On December 1st, 2000, Hilda Ramos went to The Salvation Army in Riverview looking for work. Money was tight around the holidays, so she and her husband decided the family would benefit if she found temporary work. As soon as Hilda arrived, she was welcomed with open arms and given a job as a bell ringer. A few weeks later, on December 17th, Hilda and the other bell ringers were invited to a Christmas party hosted by The Salvation Army church. She was immediately welcomed into the church community and has gone back with her family every Sunday since.

When Hilda and her husband traveled from Mexico to the United States in 1995, they were chasing the American Dream. When they arrived, they began working for a farm picking tomatoes. The work was tough, but they had aspirations of building a better life for their family, and that motivated them to keep working.

With the help of The Salvation Army, the Ramos family reached a place of financial stability where they were able to shift their focus to helping others. Now, Hilda keeps records for the Women’s Ministry, and her daughter Leslie works at the front office as a secretary.

The Salvation Army reintroduced God to the Ramos family in a way they had never experienced. They now welcome Jesus into every part of their lives, just as they were welcomed into the church community. The Ramos family did not always have an abundance of material possessions, but they were never lacking spiritually. Having such a strong spiritual presence inspired the Ramos’ to give back to their community and help others in need. The more they worked with The Salvation Army, the more they felt their own needs shrink in significance.

With Jesus in their lives, the Ramos’ are empowered to do good for other people. In the past, Hilda came to The Salvation Army to get food and clothes for her children; she is now distributing those goods to other people in need. The Ramos’ believe there is always something to do for others, and they are determined to spread the message of The Salvation Army church by putting others before themselves.

Leslie, who was born shortly after Hilda and her husband arrived in the U.S., is thankful that she grew up in The Salvation Army community. As she gets older, she feels more empowered by Jesus to help others. Working in the front office, Leslie sees many of the people who come to The Salvation Army for help. Riverview has a large Hispanic population, with many migrant workers, who often find themselves at The Salvation Army just as Hilda and her husband did 17 years ago. Leslie, her mother, and the rest of the Ramos family are sure to welcome all those coming. They are always looking to make their Salvation Army family bigger, to help even more people.

By now, some of the Ramos children have grown older and moved away; however, they still see The Salvation Army as their church and home. Hilda believes The Salvation Army will always be their church, and she will look for it everywhere she goes. Hilda and her husband came to The United States with the goal of giving their family a better life, and they succeeded with the help of The Salvation Army. Their children will now be able to keep spreading the teachings of kindness and generosity, and help others find the same sense of love and joy that has changed them for the better.

While The Salvation Army has a strong presence in the homeless community, the organization is devoted to meeting the needs of more than just those without a home. The Salvation Army provides multiple resources for families to make sure children are growing up with the tools they need to build a bright future. Throughout the week, there are various classes and activities in place to support and empower the members of the community.

For many children in the Tampa Bay area, there are few safe and affordable after school activities. When the school day is over, some children go home and have nothing to do. The Salvation Army provides a safe environment for children to keep learning even after school has ended. The Salvation Army offers Sunday School and worship Services at various times during the week for children to learn about God and grow their faith. Along with classes centered on faith formation, The Salvation Army also offers other activities, such as sports, a youth band, and scouting programs to help children build character and skills they can use as they grow older.

The Salvation Army understands the importance of supportive parents to a child’s future, so classes for parents are also offered. There are groups for single parents, men, and women, and there are open gym hours for adults to exercise. Bible Study classes are offered for adults, and there are even sessions taught in Spanish.

Jeager and Somora are a mother-daughter duo who have found their place with The Salvation Army.  When Jeager started attending women’s groups, it didn’t take long for her to feel connected to others in her community. The Salvation Army offered Jeager the opportunity to confide in other women and feel a sense of support while she navigated motherhood.

