported by these pledge signers?

It would be wonderful if this initiative did result in more resources reaching those most in need, but thankfully you don’t have to be a billionaire to make a difference.

In fact, I would argue that Salvation Army supporters are some of the most generous people out there. This year The Salvation Army’s Christmas Red Kettle donations soared to a record $139 million. That’s $9 million more than our 2008 record, another year in which the economy and logic suggested that donations would be down. And no, these donations did not come from billionaires. Most of it came in pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters from regular people with big hearts.

Though many Salvation Army offices were not (and are not) exempt from the strain of limited resources amidst escalating demand, The Salvation Army was able to provide help to nearly 30 million Americans last year thanks to our benevolent donors.

So while headlines may tempt us to feel dispirited, thankfully, as our supporters show us, there’s more to the story.

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Financial Mentorship Program Pairs Experts with Those in Need

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Salvation Army’s mission statement declares we serve to “meet human need.” Sometimes this looks like providing for the moment’s immediate need, and other times it means providing with a long term perspective by empowering the disadvantaged with the knowledge to better sustain themselves.

New York’s Newsday.com highlighted a great local Salvation Army response that morphed into an initiative to do both.

When calls from thousands of laid-off workers seeking financial aid inundated the office of Charles Roberts, Area Coordinator for The Salvation Army in Suffolk County, NY, Roberts recognized an opportunity to serve an overwhelming need shared by the community. He knew limited grant funds from Target would help cover some callers’ financial burdens, but Roberts wanted to provide a more valuable resource that would last beyond the next bill.

That’s where he found the inspiration for Families@Home, a financial mentoring program that matches families from Suffolk County with a financial expert in addition to offering monetary assistance towards bills. The idea is to meet emergency needs while also providing knowledgeable professionals to guide families in making wise choices in the long-term.

Read NewsDay.com’s full coverage of the story here: ‘Salvation Army offers financial mentoring’

Many members of the community have taken advantage of the program, but it’s reported funding has almost run out. If you would like to support The Salvation Army’s service to those in financial need, contact The Salvation Army in Suffolk County, NY at 631-363-6100.

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