Jessica Geib | jessica.geib@uss.salvationarmy.org | (850) 212-7761

EASTPOINT, FL – The Salvation Army Disaster Response Team from Panama City is currently en-route with a mobile feeding unit (canteen) to provide meals and hydration to residents and first responders impacted by severe fires in Franklin County, Florida. The fire, presently under control, has impacted a reported 40 homes and conditions warranted a mandatory evacuation of the area.  Residents received little to no notice as flames quickly destroyed more than 950 acres.“Our team is prepared to serve meals and snacks and will continue to provide additional services, such as emotional and spiritual care, to help meet the needs of the displaced families,” says Lieutenant Chelsea Fleeman with The Salvation Army of Panama City.

Additional updates will be provided as information becomes available.

HOW TO HELP:

Sign up to become a trained Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services Volunteer: http://disaster.salvationarmyusa.org
Donate: 1-800-SAL-ARMY or www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org 

Since the summer of 2017 The Salvation Army Clay County Corps (church) Community Garden has been a place of Environmental Education for youth and the local community. After harvesting a crop of sweet potatoes; broccoli, cabbage, carrots and onions were planted by the young gardeners, and are well on the way to a bountiful crop. The Community Garden has proved to be worthwhile to the corps character building program, and is also providing fresh produce to the community.

Today is Shine a Light on Slavery Day and Florida Divisional employees showed their support against human trafficking by coming together and putting a Red X on their hands.

Each day The Salvation Army is working together to bring awareness to each community about human trafficking.

The Salvation Army is committed to fighting against human trafficking (for sexual and labor purposes) and forms of commercial sexual exploitation linked to sex trafficking. This commitment emerges from both The Salvation Army’s mission – to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His name without discrimination – and is rooted in the organization’s early history.

Join the Fight for Freedom and shine a light on slavery each day. Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery – a multi-billion-dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to over 40 million people around the world.

Did you know that Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery — a multi-billion-dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to millions of people around the world? No matter where you live, it’s happening nearby.

From the girl forced into prostitution at a truck stop, to the man discovered in a restaurant kitchen, stripped of his passport and held against his will. All trafficking victims share one essential experience: the loss of freedom.

The Salvation Army Anti-Trafficking initiatives work alongside local law enforcement, FBI, ICE, and numerous other community partners to identify, rescue, and restore victims of forced labor and sexual exploitation. We help both foreign and domestic victims of all ages and ethnicities through our nationwide case management network. Along with giving immediate refuge and relief for victims, we take a holistic approach to healing, helping each person move from a state of victimized enslavement to God-centered self-sufficiency.

Contact your local Salvation Army to inquire how you can help and join the fight.

Together we can end it.

To learn more about The Salvation Army’s role in fighting for freedom visit www.sajustice.us.
If you need help: Please call or text the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
1 (888) 373-7888

National Human Trafficking Resource Center

SMS: 233733 (Text “HELP” or “INFO”)
Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
Languages: English, Spanish, and 200 more languages
Website: traffickingresourcecenter.org

 

 

 

From the Heart of an Officer- Major Marion Durham

Today in Parkland….

The Family Assistance Center was much less crowded today. School will begin again next week so it was great to give away backpacks and gift cards to replace items lost in the quick evacuation of the school.

I enjoyed meeting therapy ponies along with the usual comfort dogs who have been here all week.

Today’s stories…

The first was an answer to prayer. We met a young woman yesterday who had left her bag in the classroom which included her identification papers. She’s a Canadian citizen and wanted to go home for a few days respite with her father. I woke up last night thinking about her and praying for her for many reasons. She was desperately working through her anger and had gotten a tattoo with Stoneman Douglas’ motto to honor her fallen classmates. First thing this morning she and her mother came back to the Center to book a flight through the resources there (thanks JetBlue) because school had made an exception and she got her papers back. Side note: she wasn’t in the freshman building. They may never get their items from that crime scene.

Also met a couple of young men today who were so impressive. They were sweet freshman, complete with smooth skin and braces on their teeth. The first wanted to replace a soccer jersey in memory of his lost friend. The other in particular is a hero. He herded 20 people into a classroom closet. They were really packed in there. His mother showed us the pictures he texted, including the pitch black one when they turned the light off to hide as they heard screaming and gunshots. They were Colombian and we held hands with the family and Enrique Azuaje prayed over them in Spanish.