Somora has participated in all sorts of groups and activities with The Salvation Army. She loves playing games, making friends, and learning about Jesus. Somora considers her friends at The Salvation Army to be like family. Her confidence has grown tremendously since she has started participating in the activities, and she enjoys having friends at The Salvation Arm with similar interests. Somora enjoys her worship classes and is learning songs and dances to perform on stage on Sundays. When the children perform on Sundays, they are able to bond with each other while also connecting with the rest of the congregation.

Donors are essential to the success of The Salvation Army. Through their generosity, the members of the community are able to better themselves in ways that expand outside of the Tampa Bay Area. After participating in women’s groups, Jeager had the opportunity to attend a Women’s conference. Because of the generous support of sponsors, she attended the conference and learned skills she will be able to incorporate into every aspect of her life. Every day, Jeager feels empowered and capable to better her life with Somora.

Donors also assist The Salvation Army in providing necessities for children, such as school supplies and suitcases. Children are able to learn and grow much more effectively when they are not concerned with having the appropriate materials. Along with providing backpacks and supplies during school, The Salvation Army hosts summer camps to continue their learning when school is not in session.

This year, Somora was able to attend a summer camp because The Salvation Army provides accommodations. Most summer camps are expensive, and exclude children who’s families cannot afford to provide materials or pay camp fees. The Salvation Army provides affordable camps so more children can gain valuable experiences year round. This year, Somora was able to attend summer camp with the help of The Salvation Army. At camp, Somora learned valuable lessons and made even more friends.

Jeager and Somora feel loved and included by The Salvation Army, as do others in the community. While The Salvation Army is founded on religious beliefs, their service goes far beyond religion. By providing valuable resources and unwavering support and empowerment, The Salvation Army is able to make a lasting impact on many lives in the Tampa Bay area.

 

THE SALVATION ARMY TO KICK OFF 125TH  RED KETTLE CAMPAIGN ON NOVEMBER 21

Former Lightning player to present ceremonial first donation to The Salvation Army in Tampa Bay Area before game

 

TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 21, 2015) – The true impact of giving is unmeasurable. Families who struggle to meet the financial day-to-day demands question how they might provide a gift for their children on Christmas Day. Thousands of individuals, families and children are leaning on The Salvation Army in the Tampa Bay Area, serving Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, for assistance during the holiday season. The Salvation Army will partner with the Tampa Bay Lighting, Saturday, Nov. 21,  at the Amalie Arena, for its annual Kettle Kickoff, helping to raise awareness of people in need during the Christmas season.

 

The Red Kettle Campaign started November 13 in the Tampa Bay Area and runs through Christmas Eve. It is the largest and longest-running fundraiser of its kind. The money raised impacts the lives of more than 250,000 individuals, families and children in the Tampa Bay Area by providing meals, shelter, clothing and holiday assistance, in addition to numerous other social services programs year-round such as substance abuse programs, shelter and counseling for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, and military veteran assistance.

 

The event from 5 to 7 p.m. promises to be an evening of fun and giveaways for local families. The Salvation Army’s “Captain Kettle” will be present for fun and games before heading into the game to ride the Zamboni. Star Wars characters will also interact with fans prior to the game. Attendees can donate at kettles located throughout Ford Alley. The ceremonial first donation by a former Tampa Bay Lightning player will kick off the Red Kettle Campaign at approximately 6:30 p.m.

 

“The Salvation Army is thankful for the partnership with the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Our hope, with the help of the Lightning, is to help families and individuals in need throughout Tampa Bay during the holidays and year-round,” said Major James Hall, area commander of The Salvation Army in Tampa. “We want to make sure everyone knows that if they are in need, we are here to help.”

 

From its humble beginnings in 1891, the Red Kettle Campaign has grown into one of the most recognizable and important charitable campaigns in the United States. More than 25,000 Salvation Army volunteers throughout the country ring bells and solicit donations to the Red Kettles.

