Looking Beyond the Numbers

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.

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Dignity Matters

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Our neighbor to the north, The Salvation Army Canada, has just launched a campaign called The Dignity Project that’s generating some buzz over the border. The initiative is designed to educate the public about the realities of poverty and underscore the point that everyone deserves fundamental human dignity.

In pursuing this project, The Salvation Army Canada felt it important to ask the public, “How do average Canadians feel about the poor living among them today?” And while respondents ranked poverty as the third most critical issue facing their country, their feedback revealed a lot of people still hold misperceptions about the poor and the challenges they face.

Though the report and findings are tailored to Canada, this is important for Americans to reflect on too. You may not encounter poverty in your everyday life, but as many as 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty today. So ask yourself, have you ever thought, consciously or subconsciously, the following about the poor?

* If poor people really want to work, they can always find a job.
* A good work ethic is all you need to escape poverty.
* I think that if we gave poor people more assistance, they would just take advantage of it and do nothing.
* Poor people usually have lower moral values.
* People are poor because they are lazy.

If so, you should take a look at the full report here.

More information about The Dignity Project, including a blog and a video series, is available at http://dignity.salvationarmy.ca/.

The Salvation Army’s faith motivates its mission to serve and treat everyone with dignity and respect. To learn more about the work we do serving more than 30 million people in need every year in the United States, visit us at www.salvationarmyusa.org.

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Fight Hunger with a Click and a “Like”

Monday, November 15, 2010

Did you know that in the United States 1 in 6 people don’t know where their next meal will come from? Or that 37 million people have sought help from food pantries or banks? Did you know 18.5 million children eat free or reduced-price lunches at school?

Walmart stores are pledging over $2 billion by 2015 to fight hunger in America, and between now and the end of the year they’re letting you choose to whom $1.5 million of that will go.

How It Works:

* Visit fightinghunger.walmart.com where you’ll find a list of 100 communities along with each of their food hardship rates.

* Login to Facebook and “Like” the community you think needs the funds the most. Your “Like” counts as one vote.

* The community with the most votes will receive $1 million, and the next five communities will receive $100,000 each. The funds will be divided up amongst a number of local organizations fighting hunger (like The Salvation Army) in those supported communities.

You’ll be furthering the cause with just a click of a mouse.

If the virtual world isn’t your preference, or you’d just like to do more, step away from your computer and into a Walmart store this week. From Nov. 15 – Nov. 22 Walmart facilities across the country are hosting in-store food drives to benefit local-area food banks. Donate non-perishable foods for another simple way to help fight hunger.

Find Walmart’s Fighing Humger campaign on Facebook here. While you’re on the site, swing by The Salvation Army’s page here.

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10/10/10 – ‘Lend a Hand’ to Fighting Poverty

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Did you know that 1 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day?

On Sunday, October 10 (10.10.10), an organization named Micah Challenge is bringing together 10,000,000 people through its worldwide Lend A Hand campaign which calls for united commitment to remembering and seeking justice for impoverished people. The Salvation Army World Services Office (SAWSO) is partnering with Micah Challenge in this commitment to the poor.

The Lend a Hand campaign comes in response to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals to reduce world poverty by half by 2015. The campaign is a push for individuals and world leaders to not give up on this promise.

If you’d like to ‘lend a hand’ to this effort, all you need to do is:

Lend a Hand Campaign 10.10.10

1. PRAY on 10.10.10 with millions around the world for justice for the world’s poor.

2. PROMISE to be part of bringing change and commit to living a life of justice. Symbolize this promise by making a hand-print!

3. PRESS your leaders for their wholehearted commitment to eradicating poverty. Mail your handprints to Micah Challenge, who will deliver these powerful symbols as a message to President Obama. (Send to: Micah Challenge USA, 17 SE 3rd Ave. #310, Portland, OR 97214)

To sign up, or to find more information and useful materials for the Lend a Hand Campaign, visit http://micahchallenge.us/action/lendahand.html.

Leaders and members of Salvation Army churches will find helpful resources on this page specifically dedicated to helping their congregations participate in this initiative: http://micahchallenge.us/action/salvation-army.html.

Thanks for your helping hands in the global fight against extreme poverty!

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With 5 Years to Go, Can We Meet the UN Millennium Development Goals?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Today is the final day of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) summit in New York where world leaders have gathered to track the progress of their objectives and stir up a renewed sense of urgency and commitment to assist developing nations as only five years remain before their 2015 deadline.