Billy Graham died today. The Billy Graham Chaplain Ministry has been here all week too. They spend quite a bit of time at The Memorial and have had a beautiful presence. I wanted to go offer my condolences to them as they offer grief counseling to folks here, but it seemed unnecessary. Promoted to Glory and Home at last, they carry on his ministry in Jesus Name.

From the Heart of an Officer- Major Marion Durham

Today in Parkland…

Another day of listening and serving. The team has noticed blank stares on the faces of teenagers and the tears of many grateful parents. It’s a privilege to offer to pay the rent of a single Mom or hold hands with a family in prayer who are humbled to receive financial assistance. Or give a gift card to replace a backpack that is being held by police instead of full of textbooks on a child’s shoulder.

Today’s story…

We met the parents of one young man who was in his second surgery today on his foot which had been shattered by a bullet. He had faced the shooter and was hit while diving out of the way. The surgeon was rebuilding the tendon. His Mom shared a photograph and it showed in graphic detail how much damage had been done. They were so happy to be able have grocery gift cards to feed out of town family who have come in to support them. Our visit was quick because they needed to get back to the hospital and I was relieved that they could go there rather than hold a funeral.

I’ve been happy and sad today as well. I’m missing Mary Beth’s chorus concert tonight. Her Daddy is recording her pieces and no matter how they sound, I am proud of my beautiful, loving, leader of a daughter. She’s a freshman in high school like students here who were buried today. I get to go home to her in a few days and for this I am grateful.

From the Heart of an Officer- Major Marion Ward Durham

I was there earlier in the morning before the center opened today because there was a media tour to promote all the services being offered at The Family Assistance Center. So much Great work is being done by many agencies. From the FBI, to Senator Rubio’s office, and charities like us and everyone in between.

The center is in a park so today during a break it felt good to walk the fields and paths to get a few steps in. I found another memorial on the soccer field for a lost player. On my way back inside there were so many more people and flowers.

Another group that’s been here and helpful to many are the comfort dogs. There’s usually about a half a dozen at a time on the campus.

A story…

A school board member stopped by our table and we had a very good conversation about the choices they have to make about the future, problems to solve about staff, traumatized students who need to finish the year (especially seniors) and his tour of the crime scene the night before. It seemed as if he needed to process what was happening too. Just like parents. Just like the students. A few minutes later, I called him back over and asked if I could pray for him and others in Parkland Leadership. They need wisdom and discernment. He readily agreed.

It’s good to be a Salvation Army Officer.

The chief human need is to experience love. Chosen to be a Soldier

February is known as the month that celebrates love, but what if we practiced showing love doing the most good through acts of kindness and compassion every day?

 Consider donating time or food to your local charity

Whether you donate time, money or food it helps! More people than ever are in need and it’s not just the homeless. Children make up a large percentage of those needing food. Even with so much food in America many children and adults face poverty and hunger in every county.  In 2016, 41 million people struggle with hunger in the United States, including 13 million children. (FeedingAmerica.org)

 Recycle your Gently Used Clothes and Items to Your Local Thrift store

When you shop, or give to a Salvation Army Family Store, you are supporting local initiatives as well as our Adult Rehabilitation centers that help those battling addictions, progress towards recovery. A gently used item that you give brings families back together and is saving lives.

 Send a hand-written Thank you note

In the age of digital our email box is overflowing and our ding from text messages doesn’t ever seem to stop. When was the last time you wrote a thank you note? When someone opens a special thank you note just from you the smile you bring them might just make their day! There are also health benefits for you! According to Harvard health, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improves their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

 Smile

When you smile, you will feel happier and brighten someone else’s day.

Psychology Today has found that smiling helps transform you and the world around you. Each time you smile it activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness. You never know if the person you smile at is having a bad day and your smile may be one thing that makes their day better. Smiling is contagious, so smile!

 Focus on Being a Better Listener

Practicing better listening skills and taking an interest on how others are doing is a self-less attitude.