 

Groups may adopt a kettle site during the holiday season and volunteer to ring the bell at that location. For more information on The Salvation Army’s programs and services throughout the Bay Area, and to sign-up to volunteer, visit salvationarmytampabay.org.

 

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About The Salvation Army of Tampa Bay

For the last 122 years, The Salvation Army has had a life-changing impact in the Tampa Bay community. In the last year, approximately 150,000 nights of shelter were provided and more than 140,000 meals were served to men, women and children in Tampa Bay. Nearly 17,000 children living in poverty received gifts and toys through the Angel Tree Program, and more than 10,000 people were visited in hospitals, nursing homes and elderly residential homes. For more information, please visit www.SalvationArmyTampaBay.org.

jerome

Jerome had been looking for a exit plan to end his life of drugs, alcohol and hopelessness.

Addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol for more than 30 years, he made a decision to change his life. Jerome entered the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Tampa in 2014 and spent the year rebuilding his life.
Jerome was able to end his years of drug and alcohol abuse with the help of the ARC. But he realized quickly upon his completion of the program that he was not ready to face his new world.

“Problem was I didn’t make an exit plan. I didn’t want to let them know that I didn’t do my homework and figure things out,” Jerome said.

The night Jerome left the ARC was cold. He had no plan, no one to call and nowhere to go. After two nights on the streets, he decided it was time to go back to The Salvation Army, to see if they could help him for good.
“I really didn’t like myself at all. I didn’t like the end product of sobriety at all.”

Throughout the time Jerome was on the streets, he didn’t go back to drugs and alcohol. The tough part would be overcoming his internal struggles and finding stable employment.

“I was scared to death. I couldn’t look someone in the eye and say ‘hire me.’”
“How could they hire me when I would not hire me?”

Jerome was able to enter The Salvation Army in Tampa’s Homeless Transition Program, a 45-day program designed to provide job training and housing resources to the homeless.
“I am a resource person, so I looked out for all the resources I could find.”

Though Jerome was able to find work, his anxiety and self-esteem kept him stuck. Little-by-little he began to apply the advice and love given to him by the case managers at The Salvation Army.

“I have a really bad anxiety issue. I couldn’t even look myself in the mirror at the time.”
“The case managers at The Salvation Army did something I couldn’t do for myself: They believed in me. “

susanraines

“Ladies, the financial literacy class is going to start at 9 (a.m.),” is the first sentence Susan speaks in the P.A. system starting her work day as the Housing Monitor at the Hospitality House, The Salvation Army in Tampa’s women’s transitional facility.

The 52-year-old native Floridian, who spent most of her youth in Tampa, has only worked at The Salvation Army since January, but she is glad to find a place to finally call home.

Susan was raised in a very conservative household. Her father was a pastor who traveled throughout the state whenever he received a new clergy position. So from a young age Susan understood right from wrong and tried to stay on that path each day.

“I couldn’t do things that other kids could do growing up, like dances and movies,” she said.

Susan went to the University of Central Florida after high school and eventually got married and started her family in Orlando. However, a divorce would leave her single and caring for a little girl alone. So she quit college to work a full-time job and take care of her daughter.

Now with two daughters, 21 and 6 years old, Susan life had become a steady pace of family and work, until two years ago when she reconnected with a high school sweetheart from Tampa.

After a year-long courtship, the two were engaged and were living in Tampa to start their new family. However, during their engagement Susan’s new fiancé cheated, forcing her to leave the home they shared to find a new job and home.

“I left the home I stayed with him and his parents. I had savings, but it was all used it to support me and my kids in an Extended Stay for a month,” Susan said.

“It was nearly 1,000 a month.”

Susan tried to find apartments in Tampa, but she could not qualify because she either didn’t make enough money or didn’t have suitable rental references or history.

Susan was able to briefly stay with a church friend, but couldn’t stay long because the rental facility didn’t allow subleasing.

She was now back to square one. No money and no home.

At this point Susan only had money for a three-night stay at a hotel for her and her daughters.

