One hundred and fifty years ago William Booth, a London minister, gave up his pulpit to take the message of hope and salvation to the street where it would reach the poor. He knew that his mission to preach the gospel could only be achieved if he first met the basic needs of men and women. He did it through an army of dedicated people who would take this message directly to homeless and hurting. Today, his vision of hope is still alive through the countless donors, volunteers, officers, and employees who are The Salvation Army.
The work of The Salvation Army is as varied as the communities in which we serve. We may be providing shelter, or food, or a safe and enriching place for children and youth. We may be helping with homework, or teaching job skills, or digging a family out of their stormravaged home. The mission of The Salvation Army never changes; we serve wherever and whenever we can, without discrimination.
In these pages you will see the faces of some of our neighbors and learn more about the impact of The Salvation Army in our community. As we move Forward! as an army, we know that the life-changing programs and services we provide for people struggling with poverty, disaster, homelessness, and addiction help them move forward as well.
The Salvation Army could not do this important work without the support of people like you and me. When we add our voices, our time, and our resources to the mission, we help move The Salvation Army Forward! and make a difference in countless lives in our community. Thank you.
God bless you,
Lt. Colonels W. Edward & Kathryn Hobgood
“Most of the people that I know from home have passed on: their deaths were either drug-related or from alcoholism. Without The Salvation Army coming in and helping to change our lives, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be here.”
Now a medical doctor with a successful practice, David doesn’t actually remember the first time The Salvation Army impacted his life and the lives of his three older brothers. His mother recalls that when David was just eight months old, some people from The Salvation Army adopted their family for Christmas. Already struggling to make ends meet, life became even more difficult for David’s family when his father passed away a short time later. For many families, such significant challenges are simply impossible to overcome.
But The Salvation Army remained a strong presence in David’s life. As it turned out, this relationship represented a lifeline.
“It was during the winter, there was no doorway, just a screen door with rags stuffed in there. My mom was working, I was born with a hernia but couldn’t get treatment.” David recalls the memories of his childhood when he first met Mr. and Mrs. Harrell, a couple from The Salvation Army. “In those days, if you didn’t have insurance, you didn’t receive treatment.”
The Harrells became mentors for David and his family. His mother’s eighth grade education limited her opportunities. The Harrells helped build her self-esteem. They helped her receive additional schooling, which led to better job opportunities. She was able to move her family into the safety of a new home that she was able to buy. The Harrells were also instrumental in helping David finally receive treatment for his medical condition when he was eight years old.
The pediatrician helped David medically but also inspired him.
“All I could remember was when I went to the hospital I met Dr. Pope, he was a pediatrician. I remember how well he treated me. Dr. Pope spoke with me and we had a good conversation. I told my mom I want to be like him. I want to make the babies well.”
It seemed like the world was against him. Even school guidance counselors said that people like him simply don’t go to college. Discouraged, he told Mr. Harrell that he had wanted to be a doctor, but that it wasn’t possible.
“He kept saying ‘Yes, you can!’ He said, ‘If you want to be that, then you be that.’ He didn’t look down on me he didn’t say that it was too high of a goal.”
David’s mentors from The Salvation Army stuck with him, cheering for him during everything from school band concerts to his college graduation. At the end of Mr. Harrell’s life, David was able to be there, caring for him much like Mr. Harrell had cared for David so many years ago.
“There’s something that happened even before I was aware of where the help came from, and it affected my whole, entire life.” David says. “How can you not go back and make sure that other families have the same opportunity?”
Today, Dr. David continues to give back to others, adopting and mentoring several families through The Salvation Army at Christmas and throughout the year. He stays connected to these families as their own children move from a place of poverty and hopelessness to potential and possibility.
“When I look at the words ‘Salvation Army’ it really is Salvation to me.” David reflects, “It’s not just to me. It’s salvation to a lot of other people. Salvation is bringing people from a state of death, you have no life, and you are giving that person an opportunity to live the life that they deserve or desire. That’s what it’s all about. It’s beautiful.”