According to FastCompany.com, ways to be a better listener include:

1)    Listen to learn, not to be polite

2)    Quiet your agenda

3)    Ask more questions than you give answers

4)    Pay attention to your talk/listen ratio

5)    Repeat back what you heard

6)    Wait until someone is done talking before you respond

 Hold the door open for the person behind you without expecting a Thank you

How often have we opened the door for someone and not received a thank you in return and got upset? Keep doing good, keep opening doors and be kind. Open the door with the intention of giving and not receiving. If you don’t get a thank you, realize you have sown an act of kindness without expecting anything in return and that is awesome. If you get a thank you that’s even better!

If everyone would do little things that they would like done for them it adds up over time.  You cannot control others but you can control what you do and setting a good example of what kindness is and should be is a great place to start.

 Pay for someone’s coffee or food in the drive-thru or pay for a stranger’s meal

Recently, at a McDonalds drive thru, 167 drivers paid it forward. It took one person to pay for a meal that started a ripple effect. Frank Ward, the owner of the Scottsburg McDonald’s, described the chain as an “act of kindness.”

When the woman, whom Hostetler described as being in her early 60s, saw there was a man with four kids in the car behind her, she told Hostetler she’d pay for his $36 food order too.

“She paid it in full and told me to tell the dad Happy Father’s Day,” Hostetler recalled.

When Hostetler told the man that his four Happy Meals and other food was paid for, he offered to pay for the next two cars behind him. (ABC News)

One act of kindness can affect many people you will never meet and you do not know what that act of kindness can do! Keep sowing love, compassion and kindness one act of kindness at a time.

Love is Good and being kind and loving others never goes out of style. Here is to being kind every day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People who come to The Salvation Army have a diverse set of backgrounds and reasons for needing services. Occasionally, The Salvation Army has the opportunity to give back to veterans who have given so much for our country. Esther, a participant in The Salvation Army’s Veteran Program, is a perfect example of the way homelessness can happen to anyone, often times by no fault of their own.IMG_2501

Esther found her sense of purpose in the military and was especially proud to serve during September 11th, when our nation needed her most. Later on in her service, Esther was unfortunately challenged by addiction and abuse from supervising officers. When Esther was honorably discharged from the military, she found herself homeless at the VA Hospital in Tampa. Due to limited resources for women and veterans, she feared she had nowhere to go.

Fortunately, the VA Hospital contacted The Salvation Army, and Esther was given a place to stay at the Red Shield Lodge. She had a bed to herself and a team of people ready to make her feel comfortable and valued. The Red Shield Lodge provided Esther with a safe space to reorganize herself before moving forward. After so much had happened to Esther so quickly, she was very thankful to have a quiet night in the Red Shield Lodge to regroup. The next morning, Esther met her case manager, Kathy, and took the first step towards independence.

Kathy was eager to support her in finding a plan of action that would best suit her. The Salvation Army allowed Esther to take the lead while providing useful resources to help her overcome her challenges. Esther was in charge of her own future; but The Salvation Army was there to help her every step of the way. She was able to acquire necessary information, such as an address, phone number, and proper identification, to re-establish her identity. It was not long before Esther was introduced to housing and schooling opportunities, and she could see her life coming together piece by piece.

After only a few months, Esther was back on her feet. She is now living in her own apartment while furthering her education and her recovery. All Esther needed was a boost from The Salvation Army to gain back her confidence. Now, Esther is thriving and excited for what her future holds. Esther feels thankful and appreciative of the help she received, and The Salvation Army also feels honored to have served her.

The Salvation Army meets wonderful people like Esther every day who simply need a boost. The Salvation Army and all of its services are aimed towards helping people see what they are capable of, and giving them the tools to reach their full potential. People affected by homelessness typically come to The Salvation Army after experiencing massive loss and trauma. The more they lose, the more hostility they face. The Salvation Army strives to break down negative perceptions of homelessness, and treat their participants with every bit of respect as they would a friend. The Salvation Army proves that when they are met with compassion and support, there are no limits to what they can accomplish.

During National Salvation Army Week, The Salvation Army in Hillsborough County will highlight the realities of homelessness in our community. Homelessness is commonly perceived as people standing at busy intersections holding signs, or people approaching others outside shopping plazas asking for just enough money to make it to the other side of town. This image of homelessness leads to skepticism about homelessness as a whole. While most people want to help those at busy intersections, we never really know how our help will be received.