“The place I stayed in was so filthy and was filled with roaches, she said.

“I had to go buy a piece of plastic from The Dollar Store to put on the bed so my kids had somewhere to sleep. It was the weekend and I didn’t know what I was going to do. I decided to take my kids to the $5 a day at Lowery Park Zoo and accept the realization that me and my kids would have nowhere to live on Monday.”

Susan spent that Monday driving around Tampa to look for a place to stay.  She checked various shelters throughout the city, like Metropolitan Ministries, but they all gave her an appointment to come back in three weeks.

“I understand now what people say. You need help now,” she said. “When people come in at The Salvation Army and what to do things, it rings more true to me now.”

Susan continued to drive and pray that day hoping she could find anything.  Susan didn’t know what to do. But as she was a driving a familiar sign stopped her in her tracks.

“I remember driving down and seeing The Salvation Army sign on top of the building here on Florida Ave, so I stopped and came in here,” she said. “Literally, within an hour, I did intake and had a place to stay. That day I could pick up my daughter and bring her to a place where we would be able to sleep.”

Just six months at our women’s transitional facility, Susan went back to college and started working part time at The Salvation Army in Tampa.

“At first I was like is this how I am supposed to end up. I thought I was doing the right thing and living my life the right way,” she said.

“I learned a lot by working here. I can truly say that God has a plan for you. You just have to keep trusting and believing.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kevinchubb

Over the past 32 years  Kevin’s life had become a continuous cycle of taking drugs, and wild friendships and relationships

Kevin began his life of drugs at age 14, and by age 16 was already addicted to alcohol, marijuana and heroin.

And in 2014 he found himself homeless living in a metal shed, jobless and hopeless.

“I asked God if he could help me one more time, and he did.”

Though he was raised by loving Christian parents and grandparents, he couldn’t stay away from a dangerous lifestyle filled with drugs and alcohol.

For many years Kevin was still able to keep a good-paying job, which helped fuel his drug-induced lifestyle.

“I was really about that life. Then it all came tumbling down,” Kevin said.

After a failed suicide attempt, he went to Springbrook Psychiatric Hospital in Brooksville, Florida. A social worker there then suggested he go to the Red Shield Lodge at The Salvation Army in Tampa/Hillsborough County.

Counselors from the Red Shield Lodge told him about the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Tampa, which became the turning point of Kevin’s life.

“When I walked into the ARC, I was totally broken down with just the clothes on his back. They started off by giving me clothes, food and structure. Then the ARC gave me a safe environment and helped me get back on track,” he said.

Kevin started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings while at The ARC. He worked the 12 steps on alcoholics anonymous with his counselor from the ARC and regained his life for the first time in 32 years without drugs or alcohol. He was at the ARC for six months.

Kevin loves the way his life is now. His family is talking to him again. Friends have circled back into his life. And he is living happy, joyous and free. He even volunteers in the kitchen at The Salvation Army in Tampa to give back.

“The ARC saved my life.”

altspringbreak2015c

More than a dozen students from the University of Tennessee came to Tampa, March 15-21, looking for ways to help abused and abandoned animals. Though their primary reason for the week was to serve rescued animals during their spring break, the students discovered another mission that also touched their hearts.

“We called 40 housing sites in the area to see if anyone would let us sleep for the week while we helped in different animal shelters in the area, and everyone turned us down. The Salvation Army was the only place that would give us a place to stay. Major Leisa Hall was so nice to us,” said Matthew Klein, a junior nutrition student at The University of Tennessee.

The students also volunteered their time at The Salvation Army in Tampa . They cooked and cleaned for the nearly 250 residents staying in our facility each night.

“It was amazing being able to cook for nearly 1,500 people during the week. I was so happy to help,” Klein said.

This was Klein’s first Alternative Spring Break while at the university, but says he would do it again — for the animals and residents at The Salvation Army in Tampa.

