Thursday, June 7, 2012
Beyond the confines of a brick wall outside The Salvation Army’s Ruth Lilly Shelter for Women and Children, youngsters screamed and giggled.
They chased one another through the mulch covered playground, only stopping to climb or bounce on the obstacles that happened to land in their path.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Last September, we blogged about the record 46.2 million Americans living in poverty, a statistic of the U.S. Census Bureau. Since that time, the number has risen to 49.1 million. How does the Census Bureau measure poverty? See here.
Shedding some light on this issue, The Salvation Army released its newest report today titled, “Perceptions of Poverty: The Salvation Army’s Report to America,” a summary of our latest findings examining Americans’ attitudes toward those struggling to get by.
Monday, May 7, 2012
This statistic might surprise you: 1 out of every 3 homeless people are under the age of 18. This year, 1.6 to 1.7 million youths (under 18 years of age) will experience homelessness.
I know, a little heavy for Monday morning! Facts like these are the very reasons why The Salvation Army strives each day to battle cyclical youth homelessness.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Story submitted by guest blogger Larry Rowe, Soldier of The Salvation Army Lighthouse Corps and Family Services Operations Manager for The Salvation Army in San Francisco.
We use the socks donated by Hanes on outreach night when we pass out sandwiches to homeless people.
It’s something you have to see to believe. Even though the folks we serve (my formerly-homeless self included!) may have greater needs such as shelter or food, they get so excited when offered a new pair of socks.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Did you know socks are the #1 item requested at our homeless shelters? And thanks to Hanes’ generous donation of 250,000 pairs this last Christmas season, our shelters were able to provide many individuals with this much-needed and often overlooked commodity.
Guest blogger Captain Phil Smith in Santa Barbara, California decided to use part of their sock donation to support their “Street Level” Outreach Ministry.
Monday, October 31, 2011
November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month.
When you think of a homeless person, it’s difficult to imagine a child fending for themselves on the streets. But did you know that more than 1.5 million children are homeless at some point in their lives? The number is shocking – and apparently increasing – according to The National Center on Family Homelessness.
So…why do they leave their homes?
Many homeless youths are victims of trauma. They come from homes of significant abuse: either their parental figures are abusing substances and/or the child is being abused. Some escape because their families don’t accept them for a variety of reasons. There’s also a large number of youth who are the products of failed juvenile justice. They’ve aged out of the foster care system and are expected to be independent without resources or support.
Not surprisingly, homeless youth can have significant mental health problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse problems. Because of this, they are more susceptible to lives of crime or early parenthood and the vicious cycle of abuse continues.
As Americans, do we trust the system too much? Are we overlooking this blatant need? In the book of Matthew, we are called by Christ to care for children:
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:1-6, 10-14
The Salvation Army has many programs in place that are helping to end the cycles of poverty, abuse and neglect of children. Many Salvation Army units have “Adopt a Child” or “Adopt a Family” programs that allow for donors to directly pay for a child or family in need. Salvation Army transitional housing centers are commonly available in communities for youths and single parent families. Even better, Salvation Army transitional programs often include relevant training. So not only are they meeting their basic needs, younger residents will receive counseling and training to increase cognitive, behavioral, and psychosocial skills to help develop their education and career.
We liked The Salvation Army of Lubbock, TX’s approach to helping youths. Their Red Shield Home Transitional Shelter program gives homeless youths computers and technology classes to help them get a head start at beating cyclical homelessness. The information divide between lower-income and higher-income populations has been directly linked to access to technology. By providing technology for the younger generation, The Salvation Army of Lubbock is actively participating in bettering not only this generation, but generations to follow.
In an effort to combat this end, The Salvation Army also offers youth camps and recreational centers to encourage low-income children to learn new skills and self-reliance. Counselors at these camps encourage spiritual, physical and emotional development.
Finally, many Salvation Army units offer after-school programs that help hinder poor decisions by encouraging children to engage in healthy activities in those unsupervised hours after school.