The Salvation Army has signed on to a letter with several Christian organizations that urges the US, the EU, and the African Union to show a “clear and strong commitment” to the MDGs . For 145 years The Salvation Army has worked to meet human needs by addressing poverty, hunger, education and other issues, but it will take a clear vision and strong partnership from multiple global entities including governments, NGO’s, the private sector, and the public to make a dramatic worldwide impact as outlined in the MDGs.

A simple, colored pictorial chart lays out the 8 ambitious goals, which are broken down into 21 targets. If only implementing these solutions to the complex global issues of poverty, hunger, and education were as straightforward as the diagram seems to portray!

However, while these goals are aggressive, the UN reports that significant progress has been made. Their report shows that before the global economic crisis, “the depth of poverty had diminished in almost every region,” and while the world’s sluggish markets have slowed this progress we are “still on track to meet the poverty reduction target.”

Other areas need vast improvement, such as achieving universal education and reducing child mortality rates (MDG #4) which are on the decline, but not quickly enough to meet the 2015 target. The Salvation Army World Services Office (SAWSO) signed on to a pledge to participate in reducing malnutrition during children’s first 1,000 days – from the time of pregnancy to the age of 2 years – when they are most susceptible to the harmful effects of malnutrition. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton applauded the 1,000 days initiative in an address during an MDG summit side event.

Do you have ideas on how to meet the 8 development goals by 2015? Leave a comment on the UN’s Ideas for Development blog, where anyone from experts to the regular Joe can post their two cents.

If you’d rather listen to discussion than spark it, you can tune in below the live webcast of the UN General Assembly’s debate.

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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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Congrats, Culinary Grads!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Congratulations to the newest graduates of The Salvation Army’s Culinary Training Program in Louisville, Kentucky! Chef Timothy Tucker’s program marked its 5th anniversary last week with a ceremony recognizing 10 more individuals who have successfully completed the intensive, hands-on courses. The students, all of whom are either homeless or living below the poverty line, began their classes about 10 weeks ago with little to no knowledge of the kitchen and now are equipped with the skills they need to be competitive candidates for employment in the food and hospitality industry.

And as an exciting Program first, alumni Jackson Hodges was awarded a two year scholarship valued around $40,000 to Sullivan University where has the opportunity to study either culinary arts or baking and pastries!

Chef Tucker’s program has been gaining attention around the community and across the country for its innovative way of fighting homelessness and poverty. This formally-trained chef left a lucrative career and joined The Salvation Army, where he’s invited the disadvantaged and destitute to join him in the kitchen. As they work over cutting boards and stove tops, there’s more than just great food being served. Somewhere along the way the students have cooked up hope, empowerment, and a permanent solution towards self-sufficiency.

Read more about The Salvation Army’s Culinary Training Program on our Salvation Army national blog here and at the Culinary Program’s websites www.cheftimothytucker.com and www.cheftimothytucker.blogspot.com. You can also show them your support by following them on Facebook!

Again, congratulations grads! We can’t wait to see the many opportunities that await you.

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Salvation Army Kitchen Cooks Up New Culinary Grads!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Salvation Army’s School of Culinary Arts in Chattanooga, Tennessee is celebrating the first graduating class of its program! As of result of their training, three students have all successfully secured jobs in the local area, and two of them have transitioned from homelessness to permanent housing.

This culinary arts program is different than your average cooking school in that it is designed to equip local homeless and low income persons with the skills they need to thrive in the food service industry, empowering them to overcome homelessness and unemployment.

Chef Terry Epps, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College, runs the 12-week program in which students get hands on training in environmentally friendly agriculture, meal preparation, and even resume and interview tips. The culinary schools wraps ups with a two-week internship in a local restaurant kitchen.

The Chattanoogan featured the following from the newspaper’s conversation with Chef Epps and a program graduate named Jasmine:

“The students are learning the skills necessary to work in kitchens which prepare daily staples such as hamburgers, as well as, more formal kitchens where complex, multiple course meals are the norm” said Chef Terry Epps. Though the focus is on marketable skills, Chef Epps has noticed additional benefits. “When my students put on their uniforms I see a boost in their confidence. They are uplifted and excited to learn and change their lives.”

“The School is proof that there is hope out there,” said Jasmine, a formerly homeless mother of two small children. “I want to change my life for the better and this program has made that possible.”

You can watch first hand interviews of Chef Epps and Jasmine HERE in a news story run by WDEF 12 about the life changing program.

Congratulations to the new graduates, and best wishes at your new jobs! We hope many others will be inspired to take advantage of this Salvation Army program. In fact, although the School of Culinary Arts is only able to take 5 students per class, there are already 20 applicants for the next class in July!

For more information about the Culinary Program and services offered by The Chattanooga Salvation Army, find them on Facebook, Twitter, and their website www.csarmy.org.

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