Gladys Aboude came to this country from Venezuela in 2015, accompanied by her two children. A woman of Hispanic origin, Aboude knew little about life in the United States and had to find her own way.

She did not know what The Salvation Army was, and she knew nothing of its mission and work. When she saw a flyer advertising Salvation Army music classes, she checked into it. When she realized that the classes were free, she decided to register her children.

As her children became involved in the music classes, her awareness of The Salvation Army began to grow. She learned it had nothing to do with the military and was actually a non-profit Christian organization. She wanted to know more about The Salvation Army, and that’s how Aboude began attending her local corps (church) in Florida and became part of a beautiful family of Salvationists (church members).

Meanwhile, her children were not only receiving music lessons, they were learning the Word of God. Gladys said she began to realize that as her children were being blessed through their involvement at the church, she was receiving a blessing herself.

“Sometimes I felt like I was in the center of an earthquake, but I felt my rock in this church. I feel safe there,” she said.

“Being an immigrant without the help of The Salvation Army is not easy. Educating children, solving problems – there are many things to do, and this church has given me a lot of help,” Aboude said. “Here, I feel relaxed. I feel safe, here I have sisters, I feel at home. A house can be anywhere, but a home is just The Salvation Army.”

By: Libia Socorro

To learn more about The Salvation Army’s music programs, click here.

Florida Camp Keystone Conservatory Dedication

For three decades, The Salvation Army has hosted the Longino Music Conservatory at Camp Keystone for children across the state of Florida, centrally operating in a building constructed in 1990. In late June 2019, current leadership joined forces with dignitaries from the past in dedicating a new, state-of-the-art facility.

“Today, we dedicate this house of glad remembrance for the youth of the Florida Division to gather to do three things,” said Commissioner John Busby, retired national commander and former divisional commander. “First, to improve their musical ability; second, to draw closer to their Heavenly Father; and third, to surrender their enhanced musicianship, developed here, to his honor and glory.”

The new building, constructed on the site of the old structure, includes purposely dedicated space for creative arts, percussion, vocal training, brass instrumentation and recital/concert hosting. In conjunction with the opening of the space, the final concert of The Salvation Army’s Florida Music Institute (FMI) took place, with six bands, five choruses and three creative arts ensembles comprising nearly 200 young people performing in a moving and uplifting way.

Within the dedication ceremony, thank-you messages were distributed to those who took part and FMI delegates commemorated the event with an artistic tribute. Stirring testimonies came to light, citing the impact that the division’s music programs have made and looking ahead to what is a bright future.

“I believe with all of my heart that this is a life-changing program,” said Major Elizabeth Birks, divisional secretary for business. “I can attest to the personal impact it had on my children and what I’ve seen myself. It’s an incredible blessing to see these young people rehearse, perform and grow, and we’re so grateful to all who made this project a dream come true.”

“As a product of The Salvation Army’s music programs myself, I’m excited for the opportunities this new facility will open up for our young people,” said Darryl Crossland, assistant divisional music director. “When children see an investment being made in their future in such a way, it gives them confidence to keep pursuing their dreams.”

The division’s Longino Senior Conservatory program began just hours after completion of FMI and the new facility is being utilized in continuous fashion, all with an eye toward the glory of God and worship through the arts.

“It’s a red-letter day for the Florida Division,” said Lt. Colonel Ken Luyk, divisional commander. “We’re here to celebrate the progress being made but, really, what it’s about is discipleship through musicianship and artistry. All of those are expressions of worship unto the Lord, and that’s why we’re here.”

To learn more about the programs offered for children in your local community, click here to find the location nearest to you.

 

By: Brad Rowland