In summary – there are a variety of programs with which you can help us!
You can get involved in our efforts to support homeless youths and to combat cyclical poverty. Helping financially is often inexpensive. Please consider reaching out to your local unit to find out how you can help “Adopt” a child financially, donate your time or items, or simply lend an ear to a child as a volunteer.
If you’d like to donate online, please visit our Ways to Give page.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Congrats to the newest graduates of The Chattanooga Salvation Army’s Culinary School! Most graduates have planned for years for such a milestone. For the record 614 grads that received their diplomas last week, this was a rather unexpected achievement.
Just 15 weeks earlier, students like Chef Augusto Rivera were out of life options. A sordid past of drugs, alcohol and homelessness had him questioning where he would live or to whom he would turn. A time-to-time recipient of Salvation Army meals, his decision one day to instead serve the food sparked a desire within him to cook. When The Salvation Army’s Culinary School Program became available, he made a decision to completely turn his life around.
Thanks to the training he received through The Salvation Army Culinary Program, Augusto’s newly-honed skills landed him a job as Assistant to Class Instructor Chef Terry Epps.
Augusto is just one example of many newly-trained chefs who, amid unforgettable pasts of unfortunate events or poor life decisions, desire to end their homelessness, addictions and sadness.
Chef Terry is proud of his class- especially since all 614 have been hired since graduating!
Check out the full news story here.
For more information on The Salvation Army’s Programs, Click Here.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
The following was contributed by Guest Blogger Kathy Lovin, Public Affairs and Communications Manager – Salvation Army’s Western Territory
In study after study, researchers find that people who watch fish in an aquarium can experience surprising health benefits, such as a decrease in blood pressure, muscle tension and pulse rate!
For instance, one study found that tanks full of brightly-colored fish in the dining room of the memory care unit at a convalescent center increased Alzheimer’s patients’ nutritional intake. That’s why the staff of The Salvation Army’s Bell Shelter in Southern California is trying to raise money to save their 300 gallon saltwater fish tank.
The Bell Shelter is home to about 300 to 350 residents at a time. It’s the largest homeless shelter West of the Mississippi and is located in a converted 40,000 square-foot hangar formerly used as a U.S. Army Air Base. It costs about $200 to $250 per month to feed the fish and clean and maintain the Bell Shelter’s tank. And that’s only if everything’s functioning properly. When a pump or a light needs to be replaced, the cost goes up.
But Paul Wager says the expense is worth it. He should know; he’s the Bell Shelter’s on-staff psychotherapist who helps the residents get their mental health needs met. Of the homeless population, Paul says between 30 – 50% have legitimate mental health issues.
The tank is in the main hall of the shelter in a high traffic area. There are benches along the opposite wall so folks can sit and gaze at the fish to their heart’s content. There are about two dozen fish in all, including clownfish, damselfish, dottybacks, basslets, and anthias.
Paul says the tank has a calming effect on the residents. Watching the tank allows them to relax and take a mental vacation from the challenges in their lives. The fish are such a part of their daily routine that many name their favorites and stand in front the tank to wait for them to swim by every day.
On Friday, September 16 Bell Shelter held a barbecue fundraiser to “Save Nemo and His Friends.” Staff and volunteers bought tickets for lunch and an opportunity drawing that will hopefully bring in much-needed funds so they can keep the tank. They want to give the fish a permanent home while they help the residents ease the transition into a stable, long-term home of their own too.
Click here for a link to fascinating a research paper on the health benefits of companion animals – including fish!
Click here to learn more about the Bell Shelter.
Check out Kathy’s Blog at www.SalvationArmyExpectChange.org!
Monday, September 19, 2011
We blogged last week about the increased number of Americans living in poverty which has reached a record 46.2 million people – or one in six Americans. According to the same reporting agency, the top five poorest states are Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Louisiana. Failed government policies from years past and a continued decline in GDP have taken a drastic toll on the jobs market and the American way of life. The poverty rate is the “highest of any major industrialized nation”.
