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,
Lieutenants Derrick and Odessa Smith
Jenny is ambitious for a 21 year-old. She had mapped out her life by the time she was 19 and moved to the community from her small town in Virginia to enroll in college. Her dream was to work for a nonprofit, so she began to pursue her degree in human services with minors in sociology and elementary education. She also started working at a daycare to support herself while in school. Her dream was starting to come together.
Then to her surprise, Jenny found out she was pregnant. The father was another college student and unable to help financially. She decided that she wouldn’t allow these circumstances to interrupt her life’s plan. She would stay in school and raise her child on her own, despite all the hardships.
“I wasn’t going to move back home. I came here for school and I was going to finish what I started.”
It was more difficult than she had imagined. There were times when college loans, rent, utilities and food bills felt like they were closing in around her. With the holidays approaching, Jenny went to The Salvation Army to help make her son’s first Christmas a bright one.
“My wish was simply to get a red wagon and some books for him. I was surprised to receive diapers and wipes as well.”
With the help of The Salvation Army, Santa delivered precious gifts to Jenny’s son at Christmas. This may not seem like much to many, but for this single mother and her newborn, it made all the difference.
At eight years of age, Dontae and his mother were homeless and living at a local shelter. Despite their circumstances, Dontae’s mother tried to remain positive and do what she could to help her son excel. Like any mother, she wanted the absolute best for her child.
At the shelter, there were few places for children to play. Dontae and some of the other children would spend time playing games outside on the sidewalk but their safety was always a concern. He noticed that one little girl would get on a bus every day and, when it brought her back, she would always be smiling and happy. He found out that the bus brought her to The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club.
“I thought that it really had to be fun. She’s leaving the homeless shelter and coming back happy.” Dontae said. “I asked my mom if I could try to go to the Boys & Girls Club because she’s happy, why can’t I try to be happy?”
Having no money for membership costs, Dontae and his mother went to The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club not knowing what to expect. They were welcomed by the staff and were excited to find out that The Salvation Army had additional funding available for families that would not otherwise be able to attend.
Dontae quickly became involved in the various programs, including athletic teams and tutoring programs designed to help children excel academically. He built friendships with other members and relationships with caring mentors that have helped to dramatically change his life.
“We do more than just give children a place to go after school.” says the local Boys & Girls Club executive director. “We lift them up. We keep them safe. We connect them with strong mentors. We encourage them to explore their relationship with God. We become an essential part of their lives and they of ours.”
Not only has the Boys & Girls Club helped transform Dontae’s life, it has positioned him in a place where he can reach his full potential. For some children in Dontae’s situation, the prospect of attending college is only a dream. Thanks in part to The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, Dontae is now being recruited by several top schools and may potentially receive an athletic scholarship, enabling him to further his education and his athletic career.
“I felt like if I came to The Boys & Girls Club I would be happy and get my mind off of being in the shelter.” Dontae says. “Coming here was the best thing I possibly could have done in life. They made a way for me to come here and, ever since then, it’s been a blessing.”
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.
We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to every Advisory Board member. Thank you for bringing your passion, intellect, insight, experience and resources to move The Salvation Army forward. Your service and leadership are essential in changing the lives of people in our communities.
Thomas Perry Bullard