The Quintana-Arroyo family (husband, wife, and three sons) met The Salvation Army through Emergency Disaster Services after being displaced from Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria, forcing them to relocate to Florida.
The family stayed in The Salvation Army’s Emergency Shelter and learned about the Pathway of Hope Initiative.
Over time, the wife found employment, followed by her husband, who began working at a Salvation Army board member’s construction company.
Through affiliation with a local community partner, the family was gifted a vehicle.
With one son recently graduating high school and another in college, the family has been able to save more than $7,000 and are now in the final stages of purchasing a home.
The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope Initiative has helped the family to become financially stable, increase their credit score, and position themselves to become homeowners.
The Salvation Army provided the necessary tools and services to help this family re-establish their life while working cohesively with community partners toward meeting their goals.
Through the support of donors, The Salvation Army is able to help families like this every day. Your gift today will help The Salvation Army serve families in need in your community.
By: Antoinette Vitale
Richard Stetina has fond memories of going to parks as a child. He still can recall every detail of the ones that are most special to him. When he took a tour of The Salvation Army’s Towers Center of Hope and the Red Shield Lodge shelter for women and families in Jacksonville, Florida, the playground made an impression on him – but not for the right reasons.
It was old, in disrepair and clearly in need of some love. After he went home, the playground kept coming up in his mind. Finally, he decided that he needed to do something about it.
“I went home, and I guess it was two or three days before I started thinking about it again,” Stetina said. “And I thought, you know, I could so something that would be better. I made my proposal, it was accepted, and here we are today.”
Stetina could have just written a check and felt good about the difference he made. But he isn’t that kind of fellow. He researched the best playgrounds and the best building materials and imagined what would provide the best playground experience for the children, drawing from his own happy memories. When the time came to tear out the old playground and build the new, Stetina put in hours of his own sweat equity.
The result of his labor of love is incredible. Hope Park is now a vibrant and engaging playground of the highest quality. The children who stay at the Red Shield Lodge now bound out of the doors and play with abandon on a playground created with an enormous level of care. Stetina designed the entire experience of the playground with intention.
“What I tried to do here was to incorporate some of the things that I remember from the days that I visited parks,” he said. “We’ve incorporated a mural on the perimeter wall which has some phrases and inspirational words that hopefully the children and parents can take with them. Maybe it will be inspirational enough that it will change their lives a little bit.”
Hope Park is not the only thing Stetina has created that will change the lives of shelter residents and other Salvation Army clients in the Jacksonville area. He is also providing funding through his two endowments to enable veterans and other adult clients to continue their education or job skills training so they can build a better life. Stetina’s sustaining gifts support The Salvation Army’s local Pathway of Hope program that offers participants the opportunity to break the cycle of generational poverty. The overarching goal of the program is to provide participants the order to become more stable and self-sufficient. In addition to creating Hope Park, Stetina has also created a third endowment to provide for the future maintenance of the park, ensuring its preservation.
At the center of the Hope Park project for Stetina, from the start, was the children.
“Really, the kids here are the innocent victims of their particular situation,” he said. “I thought if I could turn a frown into a smile, that would be an achievement. Who knows, maybe they’ll be brought back someday having remembered the good times that they had here and want to be a part of this organization in some fashion. You never know where things like this will lead.”
The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope initiative is an approach launched by The Salvation Army in 2011 to provide targeted services to families with a desire to take action to break the generational cycle of crisis and enable a path out of poverty.
With locations across Florida, The Salvation Army is able to help families in need find a clear path to self-sufficiency.
Here’s a note from Meredith, a recent graduate from the Pathway of Hope program:
My sons and I moved to Bradenton a little over a year ago. I had no direction and zero dollars saved. I heard about the Pathway of Hope (initiative) from my mom and was encouraged to contact the program.
While participating in the program I have had an amazing accountability partner and a new friend, Lynn.
As of now, I have a savings account and I have paid one of my credit cards off in full! I am forever grateful for the kindness and support I have received from The Salvation Army.
To help us serve people in need in your community, please consider giving today.
“Overcomer” is a production of Affirm Films, the faith division of Sony Pictures World Wide Acquisitions and is produced by Stephen Kendrick and Aaron Burns and is directed by Alex Kendrick.
In 1999, Kendrick became associate pastor of media at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. He took his brother’s sermons and made them into movies.
“The Lord gave Alex story lines, while at the same time, He gave me scriptures about that same topic,” said Stephen. “So, the Lord gives him the ‘Fireproof’ story line while I’m studying marriage, covenant, and love; the Lord gives him the ‘Courageous’ story line, while I’m studying fatherhood at the time. When I was leading the prayer ministry at the church, the Lord gave Alex ‘War Room,’ and so, we’re working together.”
“Flywheel,” their first movie featuring a used car salesman, came about after church goers donated $20,000 and volunteered their time and talent. The Kendrick brothers have since produced six films.
“On ‘Overcomer,’ I’ve been studying Ephesians 1 and 2 for the past few years,” said Stephen. “Then the Lord gave Alex the story line about identity.” Two years in the making, the project is all about what it means to have an identity in Jesus Christ. “The more we understand what it means to have our identity in Christ, the richer our relationship with Him becomes,” said Stephen at a recent showing of the film. “When you know who you are, it settles a lot of other things.”
“There’s quite a bit that I actually drew on,” said Cameron Arnett (“Meet the Browns,” “Stand Your Ground,” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation”) who plays an amazing supporting role in “Overcomer.” “My father, who is now deceased, wasn’t there for me in my young age.” The Haitian–born actor continued, “I had to chase him down, which is the opposite of what happens to my character in the movie.