This past week, reporters from The Associated Press scavenged the poorest areas of the country in search for a few of the stories behind this record-breaking number. The accounts include very real depictions of the prevalent poverty struggle in America. Most frustratingly, those without jobs often live in the communities with the fewest resources for finding another. Adding to this vicious cycle are the struggles of feeding a growing family or caring for ill loved ones who are unable to contribute. Families find themselves destitute once government assistance ends or help from the community isn’t an option anymore.
Read the stories here.
Among the accounts is that of Monique Brown, a single mom with four children who, up until two weeks ago, was homeless. When the recession hit in 2008, Monique lost both of her jobs in Florida and decided to move her family to Alabama in order to live near her brother. The Salvation Army of Birmingham provided shelter to Monique and her family for several weeks, eventually helping her find a public housing unit. They paid for her furniture, appliances and rent deposits. She now has a home where she can adequately care for her two-year-old son and continue her search for work. With help from The Salvation Army and other donations, her children have beds again.
The Salvation Army provides housing and homeless services nationwide. Along with providing food and lodging for the homeless, The Salvation Army addresses the health and educational needs of residents and seeks to address the issues causing the need. For more information on The Salvation Army Housing and Homeless Services, please visit our website at www.SalvationArmyUSA.org.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
By Sallie Godwin, PR Director, Tulsa Area Command
Singing pirates, sword-fighting puppets, belly-dancing cowgirls – when Thomas Gibbs moved in the Center of Hope last year, no one had a clue his stay there was the beginning of an unusual adventure for The Salvation Army’s Tulsa Area Command. Yet that’s what happened this summer when the Tulsa Command became involved with “Invisible People,” a dance, theater and music production about homelessness created by Thomas’s mother Shadia Dahlal.
Like most people, Shadia had not thought about homelessness until it hit someone in her family. Thomas had lost his job and needed a place to stay. “He has Asperger’s and some other issues, and I was just so grateful that there was a place he could go and stay. I was very impressed with the people in charge of the Center of Hope and the care they showed everyone there,” she said.
Shadia owns the Belly Dance Academy of Tulsa and is artistic director of the Tulsa Folkloric Dance Theater, the non-profit organization that produced the show. Following her son’s stay at The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope, a homeless shelter and social services center, she was inspired to write a poem, which she titled “Invisible People.” Her husband put the poem to music and it became the name – and theme – of the production. Shadia said she called the poem “Invisible People” because “so many people who are homeless aren’t dealing with mental illness or fighting substance abuse. But they are just as invisible to the rest of society as those who are.”
Shadia reached out to the Center of Hope and told her about her idea for the production. She worked with several of the Center’s homeless guests to use their photographs as the show’s backdrop and even invited them to the dress rehearsal.
The dress rehearsal was held July 7 at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, the premier live- theater venue in Tulsa. Local Salvation Army leaders Majors Roy and Kathy Williams attended the show along with 10 of the guests who had posed for photographs. As honored guests, they were the only people allowed to attend the dress rehearsal. Everyone sat enthralled as a dumpster morphed into a pirate ship and two pirates emerged to act as singing ambassadors from the world of people’s dreams to the reality of an alley where homeless people lived.
The grand finale of the show was a slide show created with huge photographs of the guests from the Center of Hope. After the curtain call, the guests mingled with the performers, some of whom were moved to tears. “The whole cast was touched. It was nice to have them there,” Shadia said. The homeless guests seemed to enjoy the project and handled challenges with humor and grace.
Sallie Godwin is PR Director at the Tulsa Area Command. Sallie began her career as a newspaper reporter and enjoys writing and shooting photographs for six Boys & Girls Clubs and the Center of Hope homeless shelter in Tulsa. She also writes posts for salarmytulsa.blogspot.com.