For most of his life, Jim just wanted to make a difference in the world.
As a child, Jim’s parents took time to explain how giving to The Salvation Army’s Red Kettles meant that people who needed help the most would receive it. Every Christmas season he would remember these lessons and was sure to put money in the kettles when he could. The need was brought closer to home when his brother became homeless and required help from The Salvation Army to get back on his feet.
Around that same time, Jim had taken a new job as a truck driver and began hauling food to all corners of the United States. He enjoyed the travel but became frustrated when, for whatever reason, the customer did not accept the delivery. Because of the expense in transporting an unwanted load back to a warehouse, the company simply wanted Jim to dispose of the food. He still remembers the first time he realized he could make a big difference.
“The first thing I donated to The Salvation Army was 500 pounds of chicken breast. The company didn’t want to pay to bring it back so they said I could just get rid of it. The Salvation Army just stood out in my mind and I loved knowing that I could help people.”
As long as Jim was driving, this scene repeated itself every time a customer failed to accept a delivery. Jim would call the local office of The Salvation Army and arrange to deliver the food where it was needed. Over the years, Jim has provided tons of food for the individuals and families most in need.
However, after losing his job, Jim began to experience his own difficulties that eventually exhausted his resources and left him without a place to live. He spent a number of weeks living in his car, until the coldest night of the year made him realize he needed help. It was New Year’s Day when he arrived at the shelter.
“I started my year off right at The Salvation Army,” Jim smiles as he recalls that day, “And I built everything from there.”
A short stay at the shelter enabled Jim to get back on his feet. He made lifelong friends during his stay and even helped them by driving them from the shelter to various job sites. Jim was able to quickly reestablish himself and wanted to do what he could to give back to people who had become like family. Just a few months after leaving the shelter, he went back to serve. This time he brought a group of young people from a church he had recently started attending. The kids were able to give back in a powerful way that will impact them for years to come, much like the way learning about The Salvation Army had an impact on Jim. Today, he continues to give back and to help people who find themselves in situations similar to his.
“I was very fortunate.” Jim says, knowingly, “But there are a lot of people who have been a lot less fortunate than I was – who are still in the predicament and those are the people I want to reach.”
Most high school students aren’t thinking about how they can make an impact on the world. There are a lot of other things that compete for their attention. For high school senior Naomi, however, having a positive impact is very important. Her story begins with The Salvation Army.
“I got involved with The Salvation Army because I used to spend a lot of time with my cousins and they were members of The Salvation Army. I would come spend the night with them and would go to church with them. I loved it. It actually involved the kids and that’s what I liked about it.”
As a young child, Naomi quickly became involved with many of the programs offered at The Salvation Army, designed to teach spiritual values, and offer godly advice from mentors. She thrived in these programs but was most excited to have the opportunity to go to summer camp.
“I was really excited. It was just a dream for me to come to camp. I had so much fun. I met new people. I still remember my counselor – it was Miss Michelle. She was great. I really really enjoyed it and every year I came back to camp! I wanted to come back and work at camp because I felt God calling me to work wanted to give the children the opportunity to experience what I experienced when I was a camper.”
While attending one of The Salvation Army’s camping programs, Naomi participated in activities that invited her to share in the experiences of children who live in poverty. It inspired her to make a difference and she quickly invited her church community to get involved.
“Naomi’s Child is a fundraiser that I started for a kid in Ecuador. Her name is Brittney Gonzalez. She lives in poverty. Me and my church - we help her through the Salvation Army. It was just a thought at first but then I thought, ‘No, I need to!’. I went to talk to my officers and they found the girl. At first it was just me, but then I involved my church family and they started helping.”
Naomi has learned about the power of generosity and the positive impact that an individual can have. Through her faith in God and the support of her church family at The Salvation Army, Naomi has learned an important and lasting lesson that will help her have an impact on the world for years to come.
“Helping someone… it just feels good!”
The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.