“When I finally got to my dad, the reception wasn’t exactly what I had wanted. So, I pulled back from him. But then, he died. So, in that process, I realized that I had that opportunity to get to know him when the Holy Spirit was speaking to me, but I wasn’t listening.
“Today, I tell young people that regardless of what’s going on or how painful it may feel right now, make sure you keep your relationships intact. I keep a special bond with my mother. I make sure we have that connection.”
A tool to reach souls
Stephen Kendrick said, “We try to include the gospel in all of our movies because we know that non–believers are going to see them. We want to make every movie a tool that the church can use to reach their communities and neighbors and friends for Christ. We’ve seen thousands of people come to Christ through the films.
“Secondly, we hope you will enjoy and be impacted by the emotional journey, and that the Holy Spirit will speak to your heart while you’re watching the movie. We’ve prayed, ‘Lord, will you put Your hand on this so that, regardless of where people are in their journey, the Holy Spirit will speak to their hearts?’
“I think that at this time, people desperately need to discover who they are in Christ. We’re facing harder and harder opposition; we’re being attacked at every level. Regardless of what’s happening in our culture, we need to come back and say, ‘I know that I am my heavenly father’s beloved child. I’m adopted, and chosen, and forgiven, and sealed, and equipped, and empowered—by His Holy Spirit.’”
by Warren L. Maye
The Salvation Army Pathway of Hope initiative serves families in need
The family was homeless: Brian was living in a car with the three boys while Hannah was staying elsewhere. There just wasn’t space for all of them to be together. Dealing with ongoing health issues, Brian was unable to work consistently, so Hannah had to be available to look after him and the children. They were without hope and couldn’t see a way out of their situation.
The Salvation Army received a referral for the family from a partner agency, both organizations have been involved with the family ever since.
“The Salvation Army was able to help right away,” Hannah said.
Christy, their Salvation Army case manager, developed a personalized action plan and meets with them regularly. “They were an ideal fit for Pathway of Hope, a nationwide Salvation Army initiative that assists families, ultimately helping them to be self-sufficient,” Christy said.
She helped Brian apply for disability benefits and continues to meet with the family twice each month. “Hannah is working as a bus driver for the school district, securing a steady income and health benefits for the first time. Once they receive disability payments, the family will reach a new level of financial security and be able to plan for the future,” says Christy.
Additionally, the partner ministry continues to provide financial support and a coach, who is like an emotional cheerleader, and also meets with the family regularly.
It’s been really helpful to have people to talk about what is going on in life. I’m not used to that kind of support network,” Hannah said. “I feel like there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel and I’m learning to deal with stress and pressure in a completely new way.
“We’re living paycheck to paycheck, but that’s OK. I’m hoping we will soon have a little money left in our account at the end of each month,” she said. “I want to eventually take the kids on vacation and do stuff other people do. For now, we’re paying the bills and have a roof over our heads.”
Hannah said she is grateful for The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope program. “They helped pick us up and kept us working toward our goals,” she said. “I want to say ‘thank you’ to The Salvation Army for being there for us.”
Find out more information The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope initiative HERE.
To help The Salvation Army continue to serve families in need in your community, GIVE TODAY.
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
Do you love to sit on your patio? It’s easy to light up your outdoor space using thrifted finds! The best news about The Salvation Army’s thrift stores is that the proceeds help local people in need get back on their feet.
Love and acceptance helps Florida man reconnect with hope
Just a few months ago, Ray Kinder could not imagine being clean, being out of jail, being hopeful. When you look at him today, you could not, for one minute, imagine him being anything but.
Ray grew up in a church-going family, but all was not right. His father was a career criminal, coming and going from prison. When his father was not in jail, he was abusing his mother and modeling the alcoholic lifestyle. He eventually ended up with a life sentence for armed robbery. People would speak over Ray that he would be just like his dad. It had its effects.
Ray was in juvenile detention 12 times. He got addicted to drugs in middle school and continued to make bad choices for the next two and a half decades. Kinder was in jail, some maximum-security ones, 23 times. Each jail time was just a pause from his crack addiction, and the pause button would be reset when he got out.
“My reality was too hard to take,” he said. “I knew how much pain I was causing my mom, my family. It just pushed me deeper into addiction. It was the loneliest, most isolating, tumultuous nightmare. I was just a zombie that didn’t care about anything. I stepped off the cliff into hopelessness.”
Last year, while out on bond, Ray went to visit his aunt. He was totally out of his mind, high and incoherent. His aunt called the police, who took him to a local addiction recovery program. While there, he learned of The Salvation Army. He was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and he was willing to give The Salvation Army a try.
When Ryan from The Salvation Army, came to pick him up a few days later, Kinder’s brain told him not to get on the bus. He said something, maybe God, pushed him to get on the bus.
Ryan told him everything was going to be OK, this was a new beginning for him, and he was going to find his purpose and a plan. Ryan was his first exposure to the love and acceptance that he was about to receive.
During December, Ray volunteered to help pick up Angel Tree gifts and said he “overdosed on the love” that was shown to him at each location. He also realized that at The Salvation Army, he was surrounded by people who truly understood him and his addiction. He was also among other people who were just like him. He “was not as unique as (he) thought. They showed me there was a way out I could never see before. There is a reason they call this the Center of Hope; I do have hope now.”
Kinder is taking things one day at a time. He remarked that “The Salvation Army gave me my hope back; it saved my life. If God can do this for someone like me, he can do this for anyone.” Kinder is protective of the “precious and valuable gift he has been given and is not going to give it up.”
The biggest challenge for Ray now is employment. He will commence soon and is praying someone will give him a chance.
His advice in the meantime for others like him: “If you think for one second that your life is gone and you’ve tried everything else in life, but it never worked for you, there is a place, and the name of this place is The Salvation Army. If you are truly ready to live, give this place a try.”