Condreana Rymer, an animal science sophomore, enjoyed being a part of helping rescued animals in Tampa and those in need in our shelters.

“It was great seeing everyone (residents) happy that we were here, and it was great making a positive impact on the animals and the people living here,” Rymer said.

For Chelsea DeBlock, the experience was different than what she expected.

“The rooms were bigger than what I expected, we got full  kitchen range, and the staff members were so kind,” said DeBlock, an animal science freshmen. “It was great hearing the stories of the women in the transitional housing. Their stories were inspiring. I had a good time and made great friendships. I hope to come back again.

 

 

 

 

19f9987When I first heard about the Salvation Army, I instantly thought of their thrift stores and emergency shelters. After my first day of orientation as an intern at the Salvation Army of Tampa, I was amazed by all of the services they have to offer. What I didn’t know about the Salvation Army of Tampa is their Hospitality House. The Hospitality House is a woman’s transitional housing program for homeless women and children. It is a six-month up to two-year program  used to help individuals and families make a transition from homelessness to independent living.  In the Hospitality Housing there are about 50 beds that are sectioned off for single women and women with children. During the program, the residents are given resources and guidance to help them reach their goal into independent living. The Salvation Army provides them with case management, counseling, budgeting and parenting classes, and many other resources.   My first two days at the Salvation Army, I was training with the Housing Monitor. The Housing monitor usually interacts with the residents the most throughout the day. I’ve met extraordinary women and watched them be each other’s support system.  Most of the women there have part-time or full-time jobs to support themselves. I’ve seen some who have been going to job interviews and working on their resumes in order to reach their next step. It’s honestly a rewarding feeling, to know that I’m with an organization that contributes to the growth and overall well-being of people.  They truly embrace the mission of The Salvation Army in Hillsborough County to save souls, grow saints and serve suffering humanity.

Manika Dulcio, University of South Florida student

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Tampa (Jan. 30, 2015) — Every Friday from 11: 45 a.m. to 12:45  p.m. a group of volunteers from the Rivers of Life Church Ministries come to The Salvation Army in Hillsborough County to make a home-cook lunch for those in need . The meal is always different, ranging from chicken and rice to homemade pound cake. This mission started nearly two years by Jacquelyn Harper. Born in Tampa, she felt the need to give back to the community.

“I saw the need was great, and I was not even scratching the surface,” Harper said.

She was originally providing meals, water, toiletries and services to homeless men, women and children on 7th Avenue and Henderson’s street corner. But The Salvation Army facility allowed the group to serve more individuals in a safe environment.

“God kept telling  me to serve, but in a different way.”

For information on how to give back to the community and volunteer with The Salvation Army in Hillsborough County, go online at https://salvationarmyflorida.org/tampa/volunteer/ or call (813) 226-0055.

academy11

Tampa (Jan. 27, 2015) – Once a year young women from The Academy of the Holy Names volunteer at The Salvation Army  in Tampa/Hillsborough County, giving their time and resources to help those in need residing at the Women’s Transitional Center.  With smiles on their faces, nearly 21 students helped organize the pantry, hang up clothes and clean rooms of residents at the center.

“We think it is important for our girls to see what life is like for women whose life is different than theirs,” said Devan Adams, an  instructor at The Academy of the Holy Names. “Helping women in need represents the mission and morals of our institution.”

The Academy of the Holy Names is an independent, Catholic, coeducational elementary school and a college preparatory high school for young women, sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Our mission is to develop the spiritual, academic, personal and physical growth of each student within an atmosphere of care and concern, while providing quality educational opportunities for students of diverse ethnic, economic and religious backgrounds, and encouraging each student to realize his/her full potential as an intelligent and culturally, spiritually and socially aware individual. For more on The Academy of Holy Names, go to http://www.holynamestpa.org.

For more information on how you, your institution or organization can help at the Salvation Army, go to https://salvationarmyflorida.org/tampa/volunteer.