The essential services that The Salvation Army provides on a year-round basis – homeless shelters, food pantries, disaster relief, veteran’s services and others – are for the benefit of our country’s most vulnerable people. The communities we serve have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need continues to grow. The Salvation Army will continue to open our arms, hearts, and doors to those who need us, but our resources are depleting quickly. We are at work finding alternatives and solutions to this reality, like mobile food service and deliveries to families in need who are sheltering in place, and providing social services utilizing phone calls instead of in-person appointments.
Much like its sister commands across the territory, the country and the world, the Miami, Florida, Area Command of The Salvation Army strives to serve its community in a variety of ways. That includes the operation of the Red Shield Lodge, with 256 beds housing individuals seeking to transition into financial independence and reintegrate as working citizens of the community.
With an eye toward that ultimate goal, a new Health Resource Center was dedicated on March 29. In concert with a new chapel for the Hialeah Corps and a full renovation to the lodge itself, the new unit includes specialized medical equipment and a partnership with Camillus Health Concern and the Health Foundation of South Florida.
“We started with this dream,” said Captain Enrique Azuaje, area commander. “How we can enlarge our social service program so that our residents and clients can feel recognized and feel that we are able to continue supporting them in different ways.
Seeing people in an entire perspective, in the soul, in the mind, and also in the physical, in the body. And sometimes people need that kind of support, specifically health support.”
Presently, the Health Resource Center is a part-time unit, with plans to move into a different part of the shelter itself when renovations are fully completed. That move stems from a desire to provide optimal privacy and accommodations to those needing medical services, given the presence of the “Here’s Hope” wing dedicated to serving residents with significant health challenges. Prior to the integration of the HRC, it was often a challenge for medical personnel to arrive in timely fashion to assist these individuals, and the on-site presence of top-shelf equipment and those equipped to operate it will make a tremendous impact.
“This facility has been remodeled, remade, refurbished, refinished, renewed, restored, redeemed for the purposes of doing the same thing in the lives of our guests, of our residents, I love that word. Because that’s what they are,” said Lt. Colonel Ken Luyk, divisional commander.
The lodge renovation also includes remodeled common areas and updated client rooms and social services areas. Plans are in the works for continued expansion, including a playground for youth, but the upgrades already in place are significant and, through it all, the focus remains on the greater goal of providing hope.
“These welcoming surroundings will continue to be a refuge and a place where healing and hope are shepherded,” said Lt. Colonel Luyk. “We dedicate this center to the work of the King, where healing will take place, where hope will be offered, where encouragement will be shared, where compassion will be expressed, and where lives will be transformed through the power of the gospel in his honor and his glory, Amen.”