Read more

Todd Quick, Intake Coordinator at The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC), is a hard working resident of the Tampa Bay area and currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of South Florida. Todd is the leader of the ARC band, and a member of The Salvation Army Florida Divisional Band. Fueled by the support of his wife, The Salvation Army, and the love of God, Todd is driven and excited about his future.

 

Six years ago, Todd was a completely different man.

 

Todd grew up in a small town in South Carolina and lived a fairly normal childhood. Around the age of 15, he began smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol, as many teenagers do. At the time, Todd’s habits seemed normal and common amongst his peers; however, he took these habits to an extreme. Todd quit high school, and his interest in marijuana led to experimentation with other more expensive and dangerous drugs. At 20 years old, Todd was arrested on multiple charges of possession. His parents bailed him out, but he violated his probation and was sentenced to three months in prison and a 30-day drug rehabilitation program. After his first rehab experience, Todd began a vicious cycle of recovery and relapse that lasted roughly five years.

Todd knew how to recover, but had trouble following through with his actions. Eventually his family stopped speaking to him and he had no support system or place to call home. He relocated multiple times as he moved in and out of rehab centers and halfway houses until he hit rock bottom standing outside The Salvation Army Red Shield Lodge in Tampa, Florida.

With only a khaki jacket on his back and all of his belongings in a Publix bag, Todd had nothing to do but lie down and wait to check in to the Red Shield Lodge. Todd vividly remembers lying on the sidewalk with his head on his bag thinking to himself, “This is not me.” There had been many moments prior when Todd realized he needed to turn his life around, but this one hit him hardest. He knew there was more to him than his addiction, and he was finally ready to take the necessary steps. The Red Shield Lodge gave Todd a bed for 18 days while he moved up the wait list for the Adult Rehabilitation Center. Having a safe place to stay was the first step of many in Todd’s recovery process, but it gave him a sense of hope and motivation he had been missing for years.

Todd was admitted into The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center on February 28, 2012 and has been completely sober ever since. He even stopped smoking cigarettes. After about eight months Todd graduated from the program and was given a job driving a truck for the ARC. He drove for two years before moving into the office where he worked helping people in the program get social security cards, valid identification, prescriptions, and anything else they might need to get back on their feet. After about a year Todd became the Intake Coordinator, and has held the position since. This October, Todd will celebrate his fifth anniversary of being employed by The Salvation Army. Because Todd’s addiction always prevented him from keeping jobs, this anniversary feels monumental.

The Salvation Army gave Todd a jump-start to a new life. He is now a happily married homeowner with a strong group of friends and a bright future ahead of him. A recent graduate of Hillsborough Community College, Todd is poised to enter the University of South Florida to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. He has reconnected with his family, who came back to him very quickly when his addiction improved. Now that Todd has built a life for himself, he is able to look back on his experience with a sense of gratitude and humility.

Today, Todd gives back to the ARC through more than just employment. As the leader of the band at the ARC, he gives others a chance to use contemporary praise and worship music as a form of therapy. Todd claims playing in the band gives others a boost of confidence that can be crucial to their healing experience, while also bringing them closer to God. The Salvation Army allowed Todd to find Christ, which is an aspect he felt he had been missing for so long. “You have to put in a lot of work and trust in God to stay sober,” said Todd. “It’s amazing when you let God start working in your life.”

When he thinks back to where he was six years ago, he can barely believe how far he has come in such a short amount of time. Todd is a firm believer that nobody can understand an addict better than another addict, which is why he feels the ARC is so successful. The ARC is very community driven and focuses on creating an environment of encouragement and inspiration. Todd looks to his supervisors, who have been sober longer than he has, and knows he can follow in their footsteps. At the same time, Todd looks forward to lending a helping hand to those coming into the ARC who may be following in his footsteps.

The Salvation Army opens its arms to people of all backgrounds, in all stages of addiction. Doctors, lawyers, and people from all walks of life have come through the ARC. “Addiction has no boundaries,” said Todd, explaining how even the most successful people can struggle with addiction. “It’s never too early and never too late to get better.”

In six short years, Todd’s life was turned completely around with the guidance of The Salvation Army. Now, the ARC is very lucky to have Todd as such an honest advocate for those struggling with addiction. Each day, Todd continues to positively impact the lives of others and give them a chance to succeed, just like the chance he was given by The Salvation Army. With the armory of love and support Todd has now, there is no telling how much he’ll accomplish in the next six years.